Contentment

Matthew 6 (NSRV)

25 Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink,[j] or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 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?27 And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?[k] 28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[l] and his[m]righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

We have just celebrated one of my favorite holidays of the year. My wife and I get a kick out of bringing everyone over to our house and doing the cooking. We have locked in on the Alton Brown Brining technique for preparing the turkey for cooking and it has turned out great every time.  We go through the recipes and determine the times and temperatures and find the compatible foods to cook together so we can have everything done in time for our family and guests to arrive. And it is so much fun working together on Thanksgiving, the project.  We have so much to be thankful for but sadly it isn’t hard to stop being content with what we have.

Ever wanted something so bad it became all you ever thought about? When I watch the movie each year, The Christmas Story, and I think about that little boy fixated on the Red Ryder BB Gun and everyone telling him, you will shoot your eye out, and of course I don’t want to spoil the ending in case you somehow haven’t seen it, but isn’t that about how things turn out when we get so focused on the wrong things?

Now some of you probably love fancy cars, some of you may even have one. My dream car was a Porsche 911. Growing up, I was going to be a Rock Star and be a millionaire by the time I was 21 and that was the car I was going to buy. Spoiler Alert, none of that happened. not the millionaire part, nor the Porsche, or even the Rock Star part. But it is okay, I am fine with that. I made peace with that.

Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion said,

“Some luck lies in not getting what you thought you wanted but getting what you have, which once you have got it you may be smart enough to see is what you would have wanted had you known.”

Now when you substitute dreams, even impractical ones, we often rationalize them. For example, the practical side of me says, well, there are really only two seats in the car I wanted. I don’t want my small kids in the front seat of the car because it is dangerous. The visor above the front seats in most cars these days says, at least 12 years old and at least 100 pounds. This is because airbags can come out with so much force that they could seriously injure a child. So with only front seats in the Porsche, not happening. Then there is the fuel economy. You do not save a lot of gas in a car that can do Zero to 60 in less than 6 seconds. That isn’t what you are buying it for. And then, there is the car insurance. Those fancy cars cost a lot more to insure. They are more likely to be driven recklessly. They are more likely to be stolen. So it becomes a risky car so the insurance company makes you pony up more money to cover it. Oh, and unless you did become a millionaire, there are the car payments. I can easily buy two very fuel efficient Toyota Corollas for the price of one Porsche, maybe even three or four or more. But I only need one and the kids and I like to eat. Some cars have payments that look like house payments to me or at least rent payments.  All of this to say, I rationalized away my desire for a Porsche 911 car. And because of that I am okay with that.

 

While I was younger, I became fixated on cars but as we get older we can get fixated on other things. I don’t know how many of you know it but I do some DJ work on the side, weddings, anniversary parties, charity events. This takes the place of my dream of being a Rock Star. I get to play music, see people be happy. It is a lot of fun. I don’t want to do it too often so I don’t advertise. Usually it is a friend of a friend or a family member or even someone who has just heard around I do it. Sometime or another I can tell you a longer story about how I got the DJ equipment in the first place. But anyway, I have an old laptop computer, really old in computer years, 8 or 9 years old. I had a couple of gigs where my laptop acted up a little bit right in the middle of the show. Thankfully I am pretty resourceful and I had a backup plan. I have seen the indications for a while that my computer was wanting to stop playing well with others. I am a recovering perfectionist. I want things to work perfectly. As I have gotten older I have allowed myself to fail gracefully more. But when it comes to my creative sides, I am a perfectionist. I had designs on buying a new laptop. I visited the company’s website on so many occasions. I had visited their store in every town I happened to be in that had one. I was a little obsessed but the practical side of me said, we are absolutely not going in debt to buy it. I would go to their web site and “build” my perfect computer. Some of you have probably gone to the Car Maker’s website and put together your perfect car. Well, leather seats are sure nice except when it is a hot day and the kids pour sodas and stuff onto the seats. And that in dash system with the maps and driving directions and all of that. Oh and these days, and that talks to my cell phone so I can play my music on the speakers in the car and maybe even talk to people on the phone if I absolutely have to. You can go to a Home Depot website and put up a picture of your room at home and change the wall color so you can see what the paint might look like when you paint your rooms. Isn’t technology beautiful?

