SERMON ON THE MOUNT: Bright Eyes   Matthew 6:19-34

That was good worship, wasn’t it?  But it stirred this question in me.  We’re singing “This is My Father’s World,” right?  We see the sunrise, that he spoke into existence, that shouts for joy as it dances it’s way across the sky.  This is my Father’s world, and yet, I don’t know about you, but there’s time when I open my news app and think, “God, this is a weird world for you to own.”  Sometimes You’re way, way, way distant.  Sure, the mountains praise and declare your glory, but where are you when. . . .fill-in-the-blank?  Sometimes the darkness seems to hide His face, does it not?  There are times when the wrong seems oft so strong; one of the reasons we gather together is to say He is the ruler yet.  Amen?  So we gather today for a different vision of the world we live in, not one that’s less real, but one that’s more real.  Not one that’s less observant, but one that’s more observant.  To recognize that even in the midst of the darkness, our God is at work, and if we lose sight of that, it will dramatically shape the way that we live.  So all throughout the Scriptures, the God of heaven commands his people to live in such a way that they recognize that He’s not distant, but that He’s present.  He gives us commands and he gives us instruction that aligns with that reality.

So all throughout the Sermon on the Mount, we’ve been talking about a different way of life.  We’ve been talking about a way of wisdom, Jesus’s wisdom.  Sometimes Jesus’s wisdom feels crazy, does it not?  Love your enemies.  Pray for those that persecute you.  Do good to those who wrong you.  Rid your life of anger.  I’ve been searching for an easy message in the Sermon on the Mount and I haven’t found one yet.  Here’s the reason why. . .when God presents his kingdom and his kingdom ethic, it flies in the face of our kingdom.  If we want to hold onto our kingdom, we’re going to reject the Jesus kingdom.  In order to accept the Jesus kingdom, the kingdom of God or the kingdom of the heavens, we’ve got to let go of our own kingdom and—look up at me for a second—that’s hard for us!  It goes against the grain of everything inside of us that wants to hold on.

Throughout time, God has been inviting his people to be a different kind of people and, because of that, He’s given them different commandments that, at times, feel really, really strange and really, really weird.  Please open your Bible to Deuteronomy 15:1-3.  Let me show you one such commandment that Jesus alludes to in the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew 6.  I want to lay some ground work for us.  Jesus is going to give an allusion, a wink and a nod to something every Torah-observing Jew would have understood.  They would have known this is what he was talking about.  It was an interesting commandment given to the nation of Israel, and one we cannot find anywhere on record that they actually obeyed.  So the nation of Israel does what we often do with what we feel or deem to be crazy laws. . . .we ignore them, don’t we?

Just so you know, there’s a few of them out there still.  In the United States, there’s some really, really strange laws that are still on the books.  You’re legally bound to them, we just ignore them.  Did you know that in Connecticut it’s illegal to sell a pickle that will not bounce?  True story.  Did you know that in Georgia it is illegal to eat fried chicken with utensils?  In Arkansas, it’s illegal to mispronounce the name “Arkansas.”  In Colorado, we have a number of very, very strange laws still on the books.  Did you know that it’s illegal to lend your vacuum cleaner to your next-door neighbor?  You can lend it to somebody a few doors down, but not your next-door neighbor.  Did you know that in Logan County, Colorado, it’s illegal for a man to kiss a woman while she’s sleeping?  Did you know that in Alamosa it is illegal for you to shoot a missile at a car?  Now, a house or a building. . . .feel free, but a car. . .that’s where we draw the line.

So what do we do with weird laws?  We ignore them.  Same thing the Israelites did.  Here’s their weird law.  God says that every seven years I want you to erase all the debts.  We’re zeroing out every account after seven years.  It’s called the Sabbath year.  If somebody owes you something after seven years, zero it out.  As someone who has a mortgage on his house, I go wow, that doesn’t sound all that bad; let’s practice THAT law. As somebody who helps oversee three different businesses—a preschool, a coffee shop, rental property—we have this thing on our books called accounts receivable.  It’s money people owe us.  It would absolute wreck the fiber of our economy if every seven years we went, no, you know, it’s good.  So I started to think what I would do if I was in this culture.  Probably what I’d do is when it got close to seven years, I’d stop lending money.  I’d cut my losses.  I’d shut it down.  Generosity is for year one of the seven years, not year seven!

