Devotion 362 – Sixteenth Sunday After Pentecost (Morning)

Opening Prayer

Lord, speak to us and help us to hear Your Word. Amen.

Text: Matthew 6:24-34

“No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon. Therefore I say to you, do not worry 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? Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature? So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. Now if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

Devotion

Our Lord Jesus speaks this to us, dear brothers and sisters, to strengthen our hearts against the temptations of covetousness and worry, so that whatever earthly situation, we can be happy and praise God. Covetousness and worry vex, grieve, and kill our life if we give them room! God does not want this to happen to us. He has the most sincere, most powerful loving care for us. That’s why He says: “Do not worry!” “O why do you worry? You should not worry yourself!” And again He says: “Therefore do not worry!” With the most powerful reasons He shows first that all our worries are unnecessary, and next, that they are useless.

We have no reason to trouble ourselves about supporting this life, for 1) life itself is the Lord’s, so shouldn’t He sustain it as long as He finds it of service? Life itself is more than food, so shouldn’t He who gave the greater things give the lesser also? Here we are reminded also of what Paul says: “He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Rom 8:32). 2) Should the One who feeds the birds and clothes the lilies forget us? Should He care for the smallest creatures and not for the most glorious, for birds who are so far below us, and for grass that in a day or two is gone forever, but not for us whom He created and redeemed for eternal life? Should birds and grass praise Him, while we are consumed with worry? 3) He is our Father, and we are His children; He has taught us to pray: “Our Father, who art in heaven.” Shouldn’t the heavenly Father care for His own children? An earthly father thinks of what his children need and he knows it is his duty to get it for them, and he doesn’t forget any of them. Shouldn’t He from whom all fatherly goodness comes remember His own children with all that they need? These words: “Your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things,” are incredibly powerful and wonderful. Your Father, your heavenly Father knows what you need. He knows it, knows your need and does not forget you. He knows that you have need of all these things, so that you can’t go without them. If you were heathens, then you could well worry, but you are the children of the heavenly Father, – children – of the heavenly – Father!

But if you are still stubbornly disobeying the Lord, so that you worry, what do you accomplish by this? Isn’t it a useless worry? If you add one cubit to your stature: will that lengthen your life? Does your heart get larger and your days richer by your worries? No, but your trouble gets bigger and can become so hard that you ?nally succumb. Every day will bring us weariness and trouble. If only we could learn this! And every day has enough trouble of its own. Whoever worries about the cares of being wealthy or fear of the future has a hard time bearing it, so that he destroys himself: he takes a cubit away from his stature.

Closing Prayer

Lord God, heavenly Father, help me to seek first Your kingdom and Your righteousness. Give me childlike confidence in You. Give me a confident mind, and give me blessing in my vocation. Do not give me treasure or riches, but apportion to me my allotted bread. Lord, You know our heart and our temptations; have mercy, and fill us early with Your mercy, so that we may sing joyfully and be happy all our days. Amen.

Hymn

A child of Jesus you are resting,
Asleep within His arms, to be
Forever in His grace now trusting,
Your mind from ev’ry care set free!
What shall you any more be fearing?
Your burdens God alone is bearing,
His faithfulness is never gone;
Your only Hope, Your only Haven,
His promise with His blood engraven,
To lead you to your heav’nly home.

How can you grieve in all your living,
And what is yours through God’s good will?
God who the first to you is giving
And even more He gives you still.
He feeds your soul with heaven’s feasting;
With Jesus’ royal robe is vesting;
He is so faithful and so kind;
Of all your needs He e’er is thinking;
From Him you never need be shrinking,
But in your God true rest may find.

Bonin: Hvad er det godt i Jesu Arme L 524:1.3 tr. DeGarmeaux;
tune: Hvad er det godt (Jensen’s Koralbog); alternate hymn: Sweet is the work ELH 469 or Our Father by whose name ELH 187

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