The "Psalm 37" Series #1



TEXT:       Psalm 37:1-2,7-9;  Matt. 6:25-34


INTRO:     Fear prevents progress, no matter what category!       


ILLUS:    The Department of Transportation has set aside $200 million for research and testing of an Automated Highway System. This system would purportedly relieve traffic woes with "super cruise control" in heavily congested cities.

   Special magnets embedded in the asphalt every four feet would transfer signals between vehicle and main computer system. Steering, acceleration, and braking would be controlled by sensors, computers navigation systems, and cameras along the side of the road. Control would be returned to drivers at their specified exit.

   Researchers and government officials claim they have the technological capability to address any potential problem. But one challenge they have yet to address.

   Says Mike Doble, Buick's technology manager, "The only thing we can't do yet is get people to comfortably trust the system. It's not a technology issue. Would you drive, closely spaced, at high speeds, through San Diego?"

   Trust is always the question. -- USA Today (4/9/97).  Leadership, Vol. 17, no. 4.


God has a program of abundant life for His children ... it is not one however free from troubles!  He gives us steps to take when facing life, these are contained in His Word, some of these steps are found in order in Psalm 37 written by David through the Spirit.


These steps MUST be taken in the order God gives us in this passage.  Some jump quickly to Psalm 37:4 before reading and obeying Psalm 37:1-3, you can't do this!   Everything God made has order to it, so does His plan for our happiness and abundant living.  To take the steps out of order will leave you with a confused happiness at best!


The best sellers list has    always had many books on how to find "happiness" and "abundant life," even about “success,” BUT the key is found still in the best seller of all: THE BIBLE, God's Word.


PROP. SENT:   The Word of God teaches us how to find God's happiness and abundant life ... step by step!  It begins by not fretting, and living in faith!


I.   FRETTING!    Psalm 37:1-2; Matt. 6:25-32


A.   Basic Provisions    Psalm 37:1; Matt. 6:25-32

1.   Security!   Psalm 37:1

a.   The need to feel safe is in all of us!

b.   We could fear what is happening in our society:

(1.   Crime rate

(2.   Murder

(3.   Rape

(4.   Terrorism

(5.   Economic and social collapse

c.   Fretting leads to envy of the prosperous wicked and their ways!  Psalm 37:lb

(1.   Wicked who prosper however are like the “grass that quickly withers away” ... here today, gone tomorrow!

(2.   However we are "like trees planted by the water" Psalm 1:3 -- we are solid and go on forever bearing fruit!

(a.   A tree planted by waters can withstand droughts unlike the grass in the open field … their roots are near the water, so they are much more likely to survive a dry spell!

(b.   Their life is much more stable because they are always connected to a source of life.

d.   Our security is not just a police force, etc.  It is God who watches over us!


ILLUS:      I remember watching a father play with his little boy, repeatedly throwing him in the air and catching him just before he hit the ground.  The child is relaxed and having a great time saying, "Do it again! Do it again!"

I thought, If that was me, I'd be stiff as a board.

"Can you explain why he's so relaxed, even when he's out of control?"  I asked the father.

"It's very simple," he said.  "We have a history together.  We've played this game before, and I've never dropped him." -- Rod Cooper, "Worship or Worry?" Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.


2.   Food & Drink   Matt. 6:25-26

a.   God made our bodies ... He can provide for them easily!

b.   The body is more important than the food, If God provides the greater, He certainly can and will provide the lesser!

3.   Clothes & shelter!   Matt. 6:28

a.   God also provides these necessities!

b.   Again the lesser items: God provides for the more important as well, our body.


B.   Becoming Paranoid!   Matt. 6:26-32

1.   We panic too much!

a.   Something doesn't go just right, in our timing!

b.   Fretting results ... and results in more fretting!

2.   Signs of fretting!

a.   Physical deterioration

b.   Narrowed perception of reality: fretting blocks everything out!

c.   Self-pity    

d.   Anger, or quarrelsome

e.   Laziness

f.    Mental fatigue

g.   Insomnia

h.   Spiritual decline

i.    Depression

j.    Confusion ... inability to make decisions!

k.   Personal hygiene habits change, lowered!

1.   Withdrawal from people and life! (Suicide in extreme cases)

3.   Problem of fretting    Matt. 6:27

Fretting isn’t always based on true facts, and may keep us from great accomplishments.


ILLUS:     In 1983, the U.S.A. issued a postage stamp commemorating the building of the first steel bridge in America. It was built across the Mississippi River at St. Louis.  Many said it could not be built.  They said it would never support its own weight.  So James Eads, the builder, ordered fourteen locomotives to stop on the bridge at once.  Then people trusted the bridge.  They called it the eighth wonder of the world.  The Lord Jesus Christ is the bridge between sinning man and a sinless God. We must trust him in order to cross it.  -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


a.   Fretting only deals with the problem, never the solution!  

b.   Fretting is like a locked door, can't open up solutions!

c.   Fretting feeds on itself also ... leads to more fretting!

d.   Fretting destroys faith ... it is the antithesis of it!

e.   Here is one of the basic problems of secular philosophy and secular psychology ... they help you see the problem and maybe even the cause of it, but can't always find solutions that are enduring without God's principles; the ones they have found that work are already spelled out in God's Word!

f.    We can't add time to our life by fretting (Matt. 6:27) ... in fact we are told by science that we actually lose time by fretting!


