Lilies of the Field
One of my former Bible school classmates (Abigail Leavitt) is pursuing a PhD in biblical archaeology in Israel. Currently, she is heavily involved as an assistant director of excavations going on at Shiloh, one of the resting places for the tabernacle. This past week, she posted photos of the wildflowers and almond tree blossoms over in Israel right now (see graphic above). After seeing these photos, I couldn’t help but think of Jesus’ words in Matthew 6, and, I couldn’t help but think that these might be some of the wildflowers Jesus was talking about when He spoke of “the lilies of the field.” Jesus said these wildflowers aren’t spinning and laboring to be dressed like they are, yet God provides for them and they are beautiful (more so than even Solomon!).
But Jesus also spoke of the birds. When I look out my office this week, I’ve seen several birds (back for spring) feeding on the trees even though it’s the last week of winter and there’s not much left on them as far as I can tell. They haven’t stored anything up. They haven’t sown any seeds. Yet, they aren’t worried at all about God’s provision for them! They are trusting God to provide each day as needed. Jesus’ point is not that we should disregard working and earning a living any more than the birds should stop searching for food. His point is that we don’t have to worry! We don’t have to get all worked up about having enough to meet our needs. God, the Creator and Sustainer over everything, is going to provide. So relax! Don’t waste all of your energy living for material things. Godless pagans do that (v. 32). If He provides for the birds and the wildflowers—which have relatively little value compared to man and only last a short time—how much more will He provide for you, oh you of little faith?
This isn’t a new truth. Most of us have read Matthew 6 many times with precious thoughts of God's care for us. But sometimes we need the reminder. And sometimes a truth doesn’t hit us like it should because we are so self-sufficient. This text is easy to read when you’re sitting well on a stockpile of cash and a full freezer. But it’s a serious test of faith for those who don’t have much or those who’ve lost everything due to reasons or circumstances outside their control, or maybe those whose eyes are glued to the stock market right now.
Just before this teaching (“For this reason,” v. 25), Jesus said just we can only serve one master—money or God. One master is undependable. It can sprout wings and fly away (Prov. 23:5), leaving you anxious. Anxiety can disable you and your testimony, leaving you unfruitful for the kingdom of God. Warren Wiersbe said,
“Worry about tomorrow does not help either tomorrow or today.
Anxiety not only makes us unfruitful, it can also be harmful to our physical well-being.
However, the other Master (Yahweh-, the sovereign, personal, covenant-keeping, always-present, all-sufficient one as we've been talking about in Exodus), is completely dependable. He is a loving heavenly Father who cares for us and provides for us.
Nature itself teaches us that God provides for His creatures’ needs. How much more His children’s needs! Rather than living for the things of the world and getting all worked up about what we have or don’t have, Jesus commands us to trust and obey God while being busy about His will and His righteousness. While we serve our Master with singlemindedness, He will see to it that we are taken care of.
In Christ with you,
 Photos: Courtesy Abigail Leavitt, https://abigailsarchaeologicaladventures.wordpress.com. See blog post, “A New Adventure”
 Warren Wiersbe, The Wiersbe Bible Commentary (Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook, 2007), 24.
 Thomas L. Constable, Notes on Matthew, 211.
"Show Me the Evidence."
"For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of people who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, that is, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, being understood by what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their reasonings, and their senseless hearts were darkened.” (Rom. 1:18-23)
Christians are constantly being challenged to defend their faith (1 Pet. 3:15) and give evidence for God. We often hear the rebuffs of non-believers saying, “If God is real, why doesn’t He make Himself known?” When they say this, what they mean is that they want more proof. I don’t say that like it’s all bad. I relate well to the doubting Thomas’ out there (John. 20:24-29). I want some evidence, too. So, is there any evidence for what we believe? Of course. As Christians, our faith is the evidence of things not yet seen (Heb. 11:1, NASB), but that doesn’t mean that our faith is not based on solid evidence that is or has been seen.
The truth is, God has revealed Himself many times in many ways (Heb. 1:1). A revelation could be defined as "God making known to man what man otherwise could not know." And two of those major ways that God has revealed Himself to us is through what Bible students call general and special revelation. General revelation is referring primarily to that which is known generally, or universally, to all. And there are 2 main channels of general revelation: 1) creation. 2) conscience. Paul mentions both in Romans 1. That which is known about God is evident within us (conscience; intuitive; inescapable) because it was made evident to us (creation; creative order; sustaining all things; intelligent design). Creation is said to reveal evidence for God 24/7/365. Around the clock, the heavens (the skies above) are silently "preaching" the glory of God and the work of His hands (Psalm 19:1-2). The complexity and beauty of all of creation—from the microscopic cell to the telescopic solar system—reveal an intelligent, creative Designer behind everything that exists. Everyone can look at the created order and think, "Someone put this together and sustains it." This revelation alone is so evident to us and within us that it’s enough to leave every man without excuse on judgment day (Rom. 1:18-23). It serves as the basis for man's just condemnation.
