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Sunday, August 7 - St. Luke 12:22-34

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Posted: Saturday, September 3rd, 2016 by Pastor Westgate

What’s your favorite pastime? People argue whether America’s favorite pastime is football or baseball. The correct answer here in western PA seems to be: Steelers. Perhaps, since the Summer Olympics are underway, one could argue that’s our favorite pastime. A couple months ago Oakmont might have voted for the U.S. Open. But are any of them really our favorite pastime?

I doubt it. Not everyone likes sports. Can you think of something else? Getting jealous? No; we all get jealous, but maybe not that often. How about vacation? Not quite; we’re usually glad to get home. Sleep? No, you can’t sleep forever, nor do you want to; you’d miss too much! We could keep coming up with stuff, but we’d still find a reason to say they aren’t our favorite pastime.

So what’s our favorite pastime? Think of something we all do – we were taught back in catechism class not to do it, but we all do it anyway. What is it that every one of us does, waking or sleeping, watching sports or reality TV or nothing at all? What is it? You heard your Lord say to you: “Don’t be anxious.” Call it anxiety or call it worry, we all do it, we do it at a moment’s notice, we do it well, and it’s hard to stop. We do it when we (or a loved one) get sick or lose a job. We definitely do it during election season! We even do it when a pastor leaves. We do it all the time.

But what exactly is Jesus telling us not to do? We use these words, worry and anxiety, but do we really know what they mean? Why does that matter? Well, the meaning of the words may tell us why Jesus doesn’t want us to worry or be anxious. The meaning may show us how these things break the complete and utter trust God desires us to have in Him.

In today’s Gospel, you are anxious, not when you can’t wait for something – and we often use the word way (you were anxious, that is, couldn’t wait, for the new pastor to get here) – but you are anxious when your mind fills with distress because you’re afraid of some danger or misfortune. You worry when you torment yourself with or suffer from disturbing thoughts, when you let your cares and anxieties torment you.

So what’s the big deal? That’s just human, right? What’s so wrong about it? Well, who wants to torment you? Certainly not God. He wants to bless you. True, He doesn’t give you everything you want, and He doesn’t always make things go the way you want them to, but afterwards, even if you have to wait for the life of the world to come, you find out His way is always the best way.

So who wants to torment you? – and I’m pretty sure no human wants torment. Satan wants to torment you. He wants you to worry. He wants you to get anxious about things. He wants you to let your anxiety get the best of you so you’ll stop trusting God. Anxiety/worry replaces trust in God. And Satan has a long history of over 6000 years of doing this to people.

He was doing it to Abram in today’s Old Testament reading. God had told Abram He would make a great nation out of him and that in him all the nations of the earth would be blessed. He even told him his descendents would inherit the land of Canaan. But when we get to Genesis 15, he still had no kids! So he was worrying about how the promise would be fulfilled. Seems natural. But what was he doing? He was afraid God wouldn’t or couldn’t keep His promise. So if Abraham, our great father in the faith could fall into this sin, you can too, who Jesus calls “you of little faith.” And since that is you, you should expect the devil to come after you with all sorts of worries and cares. His goal? Break your trust in God so completely you’ll never go back to Him.

So what’s the answer to your worry, to your anxieties and cares and concerns? Jesus told you not to be anxious, and He gives us the answer to your anxiety too. When the devil tempts you to get anxious, Jesus says to you: “Seek your heavenly Father’s kingdom. Be filled with an unfailing treasure in heaven.”

So what is that treasure? What is that kingdom? It’s actually not a “what” at all. It’s a Who. It’s Jesus. There’s no greater treasure than Jesus. He’s worth far more than all the money that will pour into Heinz Field this year. He’s worth far more than the net worth of all Oakmont. He’s worth far more than your life and your clothing and food. What is He worth? To you He’s worth eternal life.

Jesus is worth eternal life to you. He’s not worth a set amount of money. Not a cent we put in the plate can buy His favor. For you are purchased not with gold or silver, but with His holy, precious Blood and His innocent Suffering and Death. He won eternal life for you when He died on The Cross. He shed His Blood to wash away all your sins. And when sin is washed away, all your causes to worry are washed away too.

How can that be? If you had no sin, nothing could make you worry! Everything would go right for you and everyone else. Nothing would ever go wrong. You would have paradise and utopia here and now. But instead you have sickness and injury and death and trouble and all sorts of wickedness and sin. Worst of all, you have your sin – your sin, that leads you to worry by making you realize you can’t fix the things that go wrong; and then it makes you wish you could or think nobody can fix it or that things will always go wrong if you can’t, O you of little faith.

So when you start to worry, what should you do, O you of little faith? In that little faith look to The Cross, trust Christ, and live! For there you see God’s answer to your troubles in life. There you see God’s answer to your sin. There you see God’s answer to everything that goes wrong. There you see God making everything right again. There in all that deepest gloom you see everlasting joy breaking forth to destroy sorrow and worry. There you see God crushing the devil and breaking the old evil foe’s stranglehold on this life. There you see God provide. He provides you the forgiveness of sins and life everlasting. You need nothing more than that.

God provides. Since He gives you eternal life, He won’t forget to provide you what you need for this life. He provided Abram with a son, Isaac. He has provided you with a pastor. He has not left you without clothing or food or home or family. You have everything you need for this life. More importantly, you have the promise of everlasting life. When it looks like nothing will go right, hold onto Jesus’ promise that this old sinful, wicked, distressing life will be replaced by the new, sinless, trouble-free life everlasting. Sin, death, and Satan will be banished from you forever, and you will have holiness, perfection, and Christ forever.

That’s why you don’t need to worry. You have Jesus. He promises to work all things out for you because He died for you. So when worry grabs hold of you, look to Him. Look to His Cross. There you see God crushing the one who created worry. When you get anxious, see Him suffering for you. For if God has suffered for you and come out alive and well, then your suffering must end too. And when the devil tries to drag you into his kingdom, remember that you belong to Him Who made The Cross His eternally victorious throne. You belong to The Crucified King Who now reigns in heaven. Your troubles must end. Eternal life awaits you.

Categories: Pastor Westgate's Sermons

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