PENTECOST 12, C – August 7, 2016

SCRIPTURES – Genesis 15:1-6; Hebrews 11:1-16; Luke 12:22-34

Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. (Luke 12)

 

            Last week I commented on how remarkable it is that our readings from the Bible, which are from 2,000 – 3,000 or more years old, are so fresh and fitting for our day. So it is again today! Consider Jesus’ words: “Fear not, little flock… do not be anxious about your life…” Why does He say this? Well, because we do fear and worry!

 Now, sure, our worries may have changed. Most of us do not really worry about whether we will have enough to eat or to drink. What to have for dinner, and whether to eat out or cook at home is more our concern. But: what if you lost your cell phone, or your laptop or iPad?  What if you hadn’t backed them up and couldn’t recover your phone numbers and files? What if your identity was stolen? Oh, you’d worry then!

 Why do we worry? Well, there are many dangers in our world, and many evil people around! But, you know something? They were also around when I was a young boy, but I didn’t worry about them then. Most little children are not anxious about their lives! Jesus wants you to be like them. When He tells His people to not worry He makes a subtle switch in His vocabulary which indicates this.

 When Jesus spoke of the birds and the flowers – “Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them… Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” – He spoke in general terms: God feeds them… God clothes the grass.” But, when He spoke of us, His followers, He no longer spoke generically of God. No, to us He says: your Father knows what you need… it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Your Father: this is who God is for you who listen to and rest your hope on Jesus! This blessed relationship is what you should focus upon. God is your Father; knowing this will help to ease your fears!

 Ah, but rejoicing in this relationship, being happy with being children of your Father in heaven: this is difficult. With God as your Father you must think and do the opposite of the way our world thinks and does.

Ø  In this world you’ve “made it” and succeeded when you have enough money and control to be self-sufficient. And so, utter dependence upon anyone, even God, is spoken against and discouraged. “Think for yourself and follow your own dreams and desires” – this is what you must do! Jesus says we are children. With your heavenly Father you’ve “made it” – you please Him – when you realize your utter dependence upon Him and so are glad to listen to and follow Him.

Ø  In this world you have to seek your own advantage and not set aside and forget the wrongs that have been done to you. You’ll be taken advantage of and suffer loss if you do so! Jesus commands you to forgive those who sin against you and even treat them as better than you. You are to serve them, even before they deserve this, emulating His serving of you!

How different is the way of Christ, the way of faith! It is certainly difficult in this life and world. But, do not worry! Worry is letting this life and world, and not your life as a child of your heavenly Father in Christ, fill your heart and mind.

 God is your good Father in Jesus! Remember this, and fix this in your mind and heart. Keep your eyes upon Jesus and think deeply and often upon His words, and He will help you to entrust your life to your good Father and always trust in Him.

 Take to heart what Jesus says this morning: “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” Your Father in heaven is not a grudging or cheap giver. He not only generously provides for all creatures; He gladly gives to you, His children! There’s a great difference between simply providing and gladly giving.

Ø  I remember a December years ago, when my girls were little. I had been away on a trip and was heading home. I stopped in a store to look for musical snow globes with Christmas scenes in them. I carefully chose one for each of the girls, knowing how happy they would be when they received them! Now, I provided for all of their daily needs: food, clothing, a home, etc. But, it was my good pleasure to pick out these special gifts for them. They were a special sign of my love!

 

God provides for us so abundantly in this life. “Food and drink, clothing and shoes, house and home…” – Martin Luther in his Small Catechism provides for us an extensive list of God’s provisions in his explanation of the words in the Lord’s Prayer, “Give us this day our daily bread.” He provides even to people who do not acknowledge Him or thank Him. How good He is!

 The greatest evidence of His giving love is His good pleasure in giving you His kingdom in His Son. In this He reveals Himself to be your good Father, for He sacrifices greatly – He gives His Son into your sin and death and hell – to rescue you from them and take you as His child. In His Son your Father gives you His eternal kingdom, in which you will no longer be subject to but will share in His rule over sin and death and every evil and evildoer!

 Set aside your worries and fears and trust in your Father’s love for you in Jesus. Receive Him and God’s kingdom as He gives it to you in His Gospel and Sacraments. This is how you “provide yourself with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys.” Just as faith sees more in Jesus than is evident to the eye – His death on the cross is actually our life, the forgiveness of our sins – so faith sees His kingdom present in His Word that is read and preached and His Sacraments that are given out. For, they bring us Christ, and He is God’s kingdom, God’s treasure.

 “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” Yearn for these gifts of God and seek them first in your life. Gladly receive them and the treasure of Christ within them, and you can look forward without fear to the Father’s coming kingdom! In the blessed name of Jesus. Amen.