Monday, November 19, 2018

Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 4) (Nov. 19, 2018)

“Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 4)

(Nov. 19, 2018)


          One of the areas where people often worry most concerns the future.  There is an old French Proverb that says “Never cross a bridge till you get to it.”  George MacDonald put it this way, “No man ever sank under the burden of the day.  It is when tomorrow’s burden is added to the burden of today, that the weight is more than a man can bear.”  Many, many people have suffered much more in this world than they ever needed to, simply because they allowed worry to captivate their attention.

          In Matthew 6:34 Jesus says “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.  Sufficient for the day is its own troubles.”  Perhaps we all need to adopt an attitude similar to that of the Apostle Paul as he exhorted the Ephesian Elders.  In Acts 20:24 he says to them “But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.”  Throughout Scripture people are repeatedly told to simply trust in the Lord.  When we worry we demonstrate we are not trusting in the Lord like we should.  We reveal that our human weaknesses have gotten the better of us, at least for a time.

          God wants more for us.  He did not create us, die for us, save us, and then expect us to set around worrying!  You were designed for much more than that.  Someone once told his friend, ‘You worry so much you are starting to look like a wart!”   The unsaved world actually has good reason to worry, but not us Christians.  God has promised to take care of us.  Our future is secure in Him! I love the reassuring words of the hymn “God will take Care of You” written by Civilla D. Martin in the early twentieth-century. 


[1]Be not dismayed whate’er betide,

God will take care of you;

Beneath his wings of love abide,

God will take care of you. 


[Chorus] God will take care of you

Through ev’ry day,

o’er all the way;

He will take care of you,

God will take care of you. 


[2] Through days of toil when heart does fail,

God will take care of you;

When dangers fierce your path assail,

God will take care of you.


[3] All you may need he will provide,

God will take care of you;

Nothing you ask will be denied,

God will take care of you


[4] No matter what may be the test,

God will take care of you;

Lean, weary one, upon his breast,

God will take care of you.


          The Prophet Isaiah wrote the comforting words “You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, because he trusts in You.  Trust in the Lord forever.  For in YAH, the Lord is everlasting strength.” (Is. 26:3-4)  Comforting and compelling words indeed!


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

"Casting All Your Worries on the Lord" (Pt 3) (Nov. 14, 2018)

“Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 3)

(Nov. 14, 2018)


          During the bombing raids of WWII, thousands of children were orphaned and left to starve.  The fortunate ones were rescued and placed in refugee camps where they received food and good care.  But many of these children who had lost so much could not sleep at night.  They feared waking up to find themselves once again homeless and without food.  Nothing seemed to reassure them.  Finally, someone hit upon the idea of giving each child a piece of bread to hold at bedtime.  Holding their bread, these children could finally sleep in peace.  All through the night the bread reminded them ‘Today I ate and I will eat again tomorrow.’ (Taken from Jeannine K. Brown; Matthew; TTTC Series; 75)  We read in Exodus 16 of how God provided manna (bread) for the children of Israel in the wilderness.  They had to go out and gather it up daily because God wanted them to remember daily to depend on Him.  God desires for us to remember Him and what He has done and what He is doing.  He is “Jehovah-Jirah” our provider; therefore we have no need to worry or fret!  We are told in 1 Peter 5:6-7 “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.”

          In Matthew 6:31-32 we read “Therefore do not worry saying ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek.  For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.”  All too often worry betrays our faith.  We want to be strong and not worry, but worry is so tempting.  Worry is simply irresistible at times. 

          The opposite of worry is confidence.  Remember how last time it was mentioned that worry comes from an old German word that means to “strangle” or “choke?”  Worry tends to strangle or choke out our confidence in God and His promises.  Sadly, worry just seems to be a part of most people’s lives- maybe yours.  Many walk around, spiritually speaking, with a collar of worry that is way too tight.  The very idea of a Christian “worrying” would be almost laughable if it were not a sad reality.  Someone expressed the foolishness of worry through a little humor that brings home the point.  Maybe you have heard this little ditty about worry before “I’ve joined the new ‘don’t worry club,’ in fear I hold my breath, I’m so afraid I’ll worry, I’m worried half to death.” (Taken from Charles Talbert; Reading the Sermon on the Mount; 129)

          Jesus is teaching, for example, that it is unprofitable, even foolish to worry about what you will eat, drink, or wear.  These are the type of mundane things the pagans/Gentiles worry about; not those who know and trust the one true and living God.

