Matthew 6:24-34 - Year A 2 before Lent/Sexagesima, & BCP Trinity 15
After the sermons there are other resources including a re-written version of "Don't worry, be happy ( trust Jesus ) with an .mp3 backing track.
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth. 25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you--you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34 "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today.
Elizabeth Chaney wrote a poem in 1859, entitled “Overheard in a garden”.
the robin to the sparrow: ‘I should really like to know
Why these anxious human beings Rush about and worry so.’
the sparrow to the robin: ‘Friend, I think that it must be
That they have no heavenly Father, Such as cares for you and me
We can learn about God from nature because He is the architect of nature. The creation tells us something about the creator.
Jesus talked about birds. That God feeds them, though they have to collect & eat what He provides. Jesus said, You are more valuable than birds. You are a child of God. How much more will he, therefore, provide for you. So, don't worry about food.
Then Jesus turns to wild flowers. They are more beautiful than any designer suit or dress. Of course, they don't last long! If God clothes these temporary plants with beauty how much more will he clothe his children, Jesus said.
Any parent would wants the best for their children, to feed & clothe them. We are flawed & yet have that instinct to provide. How much more will God provide for us. So, don't worry, says Jesus.
There are three reasons why we shouldn’t worry.
Firstly, worrying is not needed. Verse 32: "Your heavenly Father knows that you need these things".
Or verse 8, your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Worrying is not needed. Not because we don’t have needs, but because the God who made the universe is our personal Father in heaven, who knows what we need, loves us dearly, and is more than capable of taking good care of us.
Second worrying does not help. Verse 27: And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life? Worrying doesn’t make things any better. You don’t live longer by worrying. If anything, too much anxiety probably shortens your life expectancy, though it may make life seem longer! Worrying does not help.
Third, worrying is about not trusting. The key to this passage is verse 24, which is not included in today's set gospel which starts with the word "Therefore…" What we are looking at flows from verse 24, where Jesus said, "No one can serve two masters; for a slave will either hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and wealth."
Jesus is saying we have a choice. To trust in wealth, possessions, physical things that we may think we generate ourselves. Things that will devalue, decay, require maintenance, yet these things will tempt us to trust in them. Or do we to trust in God who creates and provides?
Jesus tells us not to worry about food, drink and clothing. If we do we are exposing what we really trust in. Our life should be about living for God and His ways, not chasing after our physical needs.
Jesus words are for all believers all of the time. Not just when people are well off & things are easy. Jesus experienced what it means to be hungry. We will see this in two weeks time when we look at him fasting in the desert Matthew 4.1-11. Jesus knew what it was to be poor, owning few possessions himself and mixing with the poor and disadvantaged.
Of course, there are many Christians starving today, many living through difficult times. What is Jesus calling them to do? He is calling them to live for God. Not merely to seek to survive. There are two ways. To say “I am poor. I live to eat. There is no more to life.” Or to say. “I am poor. God is my Father. I don’t understand why he lets me be so poor, or in difficulties but I am His child, I know He loves me & I will use the strength I do get each day to live for him.”
Jesus is not promising His followers an easy life. The Epistle refers to the sufferings of believers.
How can we overcome anxiety?
Ask God to help. Pray to God. Maybe share your anxieties with another Christian. Ecclesiastes 4.9 Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labour: 10 if either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Jesus invented the church so we can help one another in our journey of faith. We can help those who are starving and in trouble, and there are details on the Notice Sheet today of how we can help people in Yemen who are starving at the moment.
Secondly, focus on God, not yourself. Jesus said " your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.34 "So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today's trouble is enough for today."
Someone once wrote "If you seek wealth, you’ll worry about every pound. If you seek health, you’ll fear every blemish and bump. If you seek popularity, you’ll obsess over every conflict. If you seek safety, you’ll jump at every crack of the twig. But if you focus each day on God’s kingdom, ‘He will give you everything you need.’
Don't worry. Trust in God.
The Reformer, Martin Luther said, "I have held many things in my hands, and I have lost them all; but whatever I have placed in God's hands, that I still possess."
Today's Bible reading is about trust. Who or what do we trust in?
Jesus was teaching his disciples in what we know as the Sermon on the Mount. He had just told them about the importance of building up treasures in heaven where moth and rust cannot destroy and where thieves cannot steal.
He then challenges the disciples to trust in God rather than wealth. Like a slave who cannot serve two masters, so a disciple cannot trust in God and wealth including property, not just money.
There is no room for divided loyalty. It is as if Jesus is saying who are you a slave to ? God, or your possessions? Although we may think that we own our home, or car, or computer or whatever, they can own us ! They can become the thing that demands the time, talents, and money that belong to God. They can also be the things we trust in, rather than God.
Jesus assumes that his disciples will make the right choice and continues - 25 "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?
