Devotions for Matthew 6:11, 25-34
August 15-21, 2016
Monday, August 15, 2016
“Give us this day our daily bread” (Matthew 6:11).
Seth Meyers regularly attend worship services at Community Church. During every service the Pastor would invite the congregation to pray the Lord’s Prayer. Seth would join in until he got to the “give us this day our daily bread” phrase. It just didn’t make sense to Seth. The Lord had never caused manna to cover the ground so his family could eat. Unlike the Israelites in the wilderness whose clothes didn’t wear out for forty years, his children were going through clothes and shoes at an alarming rate. Seth couldn’t see the gift. He worked hard to provided food, clothing and shelter for his family.
Seth’s discomfort with the Lord’s Prayer began to eat at him. He decided to schedule an appointment with his pastor. When they met Seth explained his struggle to her. After some thought the pastor replied, “Perhaps were focusing on the wrong gift. Instead of the food and clothing for which you work hard, you might thank the Lord for the gift of a job, or the physical and mental gifts that allow you to work. You might also be thankful for a country that allows you to live in peace and for the family and friends that fill your life with companionship and joy.” Seth was quiet, thinking about what his pastor had said. Nodding his head he looked at his pastor and said, “You’re right. God does provide our daily bread for us in a variety of ways.”
God of Abundance, thank you for the multitude of blessings and gifts you pour into our lives. Please keep us from forgetting that all of life is a precious gift from you. Amen.
Tuesday, August 16, 2016
“Therefore I tell you do not worry about your life” (Matthew 6:25a).
No one wants to worry. All of us fall into the worry trap, though—some more than others. The moment we tell ourselves not to worry, we begin to worry more. We look around us and there appears to be so much to worry about. The problem is that we can’t change any of the worrisome problems by worrying. Worrying accomplishes absolutely nothing except high blood pressure and sleepless nights. Because of worry’s adverse effects and uselessness the Lord gives us the command, “Don’t worry!” God’s words are not a suggestion nor an invitation. They are a command.
We cannot follow God’s command by telling ourselves not to worry. Nor can we wait until a solution presents itself. We can stop worrying, though, by looking away from the problem and looking to our loving Lord. The Psalmist understood this truth when he penned, “I lift up my eyes to the hills—from where will my help come?/ My help comes from the Lord,/who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1-2).
Divine Obsession, enable us to keep our eyes fixed on you. Amen.
Wednesday, August 17, 2016
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing” (Matthew 6:25b)?
It is easy for us to reply to Jesus’ question, “Of course life is more than food and the body more than clothing.” Our actions, though, speak louder than our words. The Epicureans (followers of an ancient Greek philosophy) were materialists and focused on the here and now. They had a saying, “Eat, drink and be merry for tomorrow we may die.” Even though this may not be our official motto, it is easy to get wrapped up in the physical demands, family expectations and societal pressures of everyday life. Jesus’ words remind us that there really is more to life.
As disciples of Jesus we live each day in a relationship with a living God. Besides nurturing our body, we also nurture our spirit; we spend time in prayer and worship. Jesus’ resurrection has opened up an eternal dimension to our lives. We are free to do more than make ends meet. We can share our blessings and serve others. Life can be limited to food and clothing, but because of what Jesus did on the cross there can be so much more.
God of Life, enable us to loosen our grip on our physical lives and to open our hands to all of life. Amen.
Thursday, August 18, 2016
“And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life” (Matthew 6:27)?
Alcoholics Anonymous has a saying, “Let go and let God.” It’s good advice. Carley and Jim Franks figured this out when their oldest son left for college. They had bordered being “helicopter parents,” but they no longer could do that. Now they needed to trust that they had raised a responsible young man and that everything was in God’s hands and not theirs. Carlota Sanchez realized the reality of this saying when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes. She could work hard to stick to her diet and follow the doctor’s orders, but beyond that she needed to let Go and let God. Worry would not help her. Lamar John lost his job during the economic downturn. He sent out resumes to scores of companies. He was asked for a few interviews, but his worrying kept him from doing well. Once he decided that God would open the right door for him he was able to let go of his worry. His interviews went better and eventually he snagged a great position in a growing company.
We are all confronted with the temptation to worry. As followers of Jesus we have a choice. We can either worry, or we can “Let go and let God.”
Faithful God, break the chains of our worry. Empower us to concentrate on doing great things for you while expecting great things from you. Amen.
Friday, August 19, 2016
“For the Gentiles strive after these things” (6:32).
We are individuals but we are also members of various groups. While keeping our identity we strive to fit into those groups. We want to be in style so we dress in a similar fashion. The people in some groups may have the same political or sociological beliefs. They may drive similar cars or possess the same toys—boats, ATV’s and PWC’s. At the same time that we want to be a part of the group, we may also want to stand out in the group, so we have the most expensive car, the biggest house, or toys that are top-of-the-line.
Groups are distinctive also. The French dress differently than the Americans. Australians speak differently than their United Kingdom brothers and sisters and those in Canada. Followers of Jesus are different, too. In our call to deny ourselves, take up our crosses and follow Jesus, we use our gifts and talents for others. Another difference is that the followers of Jesus are not to get caught up in the materialistic rat-race of the world. Because of who we are, our lifestyles are different and our questions. Instead of asking what is the best, biggest and most expensive we ask ourselves, “How can we best love our neighbor as ourselves?”
O Holy Teacher, instruct us on how to ask the right questions to serve you and love our neighbor. Amen.
Saturday, August 20, 2016
“But strive first for the kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33a).
Two teenagers came across the eagle as they hiked along a stream. It had been injured and it couldn’t fly. They called for help. The eagle was captured and brought to the town’s veterinarian. She examined the eagle and found that its wing had been broken. Setting the bone, she cleaned the eagle, fed it and put it in a cage so it would be safe and could heal. Several people volunteered to help care for the eagle; for a brief time the eagle became the town’s mascot. The day came, though, when the eagle’s wing was healed and it was time to let the eagle fly. A crowd watched as the eagle flapped its wings, circled the crown and flew high into the sky. The eagle was free.
We too have been set free. We no longer need to be concerned about our salvation because of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus. In this passage of scripture Jesus assures his followers that we do not need to be concerned about what we will eat or what we will wear. The Lord will provide for our physical needs. Now we are free to seek the kingdom of God. Without distraction we can love the Lord with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, and our neighbor as ourselves. We are free to be the people God created us to be.
Loving God, thank you for setting us free. Move in us and through us so that we do not use our freedom for ourselves, but to serve others and to share your love and grace. Amen.
Sunday, August 21, 2016
“These things will be given to you as well” (Matthew 6:33b).
It was a difficult time for Akihito and his family. Akihito had lost his job due to a corporate merger. He had a severance package, but it was no golden parachute. After four months it ran out and Akihito was forced to apply for food stamps. His family cut their spending drastically. Akihito focused on searching for a new job and worrying about his family’s finances.
Sue Kennedy was badly hurt in an accident at her work. For several months she endured surgeries, physical therapy and rehabilitation. During that time, she received disability payments but they covered only a portion of her regular income. Things got tight for the Kennedy family. Instead of staring at her problems and worrying about finances, Sue decided to look for ways that she could help others during her recovery. She began work at the local food bank helping the people who needed assistance through the application process. Focusing on helping others, Sue discovered that her other problems worked themselves out.
As followers of Jesus it is amazing what happens when we stop being selfish, self-centered and turn our attention to helping others. In a remarkable way our needs are met and so are the needs of others.
Loving Parent, thank you for your care and your involvement in our lives. Thank you also for the opportunities that you give us to share your love and grace with others. Amen.