No More Worries

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Doesn’t that just put you in the Christmas spirit?!  I must admit I’m a huge fan of Pentatonix Christmas music…
But I chose that song, not only because it’s awesome, but because it’s a perfect segue into what I’m talking about today. I’ve titled today’s talk: “No More Worries”
We all know and probably love the classic song – NOT sung by Bob Marley, but Bobby McFarren – Don’t Worry, Be Happy. In fact, that would seem to be the American motto.
But the interesting thing about that song is that it never gives a reason why that is even possible. He pretty much just implies that we should just do it anyway. Don’t worry. Be Happy.  Good luck.
Apparently Pentatonix thinks we can do that because we’re walking in a winter wonderland….but what about when we’re not?
Anyway, welcome to week 4 of the series The Sermon on the Mount. It’s a 7 week series taking us through the powerful teaching of the greatest teacher who ever lived: Jesus Christ. And since I’m a non-conformist, instead of doing it in order I began with the conclusion in week 1, and today I am again going out of order by skipping ahead to probably my most favorite thing to teach on…because when you understand this, it WILL change your life.
But before we get into that, I must keep my word and remind you of the all too important lesson we learned from the conclusion in week 1 that we must remember throughout.
Matthew 7
24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. 26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.”
I don’t have time to go into the full explanation today, but the underlying understanding that this helps us have is that the only way to be wise is to have your foundation on the Rock, which is Jesus Christ. And if you DO have that foundation, it will be evident in your ability and desire to put into practice the words of God. In other words, OBEY.
REMEMBER
OBEDIENCE is an attitude of the heart that says I will pre-decide to be and do what God asks of me, no matter what.
So, let us today, before we go any further, do just that. Will you pray with me?
Father, we are your servants. We have gladly accepted your salvation and forgiveness, and we gladly make you our Lord and master. Enlighten us with your Word today so that we may know the right way to live and empower us to do your will not our own. Amen.
Now, if you actually have not accepted Jesus as your personal savior and made him lord of your life, you always have that opportunity.
Romans 10:9
If you confess with your mouth that Jesus Christ is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.
If you truly believe that Jesus rose from the dead, then you can believe everything else about Him, and you can make Him your Lord anytime you choose. It doesn’t have to be at the end of a service with a prayer led by the pastor. You can do it right now in your seat, or in your car on the way home, or in the shower tomorrow morning. The only location that matters is that it happens in your heart. But I encourage you to do it sooner rather than later.
But for now, let’s get into God’s Word together with an attitude of obedience! Are you ready?
Today we are looking in chapter 6 of Matthew. Let’s pick it up in verse 25
Matthew 6
25 “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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the unbelievers run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
It’s a beautiful passage that many love to quote. It’s a very comforting to picture how God takes care of the grass and the flowers and the birds and that He’ll do the same for us. And as long as we seek first the kingdom (whatever that means) all the things that we need will be given to us as well. Such a beautiful picture of peace, tranquility, and a worry-free life. And it’s in the Bible, so it must be true.
So, why is this NOT our reality? Why do we still worry anyway, even though we can quote these verses? Does telling yourself, “don’t worry, be happy” over and over again like the song actually stop you from worrying? Of being anxious about things like clothing and food and shelter and bills and such?
Why does Jesus telling us not to worry – not work?
It’s because, believe it or not, this somewhat long passage that is 10 verses long is actually taken out of context. Which means that we need to read a little more to fully understand.
Verse 25 begins with a “Therefore.” “Therefore I tell you, don’t worry…”  And whenever there is a “therefore” you need to ask “what’s it there for” and look at the previous verses to find out. And in this particular case, it’s not just a “therefore” – the greek is actually “Because of this” – as in, because of what I just said, I tell you don’t worry.
So, let’s see what it’s there for…
For this one, we have to back up to verse 19 to get the full answer:
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
Now, before you shut me out – I’m not about to do a giving talk and pressure you into giving more money to the church. In fact, this really has very little to specifically do with money. It’s much, much bigger than that. 
My friends, this teaching of Jesus, this sub-point of the Sermon on the Mount about treasures in heaven and not worrying and such – If you could fully understand what Jesus is saying here and embrace it, and live it, then it would totally transform your life. Jesus is not just painting a word picture about an unachievable life without worry or anxiety. He is describing the very real ABUNDANT life that he promised, and he is also telling us exactly how to have that kind of life for real, right here on this sinful earth.
I know this, because I live it. I haven’t always lived it. But I do now. And having been on the other side, where I know that most of you currently are, I can tell you that the grass is most definitely greener on this side of the fence. In fact, once you’ve tasted this grass you will realize that all this time you’ve actually been eating dirt and calling it grass. Yes, it’s that amazing. And I want so badly for you to see this and live it too.
So, let’s see how it’s done.
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
