#6 (THE "DON'T BE AFRAID" SERIES)
"DON'T BE AFRAID, GOD CARES!"
TEXT: Luke 12:1-9
The world is fast becoming an impersonal place to live! We are merely numbers
to most computer systems, we are just another consumer to businesses, and
we are a blip or less in this world with all the news from around the globe
coming into our living rooms each night! In this impersonal age it is easy
to feel insignificant and that nobody cares anymore!
ILLUS:MARVIN ROSENTHAL, WRITING IN "ISRAEL, MY GLORY" TELLS ABOUT A MOTHER WHO WAS ASKED BY A CENSUS TAKER HOW MANY CHILDREN SHE HAD. SHE RESPONDED, "WELL, THERE'S BILLY AND HARRY. AND MARTHA, AND ..." "NEVEVR MIND THEIR NAMES, JUST GIVE ME THE NUMBER" THE CENSUS TAKER SHOT BACK. THE MOTHER GOT INDIGNANT AND SAID, "THEY HAVEN'T GOT NUMBERS, THEY'VE ALL GOT NAMES!" THAT'S THE WAY IT IS WITH GOD AND US, WE ARE NOT JUST ANOTHER "CREATURE" DOWN BELOW ... AS THE OLD SONG GOES, "WE ARE PRECIOUS IN HIS SIGHT, RED AND YELLOW, BLACK AND WHITE …" WE NEED NOT BE AFRAID, GOD CARES! - Source Unknown
It is easy to lose hope and experience despair when we
live in such an impersonal world, where we wonder if anyone really cares,
but when Jesus speaks He is clear in letting us know that He cares about
us more than we can know or believe ... there is nothing that escapes His
notice about our lives. We don't have to be afraid, HE CARES!
The Bible teaches us that Christ cares deeply for us, and because of this
we don't have to be afraid of anything!
I. CONSISTENT PRIORITIES! 12:1-3
A. Followers 12:1
1. A huge crowd surrounds Jesus and His disciples ...
a. The word for "many thousands" (Greek: "Murias") here is the word that is usually used for 10,000!
b. The crowd was so huge that they were literally trampling on one another!
c. Notice however that in this huge crowd Jesus turns His attention not to the crowds, but to his 12 disciples!
2. Jesus was never taken by the crowds, He would rather
minister to the few, to the individual, than to be popular with the crowds!
3. Here already we see God's care for the individual!
a. Today, everywhere we go we are just one in a huge population!
b. We live in a world where it is easy to feel insignificant!
c. In just a few verses from this Jesus speaks about how
important we are to God … more important than cheap birds, and He proves
this here by turning from the huge crowds to speak personally to those men
who loved Him most!
4. It is not that Jesus will completely ignore the crowds, but notice here: "Jesus began to speak FIRST to His disciples"
a. Jesus always begins with those who seek Him out!
b. Jesus always considered the needs of His friends first.
c. Jesus showed His care for His own as a consistent priority!
5. Jesus warns them against false compassion!
a. Jesus does not want them to emulate
the hypocrisy of the Pharisees who were good at appearing to care for people
when in reality they were only interested in their own personal standing!
b. Jesus' point is clear, preaching must match practice!
B. Faithful! 12:2-3
1. Jesus now explains His reason for warning
them against hypocrisy, one day everything will be made public, all sin on
Judgment day will be exposed!
2. Jesus was probably with His disciples on a roof top
ready to address the crowd, so it is interesting that He makes mention here
that that which is done in the "secret room" will be proclaimed from the roof top!
a. The "secret room" is the same word translated "closet" or "treasure room" (Greek: "tameion")
b. It was a hidden secret room where one stored his valuables ... safe from being broken into!
3. Jesus' whole point is to make them aware that there
is a future reality in facing real accountability for one's life here and
now! a. Jesus' teaching about a future judgment is clear here.
b. His call to His disciples here is to be faithful and real!
c. They are to avoid being just "religious" like the Pharisees, He is telling them they must be the real item for Christ!
