Christmas Exchanges  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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-{Matthew 6}
-As we come to the Christmas season, I want to talk about making an exchange. We talk about gift exchanges in a couple of senses around Christmas time. But the sense I want to talk about is what happens on December 26th—you exchange the gifts you have for something else or for something of a different size or model or color. You receive these gifts but there is an issue with it so you exchange it.
-I want to use that concept regarding habits or lifestyles or attitudes that we take upon ourselves (you could say that we have gifted ourselves) that are harmful to us spiritually. And the devil takes these dispositions and reinforces them in our life in the hopes to make us as ineffective to the service of Christ and the gospel as possible. He knows that if he can fortify these harmful thoughts within us, we won’t be available to serve God. The devil will use these thoughts and attitudes to neutralize us, and when we allow him to do so, he builds these strongholds in our life that seem insurmountable.
-But we don’t have to allow these things to get a foothold in our life. If we have taken on these terrible habits, God offers something better that we can exchange it with—something that leads to life and freedom and joy. So, this Christmas season we want to make some exchanges.
-Today, I want to talk about exchanging our worry for trust. It is not just trusting anything and everything. It’s not trusting in your own self-confidence or self-esteem or self-worth. It’s trusting someone that is above and beyond you. The only way to get rid of worry is to trust God.
-Worry is a killer. It slowly kills us physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Dr. Charles Mayo of the famous Mayo Clinic says, “There’s a growing mountain of evidence that suggests that worry is the chief contributor to depression, nervous breakdowns, high blood pressure, heart attacks, and early death. Stress kills. I’ve never known a man to die from hard work, but I’ve known a lot who died from worry.” As another person stated it: Worry is like a rocking chair; it uses up all your energy but where does it get you?
-Christian, there is no doubt a lot of different trials and tribulations and troubles happen while we are on this earth. There are a lot of stressors to go around. But here’s the thing, Christians need not worry or be anxious because they can trust God to take care of their most pressing needs. So, here’s what we need to see today: Worry weakens its grip when it is exchanged for trust in God. [Repeat]
Matthew 6:25–34 ESV
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? 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 which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious 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 arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. 34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
-To give some context, this is in the middle of the famous Sermon on the Mount, with Christ talking about Kingdom values. Right before our passage, Jesus warns people to be careful where they invest their earthly treasures, because wherever you invest, that’s where your heart is going to be. If you invest in the world, your heart will cling to the world. If you invest in eternity, your heart will cling to eternity. And what is the reason people invest so highly in the world—because they want to be sure they can take care of all their needs (as well as their wants).
-People invest in the worldly in their own power and wisdom, but then that means they have to rely on their own power and wisdom to maintain it all. But no matter how people might fight against it, no human is able to fully control their circumstances and no human can control the future. With all that uncertainty of whether or not you will be able to hold your earthly treasure, there comes that stark reality that you don’t know whether you can maintain what you got, much less add to it. So, this leads to worry and anxiety. We know in our hearts that our circumstances can change at any moment, and so we fret about what might be and what could be.
-The natural human worries because they only trust in themselves, and deep down they know that this is the equivalent of expecting a thin sheet of paper to hold up a two-ton truck. So, does that mean that our life and circumstances are left up to chance and fate? Not if you know God through Jesus Christ. If you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ, you are God’s child, and that changes your circumstances here on earth and in eternity. And if you belong to God, you no longer have to rely on yourself, you trust in God. And if you trust that God is in control, there is no need to worry. Remember what I said before: Worry weakens its grip when it is exchanged for trust in God. But, how do we make the exchange. There are four quick actions that Jesus gives us here in this passage...

