Seek First the Kingdom?
One night, a group of thieves broke into a jewelry store. But rather than stealing anything, they simply switched all the price tags. The next day no one could tell what was valuable and what was cheap. The expensive jewels had suddenly become cheap, and the costume jewelry, which had been virtually worthless before, was suddenly of great value. Customers who thought they were purchasing valuable gems were getting fakes.
Those who couldn’t afford the higher priced items were leaving the store with treasures.
Sometimes I think we might be a little bit like that as a people.
Sometimes we forget what is really valuable and important and we often get distracted with those things of lesser importance.
Several years ago, construction workers happened upon a corpse outside the ancient city of Pompeii, SLIDE where many people died when a volcano exploded. The evidence surrounding this corpse (a woman) was interesting. Apparently, she had been fleeing from the eruption of Mt. Vesuvius in A.D. 79. Overtaken by the molten lava, she died in the hot ashes.
The corpses revealed hands that were clutched around jewels.
The jewels had survived, but the woman had not. Often times we say things that we do not really mean.
Perhaps sometimes we even think we mean them, but we don’t really.
For example, often times when I hear someone proclaiming, “I love God”
I often realize their idea of love and my idea of love are quite different.
For some “love” is some emotional feeling or positive feeling towards someone else.
Jesus said, “If you love me you will obey my commandments.”
So many are like that with the church.
Some people say, “I love the church”, but their actions tell a different story…
After Jesus’ resurrection, he came to Peter and asked him three times if he loved him.
Three times Peter assured Jesus that he did, in fact becoming a little frustrated at the redundancy of the questioning by the third time.
Jesus asked three times if Peter loved him because three times Peter denied Jesus, and Jesus was trying to make the point to Peter that if you really love me don’t just back it up with mere words, but also with your actions.
To me one of the most interesting statements that Jesus made was when he taught, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. I suspect I will spend a lifetimes attempting to unpack and understand the depth of what it means to seek first His kingdom. The idea or concept of the “KINGDOM” is a prominent theme throughout the entire Bible.
Jesus taught his disciples that when they prayed, they were to say, “Our Father, which art in Heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy KINGDOM come, thy will be done…”
There was great confusion among those during Jesus’ time about what the nature of the kingdom that the Messiah was to set up would be like.
They expected some earthly, physical kingdom that would overthrow the Roman rule of the time, but the kingdom of which Jesus rules over is not of this world. His kingdom’s boundaries cannot be measured, and mere man cannot number the members of that kingdom, For right NOW, His Kingdom is the Church. (His Body – His Bride)
Therefore, if His kingdom is His church and we are to seek first the kingdom of God, shouldn’t the church be a priority for our lives? SLIDE (Text: Matthew 6:25-33) This whole passage regarding seeking first his kingdom and his righteousness is all in the context of Jesus’ teachings on worry. He teaches that we do not have to worry about our basic physical needs because He will take care of it, and we need to seek the kingdom first and His righteousness. So, I began to think to myself, that sounds like a great offer, but how do I seek first His kingdom and His righteousness? What exactly does it mean to seek the kingdom first? Obviously, it is a matter of priorities. What is it that we spend our time and energy focusing on? Jesus said, that the pagans seek after the physical things of this world, But - we should make the kingdom and His righteousness a priority in our lives.
So, we should love the Kingdom
I have heard some people say before, “I love Christ, but I don’t love the church”.
And I was one – I watched as my Dad went through several churches that gave him great heart ach but the one in Franklin county just before I graduated was the worse I watched 3 people out of a congregation of well over hundred try and undermine my Dad with lies and accusations that where unfounded these few didn’t like him and so they tried to spread lies and rumors about him. Well to a teenager I thought all churches where like this so I stopped going to church after I left home for a while and would say I love Christ but I don’t like the church” But what I know now is that those 3 people where really (unknowingly) minions of Satan trying to undermine His church that was on the move and reaching people with the gospel.
But my point here is that to love Christ we must also love the bride of Christ - His Church.
If we are going to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness then we must love the kingdom people.
I hope that we all know and understand that the church is not a building, if you are a Christian today then you are the church and a part of the kingdom of God.
If you are to seek first the kingdom of God, you must love the kingdom and that means individuals that make up that kingdom.
Jesus made it clear that the greatest command is to love the Lord your God with all of your heart, soul and mind and the second greatest is like it, to love your neighbor as yourself.
The Apostle John all throughout the book of I John spoke of the importance of loving those that makes up the kingdom as individuals. We need to love the church, but loving the church is not about loving a building or a mass of people, it is about loving your brothers and sisters in Christ and that love will compel you to put their needs even above your needs. I John 3:18 The love that we have for one another is of the utmost importance; we cannot be Christians and not love one another. In fact Jesus taught that the world would know we are his disciples by the way in which we love one another. Let us as the Apostle says, not let that love be merely with tongue, but let us show it through how we act and through how we treat one another.
I John 4:12 We also must love the church as a whole.
The Church is perhaps the greatest institution ever established, and though it has faults and flaws from within, seeking first the Kingdom of God means that we will love that Kingdom that Jesus loved so much that He shed His blood for Her.
Let me tell you what happened five years after Dad left the church in Franklin Co. he was at a regional assembly in Blackstone when the lady (that was the kingpin in railroading Dad) came up to him apologized and hugged him again and said she was sorry. (conviction is powerful thing when the Holy Spirit is involved) of course he accepted the apology.
So we should love kingdom people collectively Let me readjust and come at the kingdom from another direction.
Astronaut James Irwin is one of the few men to walk on the moon. As he stood upon the lunar landscape and looked up at the earth, he prayed – He thought about the strife among nations, poverty, hunger, and rampant evil; and he thought to himself: "What is more important than man walking on the moon is that God should walk on earth." This is the desire we express when we pray, "Thy Kingdom come."