          Today young people worry about having just the right athletic shoes, jeans, and backpack for the first day of school.  People worry about whether their neighbors own a nicer car than the one they own.  Studies have shown that one of the biggest worries people have these days is being “unfriended” on Facebook!  We might as well be worrying about the price of eggs in China as to worry about some of the things we do worry about!  Jesus is saying to all of us, ‘Don’t Worry; I’ve got you covered!’  Why then would we continue to worry so much?

          Worry stems from having misplaced priorities.  When we worry, the care/concern for whatever we are worrying about becomes a focus, perhaps a fixation, and we are therefore taking our focus or fixation off God and His Kingdom.  We are not putting it first.  Matthew 6:33 says “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.”  The world has no idea how to put God first, but strangely, and sadly, even many believers are not putting His Kingdom first either.

          To seek the Kingdom is to seek the King; to love Him as Savior and Friend, to bow to him as Lord, to trust the God who has redeemed us.  To seek the Kingdom is to evangelize, that is to point others toward the Kingdom.  It is to introduce them to our King and Lord. To seek the Kingdom is to submit personally to God’s reign by obeying Him.  We seek the Kingdom when we obey God at some level of personal cost.  A Christian business owner, for example, seeks the Kingdom when he closes his stores on Sunday, even though it is a good day for sales, so that he can worship and rest and model the same for his employees.  Chick-fil-A restaurants are a prime example of a successful business where following Godly principles are elevated above serving the bottom line.  “Black Friday” retailers serve as examples of those not putting God’s Kingdom first.  In fact they have found a way to put a serious damper on two major holidays; Thanksgiving, by using it only as a launching pad for their sales extravaganzas and Christmas by totally misrepresenting the meaning of the holiday which is actually about celebrating the birth of the Savior and the hope He brings to mankind. 

          There are many practical ways that God’s Kingdom should be given first place.  These include things such as voting for candidates, on every level, that demonstrate real concern for God’s Kingdom and His righteousness and vote against candidates that demonstrate little or no concern for God’s Kingdom and His righteousness.  To seek God’s Kingdom first means to consistently look beyond this world to the millennial reign of Christ which is far, far better than anything we now know.  To seek God’s Kingdom first means we invest in things of eternal value and do not waste time, money, or effort in doing things that really have no eternal value/significance.  To seek God’s Kingdom means to put God first, others second, and ourselves last.  To seek God’s Kingdom means to put basic fundamental things like church, Sunday School, prayer meetings, Bible reading, prayer, witnessing, etc. above our personal comfort or personal list of things to do. 

          Commentator Daniel Doriani writes “The context [of Mat. 6:33] suggests that seeking the Kingdom especially means dethroning wealth and possessions as our first pursuits.  We must not hoard treasures or live for pleasure, but put our treasure in heaven by giving to kingdom causes.” (Daniel M. Doriani; The Sermon on the Mount: The Character of the Kingdom; 180-81)  All too often, money makes our decisions for us as we go through life.  Is money your Lord?  Is it what you worry about?  You may say, of course not, but a closer, more honest examination may reveal otherwise.  To seek God’s Kingdom first means all else must be dethroned in our lives and the pursuit of God and His Kingdom must reign supreme.  This is the formula Jesus gave for how not to worry.  Simply seek God’s Kingdom first.  Make it your top priority and worry will quickly fade.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor


Wednesday, November 7, 2018

"Casting All Your Worries on the Lord" (Pt. 2) (Nov. 7, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 2)

(Nov. 7, 2018)


          Worry is not only ill-advised, it is simply unnecessary.  It does not help and, in fact, it actually hurts the one doing the worrying.  It adds stress to our lives, stress to our bodies and to its various functions.  Most important of all, worry is sinful.  Worry is a failure to trust God.  In worrying we offer a poor witness for our Savior as believers.  An unbeliever might legitimately ask of a believer why he/she should receive Jesus as Lord if they are going to still have the same old worries?

          In Matthew 6:26-30 Jesus taught “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not of more value than they?  Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?  So why do you worry about clothing?  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?”  Have you ever seen a bird begging for food?  Have you seen a lily pulling its pedals out over a bad color job?  God provides for them!  And they are not even said to be made in the “image and likeness of God” such as are human beings. Can a person add to their stature?  “Stature” used here probably means “length of life,” or “age.”  The word “cubit” then means a “length” of time not a “distance.”