1) Trust that God provides

-Jesus tells the listeners that there is no reason to be anxious and worry about earthly matters, such as what you will eat or drink or wear. And since these are so basic, by extension Jesus is saying not to worry at all about any earthly matter that there is. But why does Jesus say this? Why shouldn’t we worry? Because God provides everything that His children need on this earth (and I stress need, not want).
-But how do we know that God will provide for us? How can we trust that? Jesus gives the answer: look at how God sustains all the rest of creation. If God sustains all the rest of creation, will He just toss us to the side and forget about us? If God is powerful enough to ensure that the entire universe maintains its course, would it be too difficult for God to take care of you in every aspect of your life? Is God’s hand so short that He can reach every other corner of creation, but somehow He’s not able to reach you in your time of need?
-Jesus says to consider that birds don’t do any sort of agricultural work, and yet God feeds them. Flowers in the field don’t sow or knit or crochet, and yet they’re clothing is more majestic than the rich and powerful Solomon. So, if God takes care of birds and flowers (and all the rest of creation), will He not take care of His children? What parent would go around to make sure that all the rest of the families in the neighborhood are fed and clothed, and then leave their own children to be naked and hungry?
-You have to ask yourself, is God capable of providing for my needs? The answer is yes—He is omnipotent, all-powerful. Is God willing to provide for my needs? Jesus makes sure that we answer that with another yes. Does God promise that He will provide and does God keep His promises? Yes and yes. If God is willing and able and keeps His promises, then why worry?
-There is a story about a man named John Brentz, a friend of Martin Luther’s. Brentz incurred the hatred of King Charles V who made many attempts to kill the minister. Hearing that a troop of Spanish cavalry was on the way to arrest him, he cast himself upon God in prayer. At once the guidance came: "Take a loaf of bread and go into the upper room and where you will find a door open, enter and hide yourself under the roof." He acted accordingly, found the only open door, and hid himself in the loft. For fourteen days he laid there while the search continued. The one loaf of bread would have been insufficient, but day by day, a hen came up to the attic, and laid an egg without cackling. The fifteenth day it did not come, but John Brentz heard the people in the street say, "They are gone at last," and he came out.
-Brentz didn’t have to worry about how he’d be able to hide with just a loaf of bread because he trusted God would provide what He needed, and God did. Exchange your worry for trust because God provides...

2) Trust that God loves

-After Jesus uses the birds and creation as examples of God’s provision, He asks a question: If God provides for birds and plants and all creation, aren’t you of more value than they? Aren’t you worth more to God than all of the rest of creation. The question is said and written in such a way that the expected answer is YES. Of course you are more valuable than the other parts of creation.
-Jesus is reminding the Christian that God loves them tremendously. You, as a human being, are the only part of creation that is made in the image of God. God created man to relate with, fellowship with, and come alongside and work with in this creation of His. Yes, it was humanity that sinned and rebelled. And yes, it is humanity that bears the brunt of God’s wrath for that rebellion. But God showed His love to humanity in that while they were still sinners, Christ died for them. And then for those who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, they are adopted as sons and daughters of the living God, becoming heirs of all of God’s promises and joint-heirs with Christ Himself.
-If you are not a Christian, God loved you such that He provided the only means of salvation through Jesus Christ for you, providing the cure for sin. And if you are a Christian, God through Christ did all that needed to be done to forgive your sin and make you a child of the King. Would God ignore the needs of one that He loves? Elsewhere, Jesus reminds us that if we humans who are evil know how to give good things to our children, how much more will God give what is needed to His children when they ask? Now, we need to remember that His timing and methodology are not ours, but you have to ask yourself a very important question. Am I God’s child? If the answer is yes, then know that God loves you—you are of more value to Him than all the rest of creation put together. If the answer is no, you are not a child of God, then you can remedy that by believing that Jesus died for you, and rose again.
-So, here is the bottom line: if you are a child of God, trust that God loves you. When a parent is living and acting like a parent should, a young child does not worry whether or not they will be fed or sheltered or whatever. Why then would a child of God worry whether or not the God who loves them will take care of them? Think of our ultimate need and God’s ultimate show of love. God so loved the world that He provided His Son. If God took care of our eternal need, how much more will His love compel His care for us in the temporal.
-The Bible says that PERFECT LOVE CASTS OUT FEAR / WORRY. You can exchange your worry with trust because Jesus loves you, this you know, for the Bible tells you so...