C.   Be Planning    Matt. 6:26,28

1.   “Birds of the air…”  Matt. 6:26

a.   The verse is NOT saying birds are lazy and don't have to do anything!

b.   It is saying God supplies the raw materials for the birds' needs, so they can work hard building nests, raising the young, harvesting worms, bugs, etc.

c.   In other words, they are still called to plan and work hard, but they trust God for the materials!

d.   Their whole life demonstrates plans for the future and hard work toward those plans ... they gather straw to build a nest one day to raise their young in the future!

e.   They gather worms to feed the young in the hopes that the next generation will be able to carry on, etc.

f.    All the while they do this they are peaceful and happy; they trust God for the basic raw materials to carry out what God has called them to do in their lives!

2.   “Lilies of the field…”  Matt. 6:28

a.   Same thing here ... the lilies whole life is geared for the future, to produce a bloom or fruit!

b.   They labor to this end, and they don't worry about fertilizer, sun­shine, rain, weeds, etc.

c.   They go on faithfully working toward a future knowing God will provide the raw materials for them to do so!  They don't fret over it.  Ever seen a fretting lily?

d.   It almost seems they are doing nothing; they are peaceful as they grow and do God's will ... they are at peace while at work!

3.   This is God's desire ... activity and planning, working with peace!

a.   God is not calling us to slow down or stop action!


ILLUS:     On Dudley's seventy-fifth birthday, there was a pilot in his small town who offered to take Dudley for an airplane ride. Dudley accepted. So for about thirty minutes, they flew over this small town in West Virginia. When they landed, one of the old man's friends asked, "Were you scared, Dudley?" With some hesitation he said, "Well, no, but I never put my full weight down."  When we take our most valuable possessions and give them to God--our money and our children and our spouses--our faith in God grows, and we increasingly put our whole weight down on God. -- John Casey, "Real Giving," Preaching Today, Tape No. 156.


b.   It is a call to stop fretting and trust Him for the raw materials to do whatever it is He has called us to do and to be!

c.   SO: keep planning, working, take on great adventures for God ... Just don't fret!


II.  FAITH!   Matt. 6:33-34


A.   Basic Priority!    Matt. 6:33a

1.   God must be first or fretting will result in your life!

a.   No farmer demands a harvest before planting the seeds!

b.   Only when God is first can we see a harvest of blessings and the raw materials given!

c.   If He is first we can't fret!


ILLUS:     Emerson wrote, "All I have seen teaches me to trust the Creator for all I have not seen." -- Robert C. Shannon, 1000 Windows, (Cincinnati, Ohio: Standard Publishing Company, 1997).


2.   This was the whole concept of "first fruits" in the O.T.

a.   When God was first in Israel, they never lacked for raw materials.

b.   Even God's kingdom must be first according to the verse here!

c.   The reason we don't fret when He is first is because at the beginning we start with God ... He supplies the raw materials, it is impossible to put Him first and then lack something!


B.   Best Program!   Matt. 6:33

1.   "Seek"

a.   Notice the activity of this command!

b.   It takes effort to be peaceful!

c.   When God is put first, it is a proof of our faith!  Thus leading to peace and our needs met!

d.   The best program to not fretting is actually showing that God is first in your life; we do this by our lifestyle and our priorities!

e.   In other words you can't say He is first and not show it by the way you live!  (James said this as well!)


ILLUS:     Solomon sought God first, and God gave him life's other things!  Malachi 3:10-12 says that when God is first in our giving, He will open up heaven and pour out blessings we wouldn't believe!  (Malachi 3 is the only place where God allows us to test Him!)  The Lord's Prayer starts this way: "THY KINGDOM COME"... and then later, "GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD," notice the order!


2.   Faith & Works go together!

a.   Not in order to be saved…!

b.   BUT: if saved you will work!

c.   How is your life ordered?

d.   What are your priorities?

e.   Fretting is a red light flashing ... warning that faith is being lost!

3.   The best program for not fretting is simply putting God first in our lives!

4.   The pagans (Gentiles) run after the basics, why ... because they don't know of God's loving provisions, but we do!

a.   It is natural for them to fret

b.   It is unnatural for us to fret!


C.   Being Peaceful!   Matt. 6:34

1.   Knowing God takes perfect care of little things that aren't as important to God as we are gives us faith!

a.   Birds and lilies are never abandoned!

b.   We certainly won't be!

2.   Learn to live each day one at a time, don't try and live tomorrow today!  You can't anyways!


ILLUS:    I used to carry my aged mother up and down the stairs of our home here in Chicago. And she would grab onto the banister while I was carrying her up or down the stairs and hold on to it so tightly we couldn't move.  I'd say, "Momma, you have to let go of the banister or we can't move."  And she looked at me with her plaintive little eyes and said, "I'm afraid you'll drop me."  I said, "Momma, I'm going to drop you right now. When I count to three, I'm going to drop you!" And then she would let go, and we'd go two more steps, when she would grab on again.

   That is in microcosm my interaction with God. I'm hanging on to the banisters of life. I'm hanging on to these little things that make me feel secure. But God loves me more than I love my little mother, and God would never let me come to any harm. God knows where we're going. -- John Powell, "Prayer as Surrender," Preaching Today, Tape No. 108.


a.   We only need daily faith, when tomorrow arrives, God will help you with it.

b.   You need to deal with today in faith.

c.   As each day passes with God's faithfulness, your faith grows stronger.d.     When faith grows, fretting stops! (Or at least slows down!)

e.   When fretting dies, peace arrives!

3.   It is in this context and note that Matt. 7:7 is understood! “Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:” Too many take it away from this context!


CONCLUSION:   God's gift of abundant living is not just some instant zap!  It comes through steps given us in His Word, each taken in order.  The first step begins with faith, not fretting!  These steps followed in order results in abundant living and enduring happiness and peace.