Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior , Jesus Christ.
Most of the headlines in Venezuela now deal with shortages. Shortages of flour, milk, sugar , water , electricity . Everyone talks about this. Well, I do not want to talk about the actual causes of these shortages . There have been many causes, in the short term, of shortages in world history . In the long run , the cause of all these difficulties , all the sufferings of human race , is the disobedience of Adam and Eve and, consequently , the destruction of harmony between humans , their environment and , above all , their God.
I want to talk about how , as Christians , we live through tough times and overcome them. Our Gospel for today is part of a well-known passage, "the Sermon on the Mount " . In this part, the Lord tells us today as He did the people at that time , " Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat , or what ye shall drink, nor about your body, what ye shall put on : is not life more than food , and the body more than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns , and yet your heavenly Father feeds them . Are ye not much better than they ? . But who of you by worrying adds to his stature one cubit? And for raiment why are you anxious ? The lilies of the field, see how they grow: they neither toil nor spin , But I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of them . And if the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is cast into the oven, God clothes , will he not much more clothe you , O you of little faith? Therefore take no thought , 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 all these things . "
What does that mean ? We must not work every day or plan for the future because God has promised to supply all our needs? In no way , because work is a blessing from God , to use our minds and strength to help our families and neighbors. We can plan for the future trusting that God has a good purpose for our lives .
The point of the speech is this: Anxiety and fear about the scarcity of material goods is a result of the lack of trust in God . For bread , clothing and riches , all the gifts this world has to offer, are considerd the supreme , the most important things in life, by unbelievers . They have no thought beyond the satisfaction of bodily desires .
" No one can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one and love the other, or be devoted to the one and despise the other You can not serve God and mammon . " Mammon means wealth and to raise the love of material goods over the love of God is idolatry . "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto thee . "
Christ argues from the most to least important : the natural life is more than the food that supports it, and the body that contains this life is more than the clothing that protects it . Therefore,, He who gave you the greatest , most important gift, can He not be trusted to provide the less important? Avaricious interest in food and clothing, then, not only forgets the Giver of all gifts , but weakens the body and mind so they cannot adequately perform their daily vocation. Again, this teaching of the Lord does not mean we leave our daily work and retreat from the world .
In contrast , we show confidence in God in this way: by sharing our material goods with the needy in tough times. Our text for today gives us an example from the Old Testament.
There had been a drought in the land of Israel for years , so few crops were havested and drinking water was scarce, too. " And there came to him the word of the Lord ( the Prophet Elijah) , saying, Arise, go to Zarephath of Sidon , and dwell there : behold, I have commanded a widow woman there to sustain thee . Then he arose and went to Zarephath . And he came to the gate of the city, behold, the widow woman was there gathering sticks: and he called her , and said, Bring me a little water in a vessel, that I may drink . "
A glass of water did not seem a big deal, but the prophet needed more . " And as she was going to fetch it, he turned and called , and said, Bring me a morsel of bread in thine hand. " The widow was frightened by the magnitude of the need of the prophet. " And she said, the Lord thy God liveth , I have not a cake, but an handful of meal in a barrel I have , and a little oil in a jar: and I am gathering sticks: to go in and dress it for me and for my son , that we may eat it, and die . "
Elijah said, " Fear not , go and do as thou hast said: but first make me thereof a little cake , and bring it unto me , and after make for thee and for thy son . Lord God of Israel , says: ' The jar of meal shall not waste, neither shall the cruse of oil fail, until the day that the LORD sends rain on the face of the earth. "
The widow responded in faith : " Then she went and did as Elijah said , and they ate for many days. And the barrel of meal wasted not , neither did the cruse of oil waned , according to the word of the Lord which he spake by Elijah . " We can trust God's Word , even in difficult times . Jesus referred to this story in Luke 4.25-26 in order to warn all men against despising His Word .
Moreover, the Lord says God's love is shown in the love of our neighbors. " But whoever has this world's goods , and sees his brother in need and closes his heart against him , how does the love of God abide in him ?" ( 1 John 3:17 ) . So as individual believers and as a church , we look for opportunities to help others . As our Epistle ( Galatians 5:25-6:10 ) says , " So then, as we have opportunity , let us do good unto all men, especially unto the household of faith . "
An example of what our national church is doing , a program of Lutheran Ladies Society of Venezuela ( SOLUDAVE ) , is called " House of Bread " for the purpose of each congregation providing a food bank for the poor. Surely our sister Luz Maria will submit a report when she returns from the meeting of the ladies.
There is more . For God's sake , we also want to share this most precious gift of God , the gospel of Jesus Christ as we share our material blessings . So , we meet regularly to confess our faith publicly and support the proclamation of the gospel to all nations. Also in our daily lives bear witness to the good news of Christ to those who do not know him .
Also, when a brother or sister in the faith fell into sin , we have a responsibility to correct it in love . As says our epistle "Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault , ye who are spiritual, restore such a one in the spirit of meekness, considering thyself , lest thou also be tempted. " Those who live and walk in the Spirit and produce the fruits of the Spirit , do not get angry with the brother whom the evil cunning of the devil and the weakness of his flesh have led into sin, but seek to bring him back to order as a member of the body of Christ , by which he stands in right relationship with God. This is done to remind the brother ( or sister) of the great danger that threatens his soul, not to terrify him, but to save him from sin and eternal death.
We do not deserve anything good from God , but Christ has won for us eternal life on the cross . Why? Because God loves us and gives us eternal life by grace , also the material needs of life. Rely on the promises of God for this life and the life to come . Because we believe in the abundance of God's blessings , we are not afraid to share all of our material and spiritual goods with those in need , especially in times of scarcity, material or spiritual . This is the Christian life .
The peace that passes all understanding be with each of you . Amen .
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