Seek God First

June 28, 2010

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. – Matthew 6:33

In the second and third petitions of the Lord’s Prayer we ask, “your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” These are bold and confident requests of an almighty God, requests that Jesus gave us to speak, requests truly heard by God when spoken in faith. We pray this prayer together in church on Sunday. Perhaps you say it with your family daily during the week. For as often as we make these requests, do we truly expect God to give us what we need?

The words recorded in Matthew chapter 6 are Jesus’ words. The section in which we find verse 33 was when Jesus’ commanded us saying, “Do not worry.” He points to the birds of the air that lack nothing to eat and the lilies of the field that lack nothing to wear. If God can provide for them, will he not provide even more adequately for us?

Take, for example, an unexpected tax return check. That is money that will go toward food and clothes to provide temporarily for the needs of individuals and families. That is a blessing from God, an outpouring of his grace. How he provides for us will sometimes be different from one day to the next, but he never lets us down. Past experience tells us that God will provide all the things we need. Even in the face of evil that works against God’s kingdom coming and his will being done, the Lord will provide.

So why do we worry? Why do we let evil work against us and convince us that God is not a gracious and loving God? Why don’t we seek first his kingdom and his righteousness? As you answer those questions for yourself, you will only come to recognize your inherited weakness. We worry about food and clothes, about money and relationships, about markets and mortgages because we are sinful.

Total dependence and trust in God can never come from inside us. It must come from outside us. It must come from God. By grace, God has brought us into his kingdom and sends his Spirit to rule in our hearts. God has filled us with the righteousness which Jesus won for us. And now, God never kicks us out of his kingdom nor takes away this righteousness. That is his promise, a promise that cannot be broken.

By faith, God leads us to believe that when we ask we will receive, when we seek we will find. God’s kingdom and his righteousness are there. He provides for us ever so adequately with all things: food, clothes, and all your bodily needs. He strengthens us with the ability to totally depend and trust in him.

So then, say “thanks” to the God who takes your worry away. Cut him a portion of your check, dedicate you time and energy, but most of all seek first his kingdom and his righteousness. Find him first and he will take care of the rest.

Prayer:
Savior, I long to walk
Closer with Thee;
Led by Thy guiding hand,
Ever to be
Constantly near Thy side,
Quickened and purified,
Living for Him who died
Freely for me. Amen.
(TLH 422)


Fifth Sunday after Pentecost

June 27, 2010

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Jesus Wants You in His Family

June 21, 2010

A crowd was sitting around Jesus, and they told him, “Your mother and brothers are outside looking for you.” “Who are my mother and my brothers?” he asked. Then he looked at those seated in a circle around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.” – Mark 3:32-35

What’s the difference between being a member of a softball team and being a member of a family? On a softball team, people usually have the same jerseys. In a family, people usually have the same facial features. On a softball team, you get together for an hour or two each week and then you go home. When the season is over, your relationship is likely over. But in a family, you are together for the long haul, more than just an hour or two per week. The “season” is never finished, for you are always a family member, and always will be. On a softball team, you share time pitching, hitting and fielding. In a family, you share the most exhilarating joys and the deepest of sorrows.

To summarize, the difference is this: a family relationship is deeper than a softball team relationship. “Blood runs thicker than water,” as the saying goes.

Is it inspiring for you to know that Jesus wants you in his very own family? Not just for a little while, but for the long haul. Not just a surface relationship, but a deep one. He wants to share exhilarating joys and deep sorrows with you. When we look back upon our mistakes and low points in life, we might think, “Why would God want me in his family?” We wouldn’t think that he would… but he does. No matter who you are, and no matter what you have done – Jesus wants you to be very close to him. One day he looked at a group seated around him and said, “Here are my mother and my brothers! Whoever does God’s will is my brother and sister and mother.”

All Jesus wants is for you to be baptized into his family. He wants to make you his own and give you life with God forever. And every day, as you struggle with your sinful failures, he wants you to be comforted with the peace of his forgiveness. He wants you to have the joy and confidence that he is always with you to bless you.

