Welcome to 2023! However you are feeling today – energized and excited or a bit more trepidatious — Jesus has a message for you: don’t worry, I’ve got this! Join Julie Jenkins today for our study of Luke 12:22-34.
Welcome to Walking in the Word – and welcome to 2023! My name is Julie Jenkins, and I’m so glad you have joined us for the start of this new year!
If your New Year’s resolution involves spending more time in the Bible, then you are in the right place. Women World Leaders has been blessed with the ability to bring you three podcasts each week. On Mondays, founder Kimberly Hobbs hosts Empowering Lives with Purpose—a 30-minute interview with a different woman of faith who shares her story with the goal of empowering you to walk in your God-given purpose. On Fridays, we have a team of leaders who host Celebrating God’s Grace – a short podcast designed to celebrate all that God is doing in our lives, in this ministry, and in the world. And today, Wednesdays, we are intentional about studying the Bible together on Walking in the Word. We are currently walking through the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. There is so much to learn from these writers as they lay out for us the life of Jesus. Today, as many days, we get the pleasure of studying the words of Jesus Himself. We just celebrated Christmas, which was a miraculous time, but Jesus’ birth is only the beginning of all that God wants us to celebrate. Today, we celebrate Jesus’ teaching and wisdom.
A new year is an interesting time. On the one hand, we can feel like we are given a fresh start with energy and focus as we put our new year’s resolutions in place. But a new year can also be a source of anxiety and frustration as we inventory our lives and, perhaps, see a lack of past progress or are reminded that this is the first year we will live without a loved one who has passed, a relationship that has grown cold, or a dream that seems to have fizzled out.
A new year can be a springboard, launching us into the future. But if the devil has his way, your new year may feel nothing shy of painful.
So I don’t think it is a coincidence that when I opened my Bible today to our next scripture verses, I landed on Luke 12:22-34, finding Jesus’ words of warning about worry and stress and His glorious reminder that we can trust Him as we walk into 2023.
Whatever your attitude as you start this new year, I believe this scripture was written with you in mind today. Before we begin, let’s pray.
Dear Most Holy God – 2023 is upon us, and we are so grateful you are with us! We give you this time today as we open your Word together. Teach us what you want us to know. Allow our minds to be attentive, our hearts to be receptive, and our wills to be obedient as you launch us forward today. Father, may the words of my mouth and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable to you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.
As we begin today, let’s set the scene. Jesus is speaking to the crowds, which are getting bigger each day. As Jesus’ ministry grows, we tend to think about the crowds getting more belligerent – and they did as the Pharisees and Sadducees felt increasingly threatened by Jesus and tried to trap Him in His teachings. But let’s also remember that there were many people who genuinely wanted to learn from Jesus – including His own disciples. Many had seen His miracles and had already gained from the wisdom He offered—yet they were like sponges, intentionally soaking up all He had to give.
As I go through life, I hope I can look past the grandstanders, the nay-sayers, and even those who want to steal the spotlight. I hope I can look solely to Jesus and focus on His words alone. Jesus had just criticized the religious leaders – heaping woes on them. And then He spoke about the rich fool, warning of greed to those with money. But now Jesus turns to his disciples, and as He speaks to those who had already given up all they had to follow Him, He offers wisdom that will translate directly to all his future followers. His simple message is: Don’t worry, I’ve got this.
Let’s begin at Luke 12:22 from the New Living Translation…
22 Then, turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food to eat or enough clothes to wear. 23 For life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.
We love control, don’t we? And we want to know that we are in control of our future, which may include having a big bank account, driving a dependable car that will get us where we need to go, and owning the finest things in life.
But the devil doesn’t stop by putting the desire for control in our minds; he is a wizard at making us worry … causing us to dwell on the what if’s. What if I can’t pay my bills? What if my health plummets and I can’t earn the money I need to live? What if inflation keeps skyrocketing?
Jesus knows this – none of the devil’s tricks are new to Him. So He warns us – THIS is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life…for life is more than food, and your body more than clothing.
Oh – in this tangible world we live in, this can be hard to accept. It’s hard to understand that when we do the will of God, we DON’T need to worry about material things because our God’s got this!
So Jesus graciously gives us a picture of what He means, saying…
24 Look at the ravens.
Ravens were worth nothing. They were unclean, so they could not be eaten or sacrificed. And they were stupid — they wouldn’t even return to their own nests. God provided a home for them, and they flew away from it, never to return.