The prophet Isaiah offers a wealth of prophecy about the coming Messiah- He reveals that one day God’s Son will establish His Kingdom: "The government will rest on His shoulders… His ever expanding, peaceful government will never end.
He will rule forever with fairness and justice from the throne of His ancestor David. The passionate commitment of the Lord Almighty will guarantee this!" (9:6-7). The Messiah will establish His authority. The title Messiah means "anointed one."
We inaugurate Presidents; we anoint Kings.
The word "kingdom" in the original language means "rule" or "reign".
God’s Kingdom is unique-it is not a human kingdom.
Earthly kingdoms rise and fall, but the reign of God will prevail and last forever.
God’s program involves the rule of righteousness.
Pilate asked Jesus what kind of king He was; Jesus didn’t fit Pilate’s perception; He didn’t conform to the popular notion of a political ruler. Jesus responded, saying, "My Kingdom is not of this world." He told His followers, "the Kingdom of God is within you." He should rule our lives! (regardless who rules our nation) IT IS HERE.
Ours Is The Kingdom of Heaven. Where do I get that Well from our scripture last week The beatitudes Jesus goes up to the mountaintop and begins
I love the way Matthew begins this.
Notice the compact detail here.
He sees the multitudes, he goes up, sits down, gathers the disciples and then Matthew gets very specific.
Jesus opens his mouth... Right. What’s the point?
Matthew’s formality here depicts Jesus as preparing to proclaim an oracle.
Some translations cut out the formality here and just say “he began to teach them, saying.” NIV does this. I believe that is a mistake.
Matthew intentionally drags out the details here in a three-fold introduction.
Jesus opens his mouth, he teaches them, he is saying. Matthew could have simply put it, “Jesus said.”
But what follows is so important that Matthew doesn’t want you to get there unprepared.
So, let’s prepare ourselves for these words of our Master. Open your hearts and minds. Receive the lessons taught. Listen carefully to what Jesus says.
Blessed… 9 times Jesus uses this word.
It means one who has received a gift or favor from God.
We are not just talking about “happy.” Blessed is the opposite of cursed.
One is a favor the other is a punishment. Blessed are the poor in spirit. Who are these?
People who recognize their own poverty spiritually (we absolutely know we cannot not be set right without the ONE and ONLY Jesus the Messiah) recognize their own poverty spiritually BUT are blessed by God. This is the first step into the light of truth. It is the first step of recognizing our condition before God. To be poor in spirit is more than to be humble, it is like comparing myself to the perfection of Jesus and seeing the truth and accepting it as truth. I not only DO NOT measure up, but I am like a miserable beggar standing by a King. We have to be there that mindset-no excuses we are totally at the mercy of God. To actually mourn over my spiritual condition and the world itself because it is LOST…
Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth. This word meek is translated Once wild but now restrained , submissive – HUMBLE Follow Jesus on this.
A person sees his spiritual poverty, he grieves over it, and comes in meekness before God, willing to submit to God’s will and way. (A wild stallion now broken and restrained) Jesus said God will give the whole world to people like that.
All through the Bible God sees the proud and takes their stuff away and gives it to the meek who love him. God humbles the proud and exalts the humble. And then next Jesus says, “Blessed are they that hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.”
Again this naturally follows the meek person who comes to God in submission and now develops a spiritual hunger and thirst for what is right in God’s sight. Righteousness. Jesus says, they will be filled. Have you noticed that nothing in this world truly satisfies. This world is full of promises that it can’t keep. there are a very few things that exceed our expectations in this world mostly things in this world - pacifies, but it never satisfies.
But Jesus pronounces God’s blessing to His Kingdom people those that have chosen to love Him and walk in His ways to abide in His word – We inherit Jesus’ kingdom…
We should become kingdom focused The kingdom of God is bigger than any one person.
The Kingdom of God is even bigger than this church here. So many people seek to do things because of their own selfish motives and agenda, but the Kingdom of God does not revolve around us it revolves around Christ and what is important to Him And that goes back to the kingdom - getting the lost in the kingdom What I am giving you this morning is a very important and deep spiritual truth that many have not comprehended in the Christian faith and you probably will not hear it taught on but this is important to you growing spiritually.
It started “In the Beginning” God looked at the Earth it was formless and VOID – it was DARK Darkness covered the surface of the Earth which is also Water…
Then God said “Let there be light” God brings LIGHT – Then He takes the light and separates the LIGHT from the DARKNESS Right from the beginning God created light to be GOOD… God separates Light from Darkness This is a principle all through the Word of God -God separates… Because this is KINGDOM (this is what Jesus went about preaching)
God wants to remove darkness from our lives We must allow Gods Command – to take form IN US…
We must become Children of the LIGHT Children of God and allow His transformation from Flesh Earthly Creature to Spiritual Creature to take form. SLIDE And BE a Kingdom Believer “In this world but not of this world” This is what the word of God is teaching us that Gods Kingdom has no borders its in CHRIST and when we are IN HIM we are a part of it – Jesus is waiting to return for HIS BRIDE HIS PEOPLE At some point in what I believe is the near future God the Father is going to say “Go get them” and Jesus will come in the clouds and say “Come up hither” and we will go to be with him …
And the big clash between light and dark will begin as detailed in Revelation. But until then we as KINGDOM People we need to be LIGHT to those that do not understand and try and draw them to CHRIST For HE IS THE ONLY WAY AND HE IS THE TRUTH AND THE LIFE that gives us eternal LIFE AND LIGHT that we may walk in truth. As we Seek here at WPCC - how we can serve In HIS KINGDOM in this New Year…
COME JOIN US HERE AT WPCC AS WE LEARN TO BE KINGDOM PEOPLE!