Wednesday, November 30, 2016


23 October 2016

I.  Introduction
            -- turn in Bibles to Romans 7:14-20

Romans 7:14-20New International Version (NIV)

14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin. 15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

            -- for the last couple of weeks, I’ve been channeling my inner Sesame Street -- I imagine all of you watched Sesame Street as a kid, and remember how ever episode they would pick a letter and then focus the entire show on that letter and words that began with that letter?
            -- I don’t know if you realized it or not, but we’ve been doing something similar over the past couple of weeks -- we started with the letter “C” -- and looked at the life of King Solomon and The Three C’s of Spiritual Defeat -- Complacency, Compromise, and Corruption -- which were overcome by the C of the Cross
            -- last week, we talked about the real “F” word -- forgiveness -- and what true biblical forgiveness is, what it should look like in our lives, and why we must express forgiveness in our lives to become who God has called us to be
            -- this week, we’re looking at the letter “S” -- and we’re going to be focusing on three words that begin with that letter -- Sin, Salvation, and Sanctification

II.  Sin
            -- as much as I hate to, we must begin our discussion this morning with the reality of sin
            -- as we are all too painfully aware, our lives have been molded and shaped and formed through the ubiquitous presence of sin -- because of Adam and Eve -- because of The Fall in the Garden of Eden -- that distinct moment in time when Adam and Eve gave into sin and disobeyed God by eating of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil -- we have all become sinners -- born into sin -- who live out sin-filled days on this earth
            -- contrary to popular opinion, we are not sinners because we sin -- but, we sin because we are sinners -- this is who we are -- this is the doctrine of original sin -- we are born with an inherent sin nature because we are born in Adam -- it is part of us -- there is nothing we can do to separate ourselves from this sin nature, and it causes us to do sinful acts -- we simply cannot help ourselves
            -- this original sin has tainted our lives from the very beginning -- we are defined by our sin -- sin characterizes who we are and what we do and who we will become -- sin and the fall resulted in a curse on us and on God’s creation, and the shadow of sin touches every part of Creation
            -- so what do we mean by the word “sin?” -- “sin is any action, deed, or thought that falls short of God’s perfect character” []
            -- and there’s not a person in here, nor a person that has ever lived -- apart from Jesus Christ Himself -- who has not sinned and done what is wrong in God’s eyes -- there’s not a person in here, nor a person who has ever lived, who hasn’t fallen short of the glory of God -- of God’s perfect character

            -- look at what Paul says here in this passage as he expounds in the Book of Romans on the Law and the reality of sin in our lives exposed by the Law

            -- verse 14

Romans 7:14 We know that the law is spiritual; but I am unspiritual, sold as a slave to sin.

            -- because of original sin, we have been born into slavery to sin -- it defines who we are -- it defines what we do -- we sin because we have this sin nature within us
            -- but, as AA and the other twelve step programs point out, you cannot be healed until you first admit who you are -- so God gave us the Law to demonstrate the extent of our sinfulness -- the Law not only shows us what God demands of us, but our failure to keep the Law reveals our sin and our need for a Savior

            -- look at verse 15

Romans 7:15 I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. 16 And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. 17 As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. 18 For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing. 20 Now if I do what I do not want to do, it is no longer I who do it, but it is sin living in me that does it.

            -- this sin is within us -- it is part of us -- there is nothing we can do about it -- like Paul, even when we try to do good, we find that we can’t -- even when we try to stop sinning, we find ourselves giving in time and time again to temptation and sin
            -- it is because we have this sin living inside of us -- the sinful nature Paul speaks of here in verse 18
            -- we can have the desire to do good -- we can have the desire to follow the Law and to do what God commands -- but we are powerless to carry it out
            -- the sin within -- the sin we are slaves to -- we are bound to -- keeps us from doing what God wants us to do -- it keeps us from being who God created us to be

            -- our sin has condemned us -- as the Bible says in Romans 6:23, “the wages of sin are death” -- this is what we have earned in our lives because of our sin -- we have earned condemnation -- we have earned separation from God -- we have earned an eternity in Hell
            -- but the reality of sin leads us to the good news of Jesus Christ and to the promise inherent in John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life”
            -- the promise of John 3:16 ushers in the good news of our next “S” word -- Salvation

