Onaway & Millersburg UMC
Tuesday, October 20, 2020
Open Hearts, Open Minds, Open Doors
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Sermon

 
Be a Faithful Disciple 

 

 ONAWAY UNITED METHODIST CHURCH

HOME WORSHIP SERVICE

OCTOBER 18, 2020

 

Welcome & Invitation to Worship

Call to Worship                           
As we gather to worship you, Holy One,
show us your presence, O God.
As we join to pray at your footstool, Exalted One,
show us your ways, O God.
As we unite our voices to praise you, Lover of Justice,
show us your glory, O God.
As we tremble in the cleft of the rock, silently awaiting you, Merciful One,
show us your goodness, O God.
Let the earth shake in your praise, Most High!
We extol your great and awesome name, ever-present God!

Worship in Song               This Is My Father's World                         144

Old Testament Reading                                                    Psalm 96:1-7

Offering with Doxology

Offertory Prayer

Prayer of the People     

The Lord's Prayer

Scripture Reading                                                        Matthew 6:25-34

Musical Response                   Thank You Jesus                              2081
                                      Thank you Jesus, Amen! (x3) Alleluia! Amen

Message                          Casting Our Anxiety on God       1 Peter 5:6-11

I have a memory I want to share with you. When I was young, I went to the dentist with my mother. As I remember that was my first dentist visit. I don't remember the details, but I remember that I was crying a lot while in the dentist chair for a while because I was so anxious and scared of everything around me- the smell, sounds, the dentist, and even my mother. So, how I could be treated? Well, I couldn't. The dentist gave up on trying to work on my teeth, so we just went back home. Then, I couldn't go to the dentist for a while because of the anxiety. But, how's about now? Of course, I can go the dentist by myself - no crying and no escaping, because I realized that the dentist was not scary as I grew up. It is still little anxiety inducing, but going is much better than having a toothache.

I'm sure we've all had an experience where we felt really anxious, sacred, or worried when we were younger, but later it turned out that there wasn't anything to worry about. We all experience anxiety sometimes. There is none who has never experienced this uncomfortable feeling.

Especially as we go through this unprecedented  time of pandemic, people are struggling physically, emotionally and psychologically all around the world. As I told you before, I have heard more and more people say - "I am upset or irritated so easily by small things now. I feel down or depressed really often." There are many people feel frustration, anxiety, or stress in increased amounts, including me.

This is not just our experience. The CDC said, "the COVID pandemic may be stressful for people. Fear and anxiety about a new disease and what could happen can be overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Public health actions, such as social distancing, can make people feel isolated and lonely and can increase stress and anxiety." People are stressed not only about COVID itself but also a ton of other things around us as we are going through uncertain and often isolating times.  

So, I want to ask you, recently, what causes you to feel anxiety? What are you worrying or stressing about? It could be anything - family issues, health, finances, relationship issues, and so on. It could be one big problem or many smaller problems... I will give you five seconds to think about what is troubling you. You don't need to tell me, but think about it.

The Effects of Anxiety

Look at this cup. It is not that heavy and I don't mind holding it or lifting it up to drink water (it is easy); however... imagine if I held it for an hour, or four hours, or an entire day, my arm, shoulder, and figures would eventually start to cramp up and hurt. I wouldn't be able to tell that it was light or easy to hold anymore, it would feel a lot heavier than when I started holding it. Anxiety is like this. It may not seem like a big problem at first, but if you hold it in your heart for too long, it damages your body, mind, and soul.

As we know well, anxiety causes many problems in our body and mind. It can cause headaches, suppress our immunity, lead to chronic muscle tension and pain, insomnia or chronic fatigue, depression, appetite disturbances, stomach ulcers, high blood pressure, and even chronic inflammation diseases including IBS or Fibromyalgia.

And what about our spirits? Anxiety also causes damage to our spiritual heath. The Bible tells us that anxiety negatively impacts our spiritual growth.

Let us look at Matthew 13:22. In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus explains about the seed that fell among thrones, "it refers to someone who hears the word, but the worries of this life and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word, making it unfruitful."

This parable clearly tells us that anxiety blocks our spiritual growth, chokes us until we wither away without producing any fruits of the spirit. This means, perhaps when you read the Bible and listen to the message, you nod your head and feel touched for a moment; however, when you get back to your situation, you just sigh and worry and forget what God told you. That is sad; the word of God came in your heart but did not have the chance to grow or bear fruit. It is a serious problems for our spirit and our relationship with God.

So, Jesus often said "do not be afraid/worry." An example of this was in today's Gospel passage, "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?" (Matthew 6:26-27) Jesus does not want us to be worried or anxious due to our environment, but to be more faithful and trust the Lord.

Okay, we know that anxiety can cause all sorts of health problems physically, psychologically, and spiritually, so we need to think "how do we handle the anxiety we have?" As I told you, anxiety is a natural emotional reaction and it is almost impossible to live an "anxiety-free" life. So, we need to think about how to handle it well and faithfully when it comes.