Basically, Jesus is painting a picture of two diametrically opposed options presented to us humans for what to do with our life. On the one hand, we can store up treasures on earth – basically storing up all the things we think are valuable on earth. Jesus points out the obvious, that anything you cherish on earth can and will be lost one way or another. In other words don’t spend your life building a castle of sand on the beach.  But instead, spend your life storing up the kind of treasure that exists only in heaven where the destructive forces of earth cannot touch. And the reason why he says this comes back to what he’s been talking about the whole time in this Sermon on the Mount. That this is a heart issue. And whatever you treasure most is what your heart will follow.
It seems pretty clear and obvious, and no one can seriously deny that this is true.  But the begging question is: How do we store up treasures in heaven? 
We will come back to that.
Next, Jesus says something really strange.
22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is bad, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
This is one of those verses that make you go, “huh?” It’s like a big word that you don’t know the meaning to so you just skip over it when reading.
But, believe it or not, this bit about the eye is actually crucial to understand! I’ve spoken on this before, but it’s been a few years so I doubt anyone remembers. I hope you will remember this time.
I think we can grasp well enough the idea that the eye is the lamp for the body. There’s nothing tricky in the Greek here – it’s physically what lets light into your brain, but it also represents how we see the world conceptually, morally, philosophically, etc. Basically, it represents the window to the soul – or rather your soul’s window through which it views the present reality in all of its layers.
But what does it mean to have a good eye vs a bad eye?
The Greek word translated as “good” is “haplous” which literally means “Single” It has a connotation of being clear and simple. 
And the Greek word that is translated as “bad” is “poneros which has a whole wealth of meanings depending on what it is describing.  In a physical sense like for an eye, it means “diseased or distorted“.  So let’s read it again with this in mind.
When your eye is SINGLE/CLEAR, your whole body is filled with light.  But when your eye is DISEASED/DISTORTED, your whole body is filled with darkness.
The difference here is that an eye that is singular and focused can see the light clearly, but a diseased and distorted eye cannot.  At first thought, it could appear that he is talking about seeing vs. not seeing, like being able to see vs. being blind.  But if you look at the next verse where it says “And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!”
It becomes more clear that what He’s saying is that in both cases you can see, neither are a blind state – but in the one case you can clearly see the truth for what it really is, but in the other you see a distorted version of the truth but believe that it is true.  In other words, you believe a lie and don’t even realize it, which is worse than blindness. It’s similar, in some sense, to someone who needs glasses badly but doesn’t know it. They just assume that the blurry, messed up world they can see is how things really are, which is not true.
Or, perhaps a better illustration would be like living in The Matrix (remember the movie from the 90’s) where everything you perceive is a lie, and you don’t even know it.
And yes, Jesus is suggesting that this is exactly what our situation is. We all have diseased eyes and believe a very damaging lie –
Then he immediately follows up this bold warning with a statement designed to expose exactly what that lie is.
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.
He is saying that if you think you can serve two masters, then you are worse than blind. You are deceiving yourself. You are believing a lie and thinking that it is truth. Then he spells out exactly who those two masters are..
And once again, thanks to our inferior English language, the real point is totally lost on us because of that silly little word: money.  It’s really quite aggravating because this is so important.  Jesus did not say that you cannot serve both God and money. He said you cannot serve both God and Mammon.  Does that clear it up?
Mammon. A very interesting word. In a literal sense, it means “possessions.” But by the time of Jesus it had taken on almost god-like status so that Mammon becomes personified.
I believe that the Mammon that Jesus is referring to here is far more than money, far more than material wealth, far more than possessions. If you read the bit about treasures on earth and in heaven and you read the follow-on about not worrying, I think it is pretty clear that God is contrasting not just the devotion to God vs. material wealth, but the contrast between devotion to God vs. the combined devotion to self-sufficiency and self-satisfaction.  What I affectionately refer to as “My Thingdom”.  I didn’t invent that term, but I don’t remember where I heard it first.
My Thingdom represents everything having to do with my personal search for satisfaction. Possessions certainly play a large role in that for many – hence why Jesus specified treasures on earth. But not all treasures on earth are tangible.
I would even go so far as to say that the most desired commodity in our modern culture is not money or possessions themselves – but what they promise to give but rarely deliver: peace, comfort, easy living, constant enjoyment, pleasure…all those things that are wrapped up in our modern day concept of “HAPPINESS.” 
My Thingdom represents my efforts to obtain happiness on my own, my way, apart from God.  
And Jesus is saying that you can’t have it both ways. You cannot serve both God and Your Thingdom. You will love the one and hate the other (because they have opposing demands) and you will be devoted to one and despise the other for the same reason.  And if you think that you can, you are believing a lie, which is worse than just not attempting to serve God at all.
Then Jesus says, “Because of THIS I tell you not to worry.” But the “this” does not point back to just the concept of the good and bad eye and the obvious truth that you cannot serve two masters. The reason why he says not to worry is because of the assumed obedience to the command that he gives in the first sentences about treasure.
When he says “ Do not store up treasure on earth”, the verb there is a present imperative which means to “STOP storing up treasures on earth, RIGHT NOW,” implying that his listeners were already doing it wrong.
 