God has also provided the special revelation of His written Word we call the Bible. God has communicated to us through language we speak! In fact, so much so that people are intimidated by the size of the book He wrote! There is no other book like it, and it contains the most trusted historical documents in all of ancient history—written by eyewitnesses I might add (Luke 1:1-4; 2 Thess. 2:13; Heb. 4:12; 2 Tim. 3:16).
As we saw in the sermon this week, God has revealed Himself powerfully through miraculous signs and wonders at different times to varying degrees. He shows up and acts in real time, in real historical events. But in these last days, the Bible says, He has spoken to us through His Son, Jesus Christ, who is the incarnation of God. He actually came into this world to reveal the truth. He died for our sins and left the evidence of an empty tomb for proof (Heb. 1:1-4)!
Miraculous signs though, even that of the resurrection, is no guarantee that people will believe. Jesus said if people won’t listen to the Old Testament alone—just Moses and the Prophets—they won’t be convinced even if someone rises from the dead (Luke 16:31). In fact, I would say that a major way John’s gospel encourages belief is by unmasking the true nature of unbelief. Many saw the evidence. They just didn’t want to believe. Like the religious people in Jesus' day, they rejected Jesus despite undeniable, indisputable evidence (Matt. 16:4). So again, the problem is not always evidence. There’s a lot of evidence! And I hope that evidence encourages you to believe. But as we saw with Pharaoh in Exodus last Sunday, our biggest problem is not the lack of evidence, but what we do with the evidence. The problem isn’t always so much intellectual as it is spiritual. We need a new heart. One that willingly submits to the authority of divine Creator. One born again by the Spirit of God through faith in Jesus Christ (John 3:3; Eph. 2:1-10).
If you are seeking God and wondering if this Christianity thing is the real deal, I encourage you to continue to investigate the claims of Christianity and the reliability of the Bible, but eventually the time comes when you have to make a decision. You can learn a lot about God and have all the evidence in the world without ever coming to Him for salvation. The evidence is there. Will you come to Him for salvation?
Trusting in Christ with you,
Yesterday, as I was on my way out the door, I noticed some little, green Daffodil sprouts coming up through the rocks on the sunny side of our house. It was a pleasant and hopeful reminder that despite what the forecast says, Spring is on the way! The Farmer’s Almanac website writes,
“Because it is one of the first flowers to bloom in spring, daffodils are seen as a representation of rebirth and new beginnings. They are also thought to represent inspiration, forgiveness, and creativity.”
I like this first flower even more after reading that! Each year, the dawning of spring is a vivid reminder of Christian truths about new birth, new beginnings, and resurrection.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God”
(John 3:3). If you don’t mind me being personal for a moment, I am so incredibly thankful for the new birth in Christ. I can’t imagine what my life would be like without the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit in my life, restoring an empty, broken and confused man such as myself. When we come to faith in Jesus, the Spirit of God comes to live in us, sealing us as God’s own adopted children, guaranteeing us a future inheritance (Rom. 8:16; Gal. 4:4-7; Eph. 1:13-14; Titus 3:4-7). He also gives us the power to walk with Jesus and serve Him (Gal. 5:16-25). Have you experienced that new birth in Christ? Have you been born again by placing your faith in Christ alone? Do you love God? Have His peace in your heart? Love His people? Hunger and thirst for righteousness? Desire to serve Him and share the life-changing news of the gospel with others? These are just a few signs that you may have been born twice! One physically, one spiritually.
While we are thankful for the new, secure birth in Christ, we should also be thankful for the new beginnings available for us in Christ. Even though we are children of God, we still sin, and when we do, we do not need to get saved all over again. Remember, we are His children forever. However, because of our sins, our relationship isn’t where it should be and we need to be reconciled to Him, having our sins forgiven so that our sweet fellowship—that oneness—can be restored. Our relationship with Him is restored when, in prayer, we confess our sins to Him. 1 John 1:9 says,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
What a wonderful promise from our Heavenly Father! It’s worth memorizing, that verse.
One time I was having a spiritual conversation with one of my children at bedtime. We were just discussing matters of the gospel when they said, “Dad, I’m not going to sin tomorrow.” While I was genuinely pleased to hear that, I replied, “That’s a good attitude to have. It’s a good desire. But we sin every day in word, thought, or deed. We need His forgiveness daily, moment by moment.” How wonderful to know that God considers even sinners like us as His children (Rom. 4:5). He always loves us and when we do wrong, He is waiting for us to come and sit on His lap and fess up to what we already know He knows. He is waiting to extend forgiveness daily as needed. We can confess our sins, thank Him for His forgiveness, and continue to walk with Him in a new beginning.
Finally, spring reminds us of the hope of the resurrection--life springing up from the dead. Jesus rose from the grave and the Bible says we will too (Rom. 8:12-25; 1 Cor. 15). When we see Him, we will be like Him (1 John 3:1-2). What a breath of fresh air it will be when that special day dawns and the morning star arises in our hearts, and we receive resurrected, glorified bodies like our Savior (2 Pet. 1:19)! Let's give our attention to His Word until that day comes.
In Christ with you,
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