3) Trust that God sees

-A reason that we give in to worry is that we don’t think that God sees us or cares about us, or we think He’s ignoring us. So, we decide to take matters into our own hands. If God doesn’t do things in our way in the time that we think He ought to do it, then He’s not meeting our needs, so we take on the burden and we pursue the earthly. But Jesus says that it is the Gentile who is obsessed with worldly treasures. Meaning that it is the unbeliever who is obsessed with obtaining the treasures of earth, whether they are necessities or mere pleasures. The unbeliever has no one to trust to supply their needs, they have nothing more than what’s on the earth to look forward to, so their focus is completely on what they are or are not getting out of this earth.
-But Jesus says that is not the attitude of the believer. Why? Because Jesus says that your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Jesus is saying that God sees you, He sees what you are going through, He knows what you need, and He will give it to you in His timing according to His good pleasure. God knows when you have a need and what it is you need; and, to be honest, God knows even better than you what you need. You may think you need this thing over here, but God sees what’s going on and He knows that this other thing over here is better for you. You think you need this thing right now, but God sees and knows you aren’t ready for that thing right now—He sees and knows that you will be ready for it years down the road.
-Just because things are not happening how you like or when you like, do not think that God has turned a blind eye to you. He sees and He knows and He provides. What you need to do is trust that He does see, trust that He does care, trust that He will provide. That means laying the burden of worry at His feet believing these things to be true, and then leaving it there.
-We think of the name given to God in the Old Testament: Jehovah Jireh, which means “God sees.” When Abraham was trudging up Mt. Moriah, ready to sacrifice his son because that is what God had asked of him . . . with every excruciating step he said to himself, “God sees.” Abraham did not know God’s plan until he was at the very top of the mountain. But God knew his end from the beginning. Abraham obeyed God, and continued up the hill fully believing that God sees. And at the end, God spared Isaac’s life and a ram was sacrificed in his place. Did Abraham know the outcome at the bottom of Mt. Moriah? No. But he trusted God, He trusted that God saw, and his faith was rewarded.
-Elsewhere in Scripture, Jesus said that not even a sparrow falls to the ground without God the Father seeing and noticing. Aren’t you worth more than a sparrow? The answer is yes. Joni Eareckson Tada put this into perspective when she said this: I glanced at [a] bird feeder and smiled. I could understand Jesus noticing if an eagle or falcon or hawk fell to the ground. Those are the important birds He created, the kind worth attending to. But a scrappy sparrow? They're a dime a dozen—Jesus said so Himself. Yet from thousands of bird species, the Lord chose the most insignificant, least-noticed, scruffiest bird of all. A pint-sized thing that even dedicated bird-watchers ignore. That thought alone calmed my fears. I felt significant and noticed. Because if God takes note of each humble sparrow—who they are, where they are, and what they are doing—I know He keeps tabs on me.
-Yes, God is keeping tabs on you, so stop worrying whether or not He sees. God sees and cares and will provide. But there is another aspect we need to consider...

4) Trust that God prioritizes

-Instead of worrying and being anxious about your earthly needs, Jesus says that God has set a greater priority that should take our time and energy. Jesus says to SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF GOD AND HIS RIGHTEOUSNESS, AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED TO YOU. Instead of carrying the burden of worrying about your earthly needs, you put your time and effort and energy seeking the things of the Kingdom of God, and God will take care of all these worldly needs that are competing for your time.
-You waste so much time worrying about this or that earthly thing, it eats up all your time and energy and focus so that you are not being effective with eternal matters. In fact, that is exactly where the devil wants you. The devil will bring into your mind all these cares and concerns of the world, such that your obsession over them makes you useless for the kingdom. If the devil neutralizes you with the worldly, he knows he won’t have to deal with what you accomplish in the heavenly.
-If you concentrate your thoughts and efforts on what it is that God prioritizes, you don’t have to worry about worry. Your mind will be preoccupied with something of eternal significance and value. But what is seeking the kingdom? It is found in the prayer the Lord taught: Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. It is personal obedience which then leads to being salt and light in a fallen world. But you are not able to seek the kingdom if you are not part of the kingdom. Until you repent of your sin and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, you are an outsider. You will not be able to get rid of your burden of worry until you are part of the family of the One you can trust. And then once you are part of the Kingdom, then seek the kingdom and its will and its values above all else, trusting that God will add unto you all those earthly needs that you have.
-And here’s the thing, when your thoughts and desires are after the kingdom of God, all the worries of the world seem miniscule in comparison. You have a heavenly perspective that realizes that taking care of your earthly needs is child’s play for God. What God wants from you is loyalty, obedience, love, and trust. You seek these things, He’ll take care of what it is that you need.


-Soren Kierkegaard said something to the effect that all worldly worry has its basis in a person’s unwillingness to be contented with being a human being. Meaning, worry shows that you are trying to control things no human can, so you try to play God instead. If you want to rid yourself of worry, then stop trying to be God and instead trust God to be God. The answer to worry is not the old song DON’T WORRY, BE HAPPY. It is DON’T WORRY, TRUST GOD.
-There are some Christians here today that need to get rid of that burden. Come to the altar and lay your burden of worry down, and trust God and seek His Kingdom and righteousness.
-But if you are not a Christian, you have many worries, the most important is the destination of your eternal soul. You can get rid of that worry by trusting in Jesus Christ...
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