Sermon: “Look at the Birds”

Look below the video for my Bible study notes and sermon outline.

I. Establish the text

A. Select the Pericope: Matthew 6:25-37

B. Brainstorm: What questions/thoughts come to mind?

25 – – Career advice: Find something you enjoy doing and the money will follow.

26 – – Nomadic couple who wandered from church to church, relying on handouts for food and shelter. People in other countries exist for about $1/day. Pay Buddy $1000/year to sit by my lap.”

27 – – Science indicates that worry decreases life, while meditation and exercise increases over the average.

28 – – Goodwill, clothing ministry. Several options exist.

29 – – Lilies of the field flower to attract insects for pollenization. We array ourselves in fine clothes to attract other people for pollenization and for commerce.

30-33 – – God might not give us fine clothing, but has given us skills to earn a living.

II. Literary Study

A. What is the history of the text? Who wrote it? When? In what social context? What Historical/Religious/Sociological factors influenced its writing?

Part of the Sermon on the mount. Follows the beatitudes and the Lords’ Prayer.

III. Question the text

B. Are there any unusual details? Un-named characters? ‘Pointless’ description? Meanings of names of characters? What does a literal meaning of natural metaphors imply?

What other imperatives of Jesus are hidden in the Gospel?

C. What is the center of gravity of the text? Where was the author heading? What question did the author intend to answer? What is the emotional center of the text? What music would it call for?

Center of Gravity: Physical needs are far less important than striving to live in God’s Kingdom.

Emotional Center: Do not worry about your life

F. How will this text be heard by individuals in the congregation, including the preacher?

Counter cultural! Absurd!

IV. What do the commentaries have to say about the text?

Robert Gundry (Matthew: A Commentary on His Literary and Theological Art. Eerdmans’ 1982). interprets these sayings as dealing “with the other main reason, besides greed, for hoarding early wealth – anxiety.” He clarifies that the prohibition is against anxiety, not against work nor to endorse idleness.

M. Eugene Boring (“The Gospel of Mathew,” The New Interpreter’s Bible. Abingdon, 1995.) considers 6:19 through 7:12 as one pericope as instructions on authentic righteousness. He perceives this section as “directed to people involved with sowing, reaping, storing in barns, toiling, and spinning, but who are called to see that their life is not based on these things.” He limits the scope of Jesus’ audience for this passage from the general public to disciples who’s faith might waiver after hearing the first part of the sermon on the mount.

James J.H. Price (“Concerning Treasures,” The Presbyterian Outlook. October 19, 2001.) cautions against misusing this passage to scold people who are anxious because of the lingering shock and sorrow following the savage terrorism on Sept. 11. He suggest reflecting on appropriate versus inappropriate anxiety. While worry about tomorrow is proscribed, might one worry about today?

V. With respect to the hearers (including the preacher), What does this text want to say and do?

A. What is the theological meaning of the verses?

Use anxiety constructively.

B. Focus Statement: Central, controlling, unifying theme.

Other than humans, the rest of creation does not worry about food, clothing or shelter and does fine.

C. Function Statement: What change in the hearer?

Develop constructive prayer practices to pursue God’s kingdom.

VI. Sermon Outline

[Say with hand signals]

Sit, down, come, lets go, leave it, take it, roll over, go to bed

→ Words we say to my dog to keep him healthy and on task.

Most important command: Focus

Hidden Imperatives:

Look at the birds of the air;

Consider the lilies of the field,

Do not worry, Do not be afraid
Love, Forgive, Remember me

Imperatives for our benefit.

It would be nice to be able to sit all day praying, looking at the birds and flowers, …

But someone must grow food, hunt meat, sew clothes, build houses, defend families, …

Will our proposal win?

Don’t want to be a lesson learned.

We ask:

‘What will we eat?’ or
‘What will we drink?’ or
‘What will we wear?’

Jesus spoke these words to people who had sown seed, reaped grain, sewn clothes, and built houses for others.

People who lived hand to mouth. Paycheck to paycheck.

No guarantee of food or clothing or shelter for today, much less tomorrow. ← reason to worry.

But we must eat!

Jesus tells us:

But strive first for the kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.

Do your best for God today and tomorrow will take care of itself.

Worrying about tomorrow will distract you from doing a great job today. Focus on today.

Asked business owner: Do you ever second guess proposals? Could/should we have written …?

Once it is done, on to what’s next. ← 90% win rate. & 14% growth.

Focus on today

Jesus asks:

And can any of you by worrying add a single hour to your span of life?

By taking time each day to reflect on God’s creation and pray,
we add time to our lives.

← documented by several studies.

Worrying reduces health.

Daily prayer increases health.

Focus [hand signal] on today

Add years to life

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