In Deuteronomy 15, God sees me coming and he sees you coming.  He says to the people as they get ready to walk into the Promised Land, after he’s given the command that after every seven years zero out the accounts. . . .he starts to see what people might start to do in response to that command—the loophole.  Verse 7 — If among you, one of your brothers should become poor, in any of your towns within your land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart or shut your hand against your poor brother, but you shall open your hand to him and lend him sufficient for his need, whatever it may be. Take care lest there be an unworthy thought in your heart and you say,  {God is going to say that there’s a way to look at the world that sees Him in it and there’s a way to look at the world that doesn’t.  We need to pay attention to the rhythms of our heart and the way that we see the people around us, because he says there could be an unworthy or a disingenuous or an evil thought in your heart which will change the way you see the people around you.  Here’s the way he says it.}  The seventh year, the year of release is near, and your eye look grudgingly on your poor brother, and you give him nothing, {Because it’s so close to the cancelling of debts, which in some ways we’d go that’s just wise.  Jesus goes no, that’s just stingy.}  ….and he cry to the Lord against you, and you be guilty of sin.  

If you go back and read verses 4-6, here’s what you find.  You find that as God gets ready to lead his people into the Promise Land, he promises them blessing, and he promises them favor, and he promises them good.  His blessing and his favor and his good is designed to cause them to open up their lives and their hearts to change the way they see the people around them, so that they’re not stingy but generous.  What God says is if “your eye look grudgingly on your brother. . .”  How many of you have hear the term ‘an evil eye?’  This is where we get it (Deuteronomy 15).  Jesus, in the Sermon of the Mount, is going to pick up this allusion and he’s going to talk about it in regards to the way that we look at the world and the way that we look at our stuff.  Look at what he says in Matthew 6:22-23 — The eye is the lamp of the body.  So, if your eye is healthy (unified or whole), your whole body will be full of light, {The way that you see the world impacts your entire being.} but if your eye is bad, your whole body will be full of darkness.  If then the light in you is darkness, how great is the darkness!   If you see the world as a dark place, as an evil place, as a wrong place, it’s going to change the way you see everything.  Here’s what Jesus is saying:  Seeing God in the world changes the world we see.

This has been the drum he’s been beating all throughout this section in the Sermon on the Mount.  Our last two messages have framed the way that we often do religious works to receive the applause of men.  The way we pray in order to receive the applause of people.  At the end of every refrain, Jesus says this statement — After talking about giving, he says “your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you.”  After talking about prayer, he says “and your Father who sees you in secret will reward you.”  Verse 18, after talking about fasting, he says “and your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”  Jesus is essentially, in this passage, is asking your Father sees you in public and in secret. . . .do you see Him?  

There’s two ways to see the world:  There’s the way of darkness.  There’s also a way of light.  We either see the world through a lens of light, or we see the world through a lens of darkness.  Let me say it like this:  Jesus wants us to have a different perspective on the world that we live in. {Slide:  Scarcity <— PERSPECTIVE —> Abundance} One that’s shaped not with a narrative of scarcity.  Do you know what I mean by that?  It’s possible to look at the world—and it’s a dark way to look at the world—and we essentially see the world as a pie and it’s divided into a certain amount of parts.  If somebody else gets something good, it means that I didn’t get it.  If someone gets the job, that’s one less job for me.  If someone gets engaged, that’s one less person on the market for me.  If someone gets accepted to the school, well, there’s only so many spots available at the school.  This is a narrative of looking at the world where we see the world as a scarce place.  It was what God was condemning in Deuteronomy 15.  He’s going no, no, no, God is present, God is good, God is here, and He’s blessing and He’s giving favor.   You’ve got to see it so you don’t slip into a narrative of scarcity.

Here’s the way you can often see a narrative of scarcity show up in your life.  Is it hard for you to celebrate when other people are blessed?  When someone else gets the job, can you say, “I’m really happy for you,” without in the back of your mind saying, “I’d be happier for ME?”  When someone gets accepted to the school, without thinking well, there’s one less spot for me?  Have you ever had somebody say to you, when something good happened, something like, well, it must be nice to catch all the breaks?  It’s a narrative of scarcity.  There’s only a limited number of joy and happiness and goodness and blessing, and we’re running out, and because you got some of it, it means that I didn’t.

