Dear radio friends,
Our passage for today is found in Matthew 6:34, part of what is called Jesus “Sermon on the Mount,” or His “Sermon on the Kingdom of Heaven,” where the Savior said to you and to me, “Take therefore no thought for morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.”
There the Lord is warning us against the sin of anxiety and of how anxiety can choke in our hearts any expression of thankfulness. There God is teaching us the wonderful truth that we will be given grace for today. And with that grace for today, we will be enabled to give Him thanks today for His wonderful blessings.
How much we have to give thanks to God for when we look at the spiritual blessings that He has bestowed upon us. Then it becomes a list of blessings greater than we could possibly number. Paul, in his epistles, is constantly pushing back the boundaries of human language in order that we might see the glory of God’s grace, the exceeding riches of His mercies, that we might comprehend with all the saints the exceeding love of God in Jesus Christ, which passes knowledge. How much we have to give Him thanks for: for grace greater than all our sins; for faithfulness that never fails; for love that is all-sufficient; for truth that endures for ever; and for all the things that come to us in God’s mercy and grace: the church, the preaching of the gospel, the communion of the saints, families, Bibles, prayers, Christian schools. And on and on we could go.
Then there are also the physical and material things that the Lord gives to us. The Lord has made us in such a way that we are utterly dependent upon this creation. We are of the earth earthy. We depend upon air, food, drink, clothing, warmth, rest. We cannot live without these things.
And we have so much of these things. It is really embarrassing. Yes, it is true that economically our nation is becoming pinched. The housing industry is sagging. Work is hard. Businesses collapse. Yet, we have had today our choice of food and clothes and warmth and so much more.
But if we are to give thanks to God for all His spiritual and material blessings, then we must be freed from anxiety. Jesus, in Matthew 6:19-24, has been speaking so beautifully and profoundly of our relationship to the earthly things. He has taught us that it is our relationship to the earthly, our perspective and our attachment, that is so often, at bottom, the cause of our spiritual problems. Our inability to see Father’s wonderful grace and our failure to thank Him is created so often by the relationship in which we stand toward the earthly things. If we hoard, we become covetous and greedy. Then we are governed by those things, and we are filled with anxiety that we are going to lose them. And we do not thank God for them. Or, if we do not hoard, then we worry. “Is it going to turn out? Will I make it? Will I have enough?” We become filled with anxiety over those earthly things. And when we are full of anxiety, then too we cannot praise God or give Him thanks.
A trumpet cannot blast stirring notes of praise if it has been filled with dirt. A piano cannot play clear notes if the keys are sticky with molasses. So also, our hearts cannot thank God if they are choked with anxiety.
Our Savior says to us, “Take no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” Our Savior says, the cure for anxiety is to realize that God will always give us grace for today, so that we may live thankfully and contentedly before Him.
As I say, our Lord is warning us that we must not fall into the grips of anxiety over the earthly things. “Take no thought,” He says. “Do not be seized by anxiety.”
We are anxious about everything. The Lord knows that. We are anxious about our health, about ourselves, about our inadequacies, about our jobs, about our looks, about getting married, about the church, about the schools, about our children, about our burdens, about money, about possessions, about bills, about payments, about tomorrow. If we would write a list of all the things over which we tend to worry, the list would go right out the door of our homes. And, at bottom, we would write, we worry that we are worried so much. And anxiety or worry chokes not only peace in our hearts, but thanksgiving to God. We say, “Yes, I suppose I should be thankful today. But I really can’t because of the load of anxiety, of trouble, of all the problems that I see coming tomorrow. How can I be thankful today?”
To begin the life of thanksgiving, the Lord says we must not only be free from greed, the love of money, but we must fight anxiety. And His main point is this (Matt. 6: 33), “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” The Lord is saying, “Instead of anxiety over your life, over your child, over yourself, make the kingship of God real by faith. Every moment, hand all over to His Kingly power. Seek to do His will, in the confidence that He has promised that He will meet all of your needs.”
In Matthew 6 the Lord gives reasons, reasons why we must not be anxious. Let us look at a few of them, if only briefly, because we do not know which one is tailored by the Spirit to meet your need today.
