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The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

by Pastor Parent ~ August 25th, 2008

+ + + Jesu Juva + + +

The Fifteenth Sunday after Trinity

Text: Matthew 6:24-34

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

This morning our Lord Jesus poses a question to you. “What do you seek, the things of this life, or the Kingdom of God?” In other words, what is most important to you: this life, with all its selfishness and perversion, pain and suffering, tears and sorrow, sickness and death—this life which will one day surely end—or eternal life with our God in heaven, an eternal life of never-ending joy and peace? To whom or to what do you cling? Is it mammon, a god of false promises and false security? Do you cling this god who can never completely deliver on his assurances of comfort and well-being in this life? Or do you cling to the One True God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit who has provided, and continues to provide to you, all good things needed for this body and life? These are important questions, for your answer is a good indication of where you will spend eternity. Your answer indicates to what your heart clings; and that to which your heart clings is your god.

Therefore, Jesus tells His Disciples, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.”

You cannot serve two masters. If you attempt to, you will be consumed by one and be unfaithful to the other. Both masters will demand your total devotion, and you will be painfully torn until you give up on one and give your total loyalty to the other.

So, which is it for you? To whom or what do you cling? Give it some serious thought. Do you desire mammon over the true God? Is your concern over your next paycheck or retirement check? Is your desire for God, more often than not, overcome by your desire to sleep, go to breakfast, or entertain visiting family and friends? Is your desire more for the things of this creation than for the creator Himself? If Jesus asked you to forsake all you have, to take up your cross, and follow Him, would you be willing to give up all the stuff of this temporal life? Could you give up that extra car, the two motorcycles, your boat, your house and property, your second home, your pets, your spouse, your children, your grandchildren?

He did, you know. Jesus did ask you to forsake all things. For is it not written, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me…For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul?’” And did Jesus not also say, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell what you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”? Do you want to be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect?

Now please do not misunderstand me. I am not saying that you should sell all you own, get a divorce, shave your head, and join a monastery or convent; and neither is Jesus. But what Jesus is saying is that the perishable things of this life are not to be honored, desired, and coveted above God. You see, mammon, of itself, is not a bad thing. Mammon is nothing more than money or treasures, great or small, simple earthly goods and possessions with which we live out our lives as we go about our vocations in service to God and neighbor. But mammon is dangerous because our things so easily become the focus of our happiness to the point of destroying our relationship with God.

For a time, we may fool ourselves into believing that we can serve both God and mammon. We tell ourselves that once we get enough set aside to buy a home; then we can attend church on a regular basis. Or we tell ourselves summer is so short it is a shame not to enjoy it. Church can wait until summer is over, then we will spend time with God. Often, we fool ourselves into thinking that we are being good parents if we run our children all over creation so they can attend this sporting event or that school function etc., even if it means missing church because everyone is just too tired to attend worship. Besides, there is just too much to do nowadays and not enough time to do it. When the kids are grown up and gone, then we will attend church more regularly. But in most cases, it is my guess that, the day when there will be more time for God never will come. And just what do you think you have taught your children about the importance of God during all those years? But hey! God understands doesn’t He? After all, God knows you have a life. So let’s get God out of the way and start living. Right!?

The answer is no! Serving both God and mammon is impossible. You cannot love mammon—your possessions, your time, and money, your prestige and influence, in short, your life—and give God equal time. Either your devotion and love will be with your worldly commitments, with your money and pleasures, or your loyalty and love will be with God and His Word and His heavenly gifts. “No one can serve two masters.”

So, we are really left with just two options. There are only two masters, two gods. As I asked you before, to which do you cling? Dr. Martin Luther tells us, “If your faith and trust are right, then your God is the true God. On the other hand, if your faith and trust are wrong, then you have not the true God. For these two belong together, faith and God.”

Do you serve the false god, mammon, allowing him to order your day and cause you to worry over things you cannot control. Do you chase after the wind of his promises only to find that you never seem to have enough money, time, or possessions? Or do you serve the God who feeds the birds of the air, though they do not toil? This is the same God who brought Abraham’s children through the wilderness and the sea, rescuing them from the hand of Pharaoh. This is the God who fed those same people with the Bread of heaven without their toil or sweat. This is the God who fed the widow of Zarephath, her son, the Prophet Elijah, and her entire household from an inexhaustible bin of flour and jar of oil, all without toil.

Do you serve the God who clothes the lilies of the field in greater glory than Solomon, though they neither toil nor spin? This is the same God who was incarnate by the Holy Spirit and made man, that is, took on human flesh—for you. He is the same God who was crucified under Pontius Pilate, suffered and was buried—for you. He is the same God who rose again on that first Easter Morning and then ascended to the Father; all this He did for you. This is the same God who promises to return for you and call you, body, and soul, to be with Him in His Kingdom, all without your toil. Do you seek His Kingdom and righteousness?

But where is the Kingdom of God to be found? Until the promised day of Jesus’ return, where can one find His righteousness? We find His Kingdom here, in this Holy House where Jesus is truly present among us. Where Jesus is present, there one finds the Kingdom of God. For He and the Father are one, and where you find Jesus and His heavenly Father, you find also the Holy Spirit, for the Godhead cannot be divided. And where you find the Holy Trinity, where you find the One True God, you find the Kingdom of God.

And is it not also here, in this place, where you will find God’s righteousness? Is Jesus not the Righteousness of God in the flesh, bodily present with us, giving us His gifts of Word and Sacrament which bring to us faith, forgiveness of sin, and eternal life? Is not that Righteousness poured over you in blessed Holy Baptism? Are you not cleansed from sin and your impure garments removed so that you are clothed in the garments of Christ’s righteousness? You see, in Baptism God adorns you in a garment far greater in beauty and glory than Solomon in all his royal array, greater even than the lilies of the field can boast; He robes you with His Righteousness.

That same Righteousness is placed upon your tongue and poured into your mouth in Jesus’ Holy Body and Blood. This is the same Body and Blood which pleads for us before the Mercy Seat of God. Therefore, with the Church we sing,

Jesus Thy Blood and Righteousness

My beauty are, my glorious dress;

Mid flaming worlds, in these arrayed,

With joy shall I lift up my head. (LSB 563)

Thus, “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

So it is that as God’s people, you do not have to worry about what you will eat or what you will drink, because Jesus has promised to feed you daily with the Living Bread which comes down from heaven, and to slake your thirst with His Blood poured out for the remission of your sins. Though bodily hunger indeed may come, even so you may rest on Jesus’ Words, “Whoever eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day. For My flesh is food indeed, and My blood is drink indeed. He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him. As the living Father sent Me, and I live because of the Father, so he who feeds on Me will live because of Me.” These are the Words of eternal life. These are the things of Jesus. Therefore, seek the Kingdom of God by receiving the things of Jesus, the King of kings and Lord of lords, the King of God’s Kingdom.

Be at peace dear ones. Even though “sufficient for the day is its own troubles,” still, you have no need to worry. The day is not far off when we will cast off our mortal coil—this perishable flesh and blood of our mortal bodies—and don new, everlasting clothing in the resurrection of our flesh on the Last Day, the Day of our Lord. Until that day, continue to give thanks to Jesus, for even now His message of salvation and His Kingdom have already come among us. How do you know? Because you have confessed your transgressions and heard Jesus say, “I forgive you all your sins.”

In the Name of the Father, and of the + Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

+ + + Soli Deo Gloria + + +

Rev. Raymond Parent

Hope Lutheran Church, Bellaire, MI

09/23/07 A+D

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