Predigt am 16.05.2021
KaB FKB (Andreas Latossek)
MAßSTÄBE DIE HERAUSFORDERN
Today is Pentecost.
We celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit. God himself, who comes through his spirit and lives in the people who live with Jesus.
If you do that,
- then you are a dwelling, a temple of the Holy Spirit.
- He is your insurance, a down payment to get you to heaven.
- He is the one who guides us in everyday life, who unlocks the word of God for us, who gives us strength and courage.
When we see what became of the terrified disciples after they received the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, then that is what we need today too. We need more of the Holy Spirit in our church and more of the Holy Spirit in our lives. He changes us and helps us live the way Jesus likes it and how we live it in His Word, and that goes for the challenging topic this morning as well.
We are in the great line of the Sermon on the Mount – standards that challenge.
In this context we have looked at how Jesus deals with the law, how he interprets it and fulfills it himself, so that we can live a relationship with God through grace and not through our performance, which we would never create, and that the Commandments are then good guidelines for a successful and fulfilling life. We are now in Chapter 6, which is about a life that is not just superficially pious, not just lip service, but what has implications in everyday life. And I’m glad I heard from a person who heard the sermon on fasting and said, This is exactly what I’m doing now. I now fast one day for people in my family to get to know God personally. This is what Jesus wants us to take what he says, that it goes deep and that we implement it and that it has a direct impact on my life. Jesus talked about giving, praying and fasting, ultimately about our relationship with God and now it’s about how God is really at the center of our lives and not just so superficial Rand and it’s about wealth, about what we hang our hearts on and about worries. And that is very exciting, because these are precisely the points that Jesus also addresses in the parable of the fourfold arable field, which grows up like weeds in a wheat field and has the potential to stifle the life of faith.
This morning the topic is “Care-free“
Wouldn’t that be nice? To be carefree? I have the impression that our lives are more like the old song: Good morning dear worries, are you back already? Did you sleep so well, well then everything will be clear.
There are many reasons to be concerned.
Am i getting sick? Can I finish school? Do I get an apprenticeship? How will I continue with my work or as a self-employed person with my company, my shop. What will be with my money. What about my credit that I can no longer service? Do I still find a partner or do I have to stay alone? How is my marriage developing? What will become of my children? Where is our world going?
Last week we were startled by a harrowing report from child and adolescent psychiatry.
There was talk of triage, which is what you actually talked about in connection with the warning that the intensive care units would fill up, that you then have to choose who to accept. In the report of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry it was stated that only children and adolescents who are at risk of suicide can be treated. In our environment I hear from more and more children who can no longer cope with the pressure and the situation. And it is so important that we are good role models for our children in relation to today’s topic and that we teach them that too. Welthungerhilfe reports on the dramatic effects of Corona all over the world:
Day laborers are out of work, more and more people are starving, food prices are rising, domestic violence is rising. The emergency aid and development aid organization Oxfam assumes around 12,000 deaths from hunger per day as a result of Corona, other organizations are even talking about twice as high numbers, and that in addition to normal hunger deaths and that is more than dying with Corona itself. We are still doing relatively well there, we don’t notice that much of it. And then Corona has a great spiritual dimension that many underestimate.
I was wondering how can I even preach about worry-free?
Our Lord Jesus did it, but there are no easy answers and I don’t have an answer for everything. And I too have to learn more what Jesus teaches his disciples here:
“25 Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? 26 Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they? 27 Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? 28 And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: 29 And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith? 31 Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? 32 (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. 33 But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. 34 Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” (Mt. 6.25-3)
First of all, two preliminary remarks:
Jesus is not saying here that provision is bad. Jesus is not asking us here to simply live in the dark. There are things in our life that are part of a regular life. In Proverbs the ants are mentioned as an example of precaution. Foresight is okay with God. There are also bad precautions, namely when we let ourselves be guided by fear or our egoism, we will see that later. But God tells us to be good stewards of what He has entrusted to us
In Prov. 16,9 it says: A man’ heart deviseth his way: but the LORD directeth his steps.
This also means precaution, trusting that God has our life in his hand and directs it and that it can and may turn out differently.
