Seek First The Kingdom-part 2
Praise the Lord, it is good to be with you once again on this Thursday afternoon, I feel so Blessed on this day, God is so good to give us this opportunity to come together and to study His Word, I pray that you feel the same way, and that these studies in some way are bringing you closer to God and that your spiritual walk with Him is being strengthened, as mentioned on Monday we are going to pick up our study today at 2. Identifying The Human Bondage, so here it is part 2
2. IDENTIFYING THE HUMAN BONDAGE’S
Greed is the more famous of the two. Greed has many aliases—covetousness, avarice, and lust, for example—but greed by any other name is still sin and has no place in the heart of a child of God.
In the New Testament, Jesus told a story of a farmer who had a bumper crop to end all bumper crops. He harvested more than he had square feet to store it. After thinking about his dilemma, he came up with a brilliant plan. He would tear down his smaller barns and build a bigger one. He had been blessed to be a blessing to others, but greed convinced him it was better to hoard than to share. That very night, while he dreamed of all he would do with all he would get, he lost his life and his soul.
Greed is short-sighted and self-centered. It does not care for others. Greed climbs ladders and steps on whoever is in the way in order to make it to the next rung. Greed is sly. Once greed sinks its claws into our hearts, it does not let go easily.
But greed does not have to win. There is another contender in this fight: contentment. Contentment can stand toe to toe with the greediest greed and will not back down, because contentment is a gift from God. We can be content with what we have, and according to the Scripture, “Godliness with contentment is great gain” (I Timothy 6:6). We already have more when we are grateful for what we already have.
When greed cannot trip us up, anxiety will take its best shot. Anxiety seems to be more subtle and less sinful. Anxiety convinces us we need more because there is coming a day when we will have less. We do not stock up just because we want more; we stock up because we think we will need more. Anxiety also answers to worry, fretfulness, and fearfulness. But Jesus has a prescription for anxiety just as He does for greed: trust.
When we are so anxious about our finances and our needs, we are not trusting God.
Anxiety comes naturally, but it becomes sin when we seek first to take care of ourselves and forget to bless the kingdom of God. During a recent general conference, everyone in attendance witnessed a miraculous spirit of generosity and giving during the Global Missions and North American Missions services. There was a true understanding that God would take care of those who care for His kingdom.
It was the same understanding Jesus spoke of when He said, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?” (Matthew 6:25, NKJV).
In the last few verses of Matthew 6, Jesus presented several illustrations to encourage His listeners not to be anxious. In Matthew 6:25, He reminded them life is much more than what we eat and what we wear. In fact, He is the One who breathed life into us, and He is the One who created our bodies, fearfully and wonderfully made. Since He gave us breath and life, certainly He is able to give us bread and clothes.
In the second illustration, Jesus reminded the people that the birds of the air fill each morning with a melody, and none of them chew their talons off worrying where they will find their next worm.
“Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?” (Matthew 6:26).
The third illustration is the length of their days. “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” (Matthew 6:27, NKJV). We may think this verse means adding a cubit to one’s height, but many commentators believe the word stature could better be translated “age.” Jesus was asking if worry could lengthen their lives. Anxiety cannot add one minute to the end of our days. But anxiety and worry can steal years from our lives.
In each of those illustrations, Jesus could have referred to Himself as Jehovah-jireh, the Provider or El Shaddai, the Almighty. But He referred to Himself in a more tender way. He is our Father who truly cares for us as a good dad cares for his children.
Like the consummate teacher He was, Jesus summarized His teaching on this subject: “Therefore, do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things” (Matthew 6:31–32, NKJV).
3. THE TRANSFORMING INITIATIVES
A. Invest Your Treasures in God’s Kingdom
The message of Matthew 6:25–32 is clear: do not be greedy and do not worry. In verse 33, Jesus told us what to do: “Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” In one short sentence, Jesus prescribed the cure to end greed and anxiety. We simply need to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness.
What does that statement mean? It means we seek to promote the kingdom of God in this fallen world before we seek to promote ourselves. We invest our treasures, our time, and our talents in the kingdom of God.
“Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the Lord of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it” (Malachi 3:10).
When we invest our treasures in the kingdom of God, He has promised to bless us in return. However, our motive for giving tithes and offerings should not be to receive blessings, but to be a blessing to the Kingdom.
The Lord has gifted every believer with a talent or skill. God gifted some to preach or teach. Others have musical talents such as singing, playing instruments, or leading choirs and congregations in worship. Still others have gifts of administration or the ability to work with their hands.
God has gifted some individuals to work with children or with teens. God-called missionaries fly to foreign fields and work with people who have never heard the precious name of Jesus. Some people have the talent to present truth through skits and drama. Others may be gifted to run a soundboard. Computer users may love to design websites. People skilled in auto mechanics may enjoy working on church vans.
Whatever gifts God has given us, whatever He has given us a passion to do, there is a way to invest that talent and treasure in the kingdom of God to promote His kingdom in this world.
B. Seek First God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness
God may be asking the jet-setting businessman to seek His kingdom first, while strapped in with seatbelt securely fastened, by sharing his testimony with the man or woman sitting next to him. God may be asking the hardworking, full-time housewife to seek His kingdom first by inviting her hardworking single-mom neighbor and her children for a meal. Besides demonstrating the love of God, the meal would be an opportunity to witness and let the neighbor know there is hope. Starry-eyed college graduates looking for a place to land should also be looking for ways to use their talents and training to bless the kingdom of God. Maybe they could help a North American Missions pastor set up an audio/video system. Or perhaps they could design postcards for the church or fix church vans.
Seeking the kingdom of God first wakes us up each morning asking where we can be a blessing today. It peeks inside our wallets to see where we invest our finances. That is one reason we give God the first of our income as a tithe. Tithing is a gentle reminder that God has given us what we have, and we are giving 10 percent of it back to Him to bless His kingdom.
We must seek God’s righteousness. One line from a popular chorus that used to be sung at altar calls said, “Above all else, I must be saved.” More important than being rich or famous or powerful or comfortable, we must be right with God. At the end of life, none of those things will matter. But if we are right with God, we will spend eternity looking into the face of the One who died for us so we could live for Him. If we are not right with God, we will spend eternity hiding our faces from the one who sold us a lie and cost us our souls.
Jesus promised that if we seek His kingdom and His righteousness first, He would provide all the things we need, because He is our Father.
Internalizing the Message
Today is a good day to take inventory. Not of the shop shelves or of the savings account, but of the heart. What do we put first in life? Why? When we wake in the morning, do we check the stock market first, or do we read the Scriptures first? Are we consumed with greed and the need to have more just to have more? Are we overcome with anxiety and the need to have more because we are afraid we will have less in the future?
It is time to leave greed and anxiety where they belong: at the feet of Jesus. It is time to ask God to forgive us for being greedy and anxious, and to ask for help to trust Him to take care of our needs. It is time to turn our eyes on Jesus and not to be covetous and envious of the new toys and technology our neighbors bring home. It is time to remember we are not living for this life alone, and we should treat this life more like a hotel and less like a home.
If we will seek God and His righteousness first, He will take care of all the things we need because He is our Father. He knows what we need, He is able to meet our needs, and He wants to meet our needs. We just need to trust Him.
Ok, that concludes this study on “Seek First The Kingdom” so I guess a good question to ask is am I seeking the kingdom of God first, is God my first focus, I do know that the most important thing is for God to be first and foremost in my life, and to put worldly things behind. On Monday we will begin our new study “The Most Popular Commandment Of Jesus”, looking forward to seeing you then.