Casting our anxiety on God

We can find the answer in today's passage. Verse 7, which is today's main verse, says "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."

The Greek word translated to "care," or "anxiety," here is used to express the burdens that come with anxiety and apprehension. When circumstances are difficult, it is easy for us to be anxious and worried, but if that is all we can focus on, we will miss God's blessings and promises. Instead of struggling with anxiety, we are to turn it over to the Lord, because God is sovereign. We should let God be God in our lives.

Who was the author of today's passage? It was Peter. I think if anybody knew from experience that God cares for God's own, it was Peter! When you read the four gospels, you discover that Peter shared in some wonderful miracles. Jesus healed Peter's mother-in-law (Mark 1:29-31), gave him an impossible catch of fish (Luke 5:1-11), helped him walk on water (Matthew 14:22-33), and even delivered Peter from prison (Acts 12). So, what Peter said was not some trite, empty reassurance but a confident proclamation based on his lived experiences.

According to 1 Peter 5:7, we must once and for all give all of our cares - past, present, and future - over to the Lord. We must not hand them to God piecemeal, keeping those cares that we think we can handle ourselves. We must trust in God fully. Each time a new burden arises, we know that through our faith in the Lord, we have already turned it over to God.

Casting our anxiety on God means dependence upon the Lord; instead of struggling with our cares, nursing our anxieties, and complaining about all the bad that God has allowed to come into our lives, we are to turn those things back over to God, accepting the truth that God will sustain us because God cares for us.

Dr. George Morrison said, "God does not make His children carefree in order that they be careless."

How does God show God's love and care for us when we give our cares to God? Rev. Wiersbe summarizes that God performs four wonderful ministries on our behalf:
(1) God gives us the courage to act on our cares honestly and not run away from them (Isa. 41:10)
(2) God gives us the wisdom to understand the situation (James 1:5)
(3) God gives us the strength to do what we must do (Phil 4:13)
(4) God gives us the faith to trust God to do the rest (Ps. 37:5)

Some people give God their burdens and expect God to do everything! It is important that we let God work in us as well as work for us, so that we will be prepared when the answer comes. "Cast thy burden upon the Lord, and he shall sustain thee" (Ps. 55:22)

Casting our anxiety on God is anchored to our faith. Without faith, we can't give up our anxiety; without a good relationship with God, we can't hand over our anxiety to God. Casting our anxiety on God is an action of faith.

George Muller said, "The beginning of anxiety is the end of faith, and the beginning of true faith is the end of anxiety."

Think about the scene where Jesus' disciples faced a storm in their boat and got anxious, almost panicked, so they ran to Jesus who slept in the stern. Do you know what they said? "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?" They forgot or didn't think that Jesus cared for them... why? Because they were completely overcome with anxiety. Then, Jesus said, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?" Then, he calmed the storm.

They believed in Jesus so followed him, but in the moment when they faced serious trouble, they forgot. We also have faith that Jesus saves us from sin and death, right? That is the amazing Grace that God grants through faith. Even though we, as Christians, have faith that Jesus saves us, we often lack faith in the reality that Jesus cares for us always.

To cast your anxiety on God, you should remember there are many issues that can cause anxiety in our lives; however, God is in your lives as well. God is always walking with you accompanying you through every storm. If you focus on the issues that cause worry and anxiety, you don't have room to focus on Jesus. If you only pay attention to the problems in your lives, you don't have attention to give Jesus, who is with you. 

I want to share a story with you. A family put their Grandma on her first airplane flight, but she wasn't very confident about the experience of leaving the ground on such a contraption. When they met her at the airport on her return, one of the family members joked with her by asking, “Well, did the plane hold you up okay?” She grudgingly replied, “Well, yes,” and then quickly added, “But I never did put my full weight down on it!”

Many Christians are like that Grandma. The truth is, they’re being sustained completely by God, but they’re afraid to put their full weight down on God. They just cannot bring themselves to cast their anxiety to God and trust God fully. As a result, they’re plagued by anxiety and aren’t able to enjoy the flight.

I asked for you to bring your anxieties to mind at the beginning of the sermon. I don't know what you might have weighing on your heart; however, God knows, and God cares because God loves you. Cast your anxiety on God. Trust God fully. Put your worries and anxieties at the feet of God honestly and humbly and ask for God's guidance and help. God will give you all of the courage, wisdom, strength, and faith you need. Cast your anxiety on God through faithful prayer and depend on God with the full weight of your heart.

Let us pray,
God, thank you for your care and love. In a world that can be so confusing sometimes, it’s comforting to know that you’re always here with us and care about us. When we cast our anxiety on you, trusting in you alone, O God, we ask that you give us your courage, wisdom, strength in return. Thank you so much for loving us and caring for us constantly. In Jesus’ name, amen.

Worship in Response               He Touched Me                              367

Prayer of Dismissal & Blessing