4. Jesus is implying that it is all too easy to fall into this falsehood...
5. The Pharisees were stupid to think they would get away
with this hypocrisy ... hence Jesus tells us that they won't ... there will
be day of calling into account everything done here and now!
A MAGAZINE RECENTLY PRINTED THE PICTURES OF 6 PEOPLE WHO HAD BEEN ARRESTED
AND CONVICTED ON THE EVIDENCE OF THEIR OWN PICTURES! ... TAKEN AT THE MOMENT
OF CASHING FRAUDULENT CHECKS. IT SEEMS INCREDIBLE THAT PEOPLE WILL COMMIT
CRIMES WITH SUCH STUPID BOLDNESS, BUT WHEN WE THINK HOW MANDKIND HAS SINNED
WITH THE SAME BOLDNESS THROUGHOUT THE AGES OUR WONDER ABATES. GOD'S RECORD
IS EVEN MORE SURE AND CERTAIN THAN THE CAMERA IN THE BANK ... BUT THOSE WHO
REJECT GOD'S WORD AND HIS WAYS WILL NOT BE ABLE TO ESCAPE THE JUDGMENT OF
GOD! - Source Unknown
6. Because this is such a sobering thought, Jesus
does not end here, He also wants us to know that though Judgment will one
day be a real event He cares deeply about us NOW and how we are doing here.
a. He cares enough to help!
b. He doesn't leave us to our own devices and our own strength!
II. COMFORTING PROMISE! 12:4-7
A. Focus! 12:4-5
1. Notice the address here by Jesus to them right after talking about judgment: "I tell you, MY FRIENDS..."
a. They were not alone in their struggle against sin!
b. Christ wants them to realize that they don't have to be afraid or go it alone!
2. Jesus also wants them to have a proper focus!
a. So much of this life is lived in fear of others and what they can do to our lives!
b. Yet, Jesus makes it quite clear that we are not to fear those who can do anything to us physically, or in this lifetime ...
c. Man's power is limited, they can hurt us, even kill
our bodies, but that is as far as their power can reach ... only to the grave.
HOWEVER, God's power reaches beyond the grave!
d. The grave is not the end of life!
3. Jesus is making a couple of very important points here:
a. That life up to the grave is not all that there is!
b. That there is a real existence beyond the grave, much of that is determined by what happens in this life!
c. Thus we are to be careful not to lose focus in this
life ... eternal things should demand a greater commitment on our part than
d. Since fear is a part of our human makeup, we need
to be sure that our fear is placed in the right direction ... not toward
the limited scope of man's power over us, but toward the only one in the
Universe that really can affect our eternal life! (1. The use of the term for "fear" here is more like "respect" than it is the idea of "terror."
(2. God does not ask us to be "terrified" about Him, but to "respect" Him!
4. Jesus' teaching here is that we realize there are
some things more valuable than even physical life ... some things are even
worth dying for! a. Did they get this message of priorities to not fear man? YES!
ALL BUT JOHN DIED A MARTYR'S DEATH (EXCEPT JUDAS' SUICIDE!). ST. MATTHEW
WAS SLAIN BY SWORD AT A DISTANT CITY IN ETHIOPIA. MARK DIED AT ALEXANDRIA
AFTER HAVING BEEN CRUELLY DRAGGED THROUGH THE STREETS OF THAT CITY. LUKE
WAS HANGED UPON AN OLIVE TREE IN GREECE. THOUGH JOHN DIED A NATURAL DEATH,
HE WAS ALMOST KILLED ONCE BY BEING PUT INTO BOILING OIL, HE SURVIVED THIS
AND WAS LATER BANISHED TO THE ISLAND OF PATMOS WHERE HE LIVED OUT HIS YEARS
AS A PRISONER. PETER WAS CRUCIFIED AT ROME WITH HIS HEAD DOWNWARD. JAMES
THE GREATER WAS BEHEADED AT JERUSALEM. JAMES THE LESS WAS THROWN FROM THE
PINNACLE OF THE TEMPLE AND THEN BEATEN TO DEATH WITH A FULLER'S CLUB TO FINISH
HIM OFF. PHILIP WAS HANGED UP AGAINST A PILLAR AT HIEROPOLIS IN PHRYGIA.