And a second preliminary remark:
Worry also has nothing to do with being vigilant. That we observe what is happening around us and what is coming. The Bible urges us to be vigilant and read the signs of the times. To see how the hatred of Jews increases in our world. To perceive how Christian values are being pushed back more and more in our country. How 100,000 unborn lives will be aborted in 2020 alone, how free sexuality is being promoted more and more and these are just two examples of other things. How we unlearn to listen to each other and also let stand with different opinions instead of judging and pushing them into a corner. To put the opinion on Corona above the message of the Gospel in congregations too. Love will grow cold in many, says the Bible.
But there is a difference between being alert and worrying, which is reacting to what we perceive. How quickly can I get to the point where I begin to let worries get caught up in what I perceive and what might come. Our attitude should be different: To lift up our heads, to radiate hope, and to introduce people to this hope that is in Jesus. Jesus wants us to be free from addiction and fear. The first thing we notice what Jesus says that we have to keep reminding ourselves is:
1. Worries are pointless
Jesus Says, Who Of You Can Add One Hour To Your Life By Worrying?
- Can I change my past by worrying? No
- Can worry change my future? No.
- The only thing that happens is that worries mess up my presence.
At Proverbs 12:25 we read: Worries weigh down a person’s heart. Whereas it says in Proverbs 14:30 A serene heart is the life of the body
Worries rob us of sleep.
Worries cost us strength.
Worries rob us of the dream that God has put within us.
Worries drive us to despair.
We know the saying: Worrying your head. You can see it in their faces, we can feel it in the stomach area, others carry heavy loads and have back problems. And, worry, by the way we live, can cause exactly what we fear to happen. This is called self-fulfilling prophecy and we already read it in Job: Because what I feared came upon me, and what I dreaded struck me. Job 3:25
Worrying about things that we can’t change is pointless.
And if we’re worried about things that we can change, then we should just do it. There is this beautiful saying: Lord, give me the serenity to accept things that I cannot change, the courage to change things that I can change, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
2. Worries have something to do with our treasure
Our text here begins with the word “therefore”. So he’s referring to what Jesus said before. Volker Assmann preached about this last Sunday.
And I pick up two more verses from it: Verses 21 and 24:
Where your treasure is, there is your heart too. One man cannot serve two masters. He will be devoted to one and reject the other. He will stand up for one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and Mammon at the same time. Matthew 6:21 + 24
Your thoughts revolve around what is important to you.
Jesus says there is your heart. Jesus is not concerned with the fact that we are not allowed to have property. Jesus likes to give and we can enjoy it and gratefully enjoy it. But it’s about the status. Your heart can only be in one place at a time, and if it is with something else then it cannot be with God. Think about it, what have you been worrying about lately? And I don’t mean the little worries that are quickly over, but the big things. The ones that keep coming back in your mind. Can it be that this is your real treasure in your heart? And that this is where you put your energy in life?
Jesus is talking about a second area besides the treasure, namely our basic needs that we have.
Survival, food, clothing. These were things that are elementary for the people then and for many people on our earth today. Maybe one day it will be the same for us again. Let us not forget to be grateful that we are so abundantly gifted that we do not need to worry about it. But there are also people in our country who do not know what will happen tomorrow. With the money, with the work, with the living situation. Jesus doesn’t care how you are, not just spiritually but physically. Jesus promises to take care of you. And this is my third point:
3. Worry is related to trust Jesus makes a few comparisons here.
He says: look at the birds, look at the flowers, how beautiful they are. God created them, God takes care of them and we are worth much more to him. Yes, you are worth so much to him that Jesus gave his own life for you. Because he saw that we have a much bigger problem than eating and drinking, and that is eternal separation from him. That’s why he came because he loves you. And in Romans 8:32 it says: God did not spare his own Son, but delivered him to death for all of us. Shouldn’t he give us everything else too?
Afterwards we celebrate the Lord’s Supper together, which is exactly what we want to remind us of. Even though you may not be able to see it right now, God loves you, He knows what you need, He takes care of you, and He will take care of you.
Katrin told earlier how she experienced it in her life.
- At the Bible school we were able to experience how people who hadn’t told you about their need had the amount in their mailboxes, accurate to the cent, on the day they had to pay a bill.
- A friend of mine who planted a church was given a car and a vacation.
- People in need tell how God provided them with food and drink.
