Summary: Jesus said we should seek first the Kingdom of God. What is that Kingdom and how do I go about making it a priority in my life?
OPEN: Back in 1999 Eddie Stankey died at the age of 83.
Now you might ask – who is Eddie Stankey?
(I'm glad you asked).
According to Time magazine - Eddie Stankey “was a pugnacious, pennant-winning 2nd baseman.” He battled his way through 11 seasons for the champion Brooklyn Dodgers, Boston Braves and New York Giants.
Branch Rickey - the Dodgers general manager - said of him:
“He can’t run, he can’t hit and he can’t throw. But if there’s a way to beat the other team, he’ll find it.” (Time Magazine 6/21/99)
Let me see if I've got this right.
Stankey couldn't run very well.
He couldn't hit very well.
And he couldn't throw the ball very well
I don’t know much about baseball, but I’m pretty sure that’s just about all there is to do on baseball team. But despite that, winning teams wanted him on their team playing 2nd base.
Why? Because, if there was a way to beat the other team, he found it.
Someone once observed that
“A man who wants to do something - will find a way;
a man who doesn't - will find an excuse."
(Stephen Dolley, Jr.)
In our text this morning, we find Jesus telling His disciples that He’s not looking for people … who are looking for excuses. He’s looking for people who want to do something for Him so badly they will find a way.
Jesus declared: "If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
Now what does that mean?
Well, it means to regarding something else to be more important than yourself.
It means placing a higher priority on what Jesus wants than on what you want.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus said it this way:
“…seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33 (KJV)
Now, a lot of folks look at Jesus words there and think they’re some kind of suggestion.
“If I want to seek His kingdom first… that’s OK. But if I don’t… well, that’s OK too.”
But that is NOT what Jesus meant. This wasn't a “suggestion” by Jesus.
These were marching orders.
And how do I know this wasn't a suggestion?
Because Jesus said: “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Luke 9:23
If you’re going to follow Jesus your first priority is His Kingdom and His Righteousness.
If those are not your priorities then you’re just a fan of Jesus. You’re not a follower.
In the first sermon of this series I said that Fans stick around as long as things go their way. If things don’t go their way… FANS walk away.
FOLLOWERS, by contrast, stick around and stick it out because it isn't about them. It’s about the one that they follow… the one that they “seek first” in their lives. The one who is the priority in their lives.
As I pointed out in that sermon, you can see FANS at just about any football or basketball game. Fans are the ones that - when their team is 30 points behind in the last 10 minutes of the game they pick up their coats and they head for the door.
They came to see their team win… not lose.
The FANS weren't there for the team.
The Team was supposed to be there for THEM.
But that didn't happen… so they walked away.
They’re not there for the team.
So what is THE TEAM for Christians?
There are Christians out there who believe that all they need to be committed to is Jesus. They believe they don’t need to be committed to anything or anyone else. And I can understand that.
We are called to deny ourselves, pick up our cross daily and follow HIM!
But Jesus said “seek ye first (what?) His Kingdom and His Righteousness”
And here in our text this morning, Jesus said “I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the KINGDOM of God.” Luke 9:27
What that tells me is that some of those disciples - who were there with Jesus in that first century - were going to see the Kingdom of God before they died.
In Mark 9:1 Jesus said pretty much the same thing "I tell you the truth, some who are standing here will not taste death before they see the kingdom of God come WITH POWER."
So some of these disciples would not die before they saw the Kingdom of God come with power.
When might that power have come???
Well, after Jesus rose from the dead, He told his disciples to “… stay in (Jerusalem) until you have been clothed with POWER from on high.” Luke 24:49