Grace and peace in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
Our text for today is the Holy Gospel, Matthew 6:24-34. These verses are part of the Sermon on the Mount, when Jesus, sitting on a hill, spoke of the Christian life with the surrounding crowd. Some of you attended the talk by our sister in faith,Sandra Lopez, yesterday about human care. She spoke of the first part of this sermon, the Beatitudes, specifically this:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven." (Matthew 5:3)
In our text for today, the Lord tells us what it is to be poor in spirit. It does not mean the amount of your wealth or your lack of wealth. Because, in truth, no matter how much we have or do not have, what is important is how we use the resources God has given us. Poverty of spirit means an attitude toward material goods. What does our Lord say first?
"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. "
Our approach may be to serve God or to seek the acquisition of wealth, but not both. That is not to say that having many material things is bad, but it is to center our life on gaining more and more of them. This is not serving God. Why not? Because we do not trust God for our needs. For serving money rather than God is to trust in our own strength, not God.
Some of us have more resources than others. If we lack for something, there are others who lack more. The words, rich or poor, in this world are, in a sense, relative terms. There are always those who have more than us or those who have less, but what is important is our attitude to the resources God has given us. What is most important is to think about our material possessions as blessings from God.
We trust God for all things. Our Lord in verses you're told, "Do not be anxious then, saying, What shall we eat or what shall we drink, or what shall we wear? For the Gentiles seek after all these things. Indeed your heavenly Father knows that ye need all these things "
We talk about this in our catechism class. When studying the Apostles' Creed, we read in the first article, "I believe in God the Father Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth."
What does this mean? I believe God created me and all creatures, that He has given me body and soul, eyes, ears, all members, reason and every sense and still maintains them, plus clothing and shoes, food and drink, house and home, wife and children, fields, cattle and all property; generously providing me every day with all that I need to support this body and life, protects me against all danger and guards and protects me from all evil; and all this out of His goodness and fatherly and divine mercy, without any merit or be worthiness on my part. For all this I thank Him, praise Him, serve and obey Him. This is most certainly true.
We confess these things when we confess the first article of the creed. In addition, in the Lord's Prayer, our Lord first teaches us to pray to God as a loving Father. "Our Father, who art in heaven ..." And to pray this petition, "Give us today our daily bread." What does this mean? God gives daily bread, even without our prayer, even to all the wicked; but we pray in this petition that He make us recognize this and so we receive our daily bread with thanksgiving.
What is daily bread? All that we need for meeting the needs of this life, such as food, drink, clothing, shoes, house, home, land, cattle, money, goods; pious spouse, pious children, pious servants, pious and faithful authorities; good government, good weather, peace, health, good order, good reputation, good friends, faithful neighbors and such like.
This is part of our confession, our beliefs about God. We trust in God for all our needs. When the Lord said, you can not serve both God and wealth, He meant this. We can worry about all the things like food or money, or we can trust God for all.
However, does not mean we should not work or plan for the future. We can make deposits in the bank and manage our business. But we must not trust in our own strength. God blesses us by giving us growth in our business. God blesses by giving us the harvest in the field.
In our Old Testament lesson (1 Kings 17:8-16), we heard part of the story of the prophet Elijah. During a drought of many years, it had not rained in Israel. What happened to the crops? All failed. There was a great shortage of food. The Lord sent the prophet to a widow in Zarephath and Elijah asked for a glass of water and piece of bread. But she said, "The Lord thy God liveth, I have not a cake; but an handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse: and I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die. "
But the Lord provided. Do you notice something about the Old Testament lesson? There shortages of flour and oil, the same as today in Venezuela. Not because of drought, but still shortages of bread, flour, oil and other things. So many times this advice of Jesus Christ is not easy to accept. In this life there is always a shortage of this thing or another. But if we trust in God, the Lord provides. We believe that, no matter the evidence to the contrary in this world, but by faith we believe. God has told us, no matter the situation around you, trust me.
"Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you."
Also, in yesterday's talk, Sandra spoke of social work and human care program of the Lutheran Church of Venezuela. She told us to care for the needy is part of the Christian life. We can do this, ie, share our possessions with those in need because we have no fear for our own needs because we trust in God as our Father.
What is the second principle of the Law of God? Our Lord said the summary of the Law is first love the Lord your God with all your strength, all your soul, all your heart, and second, love your neighbor as yourself. If we trust God for our needs, we can love our neighbor, that is, to show God's love to our neighbor. We have no fear of losing everything we have because we trust God for everything. This is our motivation to help others.
We have talked about material things. We may also share with our fellows spiritual things, above all the good news of eternal life in Jesus Christ. Not for the fear of God and His judgment, but for the love that God has shown us in Christ first. This is the fulfillment of the will of God that we can not accomplish by our own strength either, but with the help of the Spirit of God that gives us faith in our hearts.
God provides all our material needs. We were also saved from the condemnation of the Law because of Jesus Christ. What children told them the whole community yesterday? Christ died for us on the cross. We can share this with the neighbors too.
God provides for believers and non-believers, but as believers we recognize the blessing and grace of God in everything, so we want to share God's blessings with all. We believe first that God is our Father, we are also children of God by the blood of Jesus. Then we have the hope and peace that passes all understanding. Amen.
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