We Are Rich
Thursday after Easter
5 April 2018
God has enriched us Christian people with riches beyond our comprehending. He has given us Christ, His blood, death, resurrection, life, gospel preaching, sacramental gifts. If we possess all these things, and we do, how could we ever count ourselves poor or forsaken? We count ourselves poor either when we think that true riches are money, houses, cars, and fat stock portfolios, or when we do not treasure those things that are the true riches of the kingdom of Christ. We are like the rich man in the gospel story told by Jesus, who despised the beggar sitting at his door and ignored his need. Instead the rich man thought himself rich, without sharing all good things with the one who had need. How wrong he was in that delusion.
He had forgotten that God, who is truly rich, also gives most away to those who are in need. God never hoards or keeps for Himself the riches of creation or church. Look at the food we have every day on our tables; either in our kitchens or on the festal board of our church. The Lord has graciously and abundantly given us all that we need to live in this world and unto the next. He keeps giving over and over again, even to the ungrateful, the abundance of this world, just as a loving parent continues to feed a child who can do nothing but complain about the food set upon the family table. No one would stop feeding an ungrateful child. So also our heavenly Father, although hurt by our abuse and ungratefulness, graciously continues to set before us the richness of this world. We snatch it from His open hands only to grumble about our share, the wealth of others, or the poor quality of what He has given. This is to our shame. But feed us still He does.
Many people consider themselves to have received all of God's abundance when they are rich in money, live in the penthouse, have the latest designer fashions, or are the CEO of their company. They will be the best dressed people in hell. Such people are sunk in the deepest poverty because they have ignored the true richness that comes from God. This is poverty of spirit. You can dress it up in the most beautiful clothing, drive it around in the most opulent car, and keep it in the most stunning designer interior, but it is still just a filthy rag in comparison to the robe of righteousness that comes from Christ.
Our heavenly Father grants the church spiritual abundance through the preaching of the gospel, which is the green pasture of the Word. He gives forgiveness to those who have no merit of their own. He gives the grace and every favor to those who are wicked (Rm 4:5). He washes in baptism those who are filthy in their rags. He feeds every Lord's Day His children on His Son's body and blood. What richer fare could be offered to those who have nothing to offer in return? When does God stop offering it? Never. As long as we are hungry for the bread that comes down from heaven, He will send it. As long us we thirst for His righteousness, our cup will overflow with mercy. How rich we are!

Rev. Dr. Scott R. Murray
Memorial Lutheran Church

   Martin Luther
"We should learn this art, namely, to let the world glory forever in great riches, honor, and power. For these are indeed loose, uncertain, perishable wares that God lets men scramble for. It is a simple thing for Him to give to a scoundrel-who in turn blasphemes and slanders Him-a kingdom, a principality, or other honors and possessions on this earth. These are His chaff and His husks, with which He fills the bellies of His sows that He is about to slaughter (Lk 15:16). To His children, however, as David says here (Ps 23:2), He gives the genuine treasure. Therefore, as the dear children and heirs of God, we ought to glory in neither our wisdom, nor strength, nor riches, but in this, that we have the 'pearl of great value' (Mt 13:46), the dear Word, through which we know God, our dear Father, and Jesus Christ, whom He has sent (Jn 17:3). That is our treasure and heritage, and it is sure and eternal and better than all worldly possessions. Whoever has this treasure may let others gather money, live riotously, and be proud and haughty. Let him not be troubled by such things, although he is despised and poor in the eyes of the world. But let him thank God for His inexpressible gift (2Co 9:15) and pray that he may abide in it.
"It does not matter how rich and glorious we are here on earth. If we keep this treasure, we are exceedingly rich and sufficiently honored. St. Paul was an unworthy, miserable man on earth, and the devil and the world assailed him most violently. To God he was a dear, worthy man. He was so poor, too, that he had to provide for himself with the work of his hands. And yet, despite such great poverty, he was richer than the emperor in Rome, though he had no other riches than the knowledge of Christ, in comparison with which, he says: 'I count all things (nothing on earth is excluded) but loss and rubbish' (Phil 3:8).
"May our dear God grant us grace that we, too, like David, Paul, and other saints, regard our treasure, which is the very same one they had, as something great and exalt it above all possessions on earth and thank God sincerely for having honored us with it above many other thousands. It is only because of His grace, however, that He has placed us into His green pastures and has provided us so richly with good food and fresh water. Therefore, we should thank Him all the more." 

Martin Luther, 
Psalm 23, 23.2
2 Corinthians

Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows bountifully will also reap bountifully. Each one must give as he has made up his mind, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that having all contentment in all things at all times, you may abound in every good work. As it is written, "He has distributed freely, he has given to the poor; his righteousness endures forever." He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness. You will be enriched in every way for all your generosity, which through us will produce thanksgiving to God. For the ministry of this service is not only supplying the needs of the saints, but is also overflowing in many thanksgivings to God. By their approval of this service, they will glorify God because of your submission flowing from your confession of the gospel of Christ, and the generosity of your contribution for them and for all others, while they long for you and pray for you, because of the surpassing grace of God upon you. Thanks be to God for his inexpressible gift!
Lord Christ, You have fed us on the richest of fare in the gospel and sacraments. Help us to acknowledge it and receive our daily bread with thanksgiving. Amen.
For the faculty and staff of Memorial Lutheran School, that those who serve there might be built up in the holy faith and confess Christ in all they say and do
For Charles St-Onge, that God the Holy Spirit would be with him and guard him in his labors as a missionary
For pleasant weather, that the people of the world would enjoy the abundance of the earth
Art: GRÜNEWALD, Matthias,  Resurrection (c. 1515)
Memorial Lutheran Church
© Scott Murray 2018
Memorial Lutheran Church, 5800 Westheimer Rd., Houston, TX 77057
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