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A Sermon on The Gospel For Ordinary 17 - Year A
Matthew 13:44-52
"What Comes First In Your Life?"
By Rev. John Maynard
(Bunyip, Victoria, Australia)


READING:  Matthew 13:44-52
SERMON :  "What Comes First In Your Life?"

Rev. John Maynard
maynard@uniting.com.au
                  
   This sermon was written by the Rev. John Maynard in 1999 
   and posted to the PRCL-List in July of that year.   Reproduced
   with permission.

The car was too small! - We needed a bigger car for a growing family. 
Laura, our last child was just born.  Our five-seater was inadequate; we
needed six seats and a bit!  I realised the limitations.  I had broken my
arm … roller-skating with the Youth Club!  Helen had to take over, driving
me around the place and we were scrunched up all together in the car.   We
need something bigger.  We almost found one.  It was a van - perfect for
our needs and wants.  We bargained with the dealer, but the deal fell
through.  It would be some time, later in the future, before we found
something similar that would meet our needs and wants.

It's like the fish that got away!  Just when you think you've got it in the
net, it snaps away.   That's how I felt about the car.

It's probably how we feel about many things in life.  We wish we had a
better car - for a good price, of course.  Or a better house.   Perhaps we
wish to be well regarded by many.   Maybe it's wanting a boat or caravan. 
Holiday home at the beach.   The world's wealth is what we wish all the
time to be at our doorstep.   But then we find the hard way that wealth, or
popularity, or having everything go our way is not necessarily the good
life!

We build our Kingdoms on earth where, Jesus warns, things rust, or robbers
steal, where flowers fade and moths eat through.

No, seek Ye first the Kingdom of God - and God's Goodness - God's Right
Way..... and then the good life, the truly good life, will come your way.

And it's not a life of having things go our way all the time.  But having
things going the right way.  God's way.

That's a hard lesson to learn.   I want things to go perfectly - don't you? 
  I wanted that good price on the van I almost bought.   But the dealer
wouldn't budge from his price, and I was too stubborn on what I wanted, so
the deal fell through.  Someone else got the van!

I was depressed about losing the sale, and people noticed it.  They tried
to cheer me up with goodly advice.  One friend said: John, If it didn't
happen, it just wasn't meant to be! Another said, Be patient, John,
something better will come along.   Another said, Now you know exactly what
you want for the next time.    Another said: Don't worry.  Be happy.

But what is happiness?  Sometimes, I want to put my happiness in
possessions.   Perhaps you do, too.  But happiness, true joy, is found in
what cannot be possessed but only received.   And that joy is what comes
from above.

The Kingdom of Heaven, said Jesus, is like a man who came across a treasure
hidden in a field.  He was so happy that he went and sold everything he had
and bought that field.   The field came at enormous cost, but the man knew
what was beyond.

Jesus told a story about a pearl buyer who found a special pearl.  So he
sold all his other pearls and bought the one perfect gem.   What that a
good business proposition?   I suppose not.   But the man wanted what was
the best - everything else paled in significance.

Another parable about the Kingdom, Jesus told.  The fishing boat went out
on the lake.  And all sorts of fish were caught; everything was pulled in. 
Both the good and the bad.   They did the sort.   And they kept the best.   
Here the issue seems to be about collecting valuable things.  But some of
the fish weren't valuable yet.   They were too small.   Or they were the
wrong kind of fish.   Perhaps at a later time, perhaps in another season,
those fish returned to the sea would be valuable to catch again.  Some
things in life we want now!   How often do you hear that term? - NOW.   And
it is appropriate for some things.   But not everything.   Older folks,
more so than us younger folks, understand better what it means to have
patience and wait.   In due season.   Let us remember the advice of St.
Paul:  All things come together for good for them that trust God.

You probably don't come across treasures in fields, or collect pearls, or
go out on a trawler fishing.  Jesus' hearers were, perhaps, in better
position to understand them.   But the parables are simple truths about God
and His Kingdom, about Christ and His Love.   Perhaps in order to
understand them we can hear this modern-day one:

The Kingdom of heaven is like a boy who went fishing.  He caught several
nice fish [show the smaller fish] and thought he had a good catch.  Then he
caught one big fish. [Show the big fish]  So he threw all the small fish
back in the lake and ran home to show everyone the one big fish.

It's a good story with a good outcome.  But don't forget that it started by
saying "THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN IS LIKE ..."

That story is like our being in the Kingdom of Heaven, because we, like the
boy with the five fish, have many nice things happen to us.   We often
complain and gripe about what we don't have.  We forget what we've got. And
we fail to appreciate our blessings.

This fish (show the small fish again) may be like the good car you've got
already.  Call it a blessing. This one is for your home.  This one's for
your family.  This one's for your friends.  This is your club or sporting
interest.  This is your well-earned holiday. This is your hobby.   Perhaps
you can think of many other good things that have happened to you.  All of
those good things make us happy.  We like to talk about them.

But something much greater has happened to us.  God has sent His Son to be
our Saviour.  He's the big fish! God loves us so much that He asked Jesus
to live with us and show us a new way to live.  He makes it possible for us
to live a new way by giving us His Holy Spirit -- the power of God that
comes with the new life.

It is because Jesus is our Saviour, we can enjoy our life on earth.  Even
when we have pain and sorrow, we know He is with us.  Even when things
don't always go our way. We can forgive others because we are forgiven.  We
can help others because He has helped us.  Even when we die, we know He
will raise us from the dead and we will live with Him forever.

Our faith in Jesus is like this one big fish.  It makes us forget the other
blessings in life. Or at least it lets us put them into their proper
perspective.  Knowing Jesus becomes the most important part of our life. 
We want to tell others about Him.  We want to tell what He has done for us.

Yes, the Kingdom of heaven is like this one big fish.  And it's the fish
that doesn't get away!  All other things in life pale in significance when
measured up to Jesus.  And this is true joy!   This is true living!  This
is the Kingdom!

Well, the van finally showed up.  It was even better than the  one that was
snatched up by another buyer in the car yard.  As it turned out, there was
a young couple who wanted to start a young family.  They wanted our station
wagon … wanted their van.  Some cash was exchanged, but we cut out the
middleman.  They got what they wanted and we got the van!

Isn't it marvellous how things can turn out better, once you put your
worries and fears behind you and simply trust in the Lord?

'Seek Ye First the Kingdom' the words of Jesus ring truth in my ears time
and time again 'Seek Ye First the Kingdom'!

What is the chief end of man?  The Shorter Catechism asked.  Our chief end
- isn't it simply this --  To glorify God and to enjoy Him forever?  When
we learn this simple lesson of faith --  This simple truth for life -- it
reduces the anxieties that we have, or the pains and ills that we
experience.

The other gifts in our life are good gifts, too.  Let us not discount them. 
Because they also come from God.  Whether it be that new car, or new
caravan, holiday or friend.  But remember, the gift of Jesus Christ is the
greatest gift of all.   Knowing Him as our Saviour is the gift that will
last forever!  And that for me, is what the Kingdom is on about!

That for me, is true living.

That for me, is true joy!

   
copyright:  sermon - Rev. John Maynard 1999 - 2006
            page - Rev. Richard J. Fairchild, Spirit Networks, 2002 - 2006
            please acknowledge the appropriate author if citing these sermons.
			


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