But when you get ready to buy that car, you have realized there are things you will have to compromise on to allow you to get that car into your budget. So maybe the rally sport package isn’t that important as it adds another $2400 to the cost of the car and well, that would make your payment this and that and finally, you know, maybe I don’t really need the leather seats. You know maybe even the radio is optional. I can always add one later.

So while I could go to the website and build my perfect computer, I could not pay for it. It was out of my reach. So I tried to be practical. I narrowed it down to what I absolutely had to have. And there are some things I can add after the fact. But there are things I can’t. Like the car, I have to pick the exact motor I want it to have because changing the motor out is a cost prohibitive adventure. So I had whittled down my ultimate computer to being close to my budget.

 

We needed to do some work on the house so we rallied up the money to pay for some expensive repairs. The house was settling and there was a big hump forming in the middle of the kitchen and it just seemed to be getting worse and worse. We have cracks in the sheetrock in a couple of places and they happened before that earthquake we all felt a couple of years back that shock everybody’s house. So I couldn’t call insurance company and blame it on that. And we need a new front door and screen. The screen was barely hanging out and the front door had so much air coming in a round it, I think we had to run the heat a lot more to make up for it in the Fall and Winter months, and there was some other work. So we got it together and had the repairs done. Took several months between scheduling people, getting stuff ordered and in. So it all was finally coming together. I did a DJ gig in the middle of that time for one of my aunt’s and my computer just went stupid right in the middle of it. That was the last straw. So I asked my financial consultant, can I buy a new laptop. You know who that is right, my wife. She said, as long as it doesn’t impact the house repairs because that was what I was going to borrow from to buy the computer. Deal.

 

So I went to the website and they have refurbished computers that they will still sell you warranties support on. That saved a couple of hundred dollars so I ordered my computer. And I get it home finally. I am feeling buyer’s remorse because I had to make some sacrifices. I couldn’t afford the Rally sport package or the leather seats for it. I bought it with less memory and smaller hard drive or storage. But it was going to be fine.

 

I took the afternoon off from work just to make sure UPS didn’t leave me one of those notes, we tried to deliver something that had to be signed and you weren’t there. So I am there when it arrives and I go into the house and I slowly open it up. And it is amazing. So sleek and beautiful and fast. After I had gotten past that part of the process, the opening and setup. I started to copy the files off of my old computer to it. It was then that I realized that would not fit. I did not realize that I had so many songs on my other laptop. I had only planned to copy my files I work with and my music and that was it from the old laptop. I didn’t check. Oh, these first world problems as I like to call them. Problems that are more nuisance than problem. There are people starving in the world and I am obsessed about this laptop. And I firmly believe the Devil uses situations like to to make sport of us. To really show us who we are deep down, at least who we are in his eyes. But this isn’t how we are in the eyes of God. God knows about our obsessions and motivations. If we turn to him, he forgives us and helps us see what our priorities are.

 

God puts in us a craving for him. We are born with a place in our soul that is unfilled and through life some of us try everything to fill that void within us. We may use drugs or alcohol or try to make large sums of money, success, fame, we find substitutes for what we truly need in our life. We are working so hard to fill that void and we do not think about what makes sense to fill that place in our life. I have been there a time or two or ten. I have gotten distracted. I have taken my eye off the prize as the saying goes.

 

How many of us here like to put jigsaw puzzles together? My wife does. She used to work on big 1,000 plus piece puzzles and they would sit on a puzzle table we bought, okay, actually it was one of those dinner trays you put beside the couch to watch TV and eat dinner but it works as a puzzle table too. Once things settled down after work she would work to complete the puzzle. Some would go together really fast and some were just a challenge. Tough puzzles.

