Matthew 6:24-34: Seek First …

The Reign of God, Present in Jesus 2The God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob rescued His people from Egypt, protected them through the sea, and led them through the wilderness.  On manna formed from the dew and quail, which flew in, the people feasted.  Still, they griped, and their appetites remained unquenched.  Released from slavery and fed on God’s miracle bread, they wanted more—something new and different, from someone else.

Such is the circle of our foolish cravings for material goods.  The yearnings within us become wants, which twist into necessities, and self-gratification swells into an unfillable pit of self-deception.  Oh, we articulate all the grand deeds we will do for the Church, the congregation, or the poor in town if only more money lined our pockets.  What we don’t mention is the personal leisure such prosperity can bring.

Such a convincing lie—money will bring someone happiness.  So, we plot and strategize and dash after the dollar, except when we’re lazy.  After the fortunes, we chase.  Tell me, after obtaining more than we need or, perhaps, expect, what do we find?  A society with children who become unwed mothers and delinquent fathers, with discontented students who drop out of school and run away.

Are we better as parents or grandparents?  Not used taking up our crosses and telling our fallen flesh to sit in the corner, our contaminated inclinations run the show.  So, we overindulge, whether overeating (for me, two chicken fried steaks at the truck stop) or binging on a Netflix TV series.  All the while, the gap between now and eternity dwindles closer and closer.  Unsatisfied with the items we seek, many find the world empty, despite drugs, indulgence, or drunkenness.

The devil’s sustenance stuffs you with the lie—material goods, success, or money will make you happy.  All too often, without complaint or contempt, we gulp down the deception.  The result is not being full and satisfied, but vacant and defiled.  The new sparkle doesn’t gratify any longer, and we weary of being unfulfilled, hopping from place to place, striving to satisfy the empty longing.

Don’t you realize—you can’t serve two masters?  For you cannot serve God and mammon, and trying to do both is mocking Him.  The one who lives by his corrupted flesh will reap corruption.  Not so for the person living by the Spirit, he receives life everlasting.  Stare down your worry, and spend time receiving Jesus.  Stop the endless chasing after the treasures of this world, which moth and rust will soon destroy.

Seek first God’s kingdom and His righteousness.  Gaze in awe at those birds of the sky, for they do not plant a crop or gather a harvest into barns.  The Father above still nurtures them!  Doesn’t He cherish you more than any bird?  Yes!

The incarnate Son did not die to save the sparrows, though He will call the new Creation into being.  The promised Messiah didn’t take the form of a seagull to redeem our feathered friends.  No, He came in the likeness of man.  Why?  All to humble Himself, to walk the way of the grave, to rescue you from eternal death.

Filled with the world’s sins, He became the reproach of all, despised by the people.  To suffer, bleed, and die, the Christ came to pull you in His net, the Church, from the devil’s depths of greed and coveting.  Raised on the third day by the Father’s Spirit, Jesus ascended, to return one Day to judge the living and the dead.

So, what’s going on now?  The birds eat the seeds from the earth’s soil, and the flowers take in their nourishment from the ground.  Oh, much more does God care for you!  Beyond our understanding.  So, He puts inside you the best Seed of all—His Holy Word, who is Jesus Himself.

For the kingdom of the Father is like someone who sowed viable seed in a field.  Now implanted in you, you yield a return of a 100 fold or more, as you live out the love of Jesus within you to all the world.  Not wanting you to become emaciated, your Savior nourishes you with His sacred body and offers you His life in His blood.  “For the life of a being is in its blood” (Leviticus 17:11).

Through His Son, in the Spirit, your Father in Heaven supplies you with more than daily bread to fortify you in this valley of tears.  For He also strengthens you with divine Manna to carry you—body, soul, and spirit—into life unending.

Consider the lilies of the field and how they grow.  Those delicate blossoms do not labor or weave.  The wealthy King Solomon in all his glory did not dress in such regalia, like one of those.  For what fabric or exquisite tapestry can compare to a beautiful bloom?  Such loveliness shines from the lily.  No dye surpasses the hues of purple found in the violet.

