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Jan 13 / Chuck Smith, Jr.

January 12, 2020


And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.
And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.
Matthew 6:5-8
Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:25-33
Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:9-11

Intro: Can we take moment to think about why we’re here?

What does it mean to say we are Christians?
– we believe that “all this”–oceans, mountains, planets, nebula–
• all of it came from somewhere – from Someone
◦ a Creator infinitely intelligent and infinitely powerful
• yet the Creator is not in the universe like any other created object
– Jesus drops a line here that gives me the chills:
your Father who is in secret (v. 6)
• this Greek word also means “hidden” or “concealed”
As John said, No one has ever seen God (Jn. 1:18)
◦ my frustration is that he is hidden so well,
at times I’m not even sure he even exists
◦ our eyes are only good for seeing in four dimensions
• does that mean God exists in a different universe?
◦ it may only mean he’s in a fuller dimension of the universe we know
◦ and the only way we can know him is if he reveals himself to us

This presents a significant challenge
– if you know the sixties movie, Cool Hand Luke, you might remember the
prison warden’s famous line:
“What we’ve got here is failure to communicate”
• communicate: the movement of information between 2 points
◦ there is transmission and reception – a speaker and a hearer
• between those two points is a gap
◦ the goal is to move the message through space so it’s received
◦ success depends on a number of factors:
such as language, culture, education, personal interests, etc.
– if I wanted, I could watch the 6:00 news on a Korean channel
• it wouldn’t do me any good, because I don’t speak Korean
◦ the news is broadcast to me, but it’s not received
◦ the message doesn’t reach across the communication gap
(Christians are in many instances poor communicators, because they use jargon they assume others can understand, but it is like they are speaking a different language)
• if a message isn’t received, there’s no communication
◦ “failure to communicate” occurs when the intended audience does
not receive the message, understand it, or pay attention to it
◦ successful communication is like a bridge across the gap between
sender and receiver

Every bridge requires a solid foundation on both sides of gap
– those sending message must be clear regarding their content
• the message must be adapted to the audience
◦ like when explaining something to a child

Years ago, a friend asked me how he could become more solid in his faith. One of my recommendations was that he read Bible. Then he told me, “Well, that’s a problem; I’m dyslexic.” He wanted to know what God had to say to him in the Scriptures, but he did not have direct access to them. To help bridge that gap, I gave him a recording of the entire Bible that he could listen to while at home or on the road.
Until fairly recent history, the majority of world’s population could not read. If the gospel came to them in print, they could not read it. If it were broadcast to them in a foreign language, they could not understand it.

– cross-cultural communication is a huge challenge
• not only because of language,
◦ but because of the wide range of unfamiliar experiences
• the most effective communication occurs between
people who share same language, culture, background

How does God communicate across the infinite/finite gap?

I’ll explain, but this is why I’m enthralled with the Incarnation
– Job knew he had been treated unfairly,
• but when he thought of arguing his case with God, he said,
For he is not a man, as I am, that I might answer him,
that we should come to trial together.
There is no arbiter between us,
who might lay his hand on us both
(Job 9:33)
• I cannot cross the chasm between human and divine
• I cannot be more than what I am – I cannot reach that high
– for centuries, God spoke through nature and inspired prophets
• neither of which gave us the complete message,
◦ or told us everything he wants us to know about himself

So God brought his message to us himself
– he accommodated himself to what we are capable of comprehending
And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth (Jn. 1:14)
Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be [held on to], but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant (Php. 2:5-7)
• Job complained that there was no arbiter between him and God
◦ someone who could stand between both at the same time
◦ but Paul said,
For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, that man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5)
• Jesus makes the perfect communication bridge,
◦ because he is both human and divine
◦ he knows God and he knows us
– Incarnation means God comes to us in the person of Jesus
• having the nature of God, he brings to us the fullness of God (Col. 2:9)
• having our nature, he knows our situation (Heb. 2:14-18)
◦ he knows us so well, that he can empathize with us
◦ knows us so well, he can communicate with us perfectly

So, what it means to be a Christian is this:
– we believe in God, and
• we believe God has revealed himself to us in Jesus Christ
• so we believe the teaching of Jesus
◦ and we trust the person of Jesus

I’ve dragged you through all this for one reason

Jesus says, . . . your heavenly Father knows (vv. 8 & 32)
– God knows us and our situation — in Jesus, he has lived it
• he takes an interest in us, because we are valuable to him
Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows (Mt. 10:29-31)
– for Jesus, God’s existence and concern for us are so sure,
• that his care for birds in the sky and weeds in the fields
are guarantees that he will feed and clothe us as well

Jesus does not flatter us – he does not say,
“You are such awesome disciples!
You’re so discerning and wise!
You have such great faith.”
– no, he says,
O you of little faith – and,
Are you also still without understanding? (Mt. 15:16)
– these were his twelve closest disciples
• but their progress seems painfully slow
◦ and to me, my progress seems even slower
• Jesus is telling them that their Father knows their needs
◦ that they are of great value to him

Conclusion: That is what I am telling you – now

God’s love and concern are not like something you have to earn
– they are not awards you get at graduation
• this is where you begin with God
– you have been loved since before you were born
• you were loved before your first prayer,
◦ before your baptism, before your first Communion
• you were loved before–and after–the worst deed you’ve ever done
◦ you are loved in your brokenness, loneliness, and failures

Your heavenly Father knows
– he is our heavenly Father – not like our earthly “dads”
• we don’t have to bring home a good report card
◦ your Father knows and he cares
• I complain, “God, do You see what’s happening here?
I’m overwhelmed.”
◦ Jesus says, “Your Father knows”
– I don’t even have to pray right
• I don’t have to say the right words or pray for the right things
• I can just pray my heart
◦ pray my fears and anxieties
◦ pray my hopes and desires
Helmut Thielicke says that Jesus did not “indulge in a little romantic nature study by contemplating the birds of the air and their obviously happier existence.”
“. . . the very purpose of this Word is to get down into our cares and our fears; its very intent is to encourage and cheer us by telling us that he who said these words about the lilies and the birds bore in his own body all the pains and fears, all the torments and mortal struggles, not because he wanted to soar above them for a while, but rather because he wanted to be in them as our brother and therefore suffer them with us.”
“. . . I think we must stop and listen when this man, whose life on earth was anything but birdlike and lilylike, points us the carefreeness of the birds and lilies. Were not the somber shadows of the Cross already looming over this hour of the Sermon on the Mount?”

Jesus came to tell us we’re not alone
To tell us, Your heavenly Father knows
He knows you, he knows your needs,
he knows your sadness,
and he knows your soul
Don’t let fear keep you from being person you were meant to be
Look at the birds in the sky,
Consider the blossoms in a field of weeds
You are more valuable and more beautiful to God
than all the birds and blossoms in the world

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