 

I have often thought we are like a jigsaw puzzle that is missing one piece. And we will go through so many interactions with different things we think will fill that place, that puzzle piece spot. We strive to fill that place with our own methods and ways. Like we have the ability to fill a hole put in us by God. We will not be truly happy until we put God into our lives and God will make our puzzle whole, complete.

 

GotQuestions.org says:

The latest global statistic shows that if one has a roof over his head and a meal on his table he is richer than 93 percent of the world’s population. If a person wears a pair of shoes he is richer than 75 percent of the people in the world. In the United States alone, credit card debt averages more than $16,000 per household, and we are still discontented. Solomon, the wisest and richest man who ever lived, said, “Whoever loves money never has money enough; whoever loves wealth is never satisfied with his income. This too is meaningless” (Ecclesiastes 5:10).”

 

We have so many things to be thankful for this year. The world is a scary place but we all woke up this morning and we were able to freely come to church today. And we didn’t feel threatened by anything that made us fearful to walk outside of our houses. And hopefully this is true of all of us but we had enough food to eat and there is a roof over our heads. We may have woke up with some aches and pains but nothing that kept us from moving around the house, getting ready, and coming to church. Hopefully you got to spend time with family on Thanksgiving or some time during this holiday season you plan to spend time with family at some point. And those are blessed moments even if family members say crazy things we don’t agree with. I heard on the radio a debate about Thanksgiving and if we should talk about politics or religion at the table. I say do not talk about either of those. Instead, talk about our Faith in God. And the blessings he has placed in our lives.  If we put our faith in God whenever we even think of worrying, we will become content. My kids often say to me “I need this or I need that”. I ask them, do you know the difference between want or need? Needs are those things that we can’t live without, food for example is a need. But the latest Xbox game is a want. It is a shame that we have to get older to achieve wisdom. It seems it is only when we are older do we start to realize what contentment in Christ is. Putting our needs into God’s hands and allowing him to provide for us. As Jesus said in the Book of Matthew Chapter 6,

31 Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear?’ 32 For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. 33 But strive first for the kingdom of God[l] and his[m]righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

34 “So do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring worries of its own. Today’s trouble is enough for today.

So as you go through your day to day activites, be content. Place your worries in the hands of the Lord and let them go.

 

Let us pray:

Dear Heavenly Father,

We are so blessed today in so many ways. We have worries that distract up from you, Lord. Help us to not be distracted but to be thankful for all you have done for us. Fill the void in our souls Lord so that we feel contented with what we have and where are life is. These things we ask in your name,

Amen

Even Christian Brothers and Sisters Fight, A Sermon

Editor’s Note: I am not a preacher or pastor, nor am I ordained or have I been to seminary. As a Lay Leader I am called on from time to time to fill in at various churches. 

Second Sunday after Pentecost (June 7, 2015)

Prayer for the sick

Dear Lord,

Be with these whose names have been mentioned this morning. Ease their suffering and their burdens. Lift our hearts when we are low. Remind us you are always there with us. Be with our annual conference. Be with them Lord and place wisdom in their midst. Be with the people of Texas as they clean up the aftermath of such terrible floodings. Be with the West coast as they struggle under the worst drought in years. Lord, you are with us In our triumphs and in our darkest hours. You love us and care for us. You are there even when we turn away from you. Calling us to come back to the fold. And you put these words before us in the form of your prayer -Our Father…

 

Amen

 

Offertory Prayer

Lord,

Thank you for this opportunity to give back to you a portion of what you have blessed us with. May it go to your purpose and will.

Amen

 

Scripture Lesson

 

Titus 3:1-11 NIV

Saved in Order to Do Good

3 Remind the people to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready to do whatever is good, 2 to slander no one, to be peaceable and considerate, and always to be gentle toward everyone.