Luckily for us, there’s another way of seeing the world.  It’s the way of seeing the world through what Jesus is going to call ‘light or bright eyes.’  We see that God’s at work.  We see that love and joy and peace and grace are present in abundance, that this world is teeming with his goodness, if we have the eyes to see it, and the heart to align with it.  So that we can genuinely say to the people around us, when something good happens to them, “I’m really happy for you.”  So that we can say to the churches around us, when they grow and they explode and tons of people come to faith in their churches, we can genuinely as a church say, “We are so happy that your church is exploding and growing,” without the check in our gut of going, I wish it was ours!  When someone gets engaged, gets married, you can say, “I’m real happy for you.”

I can remember when my first son was born and I held him in my arms for the first time.  My heart just exploded.  I immediately fell in love with that kid and knew that regardless of what he did or where he went that my heart would always be FOR him.  About his first birthday, we found out that we were having a second child.  My first thought was, “I don’t know if I could love another person as much as I love that kid!”  Any parent ever thought that?  It’s hints of scarcity, isn’t it?  There’s only so much of me to go around, and I’m not sure that I’m going to be able to love them as much as I love the first.

Do we see the world through a narrative of scarcity or abundance?  {Look up at me for a second.}  If you see the world through a narrative of scarcity, your life will be riddled with fear.  But if we’re able to embrace a Jesus perspective—an eye full of light because this world is God-bathed (as Dallas Willard said) and a perfectly safe place for us to be, even when it feels unsafe—if we’re able to grasp THAT perspective of life, instead of fear being our dominant narrative, we’ll actually be able to live a life of peace.  We all want that, don’t we?

Jesus goes on in this passage to tease out for us what a life of trust, what a life of faith, what a life of kingdom, what a bright-eyed life looks like.  He does that by addressing the way we treat our stuff.  Here’s what he says (Matt. 6:19) — Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, {Quick timeout.  When you think ‘treasure,’ think anything that you would want to keep, anything that you’d want to protect, anything that you feel like is going to add value or worth to your life.}  where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.  

So what does it look like to have bright eyes?  To have a perspective of the world that sees God in the world, that changes the way that we see the world, so we operate in abundance, not scarcity.  Here’s what starts to happen—our perspective always shapes our pursuit, Jesus says. {Slide:  Earthly (treasure) <– PURSUIT –> Heavenly (treasure)}You’re going to be pursuing one of two things.  All of us are treasure hunters.  We’re all looking for things that we can build our life into, that will add value, that will add worth, that will add goodness to it, that will increase our enjoyment of the world around us.  You do not know a person who is not hunting treasure.   What Jesus says is is not that you can decide whether you’re a treasure hunter or not. . . .you are!  The question is what type of treasure are you searching after?  He says that there are two types of treasure.  You can search for treasure that’s on earth or treasure that’s epitomized by heaven.  Here’s what he means; he sort of defines it for us.

Earthly treasures have two things in common.  They all wear out.  This weekend must have been universal garage sale weekend, wasn’t it?  I drove through a number of different communities, and saw Facebook posts, and I think that this weekend was like, Jesus said you should have a garage sale on this weekend and a lot of people did, right?  I started to think about all the stuff in my house.  I think I started to think about this AFTER my son jumped on our couch and broke it.  I started to think, “All of the stuff in my house is going to end up in one of three places.”  We have two or three heirlooms that we might pass on to our kids.  {Kelly says not even.}  Either that or, if it does survive the onslaught of my children, we’ll sell it in a garage sale some day.  Or, it will end up in a landfill.  Everything in my house—one of three areas.  Everything in your house—one of three areas.  Jesus says listen, let’s just step back from the chaos of accumulation and consumption and ask a few questions. Is it worth us pouring our lives into things that will not last?

We were at Mount Hermon a few weeks ago.  On the very last night, they have this Victory Circle.  It’s a time where people stand up and say what God has done during the week.  I was struck by one man, a little bit older than me.  I found out he had kids that were about my kids’ ages.  He stood up and said, “This is one of the first times our family has just taken time to be together.  My work pace is so crazy that one of my kids asked me this week, ‘When you retire will we be able to do more stuff like this?'”  All of us can slip into this pattern, it’s so easy, it’s so natural, which is why Jesus wants to address it head on. He wants us to wrestle with it — where am I putting my life?  What am I building my life into?  If it’s just stuff, eventually moths and rust are going to destroy it, or a garage sale is going to have it.  Jesus says there’s a second option — it might just get stolen.  Either way, what’s his point?  It’s not worth it.