Jesus is not commending irresponsibility, laziness, apathy, or indifference. So it is not following in Jesus way to refuse to have your car serviced and to say, "Trust in Jesus." Or not to brush your teeth or refuse to take your medication and say "I've got faith."
Jesus is saying don't worry in such a way that it takes hold of you. He illustrates this using nature. The birds of the air wouldn't know how to operate a combine harvester. And the lilies of the field cannot operate a sewing machine. Yet, Jesus says, God looks after them. Giving them food and wonderful finery. So, he will even more provide you and me with food, drink, and clothing.
Jesus is talking about a different lifestyle to that of the gentiles or a better translation is "unbeliever". 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or 'What will we drink?' or 'What will we wear?' 32 For it is the Gentiles/unbelievers who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.
They are seeking, pursuing these things. They are self-centred. They cannot see any further than material things, and their own human power.
Jesus says that Christians are to seek first the kingdom of God. That is to place themselves under the rule of God. To seek his righteousness, to follow his ways which are different to the ways of the world. Believers have a different set of values, and a supernatural power to transform and help us live for God.
Jesus says don't worry! It can't change things. A short man never got any taller by worrying about his height! It just made him feel smaller and more insignificant. Once we have accepted our situation and God's power to provide us with more than we need we can relax in His peace.
Don't worry about tomorrow, there is enough to occupy you today says Jesus.
As Christians how should we live in the light of this passage?
We are to live for God, putting him and his ways first in our lives.
We can trust in him.
Our trust in God will give us confidence to bring our concerns to him, and lay them at his feet. Psalm 55:22 says, "Cast your cares on the Lord and he will sustain you, he will never let the righteous fall."
We also have a wonderful, eternal future to look forward to. This is what our Epistle today referred to (Romans 8:18-23) . Verse 18 "he glory which shall be revealed in us." Verse 19. "the manifestation of the sons of God." Verse 21 "the glorious liberty of the children of God." Verse 23 "the redemption of our body. "
It is useless to trust in material wealth and possessions which can be burdensome, change nothing, be destroyed and get stolen. God is in control, he cares for us, and will look after us. We can trust in him.
All Age/Starter Talk
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In today's gospel Jesus told us not to worry because it can't change anything for the better. Instead we should trust in God, who does change things for the better.
This could be used instead of the worry stones in the following talk from sermons4kids.com...
Ask people to write on a pice of paper anything that is worrying/concerning them.
1) Bring these in a basket to the foot of a cross, or
2) Invite people who want to stop worrying to put the pieces of paper into a paper shredder. Remind them that God knows all of their's other people's needs and concerns and invite them to say a silent prayer, thanking God for this and entrusting their concerns to him to deal with.
Don't worry, put your trust in God. 8th Sunday after Epiphany Yr. A
Object: A small, flat, smooth stone and a bouquet of flowers. (Enough flowers for each child to have one.)
Scripture: "Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear." Matthew 6:25a (NIV)
Look at this stone I have. It is a small, flat stone that fits into my hand in such a way that I can rub it with my thumb. Some people carry a stone like this with them all the time. They call it a "worry stone." When they start to worry about something, they just reach into their pocket or purse, take out the stone, and rub it with their thumb. They believe that rubbing the smooth surface of the stone gives them a peaceful feeling and helps them to stop worrying. Isn't that silly? How could rubbing on a stone take away your worries?
What are some of the things that people worry about? Well, some might worry about whether they will have enough money to buy food and clothing for themselves and their family. Food and clothing are very important. In fact, they are things which we must have, but does worrying about it help us to get the food and clothing that we need?
One day a large group of people was gathered around Jesus on a hillside and he began to teach them. "Don't worry about whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear," he said. "There are more important things in life than food and clothes." Then he went on to teach them a lesson about worry.
"Look at the birds in the air," Jesus said. "They don't worry where their next meal is coming from. They don't store up grain in barns. And yet, the Heavenly Father takes care of them. Surely you are worth more to him than a bird."
"And why worry about your clothing?" Jesus continued. "Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don't work or make their clothing, and yet Solomon in all his glory wasn't dressed as beautifully as they are. If God cares so wonderfully for these wildflowers, surely he will take care of you. Why do you show your lack of faith by worrying about these things?"
Does this mean that we can sit around and wait for food and clothes to drop from the sky? No. God provides food for the birds, but he doesn't throw it into their nest. It is up to them to go out and gather their food. God provides clothing for us by giving us jobs so that we will have the money to buy clothes. Sometimes God provides clothes through friends and family who give us clothes. We need to have faith that God will provide, but we do have to do our part as well. Just remember -- our part does not include worry!
This morning I not only brought a worry stone, I also brought a beautiful bouquet of flowers. I want each of you to have one of the flowers. As you look at the flower, remember that you are more important to God than the most beautiful flower. If he cares for the flowers, he surely cares for you!
