Seek First the Kingdom of God – LWML Sunday

Grace, mercy and peace be to your, from God, our Father and from our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen. Mat 6:26 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? Mat 6:27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? Mat 6:28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, Mat 6:29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Mat 6:30 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? Mat 6:31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ Mat 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. Mat 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.   As we come to worship today, on LWML Sunday, what is that you are worried about? Every pastor and well-meaning church member will tell you that you should not worry, but we do. All of us. Yes, we know we shouldn’t, but we do. It is no fun to hear someone tell us not to worry and suddenly we are hearing the song, “Don’t worry, Be happy.” It does not matter whether we are gathered here in church or in a larger gathering like a regional or national LWML meeting…we still do not want to be TOLD how to feel about something. Worry was the last thing that most people we considering when they gathered last June for the LWML Convention in Des Moines. Rather it was based on the theme, “Bountiful! Sow-Nourish-Reap.” There it was heard that God’s children are blessed to be able to sow the seeds of faith in the lives of those God has places in their path. The gathered worshippers were reminded of their Baptism through which the seed of faith was sown in their own hearts. They were nourished through Word and Sacrament as they spent time around the Word of God in worship settings, Bible Studies and personal devotions and social times. That convention put this into practice by selecting a variety of Mission Grants to support in the next biennium. They were also able to celebrate the success that God had given to their effort in the prior biennium. Everything seems to be wonderful…there was not a care in the world as they spent time together on the spiritual mountaintop. The closing worship charged all in attendance to do the urgent business of sharing God’s Word in their home communities, churches and families. They had gone to that place to sow and nourish the seeds of faith and now they sought to reap the harvest by the power of the HS working in and through everyone. Thus the message of the crucified and risen Lord Jesus must be shared everywhere. At the conclusion of the Divine Service, it was time to leave the mountaintop. It was time to get to the work that everyone had been nourished to accomplish. It even calls to mind the word of the hymn, “Tis good Lord to be here! Yet we may not remain; But since Thou bidst us leave the mount, Come with us to the plain.” (LSB 414, Stanza 5) So, how do we, the redeemed, bought back, sons and daughters of the King respond to this awesome mission challenge placed before us? Perhaps this is the source of our worries. God calls us off His mountaintop back into this sin-filled world to share…share the good News of Christmas and Easter – the Good News of the Savior, born at Christmas, crucified, died and buried on Good Friday, resurrected on Easter morning, ascended 40 days later; and now sits with the Father in heaven until He returns to judge the living and the dead. We worry whether we “shared it right” or not and whether THOSE people will receive the message – or not. Despite the blessed assurance that this message is true, we remember another song from Lent we hear “Tremble, tremble, tremble” every time we are called to share this message. So what does the Lord have for us? What is there to help us deal with our trembles and our strong case of worry? After all we say the LWML Pledge, we sing “send me send me,” we listen to the Great Commission and our concern rises and we go back to trembling. The first verse of our text compares us to the birds of the sky…but most of us do not have those kinds of issues in our lives. Be have been blessed to know where our next meal and drink will come from and what we will wear. The real fact is that we have an over-abundance, so that we worry about picking the right clothes from a closet bursting at the seams, we throw out food that has gotten old in the refrigerator or even buy a larger freezer to handle more of our excesses. What really worries me is not health issues for loved ones, or family problems or relationships with others…it is the call You have given to me. You have called me to come off the mountain, get back to the plain, come out of our worship service and go into that dark sin-sick world with the only answer and solution of all of our social ills – Jesus Christ. Well that sounds great…in theory, and I know that this is where my strength and assurance SHOULD be, but when and where the rubber meets the road, how can my focus change from fear to faithful, from worry to faith, so that I am not anxious about working in the harvest field ever again? Scripture, as it so often does; provides our answer. We should not worry any more than the lilies of the field or the sparrows in the air. “O ye of little faith” comes to mind. God provides for all our needs. OR maybe we should call to mind St. Paul who asked that his thorn of the flesh might be taken away and God’s answer was, “My grace is sufficient for you. My power is made perfect in weakness.” Well if weakness shows His power than I must be like a nuclear power plant for Him. Then by faith Paul concludes, “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” All of these are promises that you are able to use even when you are hanging over the neighbor’s fence, being a laborer in God’s field. It applies to them, or our children who are drifting away from the church or for those times when we are experiencing personal heartache in our lives. You get the point as we could spend all day in conversation with our heavenly Father, picking out and rejoicing in His promises to us…as they are recorded in His Word. You too can easily add your favorite and most comforting verse of assurance to God’s abiding presence even when we allow the worries of the world to intervene and creep like a weed encroaching on our lives. But as good as all that sounds…sitting here in church, you can’t help but wonder whether this has any real application OUT THERE in the world. And that leaves us in the same place…worried again and again. You and I have a heavenly Father who does not just talk a good game. “Don’t worry, be happy,” is not what He would say. He has followed through with His promises 100% of the time. He speaks to Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Elijah, Elisha, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Jonah and all the other prophets, then he spoke to us through His Son, Jesus to tell us to seek first the kingdom of God. But He also acts on that advice to show everyone that seeking after His kingdom is actually a response to what He is already doing for us. All of those things that HE has promises are being given to everyone who believes in Him. That verse says, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness AND ALL THESE THINGS WILL BE ADDED TO YOU.” There it is, God is again doing all the work and blessing each of us over and over. That, my friends is caring for and providing for you as HE comes through on a promise. Since we were united with Him in Holy Baptism there is nothing to worry about. As we seek first His kingdom, serving Him in response, He pours His blessings on us; and that happens whenever and wherever He desires. We then have the privilege of carrying out the great task He gives to us of bringing the lost and erring into eternal fellowship with Him. Thus we seek His kingdom and can only say afterwards…thanks be to God. Amen.

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