These are the things—the earthly treasures—we often look to for two things:  security and pleasure.  Jesus is going you’re not going deep enough, because there’s more.  You don’t long enough.  As C.S. Lewis says:  “You’re content on making mud pies in the ghetto, when a vacation at the sea is being offered to you.”  Long for more.  Jesus calls ‘the more’ heavenly treasure.  You can think of it in two ways.  One, it’s a maybe a geographic location, the treasure is “store,” but I think it’s more helpful to recognize that what Jesus is talking about is not just throwing treasure up to heaven, but bringing the treasure of heaven down to earth.  So the question is what type of treasure is in heaven?  The God of the universe, who has everything he could ever dream of, and if he doesn’t have it, he just creates it, what does he treasure?  What does God treasure?  In Deuteronomy 32:9, says that God’s portion—his treasure—is people.  What does God treasure?  God treasures people.  For us to build a life that’s grounded on treasure in heaven, is to build a life around love of God and love of people.  To build a life around communion with God, learning to live in the presence of God—which, by the way, is what you’ll be up to for all of eternity.  Learn to live in his presence and enjoy his presence.  Not just when we get there someday, but so that we can enjoy it when we do get there.

Jesus ends with this little mic drop—Jesus out—sound bite and he says, “Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.”  Whatever you’re chasing you’re becoming like.  The psalmist will write it Psalm 115:8 that those who make idols and those who worship idols (those who bow down to them), they eventually become like them.  You become whatever you chase. 

Jesus goes on — No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve God and money.    Who has a different word for ‘money?’  Yeah, mammon.  Mammon was the Aramaic term that Jesus spoke, and when Matthew translated Jesus’s Aramaic Sermon on the Mount into Greek, he left this word as ‘mammon.’  Why?  Presumably because there was a lot of weightiness that surrounded this word.  It didn’t just mean money.  It meant possessions, but it meant possessions that we often bow down to and look for purpose from.  Matthew, when he writes his story about the life of Jesus, leaves it like that.  It’s almost as though it were a god.  We make the same point by saying well, the ‘Almighty Dollar.’  Like we’re bowing down to it like the Almighty God.  One comedian said, “We joke about money because we are all too aware of its power: ‘Money talks,’ he said, ‘but what it mostly says to me is, “Good-bye!”‘”

Jesus’s point is we always serve what we pursue.  So our perspective shapes our pursuit, and our pursuit eventually becomes our master. {Slide:  Money <– MASTER –> God} Everybody has a master.  There’s no such thing as a master-less human being.  You follow something.  You bow down to something.  The question is is it something that’s going to bring you life, because your master will lead you to one of two places.  Your master will either lead you into prison or it will lead you into freedom, but it will do one of those two things.  So Jesus says listen, if you have a perspective of this world, if you miss me in this world, and you see this world through the lens of scarcity, all you’re going to do is chase treasure that you can touch and see because you think it will add security and value to your life, and you’re going to chase after money because you feel like it’s going to do something for you, and it’s going to become your master and you’re going to bow down and you’re going to worship it, and you’re going to lose out on the greater things in life.

As an aside — Jesus is not down on saving.  He’s not down on retirement.  He’s not down on planning.  He’s just down on trusting your savings, or trusting your retirement, or trusting your planning.  In 2008, the bottom fell out. . . .for many people!  What was revealed was maybe we’ve trusted in the wrong things.  Jesus isn’t down on any of those things, he just simply wants to say that there’s a perspective of the world, seeing the world, seeing the world through the light of the eyes, that allows us not to see a world of scarcity but to see a world of abundance.  When we see a world of abundance, we can chase after the Jesus-y, kingdom-y things in, this life.  And then, when we chase after those things, God in heaven becomes our God, and our life is aligned with his heart and his way.

We tracking?  Just a quick timeout.  Let’s just take a deep breath and think if there’s any place that we see in our perspective—-scarcity instead of abundance.  In our pursuit—-trusting in earthly things rather than the ethos of heaven—love of God, love of people.   Have those things become our master?  Everybody has a master; it’s one of those two things.  Which is it for us?

