***Message time outside***
Tonight I wanted to switch things up a little bit and come outside to help us explore God’s Word. I want to start off by taking just a couple of minutes sitting in silence and just observing God’s creation around us. As we have talked about before, our lives are so filled with scheduled stuff – homework, school, work, sports, etc. – that not many people “stop to smell the roses,” as the saying goes.
Ideally, I wish we had a space near by that had no houses or stuff like that, but that would have taken far too much work and time to get to. So, try to block out those things for now and focus on nature and the creation of God that surrounds you. Let me read a passage from Romans 1:19-20 and then we will take our time of silence.
“The basic reality of God is plain enough. Open your eyes and there it is! By taking a long and thoughtful look at what God has created, people have always been able to see what their eyes as such can’t see: eternal power, for instance, and the mystery of his divine being. So nobody has a good excuse for not knowing God.”
***Take time in silence. After silence, ask a couple to share what they noticed/looked at***
Nature and creation was something that Jesus used time and time again in the Gospels to help the people He spoke to understand things of God. He uses images of fruit and trees to take about growing in God. He uses images like a mustard seed growing into a huge tree, a farmer sowing seeds on his farm, and fishing to talk about the Kingdom of God. He talks about vines, sheep, mountains, storms, rocks, sand, and all sorts of other things to help us understand who God is and how to follow Him.
Tonight, I want to look at one of those specific teachings of Jesus where he uses creation to make an important point about our relationships with God. Let’s open our Bibles to Matthew 6:25-34.
***Read Matthew 6:25-34***
As we pick up this passage, Jesus is in the middle of his longest sermon that is recorded in the Bible. It begins back in chapter 5 where Jesus notices a crowd gathering around Him and so he goes up to a mountainside, sits down, and begins to teach his disciples and anyone else who wanted to listen. Just before the section that we just read, Jesus taught the people about money and storing up treasures in heaven, and not on earth. On earth, the treasures that we can have can be eaten by moths, destroyed by rust, or stolen; in other words, they don’t last. But treasures in heaven are protected from all those things. Jesus ends that teaching by boldly proclaiming that we cannot have more than one master, we cannot serve both God and money.
As Jesus continues on in the passage that we just read, it is connected to the teaching right before it about money. “This is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life,” Jesus starts off by saying here. He is referring back to the issue about who our master is and He is assuming that His disciples will make the right choice to serve Him instead of money. So, basically, what Jesus is saying here is, “Those of you who follow me and jump into a relationship with me, I tell you not to worry about everyday life-whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear.”
Now, maybe there aren’t many of us who worry about getting enough food everyday and there are probably a couple of you who worry about clothing but not from the standpoint of having it, it’s more about having the right brand or style of clothes. But beyond those things, we all worry about stuff. What kind of stuff in life do you worry about?
***Allow youth to answer the question***
As natural and normal as worrying is for all of us, Jesus tells us not to worry, again with the assumption that we are proclaiming Him as Master in our lives. From here, Jesus uses two different analogies to help us and the disciples understand why we shouldn’t worry. The first is about birds, the second is about wildflowers.
Jesus asks the people sitting around him to look at the birds. No doubt, as they sat on a mountainside, there would have been birds flying around that all the people could see. He reminds the people that birds don’t “plant or harvest or store food in barns.” In other words, birds aren’t storing up food for tomorrow, and the next day, and the next after that. Each morning, the birds fly out of their nests and find worms, figs, and other food for it to eat. God takes care of them each day and they don’t worry about a thing.
Jesus proclaims that “your heavenly Father feeds them.” Whose heavenly Father feeds them? Yours. Mine. Ours. And the idea that Jesus raises is that if “your” heavenly Father feeds the birds, and you are more valuable to Jesus than they are, because you are created in His image, then won’t Jesus take care of you? If the birds don’t need to worry about a thing, why do you?
The Jesus asks all the people around him to look at the flowers in the fields. Again, as they all sat on this mountainside, there was probably a valley or field below them that was full of wild flowers for the people to look at and think about. As they looked at these flowers, Jesus exclaims that they don’t worry about their clothing; they don’t dress themselves and spend hours working on their appearance but instead are clothed by God. Jesus uses Solomon as a comparison saying that even he, in all his glory was not dressed as beautiful as the flowers in the field.
See Solomon was David’s son, the guy who killed Goliath the giant and became king of Israel, and he followed his father into the thrown after he died. Solomon was known as one of the wisest men to ever live but was also very wealthy and successful. Listen to the reaction that the Queen of an area called Sheba had when she came to visit Solomon one day.
“When the queen of Sheba realized how very wise Solomon was, and when she saw the palace he had built, she was overwhelmed. She was also amazed at the food on his tables, the organization of his officials and their splendid clothing, the cup-bearers, and the burnt offerings Solomon made at the Temple of the LORD. She exclaimed to the king, ‘Everything I heard in my country about your achievements and wisdom is true! I didn’t believe what was said until I arrived here and saw it with my own eyes. In fact, I had not heard the half of it! Your wisdom and prosperity are far beyond what I was told.’” Keep in mind, as beautiful and amazing all the stuff that Solomon has, the point is that the flowers are more beautiful.
Jesus than asks a similar question as before. If God cares so much about flowers, clothing them with such beauty, and they are here one day and dead the next, how much more will He care for you who is created in His image and the pinnacle of all creation?
Now that Jesus has driven it home how much He really cares about people, he restates his point. “So don’t worry…these things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers.” As we said, worrying is a very natural thing that all of us goes through, but when you get to the bottom it, worry is really rooted in serving a master other than Jesus. Let me say that again, worry is rooted in serving a master other than Jesus. When we worry about anything, it is because we are placing something in our lives before God. Maybe it’s our friends, maybe it’s our parents, maybe it’s a church, a Pastor, teachers, money, or anything else. When we worry, we are telling God that He is not in control and we are placing that control somewhere else.
So how do we not worry? See vs. 33 for that answer. “Seek first the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.” In other words, make sure that God is the Master over your life in everything you do. Seek first, not second or third, but first, the Kingdom of God - not the kingdom of money, not the kingdom of friends, parents, school or anything else - above all else, everything! Live righteously, which means to follow God’s Word as best as you can throughout all your life. And when you can do that, He will give – which a better translation of this word “give” is actually “to add” – He will add to your already blessed life, because of your relationship with Him, everything you need; need being another key word here as apposed to wants and desires.
God promises, that when we follow Him, he will give us everything we need! He promises to take care of us in everything that is happening because he values us so much. He takes care of the birds and he takes care of the flowers, how much more will He take care of us. A lot of us have a lot of stuff to worry about. I know a lot of you are worried about parents, school, friends, jobs, and other stuff. I know a lot of you are worried about Youth Group because of when I leave at the end of the summer. It is so important to remember that God has everything under control and even though things might not always go the way we want them, even though we have issues and problems, even though people come in and out of our lives, God always remains constant. He promises to never leave us!
So, because of God’s promise and His love, don’t worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own, trouble that will be taken care of by Jesus!