Psalms 56:3-4

“What time I am afraid, I will trust in thee. In God I will praise his word, in God I have put my trust; I will not fear what flesh can do unto me.”

Matthew 6:33-34

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”

Jesus spoke to His disciples in a Sermon on the Mount of Beatitudes, located on the northwestern shore of the Sea of Galilee, between Capernaum and the archeological site of Gennesaret (Ginosar), on the southern slopes of the Korazim Plateau.

Not wanting His disciples to engage in worry, like the Gentiles, but to be different, because of their faith in the Heavenly Father, Jesus provided a cure for anxious care.

If you want to stop worry from consuming your life, if you want to stop thinking “about problems or unpleasant things that might happen in a way that makes you feel unhappy and frightened” (Cambridge Dictionary), Jesus said you must seek first the kingdom of God.

There is wisdom in this Royal Commanded because Jesus, as Creator-God  knows the mind can only think one thought at a time.

Experientially, because we switch between different kinds of thoughts quickly, we tend to think we can entertain many thoughts at once, but we cannot think more than one thought at the same time.

Once this truth is realized, and embraced, there is the ability to take control of the mind, which pleases God, and obey this commandment to seek first the kingdom of God.

With these words, Jesus is not suggesting something.

Jesus is commanding His disciples to listen, understand, and obey.

When we obey, we are blessed by God.

When we obey, we are favored by God.

When we obey, we are happier, and will sing a song of joy with new feeling, because we understand something.

“When we walk with the Lord
in the light of His Word,
What a glory He sheds on our way!
While we do His good will,
He abides with us still,
And with all who will trust and obey.

Trust and obey, for there’s no other way
To be happy in Jesus, but to trust and obey.

Not a shadow can rise,
not a cloud in the skies,
But His smile quickly drives it away;
Not a doubt or a fear,
not a sigh or a tear,
Can abide while we trust and obey.

Not a burden we bear,
not a sorrow we share,
But our toil He doth richly repay;
Not a grief or a loss,
not a frown or a cross,
But is blessed if we trust and obey.

But we never can prove
the delights of His love
Until all on the altar we lay;
For the favor He shows,
for the joy He bestows,
Are for them who will trust and obey.

Then in fellowship sweet
we will sit at His feet,
Or we’ll walk by His side in the way;
What He says we will do,
where He sends we will go;
Never fear [worry],
only trust and obey.

In 1887, John H. Sammis found God’s cure for anxious care. By seeking first, the kingdom of God, the mind is focused on one main thought, and attention is taken from self to consider others. Thinking more about something other than one’s own self can be mentally and emotionally healthy.

So, what does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God?

This is not a great mystery.

To seek first the kingdom of God means to seek for the will of God to be done on earth as it is done in heaven.

To seek first the kingdom of God is to advance the Lord’s message and agenda. This is what Jesus did. When Jesus came into the world, on the night He was born, the baby in the cradle said to the Father, “Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me…Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me,) to do thy will, O God” (Heb. 10:5, 7).

To seek first the kingdom of God is to do the will of the Father. The Messiah baby grew to be the Messiah boy. At twelve years of age He was found in the Temple by His parents talking to the Rabbis. When asked what He was doing there Jesus said to them, “Do you not know that I must be about my Father’s business” (Luke 2:49).

Oh, that every teenager would say, “I am seeking the kingdom of God, and being about my Father’s business. No matter what else I am doing in life, I am seeking first the kingdom of God” (Luke 2:49).

In His maturity, the Messiah went to the synagogue and opened the Scriptures to declare, “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me!” (Luke 4:18). The reason the Spirit was present was because, in infancy, as a youth, and in His maturity, Jesus was seeking  the kingdom of God.

If we want to obey this Royal Command of Christ, if we want to stop worrying, if we want to seek first the kingdom of God, then let us preach the gospel to the poor; comfort the brokenhearted, and tell others of One who can deliver them from all their cares.

“Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world” (James 1:27).

There is a promise associated with gospel obedience.

When we seek the kingdom of God, and a life of holiness, “all these things shall be added.” The reference is to all things which Jesus noted people worry about identified as the necessities of life.

We may not have all that we desire in life, but God has promised to provided for the essentials of His people.