- I also had to think of Georg Müller, who had an orphanage in Bristol and has seen again and again how God has provided for. One morning Georg was meeting with some of the staff when they were interrupted by one of the house mothers. She said that the children sat at their tables for breakfast, but that there was no bread in the house to give them. Georg ended the session with the words: “We will see what God does” and immediately went to the dining room. Once there, Georg said a short prayer with the children: “Dear God, we thank you for what you are going to give us. Amen.” The children sat down and waited. A moment later there was a knock. And when the door was opened, a baker was standing in front of them with three trays of the finest bread and told them that he had not been able to sleep that night and had therefore got up to bake bread for the children’s home. God had already worked long before Georg Müller had prayed. After the children were given the bread, they knocked again. A milkman broke a wagon wheel on the way in front of the orphanage.In order to repair the wheel, the heavy truckload of milk had to be unloaded. He asked if the orphanage wanted the milk for free. After the children had consumed the bread and milk, there were leftovers for the next day. There are so many stories, even today, that encourage us, and that’s why it’s so important to tell them up here too. This is another invitation to you when you have experienced something.
Jesus refers to the people who worry as of little faith.
And those who hang their hearts on the wrong things as pagans, as people who don’t really know God. Oswald Sanders writes about it, very challengingly: We are slightly inclined to dismiss the tendency to worry as a lovable little weakness that we should befriend. Jesus disagrees. For him, worry is a sin because of lack of trust. Poah. But dear ones, Jesus does not say this to judge us, but to expose, so that with his help we can become free. He died for sin, he forgave it.
Worries have something to do with trust and we can practice that.
So often we want to be in control. And worries make us feel, even if it is totally nonsensical, to have it in our own hands. But it’s about trusting God. And trust has something to do with knowing God. Therefore, after realizing that there is no point in worrying, the next step is to get to know God better. As the one who loves you, who sees you, who wants to take care of you. Worries also have something to do with the direction we are looking at
4. Worries have something to do with the direction we are looking
Jesus says: look at the birds, look at the flowers. In the previous section he talked about the importance of the eye. And in Philippians 4: 6-7 Paul tells us, and he is currently in prison, so his words get a special meaning again: Do not worry, but turn to God in every situation and bring your requests to him. Do it with thanks for what he has given you.
Then the peace of God, which far exceeds all human understanding, will keep your thinking and willing in the good, safe in communion with Jesus Christ.
Thanks again has a special function here, namely that we make ourselves aware of what God has already done in our lives.
And that shows us what God is like. And so we turn our gaze away from our worries to God, the Almighty, who loves us. There is a beautiful saying that says: It is not the lucky ones who are grateful but the thankful ones who are happy. In psychology there is the thought-stopping model that you stop your thoughts by saying “stop” out loud and then turning to something else. Psychology has tried to detach from God what the Bible has long described. But without knowing that God takes care of me, it doesn’t make much sense. We cannot prevent worries from coming. But we can decide how to deal with it. Luther once said that we cannot prevent a bird from flying over our head, but we can prevent them from building a nest on our head. How good that we can know that God loves us and cares for us and that we can tell him everything that moves us. And so he gives us another biblical anti-worry:
5. Supply has something to do with the priority of God’s kingdom
Seek first after God’s kingdom translated Luther. It’s a divine principle – if I care about God and his kingdom, then He cares about me. And it is a characteristic of a person who not only lives superficially with Jesus but where God is really the focus that he is first concerned with God’s kingdom.
Seek the kingdom of God first, which means that I get an eternal perspective.
Our life here is finite, life with God is eternal. That is why God invites you to entrust his life to him so that you may live with him forever. Volker Assmann said it last Sunday that we anchor our anchor in Jesus, who is our security. And when we get that perspective, things in this life are seen in a different light. Then they no longer have such a value that I keep revolving around them, but then God and his kingdom get value. Then I start to stand up for what is close to God’s heart.
Jesus says it is not possible to serve two masters at the same time.
He will serve one and despise the other. Either you seek the kingdom of God or something else. Andreas Hermann once said: God wants all areas of our life to come under His rule. And worry is a mark of an area in your life that is not yet under the rule of God. When we submit the areas of our lives to God, when we empty our hands, then they become open to what God wants to give us, then He can guide us and we can stop worrying.
But what if it works differently than I imagine?
