“Does God Care About Me?”
Are there times when you feel as if God does not care about you? You wonder if He even sees what is going on in your life, or if He wants to bless you. Compared to others, you may feel overlooked or ignored. I suppose we have all had those feelings at one time or another. When we think about it, we know God does not overlook anybody. He loves all people and sees everything going on in your life and in mine. God even makes the sun to rise on the evil and the good. He sends rain on the just and the unjust. Yes, He distributes His blessings to all, as we read in Matthew chapter 5. With those things in mind, we realize there is no need to worry about whether or not God will take care of us. There is no need to live anxious and uncertain lives. In fact, we know worry and anxiety often produce all kinds of health problems. Certainly that is something we want to avoid. However, sometimes we do worry and get anxious. Sometimes we fill our lives with anxiety instead of trusting God to provide as He sees fit. In the lesson today on "Key to the Kingdom," we will consider God's love and affection for each of us. We will remind ourselves of the peace we can experience in knowing God's love and protection is always present. We will look at some facts we need to know and to understand from the Bible that give us the assurance that we are special to the Lord. I trust you will join us for this lesson and that it will encourage you to rely upon God and the provision He offers.
There is one thing that is common to most every person on the face of this Earth, that includes you and me and everybody else; that is, we tend to worry. Oh, it seems that we worry about most anything and everything. We worry about our family members. We worry about our health issues. We worry about our job situation. We worry about the weather and even our travel plans. Oh, your list may be different than mine, but it seems that we all have a list of things about which we worry. With that in mind, we have to ask ourself a few questions. Why is it that we even have a worry list in the first place? Is it because we do not trust God? Is it because we want to take care of those matters ourselves? Or, is it simply because we don't have anything better about which to think or consider? I came up with some research the other day and found some interesting statistics. I want to share those with you. Anxiety - which oftentimes leads to worry - is the most common mental illness in America. Some say it affects up to 40% of all adults. Excessive anxiety or worry can lead to such things as fatigue and headaches, the inability to concentrate or digestive disorders. It may even bring about a premature heart attack. If excessive worry and high anxiety go untreated, then they can lead to depression or even suicidal thoughts. Researchers have also discovered that 85% of what we worry about never even happens. Oh when we think about those things, it may cause us to worry even more. As I consider the ideas of worry and anxiety, I realize the Bible addresses those things over and over again. And the primary message that we find in each and every one is this: It is absolutely useless and a waste of time to worry or to be anxious. I want us to notice a few passages today, from the Bible, that teach us that very thing. Listen to these words from the psalmist in Psalm number 62, verses 5 through 8: <Find rest, oh my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from Him. He alone is my rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will not be shaken. My salvation and my honor depend upon God; He is my mighty rock, my refuge. Trust in Him at all times, O people; pour out your hearts to Him, for God is our refuge.> When we put our trust and our confidence in God, we can be at peace and at rest in Him. No matter what happens in the world around us, we know that God is the foundation of our life. He is the rock upon which we build our life. There are some phrases here in the passage that strike me as most interesting. The psalmist states, He alone is my rock. Oh, God does not need any help being the rock and the foundation of our life. He does not need any kind of assistance from anybody or anything. He alone can provide exactly what we need; and so, we turn to Him and Him only. We notice also that He is our rock. He is the foundation upon which we build our life. And that rock is immovable; He will not go anywhere. And when we put our trust and dependence upon Him, we know that we have a solid and secure base. We also see that He is our refuge. He is to be the first one to whom we turn in times of need. In times of concern, when worry or anxiety begins to creep into our life, we turn to God. He is our refuge and He will take care of and provide for us. Here is another passage of Scripture, this one from the apostle Paul, in Philippians 4 verse 6: <Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your request to God.> Let me ask you a question. How different would your life be if worry began to creep into your life, if you took that worry and concern to God in prayer? Well, for me, I know that it makes a big difference. When I take my concerns and my anxiety to God, I do so with the spirit of thanksgiving, as Paul suggests. We thank God for the good things that He has done in the past. We recognize how He has provided for us, in days gone by, and eliminated some of that worry and anxiety. And then we present our prayer and our request to God and know that He will come through for us, once again. I'm reminded of the words of 1st Peter, chapter 5 verse 7: <Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.