A LIFE THAT REALLY MATTERS-HAT'S IN YOUR CUPBOARD?
SCRIPTURE: ROMANS 8:29-31; MATTHEW 14:13-21

In the name of the God who creates us, redeems us, and gives us life. Amen.

I don't like email. I know its necessary,but I don't like it. The reason I don't like

it is you can't hear voice inflections. You can't see if there is love or fire in the eyes of

the person who is typing. You can't read body language. Hard words can be read as

being soft. Soft words can be misunderstood as being hard. The possibilities for

miscommunication are as great if not greater than the possibilities for communication. I

don't like email


I don't like writing letters either. I don't like them for the same reasonI don't like

emails. When you pickup a piece of paper and begin to read, it's easyto see what's on

the paper, but hard to understand what is behind it.


We have the same difficulty when we read scripture. There are words printed on

the page, but we can't see if those eyes were snapping when the person wrote those

words, or if there were tears running down their cheeks. We don't know the body

language of the person, or their voice tone, when they wrote those words. It is because

we don't know the context. We don't have background. All we have are the words in

front of us.


We all struggle in our efforts to communicate. Context means so much. Knowing

the other person, knowing something about them, knowing the situation that they have

experienced, and knowing what they know about us and our situation, all help in times

of dialogue. And yet, there is always room to miscommunicate.


In this series I have been preaching about is "A Life That Really Matters". The

first week I said that for a life that really matters we need to turn to God. A part of

every Chrlstian's context is their relationship with God. The first thing we do is turn to

God.The second week I said that the reason we turn to God is because with God there

is grace in every place.


The third week I talked about where Christians reside. We reside at the corner of

Suffering and Glory, an imaginary intersection of the Christians life. Suffering is part of

our lives. There are many forces in life that would pull us down and diminish us, and

draw ustoward a life of suffering. The result can be physical and spiritual death.


Last week, I talked about the things that we treasure if we really want a life that

matters. We need to treasure, out of our past, our experiences of God that have

brought us to this place. We put them like gems in a jewel box. We are also called by

Jesus to look to the future. We are called by Jesus to have openness about the future.


Today I want us to think about what is in our cupboards. What resources do we

have to share with others? Jesus was the embodiment of self-giving love. Jesus lived life

giving to others, and ultimately giving the final gift, the gift of his life itself. If we are to

follow him, then there must be a giving quality about our lives.


What is it that we have to give? What is in our cupboard that we might share

with others? If you read through the letters of Paul, context is vitality important. You

need to be aware of where Paul is and the conditions of his life when he writes the

letters.


You need to be aware of the context of the congregations to which he is writing

so that you can understand what he is saying in each letter. And always, we need to be

aware of our own context. Context is vitality important.


What happens when you read Paul? There are times when if you could see him,

you could be sure that his finger was up and he is shaking it in your face. There are

other times when he is full of grace. For instance, at the end of chapter 8 in the book of

Romans we have a hymn of grace, most likely composed by Paul himself:


For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities,
nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth,
nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the
love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.


There is no more complete statement about grace in all of scripture than that

statement. It is magnificent. But that isn't all we know of Paul. He is so much more.


What we know about Paul when he wrote the letter to the Romans was that he

was going through a theological struggle of his own. A part of the context of his writing

the letter was a dialogue going on in his head, a dialogue about the nature of salvation

and who was included in the promises of God.


To know that is vitality important as you read the letter. One of the problems

that Paul faced was that he had a deep-seeded belief that the Jews were a part of God's

work of salvation. Paul was passionately focused on his relationship with God through

Christ. We see that repeatedly in his letters. Knowing these two factors, a passion for

the people of Israel and yet struggling to understand where they fit into things, and

focused on God through Jesus, we then read Romans and we see where Paul comes

out.


He comes out with that most impressive concept that we are saved not by our

birth, but by our faith. We are justified by faith in God's grace.


What's in Paul's cupboard? It is the deep love of Christ. It is the focus of his life.

Yet he is saying he is willing to give it all up if someone else will know him. The question

for you and me is, is there some one person that we care so much about that we are

willing to offer our own relationship with Christ in sacrifice so that they might know

Christ?


In the passage from Matthew, the context is that Jesus has just heard about the

death of John the Baptizer. In responsehe goes to an isolated place. Perhaps he goes to

grieve. That would make sense. Maybe he goes because he is afraid the same thing

might happen to him, that he might be beheaded.That makes sense. Maybe he goes to

reevaluate his ministry and the whole Christian movement in the light of John's death.

That certainly makes sense. We are not exactly sure why Jesus goes to his isolated

place.


We do know what he does there. He goes to be by himself. Yet there are others

who know that's where he is going, so they arrive before him. When Jesus arrives he

seesvthem, he sees their need, and he responds to their need. Jesus goes to take care

of his own soul, yet when he sees need around him, he opens up his cupboard, and

takes care of those around him. We are told that he heals them.


Jesus' disciples come to him late that evening, and say, "Send all these people

away so they can go find food and take care of themselves for the evening." This is

where I would love to have been present and watched Jesus' eyes and his gestures. My

guess is his eyes were snapping at that point, and his finger was pointing, and he said,

"You give them something to eat. Don't send the people off. Open up your cupboard

and feed them." That's just a hunch, but that's the way I read the text.


The disciples counter, "We only have five loaves of bread and two fish." Jesus

says, bring them to me." He says words and does actions at that time that remind us of

the Last Supper, and of communion liturgy. They are acts and words that have immense

meaning. What Jesus essentially does is say to them, "If you open your cupboard, you

will do more than physically feed these people, you will give them much more."


What is in the disciples' cupboard? More than enough. What is in your cupboard?

More than enough. You and I have more than enough to minister to the people around

us. You and I have more than enough to take care of the physical needs of others. You

and I have enough to minister to the spiritual needs of other people. You and I have

more than enough to be God's presence in the world. The only question is, are we

willing to open up our cupboards?


A ninety-two year old woman lost to death her husband of seventy years. As she

went through that transition of her life she decided to move into a nursing home. On the

day she was to move in, she arrived. Her room wasn't quite ready, so they had her wait

for about an hour in the lobby. Finally one of the employees from the nursing home

came to her, and said, "We can take you down the hall, and I will show you your room."


As they began to make their way down the hall, the ninety-two year old woman

moved very slowly because she had a walker. As they walked along the employee began

to give her a visual description of the room. As the employee was describing the room,

the lady said, "Oh, I love it!" The employee said, "How can you say that? You haven't

even seen it yet?" The lady said, "Happiness is something you decide ahead of time. My

liking the room does not depend on the arrangement of the furniture in the room. It

depends on the arrangement of the thoughts in my mind. I have chosen to like it!"


Friends the choice is ours. The question is, what's in our cupboard? The call of

God upon us this day is for us to open the cupboards of our lives so that others might

receive.

MAY THESE THOUGHTS GIVE YOU STRENGTH

 
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