3 At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another. 4 But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. 8 This is a trustworthy saying. And I want you to stress these things, so that those who have trusted in God may be careful to devote themselves to doing what is good. These things are excellent and profitable for everyone.

9 But avoid foolish controversies and genealogies and arguments and quarrels about the law, because these are unprofitable and useless. 10 Warn a divisive person once, and then warn them a second time. After that, have nothing to do with them. 11 You may be sure that such people are warped and sinful; they are self-condemned.

 

Titus 3:1-11 New Revised Standard Version (NRSV) 

Maintain Good Deeds

3 Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient, to be ready for every good work, 2 to speak evil of no one, to avoid quarreling, to be gentle, and to show every courtesy to everyone. 3 For we ourselves were once foolish, disobedient, led astray, slaves to various passions and pleasures, passing our days in malice and envy, despicable, hating one another. 4 But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of any works of righteousness that we had done, but according to his mercy, through the water[a] of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.6 This Spirit he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs according to the hope of eternal life. 8 The saying is sure.

I desire that you insist on these things, so that those who have come to believe in God may be careful to devote themselves to good works; these things are excellent and profitable to everyone. 9 But avoid stupid controversies, genealogies, dissensions, and quarrels about the law, for they are unprofitable and worthless. 10 After a first and second admonition, have nothing more to do with anyone who causes divisions, 11 since you know that such a person is perverted and sinful, being self-condemned.

The Word of God for the People of God, thanks be to God.

 

 

Kids FightingHow many of us have brothers or sisters? Have they ever made you crazy? It is one of the amazing things about Facebook. Now your brother and sister can disparage you in a Facebook status message. This is how a friend of mine’s family does it. When they are mad at it other they will update their Facebook status talking about how mean some people are. They won’t post names but they will dance around the issue that is currently going on. I ask him if this bothered him. He said it used to but not any more. His older sister just loves drama and stirring things up and if you can accept that, then it is just them. He said the way he gets her back is he goes and “Likes” her Facebook status.

A Sunday school teacher was discussing the Ten Commandments with her five and six year olds. After explaining the commandment to “honor thy father and thy mother,” she asked,”Is there a commandment that teaches us how to treat our brothers and sisters?”

Without missing a beat one little boy answered, “Thou shalt not kill.”

Brothers and sisters can make us crazy. They will argue with us about the silliest things and stay mad at you for days, weeks, or even longer.

My wife’s mom passed away a few months ago. My wife has always been close to her mom. She called her mom almost every night to check on her. But her brothers and sisters who lived much closer to their mom were often estranged from their mom and rarely visited. Because my wife was so close to her mom, there was some jealousy. And now that their mom is gone some infighting. Not over anything in particular it seems, the siblings are just mad at each other.

My family has gone through a rough patch of late. It happens in every house, it is as if you have a target on your back. Work is rough, home is rough. Family members sick. Death in the family. The wise seek out God during times like this and the foolish run from God. I did. I pulled away from God for a bit. We all do.

Churches go through rough patches too. Do you think churches pull away from God? It happens. We are brothers and sisters in this church. We are all a part of the Christian community. And we squabble among ourselves. Denominations argue over their different doctrines. Sprinkle or submerge? Open table or members only. Annual Conference starts today and there will be squabbling there in our own Denomination. Disagreements over various topics, some of which mean nothing and some that are very significant to the wellbeing of our church. And even in our building right here there can be disagreements and squabbles.

In Matthew 18:21-22 Jesus tells us how to deal with our blood kin and our Christian brothers.

21 Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, “Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother or sister who sins against me? Up to seven times?”

22 Jesus answered, “I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.”

My friend Jeff was mad at his sister for a long time. I told him one day, being mad at her is a waste of time. She doesn’t feel it and it eats you up inside. He eventually forgave her.