          Commentator Douglas O’Donnell gives a great illustration in his commentary on Matthew at this point by using the pyramids.  We think of Egypt when we think about them but, in reality, there were/are elaborate pyramids in China, France, Greece, India, Italy, Cambodia, and the Americas.  The oldest and largest of the Egyptian pyramids was the Great Pyramid of Giza (one of the 7 Wonders of the Ancient World).  Architecturally it is a wonder, but theologically it is a colossal blunder.  Important and wealthy people were buried with their treasures because they believed they could somehow take them to the afterlife with them.  Now, many centuries later, as they are excavated we see the foolish reality of how they worried about treasure.  In fact, they look ridiculous for putting so much work into something that was impossible to achieve.  O’Donnell writes “The only purpose the pyramids serve would be centuries later when they were excavated by overly educated explorers, only to display their contents in some museum where day after day cranky schoolchildren are pulled along by their teachers to help them gain an appreciation for history and civilization.  The pyramids are just big illustrations of how right Jesus was and how foolish people can be.” (Douglas Sean O’Donnell; Matthew: All Authority in Heaven and on Earth; 181)  People in ancient times worried and fretted about taking their “stuff” to the afterlife.  It was important to them to maintain their royal status in the next world.  Not surprisingly when these pyramids have been explored all things are as they were when they were put in there, minus of course the things stolen by grave robbers over the centuries.

          The possessions, and the cares and concerns they bring, often capture people.  In Matthew 6, the question is raised, why would, for instance, people possibly worry about something as mundane and unimportant as clothing?  Clothing was a necessary item, however it was seen in very basic terms by people in antiquity.  To us, by contrast in the 21st century, clothing is much more of an idol.  We are told in this passage that even King Solomon, in his wealth and splendor and glory, was not adorned as fancy as how God decorates the landscape with beauty.  Every beast and every undesirable creature like snakes and insects are provided for by God!  And even possess a certain beauty and unmistakable intricacy.

          How many people worry about money/incomes/jobs/ being able to pay bills, etc?  Yet God is providing for insects, plants, snakes, lizards, etc!  Jesus knew people would worry themselves crazy over things like they do – money and the things money can buy.  The New Testament has much to say about money.  John MacArthur writes “Sixteen of the thirty-eight parables of Jesus deal with money.  One out of ten verses in the New Testament deal with that subject.  Scripture offers about five hundred verses on prayer, fewer than five hundred on faith, and over two thousand on money.  The believer’s attitude toward money and possessions is determinative.” (John MacArthur; Matthew Vol. 1; 418)  Is there really any need to worry about money and the things money can buy?  No.  Someone wrote a short poem that makes a very powerful point about the foolishness of worrying about simple things beyond our control.  “Said the robin to the sparrow; I would really like to know; why these anxious human beings; rush around and worry so.  Said 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.” (Taken from Charles Allen; The Sermon on the Mount; 143)

          Abstaining from worry, as much as possible, is one of the biggest keys to happiness.  When we keep everything God has promised in perspective it becomes much easier not to worry.  Michael Green cites a great illustration portraying the sort of perspectives believers should have.  “There is, in the life of the fourteenth-century German mystic Johann Tauler, a remarkable story that shows something of the attitude Jesus was looking for in his disciples.  One day Tauler met a beggar.  ‘God give you a good day, my friend,’ he said.  The beggar answered, ‘I thank God I never had a bad one.’  Then Tauler said, ‘God give you a happy life, my friend.’  ‘I thank God,’ said the beggar, ‘that I am never unhappy.’  In amazement Tauler asked, ‘What do you mean?’  ‘Well,’ said the beggar, ‘when it is fine I thank God.  When it rains I thank God.  When I have plenty I thank God.  When I am hungry I thank God.  And since God’s will is my will, and whatever pleases him pleases me, why should I say I am unhappy when I am not?’  Tauler looked at the man in astonishment.  ‘Who are you?’  he asked.  ‘I am a king,’ said the beggar.  ‘Where then is your kingdom?’ asked Tauler, the beggar replied quietly, ‘In my heart.’”  (Michael Green; The Message of Matthew; 105)  The only possible way a person could have an attitude anything similar to this beggar is to be a totally dependent Christian who has truly trusted God with everything.  This is what we are all called upon to be, but so few really are.  Do we believe God’s promises or not?  If Jesus is living in your heart you have what it takes to depend on Him this way.  If not, you need to trust Him as your Lord and Savior.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor, Pastor

Thursday, November 1, 2018

"Casting All Your Worries on the Lord" (Pt. 1) (Nov. 1, 2018)

Allen Raynor Weblog: “Casting All Your Worries on the Lord” (Pt. 1)

(Nov. 1, 2018)


