“Seek the Things Above”

Pt 3 of Series, “Pursuit of Holiness”

October 18, 2020

 

Matthew 6:25-33

(Jesus said) “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? 28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. 30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? 31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

 

So, we are in our series called “Pursue Holiness.”  In week 1, Mike Barkau unpacked Hebrews 6, encouraging us to press on to maturity.  Hebrews 6 tells us to leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity.” We shouldn’t stay baby Christians but we should pursue righteousness and holiness.  Last week, I talked about zeal for God, that if you want to pursue holiness, zeal for God should be a part of that.  We said that people have zeal for a whole lot of things, zeal for marriage, zeal for kids, zeal for a cause, zeal for the Buffalo Bills.  Whatever happened on Tuesday night?  It was all my fault.  Last week I bragged on the Bills and then they had that debacle.  I am so sorry.  I repent.  People have zeal for all sorts of things but what would it mean to have zeal for God? What we said was if you want to up the zeal deal, get back to the cross.  Get back to the cross.  Take a long hard look at yourself, at the ways you have not lived according to God’s desires, your sins, and repent of them, confess them.  Realize that because of your sins, you deserve to go to hell. You deserve an eternity separated from God.  But, as Ephesians 2 tells us, “God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ, seated us with Him in the heavenly realms…for it is by grace you have been saved through faith.”  Get back to the cross.  If you want to rev up the zeal deal know you were destined for hell but God has given you heaven.  The more you take it that in, deserve hell, given heaven, the greater will be your zeal for God.

 

Now, today, I want to conclude this series by posing a question, by wrestling with this question.  Here it is:

   

Where does God fit in to all of the stuff of your life?

 

Our Scripture for today is a portion of the Sermon on the Mount.  He is speaking about the concerns that people have in living their lives, the same sorts of concerns that people have today.  Anyone who says that the Bible is outdated, that it was written a couple of thousand years ago and is not relevant for today, those people haven’t read it.  For, what Jesus is talking about is the same sorts of things people are dealing with today. He speaks about storing treasures on earth.  People today are concerned about the stock market, their IRA’s, their TSA’s, their MOUSE’s, they are concerned about their treasures on earth.  He is not saying don’t save up your money for retirement. He is saying don’t get bent out of shape over money.  He is asking the question; Where does God fit in to all of the stuff of your life?

 

Jesus says not to worry about what you will eat or what you will drink or what you will wear.  Does that sound like today?  Are people today worried about putting food on the table in the midst of Covid, how they will make ends meet?  Jesus says we shouldn’t be worried about those things.  He says the pagans worry about them but Christ followers shouldn’t worry about them.  These things are part of the stuff of life.  The question is;  Where does God fit in to all of the stuff of your life?

 

And, keep in mind that the term, stuff, can be more than just food, drink and clothing. The stuff of life can be how to deal with Covid, how to take care of the kid’s schooling during covid, how to work virtually, or will the economy come back.  The stuff of life can be anything about our daily lives that takes up our time or our energy or our emotions.  The question is;  Where does God fit in to all of the stuff of your life?

 

Here is Jesus’ answer;

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Matthew 6:33 

 

Let me read Jesus’ answer again; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” Say that with me; “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  Jesus says to 

 

  1.  Seek First God’s Kingdom

 

To seek is to crave.  It is to pursue something, to go after it with all of your might.  It means to make something a vital necessity of life.  To seek is to go on a search or quest for something, to explore.  In the midst of all of the stuff of life, Jesus says to seek God’s kingdom and righteousness.  And, He says to 

 

  1.  Seek God’s Kingdom first

 

Jesus says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness…”

 

  1.  First could mean timing

 

Seek God’s kingdom first before you seek others things.  Do it first, before you get immersed in other stuff.  In terms of the tick tock of the clock, seek God’s Kingdom before you seek other stuff. There is certainly something to be said for giving God the first portion of your day or your time or your money. But, 

 

  1.  First could also mean priority

 

That is first in order of importance, holding the highest place. It is to be prime, to make something #1. It is to make something most prominent, to prioritize something, to give it first place in our lives, the #1 priority. Jesus said, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well,” but we invert the order.  We tend to seek all of the other things first and then maybe there will be leftover room for God.  This brings us to

 

Principle #1- To pursue holiness, make God #1 in your life.

 

Last week we looked at what is called the Shema.  It reads, “Love the Lord you God with all of your heart and all of your soul and all of your mind.” To love God with all of your heart, soul and mind means that He certainly cannot be #2.    