II.  Salvation
            -- salvation literally means “to be saved” -- the word that is translated as “salvation” in our Bibles “stems from the Greek word “sozo,” meaning to save from peril, injury, or suffering.” []
            -- in the context of the Scriptures, salvation refers to Christ’s atoning death on the cross for the forgiveness of our sins -- Christ came to take our place -- as it says in 2 Corinthians 5:21, He who knew no sin became sin for us and took our place on the cross -- suffering and dying and paying the penalty of sin that we owed so that we might be saved from the wrath of God and actually become the righteousness of God
            -- another term we use to describe this act of Christ on our behalf is justification -- “just as if I never sinned” -- the restoration of our original being before God -- we term this as “positional holiness”
            -- because of Christ, we are set apart positionally in the eyes of God as holy and righteous -- without sin or blemish -- not because of anything we have done -- not because of who we are -- but because of Christ’s imputed righteousness -- Christ’s righteousness covering us and removing our sins
            -- in a very real sense, there are three components to the salvation that comes through Christ []:
            -- as we have already talked about, salvation delivers us from the penalty of sin -- the price has been paid -- Jesus took our place on the cross and paid the penalty for our sin with His own body and blood

            -- secondly, there is salvation from the power of sin
            -- in the passage from Romans 7, Paul lamented that he could not do what he desired to do -- when he desired to do good -- when he desired to follow the Law and obey the commands of God -- he found himself unable to do so because of the power of sin in his life that kept him in bondage
            -- but Christ has destroyed the power of sin in our lives -- He has broken the chains of slavery and freed us from the grasp of sin -- we have been saved from the power of sin and can now choose to live lives in obedience to God
            -- finally, Christ’s death on the cross provided salvation from the presence of sin -- even though we are saved -- even though we when we accept Jesus as our Lord and Savior and put our faith and trust in His atoning death on the cross -- even though the power of sin has been broken in our lives -- we still live with the reality of sin in this world -- we still live in a fallen state, surrounded by sin and the consequences of sin
            -- but the Bible promises that we will be eventually saved from even the presence of sin -- this is our hope in Christ -- this is our future state in eternity when we will live with God in heaven forever -- a place where there will be no more sin -- no more shadow -- but God’s light will shine and there will be no more sin and no more darkness

III.  Sanctification
            -- but we cannot discuss salvation without talking about the third “S” word for today -- Sanctification

            -- turn over to 2 Thessalonians 2:13-17

2 Thessalonians 2:13 But we ought always to thank God for you, brothers and sisters loved by the Lord, because God chose you as firstfruits[a] to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit and through belief in the truth. 14 He called you to this through our gospel, that you might share in the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ.

15 So then, brothers and sisters, stand firm and hold fast to the teachings[b] we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

16 May our Lord Jesus Christ himself and God our Father, who loved us and by his grace gave us eternal encouragement and good hope, 17 encourage your hearts and strengthen you in every good deed and word.

            -- Paul writes here to the Thessalonians that we have been chosen to be saved through the sanctifying work of the Spirit -- what does that mean? -- what is sanctification?
            -- sanctification literally means, “to be set apart, to be separated for a purpose” -- in the case of the Bible, to be sanctified means we have been set apart and separated from sin and from this world and separated to God and to holiness and righteousness -- “sanctification is the process of being set apart and conformed to the image of Christ” []

            -- salvation works hand-in-hand with sanctification to form us into the new creation Paul speaks about in 2 Corinthians 5:17, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”
            -- when we are saved, the Bible teaches that the Holy Spirit immediately comes to indwell us -- to live within us -- the very presence of God inside us, forming us into a new creation -- working within us to transform us from sinful human beings into the men and women God has called us to be -- working with us to make us holy as God is holy -- to make us more and more like Jesus every day
            -- so, as Paul puts it here in 2 Thessalonians, salvation ushers in the process of becoming saved through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit
            -- we talked about how salvation was positional holiness -- that through Christ’s atoning death on the cross, our position has been changed in the eyes of God -- Christ’s righteousness has been imputed to us -- we are seen in the eyes of God as holy because Christ’s holiness and righteousness covers us
            -- but it is an undeniable fact that even though we are holy positionally in the eyes of God, we are far from being holy in our reality -- in our real lives -- as Oswald Sanders said, “The older I get, the more deeply I am aware of how sinful I am”
            -- we know that we sin -- we know that we still do not do what is right -- we know that we still choose to disobey God and do things that are not pleasing to Him, even though we now have a desire to do better and even though Christ has destroyed the power of sin that was keeping us from being able to live sin-free lives
            -- that’s where sanctification and the sanctifying work of the Spirit we read of here in 2 Thessalonians comes in

