The Treasure within You:
Faith Conquers Worry

October 21, 2007

The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor

Montgomery United Methodist Church

 

 

 

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning!

 

This morning we’re continuing the series we started a few weeks ago called “Discover the Treasure within You.” God has put a wonderful treasure within each and every one of our hearts. It is a great gift. It is a gift of great value. It is like an internal diamond that God has put there, that makes life worth living, that makes life exciting, that makes life extraordinary.

 

Does anybody have an idea what the name of that special gift is? It is…faith! Faith is the gift that God has given to us. It is the diamond in our soul. But He has also given us a choice, a choice to leave it covered and hidden, or to bring it out, dust it off, and let it shine. My prayer for you is that you would do exactly that, let it shine. Let the treasure that is within you shine for all the world to see.

 

Just by way of a little review, we talked about a few things about faith in the last few weeks. Remember, we took a look at the beginning of the letter of Paul to his beloved son in the faith, Timothy. He talked about what a wonderful legacy you who have faith have. He said to Timothy, “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you.” He goes on to encourage Timothy, and to encourage us, and then he says, “Guard the priceless treasure with which you have been entrusted.” Of course, that priceless treasure is faith.

 

In the next gospel, Jesus said if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, just a tiny bit, you could say to a mountain of a problem, be cast into the sea, and it would be cast into the sea. What you thought was an immoveable mountain of a problem becomes a straight path. That’s what faith does. Faith conquers problems.

 

And last week, we looked at the story of the ten lepers who came to Jesus to be healed, and the one who returned to Jesus to give thanks. He thanked Jesus, and Jesus looked at him and said, I’m going to give you an extra gift, because you’re a thankful person. He said, “Your faith has made you well. Go. Prosper. Live.” Faith heals. Faith conquers work; faith conquers problems; faith heals.

 

I’d like to talk about another powerful aspect of your treasure, faith – faith conquers worry. Faith conquers worry. I’m going to ask you to participate with me. I invite you to write something down, if you wish. Write down this scripture verse, from the book of Psalms. Psalm 55:22.

 

“Cast your burdens upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you.”

 

Cherish those words as you write them. Let’s take a look at this precious verse that I want to send you into the week with. I pray that you would take this verse into your soul like sweet nourishment, and let it surround you and protect you and empower you through your faith. It takes faith to live out this verse.

 

First of all, ‘cast your burden.’ The scripture doesn’t say, ‘nudge’ your burden to the Lord a little bit or hang on to it and just share it with God a little bit. No, it doesn’t say that. It says cast – throw it! What is the burden you hold? Is it worry? Is it something that somebody said? Is it criticism? Is it a negative co-worker? Is it a difficult situation that has all your attention riveted upon it? The scripture says “Cast your burden upon the Lord.”

 

I invite you in just a second to turn in your seat toward the picture window that we’re blessed to have in this sanctuary. Then take the burdens that are here in your hearts, whatever they may be, and get rid of them. Whatever they may be – worry, anxiety, unresolved grief, fear, criticism, self-doubt – you know what they are. Look at that great expanse of wilderness and wetlands, and throw that burden way out there. Reach in and throw! Now, sigh. Didn’t that feel good?

 

We might have a big stone inside, and we have to make a choice – cast it or carry it. I tell you, I’m preaching to myself, too, because I have to make that decision all the time. You might need, during the day, to invoke your faith about casting your burden to the Lord. You might need that at other particular times. I don’t know about you, but my hard time is the morning when I first wake up. I am blessed with very sound sleep, but as soon as I come to consciousness, it’s bang! I am assaulted by all kinds of worries and concerns and challenges and questions of all kinds. I have to say, “Angels of God, surround this bed, and protect me as I wake to full consciousness. No burdens come this way. I’ll be stronger in a little while.” Maybe it’s so for you; maybe there are different times that are difficult. But you can invoke the power of Jesus Christ anytime you need it, to cope with those burdens.

 

But for today, I invite you to concentrate on this verse, “Cast your burdens upon the Lord.” We’ve got to decide whether to cast or carry, don’t we? There’s a story about a polar bear walking through the Arctic region, and he sees a cabin with a light on. He goes to the cabin and wonders what is inside. He goes in, and the cabin is certainly occupied, but nobody is home. He goes to the kitchen, and in the kitchen is a round iron wood-burning stove that’s crackling and hissing. The polar bear says to himself, “I don’t like all that crackling and hissing. It annoys me. I’m want it to stop.” He goes to the stove and roars, but the noise doesn’t stop. So the polar says, “I’m really annoyed now. I’m going to get rid of that stove.” So the polar bear wraps that stove with his big arms and squeezes as tightly as he can. He squeezes. And he squeezes. And then he sniffs. And he sniffs. And the bear decides that something is dreadfully wrong. The bear lets go of the stove, runs outside, and covers his arms with the some melted ice water. He dives into the water, and he feels much better, just a little bit of singed fur. The bear learned a lesson.

 

We have the same choice to make. Are we going to hold on to the worry? Are we going to draw it closer to ourselves by concentrating it? Or are we going to cast it and let it go to God and follow the path that God has for us? I tell you this, if you have great dreams in your heart, if you are in touch with the wonderful things God wants you to do, you will have challenges. Challenges will be there, and detractors and negative voices will be there. The question for you and me is this: are we going to hug that to ourselves, or are we going hug God? The bear let the troubles go, and we should, too.

 

“Cast your burdens upon the Lord…” but the verse doesn’t end there. It ends with a promise. “Cast your burdens upon the Lord, and He shall sustain you.” It is a verse with a promise. “Cast your burdens” – get those things out of your system and out of your way, as the scripture invites you – and “God will sustain you.” What does that mean? ‘Sustain’ means to lift up and hold up. Sustain means to encourage, to empower, and to strengthen. It’s a scripture with a promise tucked into it. As we cast our burdens upon the Lord, the Lord will sustain us. He will lift you up. He will give you strength when you thought you had no strength. He will show you a way when you thought there was none. He will give you courage when you thought there was only fear. That’s the promise.

 

Oh, my dear friend in Christ, I invite you to take that with you into the week. Let’s say the scripture verse together one more time: “Cast your burdens upon the Lord, and He will sustain you.” He will do it, because He loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.

 

© 2007 Anthony J. Godlefski