BARTHOLOMEW WAS FLAYED ALIVE. ANDREW WAS BOUND TO A CROSS WHERE HE PREACHED
TO HIS PERSECUTORS UNTIL HE DIED. THOMAS WAS RUN THROUGH THE BODY WITH A
LANCE AT CORMANDEL IN THE EAST INDIES. JUDE WAS SHOT TO DEATH WITH ARROWS.
MATTHIAS WAS FIRST STONED, AND THEN BEHEADED. BARNABAS OF THE GENTILES WAS
STONED TO DEATH BY THE JEWS AT SALONICA. PAUL WAS BEHEADED AT ROME UNDER
NERO AFTER VARIOUS TORTURES. EACH OF THESE HAD LEARNED TO FEAR GOD MORE
THAN FEARING MEN ... AND THEY LIVE REWARDED TODAY FOR HAVING THE PROPER FOCUS
OF LIFE! WHAT DO WE FEAR MOST? - Source Unknown
b. While the crowd's interest was the "here
and now" ... Jesus wants His disciples to have a "here and then" understanding
of life! (1. So often the
crowd demonstrated their interest in Jesus only when He would miraculously
feed them or heal all their diseases!
(2. But as soon as Jesus talked about "SIN" and obeying God's commandments the crowds left!
(3. Time and time again the masses showed that their interest in God was only for what they could get here and now out of God!
(4. God wants our interest to be much broader than the narrow view of just temporal life, our focus is to be an eternal one!
B. Friendship! 12:6-7
1. God cares about our "here
and now" needs, this is clear in Scripture too, but His care goes beyond
the here and now, that's why He doesn't always give us what we want NOW,
because of how it might negatively affect our THEN existence! a. It doesn't mean God doesn't care when He doesn't answer the way we want!
b. In fact it might mean He cares more than we do!
... He does what is best for us all the time, not just what will make us
feel good at the moment!
2. The good news after talking about all this judgment
stuff for them was that Jesus considered His friends to be so valuable that
we cannot even imagine how important we are to God! a. God cares about us more than we know!
b. God's care extends beyond our comprehension, and only eternity will reveal just how much God did care about us!
3. But to make His point on how important we are to God Jesus uses two examples:
a. He never forgets a lowly
sparrow, ever! How much more valuable we are if a lowly sparrow gets this
kind of care and attention by God!
b. He even knows the number of hairs on our heads!
An easier job for some than others! This being so, won't He know about
the more important issues of our life?! YES!
4. God cares so much for us that He sent His only son to die for us!!
5. God cares for both the temporal and the eternal!
A YOUNG COUPLE IN DALLAS THAT OWNED THEIR OWN SUCCESSFUL BUSINESS DECIDED
ONE DAY TO SELL THE BUSINESS TO GO INTO FULL TIME MINISTRY. SOON AFTER,
THINGS GOT ROUGH. THERE WERE 4 KIDS IN THE FAMILY, ADJUSTING FROM ONCE HAVING
HAD SO MANY THINGS TO HAVING LITTLE WAS TOUGH ... ESPECIALLY ON THE KIDS.
