Seek First the Kingdom

Originally posted July 30th, 2019

As I shared last week, in this time of physical healing, God has been doing something amazing in my spiritual life, and I want to share it.

 Here is my disclaimer: most of what I believe the Lord has been revealing to me through His Word and time with Him is challenging, counter-cultural, and even hard.

That being said, it is nothing new, things we should know and say we know, yet often neglect to practice. Also, this is not some new amazing revelation, vision, etc., but a reminder of who God is, what we are created for, and how we can trust Him completely.

God chooses to reveal Himself and pull us into intimacy with Him through His Word and prayer, and that is what is reflected in this series of writings.  

Do you ever feel anxious? Like the whole world is on your shoulders? There are kids to care for, bills to pay, work to be done. We have relationships to maintain and build, house work, etc.

If I am brutally honest with you, I get overwhelmed sometimes of all that needs to be done. I am a husband, a daddy, a church planter, a pastor, a small business owner, a farmer, etc. the list goes on and on.

It can be a chore just to maintain all of these things so I can go on business as usual.

During this recovery from back surgery, as all the things I normally do pile up, as medical bills come flying in, and follow up from outreach events, newsletters, partnerships, pastoral care, etc. keep needing to progress, I got overwhelmed.

Then, like a small, still voice, this kept playing in my head: “Seek first the Kingdom”.

In the greatest sermon ever preached, (no it wasn’t mine), The Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5, 6,7),  Jesus’s manifesto if you will, the incarnate Word of God, Jesus Christ himself addressed such things and more, and it has impressed deeply on my heart.

I turned to Matthew 6:25-34, and read:
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious 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? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? 

Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
“Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble."

Now, I am not going to give an exposition on this scripture, (at least not in this setting), there are much smarter and better preachers than me that you can get that from, I am however, going to break it down into three applications/observations for our life and specifically how I am applying it in mine:
  1. Why do we worry? We spend our whole life worrying about what we think we need, how we can obtain it, what others think of us, and how to either change or maintain that status. Why? Are we not created for more than just to have stuff and status? We willfully put on the chains of debt, and become slaves to it and others in the name of stuff. Having a big house, boat, car, etc., and when we can’t keep up with it any longer we become desperate. We work jobs we hate, tolerate things that are wretched because it is “ the only way”.  Jesus Himself says, not to worry, about what you’ll eat and drink, what you’ll wear, He will take care of our needs. Trust Him! Don’t get consumed being anxious about the future, live now. ( I am not advocating for not planning, but we got to really learn to be dependent on God instead of ourselves, and trust Him at His Word.)
  2. Priorities: A lot of our problem is we don’t make God and our relationship with Him a priority. We don’t seek FIRST THE KINGDOM. I was once told that a person keeps their heart right beside their pocketbook and calendar.  Where you spend your money and time is where your priority is.  I think that spills into all walks of life. What is important to you? I was recently told by a professing believer that he doesn’t have any money to “ give to the Lord”, and no time to serve or even read his Bible, but God understands. As lovingly as I could, I said, God understands that the Big Mac three times a week, the weekly shopping spree, the hours on Facebook, and the designer coffee every morning takes priority over your giving and your time. Let’s be real people, if we are going to seek first the kingdom and it’s advancement, let’s make it a priority.
  3. Kingdom seeking as a priority: And even (especially) in ministry, let’s make seeking the kingdom a priority. We just wrapped up some wonderful outreach and VBS, but if it isn’t done to proclaim the Gospel and see the Kingdom grow, it is worthless and shouldn’t be done. Just because someone else is doing it, doesn’t mean it’s God’s Will, and is for kingdom advancement.
  4. Take the steps: What does it take to Seek first the Kingdom? First, seek God’s will, and you cannot do that without a relationship with Him and that only comes through Jesus Christ! If you are not a follower of Christ, you will not know or seek God’s holy and perfect will. Second, prioritize, do you want to serve yourself or God? That’s what it really comes down to, and if it is the former, examine your heart deeply, you may need to truly visit the first step. Third, and this seems to be the hardest, and is where I and my wife are at right now, remove whatever takes priority or stands in the way of serving God wholeheartedly. We are currently downsizing, trying to pay off bills, so we can work alongside the Lord together and have nothing to hold us back. Tough I know. Fourth, trust God, not worrying about tomorrow, but living for Him and with Him today!

These are just some of what God has been putting on my heart and into practice, and I hope it is a blessing to you.  Next time, I am excited to share about reliance on God in the midst of turmoil.  His grace is truly sufficient!

Grace and Peace,
Pastor J