(Ravens) don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for God feeds them.
God takes care of the ravens…who are seemingly worth nothing. And yet YOU are God’s child! If you don’t understand the important place this puts you, listen to Jesus’ words…
You are far more valuable to him than any birds!
Jesus goes on…
25 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?
This is a rhetorical question. It doesn’t take a PhD to know that worrying is bad for your health, your outlook, and your demeanor. Numerous studies SINCE Jesus’ time have proven true exactly Jesus’ point…so He adds..
26 And if worry can’t accomplish a little thing like that (adding time to your life), what’s the use of worrying over bigger things?
Then Jesus pulls on MY heartstrings as He mentions lilies – by far my favorite flower…
27 “Look at the lilies 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. 28 And if God cares so wonderfully for flowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?
Can I be honest with you? For the past several days, I have been feeling a bit lost and forlorn. I won’t get into details…because, well, there really aren’t details to give…but I’ve been in a bit of a funk. I’m guessing you can understand. And today I opened my Bible and read THIS….Look at the lilies… So I pictured a field full of these beautiful flowers. Take a moment to imagien them with me.
I actually received a bouquet of pink and white lilies just a couple of weeks ago. And guess what…they did nothing. They just sat on my table. But their mere presence made me smile each time I walked by. They were stunning and they filled the house with a glorious scent. But all those lilies did was EXACTLY what they were made for.
It made me think – if I am more important to God than lilies, then just MY presence must make HIM smile. And all I have to do is do exactly what he created me to do — He will take care of the rest. I don’t have to worry. You don’t have to worry. About anything. Because God’s got it all under control—He loves you far more than lilies…or ravens!
29 “And don’t be concerned about what to eat and what to drink. Don’t worry about such things. 30 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers all over the world, but your Father already knows your needs. 31 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and he will give you everything you need.
Let me say that again – God ALREADY knows what you need, and when you seek Him, He will give you everything you need!
As we enter 2023 – I don’t even know what I will need! The pandemic sure took us all by surprise! In January of 2020, we certainly didn’t know that many of us would NEED Zoom to communicate with each other. My oldest daughter had already moved out – when we bought our house in 2019, we certainly didn’t know we would NEED a bedroom for her. But God did. And He provided.
Worry is the opposite of faith. We worry when we fail to put our trust in our GOOD God who loves us more than we can imagine and is in total control of EVERYTHING.
32 “So don’t be afraid, little flock. For it gives your Father great happiness to give you the Kingdom.
I love how Jesus reminds us that He is our Shepherd. We are helpless sheep who can NOT take care of ourselves no matter HOW hard we try or how much we worry. But, praise God…we have a mighty Shepherd who is totally in control, who knows exactly what we need BEFORE we need it, and whose PLEASURE it is to provide for us. We simply have to trust Him and believe that God’s got this!
Jesus then puts a ribbon on this gift of provision He is handing us: BECAUSE He is faithful and PROMISES to provide EVERYTHING we need, WE can be generous with everything we have! Jesus says…
33 “Sell your possessions and give to those in need. This will store up treasure for you in heaven! (It’s a win-win!) …the purses of heaven never get old or develop holes. Your treasure will be safe; no thief can steal it and no moth can destroy it. 34 Wherever your treasure is, there the desires of your heart will also be.
However YOU are starting 2023 – whether you are raring to go or stepping in with trepidation, Jesus, in this passage, gives YOU permission to step forward feeling safe and secure. You may not feel in control. That’s okay…because God is! You may not know what is ahead, but He does! You most likely don’t know WHAT you will need, but He has already made provisions for you to receive exactly what you need when you need it.
And what is your duty in all of this? To simply do what you were made for. To walk in your purpose. To serve Jesus in joy.
Your job, Christian, is to trust God’s control, direction, and provision as you exude His beauty for all to see. Beauty that is more amazing than a field of lilies, by the way.
Don’t worry. God’s got this. And just by being you, you make the Creator of the universe smile.
Dear Most Holy God, We have a hard time understanding your gracious generosity because in our sinful hearts, we simply can’t understand why you give us something for nothing. Thank you for your love, which is too deep for us to comprehend. Thank you for your provision, your guidance, your wisdom, and your strength. Dear God – I thank you for giving us the courage to walk in the path you have deemed for us and ask you to instill in us unwavering faith in you. Thank you for reminding us that you are a good God and for calling us your own. In Jesus’ name, I pr