Consider the Lilies

“So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29)

I grew up in rural northeastern North Carolina. Some of you may have grown up in rural America — but believe me when I say, I grew up in TRUE rural America. My gracious, my hometown is not even a town — it’s a spot in the road. Potecasi is probably not even on your map.

I grew up in the 1960’s and farming methods were just beginning to modernize as I was a child. I remember seeing people pick cotton by hand. I always wanted to do that, but I wasn’t big enough and by the time I was, they had mechanical cotton pickers. The people who actually picked cotton by hand alUnknownways told me that I didn’t really want to pick cotton — it wasn’t as “fun” as I thought.

You know what I miss most about my childhood? The smell of freshly dug peanuts. Every year about this time, I can distinctly remember that smell. I barely remember — but I do remember when people dug peanuts by hand and “stacked” them. Later on, there were peanut pickers — but the
smell was the same.

“Great, Pastor. Thanks for the stroll down memory lane. How in the world is this supposed to help me SPIRITUALLY?”

Hang on there Chester. I’m getting to that.

When I study the New Testament — especially the teachings of Jesus — I find a grand simplicity about Jesus’ life. He lived close to nature and He loved it. I think Jesus was a country boy! Jesus found His teaching in the clusters of grapes on the vine, the growing of corn and the rising and setting of the sun. He used nature to express great truths about His Father. He talked about birds and sheep and figs.

I’m afraid all you “city folks” don’t fully understand just how wonderful God’s creation is. Because of street lights and highways and car lights — it’s more difficult to see and appreciate the fact that nature reveals God to us. Psalm 19:1 says, “The heavens declare the glory of God.” The fact that 80% or more of the people in our society live in the city means that the symbolism of lilies, sparrows, grass and vines sometime don’t make much sense.

Let me quickly explain the verse today.

Jesus is NOT teaching that you don’t have to be concerned about anything because it will all work out.  He is not promising a trouble-free road. He is not saying to those of us who trust God that we will never be injured or persecuted.

He IS saying that we should not be ANXIOUS about life. The word “anxious” means “to choke.” If you choke, your food won’t go up or down. How many people do you and I know who live life all choked up by their problems? Five times in the larger passage Jesus says, “Don’t be anxious. Since God provides for the birds and flowers — He will surely take care of His children who are made in His own image.”

Jesus reminds us that even as beautiful as the flowers are — they are not permanent. The lesson? Whether you live in the city or in the country, death is still a reality. And if we can trust God to care for us in THIS life — how much more will He take care of us and provide for us in the life to come? The glory of the Christian life is the glory of immortality. We WILL live forever, and one day — all the injustice and inequality and the mystery of life will fade away and we will finally understand the meaning of it all.

I believe when we finally understand it, we will understand that our lives were meant to glorify the God who made us. Why wait? Psalm 103:1 says, “Bless the Lord, O my soul; and al that is within me, bless His holy name.” Do it now! In the same way that God provides for the flowers, birds and even the peanuts in eastern North Carolina — He provides for you and me.

Just let God be God — and you spend your time giving Him glory and praise! Stop and smell the freshly dug peanuts and thank God for taking care of you.

Have a great day.

The Door is Open…Come in!

“I am the door. If anyone enters by Me, he will be saved and will come in and go out and find pasture.” (John 10:9)

Jesus often used common experiences as vehicles for communicating the great truths about His Father. In writing the Gospel of John, which is evangelistic in purpose, John selected a variety of events and teachings in Jesus’ life to communicate great truths about God.

It is no accident that Jesus described Himself as the Light of the World. From day to day His followers could remind themselves that Jesus is the light that completely dispels the darkness that disturbs and threatens life.

John used the word LOGOS to speak of Jesus. In doing so, he used a term familiar to Jews and Gentiles. In using this term, John described Jesus as the very mind of God, the language of God, the utterances of God, and the conversation of God through which God was communicating with His creation.

John shared the story about Jesus being the Living Bread from heaven as a means of revealing that Jesus alone satisfies the deepest hungers of the human heart.

John quotes Jesus telling a woman at a well that He was the Living Water that would quench the deepest thirst of her soul.

In our verse today, John used two major figures of speech from Jesus to describe  both His ministry and His mission. First, Jesus is the Good Shepherd who gathers His flock into one fold (John 10:3-4). All of the sheep — whether they are Jewish sheep or Gentile sheep — belong in the same flock. The Good Shepherd guards His sheep from all the forces that would destroy them.

In the midst of His reference to being the Good Shepherd, Jesus also compared Himself to the Door of the Sheepfold. This figure of speech was familiar to those who lived and worked in the Middle East. The sheepfold was an enclosure in which the sheep were brought together at night for protection and rest. A shepherd or gatekeeper would literally make his bed in the doorway to the sheepfold. An enemy could not enter without crossing his body. A sheep could not stray during the night without crossing over the gate-keeper’s body.

Do you get it? Jesus said that He, Himself is the entrance AND the security for anybody who comes in the sheepfold. That, my friends is GOOD NEWS today!

Perhaps my favorite part of that verse is where Jesus says that one who is saved will “come in and go out and find pasture.” To be able to “go in and come out” is to be able to move about in an environment that is absolutely safe and secure. Living in the world we do today, we are concerned about security wherever we go. From birth to death, we are seeking to be as secure as possible. This verse reminds me that Jesus provides that wonderful security.

I don’t know what tomorrow holds for me or my family. I imagine that there will be some joy and some sorrow. There will be prosperity and maybe struggle. There will be health and I pray not too much illness. But because Jesus is the door and He is responsible for my security, I trust that whatever tomorrow brings — He will see me through.

That sure helps on a Monday!

I pray that you will let Christ be your door. The door is open for you to enter. Come to Jesus and let Him be your Savior, Teacher and Guide. When you submit your life to Him, you will quickly find that He is the entrance to an abundant life.

Have a great day.