Richard Whitaker- Discipleship and Connections Pastor LHBC

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, and your 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. (ESV) Luke 12:22-34

‘Driving up to Sam’s Club at a little past 9am and there’s a lot more cars than normal.  Looks like people are lined up to go in. I think I’ll park in my normal spot on the right side of the parking lot.  What? There’s a line of people with carts stretching down the entire length of the building!’  

Leaving the parking lot I began taking a mental inventory of what we had in the fridge and pantry.  I thought, “What if we run out of meat and other necessities?” In times of such change and uncertainty, Jesus’ encouraging message to us now is the same as during the first century – we can overcome fear, anxiety, and stress by implementing Jesus’ practices of peace.

The first practice of peace is deciding on a singular focus.  Instead of focusing on all of the circumstances around us, we direct our focus to seeking the Kingdom of the God who loves us.  Seeking God’s Kingdom happens when we establish daily, spiritual disciplines that foster consistency in our relationship with God.  Don’t let the word ‘disciplines’ fool you, because discipline opens the door to a new way of relating to Jesus.

In his love, Jesus longs for us to relate to him in a daily way, not in a random way.  Jesus used the term “abide” to describe this daily way of relating to Him. Abiding in Christ is the way God uses to bring about inner change and spiritual fruit bearing (John 15:5).  The apostle Paul describes these spiritual fruits as “love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control” (Galatians 5:22). These fruits become more consistent in our lives as we abide in Christ through the grace of Jesus from the power of the Holy Spirit.

Abiding in Christ begins with daily Bible application, prayer and praise.  We seek God’s will and wisdom from the scriptures and through prayer reflection.  We acknowledge His rule and character through praise and worship. We confess and repent of our sin and brokenness and receive God’s forgiveness and peace.  Abiding in Christ is where seeking God’s Kingdom begins and establishes a firm foundation for building a peace and contentment that transcends our circumstances (Philippians 4:6-7). 

The second practice of peace is trusting in God’s provision.  How can we trust God to provide when the store shelves are empty?  Trust begins when we look at how God provides for nature. Jesus says that our peace will grow when we consider how He takes care of all creation.   If Jesus takes care of the daily needs of ravens and flowers, then how much more will He take care of us? God will provide for us regardless of how much inventory is on the store shelves.  Take a walk in your neighborhood or on a trail and just listen to the sounds. Observe the animals and remember that God is taking care of them, just like He does you.

The third practice of peace is to store up treasure in heaven.  We store up treasure in heaven by taking what God has given us and giving it to others.  God wants to pour out all of the spiritual blessings of His Kingdom through us into the lives of others.  When we give and care for others, we show God that His Kingdom is more important than ours. He will make you a conduit of blessing and take your mind off of circumstances.

In this time of great change and uncertainty, you can overcome fear, stress, and anxiety by seeking God’s kingdom first, trusting God’s provision, and storing up treasure in heaven.   You can truly live at peace whether the lines are short or long, your fridge is full or empty, your job is secure or not – because God is your loving provider and He knows what you need.

Lord Jesus, I’m glad that you walk with me during every challenge of life.  Help me to trust your grace and power to keep me focused on your kingdom, trust your provision, and to store up treasure in heaven.  I know that you love me and will take care of all of my needs as I meet the needs of those around me. In Jesus’ name, Amen!

2 Timothy 1:7
for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.