Then the alternative is also a present imperative, meaning “START  storing up treasures in heaven, RIGHT NOW.” So, these are not just bits of good advice to follow – these are commands that he expects us to follow.
 
And when we do follow them, we now have a true reason not to worry because this obedience will result in all the things that he says next.
You’re probably thinking that this is all nice, pastor, but you still haven’t told us how to store up treasures in heaven.  Well, the answer is actually in the text we have already read. Let’s look at the whole thing in context to see if you can spot it.  I’ve made some clarifying modifications to match what we’ve already discussed.
19 “STOP STORING UP treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 START STORING UP treasures in heaven, NOW, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal. 21 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
22 “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is SINGLE/CLEAR, your whole body is filled with light. 23 But when your eye is DISEASED/DISTORTED, your whole body is filled with darkness. And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
24 “No one can serve two masters. For you will hate one and love the other; you will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and Your Thingdom.
25 “Because of this 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? 26 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? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?
28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 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? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the unbelievers run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.
Did you catch it? Did you see the same pattern from verses 19 & 20 repeated here? Well, let me point it out to you.
32 For the unbelievers run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
“The unbelievers run after all these things” – sounds a lot like “storing up treasures on earth” and “serving My Thingdom”
 
AND
 
“Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” sounds a lot like “storing up treasures in heaven” and “serving God”
 
In fact, they are the same thing. This is Jesus bringing this whole point full circle.
Let me break it down.
He begins with the command – something he does a lot of in the Sermon on the Mount. 
 
Stop chasing after the flimsy, fraudulent, festering “treasures” of this earth. Start chasing after the eternal, priceless, true treasures of heaven. Because where your treasure is, that’s also where your heart is. And I want your heart.
 
Then, before the hearers have time to start making excuses as to how they thought they were doing that, he plows us over with…
 
You can’t have it both ways. And if you think you can, you are a fool and don’t even know it.
You cannot serve both God’s Kingdom and Your Thingdom at the same time.
 
But I tell you all this so that you can see why you don’t have to worry if you get this right. Open your eyes. Don’t you see how God takes care of the animals and plants that are far less valuable to him than you? Why don’t you think he will do the same for you? Why do you act like all those who don’t know our God, and spend your life chasing after all these things that your Heavenly father knows that you need and will provide for you?
 
So, I’ll say again. Don’t be like the unbelievers, chasing after all these things. But rather chase after me, seek after me, make My Kingdom and My righteousness your number one priority, and all these other things will be taken care of for you. 
 
Then you will be able to cast your worries into tomorrow, which will never arrive because right now is never tomorrow, it’s always today.
Do you see it? Doesn’t it ring true in your soul? Doesn’t your heart yearn to feel that confidence in God’s provision?
 
Wouldn’t you like to truly live a life where you never have to worry about money, or food, or shelter, or any of the things that you now feel like are your sole responsibility to provide for yourself and your family? Don’t you want to be this free?
Well, you absolutely can be! I can tell you that because I am. My wife is. I also know others who are because somewhere along the line we understood this and embraced it and decided “I will no longer just sit by and let my life control me, but I’m going to take charge of my life and actually DO what Jesus says, to see if it’s actually true.” And I found that it is.
In the past five years, since I answered the call to go into ministry – to give Jesus my whole life and serve Him with all of my heart, I have had my pay cut in half twice, and even went a few months without a job and no steady income. In terms of My Thingdom, that sounds like the opposite of success, the opposite of peace, the opposite of worry-free. Because My Thingdom says that I am my own provider.
 
