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Notes on Trinity 15

by ToddPeperkorn ~ August 25th, 2008

True faith and confidence of the heart is directed toward the one true God and clings to Him alone. He says, “See to it that you let Me alone be your God, and never look about for another.” In other words, “Look to Me for any good thing that you lack. Come to Me for it. And whenever you suffer misfortune or distress, reach out to Me and hold on to Me. I, and I alone, will satisfy your need and help you in every trouble. Only do not ever let your heart cling to or depend on anything or anybody else. (Luther’s Large Catechism)

With all his effort and labor a person can have all that is good, joy in the heart and a good conscience, because he knows that his work and labor are a service pleasing to God. For there can be no greater joy than knowing that our life and deeds are a service to God, and that God says to us, “What you do for others, in accord with my command, you have done for me; for by my Word I have so ordained.” But at that point the devil resists with all his might so that we do not achieve this joy. For every person resists doing what he is commanded to do. And the result in no love being bestowed upon people and no service rendered to God. (Blessed Martin Luther)

Whoever believes he is ruled by the will of God, commits his food to the hand of God. Let him think on good and evil. For unless he considers these things, he will neither avoid evil nor do good. And to do good is to “seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.” The Lord’s righteousness is the way He serves us, by which we attain His kingdom. If you think of the glory the saints have, then you will keep from evil (for fear of punishment) and do good (because of your desire for glory). And if you think about the righteousness of God—what He hates and loves—you will follow Him. (St John Chrysostom)

Whoever works ought to do so, not that he may serve his own needs but that he may be able to fulfill the command of the Lord. For He said, I was hungry, and you gave me to eat. For to be apprehensive about yourself was wholly forbidden by the Lord, when He said: Do not be anxious for your life, what you shall eat, nor for your body, what you shall put on. Then He added: For after all these things do the heathens seek. Each one therefore, in undertaking any task, should have this purpose in mind: to serve the need of others, not his own ends. In this way he will escape the charge of self love, and will receive a blessing for his fraternal love from the Lord, who said: As long as you did it to one of these my least brethren, you did it to me. (St Basil the Great)

1 Response to Notes on Trinity 15

  1. Dean Kavouras

    Here’s my sermon on the Gospel as of this moment (I usually continue to ‘massage’ until Sat. night).

    Christ Lutheran Church
    Cleveland, Ohio
    August 31, 2008
    by: Rev. Dean Kavouras

    15th Sunday after Trinity

    Grace to you and peace from God the Father and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Amen.

    “Therefore I tell you don’t be anxious about your life…” Matthew 6:25

    It would be an understatement to call Jesus the best preacher that ever lived, but that’s what He was. He understood His hearers as only God can. He knew exactly where they hurt and what they needed to make the pain go away. He knew that anxiety over the necessities of life pre-occupies everyone’s mind. He knew that the our default mode is to rely on money for our daily existence rather than the Giver of all good gifts.

    And so in His most famous sermon Jesus says 3 times, “don’t be anxious…don’t be anxious…don’t be anxious…

    Why such strong medicine?

    Because all of us fret over these things. But we’re also the most fortunate people on earth because we have our Lord’s own Word which is the antidote to our worry. It’s implanted in us at baptism, nourished in us by preaching and it puts all our fears to rest.

    The words Jesus spoke to the crowds that day weren’t for their ears only but for ours as well. That’s why the Holy Spirit caused them to be recorded in the Bible, because men of every generation worry and every generation needs to be calmed by them.

    Yes we all worry. We worry about our life, about what we will eat, what we will drink, what we will wear. We agonize about paying the rent. We fret about our health and the money it will cost to pay the doctor and buy the medicine. Torment over these things is un-avoidable.

    But where did this worry come from? Why can’t we live carefree lives like the birds and the flowers? Worry entered the world when Adam and Eve sinned.

    Before sin God provided for all their needs. They didn’t worry. They didn’t have to think about shortages, or store up food in barns. It’s not that they didn’t work, they did. But their daily existence didn’t depend on their doing, but rather on God’s, and they knew it and received their daily bread with thanksgiving… even as we should do today. They didn’t worry because they had a convincing display of God’s abundant riches in Christ (Phil 4:19) before their eyes at all times. And since they relied only on God, they worshiped only Him, because men always worship the things they rely upon the most.

    But after sin a very different era began.

    Now the responsibility for maintaining their lives shifted from the All Mighty God to mortal man. Because of their rebellion God sentenced them to a life of hard labor. He took away their immortality, revoked their superior abilities, and saddled them with a hostile environment which would more readily produce thorns than food – one which either they would conquer, or it would conquer them!

    Now apprehension became the order of the day.
    Now man could find no rest.

    Now the science of economics was born. Economics is the study of how to make the most efficient use of scarce resources, and each of us is of necessity an economist. Some better than others no doubt, but every day we all make decisions regarding how to squeeze the most juice out of our limited amounts of time, money, labor, energy, opportunities and abilities.

    Now man no longer relied on God for his daily bread but learned to rely on himself instead.

    Not that self-reliance is a bad thing under the current order of things. But the problem is that we rely on ourselves to the exclusion of God. The daily rigors of survival left Adam little time to think about God’s Kingdom or Righteousness and the same can be said of us.