There is another facet to God’s cure for anxious care. It is found in the word, contentment. The Lord would have His people be content with what they have, in order not to worry. The Bible says,

“Let your manner of life be without covetousness; and be content with such things as you have: for the Lord has said, I will never leave you, nor forsake you” (Heb. 13:5). 

Now consider some simple actions to take to reduce worry.

First, confess the time spent in worry as a transgression of the known will of God.  Worry is a waste of time and energy and emotions. It misses the mark of having the peace which passes all understanding. The Bible says that God will keep those in perfect peace whose mind is stayed upon Him.

Second, reaffirm in prayer  faith in God. There is a language of faith, and it ought to be spoken.  The language of faith should be spoken to ourselves, and it should be communicated to God in prayer. Faith is enhanced by reviewing what God has done in the past. That is what David did.  David stood before Goliath and remembered how God delivered a lion into his hand.  Goliath was no better than an animal, and would be defeated by faith (1 Sam.17:37). 

Third, commit to seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.  

After learning what Jesus taught about this topic, we must ask ourselves again,

“Why do we worry?”

John Wesley used to say that he would just as soon swear as to worry. One man has a motto that hangs on the wall in his home that reads: “Why worry when you can pray?”

Worry saddens the day.

Worry blights, destroys, and kills.

Worry depletes one’s energies, devitalizes the physical man, and enervates the whole spiritual nature.

Worry greatly reduces the spiritual stature and impoverishes the whole spirit (E.E. Wordsworth).

Elizabeth Barrett Browning wrote,

“The little cares that fretted me,
I lost them yesterday
Among the fields above the sea,

Among the winds at play.
The foolish fears of what may happen
I cast them all away
Amid the humming of the bees,
Amid the clover scented hay.”

There are many things Jesus does not want us to worry about. God has promised to honor those who honor Him. So, we ask again, “Why do we worry?”  Worry does not make our problems go away, but it can exacerbate them.

Now, the Word of God is not unrealistic.

There are situations we all face.

There are things we are concerned about.

There are bills to be paid.

There are emotions that need healing.

There are medical conditions that are stressful.

Sometimes our concerns are about our children, which is where the phase “worry wart” came from.

A worry wart is a person who worries excessively. The term originates from an American cartoon strip called “Out of Our Way,” by J. R. Williams. The cartoon strip featured a juvenile male character named Worry Wart who caused alarm and anxiety in others, rather than himself. However, by the 1930’s the expression transitioned to its present understanding.

R. C. Sproul confessed that he struggled with worry. “You would think with my Reformed theology, that I would not be such a worry wart,” he wrote. Despite what the situation might be, God has offered to His people, the gift of peace, love, and a sound mind.

My word of encouragement is that we covenant with God to trust Him more, because that is one reason many concerns in life continue to arise, needlessly. Jesus tells us to take one day at a time because each day has enough trouble of its own (Matt. 6:34).

Both the wisdom of the Word, and personal experience demonstrate that anxious concerns do not have to dominate our thinking, nor will they when the teaching of Jesus is remembered, meditate on, and put into practice.

In 1866, in Jordan Falls, Nova Scotia (Canada), James N. Holden, and his wife Irene, welcomed the birth of a daughter, they named Civilla Durfee. Civilla was to live until March 9, 1948. She died in Atlanta, Georgia at the age of 81. During those 81 years of life, Civilla knew sadness, and sickness. Her body was frail, but her faith was strong. God gave her a song to sing based on 1 Peter 5:7.“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

“Be not dismayed whate’er betide,
God will take care of you;
Beneath his wings of love abide,

God will take care of you.
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.
Through days of toil when heart doth fail,
God will take care of you;
When dangers fierce your path assail,
God will take care of you.

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.”

When Civilla was 61 years old, God gave her another song to write for the Church to sing, based on Matthew 10:31. “Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.”

“Why should I feel discouraged,
why should the shadows come,
Why should my heart be lonely,
and long for heav’n and home,
When Jesus is my portion?

My constant Friend is He:
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

I sing because I’m happy,
I sing because I’m free,
For His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

“Let not your heart be troubled,”
His tender word I hear,
And resting on His goodness,
I lose my doubts and fears;
Though by the path He leadeth,
but one step I may see;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.

Whenever I am tempted,
whenever clouds arise,
When songs give place to sighing,
when hope within me dies,
I draw the closer to Him,
from care He sets me free;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me;
His eye is on the sparrow,
and I know He watches me.”

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