TEXT: MATTHEW 6:24-34; 1 KINGS 17:8-16; GAL. 5:25-6:10
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us form this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1)


You cannot serve God and money. The Greek word is “mammon” and it means more than money. It means also possessions, success, worldly things. You cannot serve God and mammon. Jesus spoke these words to people of lesser economic means – not economic giants. To tune out His words and apply them to others whom we consider to be “wealthy” – is to go deaf to words we need to hear. The lure of possessions is universal! No one, rich or poor is immune to the danger of serving - the things – the possessions – the stuff of this world. Jesus here - speaks also to you!

You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? The word “anxious” pops up repeatedly in the few verses of our Gospel. In much the same way real anxiety pops up repeatedly in the short span of our lives. Do not be anxious about your life…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life…do not be anxious saying, “what shall we eat…or drink…or wear?”…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.


How easily our thoughts go round and round in anxiety - in a worrisome circle. We can easily become intoxicated with this world – with its needs and demands and pursuits – and with minds intent on striving for more. We can get fretfully busy – trying to be bigger than we are. After all - you must make the right decisions at the right time in the right manner with the right outcome – or you won’t have more – more approval – more life – more security – more things. You must fill up your calendars and your coffers or you might not have enough – enough stuff - enough control –. Worry/worry/worry! 

FIFTEENTH SUNDAY AFTER TRINITY – SEPT 28, 2014
TEXT: MATTHEW 6:24-341 KINGS 17:8-16GAL. 5:25-6:10
Rev. Kenneth W. Wieting


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, who gave himself for our sins to deliver us form this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be the glory forever and ever. Amen. (Galatians 1:1)


You cannot serve God and money. The Greek word is “mammon” and it means more than money. It means also possessions, success, worldly things. You cannot serve God and mammon. Jesus spoke these words to people of lesser economic means – not economic giants. To tune out His words and apply them to others whom we consider to be “wealthy” – is to go deaf to words we need to hear. The lure of possessions is universal! No one, rich or poor is immune to the danger of serving - the things – the possessions – the stuff of this world. Jesus here - speaks also to you!


You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? The word “anxious” pops up repeatedly in the few verses of our Gospel. In much the same way real anxiety pops up repeatedly in the short span of our lives. Do not be anxious about your life…which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life…do not be anxious saying, “what shall we eat…or drink…or wear?”…do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.


How easily our thoughts go round and round in anxiety - in a worrisome circle. We can easily become intoxicated with this world – with its needs and demands and pursuits – and with minds intent on striving for more. We can get fretfully busy – trying to be bigger than we are. After all - you must make the right decisions at the right time in the right manner with the right outcome – or you won’t have more – more approval – more life – more security – more things. You must fill up your calendars and your coffers or you might not have enough – enough stuff - enough control –. Worry/worry/worry!


The Greek word for “anxious” (merimnao) could be understood as having a divided mind. One’s thoughts are pulled this way and that way and this way. Such anxiety bends us away from God’s design. In living by our own hand – in believing our anxious care will control our lot - we are always left with less than the life our heavenly Father gives. Dear Christian, Jesus here calls you back to God’s design for you. Amid all the things that trouble you – amid all the anxieties that weary you – amid all the uncertainties and weaknesses and painful struggles that frighten you – His design for you is a beautiful antidote.


Do not be anxious about your life…Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Dr. Luther noted how the birds are our preachers and teachers who put us to shame. Why? They do what God has given them to do. They leave the nest happy and bright – they sing the tune God has given them – they find their food without sowing or gathering.


Jesus is not using the life and activity of birds to speak here against work. There is a vast difference between worry and work. If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat (2 Thess. 3:10). The birds work and so must we. At home we can watch Robins and Cardinals and Flickers and Doves and Finches and Humming Birds and more. What a gift God gives in the birds He created and blessed to multiply on earth (Gen. 1: 22)! They are busy little creatures – energetically at work - doing what God has given them to do. As they follow God’s design for them they are not worried about stockpiling things. They are not anxious about the future. It is these good, restful, contented realities that God has designed you for and that Jesus calls you to with His words here. Do not be anxious about your life…Look at the birds of the air.


And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, 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. Who can recount the sinful worry and anxiety – the wasted money - that changing fads and style cause for the young? Who can tally the fretting and fussing – that dressing up or dressing down cause folks of any age? How many colorful flyers do you get – how many advertisements assault your senses – telling you that some new and different fashion is needed? So consider the Lilies. Lilies are not trying to impress anyone. Lilies don’t try to grow into trees. Lilies are not in a hurry. Lilies are what God made them to be and they live as His creation.


Concern for clothing of course can extend beyond closets bursting with clothes! It telescopes also to that which houses and shelters us from the elements – the surroundings we have – the homes we live in. How much necessary care is needed there – but also how much unnecessary worry we tack on for good measure. Why are you anxious about clothing…consider the Lilies…if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious…


Jesus also cautions us against a false understanding of His teaching about anxiety. His call not to be anxious is not a guarantee that His disciples won’t face extreme physical need. After all – in this fallen world birds do starve. Birds are devoured by predators. Lilies do dry up in times of draught. In fact they wither even in good weather after a short season of life. It is no accident that even as Jesus speaks of God clothing the grass of the field He adds, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven. Beauty fades, youth grows old, birds fall to the ground even as all creation groans in its bondage to corruption (Romans 8).


