Opening Prayer Thoughts.
Praise God that he provides for us in so many ways. Praise God for the breath in our bodies, for the material blessings filling our homes, and for the glorious spiritual blessing of being alive in the Lord Jesus Christ. Genesis 2:7, Acts 17:24,25,28 and Ephesians 2:5.
Confess the sin of grumbling about what we do not have and of worrying about that which we have no call to worry about.
Do not be anxious, seek first God's Kingdom. Please read Luke 12:22-34.
Seek the help of the Holy Spirit as you turn to read his Word.
v22. Do not be anxious.
Jesus now turns to the disciples and speaks with them. What he says arises directly from what he has been saying about covetousness. His progression into the issue of 'worry' is significant because the two, while not identical, are linked. Covetousness is about wanting more money, possessions, etc., and can be fuelled by worry, the fear of never having enough.
"Therefore I tell you". Again, Jesus is calling these men to sit up, listen, and think seriously about what he is saying. This is something he wants them to consider, and we, like the men hearing Jesus speak, must do the same.
"Do not be anxious." In Greek, the grammar used is a negative present imperative, which means 'stop doing what you have begun to do and are continuing to do'. The critical point is 'stop'. Stop, because, as we shall see, there is no need to be anxious, to worry, and stop because it is distracting you from pursuing what you should. What is it that we are to 'stop' being anxious about? It is whether or not we will have enough to keep ourselves fed and clothed, to an extent beyond what is necessary. Jesus is not saying – don't work to put food on the table and clothes on your back. What he is addressing is worrying about whether there will be enough food on the table in a year's time, and if there will be enough clothes for the seasons to come. And it speaks, of course, to everything that is material in our lives, not just food and clothing.
To drive home his point, Jesus asks the disciples to think about birds that do not engage in any cultivation activities and yet God provides for them. Even ravens, which were unclean birds, Leviticus 11:15, and described by one commentator as, "the most useless type of birds, sparrows could be eaten, v6", are fed by God. Is God then going to neglect feeding and caring for you, you who are made in his image. It's not a question; it is an emphatic statement.
V25. Can worry lengthen your life?
Jesus moves from what we eat and wear, etc., to the span of our lives. The question is simple: 'Can you add to your life's length by worrying about your life?' And since you can't, why worry about anything in your life. Nothing needs to be said to explain what Jesus is saying; it's simple and clear, and speaks for itself. You and I just need to read and think about it.
V27. Will God not provide for you?
As an encouragement not to worry, Jesus again pulls an illustration from the creation. He speaks of the common lilies that grow effortlessly in the wild in Palestine; it's like the heather in Scotland, it just grows and comes to bloom naturally, and when it does, it is a beautiful thing to behold. Jesus says of the lilies that they are more beautiful than Solomon in all his glory, and Solomon, in his day, was the most finely dressed man in the world. In speaking of grass, Jesus is continuing with the lilies, for they were bathed in grassy foliage. Lenski sums it all up well when he writes, "If God enrobes the lowly and ephemeral lilies so gorgeously, he will surely give common garments to his far higher creatures."
Oh, we of little faith!
V29. Let the world do the worrying, trust your Father in heaven.
Jesus now repeats, albeit with different words, his admonition of verse 22. His argument moves on from our lives and from nature, to the world around us. We should not be like the godless around us, who are constantly taken up with, and distracted by, what they feel they need. It consumes them; it worries them. We should be different because of our relationship with our Father in heaven. It's not that we don't need food and drink, of course we do, but our Father will provide them. As I have mentioned before, not everyone has had a good human father, but most have, and the one thing even an average father will do is provide food for his family. It is just what dads do. How much more will our heavenly Father not provide for us. Will he, who is loving, omniscient, omnipotent, not take care of us for our years on this earth until we go to be with him for all eternity?
V31. Seek first his Kingdom!
What is there left for us to do? We are to seek, to hunger and thirst for his Kingdom, and when we do, all we need will be given to us. This seeking is to be undertaken with continuous diligence. We are to pursue the Kingdom of God with relentless passion. God is to be our first love and the realizing of this Kingdom, by God's regenerating grace, our first delight. This is our great chief end in life. Why would we want to be distracted from going after this? What purpose is served by worrying that we have absolutely no reason to worry about, when all that worry will do is eat up time and resources? We should be investing in Kingdom pursuits that will reap eternal rewards. Child of God, leave the worrying to the godless in the world; you have far greater things to be taken up with, matters of eternal significance.
As we come out of the COVID-19 situation, one of the challenges many conscientious believers will face is to recover their former hunger to invest in their soul's needs. Taken with fear about what might happen in the world, they have given themselves to over-providing for their financial security. Prudence is always to be commended, but when prudence leads to worry, and that in turn leads to seeking to over-provide, inevitably there will be a cost to the Christian soul. Corners are cut in one's relationship with God, and time given to the pursuit of his Kingdom is impacted. I think, and I hope I am wrong, that it will take time for many good God-fearing people to recover from the impact of this virus on their lives, even though the virus itself has never touched them.
V32. Seek God's good pleasure.
So, where does this leave us? It leaves us not merely refusing to be consumed by what might or might not happen in the future, but also disinvesting ourselves of anything that will distract from the pursuit of eternal riches. We are to understand that it is the good pleasure of our Father in heaven to give us every blessing, including the Kingdom.
The question is often asked, 'in our pursuit of disinvesting ourselves of what we have, are we actually to sell all our possessions and give to the needy?' It is difficult to read it otherwise with reference to the 'little flock', i.e., his closest disciples, who are hearing this in person. So, is it equally applicable to us? If it is, it would mean that every believer would voluntarily place themselves in a position of being in constant need, and that doesn't make sense. The context of the rich man who desired to tear down and build-up for his own gratification and self-provision cannot be forgotten. We do have to ask, 'why am I seeking to build more and more?' Whatever that building is. Am I doing so out of a desire to have more, because it adds to my sense of self-worth – covetousness, or is it because I am seeking to over-provide for the future – worry?
The glorious fact is simple; we have access to a treasure that is kept in heaven for us, one that will never be stolen, eaten, perish, spoil or fade. Christ urges, exhorts, commands you and I to make that our first love – to give our heart to the pursuit of God, and his Kingdom above ALL else.
Do I hear you ask, where do I begin? What a wonderful question. A good place to begin is to find genuine joy and delight in returning to the Lord, as he has instructed in his Word. That will certainly help you loosen your grip on what you cannot hold, and find blessing in replacing 'worry' with 'trust' in our heavenly Father's provision.
A Psalm to Sing.
Psalm 91B. Link to the words. Link to it being sung. Sing with joy in your heart to God.
It is a privilege to lay into our hearts and minds the light and truth of God's Word.
"Our Father in Heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil."
Truth for the Mind and Heart.
Westminster Shorter Catechism, Question 89 - How is the Word of God made effective to salvation?
Answer - The Spirit of God makes the reading but especially the preaching of the Word, an effective means of convincing and converting sinners, and building them up in holiness and comfort, through faith, to salvation.
This is taken from https://matt2819.com/wsc where you will find proof texts.
Thank God for his provision for us.
Thank God that we have all the material blessings we need and more, with our loaded cupboards, freezers, clothes closets, and shoe racks.
Pray that we would put to death the sin of worry and be set free to seek the Kingdom of God with everything we have, without distraction.
Take care in Christ,
Rev. Dr. Andrew Quigley
Minister, Ottawa RPC