 

Paul lays this out;

 

“And he, Christ, is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.”  Colossians 1:18

 

Apply that to your life.  “In everything” Christ might have the supremacy.  Give God first place in your life, the highest priority.  Your priorities determine how you spend your time and with whom, and how you make decisions.  Pastor Tony Evans said; “The problem isn’t time—you watch your TV—your problem isn’t energy—you play softball or baseball—your problem isn’t money—you have 2 cars and a smart phone—your problem is priorities.  Where does God fit in to all of the stuff of your life?  Make God your #1 priority. 

 

Now, before I move on, let me make something crystal clear.  We might hear this word form Jesus and hear it as a word of law, an expectation, something like, you’d better do this or you are going straight to hell.  No, if you root for the Yankees you may be going straight to hell, but Jesus’ words have a different ring than a threat.  Jesus’ words are meant to point us to the treasures of life, to a wonderful and fulfilled life.  One pastor wrote: “The Christian life is meant to be a pursuit of God.  To walk through the door of salvation and never draw any closer to Him, is to miss the treasures that are available in Christ Jesus, (to quote Paul) “…that I may know Him and the power of the resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death.” [1]  Jesus’ desire in calling you to “seek first the Kingdom of God” is that you not miss out on the best things of life. 

 

Blaise Pascal wrote: “There is a God-shaped vacuum in the heart of each man which cannot be satisfied by any created thing but only by God the Creator, made know through Jesus Christ.”  That same pastor wrote: “We seek fulfillment in jobs that cannot measure our worth. We pursue pleasure from things that rob us of health.  We turn to false idols that can never fill our empty spaces.  We seek comfort from other people who can never give us unconditional love.  We look for a filler in social media and ask the world to fill the holes in our souls with whatever is trending.  We go from one relationship to the next in an effort to fill the emptiness inside.  Yet none of these[2] things will ultimately satisfy our deepest desire….the vacuum in our souls can only be quenched by God.”  Principle #1- To pursue holiness, make God #1 in your life.  This leads us to

 

  1.  Principle #2: To Pursue Holiness, Experience God in All of life 

 

How can you do that? 

 

  1.  You will need to de-compartmentalized your life 

 

We are pretty good at putting out lives into compartments.  There is the work compartment and the kids department. Every 6 months whether we need it or not is the spouse compartment and we go out on a date.  Then, there is the God compartment.  The God compartment many times must fit into the 60 minutes we spend on a Sunday morning.  We compartmentalize God to fit into 1/168th of our lives.  Okay, maybe we give Him an extra 10 minutes a day if we have a quiet time or we whip out a quick prayer as grace or before bed.  But, we tend to compartmentalize God.  He must fit into the time and energy parameters we a lot Him with everything else we have going on in our lives.

 

But, when it comes to God, what if we de-compartmentalized our lives?  To pursue holiness, experience God in all of your life.  After all, God is the author and finisher of all life.  He is the alpha and omega.  John Ortberg alludes to this in his book, “God is Closer Than You Think.” He refers to the popular children’s books, Where’s Waldo.  To illustrate the mystery of God, Ortberg states, “Where’s Waldo?  Why doesn’t He show himself plainly?  Why does he hide his face?  He is not absent, but he is elusive.  He is Waldas Absconditus—the Waldo who hides himself.  He is on every page but you must look for him.  Let every day, every moment of your life be another page.  God is there, the Scriptures tell us, on every one of them.” [3] 

 

To pursue holiness, experience God in all of life.  De-compartmentalize your life.  See God in every area of life.  See God in your marriage.  That spouse of mine is a gift from God.  He or she is a wonderful gift from God.  See what that will do to your thinking when you are going through a rough patch in your relationship and may even be considering divorce.  Our slogan here at Risen Christ is, “Seeing marriages and families thrive with Jesus in the center.”  We believe there is something special about a marriage that has God’s love smack dab in the center.  Your kids or your grandkids.  See them as God’s gifts.  Your job. What will it do to your attitude about your job if God was in the middle of it?  What about your money?  How will it change your view of money and how you spend it if you see all of your money as coming from God.  Your house, your car, your boat—they are all gifts from God.  Change from giving God 1/168th of your life to seeing Him in all of it. It will completely change how you view all of the stuff of your life. 