    This is why money is God’s chief competitor for our loyalty. It gets us the things we need to live. It’s a means of storing up labor so that we can secure our futures, and gain some rest. And if we accumulate enough it becomes a way of un-doing God’s curse. A way of re-creating the Garden of Eden right here on earth. At least that’s what we think, and what every world-improver would like us think.

    And so Jesus came to set things straight. To show us our sin. To teach us to see things as God sees them. To calm our anxiety by His Word. But most importantly, to suffer death in order to atone for our idolatry, because that’s what serving money is, the worship of a false God. And finally to reassure all who labor and are heavy laden that they will find rest for their souls in Him. (Mt. 11:28)

    Yes worry and anxiety are part of life in a fallen world, but we also have God’s Word as the antidote!
    Please notice I didn’t say that “faith” is the remedy.

    Faith is vital. It’s impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6) without it, but we have no more control over faith than we have over the beating of our hearts.

    It doesn’t come as standard equipment at birth like our five senses do.

    It can’t be taught, developed or bought on eBay. Instead the Bible informs us that faith is a gift given to us by God. Infants receive it in baptism, adults who haven’t been baptized receive it by hearing the Gospel. But in every case it’s a gift of God’s grace.

    And it’s most interesting how Jesus addresses the hearers of His sermon. In Matthew 6:30 He calls them “little-faiths” or what we might term “faithlings.” It sounds different in English translations. More like a scolding: O ye of little faith. But that’s not what it says in the original. The Lord addresses His hearers as if they are “dear little children in the things of faith.”

    And this is good because when it comes to the Spirit-generated faith we’re discussing today size isn’t important. Faith no bigger than a mustard seed can command mountains to uproot themselves and be thrown into the sea. There are times when God gives us usch extra-ordinary measures of faith, because we have extraordinary obstacles to meet. But for the most part we are “faithlings,” and that is enough. Because it’s not our faith that banishes worry but rather the God’s living and active Word, “therefore I tell you don’t worry…”.

    All three of the Lord’s exhortations sound exactly the same in our English Bible but in the original they’re a bit different. The first time He doesn’t say “don’t worry” but rather “stop worrying!”

    His first priority is to halt the infection raging within us. Disquiet over our survival is like an aggressive cancer that eats us alive from the inside out and makes us writhe in pain. And so the Great Physician tells the cancer of fear, “stop spreading! Cease and desist! Let my people go!” And it must obey even as demons had to flee when Jesus said told them to go.

    The second and third time He doesn’t say stop worrying, but rather “don’t worry.” Why the different words? Because once Jesus arrests our fear He then puts it in handcuffs and leg-irons, hauls it off to jail and throws away the key so that it can trouble us no longer.

    And why does He address our worry three times? Was it just a matter of “repetition being the mother of learning?”


    But could it also be that worry is like one of those stubborn demons, the kind Jesus says only come out by much prayer and fasting? (Mt. 17:21) Could it be that worry is more hazardous to our health than breathing polluted air or drinking contaminated water? If there’s any environment we ought to be concerned about, Fellow Faithlings, it’s the environment of our hearts. But there are no “carbon credits” or other malarkey that can help is here but only God’s Word.

    But the most important question we should ask of our text today is: why can Jesus speak so authoritatively to our worry?

    Notice His words, “therefore I say to you, don’t worry.”
    Who is this great Personage? Who is this all-confident “I” who speaks this way? None other that The Son of God who became the Son of Man. None other than the Beautiful Savior who traded places with Adam and His children in order to make us Beautiful. Who took our curse onto Himself. Who cast Himself into a world of labor, uncertainty, want, pain, fear and finally death.

    Who speaks these words? Jesus the Bread of Life, who endured intense hunger for 40 days in the wilderness so that we might sit at an eternal banquet. Jesus the Water of Life, who suffered thirst on the cross so that our thirst for righteousness would be quenched with Living Water. This “Greater Solomon” and “Lily of the Valley” was stripped of His beauty and thrown into the oven of a Roman execution as if He were no more than grass in order to propitiate our sins; to dress us in garments more splendorous than Solomon and more breathtaking than the vast expanses of the flowers that adorn God’s green earth.

    By all that our Lord did for us, and by the Word He speaks to us, we are free. Free to stop worshiping money. Free to stop worrying about our daily necessities. Free to ask for all that we need because our Father knows that we need it and promises to give it to us. Above all we’re free to seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness over all other things.

    How do we do that?

    We’re doing it now. It’s done as we remember our baptism at the Trinitarian invocation. As the Gospel is preached to us. As it’s prayed, sung and Confessed. As we eat it and drink it in the Sacrament. Here is where God is found. Here is where the kingdom, that is to say, the reign of God is at work.

    Here and now He’s active forgiving our sins of worry, absolving our worship of money, keeping the demons of anxiety at bay, and assuring us by His gentle words that we are more valuable than the birds of the air, and the flowers of the field…and that the Heavenly Father will do more for His faithlings, than He does for them.

    And so we learn today that our Lord’s Word is the antidote for all our fears, and that He’ll provide all our needs of both body and soul. This is His promise, sealed in His blood, so don’t worry. Amen.

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