The sky is falling! The sky is falling! The shouts of Chicken Little both amuse and alarm us, don’t they? When the financial system of our nation began convulsing last week, the talking heads all seemed to agree – the sky is falling. An article on FoxNews.com earlier this week reads, “Mounting job losses, shrinking paychecks, shriveling nest eggs and rising foreclosures all have weighed heavily on American voters. The economy is their No. 1 concern, polls have shown. Spooked consumers and businesses have pulled back so much that some analysts fear the economy stalled —— or even worse, shrank —— in the July-to-September quarter. Many predict the economy will contract in both the final quarter of this year and the first quarter of next year, meeting the classic definition of a recession. The financial crisis that intensified in September is forcing a seismic shake-up on Wall Street. Congress has panicked and passed a burdensome “bailout bill” which places a debt equal to $37,000 per person in America on the taxpayers. The Federal Reserve, along with the Central Banks of England, Canada, Sweden, even China and others, have cut their lending rates to the bone in hopes of shoring up the faltering markets. In strictly human terms, this is a time of great stress and worry for a lot of people. I’ve even already seen reports of some folks who have taken their own lives in the wake of financial losses. The President and the candidates are all trying their best to encourage people to remain calm. But folks, let’s just deal with reality here – the time to start paying for years of excess is upon us. I pray that some day, we will come to realize that you cannot borrow your way to prosperity. You have to earn it.

Sometimes, it becomes necessary for a pastor to address the events of the day in his preaching because people need to hear from God how to respond to the crisis. I am convinced that this is such a time. It’s my prayer that beginning today and for the next few Sundays, we can get our counsel from the Almighty God instead of the shrinking Almighty dollar. Thus, we turn to the Scriptures for insight and instruction.

Shun Destructive Fear.

Those of you who are familiar with the Word of God know that this passage lies smack dab in the middle of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. It may come as a surprise to many, but Jesus taught more on the subject of money and our attitudes about it than heaven or hell. God has always known that we humans have the sad tendency to place our faith and trust in material wealth instead of in Himself. Here is a straightforward reminder of this fact. Look at the text.

Recognize God’s priority. For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? The world in which we live is so much different than it was in Jesus’ day. We are truly blessed to know that our most basic human needs have been, are being, and will continue to be met, although we take them for granted. Yet we tend to confuse the necessary with luxury. We have full confidence in God, because He has promised and proven His loving care toward each and every one of us.

Let’s get some perspective here. Jesus was speaking to some folks who didn’t have supper waiting in the fridge at home or any more than the very clothes on their backs, and He had the nerve to say, “Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Although some people in the world still struggle to attain these things, we are in the position of great blessing to realize fully what Jesus meant when He said this. What makes life worth living? Is it really having more food than you could possibly eat and enough clothing to embarrass even King Solomon? It was Solomon who wrote, “Vanity of vanities! All is vanity,” and, “The conclusion, when all has been heard, is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person.”

Receive God’s Provision. Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they? John MacArthur has said, “Yet no bird is created in the image of God or recreated in the image of Christ. No bird was ever promised heirship with Jesus Christ throughout all eternity. No bird has a place prepared for him in heaven. And if God gives and sustains life for birds, will He not take care of us who are His children and who have been given all those glorious promises?”

And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? The fact is that every one of us here has all we need to sustain life, and even some extra, because our Father in Heaven has provided for us in abundance. I know some people are losing their homes because they’ve lost their jobs and can’t pay their mortgages, and most likely more will before this is all over. God has not promised us a three bedroom ranch with two bathrooms and attached garage. He has promised to provide for our needs. We don’t lack in provision. What we lack is contentment and confidence in God alone. The Scripture says, “godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment. For we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.”

And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life? Anxiety over things that God has promised to provide does nothing but bring destruction. Dr. Charles Mayo, founder of the Mayo Clinic, said, “I have never met a man or known a man to die of overwork, but I have known a lot who died of worry.” Shun destructive fear.

Show Determined Faith.

Let me be brutally honest with you here. Worry is sin. It’s sin because it demonstrates a lack of faith in God. It’s sin because it reveals our faith in something besides God. Someone has said, “Worry shows that we are mastered by our circumstances and by our own finite perspectives and understanding rather than by God’s Word. Worry is therefore not only debilitating and destructive but maligns and impugns God.” But Jesus said, “You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?” Since none of us is in the position truly to worry about these basics, then we redirect our worries towards other things. These days, that worry is focused on retirement plans, annuities, pensions and the like. Kay and I have watched our retirement account slowly evaporate with every new report we’ve received this year. Believe me, I understand the concept here. But friends, we have to remember that Jesus has told us not to worry about it!