            -- sanctification describes the process by which righteousness is imparted to us -- as the old becomes new and we are transformed into a new creation from the inside out -- this is known as progressive holiness -- living into the salvation and new life Christ made possible on the cross
            -- this is when our behavior and our actions and our thoughts and our attitudes begin to mirror that of Jesus -- when the physical begins to mirror the spiritual and to reflect the change made within us through the saving and sanctifying presence of the Holy Spirit
            -- it is not something that we can do on our own -- it is only through the power of the Spirit working in us and through us that we become sanctified and set apart and holy as Jesus is holy
            -- sanctification is the realization of our salvation as we begin to experience a life of grace and holiness

IV.  Closing
            -- so let’s bring all this home -- I think the best way is to borrow an analogy from the Bible to summarize how these “S” words work in our lives
            -- in many places in the New Testament, we see our Christian lives compared to a race -- the thing to remember about a race is that it has a definite beginning and an end -- you have a starting point and then you have a finish line
            -- the starting point of our Christian life is the moment of salvation -- the moment when we come to believe and to trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross and we receive salvation -- when we are justified in the eyes of God and the righteousness and holiness of Jesus are imputed to us
            -- that is our starting point -- it’s the point when we leave sin behind -- when sin no longer holds us back, but we are able to move forward into the true life that God has called us to live
            -- the race itself corresponds to sanctification -- to our becoming more and more holy every day -- to becoming more like Jesus -- not just positionally in the eyes of God -- but in reality in our physical and spiritual lives here on earth as the Spirit works within us to make us more like Jesus
-- all the way along this race, you should be progressing from unholiness to holiness -- you should be progressing from sinfulness to righteousness -- or, as the Bible says, you should be growing from glory to glory.
-- If you have been saved for any length of time and have been trying to serve the Lord, you should be able to look back over your shoulder and see areas in your life where you have grown more obedient -- more holy -- to God
-- You should have areas in your life where you can say, "I used to commit this sin but now I don't.  I walk in holiness in that area."
-- If you have been growing in holiness in your life, you should have at least one major area of sin that is no longer true for you.
-- Does that mean you are holy in all you do?  --no -- But it means you are progressing, you are getting better, you are further down the road than you were when you started.
            -- the finish line is our goal -- the finish line is the point where salvation and sanctification are truly realized -- where we experience our new life with Christ forever -- the finish line is eternal life with Christ -- and when we reach that point, we will be completely transformed into the men and women God has called us to be

            -- so, what do you need to take home with you today? -- you need to remember the three “S” words -- that sin has been overcome by the salvation given on the cross -- and that we are being sanctified and made holy by the power of the Spirit within us
            -- we are moving forward in holiness -- being sanctified and set apart to fulfill the calling on our lives -- and every day, we should be striving to become more and more like Jesus through the power of the Spirit within -- that is what I want you to get
            -- let’s pray

Wednesday, November 23, 2016


30 October 2016

I. Introduction
            -- turn in Bibles to 1 Peter 5:6-8

6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.
7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.
8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

            -- when you are called to preach or teach the word of God, you initially think it is solely because God wants you to proclaim His word to the world -- but the longer you are involved in ministry, you realize this is not always the case -- sometimes God just wants you to proclaim His word to yourself -- this morning is one of those days
            -- our message today is called, “Worrying about Worry” -- and it’s an apt title to describe the type of week I’ve had -- this has been a week of worry and anxiety for me, and it has affected me all week

            -- it reminds me of the story about the patient in the mental hospital -- an attendant was walking by and he noticed one of his patients had his ear pressed up against the wall, listening intently to what was going on in the next room
            -- the patient saw the attendant watching and motioned for him to come over and join him -- the attendant pressed his ear to the wall for a long time and finally said, "I can't hear a thing" -- the patient replied, "You're right -- it's been like that all day!"