He says in verse 25, “Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought [do not be anxious] for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment?” The Lord says our life, the life in Jesus Christ, is much more than what we eat and drink and wear. What you eat and drink and wear does not define your life. We worry about losing the pleasures of this life. We worry about losing our financial status. We are anxious that we have the admiring glances of others for our nice clothes. We want a long life and health. But Jesus says, “Have you lost sight of what life is? Life is not to be found in any of those things. Life is not physical pleasure. Life is not the admiring glances of men. Life is not a long earthly sojourn. But God is life. Life is to have His approval, to be righteous in His Son, and to live for His approval.”
Then He says in verse 26, “Behold the birds of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” What do you see when the birds come to your feeder? You do not see laziness. They are very energetic and watchful. But God feeds them. Birds do not hoard things for the day when God dies. They believe that when the sun comes up tomorrow God will still be God. They are brute creatures. But they believe that God will give them the food that they need for that day. They are not like a squirrel. They do not hoard. God says, “Observe the creation.” God cares for the birds, will He not care for you?
Then in verses 31 and 32 we read that the Lord says anxiety is characteristic of an unbelieving world. Therefore, He says, “Take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? For after all these things do the Gentiles seek.” The Lord is saying that anxiety is the mark of the child of this world, and it would put you on the level of the world. Anxiety over earthly things shows that we are too close to the world and too far from God. It says that we do not think that our Father knows our needs or that He has a loving heart.
And then in verse 34 the Lord comes to His last argument against anxiety: “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.”
There is the heart of it. Our anxiety is over tomorrow. What will happen? We are muzzled in giving thanksgiving to God for His mercies today because of the troubles we see ahead tomorrow. Tomorrow’s troubles blot out today’s mercies. We bring tomorrow’s troubles forward into today in the form of anxiety. And we ignore the present mercies that He has given to us today. We say, “I can’t be thankful today.” Why? Because the Lord has not given to you a great grace? No, He has. But what about tomorrow? The Lord says, “Don’t do that.” Believe God will be God tomorrow. Thank Him today for today’s mercies. His mercies are new every morning. Great is Thy faithfulness! Thank Him for today’s mercy and for today’s needs being supplied. That is thanksgiving.
An old Swedish hymn explains it: “He whose heart is kind beyond all measure, gives unto each day as He deems best—Lovingly it’s part of pain and pleasure, mingling toil with peace and rest.” God gives each day, in wise and loving measure, the troubles and the mercies that are sufficient for them. Thank Him. Today’s mercies are not designed to carry tomorrow’s burdens. There will be mercies tomorrow to carry those burdens.
How shall my soul give worthy thanks to God today? Is that your question? Thank Him for today’s mercies. Trust Him for grace sufficient for tomorrow, tomorrow. The calling you have today is not to arrange for strength and mercies for tomorrow. God will give them. Manna that was hoarded by Israel when they took enough for two days—that manna rotted. Unseen, prepared mercies will be given to you tomorrow. Thank Him today for what He has given you.
I cannot express this too strongly—for children, for teenagers, for college students, for parents, for women, for middle-aged couples, for old people. We all want today to have tomorrow’s strength. At the end of the day our gauge reads “empty.” The Lord brings us through the day. We fall into bed exhausted. The Lord was faithful and He kept us throughout the day. We fall into the bed and what do we say? We say, “What about tomorrow?” And the Lord says, “No!” You must learn to say, “Thanks, Lord, for grace sufficient today.”
You want the secret of a thankful life? You say, “Lord, open my heart to thank Thee. I’m so dull, so anxious, so weighed down in my soul.” You pray, “Lord, give me to see Thy mercies for today.”
That is it. Do you get that? If we pass over today, and if we peer into tomorrow and become desperate, then either we will be seized with anxiety or we will develop the strategy of telling ourselves that we are sufficient for tomorrow’s troubles. But, either way, we will not give Him thanks. We will be silent. There will not be a whimper of praise. We will say, “Thank Him? How can I thank Him when all those things loom upon me tomorrow?”