If you’re going, “Hey, Jesus, that’s really interesting, that’s really great, but what do we do with this?”  He’s like, “I’m so glad you asked that question!”  Here’s what we do with this—just keep reading, because here’s what He says (Matt. 6:25-32) — Therefore I tell you, {So in light of a different perspective that leads to a different pursuit that leads to a different master…}  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?  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?  And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?  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.  But 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, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?”  For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 

There’s times I read the Bible and go, “Hey, Jesus, are you just burying your head in the sand?”  There’s a lot that we can be worried about in this world.  There’s a lot of things that should maybe cause our hearts to go, man, God, I’m not sure how that’s going to turn out.  I did a little bit of study just in case you weren’t worried when you walked in the door.  Here’s what some people are worried about:  their health; is it going to hold up?  Another thing people worry about:  finances; is it going to work out?  Things that cause worry in people’s lives:  stress from work, stress from school.  Things that cause worry in people’s lives:  relationships or the death of a loved one.  In Jesus’s teaching, are we really just suppose to. . . .Therefore, do not worry. . . . .Okay!  Put that on our task list every morning—Don’t worry.  Check.  Done.  What next?  Is it really that easy?  Is it that simple?

To worry is to be, literally, divided, to be pulled in different directions.  It’s in opposition to what Jesus talked about in having a healthy eye.   A healthy eye is unified, it sees God and it changes the way they see the world.  It sees Him in everything and a worried eye is pulled in a bunch of different directions.   I heard somebody say: “Worry is putting a down payment on a problem you never had.”

Jesus is teaching that there’s this progression.  Your perspective shapes your pursuit and determines your master.  Your master will always determine the health of your soul.  {Slide:  Worry –> SOUL <– Confidence} What He wants to teach us is how to live with what Edwin Friedman—a great leadership and psychologist, author who passed away and wrote a book in the late ’90s called “A Failure of Nerve”—-called a non-anxious presence.  That’s what Jesus is inviting us to, not this pie-in-the-sky, ‘everything’s going to turn out great’ mentality, but a settled conviction that even in the storms and trials of life, my God is present and He’s here.  Though the wrong seems oft so strong, He is the ruler yet.  What worry often expresses is not the conviction that God. . . . .though the wrong seems oft so strong, You are the ruler yet.  What worry really is is a conviction that I need to—you might want to write this one word down to epitomize and illustrate worry—CONTROL everything around me.  I need to control what people think of me.  I need to control the future.  I need to control where this thing goes.  Can I just point out how little you do have control over your life?  Let me illustrate it with one simple point:  Every person in this room could get ONE phone call that could dramatically change their entire life.  So, how much control do you really have??

What Jesus wants to do in this passage is NOT, is not, give you more reason to worry.  What he actually wants to do is to point out how ridiculous worry actually is.  So he says here’s what you want to do. . . .if you’re feeling worried, here’s the Jesus-way of freeing your life from worry.  He says, verse 26, why don’t you. . . .Look at the birds of the air.  Why don’t you just go outside and for a few seconds, look at the birds and check them out?  What Jesus is not saying is just sit on your hands and hope for the best.  Jesus could not have picked a busier animal.  Birds. . . .work. . . .HARD!  They just don’t worry.  Birds are way too dumb to worry!  But, hey, hey, hey, we are way too smart to trust sometimes, aren’t we?  So he says why don’t you take a look and be more observant actually—not less—more observant of the world you live in.  Jesus is so intuitive here.  He knows that when we fail to see God in the world and we see the world as a world of scarcity rather than abundance, it starts to shape our souls.

Just a quick timeout.  Jesus is talking—and you can see it a number of different places here—about the concerns of WHAT we eat and WHAT we wear, not IF we eat and IF we wear.  It’s an important distinction.

But he says, hey, how about this too?  Why don’t you look at the lilies of the field and, in verse 28:  Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin…   They’re not working so hard so that they can look so beautiful.  What’s going on?  The fertilizer of their heavenly Father is causing them to bloom into something absolutely gorgeous!  So he’s talking about what we not only. . .not only. . .the way that we look at the world around us—in this idea of gathering and accumulating wealth—but he’s also talking about our physical lives.  How much of our life is consumed with worry about our physical appearance?  I wish I was a little bit taller.  How many of you in wishing you were taller actually grew?  How many of you who wished you had more hair on the top of your head, actually saw it happen because you worried?  How many of you who worried about how much you weighed, lost weight?  Me neither!  Jesus’s teaching is so practical because he wants to say two things to us:  Worry is unnecessary.  Your God knows what you need, he says.  You have way more value than the lilies of the field and He’s taking care of them.  He’s going to care of you.  Worry pretends to be necessary, but it actually serves no purpose!  None!  It’s unnecessary.