Now I have met people who like to just stay mad. They are made at others, often the world, and lastly themselves. I have even met some who I think just like being mad at somebody.  You have met these people haven’t you? You stay away from them if you can. But it is hard to do if you are closely kin to them. Is it just my opinion but it seems angry people live the longest.

My grandfather on my dad’s side was a mean man. I didn’t witness him being as mean as some have said. He started fights with people and cussed people out. Growing up he threatened me a lot but he never hit me or cussed me. But when he came down with Parkinson’s Disease, he mellowed out. I wouldn’t wish Parkinson’s on anyone but he was such a nicer person to those around him. It is like he forgot to be mad.

I wish we could do that without having to suffer from what my grandfather did. Could we perhaps just forget how to be mad? We all have different styles of getting anger too. There is the slow simmering anger. It is like a pressure cooker. It builds up steam slowly and then it releases it all at once. Then there is silent anger. You didn’t even know this person was mad at you but when you find out, wow. And this could have been going on for hours, days, weeks, and in extreme cases, years. Then there is the blow up. It is like someone has set the match head on fire and it burns out quick and it is over. The next minute they are perfectly fine and it is over. What type of mad are you when you get angry? Are you mad at someone right now? Is it time to forget to be mad? Is it time to forgive?

My wife and I rarely fight. Rare. I have learned over the years to pick my battles. Now sometimes I slip up and pick the wrong one but there are so many things in life where a decision one way or another is not going to kill you. Husbands, if your wife wants to paint the wall pink and you want to paint it blue, neither color will cause the world to end or shorten your life. So what does it matter? When Donna and I fight, it is always about silly stuff. The other day my wife and I both had rotten days at work. We get paid every two weeks so every payday we usually go out to eat somewhere. You ever have where you couldn’t agree where to go eat? There are some restaurants I don’t like, not many mind you because my stomach is a free agent. But if I had a bad experience or if they don’t do well keeping the place clean, I am not a fan. But for some reason the other night we could not agree. For those of you with smart phones, there is a free app, Urban Spoon, out there that will put local restaurants on a roulette wheel and you can use that to choose. It lets you set the dollar amount first and why style of food and off it goes. It might have been a good night to use that app.

Sometimes there are squabbles in the church. So and So has made rules. They aren’t written down anywhere. There wasn’t a committee meeting to decide but somehow everybody knows there are rules and we had better follow them or we will make Mr. So and So made. Mrs. So and So says the table clothes have to always been white in the Fellowship Hall. Does it hurt anything? No, some of these rules or let’s call them guidelines seem like good ideas to me. But sometimes our self imposed guidelines cause others to falter. If by sticking to a rule we are going to cause someone to have evil thoughts and be led away from God, our rules have caused harm.

Romans 14: 1-3 New International Version (NIV)

The Weak and the Strong

14 Accept the one whose faith is weak, without quarreling over disputable matters. 2 One person’s faith allows them to eat anything, but another, whose faith is weak, eats only vegetables. 3 The one who eats everything must not treat with contempt the one who does not, and the one who does not eat everything must not judge the one who does, for God has accepted them.

Don’t let trivial matters tear apart relationships or even churches. Go to whoever you have a quarrel with and one on one talk to them about it. Settle your differences. If you can not, give it to God. If it is too small of a matter to give to God, it is too small of a matter to worry about. Remember our Church is a hospital for Souls to heal. If we are divided, we can help heal no one. The same is true in our families. If one is mad at the other, it divides our families and we miss out on the joy of one another. So when you leave here today, if you are mad at someone, seek them out. Resolve it before the Sun goes down.

 

Let us Pray.

Heavenly Father,

Thank you for this blessed building that is yours. If any quarrel between us and any brother or sister stops us from being faithful to you, we can not truly be yours. We miss out on being a blessing to others on your behalf Lord. Help us to seek your healing and help us to seek Joy through you. In Jesus name we pray, Amen.

 

Benediction