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Foundations For Our Future #110 - #119

Foundations for Our Future (110) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Brick by Brick

I have always been drawn to brickwork. I am not sure when it began, but I do love the way bricks can be used to make many practical things, a walkway, a wall, a home. Soon at Christ the King/Grace we will be constructing a lovely garden with bricks, where we can pray and memorialize loved ones. We will be laying them up into a garden structure, and we have a confident hope that they will long outlast us.

As life goes by, we are all laying up for the future. We make plans and husband our resources. We dream of what we might someday do, we make plans for the education of our children, or we plan how to invest for our retirement. Step by step we are laying up for our future, and the future of those we love. All of these things are a part of what it means to be human. God has made us this way, and he is pleased with us when we behave in a prudent and thoughtful way. Scripture teaches this. But we are bidden by the Lord to be sure of where we are headed. We are to take stock regularly of the path we are on, and the end we are working toward. God truly wants us to make a wise investment with our lives. (Matthew 6:19-21) The treasure that matters to God is eternal.

Every word of the Lord is given to us for our good. His commands are not meant to be burdensome but light. They are to become our joy, day by day, brick by brick, as we lay up eternal treasure.



Foundations for Our Future (111) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Healthy Eyes

Todays verses (Matthew 6:22,23) are very interesting, and quite challenging. The figure of speech Jesus uses here can seem difficult. He likens the gateway to our soul’s health to be the eye. If we have a healthy eye we will have a healthy body. He is clearly speaking of the spiritual health of our lives, but using the most precious faculty of sight to teach us.

I have had issues with my eyes since I was 19 years old. Somehow or other I developed a rare disease which led the doctors to predict that I would go blind, and I was released from military duty when I was only 21. For several years I lived with the fear that I would be blind, but graciously the Lord healed me. To this day I have eye challenges, but I can see well.

The Word of God repeatedly warns us that we can be made slaves through the eye. One of the Ten Commandments forbids his people from making certain kinds of visual images. The reason? They can lure us into a false worship. The things are eye loves to see can become something that entraps us into a spiral of death. The bible calls it idolatry, and it is one of the most pernicious of sins.

You and I are alive in a time when the visual image has become one of the central means of communication for the culture. It is a dangerous reality if we are not on our guard. We must be vigilant to keep our eye healthy. We must not drift into darkness.



Foundations for Our Future (112) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Light the Lamp

Our Lord lived in a time without electric lighting, as have most of those through human history. Oil lamps are one of the oldest of inventions, and without them the productive day would end much sooner. If you have ever needed to use an oil lamp, perhaps while camping, you will know that they require regular tending. The altar candles we use at Christ the KIng/Grace are such, and they need constant attention.

Today let us pray over the the Lord’s use of the lamp as a symbol for our spiritual lives. “The eye is the lamp of the body,” Jesus says. (Matthew 6:22) All those who heard him would have known he was using a figure of speech which had spiritual meaning. You must tend carefully what your eye sees or you will find yourself in the dark.

One of my favorite places in all the world is called The Close. It is a Christian Retreat Center in the middle of the Daniel Boone National Forest. Whenever I go there I am “off the grid.” There is no electricity, no internet, no public water. It is a haven of solitude and natural beauty. To see at night I must tend and use oil lamps. I find it a wonderful place to meet the Lord. I love The Close.

One of my most common activities when I am there is to review my spiritual journey. How am I doing? Where am I going? What am I missing? What is God saying? All of these are questions we can ask right her at home during Lent. It is a type of tending the lamp, so we can light it and truly see.



Foundations for Our Future (113) 
by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Two Masters?

Many people know this teaching of Jesus, even if they do not know him. We cannot serve two masters. We cannot. (Matthew 6:24)

This scripture is often quoted during financial stewardship seasons, but it is applicable to every day and every moment. The Lord absolutely makes clear that there are only two ways to live, serving the one true God, or serving the enemy of God. Here he links that enemy to the ancient near Eastern god called Mammon. This teaching is about ultimate power over our lives, and it will be God or the enemy of God and our of souls.

It is about much more than monetary avarice.

Money as a means of exchange was never condemned by the Lord. When it is used for legitimate and honorable purposes, it does not leave us soiled by sin. But it has power. We can easily imagine that if we have sufficient financial capital we need not trust the sovereignty of God, nor his providential care. We trade God for Mammon. If we do so we find ourselves with a master who will enslave and ultimately destroy us.

After a long ministry as a priest of the church, I can bear witness to the fact that some of the most tragic families I have ever ministered among were quite wealthy. They were caught in the worship of a false God. I can also bear witness that some of the most wonderful families I have ever known used their wealth for the good of the kingdom. They worshipped the one true God. They sought to always serve him.



Foundations for Our Future (114) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Anxiety (Again)

Some time ago the Sunday Sermon referred to the challenge posed by the Psalm of the day: “Fret not.” (Psalm 37:1) We come today to an extended teaching by Jesus on this very subject (Matthew 6:25-34) and it will repay careful attention from us all.

The Lord speaks directly to the three most ordinary concerns of life: what we will eat, what we will drink, and what we will wear. Then he tells us not to be anxious about any of them. Can this really be the way a Christian should live? Are these things not absolutely necessary for our life, and should we not have them when we need them?