Let me tell you, then, what the Lord’s words mean. The Lord is not saying, “There’s no use worrying because it’s not going to change anything. For tomorrow will take thought for the things of itself.” No, He is not referring to fate. The Lord is not saying that you should not make preparations for tomorrow’s needs. A farmer will have nothing in his silo if he does not plan ahead. Young people, everything worth doing requires forethought and planning and preparation. Get ready.
But the Lord means this: Don’t bring the troubles and the fears of carrying out your preparations for tomorrow into today. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Each day will be given sufficient grace for that day. He means that each day your sovereign, heavenly Father, who is kind and wise beyond all measure, gives what He deems best—the trouble and the sufficient grace. God determines each day the limit of the troubles of that day. They will not go beyond that day. And God determines the grace that is sufficient for that day. God does not give mercies today for bearing tomorrow’s burdens. Tomorrow’s burdens are something God does not want you to carry today. But today He promises—and you will find Him faithful—He promises grace for today—every day, and every hour. At the end of every day, let your thought at the close of the day be: “Thanks, Lord, for grace sufficient for today.”
Today’s mercies are tailor-made for today’s troubles— tailor-made to carry today’s troubles. We read from Lamentations 3:22, 23: “Thy compassions fail not. The Lord’s mercies are new each morning; great is Thy faithfulness.” Or again, the hymn that I referred to: “Every day the Lord Himself is near me, with a special mercy for each hour.”
We might ask, Why does the Lord do it that way? Why does He give us grace only for the day? He does it so that we are kept near to Him in dependence. There is a special mercy measured of God in love and wisdom, for you, for every moment and for every hour and for every day.
Understand this and live this. How many times do we not come to the end of our resources and say, “That’s it. I’m done. No more.” And then we roll on us the stone of tomorrow and we say, “Now I’m really done. Not only am I exhausted, but tomorrow has more problems! It’s impossible.”
Beloved, God does not ask you to carry tomorrow’s load with today’s strength. What you need today is not tomorrow’s grace. For you will receive fresh and sufficient grace tomorrow for tomorrow’s needs. You need only today’s grace. And God says, “I will give you that grace.”
Who can ever say that God failed him? Who can ever say that God did not give him grace sufficient for the need that he had at that moment?
Thank Him right now for the wonder of today’s mercy for today’s troubles.
In our church, I have been emphasizing to our children in grades 4-7 that faith is always now. Faith is never something that you plan for the future. That courage to do the right thing, to live a godly life, is right now. It is never something you plan for the future.
So also thanks. Thanks to God is always now, right now. Present mercies are surrounding us. Amazing faithfulness holds us right now. How does the hymn have it? “Now thank we all our God.” The point being, thanksgiving must be now, or it is not at all. You do not plan your thanksgiving. You do not say, “Well, when we get to this point, we’ll be thankful.” Thanksgiving is now, for today’s mercies. Let His mercies for you this day press out of your hearts praise to Him.
Today, you feel afraid and alone? Listen, listen to His mercies: “Fear not, for I am with you. Oh, be not dismayed. I am your God, and I will strengthen you.”
You say, “But I am too weak”? Listen to Him: “My grace is sufficient for you; my strength is made perfect in your weakness.”
You say, “I’m facing too much”? Listen: “If God be for us, who can be against us?”
You say, “I don’t know which way to go”? Listen: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way that thou shalt go; I will counsel thee with Mine own eye.”
You say, “I’m dying, I’m getting old, I have problems”? Listen: “He will save to the uttermost all who come to Him, since He ever lives to make intercession for them. He will not fail you, nor will He forsake you.”
So, what is the one and only response that the Lord seeks from you and me at every moment, in every day, and in every way? What is the response? Thanks, Lord! Thanks for mercies and grace sufficient for today. I will offer to Thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving and call upon the name of the Lord.
Let us pray.
Father, we thank Thee for Thy wonderful Word. We pray that it may be written upon our hearts this day by the Holy Spirit, that we may flee all anxiety and life in such a way that gives Thee praise and honor, thanking Thee moment by moment for Thy unfailing mercies that Thou hast shown to us. We pray, in Jesus’ name, Amen.