But I stand before you today and can honestly say that I do not worry about money in the least. Why? Because God has provided for me and my family through these five years in ways I cannot even explain. Every month, my wife looks at the budget and cannot explain how we are able to not have to dip into savings. I swear to you it’s just like that story with Elijah where the widow’s pot never ran out. But the blessings have not only been financial. We’ve also been blessed with an amazing marriage,  four beautiful kids and friends that would die for us and so much more! My friends, I stand before you a very, very rich man. And that’s not even counting the treasure I’m storing up in heaven. 
I don’t say all of this to boast. I say all of this to tell you that what Jesus is talking about is a very real way of living that is even more amazing than He makes it sound. And I want so desperately for each one of you to experience this kind of life. To know this kind of peace. To feel the weight of the world lifted off of your shoulders. To never, ever have to worry. There is nothing like it on earth. And it’s real. And you can have it.
So, let me tell you how to do it.
The key is in what it means to “Seek first His kingdom and his righteousness.”   
The Greek word for “Seek” is ZETEO – which has a strong definition: seek, search for, desire, require, demand, to seek by inquiring; to investigate to reach a final resolution;
And not just seek, but seek first, foremost, top priority.  Jesus is saying if you want all these things don’t seek after THEM, seek after HIM – you must seek after, search for, desire, require, demand, inquire about, investigate fully His Kingdom and His righteousness. And when you do that, all these things that you are currently worrying about will be taken care of for you.
You know what else this sounds like? This sounds like one of the beatitudes from the opening of the Sermon:
Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness.  Guess what their reward is? They will be filled, satisfied
And that’s not all, there are numerous places in Scripture with the same promise:
Isaiah 26:3
You will keep in perfect peace
    all who trust in you,
    all whose thoughts are fixed on you!
Joshua 1
Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful.
Psalm 1
Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
    and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.
Are you noticing a pattern here? Peace, prosperity, success are all a result of what?
Keeping your thoughts fixed on God, meditating on and delighting in God’s Word, and doing what He says.
That’s what it means to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness. It means to seek after it like a student seeks after a degree, like an athlete seeks after the prize.  
How does a professional athlete stay in shape? Do they eat healthy on Sunday and have a decent breakfast every day but the rest of the time it’s fast food? No!! You’re not going to see someone like that winning any trophies.
How does a lawyer become a lawyer? Or a doctor become a doctor? Do they do it studying law or medicine for 15 minutes a day and an hour on Sundays? Maybe that would work, but it would take a very, very long time. But what if the rest of the time everything they read, or saw, or heard actually gave them wrong information about the law or medicine they are studying? How successful would they be? How anxious do you think they would be before the exams? And for good reason, right?
I think you are probably seeing where I’m going with this.
Jesus is showing us that we have God’s provision, His peace, His prosperity, His success, available to us WHEN we seek after Him with our whole heart rather than seeking after those things directly.
 
He is showing that if we seek after the treasures, the happiness of earth, we will not get to keep them. But if we seek after the treasures of heaven, we will get to keep them AND God will provide us with the REAL TREASURES of earth to boot.
 
If you seek the one, you get neither. If you seek the other, you get both.
 
And the way we do that begins with what we fix our thoughts on. And our thoughts come from what we feed our brains.
 
