Flowers, Atheists, and God's Love

Posted on 12/10/2017 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

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EVEN THE MOUNTAINS
by Benjamin R. Faust

We praise you Lord because you're worthy
You are Lord and King of the earth and sky
Let us lift you up and declare your glory
Let us lift our hands and our voices high

Even the mountains praise your name
the rocks and the stones cry Holy!
Whoever seeks for your face
will never be the same
Let your kingdom come
in Jesus' name

I'm an instrument, I am only a vessel
Help me open up to receive your love
Let us put to death thoughts of opposition
Let me step aside and point the world to above


JOY UNSPEAKABLE
by Barney Elliott Warren

I have found His grace is all complete,
He supplieth every need;
While I sit and learn at Jesus' feet,
I am free, yes, free indeed.

I have found the pleasure I once craved,
It is joy and peace within;
What a wondrous blessing, I am saved
From the awful gulf of sin.

I have found that hope so bright and clear,
Living in the realm of grace;
Oh, the Savior's presence is so near,
I can see His smiling face.

I have found the joy no tongue can tell,
How its waves of glory roll;
It is like a great o'erflowing well,
Springing up within my soul.

CHORUS:
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Full of glory, full of glory;
It is joy unspeakable and full of glory,
Oh, the half has never yet been told.


BLESSED ASSURANCE
by Frances J. Crosby

Blessed assurance, Jesus is mine
oh, what a foretaste of glory divine
Heir of salvation, purchase of God
born of His Spirit, washed in His blood

This is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior all the day long
This is my story, this is my song
praising my Savior all the day long

Perfect submission, all is at rest
I in my Savior am happy and blest
Watching and waiting, looking above
Filled with His goodness, lost in His love


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Let's start today's message by reading a very familliar passage from the 6th chapter of Matthew, starting with verse 24, where Jesus says this:

Matthew 6:24-34 (TLS*)

24 No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and earthly gain.

25 That's why I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat, or what you will drink; or for your body, what you will wear. Isn't life more than food, and the body than clothing?

26 Consider the birds of the air: they do not sow a field, gather a harvest, and store it in barns; and yet your Heavenly Father feeds them. Aren't you more important than they?

27 Which of you by worrying can make yourself grow?

28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil or spin,

29 And yet even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.

30 If God clothes the grass of the field like this, which is here today, and tomorrow is cast into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 So do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or, 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?'

32 The masses seek after all those things, but your Heavenly Father knows you need them.

33 Instead, rest your attention within the Realm of God's Kingdom and Righteousness, for all these other things will be given to you.

34 So don't concern yourself with tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Today's troubles are enough for today.


I titled today's message, "Flowers, Atheists, and God's Love." But before I explain the reason for that title, let's take a closer look at what Jesus just said.


In verse 25, He starts by saying, "That's why I say to you, do not worry (about your needs)." WHAT is why He says all this about how God will meet our needs? Because of what He said immediately before this:

"No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate one and love the other; or else he will be devoted to one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and earthly gain."

Now, I've heard this verse used in sermons decrying the evils of greed. But this statement isn't all by itself. We already know that greed isn't a good thing to possess or to feed.

Some Bible versions say "mammon," or "money," and shortly before this, Jesus tells us to not store up treasures here on earth. So it's easy to conclude this one verse is saying we can't seek earthly riches and still love God.

But He doesn't stop there. Instead, He goes on to say, "And THAT is why I say to you, don't worry about food and clothing. God knows you need those things, and He takes care of His creation."

So while we wouldn't be wrong in saying that we can't serve God while also serving greed, there is much more to this, and it does not speak only to those who might be both selfish and wealthy, but also speaks to those who struggle just to put food on the table and shelter over their heads.

It speaks to the one who works from sun-up to sun-down and still doesn't have enough to pay their bills.

And we can probably all agree that Jesus was not telling them to quit their jobs, move into a cave, and go permanently into a prayerful trance.

Unless of course that's what God wants you to do. And you might be that one in a trillion. But that's probably not any of us here or listening in.

So for the rest of us, what was Jesus saying?

