January 17/18

MAIN TEXT: Luke 12:22-34

And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. For all the nations of the world seek after these things, andyour Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

“Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father's good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

Inspired by the book: “Money: God or Gift” by Jamie Munson. Used with permission.

Today we continue our three-week series from the Gospel of Luke chapter 12 where Jesus is talking about wealth, finances, and possessions. The big idea of this series is that money can either be your god or you can use it to worship your God.

Jesus, after fielding a comment from a man while talking to a large crowd, began to focus on money, possessions, and earthly wealth.

 

The Root of Anxiety and Fear

Fear and anxiety are the antithesis of faith. It is clear over and over in scripture that God calls His children to “fear not!” Fear is usually focused on one of these three things.

  • Not getting what you want
  • Losing what you have
  • Getting what you don’t want

Our fears reveal our values, our priorities, our longings, and our loves. You only fear losing what you love. Jesus teaches us to take a counter perspective from the world, Luke 12:22.

 

Life is More Than Food

Jesus takes a hugely unexpected turn in His teaching, Luke 12:23. He directs our attention away from ourselves. Instead of allowing us to dwell on our needs and desires Jesus makes us focus on the fact that God supplies. We sometimes miss the fact that much of our stress has to do with our “stuff.” 

Jesus’ words are being heard by many in the crowd who feared starvation – a radically different problem than most of us Americans. Our tendency today is to cope with anxiety with the comfort of food. We must be careful not to expect something from food that you can only get through Jesus.  

Jesus continues, “…nor about your body, what you will put on”. This may sound like hippie talk, but for us today this means that clothes should not play the same role in our lives as those without Christ. Appearances and status should not be driving forces for those following Jesus. When this is out of whack it often leads to debt and more stress. 

 

Consider Ravens and Lilies

Ravens are not clean or desirable birds. They are scavengers. They are not pets. Jesus says, “consider them’ (verse 24). They do not have combines, grocery stores, or a barn full of food, “and yet God feeds them”. If God feeds a nasty bird, how much more will he take care of us whom He loves and bears His image? 

There are many things in our lives that are just plain out of our control (Luke 12:25-26). God rules and reigns – He is in control.  Jesus is not advocating irresponsibility but rather calling His followers to realize that God is God and we are not. What we worry about is in the hands of God. We are to be faithful – not fearful - with the things that are out of our control. 

Jesus tells us to “consider the lilies” (verses 27-28). They do not have fashion shows or have to worry about looking good. If God makes them look so good, how much more with our Heavenly Dad take care of us? We are being called by Jesus to have child-like faith with regards to our basic needs. It is a sin to allow our needs to so dominate our lives that it produces anxiety. Instead, we are to “seek His kingdom” (verse 31). Again, followers of Jesus are to be more focused on the eternal than the temporal. 

The eternal Kingdom is ours and God is pleased to give it to us (verse 32).  In trying to get this point across to us, Jesus says the phrase, “Fear not, little flock…” If any group of animals should fear it would be the very helpless little lambs. He is not saying, “You are tough, you’ll be fine. There is nothing to fear!” Rather He is telling us that we have a Father who loves us, watches over us, provides for us and He happens to be a king – therefore, we will be OK. 

Who God is should change how we think, live, and worship. Life is scary. You will not make it unless you are with your Father. Shift your focus from your fears to your Father! He protects, provides and is generous and good.  

 

Give Your Best

Jesus has just encouraged anyone who would follow Him to believe that God is a loving Father, a King, a generous giver, and takes good care of His children. In typical Jesus teaching style, He stuns the original hearers and us by an unexpected statement, “Sell your possessions and give to the needy…” (verse 33-34).  Our money tends to go to our fears and our fears often cause our desires: security- home; comfort – entertainment; approval – clothes; status – possessions; friends – gifts. With a worldly perspective, our life follows our money. A Biblical perspective is that our money should follow our life; a life that is following God’s kingdom and ways. 

Jesus is saying that if we believe that our Father is a generous king, then we should give our best. First fruits giving goes along with these thoughts. We are not to give leftovers. God is a giver. Jesus is a perfect example of generosity. As image bearers, we are to emulate both the Father and the Son. 

As we give our best, God isn’t taking our stuff; He is taking our stress. As you give you are giving your stress to Him. Giving reorients our hearts, minds, lives, and eyes away from ourselves and allows us to get to know our Father and allows us to love others. See what happens to your heart when you give. See what happens to your fears. Funding the gospel, taking care of Christ’s church, and helping the poor is eternal stuff that we are to invest in heavily. These are secure investments. Our hearts and money must be aligned with this agenda of God. Whether we consider ourselves rich or poor – let’s be righteous! Let’s worship Him with our wealth!

Life is more than food!

APPLY TO LIFE

This week, as you reflect on the message, utilize this section to help you apply what has been taught to your life. Think of friends, co-workers, neighbors, family etc., that you could meet with to have a time of mutual sharing as you open God’s Word together.


BLESS RHYTHMS

This simple acronym (BLESS, B - Bless, L - Listen, E - Eat, S - Speak, S - Sabbath) should help you to frame your life according to the great commandment “love God” (Matthew 22:37) and the new commandment “love your neighbor” (John 13:34). Each time you meet, start by discussing the rhythms of your life according to B.L.E.S.S.

Bless
Intentionally bless: Christ-followers, non-believers and those different than you.

Listen
Listen to what God is saying to you, through His Word and others.

Eat
Share a meal with a Christ-follower and also a non-believer.

Speak
Talk to God through prayer and to others about Jesus through witness.

Sabbath
Be intentional about taking time to both rest and recreate.

DISCUSS THE MESSAGE

Read: Luke 12:22-34

What does Jesus tell us to consider? Why does he use these two images?

Take a moment to share a story about a time when you were anxious. What helped alleviate your anxiety?

How can our stress and anxiety actually communicate our lack of faith in God?

The Good News makes Jesus our treasure. How does this affect the way you view other ‘treasure’?