Matthew 6:26, 32b, 33
October 4, 2015
Grace, mercy, and peace from God our Father and from our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
The text that I have chosen for this morning’s sermon is a portion of Matthew 6. Jesus says, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? … and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”
This past summer, 5,000 women (and some men) gathered in Des Moines for the biennial meeting of the Lutheran Women’s Missionary League. Beginning the convention with a Divine Service with Holy Communion set the stage for three days of spiritual nourishment. The inspirational speakers, Bible studies, and fellowship with other Christians made the meetings part of the convention not seem too bad. They prayed together, encouraged one another, and voted on the organizations that would receive grants for the next two years. I don’t know about the ladies who attended this year’s convention, but usually I come out of conventions on a high. I feel refreshed and rejuvenated and ready to take on the world for God. I’m ready to tell everyone about the man who lived and died and rose again to save the world. I’m ready to proclaim the Good News of Jesus Christ.
But what do we do when the convention is over? What do we do when we leave our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ and get back into the “real world”? How do we rise to Christ’s challenge to spread the Gospel message of forgiveness to all those around us? Again, I don’t know about you, but when it comes to telling others about Jesus, I usually worry. I worry if I said the right words or if what I said will make a difference at all.
In our text for this morning, Jesus is in the middle of the Sermon on the Mount, and He’s encouraging the people to put their trust and hope in God, and not to worry about what they’ll eat or wear. They are certainly important words for us to hear. But are these the things we worry about? I’m not sure we do. None of us were particularly worried that we’d literally have nothing to wear to church or that we weren’t going to be able to eat for the next couple of days. Our worries are different, aren’t they? We worry about our cancer, our family disagreements, our children who have left the faith. We worry about paying our bills, our elderly parents, and the stress at work. We have all these things going on in our lives, and then we hear that, on top of all those things, we’re responsible for telling others about Jesus. That’s a lot of stuff to worry about.
We have such an awesome responsibility to fulfill what Christ has sent us to do. We may never leave Iowa, but we are still called to be missionaries, to tell others about what Jesus has done for them. And this is a weighty thing that Jesus has put on us. It can definitely lead us to worry whether we’re being faithful enough or not. When we stress and fret about what He has sent us to do, Jesus has calming words for us as He tells us that we don’t need to worry. That if He takes care of the birds, He’s going to take care of us. He’s going to lead us through whatever struggles we face, whatever we’re worried about, and He’ll be with us as we share the message of hope that is found in the Gospel.
Without a doubt, the time is now for the women of the LWML, as well as each and every one of us, to use our God-given gifts and abilities to meet the challenge of sharing the Gospel message of Jesus Christ throughout the world. To be perfectly honest it’s a huge responsibility and does cause us worry. This is true as we look at the billions of people who need to hear of God’s love poured out to them through faith in Jesus Christ. This is true as we consider where some of our friends or some of our family members are in their walk with the Lord. And we have all kinds of excuses that we try out on God, don’t we? We don’t want to be Bible Thumpers, or seen as hypocritical, or holier than thou. We want to tell others what we know, but it’s hard, and when we really think about what God has called us to do, we worry.
It in this time of worry that God speaks to us in His Word and promises to be with us as we speak His promises that come from the life and death of His Son Jesus Christ. He speaks the Word of our text when He tells us that we’re worth far more than any animals, and if He helps them, He’ll help us. He tells us through Saint Paul, that we can do all things through Him who strengthens us. Not that we can bench press a car or become Mensa geniuses, but that through Him, we can survive the hard times. We can have faith in Him and not worry when life beats us down. We don’t need to worry, because He is with us, He does care for us, He does help us, that’s His promise. He’ll see us through them, and as we survive the heartaches and difficulties in our lives, we’re then able to tell others how we endured the them – we didn’t suck it up and just do it, we did it by God’s grace and God’s power. God uses us, and our struggles, to lead others to Himself.
We’re all sinners, we all stumble and fall, and we all worry when we shouldn’t. But the main part of enduring by God’s grace is that we endure by His forgiveness of our sins. We are God’s sinful yet forgiven children, so God says to you, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My power is made perfect in weakness. Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” We have God’s power, so we can trust in Him, and know that He provides for us, He provides for all our wants in body and soul. We don’t need to worry, not one bit.
We don’t even need to worry when doing the work that God has called us to do. We don’t need to be afraid of saying the wrong thing, we don’t need to worry about being rejected. We simply tell people about Jesus. You know His story! So tell it! Don’t be afraid, shy, or timid. Instead, rely on the words of Jesus who says, “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say, for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.”
My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, all of these promises are yours even when we speak to the neighbor across the street, the friend at work, or our son or daughter who has grown away from the Lord and for whom our heart aches. These promises are for you even if, God forbid, a maniac sticks a gun in your face and says that if you are a Christian, you’ll see God in a second. Some brothers and sisters in Christ endured the very thing in Oregon this past week. You don’t have to go to Africa or Asia to be a missionary. You can be one here in Lake View or Carroll or Des Moines. Be a missionary wherever God puts you. And remember, God’s promises are never clichés. He doesn’t say, “Don’t worry, be happy”. He says, “And lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the world.” What this means is that our loving God follows through on every single promise He makes.
He tells us that as we seek His righteousness, as we seek His love and forgiveness, we’ll find them. And when we look for His righteousness first, when we look for forgiveness first, all the things we worry about will be taken care of. He’ll take them away, and if He doesn’t, if He decides in His infinite wisdom that we must struggle, He promises to give us His grace. He gives us the grace and the power to endure whatever hardship has been placed in front of us. And He gives us the power to speak His Name in the midst of our worry filled lives. He enables us tell others, what they so desperately need to hear, that God loves them too, and as they seek His righteousness, His love, they will find all these other things added unto them.
In the LWML pledge, which we’ll be speaking in a few minutes, we offer God ourselves. We offer Him our entire being. We offer Him our lips, our hands, our gold and our wills to do His will of bringing the Gospel message to all who live in a sin-filled and darkened world. So don’t worry about clothes, food, illness or spreading the message, for God knows what you need and He will provide for you. Simply seek His righteousness, His forgiveness, and you’ll find them. And when you find these wonderful gifts of God, you’ll find God and His love, and those are things we need not worry about, but simply trust in all our days.
Now the peace which surpasses all understanding keep your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus. Amen