            -- that’s me -- worrying over things I don’t hear and things that haven’t even happened -- the Apostle Paul once wrote that he was the chief of sinners -- I think I have claim to be the chief of worriers -- I worry about a lot
            -- I’ve had people tell me I’m a pessimist -- that I’m always thinking the worst is going to happen -- I prefer to call myself a realist, but that’s just an excuse to deny my true nature
            -- I am a firm believer in Murphy’s Law that if something can go wrong, it will -- I actually have made a corollary to Murphy’s Law I call “Lee’s Rule” -- things always go wrong for Greg -- that’s why my favorite Winnie the Pooh character is Eeyore and why I identify so much with doubting Thomas in the Bible
            -- I worry a lot -- I worry about my job -- about my finances -- about my health -- about the state of our vehicles -- and every week I worry about what I am going to preach on the next Sunday -- but it doesn't stop there
            -- I worry about our country -- our Government -- this election -- our economy -- I worry about natural disasters -- I worry about tornadoes and flooding -- I worry about Zika virus -- killer bees -- sharks -- bears -- I’m even worried about that disease you get from ticks that makes you allergic to meat from mammals
            -- and, for too long, I’ve just excused away my sin of worrying by saying, “That’s just who I am” -- but that’s just an excuse and a sin is still a sin, no matter how small or innocuous or accepted by society it may be
            -- so this morning, I want us to talk about worrying, knowing this is a message mostly for me -- but maybe you will receive something from this that will help you in your walk with Christ, too

II.  Worry
            -- so what is worry? -- everyone in here knows that word -- everyone in here will admit to having worried about something in their life -- but what is worry? -- what’s the difference between being worried and being legitimately concerned about something?
            -- worry is a state of anxiety about an actual or potential problem -- it’s dwelling on the what-if’s -- it’s letting your mind and your attention and your focus settle on a problem or on a perceived problem to the point where it affects your thoughts and your actions and your life
            -- you can think of worry as meditating on a negative that hasn’t even happened -- it is problem-oriented and an unhealthy way of thinking

            -- concern on the other hand is a considered analysis of a situation -- concern is recognizing a problem for what it is and moving past the problem to a solution -- a concerned person evaluates a perceived problem and the steps necessary to mitigate that problem or the perceived threat
            -- concern doesn’t dwell on the negative, but focuses on the positive or on moving past the problem
            -- here’s an example of the difference between worry and concern for something that’s been in the news lately -- Zika virus
            -- Zika virus is transmitted by mosquitoes and can have serious health effects, to include potential impacts to fetuses or new-born babies -- and, so it is a viable concern -- one that we’ve seen highlighted in the news before the Hillary and Donald show took over
            -- some people reacted to the news of Zika virus showing up in south Florida by worrying over it -- they wouldn’t go outside for fear of being bitten by mosquitoes -- they wouldn’t let their kids play outside -- they pulled their kids out of school -- they just watched the news all day and just dwelled on the fact that they were going to catch Zika and probably get sick -- it affected their lives -- it affected their sleep -- it affected their health without even catching the virus -- the classic example of a person who worries
            -- others, though, didn’t worry but were concerned -- they researched the facts about Zika -- they bought mosquito repellent to wear before they or their kids went outside -- they looked around their homes and removed any areas that might harbor mosquitoes or areas where mosquitoes could breed -- they checked their screens on their doors and windows -- they were concerned, so they took steps to get past the problem and get on with their lives
            -- that’s the difference between worrying and being concerned -- when you worry, you focus and dwell on the problem and on the potential negative effects of the problem -- when you are concerned, you move past the problem to finding solutions
            -- worry is unhealthy -- concern is not -- worry is a sin -- concern is not -- I’m concerned that I worry too much, which is why you are getting this message today -- make sense?

