Sunday, September 03, 2006

Matthew 6:33 - The Centrality of the Kingdom

Opening thought:
There was once a logger who worked hard, had a good crew and good equipment, and made a good bit of money hauling both hardwood and pine. Then he went on a mission trip with his church to Liberia, and they went up into the great Nimba forest of northern Liberia. When he returned home, he told his wife that he was selling the business to one of his crew, selling their new beautiful home, all their SUVs and trucks, cows, horses, barns, four-wheelers, and moving them into an apartment in Clarksville. His wife had a cow. “What are you thinking? Do you need to see a doctor? What are you planning to do?”

“I’m buying 1000 acres of land in Nimba forest in Africa and we’re going to move there. There is no electricity or running water or houses.” The family moved and bought the land, and when the wife arrived, she realized that her husband had found a treasure of great wealth, virgin sapelo mahoghany trees 20 feet in diameter, standing over 150 feet high. He could haul one log per truck. He sold his wood all over the world. The logger became immensely wealthy and retired in Virgilina after cutting his 1000 acres and never had to crank up a skidder again as long as he lived.

Textual Notes
The Importance of the Kingdom
The kingdom of God is the central teaching of the Scripture. We can trace this concept throughout the Bible. The Old Testament mentions it many times across many centuries and under many circumstances. As God established Israel as a nation and as He called them back to a relationship with Him, His concern was His kingdom.

Ps. 22:27-28; 47:1-2; 95:3; Dan. 2:44; 4:3; 7:14; Obad. 21; Zech. 14:9; Matt. 3:2; 4:17; 5:3; 6:13, 33; 12:28; 13:11; 19:24; Mark 10:15; 12:34; 14:25; 15:43; Luke 4:43; 10:9, 11; John 3:3,5; 18:36; Acts 1:3; 19:8 James 2:5; Rev. 11:15; 12:10).

1. The centrality of the Kingdom is of first priority for a Christian.
“Seek first his kingdom” (6:33) It must be first in our hearts, first in our decision-making, first in our families, first in our jobs, first in our fun.

· WHAT IS THE KINGDOM? The kingdom of God is the rule of God in the lives of believers and thus in the world. What do we know about the kingdom? The New Testament sometimes refers to God’s kingdom as “the kingdom,” “the kingdom of God,” and “the kingdom of heaven.”What is required to have a kingdom? A king, a realm, and a people. The Bible teaches us several truths about each of these realities.

· It has come and it is coming (note 2 Tim. 4:18; Jas. 2:5). (1 Cor. 15:50).
· It describes obedience to the will of God in the individual and in the corporate body of the church.
· It becomes a part of our lives through obedience to God’s Word and His will. In that obedience, the believer becomes aware of and practices the presence of God through the Holy Spirit.
· It is the opposite of selfishness, arrogance and human manipulation.
· There are no geographical, political, cultural, or social limits to the kingdom.
· We are to be instruments God can use to extend His kingdom everywhere and all the time (see Col. 4:11).
· The kingdom of God is God’s gift to us. It must be received (Luke 12:32, Heb. 12:28). We must receive it as little children (Mark 10:15).We cannot even see it unless we are born again, born from above!
· Simply put, the kingdom enterprise is where the power of God is evident, the presence of God is experienced, and the purposes of God are realized.

2. The centrality of the Kingdom provides a better way to live.
“ and his righteousness” (6:33)

3. The centrality of the Kingdom makes all the rest fall in place.
“all these things will be added to you as well” (6:33) When the kingdom is central, we will live above the cares of this earth.

Andrew Murray, The Deeper Christian Life: “Deal with God, and come to Him and say, “Lord of all, I belong to Thee, I am absolutely at Thy disposal.” Yield up yourselves. There may be many who cannot go as Missionaries, but oh, come, give up yourselves to God all the same to be consecrated to the work of His Kingdom. Let us bow down before Him. Let us give Him all our powers-our head to think for His Kingdom, our heart to go out in love for men, and however feeble you may be, come and say: “Lord, here I am, to live and die for Thy Kingdom.

"Some talk and pray about the filling of the Holy Spirit. Let them pray more and believe more. But remember the Holy Spirit came to fit men to be messengers of the Kingdom, and you cannot expect to be filled with the Spirit unless you want to live for Christ’s Kingdom. You cannot expect all the love and peace and joy of heaven to come into your life and be your treasures, unless you give them up absolutely to the Kingdom of God, and posses and use them only for Him. It is the soul utterly given up to God that will receive in its emptying the fullness of the Holy Spirit. Dear friends we must consecrate not only ourselves-body and soul-but all we have."

Commit yourself to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom, and your life will gain a new direction, a new balance, and a new order.