St Matthew the Apostle (transferred 21 SEP to 22 SEP 2019 A.D.

St. Matthew (transferred from 21 Sept)   or the Fourteenth Sunday after Trinity
                                                 22 September 2019 A.D.  Morning Prayer

Psalm 119:1-16            First lesson, 1Kings 19:15-16,19-21     Second lesson, 1 Timothy 6:6-19

                             Preparation and  Service; a calling to all believers. 

                                                      Collect for St. Matthew’s Day
                               O ALMIGHTY God, who by thy blessed Son didst call                                                   Matthew from the receipt of custom to be an Apostle                                                  and Evangelist; Grant us grace to forsake all covetous                                                desires, and inordinate love of riches, and to follow the                                             same thy Son Jesus Christ, who liveth and reigneth with                                           thee and the Holy Ghost, one God, world without end.   Amen.

      Please take the time to go back over the three selections of scripture listed for today, the day set aside to commemorate St. Matthew.   Each selection delves into the concept of service.   What is service ?  We ask the Lord to use us in his kingdom at the conclusion of Holy Communion:
 O heavenly Father, so to assist us with thy grace, that we may continue in that holy fellowship, and do all such good works as thou hast prepared for us to walk in; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with thee and the Holy Ghost, be all honour and glory, world without end. Amen.

    Each of the passages of scripture set aside today speak to that work or service. Let us think of the service of St. Matthew, a man who had been all about serving himself, as a greedy tax-collector, to a man who will eventually lose his life in the service of Christ, his Savior.
 St. Matthew completely changes direction, in a matter of only a few lines of scripture, Matthew leaves one profession to enter another. He makes a diametrically momentous change which involves going from a man of wealth to a man on the streets, roads, and byways of life, what a great biography.  Matthew did have a template to follow.  Let’s look at our  Old Testament lesson.   1Kings 19:15-16,19-21
       Elijah passes the mantle of service and ministry on to Elisha.  Immediately Elisha accepts the mantle, turns back to sacrifice the oxen that were pulling his plow, fed those left behind and then followed Elijah.   Notice something else.  Elisha burns the plows, hitches, anything to do with his former vocation, he is moving on to the next calling.  He has no intention of going back to the fields after accepting the call.  Talk about service.   
   In Psalm 119:1-16 the psalmist speaks to preparation, meditation, walking in the way of the Lord.   Each aspect of what the psalmist is doing is making a way for the reader as well as the author to do right in the sight of the Lord.  “thy Word have I hid in my heart, that I might not sin against thee.”   Notice the verbs and adjectives used to describe the actions that the psalmist is taking to make sure he is following the commands of the Lord.  “...I will praise thee with uprightness of heart, ...o let me not wander from thy commandments,...with my lips have I declared all the judgements of thy mouth,...I have rejoiced,..I will meditate,...have respect,...will delight myself in thy statutes: I will not forget thy word.” 

    All this preparation to follow the Lord?  How much time do we spend in the Word of the Lord each day ?  Do we meditate on the Word, do we rejoice, have delight, have respect, and most importantly do not forget the Word ?
    Now to the meat of the message today.  As I have shared before, Jesus was not angry at the rich who knew what to do with their wealth. As long as the wealth was obtained in a legal fashion, (read the parables of the talents) and was used in a righteous fashion, Jesus did not condemn.  His anger at wealthy folk was focused on those who did not help in the spreading of the gospel.  Notice what St. Paul writes in his second letter to his adopted son Timothy. 
 Paul notes ‘godliness with contentment is great gain.’   The next verse is used in the opening of the service for the burial of the dead.  ‘..for we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.’  The reality is we have a temporal blessing, if we are rich, here on earth.  Well how do we deal with that concept ?
          First off, do not become entangled in the idea that ones wealth is the end all and be all of our life.  ‘...for the love of money is the root of all evil...’   Notice it reads LOVE of money, not money is the root of all evil.  We need money to function in this temporal world, we need money to do things for the Lord, we need money to be part of the society we live in.   In a word, Paul is telling all believers, rich, not so rich and everyone else, to make sure of their priorities.
  Do not be come ensnared by this false dreams of wealth or fame, fortune or what not;
do ‘...fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life, where unto thou art also called and hast professed a good profession (witness) before many witnesses.
      And now the best argument against the ‘wealth bashers’; ‘...charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not high-minded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy; that they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life...’

       Notice several things about these last couple of verses.  No where in them is there a call for the rich to divest themselves of their wealth.  They are to do good works in the Lord, they are to do good, they should be ready to distribute wealth and willing to communicate. And the most important aspect of this set of verses, ‘... laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life..’  That by far is the most important aspect of living for Christ. 
    The warnings that Paul writes about can be applied to anyone, it just happens more often, because of how we judge our fellows, wealth or being rich lead a believer into false hopes or trusting in something that can be gone in a matter of moments.  If you think of the great financial disasters that have struck from time to time, you may have wealth today and tomorrow be destitute.    The great evangelical Anglican bishop, John Charles Ryle, was born into a family of great wealth.  He had all the advantages of that great wealth. As he related in his conversion story, his family went to bed wealthy and woke the next morning in poverty.  His father’s wealth evaporated in a financial disaster that struck Great Britain in the 1840s.  The good that came of that, Ryle went into the ministry by way of the Church of England.  He would go on to write many papers dealing with the day to day issues of faith of the common man.  His books still resonate today some 140 years after having been first penned. 
     In conclusion, let us all inspect our lives, making sure we are using the riches God has given us to the furtherance of the Gospel and the Kingdom.  Let us remember what David wrote. “....I will not forget thy word...” 
Let us reflect on the life of St. Matthew, who’s life we commemorate this Sunday.  We can learn by example.   Daily shall we praise Him, daily shall we read his Word, daily shall we do that which pleases our Lord and Savior. 

Let us pray:
O Lord, we join our unfeigned thanks for all thy mercies; for our being, our reason, and all other endowments and faculties of soul and body; for our health, friends, food, and raiment, and all the other comforts and conveniences of life. Above all, we adore thy mercy in sending thy only Son into the world, to redeem us from sin and eternal death, and in giving us the knowledge and sense of our duty towards thee. We bless thee for thy patience with us, notwithstanding our many and great provo-cations; for all the directions, assistances, and comforts of thy Holy Spirit; for thy continual care and watchful providence over us through the whole course of our lives; and particularly for the mercies and benefits of the past day; beseeching thee to continue these thy blessings to us, and to give us grace to show our thankfulness in a sincere obedience to his laws, through whose merits and intercession we received them all, thy Son our Saviour Jesus Christ.     Amen.
 ALMIGHTY God, whose loving hand hath given us all that we possess; Grant us grace that we may honour thee with our substance, and remembering the account which we must one day give, may be faithful stewards of thy bounty; through Jesus Christ our Lord.                         Amen.
   DIRECT us, O Lord, in all our doings, with thy most gracious favour, and further us with thy continual help; that in all our works begun, continued, and ended in thee, we may glorify thy holy Name, and finally, by thy mercy, obtain everlasting life; through Jesus Christ our Lord.                                   Amen.


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