Summary: A lesson designed to encourage better Christian living.
FOCUS FOR THE NEW YEAR
INTRODUCTION: At the close of last Sunday morning’s lesson we posed the question, "What will we do with our lives in the New Year?" There are many possible answers. Continue life as usual – work, sports, family, vacation, pay bills. Most if not all of those are routine in our lives and should come as now surprise. But they are physical answers. What about the spiritual? We are familiar with the words Jesus speaks in Matthew 6:33 – quote text. In speaking them Jesus addresses a problem every man, woman and child faces – what do to with life. The answer He provides them, and us, is two fold.
I. SEEK THE REIGN OF GOD IN OUR LIVES
A. Control – life is all about control, at least for many of us. Self-determining, self-preserving, self-motivating – these are the terms that dictate the actions of many a man. Society demands those things in a person if that person is to succeed and being social animals we adopt the social mentality.
B. Jesus challenges His audience, and us, to let go of self. In the text of Matthew 6 Jesus is addressing the problem of worry, and not just any form of worry but rather the form of worry that is tied directly to self-determination and self-direction.
1. The question is posed, "How many of you by worrying can add one cubit to your height?" The answer is none. Jesus goes on to question the rationale of worrying about clothing, food, etc. A question is implied here: "How can any of these needs be solved by a self-consumed life?" The answer again is none.
2. Human life is not determined by the things we own nor are the problems and needs connected to human life solved by individual effort. It is solved by the power of God living in our lives. This is what Jesus teaches when He says, "Seek first the Kingdom of God…"
3. "Kingdom of God" as it is used here literally means the "Reign of God." If we want our problems solved and our needs met we must submit to His guidance. He must be allowed to live large in our lives, to present in every step we make, every decision we make and every action we undertake.
4. He must become our King. We must allow Him to rule our days and take command of our lives from sun up to sun down.
II. SEEK THE WILL OF GOD FOR OUR LIVES
A. "The Strong Willed Child" was a very popular book a number of years ago. It gave hope to many parents who were attempting to raise a son or daughter who was unyielding to discipline and instruction. Some of us can understand that dilemma quite well.
1. Unfortunately some children never out-grow that Strong Willed child stage. It continues into their adolescence and their adulthood. These are the ones who must always have their way in every thing. Never relenting, never bending, constantly serving their own will and their own ways. (Bible says they are serving their own lusts)
B. In Matthew 6:33 there is a second portion to the Lord’s command. Jesus says that we are not only to seek His Kingdom/His Reign but His Righteousness. This means that if we intend to have God living large in our lives, helping to meet our needs and solve our problems, that we must also bow to His will.
1. Seeking His righteousness begins with the realization that God desires to work in us. God has a plan for His children. There is a divine will for every life He creates. Now, granted many will never acknowledge that as fact and even many who do will never push themselves spiritually in order to discover His Will.
2. Seeking His righteousness is completed by asking the question, "Lord, what do You want me to do?" And then by throwing ourselves into His service through the talents we possess. Take this under consideration for a moment – Our talents, our abilities are gifts from/of His will and we each have at least one. God has built in to every one of us a predisposition to serve Him.
b. Ephesians 6:6 – Paul implores us to do the "will of God from the heart."
c. John 14:15
C. For those who stretch themselves out before the living God and surrender their lives into His hands, He will do great things with them and for them.
CONCLUSION: There was a church that had a problem with bats living in its steeple. One day the minister asked the groundskeeper to take care of the problem and the groundskeeper agreed to do so. The next day the bats were still in the steeple so the minister when to the groundskeeper and said, "Didn’t I ask you to get rid of those bats?" The groundskeeper replied, "Yes you did. So I took that old stray cat that has been hanging around the building and threw him up in there with those bats. But when I came back today there was nothing left of him but bits of fur." The minister then decides to call one of the elders to take care of this problem and the elder agrees to do so. The next day the minister notices that the bats are still living in the steeple, so he calls his elder to ask him why they were still there. The elder says, "Well I came down there yesterday with a big old butterfly net, climbed up in the steeple and scooped them all up. I then carried them way out in the woods and let them go, but they flew right back to the church building and right back up into the steeple." The minister now decides he will have to take care of this problem himself. So, he opens the door to the steeple, commands the bats in the name of Jesus to come down and when they do he grabs each one of them, baptizes them and he hasn’t seen any of them since. INVITATION