Membership in God’s family is even more important than membership in our human families. And Jesus alone has made that possible.

Prayer: Dear Savior, lift up my spirit as I ponder that you have made me a part of your eternal family. Amen.


Fourth Sunday after Pentecost

June 20, 2010

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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Get Some Rest

June 14, 2010

Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the LORD your God brought you out of there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm. Therefore the LORD your God has commanded you to observe the Sabbath day. – Deuteronomy 5:15

Ah, summer is here. For most of us, the summer months are a little less busy and not quite as hectic. Hopefully, you will enjoy a vacation this summer and get some extra rest for your body. I hope to take off this summer and take time to go out west. I need to relax and see different scenery. I need time to be with Margaret. It feels so good!

In the Old Testament – that long time period before Jesus’ life on earth – God wanted his people to get plenty of rest on the Sabbath day, which is our Saturday. On that last day of the week, the people of Israel were not to do any physical work. It was to truly be a Sabbath day; the Hebrew word Sabbath actually means “rest.” But God didn’t want the Israelites merely to rest physically on the Sabbath. He also wanted them to gather together for worship. When they did so, their spiritual leaders proclaimed the good news that the same God who had saved them and their forefathers from their slavery in Egypt would one day send a Savior who would save them and all people from the slavery to sin, Satan and eternal punishment in hell. That comforting message brought rest to their sin-weary and guilt-burdened souls.

It’s okay if you work on Saturday, because by dying on the cross and rising from the dead Jesus has fulfilled the Old Testament Sabbath law. By taking your damning sins upon himself and in exchange giving you his perfect righteousness, Jesus gives rest to your sin-weary and guilt-burdened soul.

Get some extra rest this summer for your soul. Open a Bible and read about Jesus and his unconditional love for you. Go to church and worship the God of all grace who for time and eternity has purchased you with his precious blood. (If you need help finding a church, use the church locator, it is on our church website under the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod. When you open it up go under directories. There you will find a Lutheran church to attend near your vacation spot.)

Enjoy your summer rest!

Prayer: Dear Jesus, your death on the cross has reconciled me to God.  I am totally forgiven for all my sins, and now by faith I can look forward to spending eternity in heaven with you and all believers.  As I read your Word and worship you this summer, bring your rest to my soul. Amen.


Third Sunday after Pentecost

June 13, 2010

Divine Service I, Page 136, Lutheran Worship

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God’s Love for Us

June 7, 2010

God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.  For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. – John 3:16-17

Is there a difference between God’s love and my love? I may think they are the same, but are they really? Do I always want the same things that God wants? Do I always share concern for others that God shares? Do I always treat people the same way that God treats me?

If this isn’t enough to reveal the difference, then I need to reconsider God’s love. My love can be filled with conditions. My love can be prompted by selfish interests. My love can be determined by my feelings of fairness. It is clear to see, my love is stained by sin. Here is the glaring difference.

When I consider what Jesus said about his Father’s love, these words stand out: unselfish, freely given, undeserved and unconditional. It is because of this love that people are saved through Jesus. It is because of this love, I am saved.

The words are so simple, yet so amazing. “God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” In order to escape the justice I brought upon myself, God sent his Son into the world to rescue me. Not only did he send him into my world, he also made him my substitute. In love, Jesus took my place under God’s holy law. He lived the perfect life I could never live. In love, Jesus took my place under God’s punishment. He died the sinless death I could never die. In love, Jesus went to Satan’s stronghold.  He descended into hell to proclaim that he set me free from death and endless tyranny.

This is the love God has lavished on me. It is the love I desperately need.

God so loved the world, and God loved me. It is a love I cherish and believe.

Prayer: Oh dearest Lord, heavenly Father, I thank you for loving me and for sending your Son to rescue me from sin and its punishment. Continue to keep me in your love until you bring me to life in heaven. Amen.