            -- so why is worry considered a sin? -- why does the Bible condemn worry in Christians? -- why did Jesus teach us to not worry?
            -- worry is a sin because it is a lack of faith in God -- worry is a sin because it demonstrates that you don’t trust God is able to take care of your problem -- worry is a sin because you make an idol out of your problem
            -- I did a word search in the Bible -- do you know what the opposite of “worry” is? -- it’s peace -- and peace only comes from God -- worry blocks the grace of God that brings peace into your life -- it takes your focus and attention off of Him and puts it on you and your problems
            -- it’s like Francis Chan says, “Worry implies that we don’t quite trust that God is big enough, powerful enough, or loving enough to take care of what’s happening in our lives.”
            -- so what do we do about it?

III.  Scripture Lesson (1 Peter 5:6-8)
            -- look back at verse 6

1 Peter 5:6 Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.

            -- according to this passage, in order to overcome worry, the first thing we have to do is to humble ourselves -- now when we read that we’re supposed to humble ourselves, our first thought is that we’ve got to make ourselves low -- to put our pride away -- to make ourselves less than others
            -- but that’s not quite what this passage means in the context of worry and anxiety -- when Peter tells us here to humble ourselves, what he’s saying is we need to take our eyes off ourselves and our problems and exalt God back to where He needs to be in our lives
            -- when we’re worrying about a problem -- real or perceived -- we have exalted that problem and made it the focus of our life -- we’ve put it on the throne and it’s the only thing we’re paying attention to -- Peter’s saying that we’ve let the problem and the anxiety about the problem take an unhealthy place in our lives
            -- so the first thing we need to do is re-establish the proper order of things -- to humble ourselves -- to put God back on the throne and to put ourselves and our problems back under Him -- to turn to Him -- to rely on Him -- rather than just dwell and focus on the negative

            -- verse 7

1 Peter 5:7 Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.

            -- next, we have to cast all our anxiety and our worry on God -- we have to turn our problem over to Him
            -- the root cause of worry is fear -- it’s a lack of faith and trust in God to take care of us and our problems -- so the act of casting all our anxiety and worry on God is an act of faith and trust -- it’s admitting that we can’t do anything about this problem and turning to the only One who can -- it’s letting the worry go from our minds and putting this burden on God so He can do a mighty work in our lives
            -- Psalm 56:3 says something similar: “When I am afraid, I put my trust in You”
            -- Phil 4:6 says, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
            -- the answer to worry is to give it to God -- to carry your concern and your need to Him -- to stop trying to solve this on your own -- to stop meditating and chewing on this problem in your mind and working yourself into a frenzy but to give it to Him and trust that He will solve it

            -- I told you that I worry a lot -- but when I look back on my life, most of the stuff that I worried about -- most of the problems that kept me up at night -- never came to pass -- I let the fear of the unknown affect my health and my thoughts and my actions, and nothing happened
            -- how much better would I have been if I had simply given these over to God and prayed to Him to take them -- how much better would it have been if I had simply trusted Him and had faith in His willingness to solve all my problems rather than worrying about how I was going to take care of them?
            -- I like what Zig Ziglar says about praying and worrying -- he wrote: "If you pray you don't need to worry, and if you don't pray it does no good to worry.”
            -- that about sums it up

            -- verse 8

1 Peter 5:8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.

            -- here we see where all this worry comes from in the first place -- here we see where all this doubt and anxiety come from -- it comes from the enemy
            -- that doesn’t mean that every problem that arises in our lives is a direct attack from Satan -- no, we live in a fallen world where the consequences of sin and evil are felt daily -- problems happen because we live in a world full of problems -- bad things happen to both good people and bad people -- not because Satan sends them -- but simply because we live in an imperfect world with imperfect people
            -- so Satan doesn’t necessarily send these problems into our lives, but he certainly takes advantage of them -- he uses them to turn our minds off Jesus and onto the problem -- he turns our focus away from having a healthy spiritual response to a problem and causes us to meditate on the what-if’s -- to worry about the negative -- to get so wrapped up in the issue that we forget God
            -- but I think Peter makes a good point here -- the enemy may go around like a roaring lion, but he’s not a lion -- he may make our little problems cast big shadows, but it’s only an illusion -- he’s not in control -- he’s just trying to make you think he is and to make you think that God can’t handle what’s going on in your life
            -- that’s why Peter tells us here to be alert and to be of sound mind -- know that problems are going to happen -- know that things are going to go wrong -- be concerned about real problems -- but don’t dwell on the negative -- focus on the solution, which always resides in faith and trust in God
            -- the enemy can roar all he wants -- he can try to get us to focus our minds and our attention on all the potential negative consequences of problems -- but he can’t do more than that -- by being alert and having a sound mind -- by casting all our anxiety on God and by humbling ourselves and trusting in Him -- we can overcome worry -- we can turn away from this sin and experience true victorious lives in Christ