> That's a beautiful thought, isn't it? The Lord God almighty cares about you. He knows what is going on in your life, and He wants you to cast your burden and your anxiety upon His shoulders and eliminate it from your own. Indeed, God cares about us. He sees what has gone on in the past. He knows some of those problems that we have had to deal with in days gone by. And He has provided, hasn't He? He sees about what is happening in your life, right now, today. He sees those things that cause worry and anxiety and He invites you to just place that upon Him. He also knows what will happen in the future. We read in Psalm 139 that each and every day of our life is marked out in His book. He knows what will happen. Because all of those things are true, we cast our care and our anxiety and our worry upon Him and know that He cares for us and He will provide for us. In the gospel of Matthew, chapter 10, Jesus sends out 12 apostles to the Jewish world, and He encourages and tells them to preach the Good News of the kingdom, to heal people and raise them from the dead and to cast out demons. And as He gives them that commission, He also gives them some words of comfort and hope. He reminds them that, indeed, God would be with them as they go and fulfill that mission. Jesus knew they would need that kind of encouragement. Listen to what He tells them, in the 10th chapter, beginning with verse 28: <Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from the will of your Father. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So do not be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.> Oh, how reassuring those words must have been to these men. As they went, they did not know what they would encounter, or who might oppose them. So Jesus gives them these words of reassurance. They could know that without any doubt God would be with them and there would be no need to be anxious. That very same reassurance is still given to us today. We know that wherever we go and in whatever we do that God's presence is always there. And yet, it seems, we still worry about things which oftentimes are out of our control. But there is something else here in this passage that I believe we need to know. Instead of filling our lives with worry, we are to be aware of Satan. We are to be aware of the one who can destroy both the body and soul in hell. Yes, Satan is one who roams the Earth, looking and seeking for those whom he can devour and lead away from the Lord God Almighty. So, we are to be aware of him and his activity, knowing that he can destroy us far quicker than any unsolved problem or any kind of messed up travel plan. Since God is aware of the smallest animal, the sparrow that falls from the tree, we know that He is aware of us; because, as Jesus says, we are of much more value to God than the sparrows that fly in the sky. When we take that at face value and believe it with all of our heart, there is really no need to worry or to be anxious about anything. No matter where we live or what kind of challenges we face, those words give us comfort and hope. One of the basic teachings Jesus ever gave to His disciples is found in Matthew, chapter 6. He offers this teaching to those who are His followers, who are His disciples. They are walking with Jesus, they are hearing His words, they are watching His miracles and Jesus has something very important to share with them. It's found right in the middle of the section we call the 'Sermon on the Mount'; Matthew 5, 6 and 7. And Jesus spends at least 10 verses teaching these disciples and followers about the uselessness of worry and anxiety. I want to take just a few minutes to read this passage of Scripture. As I do, allow these words to penetrate into your heart and think about what Jesus wants us to do. We begin with verse 25 of chapter 6: <Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? Why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all of his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow thrown into the fire, will He not much more clothe you - you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' For the pagans run after all these things, and your Heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore, do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.> When I read that passage of Scripture, I ask myself the question, why would Jesus say all of that? Why would He go into such detail, encouraging us to not worry? I believe the answer is right there for us, there in verse 32. It is because God knows we need these things. God knows we need something to eat and to drink and clothes to wear. Yes, God knows about the daily necessities in our life, and He will provide for them. So, there is no need to worry about that. And when I think about the fact that God knows what we need, I go back to Psalms 62, that we looked at a few minutes ago. God is our rock. He alone is our refuge and we can depend upon Him. We rely upon Him and we know that He will always provide for us. That was the one passage of Scripture that I went to over and over again in a very anxious and uncertain time in my life. I tried to read that passage on a regular basis and remind myself of the fact that indeed God alone is my refuge. That passage encouraged me and I fell in love with God and I began to put my faith and trust in Him, in any and every situation in life. I also think about the fact that God cares for us. He loves us more than we could ever imagine. And that is, I believe, the greatest truth that we learn from these passages we have just looked at, and especially here in Matthew chapter 6. God knows what we need and He will provide for what we need at just the right time and in just the right amount. Well, since there is no need to worry or to be anxious, we can now focus on God's kingdom and God's righteousness, as we read there in verse 33. His kingdom, or His reign, is to be our first priority. We are to focus on what matters to God. We are to focus on people. We are to focus on sharing God's love with other people. We are to focus on honoring Him with our lives, as we live in praise and glory of God for what He continues to do in our life. When those things are a priority, instead of filling our life with anxiety and worry, we can handle anything that comes our way. Yes the Lord provides exactly what we need; so, we don't have to be like the Pagans, those people who do not know Jesus Christ, and pursue that ourselves. Rather, we pursue God's kingdom and His righteousness; and when we do, God will provide what we need. Oh there are many passages in the Bible that teach us about the uselessness of worry and anxiety. But from the ones that we have just looked at for the last few minutes, I want to offer three things for our consideration. Number one: We are special to God. Sometimes we forget that, don't we? Sometimes we forget the simple fact that He is our