Father, we thank you that you provide our every need. Help us not to worry, but to have faith. Amen.
Other ideas from http://www.sermons4kids.com/
BUBBLES: Allow children to go outside and blow big and little bubbles and have a fun discussion about the bubbles representing all the 'worries" of our lives but "see how they pop and disappear"??!! Let children blow more bubbles and see how long each bubble can last! Teacher can explain to children that our "worries/bubbles" disappear when we live by FAITH in GOD providing ALL that we need!
BIRD ART: Make a bird with supplies provided, after discussion about the birds in the air not ever worrying about where their next meal is coming from or where to stay. Children can be given a small and a larger circle, to glue on to a piece of construction paper to form a bird. A little cons. paper triangle could be the beak of this little bird. Children can trace their own hands and cut out and glue onto the sides of the bird to look like wings. Mini wads of tissue paper could be glued on to the bird as well, or just color the bird with crayons or markers. Write Matthew 6:25a on the bottom of the bird.
CHILD FLOWER CRAFT: Give children a paper plate to cut out the middle round-section of the plate - decorate the edges to look like a pretty flower and then let child put this flower/plate up to his/her face like a mask and discussion will follow about the lesson today. If time allows, children could be given construction paper "petals" to glue around the edges of their flowered-frame.
FLOWER GARDEN: Let each child make a couple tissue flowers and use green chenille wire for the stems. Tissue flowers can be made by taking one tissue and making accordian-folds back and forth and tie with thin wire or yarn in the middle and then begin to carefully and slowly pull the pieces of tissue apart until it looks like a flower. Glue a small piece of paper to the stem of this "flower arrangement" that will have today's Bible verse written on it.
WORRY STONE: Let each child pick a smooth stone. Each one will choose a marker and write on the stone....DO NOT WORRY, Matthew 6;25.
FLOWER STICKS: Let each child cut out a flower from a magazine (or teacher can have flowers already cut out from magazine before class. Then glue that flower picture onto a piece of construction paper, the size of the flower and glue this flower to the top of a craft stick (the cons. paper on the back of the flower will keep it from being flimsy). Craft stick can be colored green by the child and write our Bible verse on the stick, or write DO NOT WORRY, Matt. 6:25, etc.
"DO NOT WORRY" POSTER: Let children work together as a class to cut out and glue magazine pictures to a large poster with the TITLE...DO NOT WORRY, or write out our Bible Verse today as the TITLE. Pictures will be from our lesson today, of food, drink, birds, flowers, clothes, etc.
WORRY RELAY: Each team will have a WORRY BAG of items to take out of the bag and put on or carry back to their team. The next member will have to put on the items or carry the food/drink, etc and continue until everyone has had an opportunity to play the WORRY RELAY game. Discussion about all the things that we worry about but how GOD takes care of us, Matt. 6;25a. When the game is over, let each child pick out a drink and some crackers to enjoy!
FINGERPRINT FLOWERS: Let each child make some finger prints from an ink pad of various colors, to be the inside of each flower. Children can draw the flower petals around the fingerprint and then add the stem and write a TITLE to their drawings about today's lesson.
TIC/TAC/TOE FLOWERS: Teams of two children each can play tic tac toe, but instead of X and O's, each child can choose a flower or bird as his X or O, to play the game. Each time they draw their flower or bird, they must say something that a child may worry about. When someone wins or if there is a tie, then the children will say the BIBLE VERSE of today, to show them NOT to WORRY!
STICKER NOTEBOOK: Each child can be given supplies to make a mini notebook from construction paper. The TITLE of their mini book will be today's Bible verse. Inside the notebook, children can write DO NOT WORRY, LOOK AT THE BIRDS OF THE AIR, GOD WILL TAKE CARE OF YOU, PUT YOUR TRUST IN GOD, HAVE FAITH, etc, and put stickers of birds and flowers and decorate the book as they choose to, in order to remember today's lesson.
I have re-written some of Bobby McFerrin - Don't Worry Be Happy, which you can see on http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yHFDa9efCQU
Right click here and "Save Target as" to download an .mp3 backing track.
Here is a little song I wrote
You might want to sing it note for note
Don't worry, trust Jesus
In every life we have some trouble
When you worry you make it double
Don't worry, trust Jesus......
Oh oh oh oh etc ( Don't worry, trust Jesus ) repeat
Do not worry about your clothes
Because your heavenly father knows
Don't worry, trust Jesus
Do not fret, and don't be rude
Your Father will give you some food
Don't worry, trust Jesus
Oh oh oh oh etc ( Don't worry, trust Jesus ) repeat
Do not worry about your life
It will only cause you strife
Don't worry, trust Jesus
Cause when you worry Your face will frown
And that will bring everybody down
So don't worry, trust Jesus (now)....
Oh oh oh oh etc ( Don't worry, trust Jesus ) repeat 4 times