Today by Abidan Shah, PhD

TODAY by Dr. Shah, Clearview Church, Henderson, NC

Introduction: Those of you who have traveled across time zones know what it means to have to change the time on your watches when you land there. If you travel to the east, you lose time, but if you travel to the west, you gain time. For example, if you travel to England, you lose 5 hours, because it is in the Greenwich Mean Time; but, if you fly to San Diego, California, you gain 3 hours, because it is in the Pacific Standard Time. In other words, you must jump ahead in time when you go east, but you must drop back in time when you go west. Nonetheless, no matter how far you travel, east or west, you can only live in one day, that is today, and today being New Year’s Day, the first day of 2023, I want to speak to you on the importance of “TODAY,” which is the title of our message. Main point: God has designed us to live in today. Dwelling on yesterday will only bring regrets and worrying about tomorrow will only bring anxieties. Thank God for yesterday, trust him with tomorrow, but live for him and through him today. Remember, sufficient for the day is its own trouble, and Jesus is sufficient for today.

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Context: The verse we just read is part of Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount. Those of you who have been to Israel with me have gone by the Mount of Beatitudes where the Roman Catholic Church of the Beatitudes is located. It is sitting on the northwestern shores of the Sea of Galilee with Capernaum to the northeast and Tabgha to the southwest. We believe that this was the site because ancient pilgrims have been coming here since the 4th century AD or even earlier. This church was built in the 1930s, but it is sitting on the site of the 4thcentury Byzantine church. Each time I go there, I try to picture in my mind what it must have looked like as Jesus probably stepped out of the boat and began walking up the shores. According to some estimates, there is space for as many as 100,000 people to gather here. The gospels tell us that there was a massive crowd of people following him. Matthew 4       23 And Jesus went about all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease among the people. 24 Then His fame went throughout all Syria; and they brought to Him all sick people who were afflicted with various diseases and torments, and those who were demon-possessed, epileptics, and paralytics; and He healed them. Who were this multitude that followed Jesus? We tend to think of them as just some riffraff or miracle mongers who saw him as their source of free food. They were some seriously hurting people. There are different words used here: Nosos = chronic disease, Malakia = crippling disease that weakens, Kakos = Sickness coming from an evil source within, Basanos = torments, Daimonizomai = demon-possession, Seleiniazomai = moon struck/epilepsy, Paralutikos = paralysis. In other words, the cause and location of the sickness were not one and the same. Some were physical and some emotional. Some were obvious and some not. 25 Great multitudes followed Him—from Galilee, and from Decapolis, Jerusalem, Judea, and beyond the Jordan. Matthew 5:1 And seeing the multitudes, He went up on a mountain, and when He was seated His disciples came to Him.” Jesus probably stood below and spoke to the people on the mountainside. His voice must have carried up the mountain with the wind from the Sea of Galilee behind him which makes it a natural amphitheater. Did everyone hear him? Were some distracted? The disciples definitely heard him and twice this message was recorded in the gospels: one here and the other in Luke 12.

What’s powerful is that Jesus saw the multitude! Although it doesn’t say it here, it says in Matthew 9:36 “But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd.” In other words, Jesus not only saw the multitudes, but his heart went out to them. Do you know that he sees you and his heart goes out to you? Jesus not only healed them and fed them, but he took the time to speak to them. He gave the Sermon on the Mount to help them emotionally, mentally, and spiritually; and it can help you as well. We don’t have time to go over the entire Sermon which extends from Matthew 5-7, but There are 3 things that stand out for our message today. Keep in mind that the multitude was struggling with the same things that you and I struggle with – “how to live today in light of yesterday and tomorrow.”

1. Reflect over yesterday:

What do you see when you look back over the past year?

  • Some of you see some difficult moments of sickness in your family.
  • Some of you see some difficult losses in your life (job, house, income, people)
  • Some of you see some relationship struggles in your life.
  • Some of you see some moments of success but also moments of shame.
  • Some of you see moments where you could see God working and then when you couldn’t see God.
  • Some of you see moments of change in our world.
  • Some of you see moments of financial changes in the economy
  • Some of you see moments of deterioration of moral values. As Adrian Rogers would say, “Sin that used to slink down in back alleys is now marching down on Main Street.” I am no Adrian Rogers, but if I could add to that – “That sin is now walking up your driveway and demands you to approve of it and celebrate it!” I say that we stand firm on the convictions from the word of God.

The key is to reflect on the past but not dwell on it. If you dwell on it, you will be tempted to fall into regret, shame, hurt, and bitterness. This is where the Beatitudes can help: Matthew 5        2 Then He opened His mouth and taught them, saying: 3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 4 Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. 5 Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. 6 Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. 7 Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. 8 Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God. 9 Blessed are the peacemakers, For they shall be called sons of God. 10 Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. 11“Blessed are you when they revile and persecute you, and say all kinds of evil against you falsely for My sake. 12 Rejoice and be exceedingly glad, for great is your reward in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.

Oswald Chambers said, “Our yesterdays present irreparable things to us; it is true that we have lost opportunities which will never return, but God can transform this destructive anxiety into a constructive thoughtfulness for the future. Let the past sleep, but let it sleep on the bosom of Christ.”

Application: Have you taken the time to reflect on the past and leave it in his hands?

2. Be realistic about tomorrow:

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. What do you see when you look towards the new year?

  • Some of you see are afraid of some unexpected sicknesses in your family.
  • Some of you see are afraid of some unexpected or expected losses in your life (job, house, income, people)
  • Some of you see some relationships breaking down in the future.
  • Some of you see some moments of success but also moments of failure.
  • Some of you are wondering if God will be there or not in the future.
  • Some of you see further changes in our world.
  • Some of you see further financial changes in the economy
  • Some of you see further deterioration of moral values.

The key is to be realistic about the future but not worry about it. If you worry about them, it will only lead to fear and anxiety. Listen to what Jesus said in the preceding verses: Matthew 6       25 “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? 28 “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; 29 and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 “Therefore do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?’ or “What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

Later, in the message, Jesus said in Matthew 7        24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: 25 and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock.”

Application: Have you taken the time to be realistic about tomorrow and trust God with it?

3. Be ready for today

Matthew 6:34 “…Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Listen to the prayer Jesus taught them – Matthew 6       9 In this manner, therefore, pray: Our Father in heaven, Hallowed be Your name. 10 Your kingdom come. Your will be done On earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us this day our daily bread. 12 And forgive us our debts, As we forgive our debtors. 13 And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.

Paul echoes this, but a little differently in Philippians 4:8 “Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.”

Application: Is Jesus your Savior and Lord? If so, he is sufficient for everything you need today? Live for him today. Live through him today.

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