The poorest among us can still serve money, even those of us who, instead of feeding the birds for tuppins a bag, would beg for a discount and eat the bread crumbs ourselves.

It's not the hard work Jesus was addressing, and Paul later wrote that if someone refuses to work, they shouldn't be allowed to eat.

Rather, the serving of money is a matter of the mind.

Jesus did not say, "Do not work," but rather, "Do not worry."

It is in the unproductively insane strivings of the fearful human mind that we find ourselves enslaved, and in that state of carnal servitude, we leave the place of Divine Communion with God.

Instead of allowing our awareness to dwell in the Presence of God, which is always Here and always Now, we get lost in the mind's fears about tomorrow, and about the story that we call our life.

But as Jesus said, tomorrow will worry about itself. What does that mean? Well, tomorrow doesn't even exist outside of the head. Tomorrow is a fantasy, an imagination, a time that doesn't even exist at all.

Tomorrow is a thought. A production of the mind. And the mind's fearful imagination worries about the mind's fearful imagination, AKA "tomorrow."

Does that make sense?

So let the mind ramble on about how a time it invented is so scary, and take your attention away from its insane ramblings, and return your attention instead into the Temple of God -- your body -- in this Present Moment. You are in Today, and you always will be.

You cannot starve tomorrow, or be homeless tomorrow, or have no clothes tomorrow, because tomorrow isn't real.

If you are starving right now that's all that matters, and taking action right now is the only time you can take action at all.

If you are homeless right now, then.... well, you aren't. You're hearing this message somehow, probably on some type of computer, whether in a cafe or library or on a mobile device. But if you have no place you would deem worthy of calling "home," perhaps you should stop taking your mind's labels so seriously.

Jesus once said that He had no place to lay His head. According to society's definitions, Jesus was homeless. He and His disciples stayed with whoever would give them a place to sleep.

And we find that to be unacceptable, at least for ourselves. But for something to be unacceptable, it has to be "unaccepted" by someone or something.

The human mind labels not having our own building that it calls "home" as unacceptable. But if we stop taking the mind so seriously and instead bring our attention into the Holy Temple where we live, which is the house that we and God share, then we just might discover that we are always at home, and the idea that we are "homeless" is nothing more than a dark fairy tale.

Regardless, worrying about being without a roof over your head "tomorrow," makes you a slave to that worry and to the mind that is creating it.

Instead, today is enough for today. Do right now what is right for right now. Or, as Jesus words it in verse 33, "Rest your attention within the Realm of God's Kingdom and Righteousness, for all these other things will be given to you."

Do the right thing right now as you rest in the Life that fills your home of clay. For the same Life, the same Breath of God that fills that Temple, is also what gives the birds food to eat and clothes the flowers in glorious splendor.


Okay. So let's TALK about those flowers.

Verse 27:

27 Which of you by worrying can make yourself grow?
28 And why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they do not toil or spin,
29 And yet even Solomon in all his glory was not clothed like one of these.
30 If God clothes the grass of the field like this, which is here today, and tomorrow is cast into the fire, will He not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

The flowers don't grow by worrying, by toiling, by spinning.

And yet even Solomon, a very wise and wealthy king, was not clothed as well as the flowers.

For the king's clothing, people had to "toil and spin." They weren't making tunics for peasants, so they had to do their absolute best. The king would have chosen people who were highly skilled in working at the spinning wheel to make threads, to weave them into fabric, to dye them beautiful colors, and to form them into clothing which would be suitable for royalty.

And yet, all that human effort fell far short of the magnificence that bathes the meadows in splendor; and THAT beauty did not come from striving and worrying and making things happen; rather, it came from the flow of the Life of God that spun the threads of every single blade and leaf and petal, knitting them together like taking a peaceful breath, and bathing them in glorious colors like singing a passionate song.

And if you pour the Life and Joy of dwelling in God's Presence into your work, then what flows through it, whether it is food, or drink, or clothing, or a place to lay your head, will point you back to the One who provides your every need.