Remember, you are more valuable to your Father than all the flowers in the fields.  So, in His providence, He clothes and feeds you.  Some might tell you, “God doesn’t provide.  Long ago, I learned I’m not going anywhere in life if I don’t do the work myself.  At the bottom, I started, scraping and clawing my way up.  No, no one hands you anything.  Forget the nonsense, the fantasy, the heavenly handout.”

Let’s listen to another.  “Yes, I trust in a God who provides.  Any Christian can tell you how God bent over backward to show His love through His blessings and provision, which He poured out on His people—and still does.”

So, does our Father in heaven meet our needs or not?  Of course, but God can also refuse to deliver what we may desire.  The answer of faith comes when connected to God.  For He is the One who delights in supporting you and making what He chooses for you available in your life.  Now, if you believe this is true, such trust will affect the decisions you make, changing how you plan for your future.  Also, the amount of anxiety you experience will grow and shrink, based in part on the strength of your faith.

The Lord points to a bird and a flower, teaching a perceptive truth.  Yes, you matter more to your Father than all the other creatures in creation—and yet He still cares for them.  Think this through.  How much more is He committed to providing for you?

The inherited, diseased nature inside us can understand Jesus’ instruction in two ways.  The first is not to believe what your Savior says.  The other is to become slothful, refusing to take responsibility for what you do, presuming no need to sweat or toil.  The Scripture shuts down this hollow response, “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

A contradiction?  No!  For how does God provide?  Through creation, through others, including employers, as God also met your needs through your mom and dad when you grew up as a child.  So, in His grace, He commits Himself to support you in everything you require, not only for your physical needs.

Imagine living with every material blessing.  Let’s suppose the world admires you also because you are an intellectual wonder.  Well, an aching pit can still hunger inside your soul, with an emptiness defying description.  For God created us as physical and spiritual beings.  Until you are united to Him, you’re incomplete.  “For, in him, we live and move about and exist” (Acts 17:10).  All the pieces in life don’t come together until God descends to satisfy your spiritual needs.

First, realize you matter to God.  Second, understand He furnishes you with what you lack, which is why He forgives you and adorns you with His righteousness.  This God of grace doesn’t only say, but also does.  For the reality of Jesus’ incarnation shows He came to do what you can’t.  The Sacraments reveal, not only a God who does the saving, but who delivers what Jesus did to save you, here in His House.

Ah, God’s love and provision.  So, He also grants you what is most essential.  The Apostle Paul reminds us of this, but don’t miss his order of importance.  “The One who did not spare his own Son, but offered him as a sacrifice for us, will he not also with him grant us everything?” (Romans 8:32).

Most important is salvation—and God meets your other requirements, as well.  The final fulfillment of you receiving everything will be on the Last Day.  Do you now grasp why the resurrection of the body gives us such a resilient hope?

So, God doesn’t fail the flowers or His winged creatures, which means He will not forsake you.  Sometimes, we may not realize this until later.  This is why Scripture tells us to walk by faith, not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  Now, after years pass, hindsight may give you eyes to recognize God provided for you, though everything in you, at the time, believed He didn’t.

In the Father’s eyes, we are more beloved than the bird or flower.  Still, we fret and agonize because a sinful self is inside us, deforming all we do.  So is an anemic faith.  For we both trust and doubt, vacillating back and forth.  So, the Scriptures tell us not to stay away from the assembly.  All the more, as the Day of Jesus’ return approaches (Hebrews 10:25).  Every week, you need what God gives to build up your faith.  Think of how weak you would be if you only ate food as often as you came to Church.

So Jesus is here, furnishing you with His meal of salvation.  The Father almighty provides you with more than protection from the scorching sun.  For He washes away your sins and covers you with the righteousness of Jesus.  Yes, and more, filling you with Him, joining you to Him, in ways beyond our intellect.  Now, you too can be called a son of God, with whom the Father is well pleased.

Enough troubles rise to meet you every day—but do not worry.  This life of misdeeds and despair will not last.  For your communion with God the Father, through His Son, in the Holy Spirit, is here.  The Truth, who frees and liberates you to life everlasting, enters your ears—and now He comes to feed you with His eternal riches.  Amen.

 

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