            -- so before we close, let me give you a couple of practical exercises you can do to actually humble yourself and cast your anxiety on God so you can put your worries behind you

            -- the first is to look beyond your circumstances -- remember your future is certain -- most of our worries are about physical and temporal things -- our future is spiritual and eternal

            -- second, cultivate mindfulness and contentment -- focus on what you have, not what might happen or what you don’t have -- live in the moment -- thank God for the blessings He has given -- admit up front, “Yes, if this problem happens, this negative action might occur -- but, look at how God is going to take care of it”

            -- third, worry appointments -- I ran across this idea online but it’s something I’ve seen in other places -- make yourself an appointment to worry -- take 10 minutes every day to just fully give yourself into your worries -- look at yourself in the mirror and verbally recite all the things that could happen -- all the things that you worry might occur
            -- I saw this in the movie, “Butter” -- this little girl was going to compete in a butter carving competition and she was worried about it -- she was scared to go into the building by herself and compete with adults in this competition
            -- so her foster father tells her to imagine what the worst thing is that could happen? -- let’s watch this clip [show clip from Butter]

            -- so that’s what a worry appointment looks like -- you go ahead and put voice to what the worst thing is -- and at the end of 10 minutes, let it go -- you are not allowed to worry any more until the next worry appointment
            -- it seems ridiculous, but it helps in two ways -- it can keep you from worrying about something all the time, all day -- when you start to worry, you just stop and remind yourself that you have a set time to do that and put it out of your mind until then -- and, it can help you focus your problem and see that it probably isn’t as bad as you think or that the consequences are a lot more manageable than racist ninjas or pythons in the workplaces

IV.  Closing
            -- so let’s bring all this to a close -- the act of worrying is at epidemic levels in our country -- according to the Mayo Clinic, worry is the number one mental disorder in America, and it is actually resulting in physical health issues
            -- “80-85% of their total caseload is due directly to worry and anxiety -- and many experts say that coping with stress is the #1 health priority of our day -- one leading physician has stated that, in his opinion, 70% of all medical patients could cure themselves if only they got rid of their worries and fears"  [Craig Simpson. “Don’t Worry About Anything.”]

            -- without a doubt, worry can negatively affect your life -- that’s why God tells us to stop worrying and to trust Him -- to turn our focus off our problems and put our focus on who He is and what He can do in our lives
            -- let me close by sharing with you a story about an Eastern monarch who lived many years ago -- he had great wealth and treasure -- he had many fine things in his palace -- and many wives in his harem -- he lived his life plagued by worry, concerned that he might lose what he possessed
            -- so one day, this monarch called all his wise men together -- he asked them to invent a mantra -- a few magic words that would help him in time of trial or distress -- something that would take away his worry and replace his fear with strength
            -- and he gave them these guidelines -- the phrase had to be brief enough to be engraved on a ring so that he could have it always before his eyes -- it must be appropriate to every situation, as useful in prosperity as in adversity -- it must be wise and true and endlessly enduring -- it had to be words by which a man could be guided all his life, in every circumstance, no matter what happened.
            -- The wise men left the monarch and put their heads together -- they thought and thought and finally came to the monarch with their magic words -- this phrase, they declared to the monarch, were words for every change or chance of fortune -- they fit every situation, good or bad -- they would ease the heart and mind and take away all fear and worry
            -- and then, with a flourish, they presented their monarch with a ring engraved with these words, "This, too, shall pass."

            -- good words for us this morning as we seek to overcome worry in our own lives
            -- let us pray