There can be no doubt that Christ Jesus would answer our question with a “Yes.” But he is actually trying to open our minds and hearts to the issue of trust. Do we or don’t we trust God our heavenly Father?

Remember that this teaching follows immediately after repeated instruction about rewards, and trusting in earthly treasure for what only God can give. Now the lesson is further pressed home. God loves us and knows what we need. God loves us and we will have these things till the day he calls us to our heavenly home. He will not fail those who put their trust in him. That is God’s promise to those who come to him in true faith.



Foundations for Our Future (115) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Birds of the Air

I love to watch birds soaring in the sky, and I love to see them in almost any of their myriad activities. Right now several pair are nesting in our Spring Garden, and they delight us. God Almighty created them and they give him and all his children joy, but they are not the pinnacle of his work. The pinnacle of his created order is mankind. Their value far exceeds that of the birds. (Matthew 6:26)

This is one of many truths that is under attack today. Billions of dollars are being spent for domesticated animals of all kinds, birds among them, and for some people they have become more important than other human beings. A majority in our society seems to care little for unborn human life, for example, yet some of these same folk will rally to the needs of a beached whale. There is a widespread disorder of affection and understanding, and God’s Word gives no support to it.

But what Jesus is stressing here is trust in God. Do you say you know God and yet worry constantly about the things you need? Do you say you belong to God and yet are always giving your best energies and time to that which is superfluous? Our Lord is looking at us and saying, in effect: “Don’t you know how much your heavenly Father loves you? He knows your needs and will supply them.”

The birds are beautiful but they will perish. The children of God are beautiful and will live for ever.



Foundations for Our Future (116) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler


It is widely reported that the vast majority of all that is spent for health care in this country is spent in the last year of someone’s life. And every one of those people died.

It is a very serious subject, but I can not resist reminding you of a humorous truth I learned long ago: “It is getting harder and harder to get out of this life alive.”

Today we hear Jesus telling us that the span of our life is in the care of God Almighty, and we can not add a single hour to it by being anxious. Not a single hour. (Matthew 6:27) Does this mean we are to do nothing to stay healthy, of course not. Does this mean doctors and nurses are unnecessary? Of course not. All of biblical truth points in exactly the opposite direction. But we are to trust our life into the hands of God. And we are to do so knowing that he will take us home at his appointed time, not ours.

How many hours, days, weeks and months have we wasted with worry? The amount is very large if we are honest. But Jesus says that if we follow him, and learn of the love of God, and place ourselves in his hands we need never be anxious.

God grant us all to learn to live in this faith. This is the call of the Christian.



Foundations for Our Future (117) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Natures Beauty

“Consider the lilies of the field, how they neither toil nor spin.” (Matthew 6:28,29)

I love the way God’s revealed Word brings wondrous things to our attention. In the midst of this most central of all sermons (Matthew 5-7), while teaching men and women to not be anxious, Jesus tells us of God’s delight in the beauty of nature. And in particular of the glory of the wild flowers of the field. Compared to the extraordinary splendor of King Solomon and the trappings of his reign, the lilies of the field out do him! Doesn’t that make you smile?

Our Lord is continuing to unfold before his disciples, that includes all of us who call ourselves Christians, that they are precious in the sight of God. There will always be demands and deadlines that intrude on our lives, but none of them are to become so insistent that they make us forget our value in the sight of God. We are of inestimable worth to God, and it is not dependent on what we accomplish.

Dare we believe it?



Foundations for Our Future (118) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Faith and Fire

A field full of grain is a beautiful sight in the eye of a farmer. It would seem that the fields our Lord was seeing as he gave this teaching were dotted with wild flowers. When these fields were harvested, and the grain was threshed, the remaining straw was gathered up to use for fuel. The flowers that had been so lovely were now withered and dry. Soon they would be consumed in the oven. (Matthew 6:30)

There may be a hint here of the truth that human beings were created to live forever. They are not going to have a transitory existence, but are meant for eternity. In that light will the Creator not care for them? If he makes transient nature so beautiful, will he not care for those he is calling to heaven?

When we are anxious about what we will eat, drink, or wear, we are focused on the least of our true needs. Jesus tells us these needs are not insignificant, in fact God knows we need them (Matthew 6:32), but they are minor concerns in comparison with what really is of lasting merit. We are being called to place our trust in the Lord who shows absolute confidence in his Father. We are not to be “of little faith,” but to be like him. God our Father will clothe us. He knows all our needs (Matthew 6:32)



Foundations for Our Future (119) 

by: The Rev. Dr. Jon Shuler

Seek First

Every follower of Jesus soon comes to have a special love for some of his words. We are to abide in all of them (John 8:31), and true disciples do, but we all have “favorite” passages that bring us particular joy or comfort. Matthew 6:33 is one of those passages for many. It is a passage that can give guidance for ones whole life. “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.” Make that your priority, Jesus says, and everything else you will ever need will be provided.

What might be the pathway to making that verse a life verse? One that you would remember and turn to again and again over a lifetime?

It would begin by deciding to make it so. Marking it carefully in your bible, memorizing it by heart, saying it over and over to yourself. It could become a prayer, turned to again and again: “Lord teach me to only want to be part of your kingdom, only to want your righteousness to become mine.”

There truly is a hierarchy in this life, our Lord teaches us. We have material needs that are real, but they pale in comparison to the life he is preparing for us in the kingdom of our Father. Seek that first.