Celebrating Life with Jesus – Growing with Jesus: Part 13-4

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus taught His disciples lessons about trusting in God. The goal behind these lessons was to teach and encourage God’s children throughout history. Jesus pointed us to “look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to Him than they are?” (Matthew 6:26). God opens His hands and supplies food for all of His creation. The birds in the sky do not escape His watchful eyes. He does not drop the food directly into their mouths, but He causes the conditions to be favorable for the birds to survive. The birds’ responsibility is to gather the grain and worms that He has provided in their environment. It is their responsibility to gather twigs to make a nest. They feed their young. They go about the day singing their songs and they are content because God feeds them. We are more valuable to God than birds—we are intelligent, spiritual worshippers of God. God, who provides for the birds, cares for us even more than the birds He loves, and if our Creator and Savior loves us this much, He will provide our needs when we trust that He will do so.

Christ also points us to look at the wildflowers in a field. They are simple, delicate, and beautiful, and they are an expression of His love for us. “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing, yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are. And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, He will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?” (Matthew 6:28-30). The most skilled artists and designers cannot compete with the simple beauty that God placed inside His creation. If God, who created flowers in all their varieties, who loves and cares for us even more than plants that don’t survive long after they have been picked, why would He not care for us even more because He has created us in His image. The lesson of the wildflowers is Jesus refocusing our thoughts away from anxiety, fear, and doubt.

God wants all of us to live happy, peaceful, and obedient lives. Jesus tells us, “I am leaving you with a gift—peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid.” (John 14:27), and “I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!” (John 15:11).

Happiness built on selfish roots that are outside of the boundaries of responsibility, is always unbalanced, disturbed, broken, and temporary. In other words, this happiness is short-term and it leaves the heart lonely and empty. However, lasting joy and satisfaction comes from serving God. Serving God does not come without support or guidance, and it does not come with regrets or disappointments. If God has decided not to bless us with something that we wanted in this life, we can look with expectation to our life in heaven when we will receive something better than our dreams.

However, here on earth, Christians are able to have a relationship with Christ. We are able to share in His love, and be comforted by resting in His presence. We can live our life in ways that continually bring us closer to Jesus, bring us deeper into our relationship and experience with Him, and bring us closer to heaven. We must not lose our confidence. Instead, we should be certain about His promises more now than ever before. “Samuel then took a large stone and placed it between the towns of Mizpah and Jeshanah. He named it Ebenezer (which means “the stone of help”), for he said, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12). We should set up memorials and daily reminders of what God has done for us—of times when He has comforted us and saved us from Satan. We should keep memories when we felt especially close to Jesus fresh in our minds, such as times when He has wiped away our tears, taken or eased the pain in our heart, removed our anxiety, silenced our fears, answered prayer requests, and showered us with blessings. Keeping these things fresh in our minds will help to focus our spiritual, emotional, and physical lives as we live out our lives for Christ.

When looking at the future, we cannot help but see challenges that are sure to come our way, but where we are different from others is when we look on these challenges through the eyes of the past and say, “Up to this point the Lord has helped us!” (1 Samuel 7:12). “There is no one like the God of Israel. He rides across the heavens to help you, across the skies in majestic splendor. The eternal God is your refuge, and His everlasting arms are under you.” (Deuteronomy 33:26-27). Our trials will never be stronger than the strength God gives us to face them. With the promises that God has given to us, we are empowered to work for God in every situation that He places us in. We can believe and know that whatever comes our way, the strength God has given to us will be strong enough to the challenge in our lives.

When Jesus returns, the gates of heaven will open wide to accept God’s children, and we will hear from His own lips, “Come, you who are blessed by My Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world.” (Matthew 25:34).

Then God will welcome His saved children into the home that Jesus is currently preparing for them. The friendships in heaven will not be the liars, cheaters, impure, unbelieving that lived on earth, but instead those in heaven will be the people who have overcome Satan with the strength of Jesus. They have perfected their characters and now the blood of Jesus washes away all their sinful desires and all the regrets and mistakes of the past. God gives all His children Jesus’ perfection and glory, and the faultless integrity of God, combined with the perfection of His character, shines through them in a way that is unimaginable to us living in sin. God’s children will stand before God’s throne perfect and complete, and they will share life with the angels.

With this magnificent picture that is our reward for being a child of God, “And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?” (Matthew 16:26). Those of us still living here on earth have the opportunity to work with God. We may be poor in the world’s eyes, but inside our hearts and lives is an unexplainable wealth—a richness of character and dignity that the world cannot understand. A forgiven life, saved and cleansed from sin, with an unwavering focus on serving God is worth more than money can quantify. There is “joy in heaven over one lost sinner who repents and returns to God” (Luke 15:7).

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.” (Hebrews 12:1).

Thanks for reading the whole Growing with Jesus series. Stay tuned for more information on how to take these principles to a deeper level in your own life!


P.S. As always, if I missed something, or if you would like to respond on this topic, join the conversation below!