Consider the Israelites in the wilderness, fresh out of bondage in Egypt. In Ex 16, the people were grumbling against Moses because they were hungry. Moses prayed to the LORD, and what happened next? God sent manna from heaven to feed His people. Every morning they went out and gathered the bread from heaven, and the Scripture says, “he who gathered much had no excess and he who gathered little had no lack.” They still had to go out and gather it. They didn’t just leave their jars and baskets out and find them filled every morning. In the same way, the birds have to go out and find their food, don’t they? God’s provision is usually not dropped in our laps, we have to work for it, but it is dependable and consistent. That’s what faith is all about, isn’t it; being able to trust God because He has proven Himself trustworthy?

I love to meet missionaries and hear their stories of God’s provision for their needs, don’t you? Let’s bring it a little closer to home. How has God provided for you? I was told of a great example in this congregation just this week. God knows your needs. Trust Him.

Why should I be discouraged? Why should the shadows come?

Why should my heart be lonely and long for heaven 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,

His eye in on the sparrow, and I know He watches me.

Seek Devotion First.

I recently read a book titled Lord, Change My Attitude (Before It’s Too Late) by James MacDonald. I highly recommend it to you. In that book, the author challenges the reader to put aside our current, unbiblical attitudes and replace them with truly God-honoring attitudes. One section says, “Replace a doubting attitude with an attitude of faith.” Isn’t that the challenge we face now? Jesus already knows our tendency to doubt, so He gave us the remedy for our problem.

Engage in holy pursuit.  Look at v33. Can you say it with me without looking at the Bible? But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. The whole secret lies in that first thought – seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness! If we are ever going to replace a fearful, doubting attitude with an attitude of faith, then we have to work at it. It is to pursue righteousness of life in full submission to the will of God. Seek first the kingdom of God. Make it a priority. Pursue it as you would that promotion at work or that good deal on seed corn or those good grades in school. Let me ask you something – honestly now – does this describe your attitude toward God?

What does it look like to seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness? It takes many forms, but the heart of the matter is that we apply ourselves to becoming fully devoted, growing, maturing disciples of Jesus Christ. You just cannot get there simply by attending church on Sunday morning. You have to spend time in the Scriptures, time in earnest prayer, time in genuine fellowship with other believers, time in learning how and then sharing your faith with those who are unsaved, time in sacrificial service toward those who are truly in need – in short, those six priorities of the church signified by the banners hanging here in the sanctuary. The sad truth is that for most American Christians, being a follower of Jesus is nothing more than being a moral person. Knowing Jesus as Savior means that we submit our whole selves to His rule and reign over our whole being. It means that serving Christ is THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN YOUR LIFE! Period.

Embrace the holy promise.  But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Notice the extent of this promise of God here. ALL THESE THINGS will be added or provided to you. What things does He mean? Those things which are necessary for life. King David wrote in Ps 34:10, The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; But they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. Do you think He really means ALL? Absolutely! No matter how bad things get, folks, He has promised to provide for His people, and God ALWAYS keeps His promises!

Equip a holy preparation.  So do not worry about tomorrow; for tomorrow will care for itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. What a waste of time to worry about what may never come! Not a one of us knows what tomorrow may bring, do we? However, if we’re wise, we can, and we should take some responsible steps to meet tomorrow. We all know winter is coming. It’s time to check the caulking around the windows, and make sure the insulation in the attic is okay. It’s time to service the furnace and split the firewood. Is doing those things showing a lack of faith? Not at all!

The same principle applies to our financial situation. There are biblical, responsible things that we can, and should do to be good stewards of God’s money, and that’s the first principle — it’s God’s money and not ours.  Since most of us don’t have a limitless supply of income, we need to set up a realistic budget and learn to live within our means. Save some money for a rainy day. Cars need repairs, roofs leak, refrigerators die. We need to establish a plan to eliminate consumer debt as soon as possible. The average American household has 9 credit cards and a balance of about $10,000. That’s a terrible drain on a budget. It’s an open invitation to a financial train wreck. If you need help, don’t be afraid to ask. I’ll be glad to put together a class if some of you want. We also need to understand the principle of sowing and reaping. In other words, establish the spiritual discipline of giving regularly and generously. I don’t say that because the church is hurting for money; we aren’t. I say it because faithful giving is a demonstration of genuine faith.

Is the sky falling? Maybe – maybe not. But we know that God has it all well in hand.

O God, our help in ages past, our help for years to come

Our shelter in the stormy blast, and our eternal home.

Under the shadow of Thy throne They saints have dwelt secure,

Sufficient is Thine arm alone, and Thy defense is sure.

What do we do when the sky falls? Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness, and

all these things will be added to you.

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