Live a Peaceful Life

The Lord challenges us to seek first the Kingdom of Heaven in our lives without worrying about tomorrow, next week and next year. Just as He makes sure the birds of the air have their needs met, He promises us that we are of more worth than the birds. He promises that we will always have enough when we seek Him first without anxiety about the future. The world is a very anxious place, but we must have courage and faith in God that His promise to care for us when we put Him first.

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Thank you for tuning in to another episode of Be Transfigured, where we invite you to live a new life in Christ. We pray that this episode is a blessing to you and will inspire you to rededicate your life to Jesus Christ. We invite you to join us for worship or study at the Saint Nicholas Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Tarpon Springs, Florida, where visitors are always welcome. We'll be back at a few moments to share some more information about our ministry.

So the gospel this morning, my brothers and sisters, is so appropriate for these days. It is almost as if Matthew was writing for us, that he knew what we were going to be going through today. Our society is at all corners, turn around every corner, and you see anxiety. We don't know about the health crisis, how bad it's going to get, when it's going to get better, whether or not we are at risk, whether or not somebody else is at risk. You turn the news on and report after report after report gets us more and more anxious about the health crisis. If you keep the news on any longer, you see the stock market one day is good, the next day is bad, continuing our anxiety. We know that so many people have lost their jobs in the past three or four months as the businesses have been forced to close down, maybe even our own businesses have suffered, and we are filled with anxiety.

And yet this morning’s gospel warns us not to let anxiety get the best of us, not to spend our moments of life worrying about all of the physical comforts and all of the worldly things that our life is consumed with. Christ says, "Do not worry 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, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” Now, this challenge from our Lord, my brothers and sisters, is very basic but not very simple. Yes, absolutely, we are more important than the birds of the air to God. He came to save us. He came and became one of us.

Absolutely, we are more important than the birds. But if you look at the birds and if you study the birds, they never rest in their life. They wake up every morning, and what do they do? They go out and they forge for their needs. And when they have finished for the day, they go home and they sleep in their nest, and they wake up the next morning and they go about and they forage for their needs and they go home and then at the end of the day and they rest in their nests. We, on the other hand, we go about our day worrying about how much we're going to have for next week and next month and next year, even though we already have enough for today. And we, unlike the birds, we go to our beds and many of us cannot even close our eyes because we are so worried about tomorrow and next week and next year. This is what the Lord is trying to help us with, that anxiety of, do we have enough?

He says, "Seek first the kingdom of heaven, and all those other things you're going to have also." God, my brothers and sisters, will make sure we have enough clothing. God can make sure we have enough food in our belly. But there's a difference between enough and enough extra. I think it's very poetic in Greek αρκετό, οχι αρκετά. That's what God's promise is, he always promises that we'll have enough to get by, so long as we seek first the kingdom of heaven. You see, our society being filled with anxiety because we are more concerned about this life than the next. Obviously, we don't want to get sick. Obviously, we don't want to be out on the streets without a house or without food or without clothing. Those things are obvious, but this is not the point of this morning's gospel. The point of this morning's is whether or not we're going to seek God first, whether we're going to worry more about the kingdom of heaven than we do what's in our bank account or what's within our retirement fund, whether or not our house is increased or decreased in value with our portfolio.

Because these are the things that keep us up at night. These are the anxieties that cause us high blood pressure. Other illnesses are worsened by these anxieties. And so God promises to calm us down, and God promises that we will have enough. Our challenge, my brothers and sisters, in these most difficult days for many of us, especially those of us who cannot remember the war, for many of us, this is a new struggle that we have not had to endure before, especially in my generation.

Those of you who are older remember the war. You remember not knowing if you're going to have enough bread for tomorrow. But for many of us, these stresses are new. And yet those of you who lived through the war, you know that God took care of you. You know that you found enough. Because you never stopped believing in God and you never stopped following him. And so we turn to you our older generation, teach us to have courage in our faith in God. Teach us what it means to put God first and know and trust that there'll be food on the table tomorrow and next week. I'm asking our senior citizens, teach us how to have faith so we can live a peaceful life focusing on God.

That's why we come together as a church, to lift each other up, to hold each other, to encourage each other, sometimes even to cry with each other and laugh. The gospel begins, "The lamp of the body is the eye. If therefore your eye is good, your whole body will be full of light." Allow us to see that joy and light and faith so that it can be reflected in our hearts and in our courage and in our faith. Glory to God for all things.

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