“Jesus Provision is Our Freedom” 07.14.2016 Sermon

Matthew 6:25-33 • July 10, 2016

Click here to view a video of this sermon. 

Brothers and sisters in Christ grace and peace to you from God our Father and Lord of all provision, our Savior Jesus the Christ. Amen.

Whether it’s in a physical location or on the internet, sometimes I find myself buying things I don’t need. I have nothing on my list of things to get. Nothing. I simply am browsing the really good deals.

Aahhh…you smile. You know what I’m talking about.

Two of the worst places for me are Menards and an online store called 6pm.com. I don’t know why – but I always come away from these stores with things that I didn’t even know I needed.

I can go into Menards for one item and walk out with enough items to completely redo all of the electrical service in my house. I browse around the 6pm.com website for a few minutes and, for some strange reason, a few days later a new pair of shoes arrive at my front door.

I think part of the problem here is that our hearts have come to believe that satisfaction can come from things. And truth be told, we never seem to be satisfied with the things we have, so we continue to live thinking that acquiring more things will eventually satisfy us. I don’t know, does it make us any happier? Are we satisfied? Can we ever be satisfied?

Well, there is a bit of good news in all of this. We are not the first people to struggle with this. The people in Jesus’ day were just as consumed with consumption. And Jesus had a great deal of wisdom to share with them about this. In fact, in our gospel reading from Saint Matthew today I believe Jesus gets to the center of this issue. Did you hear it? Jesus says, “Do not worry.”  Worry!! Is that what this is all about??

Maybe Jesus is on to something here. Maybe you and I need to pause for a second and look deep inside and see what’s going on in our consumption crazy hearts. What need are we feeding or trying to feed? Especially in light of the fact that for nearly every person in this worship space today, you and I already have way more than we really need.

I think we’re looking for some sort of security in our lives. That’s where the “need” language of our consumption appetite is justified. Security needs things. And if we don’t have things, we’re insecure. Then we worry.

But Jesus says, “Do not worry.”

He will provide the security our hearts need to exist and even to thrive as children of God. Look around! The birds and the flowers are taken care of, so why not you? Jesus loves you and does provide for you. What can worrying do? Take a few seconds and think about how much time you have spent worrying recently? I believe that most of the things we worry about, either don’t happen at all or are not changed because of our worry. In spite of that, we still spend time and energy worrying.

And I also believe this is a bondage to a false sense of self and a sin-filled human characteristic that causes us to believe that we are in fact in charge. That we actually are in control. So, at the heart of the matter, it’s the bondage to our unbelief that causes worry or an obsession for accumulating things. Our unbelief that God actually does care for us and about us and is in fact the God of all creation.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, Jesus is the one who who was sent by God, who came into the world to save us and who continues to come into our lives to break the chains of this bondage. In the last verse of our gospel reading today, Jesus says “Strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Simply stated, Jesus provision is our freedom. God’s gift of a savior in Christ Jesus is our freedom.

So what might that mean to you and me as we walk through this next week? How might the freedom that we receive from God through our Savior Jesus speak to us tomorrow at work or with our coffee group or softball team or even when we are shopping.

As you pray the Lord’s Prayer this week – and I really hope that you do in fact do that – focus your attention on the fourth petition “give us this day our daily bread.” Say it over and over.

Because we don’t pray this part of the prayer to receive stuff. We pray it because we believe that God can and will take care of us. We pray it so our focus is not on us or on all the things we think we need. We pray it to remind us that God and God alone is the one who provides for us and for all things, like the birds of the air and the flowers of the fields. We pray it to refocus our attention, and call forth faith from our worry worn hearts.

Jesus’ provision is our freedom.

In our journey of faith this week, when you and I find ourselves with the compulsion to buy something that we have to actually convince ourselves that we really need, when in fact, we don’t. Call someone. That’s right. Have someone on speed-dial and call them right away! Because our heart wants relationship, and more things in our life do not give us relationship. People do. So call someone, not something. Move from something to someone to the One who gives us all the things necessary to truly love.

Jesus’ provision is our freedom.

And in addition to the call someone idea, the next time you find yourself with a compulsion to buy something that you have to convince yourself that you really need, when in fact, you don’t, buy it anyway. But not for you! Give it away. Bring it to a homeless shelter like Ruth Meier’s or Welcome House. Or stop by the Bismarck Emergency Food Pantry or Ministry on the Margins. Bless another child of God with your purchase.

In all of this, my hope and prayer is that this helps us to begin to love our neighbor as our self in new and life-changing ways. This week, as you pray the Lord’s Prayer, maybe the Holy Spirit will lead you and me to give someone else their daily bread.

Jesus’ provision is our freedom.

Think about the events of this past week in our world and the experiences that you have had in your own life. Imagine a world where you and I live for God and our neighbor, actually trusting in God to provide for our daily needs. Imagine a world in which you and I live into the idea that Jesus’ provision is in fact our freedom. That’s what it means to pray “give us this day our daily bread.”

Jesus’ provision is our freedom from the fear that betrays our compulsive buying habits.

Jesus’ provision is our freedom from the fear that keeps us gathering things rather than giving them away.

Jesus’ provision is our freedom to find faithfulness in everyday living – even as we continue to live in this broken and violent and sin-filled world.

Jesus’ provision is our freedom to, in Jesus’ own words from today’s gospel reading, to “strive first for the Kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be given to you as well.” Jesus’ provision is yours today and for all of the days to come. Amen.


About Bishop Craig Schweitzer

The Rev. Craig Schweitzer, of Bismarck, was elected as bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod on July 17, 2020, in the first-ever digital Synod Assembly. A historic event, Schweitzer is the first bishop in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) to be elected in an online assembly. Bishop Craig Schweitzer began serving the Western North Dakota Synod-ELCA on September 1, 2020. He has always seen himself as an easy-going person who seeks to daily discover anew how God is present in his life and the world in which he lives and serves. Prior to service in the Office of Bishop of the Western North Dakota Synod, Bishop Craig served at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Bismarck, ND as Music and Worship Minister (lay staff from 2002-2010), Associate Pastor (2010-2014), and Senior Pastor (2014-2020). Beyond his service in the church, he has an eclectic background that is a diverse collection of musical, educational, and business experiences ranging from live concert production and promotion to recording studios and live performance to music education. Throughout all of his professional and personal experiences, the Apostle Paul’s words to the church in Rome have been a guiding light that has kept him grounded in whatever work God was calling him into – “Welcome one another, therefore, just as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God.” (Romans 15:7) Bishop Craig is a graduate of the University of Mary in Bismarck with a Bachelor of Science degree in Music Education and a Master of Science in Strategic Leadership. He also holds a certificate degree in Theological Education for Emerging Ministries (TEEM) from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary in Berkeley, CA. He was ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament on September 16, 2010. Outside of his life as Bishop, Bishop Craig enjoys reading, all music, a little golf, a cold beverage with friends, and intentional times of quiet. And, of course, spending time with his wife Wendy and their adult twin daughters Ilia and Taegan. View all posts by Bishop Craig Schweitzer

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