Heavenly Father and we are His children. He belongs to us and we belong to Him. He knows us by name, He knows what is happening in our life right now, this very moment, and He loves us more than we will ever know, this side of eternity. We are so special to God that in fact He sent His son Jesus Christ to die on our behalf. What a tremendous gift, what a tremendous blessing we have. And when we begin to reflect upon all of that, when we begin to consider how special we are to God, it is then that we can relax and that we can enjoy His blessings and His promises that come into our life on a regular basis. Here's the second thing I want us to know; God always provides. There is not a single thing that escapes God's notice, in your life or in mine. Just as the Lord sees and cares about the birds that fly in the air, so too, He sees and He cares about you. As we read a moment ago from Matthew chapter 10, God even knows the very number of hairs that are on our head. He knows everything about us. He knows what we need more than we know about that ourselves. And in light of that, He will provide exactly what we need and at just the right time. Here's the third thing I want us to know. God is to be our priority. Consider for just a moment what your life would be like if you did not worry. Oh, there may be fewer health problems. You might be freed up to think about other people that God puts into your life. You might even sleep better at night. But most importantly, less worry would allow all of us to pursue God's kingdom and God's will in your life; and, that's really what God wants. You know, worry and anxiety tend to represent what is important to us. And if we are consumed with pursuing all of the things that the world has to offer then there is no time left for us to pursue what God wants us to pursue; and that is, a deeper relationship with Him, to grow in our relationship, to grow in our desire to fulfill and to accomplish His purposes in our life. When we worry, it demonstrates we do not trust God enough to provide what we need. We certainly know that is not right. God always provides exactly what we need. And so, it comes down to a matter of priorities; what is important to us? I've got to believe that if there is something I could say to wrap up this lesson it would be this: Worry is simply the absence of faith. If we are seeking to follow Jesus Christ, we need to fill up our life with more faith than with more worry. When challenging circumstances arise, we can either worry or trust God. When life seems so uncertain, we can either worry or trust God. When answers to our problems do not readily come, we can either worry or trust God. When danger threatens, we can either worry or trust God. When there seems to be absolutely no hope for our life, we can either worry or trust God. Every day, we have those choices to make. What consumes our time and our thoughts and our energy? My hope and prayer for us today is that we will fill up our hearts and our lives with the pursuit of God's will and God's righteousness and God's reign in our life, and to eliminate that worry and that anxiety, knowing full well that God cares for us.
As I stand here in the park, I am surrounded by all kinds of birds. I see these birds and these ducks flying here and flying there, flying all around me, going in and out of the trees here in this beautiful park. It seems that these birds have one primary thing on their mind. They are looking for something to eat and something to drink. The Scripture tells us that God knows about these ducks and these birds. He knows that they are pursuing that which sustains their life, and He will provide for them. He even knows when one of these sparrows falls to the ground. Yes, even the birds of the air are important and valuable to God. If that is the case, Jesus reminds us, we as individuals are even much more important and valuable to God. He sees us. He knows what is going on in our life. He knows what we need. He even knows the number of hairs that are on our head. When I think about that, I realize, as Jesus has spoken, there is no need to worry, or to be anxious about the things in our life. God knows that we need food to eat and water to drink and clothes to wear and everything else that goes along with our daily necessities. Not only does He know about our needs, but He provides for them. With that in mind, there is no reason to worry. There is no reason to be anxious. There is no reason to be stressed out over pursuing those things the world has to offer. I would encourage you today to let go of all of that, to release your worry and anxiety to God, and put your trust in Him.
Thank you for joining us for today's lesson on "Key to the Kingdom." It is good to know that God cares about each of us, and it is good to remind ourselves of that fact on a regular basis. God loves and provides exactly what is needed and at just the right time. More than anything else, He wants us to receive those blessings. If you would like to view or listen to this message again, please visit our website, keytothekingdom.com. There you can download, in a variety of formats at your convenience and without any charge, those that might be of interest. While on the website, please take a look at some of the other things we offer. You will find short devotional thoughts and two minute messages that may bless you spiritually. Many previous lessons are available, and perhaps one of them will be of special interest. At the end of each lesson, there are additional study questions for your consideration. There are several other ways to access this ministry. We have a Facebook® page. I hope you will like and follow us as new devotional thoughts are posted every week. I really hope you will download the free app onto your smart phone. It will provide quick and easy access to our website, lessons and videos. Finally, if you would like to call the number on the screen, we will be happy to speak with you. Please leave your name and call back number. There is no charge or obligation for any of these offers. We simply want to assist you in your effort to grow closer to the Lord. Again, let me say thank you for being our guest today. I hope you will join us again next week at this same time, on "Key to the Kingdom."