Are You Not Of More Value Than Sparrows?

 

Read  Matthew 6:25-34

 

Throughout the centuries, there has been a running debate between  those who believe that God is all powerful, but that He is aloof and unapproachable. They believe that God  brought the world into existence much as we might wind up a clock and then just leave it to run down by itself.

 

There are those on the other side of the issue, who see an All powerful, Loving Creator, who is very approachable, A God who cares, and hears, and continues to uphold and sustain the world by the word of His power... I subscribe to the latter view.

 

The scriptures as well teach the latter view. The Scriptures teach and we believe that God is  all powerful, and uniquely good, and that He is deeply concerned and involved in the needs and affairs of men.

 

The late J.W. McGarvey preached a couple of sermons entitled  "Divine Providence" One about Joseph and the other about Esther. Regarding Joseph, McGarvey pointed out that the events which seemingly just happened were actually God working out His plan for His people Israel. He pointed to a prophecy in Genesis chapter 15  where God is speaking to Abraham said:  Genesis 15:13

 

13Know of a surety that thy seed shall be a stranger in a land that is not theirs, and shall serve them; and they shall afflict them four hundred years;  

 

With this thesis in mind, McGarvey then points out how that everything that happened in the history of Joseph, even though it seemed common place and ordinary, a run of bad luck, all this fitted together to accomplish the plan of God regarding Israel. Inspiration states it best this way:   Romans 8:28

 

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  NIV and RSV

 

Joseph though he was separated from his father at a young age  and enslaved in Egypt through the hand of his brothers, did not become bitter toward God or his brothers. One of the most tender stories of inspiration is when Joseph finally is revealed to his brothers,  Let us read it together:  Genesis 45:4-8

 

4And Joseph said unto his brethren, Come near to me, I pray you. And they came near. And he said, I am Joseph your brother, whom ye sold into Egypt. 5Now therefore be not grieved, nor angry with yourselves, that ye sold me hither: for God did send me before you to preserve life.  6For these two years hath the famine been in the land: and yet there are five years, in the which there shall neither be earing nor harvest. 7And God sent me before you to preserve you a posterity in the earth, and to save your lives by a great deliverance.  8So now it was not you that sent me hither, but God: and he hath made me a father to Pharaoh, and lord of all his house, and a ruler throughout all the land of Egypt.

 

I believe this story to be an inspired, divine commentary on Romans 8:28,

And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.  Further we are told in John 14:15 who it is that loves God, Hear it: 15If ye love me, keep my commandments.

 

The question of importance to all of us this morning…. did God wind up the world like a clock and then go off and leave it to run down?  Is He even aware of what is going on in the world today? Does He guide the affairs of men? More important, at least to me, is He aware of me and what is happening in my life? Does He care? Is there any way to reach out and make contact with God? Does God hear my prayers?

 

These are some of the questions that men are asking today Likely, all of us at one time or another have asked some of these questions. When life becomes hard, when our problems seem insurmountable, inevitably we will ask questions like these.

 

The answer to all these questions is that  God does continue to concern himself with our world. He created it; he sustains it. Most meaningful of all, He is deeply concerned about every person who lives--young or old, rich or poor, great or small. In the long ago 

 

Jesus who Is God in the Flesh, The Alpha And The Omega Ask the following question —   Luke 12:6

 

     6Are not five sparrows sold for two farthings, and not one of them is forgotten before God? He answers this question, in the next verse, Hear It.

 

7But even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not therefore: ye are of more value than many sparrows.   Luke 12:7.

 

Jesus was simply saying that if God is concerned about the relatively unimportant sparrow, He must be deeply concerned about man created in His very image. I think of the familiar words of John Greenleaf Whittier, in his poem,

 

“The Eternal Goodness,”

 

I know not what the future hath, of marvel or surprise,

Assured alone that life and death, His mercy underlies.

I know not where His islands lift their fronded palms in air;

I only know I cannot drift beyond His love and care.

 

Does God hear and answer prayer? It isn’t possible to prove absolutely, finally, and beyond the shadow of a doubt that any single event is an answer to a prayer. At least I know of no way to prove it completely, absolutely, finally.  The skeptic stands off and says, “What you attribute to prayer was simply a natural occurrence. It was merely the working out of cause and effect. What happened is what would have happened anyway.”  The Christian says, “I don’t believe that; I believe that these were answers to prayer.”  There it stands. Neither is able to convince the other. In the absence of final, conclusive proof what can we do?

 

It becomes obvious that the thing we need is to seek advise of God's word. We need to look to God's precious promises  given for our comfort and encouragement.  We read in 1 Peter 4:11

11If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God;

 

The answer to all our questions about God and His dealing in man's affairs today is found in the Bible. The testimonies of men are not important, Let God be true, and every man a liar, Romans 3:4.  Let us seek God's answer from the Bible

 

The Bible teaches us first, that Jesus, the Son of God believed in prayer.  Jesus was no mere man but as Peter confessed, "the Christ, son of the Living God". He was there in the beginning of time when the world was conceived and created. Jesus had a part in that creation and so it is unusually significant that Jesus believed that prayers are answered.

 

One day when he was in Capernaum. He had worked all day teaching people and healing them. Among them was Peter’s wife’s mother. There was a continual press of people who wanted their loved ones healed. He was tired when night came; he and the apostles slipped away for rest.

 

35And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. (Mark 1:35).

 

Jesus got up early and went out to pray. A little later when he was on the opposite side of the sea of Galilee, from Capernaum, we read, Mark 6:46

 

46And when he had sent them away, he departed into a mountain to pray.   He left his disciples to cross the sea alone; later that night he joined them.