ONE NIGHT AT FAMILY WORSHIP THE YOUNGEST BOY TIMELY ASKED, "DADDY, DO YOU
THINK JESUS WOULD MIND IF I ASKED HIM FOR A NEW SHIRT?" HIS FATHER ANSWERED,
"OF COURSE NOT, LET'S WRITE IT DOWN IN OUR PRAYER REQUEST BOOK." SO THE
MOTHER WROTE IT IN THE BOOK. THEY WANTED THEIR CHILDREN TO LEARN THAT GOD
CARES FOR THEM, EVERY PART OF THEIR LIVES. THEY WROTE IN THEIR PRAYER REQUEST
BOOK, 'SHIRT FOR TIMMY, SIZE 7' TIMMY MADE SURE THAT EACH NIGHT THEY PRAYED
FOR THIS NEED. AFTER A COUPLE OF WEEKS THE MOTHER RECEIVED A TELEPHONE CALL
FROM A CLOTHIER IN DOWNTOWN DALLAS, IT WAS A CHRISTIAN BUSINESSMAN. HE SAID,
"I'VE JUST FINISHED MY JULY CLEARANCE SALE AND KNOWING THAT YOU HAVE 4 BOYS
IT OCCURRED TO ME THAT YOU MIGHT USE SOMETHING WE HAVE LEFT. COULD YOU USE
SOME BOY'S SHIRTS?" THE MOTHER ASKED WHAT SIZE, AND HE ANSWERED "SIZE 7!"
SHE THEN RELUCTANTLY ASKED HOW MANY, AND HE ANSWERED, "12!" THAT NIGHT
AS THEY WERE ABOUT TO PRAY, AND TIMMY AGAIN BROUGHT UP THE NEED TO PRAY FOR
SIZE 7 SHIRTS, SHE SAID, "WE DON'T HAVE TO PRAY FOR THAT ANYMORE SON!" HE
ASKED "WHY?" SHE INSTRUCTED ONE OF THE BROTHERS TO GO GET THE SHIRTS, HIS
LITTLE EYES GREW BIG WHEN THEY KEPT COMING UNTIL ALL 12 SAT IN FRONT OF HIM!
SOMEWHERE TODAY IN DALLAS THERE IS A LITTLE BOY THAT UNDERSTANDS THAT GOD
CARES FOR HIM! HOW ABOUT YOU? - Source Unknown
6. Sparrows were one of the cheapest food
items in the market place: you could buy according to Matthew's account
2 sparrows for a penny ... Luke has here 5 for 2 pennies ... meaning that
if you bought the larger order they threw in one free bird! (They had bargains
back then too!) a. To everyone else these birds were worthless and cheap; they were skewered for cooking and eaten like kabobs.
b. But God never forgets one of them!
c. If God has this kind of love for temporal creatures like birds, how much more is His love for eternal beings like us!?
DR. HELEN ROSEVEARE, MISSIONARY TO ZAIRE, TOLD THIS STORY: A MOTHER AT HER
MISSION STATION DIED AFTER GIVING BIRTH TO A PREMATURE BABY. THEY TRIED
TO IMPROVISE AN INCUBATOR TO KEEP THE INFANT ALIVE, BUT THE ONLY HOT WATER
BOTTLE THEY HAD WAS BEYOND REPAIR. SO DURING DEVOTIONS THAT MORNING THEY
ASKED THE CHILDREN TO PRAY FOR THE BABY AND HER LITTLE SISTER WHO WAS NOW
AN ORPHAN. ONE OF THE GIRLS RESPONDED "DEAR GOD, PLEASE SEND A HOT WATER
BOTTLE TODAY, TOMORROW WILL BE TOO LATE BECAUSE BY THEN THE BABY WILL BE
DEAD; DEAR LORD, SEND A DOLL FOR THE SISTER SO SHE WON'T FEEL SO LONELY."
THAT AFTERNOON A PACKAGE ARRIVED FROM ENGLAND. EAGERLY THE CHILDREN WATCHED
AS WE OPENED IT. MUCH TO THEIR SURPRISE, UNDER SOME CLOTHING WAS A NEW HOT
WATER BOTTLE! IMMEDIATELY THE GIRL WHO HAD PRAYED SO EARNESTLY STARTED TO
DIG DEEPER EXCLAIMING "IF GOD SENT THAT, I'M SURE HE ALSO SENT A DOLL!"