          Several years ago I had a strong desire to attend seminary but there did not seem an obvious path for me to fulfill that desire.  I had prayed for a few years that God would open that door and provide the way.  I thought my prayer was being answered when, in the early 2000s Southern Seminary in Louisville, KY began offering online courses.  I signed up and began taking classes but after 3 semesters I had exhausted the number of hours (1/3 of the degree requirements) that they would allow to be taken online.  I finally resolved that I had to do what I knew I could have done all along but did not have enough faith to do; that was to simply resign my pastorate, rent a moving truck, and move to Louisville, KY, enroll in classes and allow God to take care of the details.  So, after a few weeks of dedicated prayer I announced my resignation in December and in January we loaded our belongings on a truck and with our 4 young children moved to Sellersburg, Indiana just across the Ohio river from Louisville, KY home of The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.  There were many unanswered questions and many fears and anxieties crept in, but my faith in God was strong.  In my heart and mind, this was what God was leading us to do.  The short version of what happened is that God did indeed provide in ways I could never have imagined.  He provided for us financially through a handful of people, he gave us a great church, great friends, a great place to live, and the on-campus experience at the seminary was so much more than I could ever have imagined.  In 2004 I earned my long-desired Master of Divinity degree.

          There is an old saying which goes “Never be afraid to trust a known God, to handle an unknown future.”  Jesus knew people’s natures and he knew they would always be prone to worry so He gave us many assurances in His Word.  One thing I learned through my seminary experience and through many twists and turns that life brings is that God often takes a step back from us in order that we might grow toward Him.

          Jesus said in His Sermon on the Mount “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on.  Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? (Mat. 6:25)  The conjunctive word “therefore” in vs. 25 links together what has been said with what is now being said.  Clearly this passage has a connection with money/wealth/riches just like the last passage discussed by Jesus in vs. 24 where He said “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and mammon.” (Mat. 6:24)

          The English word “worry” comes from an old German word meaning to “strangle” or “choke.”  Worry is essentially a failure to trust God.  Worry comes and attempts to “strangle” or “choke” out God’s promises in our lives.  And it often causes disciples to be “of little faith.”  Commentator Robert Mounce goes so far as to say “Worry is practical atheism and an affront to God.”   I believe Oswald Chambers brings it home the best when he writes “Most of us are pagans in a crisis; we think and act like pagans.  Only one out of a hundred is daring enough to bank his or her faith in the character of God.” (Oswald Chambers; Studies in the Sermon on the Mount; 65)

          In Matthew 6:25 Jesus tells people specifically to not worry about “your life,”  “what you will eat,” “what you will drink,” “your body,” and “what you will wear.”  Isn’t there more to life than these things?  Absolutely there is!  If a person is worrying about small, trivial things, then it stands to reason they are going to be worrying about everything!

          We live in a “self-indulgent” culture, and with that “self-indulgence” there seems to crop up a lot of anxiety/worry.  A man named Thomas Kepler wrote a book many years ago that tells about how a group of 104 psychologists came together with the cases they were dealing with in order to determine the things that were bringing people (their patients) the most anxiety.  They determined that at around age 18 people worry most about ideals.  At age 20, people worry most about appearance.  By age 26 the biggest worry is about making a good impression.  By age 30 the salary they are drawing and the cost of living top the list.  By age 32 about overall success in their career field.  By age 34 it is about job security.  By age 41 anxiety over politics tops the list.  By age 43 it is anxiety over marital problems.  By age 45 there is anxiety over the loss of ambition they once had.  By the time a person is over 45 their greatest anxiety is concerning their health.  When looking at this list, it becomes quite clear that worry is useless.  Worry is unfaithfulness to the God that we call our Savior.  If He is our Savior He has “saved” us from the need to worry so much!  The only people in this world who should legitimately worry are non-believers; only they have something very real to worry about!

          I have done my fair share of worrying.  Some things I worried about never came to pass.  Some things I worried about did come to pass but I could not have stopped them.  Worry will crowd out trust if we let it.  God wants us to give all the things we cannot control over to Him, which is most things.  There are many benefits to doing so.  It takes the burden off of us, but it also deepens our trust in, and overall relationship with Christ.  My experience of taking the step of faith to move as we did near the seminary campus was a life-changing event for me in more ways than I can count.  God grew me spiritually through it all and the person I am today was heavily shaped through that experience which seemed scary at the time.  I have a feeling God may be waiting to shape you as well if you will take a step of faith with Him.


In Christ,


Dr. Allen Raynor