HOW TO SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM OF HEAVEN
To introduce my sermon to you today, I want us to sing the chorus, "Seek Ye First." That's a beautiful little chorus, and it is an excellent verse for each of us to have committed into our memory. It is a verse that could be a goal or theme for life.
Jesus spoke these words to people who were not heathens. They would have been people who had chosen to follow Him. We probably could assume that many, if not most, were Christians.
Today you may need to know how to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior. That is done in the following manner: A) Admit your need as a person who has sinned and cannot save yourself. B) Believe the gospel message that Jesus died for your sins and will forgive those sins. C) Confess Jesus as Lord in your life; that is, pray something like this, "Lord, I know I'm a sinner. I want forgiveness. I believe Jesus died for my sin. Right now I invite Christ into my life. I receive forgiveness and eternal life in Jesus name, Amen."
Having become a Christian, we need to know how to seek first the Kingdom
of Heaven. Follow as I explain two points two points that the Lord gave
I. HEED THE LORD'S NEGATIVE COMMAND. vs. 31-32
The Lord said, "Do not be anxious about food, drink or clothing. If we heed His command, we will not worry about food. We will not spend time worrying about water to drink or clothes to put on our body. We are commanded "Do not be anxious."
The reason for the Lord's command in verse 31 is further explained in verse 32. He says, "For all these things the Gentiles seek." Gentile, at this time, was synonymous with heathen or pagan. The contrast is very clear. God's way or the world's way. The Lord's way is trust; the world's way is scratch it out for yourself.
In the Central American country called Cuba, there is a contest. It is to see who will cut the most sugar cane in the year. A few years ago two men tied for this honor. Both were men who would only work six days a week. They believed God had ordered a day of rest.
These men, no doubt, wanted to win the contest, but they were not anxious about it. They were not going to seek like the heathen and disregard the word of God. All of us need to be reminded of the contrast brought out by the Lord.
If the world seeks after food, water, clothing, shelter, our life style should be a contrast to them.
You have known people who would do almost anything to get ahead. They constantly seek advancement so they can have more of this world's goods. The Lord said the Christian lifestyle should be in contrast to that self-seeking attitude.
We can seek first the kingdom of heaven by heeding the Lord's negative
command. We can also heed His positive command.
II. HEED THE LORD'S POSITIVE COMMAND. v 33.
How do you seek first the kingdom of heaven? By seeking first the kingdom of heaven. At first that doesn't sound like an explanation. But it is! Some things can only be done by doing them.
Let me explain several words of the verse, and perhaps that will help us to do what the Lord said.
SEEK This word is used in contrast to what the Gentiles (heathen) seek. The English translates the Greek as 'seek' in both cases. The Greek for 'seek' in verse 33 seems to point more to the direction of the seeking. (The Kingdom). It is a present imperative and therefore could be translated "Go On Seeking" or "Keep On Seeking"
FIRST This means 1. First in sequence of Time; 2. First in Attention; 3. First in Desire; 4. First in exertion of Energy. An evaluation of how time, attention, desire, and energy are spent will reveal what we seek first.
KINGDOM Please turn in your Bible to the following scriptures: Mt. 3:2, 4:17, 23; 5:3, 10, 19, 20; 6:10, 13; 7:21; 8:11-12; 21:31; 26:29; Lk 17:21. All together Matthew uses the phrase "kingdom of heaven" 32 times and the "kingdom of God" only 4 times (in the NASB). Scofield draws distinction between the kingdom of God and the kingdom of heaven. The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible says "this is unfounded" (p.804). My personal opinion is that the distinction between the two is not necessary to teach the truth Scofield teaches.
What does His kingdom, the kingdom of God or heaven mean? It refers primarily to the action of God; it never means an activity initiated by man. It also refers to the realm set up by God which benefits man. In a sense it is present in all believers and yet is still to come. It will not completely be ushered in until the second coming of Christ and the New Heaven and the New Earth.
When I seek His kingdom, I am seeking HIM and HIS benefits. It is evangelistic and causes spiritual growth. We are to seek first His kingdom.
RIGHTEOUSNESS Simply defined, it means right deeds. The Greek term means 'fair and equitable dealings, justice.' All of these words are from God's point of view, not man's.
SEEK FIRST THE KINGDOM It means (1) You're on the road marked the Kingdom Road. You have not reached your final destination, but you're on your way. (2) You give care and diligence to walk carefully on this road. (3) Seeking implies zeal and earnestness. (4) Keep on Seeking implies patience and perseverance.
KINGDOM VS. RIGHTEOUSNESS Kingdom refers more to the external
aim of the seeking.
Righteousness represents more the internal aim of the seeking.
Very practically, how can you in this congregation seek first His kingdom
and His righteousness? (1) Public worship and private worship. (2) Public
and private Bible study. (3) Public and private prayer.
Meditation upon God. His Word and His Righteousness. Seeking opportunities to witness and seizing those opportunities as they present themselves. Study ways to witness so you can be more effective. Seeking to be yielded moment by moment to the control of God's Spirit.
The Bible says "all these things shall be added unto you." What things? The necessities of life.
The life of King Solomon. He asked for wisdom. God gave him wisdom and riches.
What choices do you make? As God would say, What do you want in your own life? Do you seek Him first? What evidence is there that you obey this command in verse 33?
How do you seek Him?
Heed His negative command
Heed His positive command.
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And Beyond. Amen? Amen!