How to Overcome Worry – God’s Way
October 22, 2006
The Rev. Dr. Anthony J. Godlefski, Pastor
Montgomery United Methodist Church
The Request of James and John
35Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to him. "Teacher," they said, "we want you to do for us whatever we ask."
36"What do you want me to do for you?" he asked.
37They replied, "Let one of us sit at your right and the other at your left in your glory."
38"You don't know what you are asking," Jesus said. "Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?"
39"We can," they answered. Jesus said to them, "You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared."
41When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John. 42Jesus called them together and said, "You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. 43Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 44and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. 45For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many."
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, good morning! I’d like to talk with you today about how to overcome worry – God’s way. I’m wondering if there are people here with us this morning who are worried about things. I know there are many folks who are taking care of senior parents, taking care of children who have special needs. There are people perhaps who have financial worries. Maybe there are folks who have job worries. People have worries about relationships. Sometimes it can be the type of worry that keeps us up at night or wakes us up way too early in the morning, as our minds churn and our anxieties grow.
If that has ever described you, please, friend, know that you have come to the right place. I would like to offer you some thoughts from the Holy Bible about how Jesus tells us to overcome our worries. I hope you’ll keep them with you, keep them in your pocket and use them when worry threatens to overtake you.
In this morning’s gospel, we heard about some worried disciples, James and John, sons of Zebedee. They came to Jesus and said, “Lord, would you give us anything we asked?”
Jesus said, “Come on – what are you looking for?”
“What we really want, Lord, is to sit at your right and your left. When the kingdom gets big, when things really get rolling, we want to be your right-hand man and your left-hand man.”
What were they worried about? They were worried about their status. They were worried about being important. And Jesus said, “Jim, Jack, let me tell you something. The way to be important is to be a helper. The way to be important is to be a problem-solver. The way to really feel good about life is to help people and be instrumental in their healing.” And He blessed them. He cared about what they were worried about.
The first thing I want to share, friends, is that God cares about what you are worried about. There is a gold mine of scripture that I would like to point out to you. It is in the book of Luke, chapter 12 (think of Luke, the physician, someone who heals our worries, and 12, 12 disciples, to help you remember), starting at the 27th verse. Let me share it with you, because there are three great hints in here, three great suggestions for helping us deal with worry.
Jesus said, “Consider the lilies, how they grow. They toil not; they spin not. And yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these…. Seek not what you shall eat or what you shall drink. Neither be of doubtful mind. All these things do the nations of the world [that is, unbelievers] seek out after. Your Father knoweth that you have need of these things. But rather, seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you. Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.”
The word of the Lord. Thanks be to God.
There are three treasures in here that I want you to take home with you, friends. The first one is “your Father knoweth.” Your Father knoweth you have need of things. God knows that you have worries and responsibilities. God knows that you have needs. You are not alone in the things that you are worried about. God cares, and there’s no two ways about it. God cares about what you need.
Today is a bit of an emotional day for me. Some of you know what today is; you’re probably thinking it’s the 20th Sunday after Pentecost. But it’s also my one-year re-birthday. One year ago this weekend I had what I call a cardiac event. It was a heart attack. Thank God, God knew my needs. He gave me wonderful family and friends to care. He gave me a doctor who was on the spot and vigilant. He gave me an EMT – emergency medical team – to take me to the right hospital. He gave me wonderful doctors in the hospital. He knew my needs. He gave me a wonderful, wonderful congregation of people who cared and cooked and sent cards and made a beautiful autographed blanket and prayed me back to health. Thank you! It’s good to be here. So much I would have missed this year! Thank you for your love. God blessed me richly. And God want to bless you, too. The Father knoweth your needs. God knows what you’re worried about. Take comfort in that. God cares about what you need.
The second is a wonderful, wonderful invitation with a promise attached. Did you catch it? “Seek ye first the kingdom, and all these things will be added unto you.” Now fasten your supernatural seatbelts here, my friends, because this is the Bible’s supernatural promise. “Seek ye first the kingdom of God” – put God first in your life, whatever that means to you. Pray, come to church, read your Bible, think about God. Put God first. Put the things of God first, and “all these things will be added unto you.” All the things you need, all the things that you know will make your life complete, God promises to add in remarkable ways. Have confidence in that. Relax into that. Rest easy in knowing that it’s not just putting God first, but it’s knowing that God also wants to come back at you with a blessing. Take a step toward God, and God takes ten steps toward you. Hold that in your heart by faith, and amazing things will happen.
One of the things that has blessed my life, through Joel Osteen, is the saying that he challenges his congregation with: “Put God first in your life, and God will take you places you never dreamed of.” I have already experienced that, and all of us can. So put God first. Seek ye first the kingdom, and all else, all those other good things, will be added unto you.
And finally, this wonderful triptych ends with verse 32, where Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock. It is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Jesus says, “Fear not. In the midst of your worries, hear Him. See Him near you. Take comfort from His voice.” Jesus doesn’t say “you of little faith.” He says “little flock.” That’s a term of endearment. That’s a term of embracing. That’s a term of love.
“Fear not, little flock.” Why? “It’s your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” What does that mean? It makes God happy to bless you! Can you imagine that? God is not just willing; He is joyful. It gladdens the heart of God to do good things for you and in your life. As we rest in God’s will, we are making God happy by letting Him bless us.
As you face the worries in your life, friends, face them not alone. Know that God is with you, that He cares, that He wants to bless you beyond measure. May that give you faith and hope and encouragement for the living of these days, because God loves you. I do, too. Have a blessed week. Amen.
© 2006 Anthony J. Godlefski