Which is why it says in several places to meditate on God’s Word. Meditating is focused thinking. But it’s hard to meditate on something that isn’t there – or something that is there in very small quantities.
To put it simply: If you want the body of an athlete you have to put proper nutrition in your body. If you want the mind of a lawyer, you have to put a lot of law in your head. If you want the mind of a doctor, you have to put a lot of medicine in your head. If you want your thoughts fixed on God, you must put a lot of God in your head. 
But the big difference between lawyers and doctors and us is that when they are not studying law or medicine, they are not being bombarded with disinformation about law and medicine. Our case is more like the athlete, who, if he is not eating RIGHT and helping his body, then he is eating WRONG and hurting his body. Likewise, when we are not actively pursuing the things of God and his truth, we are being force-fed the lies of the enemy. And most of them are oh so subtle and oh so clever that we end up believing them because we don’t have enough of the truth inside of us to know the difference.
And what did Jesus say about believing a lie and thinking it is truth? 
And if the light you think you have is actually darkness, how deep that darkness is!
So, how do we fix it?
Well, I’ll tell you, but you’re probably not going to like it.
Paul tells us in Romans.
Romans 12
Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.
Yes, I know you’ve all heard this before, so it’s lost its meaning on you. Let me read the negative of this to see if that helps..
Keep conforming to the pattern of this world, don’t renew your mind or be transformed. Then you will not be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.
In other words – if you DON’T want to know and follow God’s will, then just keep your head buried in the sand of this world and the truth will never penetrate.
But if you DO want to know and follow God’s will, then the only way you are going to be able to do that is STOP marinating your mind in all that the world offers and instead marinate it with God’s Word so that your mind will be renewed, and you will be transformed.
There’s simply no other way to do it.
So, how do we do that?
I’m about to get real practical now.
The first step in fixing yourself is looking in the mirror.
It’s the same way you fix your hair when it’s messy or wash the dirt off of your face. You look into the mirror, see that there is a problem, and then do something about it.
That last part is vital. Do something about it.
It would actually be pretty silly to look into a mirror and discover that you have some big black thing stuck between your teeth, do nothing about it and walk away and even forget that it’s there as you smile away…
Well, James says that doing that is exactly what we are doing when we read God’s Word and do nothing with it.
James 1
22 Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. 23 Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror 24 and, after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like. 25 But whoever looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues in it—not forgetting what they have heard, but doing it—they will be blessed in what they do.
What does the law do? It gives freedom.
What will happen when you CONTINUOUSLY look INTENTLY into it, not forgetting it, but doing it? You will be blessed in what you do.
 
What is blessed? Happy.
Maybe that’s still a bit conceptual.
Now, I’m going to get really practical and specific.
If you want to be transformed by the renewing of your mind instead of staying conformed to the pattern of this world. If you want to have the things of God in your head instead of the things of the world. Then you will have to start giving God AT LEAST EQUAL AIR TIME.
EQUAL AIR TIME
Put simply, this is giving at least half of your air time or half of your free attention to the things of God. It’s making half of your voluntary brain diet the things of God.
Recent surveys have determined that the average American spends more than 10 hours a day consuming some kind of media. And that’s not including the media we consume for our jobs and/or school.
Television ranks at the top with the average being over 3 hours per day (and that’s strictly watching TV as it is being broadcast) the nearly 3 hours of internet usage includes our video streaming. Also included in this total are the radio, newspapers, magazines, and the cinema (these three make up a rather small percentage), but an interesting inclusion is the outdoor media we consume in the form of outdoor advertising. That makes up about an hour or so each day. Makes sense considering that’s the typical commute time for us.
So, 10 hours each day of VOLUNTARY media consumption. I imagine if you think about it, you will see this is true for you. I know it is for me. I’m on the computer almost all the time. Obviously this isn’t indicating 10 hours of evil entering your brain. The survey doesn’t specify good vs bad media, but you and I can.
For the sake of time I can’t break it down, but let’s assume that you are good church people and you spend 1 hour of the 10 each day ingesting the things of God. Maybe a 1 hour devotion each morning or something. And the rest of the time it’s whatever is on TV, Facebook, the radio, or whatever else.
That adds up to 63 hours of  World-media and 7 hours of God-media each week. If this is your standard diet, then what do you think your brain is made up of?
Well, I’ll show you…
I have filled this container with a proportional number of balls to a week’s worth of media intake. The red balls indicate information that is actually anti-God in some way. I would say a very generous estimate is that half of the media you consume is teaching you something contradictory to God’s Word. I don’t have time to get into all the nuances of how that happens, but if you’d like some examples or if you’d like to ask me about specifics, I’d be happy to discuss it with you. In fact there will be a Q&A time after service.
Anyway, for the sake of this illustration I’ve put half red and half yellow balls. The red represents anti-God stuff and the yellow represents neutral – again I’m being very generous. Green represents the God stuff you put in your head. Based on a 9 to 1 ratio, this is what your brain looks like.
If you were an outside observer that could actually read the thoughts of someone (like God can) what would you say this person is seeking first in their life? What are they meditating on day and night? What are their thoughts fixed upon? Who is their master?
This is a brain that is almost exactly the pattern of this world. Take out the few green balls and it’s spot on. A brain made up of this will have a very hard time discerning the will of God. Each time you access it for some information that will help you know what to do, your chances are pretty slim that you will pull out a God-thought.
And when that is the case, how easy do you think it is to forget that God is providing for you and not yourself? The world teaches you that MAN is the god of his own universe, which may sound nice, but it also comes with the added pressure of being your own provider, your own source of peace, your own source of success. And what does that cause? Anxiety. Worry. Fear. 
The world teaches you to pursue happiness at all costs. But in the end we all realize what the wises and richest man who ever lived realized.
Ecclesiastes 1
2 “Meaningless! Meaningless!”
    says the Teacher.
“Utterly meaningless!
    Everything is meaningless.”
What do people gain from all their labors
    at which they toil under the sun?
All things are wearisome,
    more than one can say.
The eye never has enough of seeing,
    nor the ear its fill of hearing.
14 I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.
God says that true happiness, blessedness, peace, prosperity, and success are not found under the sun. It’s not found in the treasures, tangible or intangible, of earth, but in the intangible treasures of heaven that can only be obtained by seeking after God with all of your heart. And the promise, is that when you do that, when you seek after the things of God with all of your heart, with all your mind, and with all your soul, then you will find in Him the only true happiness that your soul really craves. Jesus called it the living water, that will quench your thirst forever.
But when your mind looks like this, it is evident that you are NOT seeking first the kingdom and his righteousness, because if you were it would look more like this (full bucket). This is a mind that has been renewed. This is a mind that knows God’s will because when you reach in for an answer it’s almost guaranteed to pull out a God-thought. This is a life transformed. This is a mind that desires God above all things and is rewarded with a life without worry, with peace, blessedness, prosperity, and success.
This (the other bucket) is the mind that wants all those things, but has been looking for them in all the wrong places.
So, how do you know what your mind is made of? Is there a test I can take or something? No, not exactly, but if you find that you worry about these things that Jesus is talking about, then you can be sure that you are closer to this (mostly red) than this (mostly green).
 
