Leadership & Management

Week 8: The Sermon on the Mount (Don t worry) Discussion Questions

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Week 8: The Sermon on the Mount (Don t worry) Discussion Questions 1. If you are comfortable doing so, share briefly (under 2 minutes) with others in your smallgroup something you are worried about right
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Week 8: The Sermon on the Mount (Don t worry) Discussion Questions 1. If you are comfortable doing so, share briefly (under 2 minutes) with others in your smallgroup something you are worried about right now or have been recently. 2. Think for a moment about the worry you just shared, rather than the problem that is the occasion for your worry. a. What, if anything, are the benefits of worry in such a situation? b. On the other hand, what are some of the dangers that worry may pose in this situation? 3. What exactly is the lesson to be learned from the sparrows in Matthew 6:26? Does Jesus teaching imply that, if we really have enough faith in God, we don t have to work, since God will take care of all of our needs? 4. Imagine that you are working through this passage with a group of adult students. Imagine now that your students happen to be malnourished men and women from the famine stricken parts of central Africa. If this is too hard to imagine, imagine that you are simply working through this with farmers from Western Qld who have 6-10 years debt because of floods and droughts. Many of these (and many others) worry hugely about what they will eat and what they will drink amongst many other things. a. What application from Jesus teaching can there be for their life? b. If they were teaching us about this passage what lessons do you suppose they would instruct us with? 5. Now imagine that you are asked to read this and reflect on it at the local business breakfast for entrepreneurs and investors in Noosa. What applications would you make from Jesus words for this audience? 6. Twice in the immediate context, in Matthew 6:8 and 6:32, Jesus insists that our Father in heaven already knows what we need. If this so, it should help us to trust God to take care of our needs. But then, if he already knows our needs, why pray about them, as Jesus urges in Matthew 6:7-13? Sermon on the Mount Radically counter-cultural #8 Trust in God Matthew 6:25-34 Don t worry! (from verse 25) How much more! (verse 26-30) Avoid the trappings of living like a gentile (verse 31-32) Seek first the Reign of God (verses 33-34) Introduction Worry seems to come very naturally to a lot of us. Living totally without worry sounds (to many people) as impossible as living without breathing. Some people are so hooked on worry that if they haven t got anything to worry about then they make something up to worry about. I suspect we ve all been guilty of this the what-if s [slide] of unnecessary worrying - but if we ve made the decision to follow and serve God as our Master as we were challenged to do last week then there are massive implications for how we approach life. What if what if anxiety about the things we too easily deem most important is just not a hallmark of a disciple? If we re following Him and have decidedly put to one side any other master (named as money last week but could also be any number of other masters of our world)... If we concede that we have a gracious God a merciful God and a loving God; then how can we not trust Him to provide? So this morning I m going to suggest that we consider the text in this way: Firstly: Don t worry! (from verse 25) Secondly: How much more! (verse 26-30) Thirdly: Avoid the trappings of living like a gentile (verse 31-32) Lastly: Seek first the Reign of God (verses 33-35) 1. Don t worry v25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Firstly, we must contextualise the therefore that starts this passage. Last week Jesus put before His disciples and those crowding around the alternatives of followship the perishable, and the imperishable. Do we wish to accumulate treasure? Do we wish to be free to respond wholly to God? Then what must our eyes be like in order that we make this happen? Do we wish to serve the better master? Then we must consider which is the master more worthy of our devotion. Only when we have grasped with our open-eyed-minds are we able to respond. I hope last week you chose to say yes or reinforced your commitment to the Kingdom because now, in the pool of anxiety about what it means to be free of our earthly master; [pause] and be able to respond to God now Jesus says: hey, don t worry about the other stuff. In fact a number of times Jesus repeats his prohibition to anxiety through this body of text. But in verse 25, Jesus simply starts by saying: therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life He goes on to forbid anxiety about food and drink and clothing. Yet, as Baptist minister Charles Spurgeon put it, these are most suredly, [slide] the Trinity of worldly cares. and with good cause. Our society far more than Christ s focuses on the body as a deity of its own this is certain conclusion that we can draw. How else could we explain the advertising, focus, etc Therefore that which we wrap ourselves in, that which we place before the deity of our bodies; that which we indulge in must be carefully considered or be the right brand or look a certain way NO! Friends take care of yourselves. Enjoy yourselves it s part of being human but for Gods sake don t get so swept up in the false hype of consumerism that you allow yourself to believe that somehow these things are more important than God. And if you are agreeing so far if you are nodding your head then I urge you to make sure that those in your life have no confusion about this. Does God take a visible priority over food drink clothing and so on? 2. How much more v26-30 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? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labour or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendour was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you you of little faith? In verses Jesus illustrates the point he has just made about releasing ourselves from anxiety by trusting in God. He does so by challenging His disciples to look to those who do truly trust in God to provide. Jesus doesn t look to some exemplary disciple for this; He doesn t look to a Father of faith from the past, instead, He invites His disciples to open their eyes to creation around them. And what an awakening moment that must have been! How could it be, that the birds of the air have become our teachers? How could it be that the flowers dotted around the field have become an example to us as to how to better be human? We who were made above them must surely know better!? And yet there it is Perhaps we can concede worry to the world. Perhaps for a moment. Jesus draws from creation and invites the disciples to imitate their simple faith. Not their simple lives no, He knew full well the complexity of following Him and yet living in the world. No, we aren t to become aesthetics or monastics rejecting the complexity of our lives and accepting the simplicity of life like a bird on the wing; but we are to have their belief that what is needed is provided for. No. This is a text for faithful people. Evidence of this is clear in verse 30 where He declares them (as He has before) as you of little faith. It is an expression used often in the Gospel for the disciples in their moments of weakness, when their faith grows timid. It is never used for curiosity seekers or for the crowds overhearing who are not or have not yet become followers of Jesus. The radical invitation that is posed to makes no sense unless you are a person of faith. Who is going to abandon the pursuit of wealth or leave the future in God s hands unless you have confidence that this God keeps promises and is deeply involved in your life? Money makes promises all the time. The world makes promises all the time! I can have faith in other things in other mechanisms and probably get by just fine. If I didn t believe in God and I didn t believe that I was responding to God in my life then I would certainly not be here. Why would I? I d probably have a bakery or 3 by now. Maybe even raking in the dough (pardon the pun) But I m not and I m sure you can relate. There are multitude of things that we could or would be doing if we weren t faithful to God. So let me ask you can you be faithful to god in this way too? Can you then give up worry for that which is God s to provide? 3. Comparison to the Gentiles v31-32 In verses 31 and 32 then the contrast to the world is sharpened to being of one which is living by God s reign and one which is not by comparing the disciples to the way the Gentiles live. Jesus offers no compromise between the two. There is no easy accommodation and therein lies its power. We cannot easily get off the hook. It s either the service of God or the service of wealth. Our human instinct is to argue and hunt for a middle way, to assure ourselves that we can in fact live with divided loyalties; that our pursuit of wealth can really be a good thing if we spend our money in the right way. But Jesus exposes our cagey nature. It does not seek to deal with our desire or apparent need for a retirement plan. IT does not seek to deal with my mortgage for example or my hidden agenda of procuring property in order that I can have a comfortable retirement. It doesn t fill me with ease about my desire for Audrey have a great education I m sure she will, but too often I believe that it needs to be under my steam that such a thing will happen. There are no specific rules lain out for us for how much we can earn and keep in order for us to be able to say with a clean conscience wealth is not my master. God is. What it does do is give us a simple choice. The gentiles live one way. We don t. We are left with a simple choice, and the joy of our decision individually and collectively can be found in verses 4. Seek first v33-34 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. The alternative to anxiety my friends, is simply not to worry about the necessities of life because the alternative is to search for the reign of God. Jesus here offers gift after gift of divine, carefree discipleship. Do we not weekly if not daily pray that God will give us today our daily bread? Do we mean it or not? Praying this prayer means breaking with a world that frets about food and clothing. It means freedom from the paralyzing worries that constrict us into being less than we are. Pushing and praying for the advent of God s reign means we must trust God for the gifts to sustain life. [apply] Again, I say we are to enjoy our lives. We are made above the creatures of the air and earth but we must also ensure that they do not become our masters. CONCLUSION And this is Christ s natural conclusion to this topic. Friends, each day has enough trouble of its own. We aren t free of burdens in our lives - but we can free ourselves of anxiety by placing our trust in Gods providence and in believing that Christ deeply wants to be involved in our daily lives. When Jesus tells us not to worry about what to eat, or drink, or wear, he doesn t mean that these things don t matter. He doesn t mean that we should prefer to eat and drink as little as possible, and to wear the most ragged and disreputable clothes, just to show the world that we despise these things and love only God. No. Jesus wants us to be transparent about our human nature with ourselves, with one another and with God. When we do this, we may just reassess ourselves and our priorities God knows I have and I hope and pray that you have in your life as well. And in our reprioritised lives, may we embrace our relationship with God the Father as one which is truly which serves no other thing. And when we do this more and more and more surely we will arrive at that day when we can say about the providence of God I do not worry! And on that day, the Kingdom of God is most certainly nearer and nearer to you and to those with whom you have shared the joy you have found in Christ.
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