 

Robert Munger, in his little booklet, “My Heart, Christ’s Home” [IVP] tells of how after Christ entered his heart, said… “Lord, I want this heart of mine to be yours. I want to have you settle down here and be perfectly at home. Everything I have belongs to you. Let me show you around and introduce you to the various features of the home so that you may be more comfortable…

So, he took Christ into the study or library, which represents the things that the mind focuses on. The Lord had a bit of cleanup work to do there, getting rid of books and magazines... They moved on to the dining room, which represented eating worldly fare rather than doing the will of God. Worldly pleasures do not satisfy in the long run…. From there, they moved to the…sitting room…. They agreed to meet there each morning to start the day together. At first, they spent some wonderful hours there. But then, as pressures mounted, the time began to be shortened. Then, Munger got so busy that he started skipping these times. One morning as he was rushing out the door, he saw that the door to the drawing room was ajar. There was a fire in the fireplace and the Lord was sitting in there alone. He said, “Master, have you been here all these mornings?” “Yes,” said the Lord, “I told you that I would be here every morning to meet with you.”….But then one day he came home to find the Lord waiting at the door. He said, “There is a peculiar odor in the house. There is something dead in here, in the hall closet.” Munger knew about that closet, but he had the key to it and wanted to keep it off limits. He certainly didn’t want Christ to see what was in there. In fact, he was angry that Christ had mentioned it. After all, he had given the Lord access to (all of the other rooms)…. ‘I’ll give you the key,’ Mungar said sadly, ‘but you’ll have to … clean it out. I haven’t the strength to do it.” The Lord said, “I know you haven’t. Just give me the key and authorize me to take care of it and I will.” Finally, Munger signed over the title deed to the Lord and said, “You run the house!” [4]

   

To pursue holiness, experience God in all of life.  De-compartmentalize your life.  Paul said;

 

“So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”  1 Corinthians 10:31   

 

  1. Principle #3: In Pursuing Holiness, Know that Personal Matters will be Resolved by Making a Priority of Kingdom Matters

 

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

 

Again, the context of these verses is that the people Jesus was addressing were so concerned with the stuff of life, treasures, money, what to eat, drink, what to wear.  Jesus is saying that when you seek God first, when you prioritize God in your life, all of the other stuff of life will be taken care of.  Let me say it this way

 

  1.  You are more than an animal

 

Look at the person next to you, maybe look at your spouse and go, “R-r-r-r, you are an animal.”  Let me tell you that if you are saying that about your spouse, we do not want to know anything more than that.  Actually, my point is that we are more than animals.  Animals are concerned about what they are going to eat and drink.  My little dog, Coconut will walk into our family room and just look at us, she will stare at us, or she will give a little yelp, and we know she needs something, her water bowl or food bowl is empty or she wants to go outside.  She lives to eat or drink or go to the bathroom.  She wants her food bowl filled or to get her little treats after dinner.  That is her life.

 

But, we are more than animals.  For those who do not know God’s love in Jesus, their lives are consumed with what they will eat or drink or how they will be clothed or how they will have pleasure.  That is what life is about for them.  But, we are more than animals. 

 

  1.  Through Christ, we have a new view of life 

 

We know that God is in the midst of our lives.  We know that life is more than food or clothing, as Jesus says.  Life has an eternal quality to it.  Our bodies are finite and destined to die but our souls and spirits are infinite.  Life is filled up for Christians because Christians have Jesus’ love right in the middle.  And, that changes us.

 

Let me give you some examples.  Say you lost your job because of Covid.  You are struggling with how to pay your bills.  This personal matter will be resolved by making a priority of Kingdom matters.  I am not saying that if you give your life to Christ, He will automatically give you a job or send you a check to pay your bills.  The government will do that if the members of Congress can ever get their acts together.  What will happen, though is that you will know that God will always, always take care of you.  Your money situation may not be resolved but how you deal with it will.  How about your health?  The same holds.  By giving your life o Christ doesn’t mean that He will automatically take away your cancer.  But, He will let you know that He is with you, that He has always been with you and He will be with you through this and that even if you don’t get well, He has an eternal home waiting for you.  You are feeling lonely.  Especially during Covid, any number of people are feeling isolated and lonely.  That personal matter can be resolved when you know that Jesus is with you always, even until the end of the age.  Seeking God first will allow for any and all of your personal matters to be resolved, all through God’s love.

 

So, we have come to the end of our series, “Pursue Holiness.”  Today, our message was, “Seek the Things Above.”  We have tried to answer the question, “Where does God fit in to all of the stuff of your life?” I hope the 3 principles we have talked about today will help you.

 

Principle #1- To pursue holiness, make God #1 in your life,

Principle #2- To pursue holiness, experience God in all of life.

Principle #3- In pursuing holiness, personal matters will be resolved by making a priority of Kingdom matters.

 

For Jesus said, “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”  May God bless you as you indeed, “Pursue Holiness.”

 

In Jesus’ name.

Amen. 

 

 

 

 

   

 

   

 

    

  

 

 


 


[1] From the sermon, “Seek First,” by Bright Adeyeye. 

[2] Ibid.

[3] Page 33, as quoted in the sermon, Kingdom Living by Steve Andrews.

[4] From the sermon”Making Christ Home in Your Heart” by Steven Cole found at Bible.org.