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Wednesday, June 1, 2022

Stroudsburg Pennsylvania Art
Wall art in Stroudsburg, PA.
Don't park in this space if you are worried about a train!
Stroudsburg is probably the main touristy town in the Poconos, although there are several across the region.

"The Worries Of The World"

Message summary: Many of us can testify that worries have a choking impact upon us. In fact I find it an ongoing challenge. I sure wish I could declare that this is an issue in which I have completely overcome and reached full maturity but those pesky weeds of worry shoot up when I’m least expecting it or at times I find myself unconsciously experiencing it. I must willfully pluck this overpowering weed from my mind so that it doesn’t choke out the fruit of faith that reminds me to trust in God and believe on His Word.

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“And others are the ones sown with seed among the thorns; these are the ones who have heard the word, but the worries of the world, and the deceitfulness of wealth, and the desires for other things enter and choke the word, and it becomes unfruitful" (Mark 4:18,19).

Early in my Christian life I read a booklet by Jay Adams titled, "What To Do About Worry" which was so helpful that I read it several times and frankly I need to review it yet again! Adams opens with an interesting illustration:

Joe used to worry all the time about everything, in fact, his friends knew him as a worrier. One day Bill was walking down the street when he saw his worrying friend bouncing along as happy as any man could be. Joe was actually whistling, humming and wearing a huge smile; he looked as if he did not have a care in the world.

Bill could hardly believe his eyes — it was obvious that a radical transformation had taken place. He stopped Joe and asked, “Joe, what’s happened to you? You don’t seem worried anymore; I never saw a happier man.”

Joe replied, “It’s wonderful, Bill. I haven’t worried for several weeks now.”

Bill continued, “That’s great — how did you manage it? What brought about the change?” Joe explained, “You see, I hired a man to do all my worrying for me.”

“Well,” Bill mused, “I must say that is a new wrinkle; tell me, how much does he charge you?”

“A thousand dollars a week.”

“A thousand dollars a week? How could you possibly raise a thousand dollars a week to pay him?” Joe calmly responded, “That’s his worry.”

In today’s message we want to talk about the subject of worry, basing it on a phrase from the parable of the Sower, "but the worries of the world".

The parable of the sower is included in three of the four gospels. To interpret its larger meaning requires some knowledge about agriculture but, unlike some of the parables recorded by Christ, this parable also has the explanation.

In yesterday’s message we began with the concept of the farmer sowing seed and the immediate threat of weeds popping up that choke or compete with the desirable plants requiring the farmer to extricate or eradicate them. Of course this is also true on a smaller scale for home gardeners or any who try to keep a tidy landscape.

We also have to deal with weeds in regard to our spiritual growth and fruitfulness!

In the explanation of the parable Christ lists three choking agents of the seed that was thrown among thorns (weeds).  This seed "heard the word", suggesting that it had a start; in agricultural terms it germinated. However the germinating, growing seed was stalled due to the choking of the word which made it unfruitful.

The first choking agent listed by our Lord is the "the worries of the world". Elsewhere in the Gospels Christ had a lot to teach about worry, as do the other Scriptures. Worry is a translation of the Greek word "merimna" which is also translated cares, concern, anxiety, distractions.  It has the sense of turning over and over again in the mind which is exactly what we tend to do when we’re worried about a matter, isn't it? It's quite a contrast to "meditation" which has the sense of turning over and over words of Scripture such as indicated in Psalm 1:2, "and on His law (Word) He meditates day and night".

Worry can be both acute, our response to a specific situation of stress, or worry can be chronic bringing on an ongoing sense of uncertainty. It’s interesting to me the non-specific wording of the text simply states “the worries of the world”.  In this context Christ does not attempt to list any of the sources that may cause worry.

Many of us can testify how worries have a choking impact upon us. In fact I find it an ongoing challenge. I wish I could declare that this is an issue in which I have completely overcome and reached full maturity but those pesky weeds of worry and doubt shoot up when I’m least expecting it. Other times I find myself unconsciously experiencing it. I must willfully pluck this overpowering weed from my mind so that it doesn’t choke out the fruit of faith that reminds me to trust in God and believe on His Word.

As I do so reassuring verses begin to fill my mind and calm my anxious heart such as, "God is my Refuge and Strength, an ever present help in trouble. Therefore I will not fear…." (Psalm 46); "I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength" (Philippians 4:13); "You will keep in perfect peace all who trust in You, all whose thoughts are fixed on You" (Isaiah 26:3).

Finally it occurs to me that when we cross to the other side not worrying will no longer be a difficult discipline, but will be a very natural way of life – no more worries, for the old order of things will have passed away. Praise God!  But until then, let us purposefully cast all our anxiety (merimna) on Him because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).

Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)

Stephen & Brooksyne Weber

Praying manDaily prayer: Father, all my anxieties and all my cares I bring to the mercy seat and want to deposit them there.  You won't put me off nor is it expected that I work it out in my own way. Instead You demonstrate mercy and compassion as You are strength in place of my weakness, wisdom in place of my lack of understanding and patience in place of my impatient nature that could lead me to worry and fret. So I look to You, not myself or others, for the answers to my present and ongoing troubles, for a wise Spirit-directed perspective in knowing how to deal with them or how to lay them down and trust You to work all things out for our good and for Your glory though Christ Jesus our Lord. Amen.

One wrote, I believe it was D.L. Moody:

We can choose to travel this earthly journey first or second class based on Psalm 56:3. Second Class is 'When I am afraid, I will trust in You' or First Class is 'I will trust in You.' In other words don’t choose to trust in God only when you’re afraid, but trust Him at all times, then you’re less likely to be afraid!

Another promise concerning today's message: "Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 4:6,7).

Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources

What Do You Do When You Worry All The Time?  Jay Adams  (pdf) (I believe this is the same material in the booklet, "What To Do About Worry” referred to above.)

"All Your Anxiety"   Video    Grace Community Church (This old hymn has such wonderful lyrics)

"I Will Fear No More"  Video  The Afters

"One More Reason"  Video   Joseph Habedank 

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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.

Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."

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