 

Yet another occasion we read, Luke 6:12

 

12And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

 

When a man stays up all night in order to pray to God that man believes in prayer, he believes that something is going to come from that prayer. You may remember that the next morning after Jesus had spent all night in prayer,  He came down from the mountain and chose his twelve apostles. It is significant that he prayed before naming his apostles. Again we read,   Luke 9:28

 

 28And it came to pass about an eight days after these sayings, he took Peter and John and James, and went up into a mountain to pray.   While he and they were praying Christ was transfigured and the voice of God uttered that significant sentence,  This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased, hear ye him.”

 

 In the seventeenth chapter of John we have an entire chapter devoted to the record of a prayer which Jesus prayed, the night before he died.

 

Matthew described the final night of Christ’s life before his crucifixion in these words,

36Then cometh Jesus with them unto a place called Gethsemane, and saith unto the disciples, Sit ye here, while I go and pray yonder. 37And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy. 38Then saith he unto them, My soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death: tarry ye here, and watch with me. 39And he went a little further, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. 40And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me one hour? 41Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation: the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak. 42He went away again the second time, and prayed, saying, O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done. 43And he came and found them asleep again: for their eyes were heavy. 44And he left them, and went away again, and prayed the third time, saying the same words.  Matthew 26:36-44

    

In this intimate glimpse into the life of Jesus at the climactic hour of his betrayal we find him in the garden,  praying to God, not once, not twice, but three time Jesus petitioned the Heavenly Father. Jesus believed in prayer. Jesus believed in prayer and He instructs us to make our requests known unto God………   Matthew 7:7-11

 

7Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you: 8For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 9Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone? 10Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent? 11If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?

 

The early disciples, of Jesus believed in prayer. In the beginning chapter of the book of Acts we read about Christ’s ascension,  then, after the names of the twelve apostles, we read, 14These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren.            (Acts 1:14).

 

After the church began and the three thousand had become Christians the scripture says

 

42And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:42).

 

 The Bible teaches us to pray. As we read the New Testament  we find that the great writers not only believed and practiced prayer, they taught it to others. Paul said it this way I Thessalonians, 5:17-18

 

17Pray without ceasing. 18In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Which means  to ask that you might receive. Matthew 7:7-8 Which means to live continually in an attitude of prayer.

 

I believe in prayer, and in God's providential care. The apostle Paul stated it very definitely in Ephesians 3:20-21

 

 20Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, 21Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.

 

Many years ago delegates from all of the thirteen colonies assembled in Philadelphia in the Continental Congress for the purpose of working out some kind of plan to establish a strong federal Union. The problems were immense and the success of the enterprise was often in doubt. In one of these early meetings Benjamin Franklin, the noted statesman, addressed General George Washington who was presiding, and said,

 

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall without his notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without his aid?”

 

At other times, during the stormy sessions when the conflicting interests of the various colonies threatened to destroy the Congress and the possibilities of the union, this same Benjamin Franklin would rise and call for a season of prayer.  According to the historian’s record of these important sessions, after the prayer, the delegates would go back to their discussions “with more light and less heat.” 

 

It is heartening to know that our nation began in an atmosphere of faith in God,  and constantly  petitioned for God’s help. It is good to know, in view of the drift of our own age away from God, that our founding fathers believed in the providence of God.

 

I believe that God supervises and controls events of our lives and the events of our world.  I believe that he causes these events to occur in such a way as to be a blessing to his children. 

I do not believe that God is responsible for every act of man, for there are many acts which are contrary to his will, acts which result from man’s rebellion and sin. There is an eternal, divine principle which simply put states, "we shall reap as we have sown"  Galatians 6:7. Here is an inevitable cause and effect, which no man may escape.

 

However, I do believe that God overrules, guides and superintends the events of our world in such a way that the final outcome is in accordance with his divine plan.

 

 Romans 8:28

28And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

 

While it isn’t possible to prove conclusively to a man who is a skeptic or a doubter that prayers are answered, when you turn to those who have every right to know, to Jesus, the Son of God and co-maker of the world, to His apostles, and to the inspired word of God, the evidence all reads: Prayer does change things.

 

As we ponder one of the great features of Christianity, I admonish you to believe in and practice prayer. When a members of your family is ill, get down on your knees and pray. When something good comes into your home or your life, get down on your knees and breathe a prayer of thanksgiving. When you face a problem, pray.  It was Paul who wrote,

 

6Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. 7And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus

 

 It was Benjamin Franklin who said:

I have lived, Sir, a long time and the longer I live the more convincing proof I see of this truth: that God governs in the affairs of men. If a sparrow cannot fall without his notice, is it possible that an empire can rise without his aid?”

 

 But more importantly it was Jesus who said, Matthew 10:29-31    

29Are not two sparrows sold for a farthing? and one of them shall not fall on the ground without your Father.  30But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Yes, God cares daily for the sparrows providing their needs, and God provides for His children. 31Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

 

There are three conditions of prayer.   One that you pray as a Christian.

 

 If ye abide in me and my words abide in you, ask whatsoever ye will and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7).

 

The second condition is that you pray a believing prayer.

All things whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” (Matt. 21:22).

 

The third condition is that you pray according to God’s will, “

"Not as I will, but as thou wilt.” (Matt. 26:39).

 

God doesn’t always say yes, but He answers very faithful Christian’s prayer.  Hebrews 11:6    is still in the Bible:

 

6But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

 

contact:

Ron Cope Minister churches of Christ

email:  RonCope@chestnutmtchurchofchrist.com

phone:  (678)617-9658