AND SHE WAS RIGHT! 5 MONTHS EARLIER A LADY'S GROUP HAD MET IN ENGLAND AND
PUT TOGETHER THIS PACKAGE ... GOD ALREADY KNEW IN ADVANCE THAT THESE WOULD
BE THE VERY ITEMS THAT WOULD BE ASKED FOR ON THAT VERY DAY ... GOD CARES!
- Source Unknown
7. If God has such concern over a sparrow, how much more will His concern be for His friends!
a. Have you developed a friendship with God?
b. Are you one of His disciples?
c. Are you afraid? Don't be, HE CARES!
8. The hairs on the head example simply mean that He knows things about us that even we don't know about ourselves!
a. God is intimately aware of everything in our life and He still desires that we come to Him!
b. God never turned away anyone who came to
Him, He cares too much to reject anyone, it doesn't matter what we've done
in the past; we can change our future right now!
9. If God cares about our temporal needs, don't
you think He will follow His own advice and care more about the eternal needs
we have too? a. The temporal things are the lesser things, we are to care more about the eternal, so does God!
b. If He is faithful then with the temporal
stuff, you can be without fear that if you have come to Him and confessed
your sins, He is faithful and just to forgive all our sins!
c. He cares enough to not only meet our present
temporal needs, but to make a way of escape from eternal judgment ... through
III. CHOICE PROVIDED! 12:8-9
A. Free! 12:8
1. Jesus now
makes clear the way into this kind of relationship with God, the kind that
opens the door for Him to be able to care for our entire being! a. It starts by our willingness to confess Him before men!
b. We must show that we do fear God more than we fear man!
c. You cannot care for someone that won't let you, it starts with a relationship with God!
2. Anyone can make this choice, it is a choice acknowledging the eternal over the temporal!
3. It is the choice of every human who has
ever lived, to accept Christ and His Word ... or to continue to go our own
way and refuse God's care for us!
4. Jesus puts no exceptions to who may come, it is an open invitation!
a. The prostitutes came in Jesus day...
b. The lawyers, a miracle for sure!
c. The poor
d. The rich
e. The sick
f. The powerful
g. The weak
h. The tax collector
i. The soldier
j. The children!
k. How about you!!!!!!??????
B. Failure! 12:9
1. There is a second choice too ... not to receive Christ!
a. Jesus is clear here that such a choice has eternal consequences to it!
b. For those who refuse to acknowledge Christ
as their Savior in the here and now, they only have rejection to look forward
to! Jesus will not force His friendship on anyone!
2. We are all created as eternal creatures,
the issue of eternity is a certainty by all the Bible's teaching, the only
question is where we will spend it. It is also clear throughout the Bible
that there are two destinies available to all men and women, Heaven or Hell!
a. You can just meld into the crowd of this world and live for the here and now, fearing men and their temporal power ... or …
b. Choose to be a follower of Jesus and be
in a place where His personal care becomes your daily experience, both on
this side of eternity and on the other side of the grave!