The way you know exactly what your mind is made of is by looking in the mirror. But not the mirror on the wall, the mirror of the mind.
But before I tell you how to do that, I’ll warn you, it’s really hard to do a self-diagnosis because we are really good at lying to ourselves, even WHEN we look in the mirror. 
Let me give you a silly illustration to show you what I mean…
Assume there is a person who fits the profile that I described. A church person who does an hour of bible study each day and goes to church on Sunday, but the rest of the 70 hours of media intake, it’s anything goes.  Perhaps before hearing those numbers a person like that might earnestly believe they are seeking first His Kingdom instead of My Thingdom.
That’s like saying and believing that I’m a head tapper. (while rubbing belly and tapping my head once)
Yep, that is what I am. That is what I do. My number one goal in life is to tap my head. I identify as a head tapper, check it out. (occasionally tapping head while rubbing belly constantly)
I’m not a belly rubber like everyone else. Sure I do it sometimes, but don’t we all? No, I’m a head tapper. The Bible says Seek first the head tap, so that’s what I do.
Notice how easy it is for me to lie with my mouth while my hand is actually doing the opposite of what I’m saying? You know why? Because I was born doing this. In fact I don’t notice it because it has ALWAYS been this way. It’s as automatic as breathing, so why would I notice it? Why would I even look at it? It’s just normal. It’s what everyone does…but look, I’m really a head tapper.
But what would happen if I looked in a mirror? I would immediately see that while my mouth is saying I’m a head tapper, my hand is saying I’m a belly rubber. Sure I tap my head sometimes, but I can clearly see that I’m actually always rubbing my belly. This now puts me in an identity crisis. I’ve been saying and telling myself that I’m a head tapper that sometimes rubs my belly, but when I actually observe the evidence, it is clear that I’m really a belly rubber that sometimes taps my head.
What can I do?
Well, unfortunately, most people just stop looking at the mirror and forget what they saw, then go on believing the lie. They keep with the belly rubbing and the occasional head tap, while calling themselves head tappers. And they are shocked when their belly is chaffed and their arm is sore. Then they are even more shocked when their kids grow up to be belly rubbers, despite repeatedly telling them to be head tappers…
You see, when we try to self diagnose – we always look at our intentions rather than our actions. It’s perfectly possible to, in your mind, INTEND to seek first the kingdom….but in actuality you are not. And it’s also possible to BELIEVE that you are seeking first the kingdom, when in actuality you are not. Because we have bad eyes. We’re stuck in the matrix.
 