Or, you can fight against the imaginary future, or against the mind's stories about your life, or against the things you have to do to earn your keep; and in that way, you will toil and spin, and you will see lack in everything.


31 So do not worry, saying, 'What will we eat?' or, 'What will we drink?' or, 'With what will we be clothed?'
32 The masses seek after all those things, but your Heavenly Father knows you need them.
33 Instead, rest your attention within the Realm of God's Kingdom and Righteousness, for all these other things will be given to you.


And here's where today's title comes in.

Most of our translators have written the English version of Jesus' words something along the lines of "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, AND all these things will be added to you."

And we take this to mean, "IF you seek God and His Righteousness, THEN He will give you what you need."

But is that what Jesus was saying? Was He saying that non-Christians are on their own? Was He saying that God looks after only those who make His Kingdom and His Righteousness their top priority? That He pours out His Love only on those who Love Him back?

Or is it true what was said in John 3:16 that "God loves everyone in the world so much that He sacrificed what was most near and dear to Him, just so every single one of them could have the opportunity to have the walls between them and Him removed, and could dwell in His Love and Peace and everlasting Joy?"

God clothes the flowers and feeds the birds, because His Life, His Love, is flowing through them and bathing them in the ever-present ocean of His Presence. It is His Spirit which causes them to sprout and grow, to hatch and spread their wings.

Just as it is His Spirit, His Life, His Breath, which fills the sinner and the saint, the evangelist and the unbeliever, the Christian and the Atheist alike, breathing through them, filling them with Life, and providing for their every single need.

Do you feel as though your needs have not been met? Ask yourself this: are you alive? Probably so. I suspect you probably are. And if so, it's because you have had everything you truly needed provided for you at the time you needed it, and you are being provided with everything you need to live and breath in this Present Moment.

And it is the Love, the Breath, the Life of God that fills your body and enables your mind and your awareness that observes that mind and that body.

We tend to get hung up on our insane minds, their beliefs or disbeliefs, their thoughts and labels, and their conclusions and perceptions -- so much so that we are constantly toiling and spinning, and relying on our understanding and our beliefs instead of resting in the Life that fills us all in this eternal Present Moment.

And we get hung up on the mind's labels. And on its reactions to statements like this one:

We trust in our labeling of the Life, the the Breath, that saturates us all in Love, as God, or as something else.

But regardless of what we call it, it is there. It is the reason we are alive. And it is the source of our constant blessings and perfect provision.

If your mind believes there is no God, it probably can't and won't want to force itself to believe otherwise.

So instead of dwelling there and believing the mind has it all figured out, trusting in that highly fallible mind to take care of you, perhaps you could stop toiling and spinning and trust instead in that Life that holds you in its unending embrace.

And just as Love gives you in this moment everything you need, when it is needed for your mind to see what needs to be seen, if you are not clinging to its words and worshiping its conclusions as truth, Love will shape its thoughts, little by little, into the image of itself.

"Well, that's already happened," the minds of most people of most persuasions will declare. "I see this.... Life, or Love, or Breath, or Force, or whatever you want to call it, pretty accurately."

But could it possibly be true that "we all see through a glass dimly?" And if you let go of your grasping to that filter created by the human mind, and instead, you experience that Life directly without taking the mind's labels and stories and conclusions so seriously, if a certain mental perspective is truly needed, Love will continue to provide our every need.


Let's close with these words from the Psalms, chapter 139.

Psalm 139:7-18 (Taken from NKJV)

Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your Presence?

If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there too. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand will lead me, and Your right hand will hold me.

If I say, "Surely the darkness will hide me," even the night will be the same as light around me; Indeed, the darkness cannot hide me from You, because the darkness and the light are both alike to You.

You formed my inward parts, and covered me in my mother's womb. I am fearfully and wonderfully made! Your works are marvelous, and in my soul, I know this completely.

My frame was not hidden from You, when I was skillfully crafted in secret. Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, the days fashioned for me, when as yet there were none of them.

How precious also are Your thoughts of me, O God! How great is the sum of them! If I could count them, they would be more in number than the sands of the sea! You are with me as I sleep, and when I awaken, You and I are together still.