Seek Ye First The Kingdom of God
This morning I want to look at my life’s verse because it describes something that seems to be missing in modern Christianity. This verse has been my guide for more than 4 decades, and has proven itself to be true.
But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you. (Matthew 6:33)
This passage of Scripture gives us the secret to a successful and fruitful life. Let’s take a close look and see what it says, and how we can live a life that is pleasing to God.
Seek ye first
The word “seek” means to search, quest after, or to look for. In implies making a concentrated effort to find something. It is how parents respond when one of their children is lost. They not only expend their energy to seek the child, they also enlist the help of others. The longer the child is missing, the more intense the seeking.
As we go through our lives, it behooves us to seek to put the things of God first. That is really what the first and greatest commandment is all about.
And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered them well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all? And Jesus answered him, The first of all the commandments is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God is one Lord: And thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength: this is the first commandment. And the second is like, namely this, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these. (Mark 12:28-31)
If we seek to follow these two commandments, the rest of the law of God falls into place. Not only this, but we have God’s promise that we shall have everything we need in this life, but not necessarily everything we want.
There are many distractions in this life, put there by Satan, to keep us from finding the way of life.
Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (Matthew 7:13-14)
The wide gate is the gate of religion. It is wide and beautiful. It is a gate that attracts those seeking the pleasures of this life. Look at the pomp and ceremony of most pagan religions, including Catholicism. It is beautiful to behold. Many, I suppose we could even say most, enter in through this gate because it is so attractive. The problem is, it leads to destruction, and this destruction is eternal damnation in the Lake of Fire.
The gate that leads to life is not as attractive as the wide gate. It is narrow, and you can’t take your baggage (sin) with you. You can’t go in two by two. It is there for all, but most people are attracted by the beauty of the wide gate. The thing that saddens me the most is, there are few that find the narrow gate that leads to life. It must be sought for. God brings situations into the lives of everyone to get them to search for the right gate, but most prefer the easy way of the wide gate.
We are to put finding the right gate first in our lives. If we don’t, Satan will draw us toward his wide gate of destruction.
The kingdom of God
Since the first thing we are to seek is the Kingdom of God, we should know what to look for. Most people today are looking for something that gives them an emotional high. They want something that makes them feel good and gets them emotionally excited.
As much as I hate to say this, most things we call “revivals” are geared to doing the same thing. They are not really revivals, they are pep rallies. True revivals will cause people to fall on their faces before a holy God and bemoan their sinfulness.
Forgive me that short parentheses. Now let’s get back on track. What is the Kingdom of God?
For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink; but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost. (Romans 14:17)
It is not the external things like food and drink. It is not some big party. It starts with righteousness, which we will look at in a moment.
Neither shall they say, Lo here! or, lo there! for, behold, the kingdom of God is within you. (Luke 17:21)
Those who seek the Kingdom of God find peace with God. Once they have this peace with God, they can have the peace of God in any circumstance. When things are going well we have a kind of peace that can be mistaken for the peace of God. It is in times of trial that we really find the peace of God. It is that peace that comes from knowing that God is in control, and that He will not let anything come into our lives that does not work for good.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. (Romans 8:28)
Over the years, this verse has brought me much comfort and peace during times of difficulty.
When we seek the Kingdom of God, we also have joy in the Holy Ghost. Happiness and joy are not the same thing. Happiness only comes when things are going well. Joy is something we can have, even when things are not going well. This joy is based upon the Holy Spirit reminding us who is in charge, and of His loving care for His children.
You can see from this that the Kingdom of God is something well worth seeking after.
While we are seeking the Kingdom of God, we are also to seek His righteousness. This entails two things. First of all, we need to remember that our own righteousness is not worth very much in God’s eyes. Here is what He thinks about it:
But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. (Isaiah 64:6)
All the righteous things we do in ourselves are no better than filthy rags. The reason is, they are tainted with our sin, and are based upon a faulty standard. The only true righteousness we have is that which is imputed to us when we are in Christ. We are only in Christ when we have been born again.
Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. (John 3:3)
We can’t even see the Kingdom of God without the new birth.
Righteousness is simply doing that which is right. The issue is determining what standard is the authority for what is right. Here are a few possible standards:
The individual’s opinion,
There may be others, but this is enough for my purposes here.
The question is, how do we determine which of these, if any, are the real standard by which we will be judged when we stand before God?