Jesus came to testify to the truth. And when we read His words, he shines a light in the darkness. He exposes the lies we believe with His truth. Then He gives us a choice to do something with it.
If the stats I listed about media consumption at all represent your life – then guess what you are actually seeking? It doesn’t matter what you say you are seeking. It doesn’t matter what you think you are seeking or what you tell yourself you are seeking. Seeking is not in the intention. Seeking is in the doing. Seeking is not in the feeling of conviction. Seeking is in the choosing to change.
But before you can change, you need to be able to see what is wrong.
So, to help you out. I created something of a mirror that you can carry around with you. It’s a business card that has two sides. One side is a choice you make. The other side shows you your resulting reality.
A quick glance at one side of this will immediately tell you what you are seeking. You might be able to talk yourself into a different belief after the initial gut reaction, but the initial reaction will tell you the truth – so I suggest holding onto that.
Here’s the choice side:
It says, In my daily life…then it gives you two choices. And immediately upon looking at it you will know what you have already chosen to do…or not do.
And the resulting reality is on the other side. Your choice on the reverse side will indicate what you are seeking. His Kingdom or My Thingdom.  It’s always one or the other.
You and I are always seeking one of these. And it’s not dependent on which one we want to be seeking. It’s simply the reality of what you actually ARE seeking. The choice that makes the difference is on the other side and requires action on your part to back it up. Basically, you can’t say you are seeking Him FIRST, when you are clearly seeking Him LAST.
So it’s your choice – as it always is.  You can choose on a daily basis to give God at least equal air time (E.A.T God) – get it, brain diet… – or you will choose NOT to give God at least equal air time, which is intentionally choosing to give Him less…or even none.
When you E.A.T. God, guess what you are doing?
  • Your thoughts are fixed on Him.
  • You are meditating on Him.
  • You are delighting in Him.
  • You are looking intently at Him.
  • You are storing treasure in heaven.
  • You are seeking His Kingdom FIRST because it makes up the majority of what you are actually seeking.
  • And because of that you will be blessed. You will prosper.
  • You will have no need to worry.
 
When you choose NOT to E.A.T. God, you ARE seeking Your Thingdom and you will get all the anxiety, stress, worry, and fear that comes with it. 
The KEY CONCEPT is this:
Don’t seek after happiness, or you will never find it. 
Seek after God, and happiness will be given to you.
My friends, I did not make these to make you feel guilty. But I do hope you are convicted. That is the first step to change. It’s the same reason why pain is a good thing. It tells us when something is wrong so we can do something about it.
My friends, as I said earlier in this talk, I so desperately want all of you to experience what this life is like. I so desperately want each of you to know what it’s like to walk, knowing you are in the center of God’s will without a worry or anxiety in the world. Knowing beyond a shadow of the doubt that your Heavenly father loves you and is watching out for you. I want you to know Him. I want you to know His freedom. His blessing. His love. Not just know about Him, but know Him because your mind is full of Him.
Equal Air Time will get you this far (show half and half bucket) – which is certainly better than the 10% over here. But one thing you will find when you do this is that your hunger and thirst for the things of God will increase, and the things of this world will lose their flavor, and over time you will find that you are dividing your time and your mind more like this (show full bucket). And my friends, that is a sweet place to live.
Let’s pray.

Equal Air Time is not legalistic clock watching. It’s a way to actually measure your heart. Jesus told us that where our treasure is, that’s where our heart is. It may not seem like seeking when you spend three hours watching television…but it is. You are seeking entertainment, comfort, relaxation, happiness, Your Thingdom. This is not to say that all television, or radio, or internet is bad and you should become a cave dweller. The point of all of this is to hopefully help you see that at every given moment, you are seeking something. Jesus tells us to seek His Kingdom, His righteousness FIRST and FOREMOST and when we do that He promises a worry-free life.  An abundant life. A life of peace. A prosperous life. 
And my hope and prayer is that you will take this as an opportunity to do a real, objective, self assessment and also choose to do something about it if your reality doesn’t match your intentions.
And as is always the case this is not something you can or are expected to do on your own. Ask God to help you.
Ask God to show you what needs fixing. Ask God to change your heart so that you desire the things that He desires.
 
Like David prayed:
10 Create in me a pure heart, O God,
    and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
12 Restore to me the joy of your salvation
    and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.