Series – Finding Joy in an Anxious World
Sermon – “Do Not Worry”
Scripture Readings: Luke 12:22-31, Luke 21:34-36
Jesus said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or about your body, what you will wear. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?” If then you are not able to do so small a thing as that, why do you worry about the rest? (Luke 12:22-26)
Monday January 14 — Ecclesiastes 2:24-26
Joy and happiness are two of God’s greatest gifts. We long to experience the peace and contentment that comes from knowing that God loves and cares for us. Qoheleth, the writer of Ecclesiastes, describes both the futility of self-indulgence and the joy of living a life that pleases God. Mortals can “eat and drink, and find enjoyment in their toil” (Ecclesiastes 2:24) when they learn to put their complete and total trust in God. For followers of Jesus, life is good because God is good. Where do you find the greatest joy in life? When you do experience peace and contentment? How is your relationship with God related to your joy and happiness?
• Prayer: Eternal God, thank you for the gift of life. Help me to trust you enough to experience joy, happiness, and contentment. Amen.
Tuesday January 15 — Psalm 30
The Book of Psalms is the Bible’s prayer and songbook. For centuries, the people of God have found comfort in the Psalms’ beautiful and powerful poetry. When we read the Psalms, we find the full range of human experience, including powerful emotions like grief and anger. But without exception, the Psalm-writers affirm God’s presence in their lives and look for joy, even in the most difficult circumstances. What helps you keep your faith in God when you are in the midst of a difficult situation? Consider making a habit of reading one Psalm every day to help you remember that God really is present in your life.
• Prayer: Merciful God, forgive me when I wallow in self-pity and forget that you are always present in my life. Teach me to trust you. Amen.
Wednesday January 16 — Luke 12:22-31
Worry is a seemingly universal human experience that interferes with our ability to experience joy. It also interferes with our ability to serve God effectively in the world. So, Jesus told his disciples, “do not worry” (Luke 12:11, 22, 29). He made the connection between worry and (lack of) faith, challenging his disciples to trust that their lives mattered to God and that God would take care of them. Make a list of your worries. Take them to God in prayer. Trust God.
• Prayer: Faithful God, I spend too much of my life worrying instead of trusting you. Increase and strengthen my faith in you. Amen.
Thursday January 17 — Luke 12:29-36, Luke 4:42-44
Jesus suggests two antidotes for worry. The first is simply to increase our faith and trust in God. The second is to focus our attention on the Kingdom of God. These two antidotes are related to each other, because making the Kingdom of God our priority requires that we turn the rest of our lives over to God. The Kingdom of God was clearly a priority in Jesus’ life and ministry. It should also be a priority in ours. What do you think Jesus meant when he said to strive for the Kingdom? Where and when is your life focused on the Kingdom of God?
• Prayer: God of Grace, Jesus teaches that I should strive for your Kingdom. Open my eyes to see your Kingdom in my life. Amen.
Friday January 18 — Luke 10:38-42
Faithful Christian discipleship requires that we make decisions about our priorities. In Jesus’ conversation with Martha, he challenged her priorities. Martha’s concern for hospitality was important, but it was not as important as the Kingdom of God. Because she was worried and distracted, Martha was missing an opportunity to listen and learn from Jesus. Do your worries distract or prevent you from learning and serving as a disciple of Jesus Christ? How do you keep your priorities in order?
• Prayer: Loving God, guide me as I set the priorities for my life today. Help me set aside my worries and obey your will for my life. Amen.
Saturday January 19 — Hebrews 12:1-4
It is possible to experience joy, even when we are experiencing pain and suffering. The letter to the Hebrews reminds us that we are not alone when we seek God’s will and find joy in our lives. Not only are we surrounded by a community of believers and follow in the footsteps of everyone who has gone before us, we have Jesus, “the pioneer and perfecter of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). Despite the world’s hostility and the suffering and shame of the cross, Jesus persevered for the sake of God’s joy. By God’s grace, we can follow Jesus’ example. How do you maintain your priorities and experience God’s joy when you are suffering? Where do you turn for love and support? How can you follow the example of Jesus and not grow weary or lose heart?
• Prayer: Heavenly Father, grant me the courage I need to follow the example of Jesus—persevering in faith and experiencing joy. Amen.