It’s also unhelpful!  Jesus ends verse 34 by saying listen, tomorrow has enough trouble of its own.  Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself.  It’s as though he’s saying man, tomorrow may be terrible but you can’t do anything about it today!  Thanks for the encouragement, Jesus.  But really he’s saying, “How’s that working out for you?”  I think he’s echoing what Corrie ten Boom so brilliantly said: “Worry does not empty tomorrow of its trouble, it empties today of its strength.”  Edwin Friedman wrote in that same book, “A Failure of Nerve”  —- “A major criterion for judging the anxiety level of any society is the loss of its capacity to be playful.”  So we lose our capacity for strength (ten Boom says) and Friedman says we lose our capacity for joy.   Jesus says yeah, look up at me.  How’s worry working out for you?  It’s not productive.  So how about this?  How about instead of worry, you shaped your life around this settled confidence that in the good seasons and in the bad, in the sunshine and in the rain, on the mountaintop and in the valley, my God is present.  He knows what I need.  He’s my good shepherd, even when it’s painful.  Oh hey, this just in—what are my other options?  That’s what Jesus wants us to shape our lives around.

Here is your other option:  But seek first {That doesn’t mean to chronologically put it above everything else, but seek in a unified manner.} the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.  The solution is not simply stop worrying.  It’s to redirect our lives and our vision and our mind, as apprentices to Jesus, to a proper heart orientation that lends us to a different pursuit that leads us to a different master that eventually shapes a different kind of soul.  If you figure your life to genuinely aim at the kingdom—love of God, love of people, the effective reign of Jesus in your life, in your home, in your neighborhood, and in your workplace—if you shape your life around that, the things you need to survive and thrive will deliver themselves to you.

What does a life of non-anxious presence look like?  It means that we move from being anxious—pulled in a bunch of different directions—to attentive.  Maybe this week you actually do go look at the birds and do consider the lilies of the field.  Maybe you do that.  It’ll shape your soul.  What if we weren’t so consumed with the god of mammon. . .that we had to hoard and scrape and claw because this world is a world of scarcity, but actually saw the world as a world of light and abundance?  You know what would happen?  We would be freed to be generous.  What if you practice that this week?  What if you went to your bank and took out $60.00 and you had it in small denominations, you put it in your back pocket and this week you just looked for little ways to bless as many people as you could?  Maybe you pay for a cup of coffee?  What if we move from this position of I’ve got to hoard and scrape and claw to a position of generosity?  What if?  What if we started to seek the kingdom and instead of being consumers—every ad on TV and every print ad you see in a magazine and everything you read is designed to make you a consumer of something—of more stuff, you started to be a steward with your life, with your time, with your home, and your relationships?  What if you started to be a steward?  The reality, friends, is that an unshakable life is built on an immovable kingdom.  Jesus invites us to build our lives on that such kingdom.

On Monday afternoon, somebody from our church body (her name is Pamela) came to see me.  She had just come from the doctor to try to figure out if she had cancer.  That was on Monday.  On Friday, she’d found out that she’d lost her job.  In the midst of all of that, her son’s health is struggling.  She stopped in my office and we spent some time praying together.  I said, “Ironically, Pamela, I’m teaching on Jesus’s teaching about being worried.”  She said, “I’m trying so hard to not be worried, but I’m just worried.”  I started to ask the question: what do we do when we don’t want to be worried but we’re worried?   We spent some time praying and talked about what worry actually does.  I think that’s the setting that we have to find our answer to what do we do with this text?  What do we do with it?

Here’s what we do — We step back and we remember that this is a God-bathed world, that He’s the Lord, that He’s the Lover, that He’s the Shepherd, that He’s the King, and it does not mean that everything—hear me on this—is like a genie in a bottle and everything turns out the way we hope it will.  It doesn’t.  But it means that He’s present and it means that He walks with us.  It means that He’s good, even in the valley of the shadow of death.  When we can say, “God, I see you in this world,” it changes the world that we see and we give Him space to move and to work and to breathe life into things that are dead.  It’s a disposition, not of control, but of trust.

As we come to the table this morning, would you come to the table with bright eyes?  Would you come knowing that Jesus knows exactly what you need and your greatest need. . .He’s already met.  We come to celebrate the fact that He calls us sons and daughters, that He forgives us, that He loves us, that He welcomes us into His arms because He’s gracious and good and He knows how to meet a need.  So we come hungry, asking to be filled.  We come naked, longing to be clothed.  We come with our hands open, trusting that God, you’re at work.  This is a world of abundance, help us see it and live in it, in such a way.

So Jesus, we do.  We come trusting.  We come loving and we come knowing that you’re here, so give us bright eyes as we come.  We pray it in the name of Jesus.  Amen.