3. Are your eyes on Christ as you go from birth to grave, or are they somewhere else?
THE GROUND WAS COMPLETELY SNOW COVERED WHERE 3 BOYS WERE PLAYING. A MAN
CAME ALONG AND SAID TO THEM, "WOULD YOU LIKE TO TRY A RACE AND THE WINNER
RECEIVE A PRIZE?" THE BOYS AGREED, THE MAN EXPLAINED THE RULES AND HOW THE
WINNER WOULD BE CHOSEN. HE WOULD GO TO THE OTHER SIDE OF THE FIELD AND WHEN
HE GAVE THE SIGNAL THE BOYS WOULD START TOWARD HIM THROUGH THE SNOW ... THE
BOY THAT MADE IT TO THE OTHER SIDE WITH THE STRAIGHTEST LINE WOULD BE THE
WINNER, NOT THE ONE THAT GOT THERE FIRST! HE GAVE THE SIGNAL AND THEY WERE
OFF. THE FIRST BOY KEPT LOOKING DOWN AT HIS OWN FEET TO SEE IF HIS STEPS
WERE STRAIGHT, THE SECOND BOY KEPT LOOKING AT THE FIRST BOY TO SEE HOW HE
WAS DOING COMPARED TO HIM. THE THIRD BOY LOOKED STRAIGHT AT THE MAN AT THE
OPPOSITE END OF THE FIELD AND RAN STRAIGHT TOWARD HIM! WHO DO YOU THINK
WON? THE FIRST BOY WANDERED ALL OVER, BUT HE DIDN'T KNOW IT WHILE HE WAS
RUNNING BECAUSE EVERY STEP TO HIM LOOKED STRAIGHT SINCE ALL HE SAW WAS THE
ONE STEP HE HAD JUST .... THE SECOND BOY'S TRACKS WANDERED PRETTY MUCH THE
SAME WAY AS BOY #1 BECAUSE HE KEPT HIS EYE ON HIM SO HE COPIED PRETTY MUCH
THE SAME PATTERN. ONLY THE THIRD BOY THAT LOOKED AHEAD TO THE MAN ACROSS
THE FIELD RAN A STRAIGHT LINE AND THEREFORE WON! THIS IS THE SAME WAY IT
WILL BE FOR ALL OF US ... ARE YOUR EYES ON CHRIST ON THE OTHER SIDE, IF THEY
ARE, YOU WILL ARRIVE SAFELY! - Source Unknown
4. Our present choices have eternal consequences, what we choose here comes back to us later!
A YOUNG BOY LIVED WITH HIS GRANDFATHER ON THE TOP OF A MOUNTAIN IN THE SWISS
ALPS. OFTEN JUST TO HEAR THE SOUND OF HIS OWN VOICE HE WOULD CUP HIS HANDS
AND YELL LOUDLY, "HELLO..." AND SURE ENOUGH HE WOULD HEAR REPEATED OVER AND
OVER AGAIN THE SAME THING, "HELLO ... HELLO ..." WITH THE BOY AROUND HE
WOULD YELL, "I LOVE YOU" AND THEY WOULD HEAR RETURNING OVER AND OVER AGAIN,
"I LOVE YOU ... I LOVE YOU ... I LOVE YOU..." ONE DAY THE BOY MISBEHAVED
AND THE GRANDFATHER DISCIPLINED HIM, HE BECAME ANGRY AND WITH A RAISED FIST
SAID TO HIS GRANDFATHER AT THE TOP OF HIS LUNGS, "I HATE YOU" TO WHICH IN
HIS SURPRISE IN A MOMENT HE HEARD REVERBERATING OVER AND OVER AGAIN, "I
HATE YOU ... I HATE YOU … I HATE YOU..." AND SO IT IS IN LIFE, IN OUR LIFE
WITH GOD, WHAT WE SHOUT TO HIM WILL ECHO BACK, IF WE SAY WE DON'T WANT HIM,
WE THEN ARE REJECTED TOO! BUT IF WE CONFESS HIM, HE CONFESSES US BEFORE
ALL THE ANGELS IN HEAVEN. WHY NOT MAKE THE SMART CHOICE!!!! - Source Unknown
5. DON'T BE AFRAID ... GOD CARES, THE ONLY QUESTION NOW IS, DO YOU!?
Though the crowds had grown by the thousands around Jesus,
He stops to assure 12 men that God cares for them more deeply than anything
else! In a world where we are swallowed up in the crowds, God still wants
us to know that He cares so much about us and our needs that He forgets nothing!
Are you afraid, God cares, don't be afraid!