There is a nice story to illustrate: A farmer lived in a village who had a horse. And because he was the only farmer in the village who had a horse, the people in the village said: “Oh, such a beautiful horse, he’s lucky!” And the farmer replied: “Who knows ?!” One day, the farmer’s horse broke out of its paddock and ran away. People said, “Oh poor farmer, now his only horse has run away. The farmer heard this and only mumbled: “Who knows ?!” A few days later, in the morning in the farmer’s paddock, the beautiful horse was seen chasing back and forth with a wild mare: she had followed him out of the mountains. The envy of the neighbors was great, who said: “Oh, how lucky he is, the farmer!”
But the farmer only said: “Who knows ?!” Then one fine summer day the farmer’s only son got on the horse to ride it. But suddenly the horse started, reared up, and the son, the farmer’s only son, fell down and broke his leg. And the neighbors cried out and said, “Oh, the poor farmer, his only son! Will he ever be able to walk properly again? Bad luck!” But the farmer only said: “Who knows ?!” Some time later the whole village was startled from sleep when, towards morning, a wild pounding ran through the streets. The ruler’s soldiers rode into the village and got all the boys and men out of bed to take them to war. The farmer’s son couldn’t go. And so many sat at home and said: “How lucky is he!” But the farmer only mumbled: “Who knows ?!”
God knows, because he leads our life and he comes with us to our goal.
As with this farmer, so also with Joseph, who goes through a similar story of ups and downs and even deeper lows and finally arrives at the goal that God has in mind for him. So everything else will fall to you. Maybe that’s different from what we wanted it to be. But isn’t that God’s guidance? Have we not prayed in the Our Father: Your will be done, even if it is different from mine? And do we think it’s good?
Jesus says there is more to life than just eating and drinking.
That man does not live from bread alone. And so many difficult paths that God allows in our lives also serve to shape us to become more like Jesus. And finally, and it is so much more difficult for us Westerners than others, because we are doing so well and we cannot imagine that there is anything better: At the beginning I talked about the many people who die of hunger. It’s a tragedy for us. And I don’t want to downplay that either.
Last year alone, according to Oxfam, the eight largest food companies worldwide paid out ten times more dividends to shareholders than the UN claims to need to stop hunger. The injustice in our world is just great. But I have read reports from people who do not speak of tragedy, but of anticipation for heaven, even if it is of course very difficult for their relatives. But what’s the difference? The perspective of eternity. That this life is not everything and that dying, as Paul writes, is a gain, because then they are allowed to be with Jesus. And we must not lose sight of this perspective in our often too brief assessment of how God leads people.
If I follow Jesus’ principle of worry and that I can only serve one master, then Corona has essentially led to three reactions, including among us Christians, and everyone can only judge for himself before God where he stands and the Holy Spirit him appeals to:
- There are some who are frozen for various reasons.
- There are the second, they brought their own sheep into the dry, as in the text, their treasure, their health, their comfort, their wealth, whatever.
- And then there are others, perhaps they have needed some time, who are striving for God’s kingdom.
- People who seek God and his closeness.
- People who pray and fast for the state in this world and for people around it.
- Who become missionary because there may not be much time left. And if it does, it’s still good.
- Who work for justice
First strive for his righteousness, that God creates a way of reconciliation but also to live God’s values in this world. We see this very clearly with the prophets in OT People who raise their voices for those who don’t have one and also urge politics to do so. How good that some churches are not simply silent during this time either. People who help others in need. How good that we took part in the relief effort for Southeast Europe. How good that our school meeting is open in this situation too.
We know more tremors are to come.
The Bible tells us about this. We don’t know when that will be and we don’t need to worry about that either. But we are noticing in the current time how much we, every single one and I too, are entangled in this world. We don’t need to go under because we have a hope called Jesus. And so we can learn at this time to submit every area of our life to God’s rule. Our hearts not to hang on to the things of this world but to strive for God’s kingdom. Passing our worries over to him because he takes care of us. To trust him and not lose sight of gratitude. Not to bury our heads in the sand, but to tell people about the hope that can be found in Jesus.
Jesus invites you this morning to entrust your life to him.
To give him your worries. To give him rulership over areas of your life that you have been holding back. The next few songs are an invitation to do that and speak to Jesus about it. And then to celebrate the Lord’s Supper with joy and gratitude as a sign that Jesus is with us, loves us, and will take care of us.