It is not as difficult as it sounds. The first three are not a good standard because they are all subjective. They depend on the opinions of fallible men. One man’s opinion is just as good as that of another man.
Religious writings are a bit more difficult because most of them claim to come from God. We must determine which of these religious writings bear the marks of God. If God is really God, He doesn’t make mistakes. The first thing to do is look for mistakes it the words that claim to come from God. Historical mistakes are easy to find in all religious writings except the Bible. If you look carefully, you will find contradictions in all religious writings except the Bible. Many have tried to find mistakes and contradictions in the Bible, but when all the facts were in, no one has succeeded.
Bible out shines all other religious works is in prophecy. I don’t have time to go over the accuracy of Bible prophecy. It is sufficient to know that most religious writings shy away from prophecy because their authors were not God. Those that do have prophecy are either too vague to check if their prophecies are accurate, or if they really to come to pass as predicted.
The only reliable standard for right and wrong, the only standard that does not evolve with societal opinions, is the Bible. Therefore, the only reliable standard for what is right and what is wrong is the Bible. All other religious writing have errors and could not come from God. God is the Creator, and He sets the standards by which He will judge when judgment time comes.
Once a person is saved, he is expected to live according to the righteous precepts of God.
For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. (Ephesians 2:10)
Sin is the transgression of God’s precepts.
Whosoever committeth sin transgresseth also the law: for sin is the transgression of the law. (1 John 3:4)
One day we will all answer to God for how we followed the righteous precepts of God’s law.
And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Hebrews 9:27)
This is just as true for the saved as for the lost. The saved will answer for their works at the Judgment Seat of Christ and the lost at the Great White Through Judgment.
Are you ready to stand before God at the Judgment Bar?
These things shall be added unto you
When we first seek the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, we are promised that all of “these things” will be added unto us. What are “these things?”
Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things. (Matthew 6:31-32)
This passage tells us that food, drink, and clothing, which are necessary for life in this world, will be given to us. There is no promise that we will not have bad thing happen in our lives. Actually, the Bible teaches just the opposite.
Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution. (2 Timothy 3:12)
Living a godly life in Christ Jesus will bring problems. These problems, however, are only temporary, they will end when we join Christ in Heaven.
What is the worst thing this world can do to us? It can kill us, and that sounds pretty bad on the surface, but, is it? What happens when a true Christian dies?
We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (2 Corinthians 5:8)
Death takes the Christian out of this evil world, and into the presence of our Lord. What could be better.
For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. (Romans 8:18)
And if that isn’t enough, listen to this next verse:
For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (2 Corinthians 4:17)
We need to wrap our minds around the fact that our life on earth is but temporary. There is more to follow. For the lost, it is eternal suffering in the Lake of Fire.
And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire. (Revelation 20:15)
For the saved, it eternal life in the presence of our God.
There are some very practical things we should learn from what we have seen so far. First of all, we need to examine ourselves to be sure we are in the faith.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates? (2 Corinthians 13:5)
There are many religious people who have never come to Christ on His terms. They believe in Him intellectually, but have not truly trusted in Him for salvation. They are still trusting in their own goodness, or in some rituals like baptism, for their salvation. After all, they are good people, and the did “pray the prayer.” The Bible says there are none good but God, and where in the Bible do you find that a prayer saves anyone? Isn’t prayer something you do? Doesn’t that make it a work? Are we saved by believing, or by working?
It is not wrong to pray when one gets saved, but it is not the praying that saves, it is the believing behind the prayer that saves.
Once we are saved, we are to live according to God’s precepts. Jesus said that man does not live by bread alone, but by every word of God. Every means every. We don’t have the right to pick and choose which words we obey. It is wrong (sin) to say that this or that passage was for a different time unless the Bible says it was.
The ceremonial law was given to the Jews to point them to the coming Messiah. They have been done away with. The law that says to remember the sabbath and keep it holy has not. This does not mean remember Saturday, it means remember the special day that is set aside to rest from work and to worship God. For the Jews, that was Saturday, for the New Testament believers, it was the first day of the week, or Sunday.
How many times have you heard someone say that all the Ten Commandments are repeated in the New Testament, except the keeping of the sabbath? Well, is that true? No, it is not! Listen to this next verse.
Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching. (Hebrews 10:25)
Not only are we to keep that day of assembling together to worship God, we are to do it more and more as the end approaches.
There are many other things I could mention where we tend to ignore what God says in His Word, but I am going to have to stop here for today.