Jesus’ call for His followers not to be anxious does not deny that we live in a world of danger and drastic need and death. When Elijah asked the widow of Zarephath for a morsel of bread she had only a handful of flour and a little oil. She said…“I…go…prepare it for myself and my son, that we may eat it and die.” According to the Word of the Lord through His prophet – that jar of flour was not spent and that jug of oil not emptied. According to God’s will we still have daily bread in our cupboards and refrigerators! Yet, no matter how bountifully or how healthily we eat now - the wages of sin is death also for us.


Fellow redeemed – the beating heart of Jesus’ call for you not to be anxious is a call to trust in your heavenly Father. He calls you to consign yourself entirely into God’s hands as you do the work He has given you to do. He also calls you to rest in your heavenly Father’s gracious care when you face the death He has appointed for you. Your one care each day should be to not rob your heavenly Father of His loving care for you.


Jesus frees you from this world’s obsession with how you are doing by giving you the liberating obsession with God’s gracious doing for you! He gladdens your soul through the grace and mercy of God! Jesus calls you from flirtation with the world to faith in your Creator’s concern for you – body and soul! He will never deceive and never forsake you! Peter writes that your life is to be humbly lived – casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Pt. 5:7). Jesus calls you away from trust in your own calculation and control and to the gracious care of your heavenly Father.


O you of little faith…do not be anxious. “Little faith” is not an admonishment to somehow manufacture more faith as if you could do that. Since faith as small as a mustard seed is still able to move a mountain – Jesus’ call is rather a call to the faith you have been given – which comes through the very speaking of Christ. O you of little faith…do not be anxious…for the Gentiles seek after all these things and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all! Here is the power to lift away your worries – your heavenly Father! He cares so much for the welfare of your flesh and blood body that He sent the one speaking these words to share in it! Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. (Hebrews 2:14-15)


In effect - in Him - your heavenly Father also says that you don’t have to have a divided mind about death! Death where is your sting? Who shall separate you from the love of Christ? Nothing in all creation – including death – will be able to separate you from the love of God in Christ Jesus your Lord (1 Cor. 15; Romans 8). If the big question is answered (and it is) - if your greatest need is met for eternity (and it is) – do not be anxious (for) all these (other) things…your heavenly Father knows that you need them...


But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Beloved the kingdom of God is where Jesus is. Think of His life lived in the trust and purpose illustrated by the birds and lilies. Think of His body quietly knit together in Mary’s virgin womb! Think of a boy at play and study in Nazareth – of a youth and young man at work in a carpenter’s shop – thirty years in quietness and perfect obedience – doing in trust what he was given to do. Then He sprang forth to receive baptism for us sinners and to step forth in public ministry. His life of love and sacrificial service carried more purpose and more beauty and splendor than all the birds of the air and all the lilies of the field. He never once served two masters!


Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Rest not on the strength of your own calculation but on the counsel and consolation of the Holy Spirit. He is always bringing you more of Jesus and Jesus is at work turning you away from the worry of this earth to the Father’s love and provision. See what your heavenly Father is doing to physically clothe you so well this morning. See what the Creator of beautiful lilies is doing – clothing you in the glory of His Son’s righteousness. He arrays you in splendor today no less than on the day He baptized you into Christ and clothed you with Christ (Gal. 3:27). There are no wrinkles or tears in your holy garment!


Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. As Jesus sought the kingdom for us, there came a night when like the widow of Zarapheth Jesus prepared a last meal in preparation for His death. By His own word – not that of His prophet Elijah – the Son of God gave bread that is His body and wine that is His blood. By His own Word – spoken through those He sends out into His harvest field - the supply of His body/bread is not spent and the chalice of His wine/blood is not empty still today. Indeed – as the risen Christ comes to serve and forgive us - they will not be spent until the Day of the Lord. On the day after He prepared the Last Supper - the oven of God’s wrath burned against His beautiful life. His body was taken down from the cross and laid into a tomb – like seed into the ground.


Like lilies spring forth in their season so the seed of Jesus’ body burst forth from the burial of death in the season of resurrected life. His bodily resurrection has opened up a new season – a new creation - in which your body also will be raised immortal and imperishable. In the resurrection your body will be untouched by sin and entirely free of anxiety. That’s His certain promise and in the meantime your anxiety can add nothing to the span of your life. His atoning sacrifice and absolving love have already added eternity to it.


Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow. Tomorrow will have its own boatload of distractions, interruptions, and disappointments for sufficient for the day is its own trouble. And on this day – do not be anxious about your life…look at the birds of the air…consider the lilies of the field…and above all receive and the love your heavenly Father freely gives to you in Christ Jesus your Lord. In His Name, Amen.

Luther Memorial Chapel & University Student Center | 3833 N Maryland Ave | Shorewood, WI  53211
(414) 332-5732 |lmcusc@lmcusc.org

Divine Service: Sundays - 9:00a Mondays - 7:00p Bible Study & Sunday School: Sundays - 10:45a