Summary: Seeking after

Outline of Sermon:

Introduction: Priorities, Worries, Kingdom of God, Focus

Scripture Reading: Matthew 6:25-34

Focus on verse 33

Reference Missions Moment

Reference Missions Anniversary Date

Focus on verses 25-27

Spiritual Advice and Logic

Focus on verses 28-31

Reference Children’s Moment

Focus on verse 32

Worry

Focus on verses 33-34

What else will you not be able to do if you spend time worrying?

Conclusion: Personal Priorities, Vision / Church Priorities

(Purple Slide 1 - Opening / Title Slide)

We have all lived in the world for a long time. Even the youngest of us are quite aware that there are a lot of different and competing priorities in the world and even in the same family. So let’s have a little congregational participation this morning to start this morning’s message. Give me a list of priorities. Not just yours but everyone’s. (Repeat them back, add some, ask for more) Now how in the world are we supposed to live together if we have such different priorities. How about the example of politics: Do you think everyone of our leaders and representatives in Washington DC have the same priorities? And what is the result of all of those different priorities? (Gridlock, govt. shut down, and more.) How about families? Do you think everyone in your and other peoples families have the same priorities? So let’s have a little congregational participation again. What are some priorities of people of all ages in families? (Repeat them back, add some, ask for more.) (Personal examples: Olivia’s definition of “fun places,” Emma’s love of food and time with her mom and dad.)

Just like there are a lot of priorities, there are also a lot of things you could worry about. I don’t recommend worrying at all, you will find out why in the scripture we will read today. The word worry is starting to have a different meaning over time. It used to be thought of in more of worry’s negative sense. For example you would be thought to have a mental problem if you constantly 24/7 were to worry about a tidal wave crashing across the whole of America or that we were about to be under an alien attack. But now it is considered loving to be a worrier about the environment, or your children’s future, or the economy. I disagree with anyone who believes that worry is good.

Then there is the Kingdom of God. Does the Kingdom of God, the spiritual future of each and every person, the eternal future, do they even make it on your top ten list of priorities? If it doesn’t then no wonder that missions and the good new outreach to your world is not something you focus on. No wonder that our giving is small. Mission giving, local and international account for about 5% of what we give to this church in tithes. So all special offerings combined like World Missions offering, Camp Judson and Deacon’s fund are given $1 in envelopes for every $19 that we give to the ministries of this church. Now in addition to that $1 out of 20 that we give in offerings the church budget also gives $2 more directly to missions. So all together our church gives about $10,000 to others and about $65,000 to the ministries of our church. But don’t pat yourselves on the back too quickly. Even though the giving of this church is good, if the Kingdom was REALLY a priority it would be much greater. And not only that, if the Kingdom of God was REALLY a priority of the church then our personal evangelism to our community, our personal witness to those who still need Christ would also result in this church being much more full. Then those new who would come would also learn to prioritize the Kingdom and there would be no stopping us!

Each of us, when we focus on our priorities, naturally make those priorities important. In the same way, we cannot say that something is a priority of ours if we do not keep it in our focus, in our line of vision, and in front of us. Like we started out this morning by saying, there are a lot of priorities in the world today. This is not so different from the world in which Jesus taught. In the Matthew 6 passage that we will read today food, water or drink, clothes, length of life are mentioned as major worries or priorities. In India a record cyclone is currently raging where winds are so strong you cannot even stand up these are priorities today as well. So let’s learn from scripture.

Matthew 6:25-34. (Cream Slide 2 – Matthew 6:25-26)

25 “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? (Green Slide 3 – Matthew 6:27-28) 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. (Maroon Slide 4 – Matthew 6:29-30) 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? (Blue Slide 5 – Matthew 6:31-32) 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. (Brown Slide 6 – Matthew 6:33-34) 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Now out of all of this section of scripture it is verse 33 that I would like to emphasize. “Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness.” This is all about priorities. This is all about personal priorities. It is all about keeping focus on what God calls us to focus on. Instead of all the other things you could be focusing on Jesus himself is asking us to focus on the Kingdom. Focus on money? Nope, focus on the Kingdom and His Righteousness. Focus on the budget, like - mortgage and car payment? Nope, focus on the Kingdom and His Righteousness. Focus on food, or clothes, or fresh water, or politics, or education, or your girlfriend? Nope, focus on His Kingdom and His righteousness. And the “His” means God’s, Jesus’, and the Holy Spirit’s. And it does not say that you won’t get anything else either. It says if you focus, prioritize, and seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness all these other things will be given to you as well. All the things though will be seen through the vision of His Kingdom and His righteousness. You don’t get all the rest in a tricky way by agreeing to pretend to focus on the first. The rest is an after-thought. Seek first really means seek first, and that what you seek first is really all you want!

So with this scripture and this teaching and this perspective in mind I want to point back to what I said in the missions moment, that “You have enough to give if you make the Kingdom a priority.”

This past week I have been catching up with a roommate in Seminary who is now a pastor in Fort Wayne Indiana, they had a missions celebration yesterday at their church. By the way Valui is from Nagaland, India which borders Burma. Yesterday’s date is a really big deal to him because yesterday is the missions anniversary date of when Adiniram and Ann Judson, the name sake of Camp Judson, and the First American Baptist Missionaries actually arrived in Burma 200 years ago yesterday.

The world has been changed for the Kingdom by the missionary movement. My friend the Rev. Dr. Valui has been changed, and is now changing not just India but Indiana. The world would not have changed if people made themselves the priority instead of the Kingdom of God. Speaking of which I saw a funny commercial for satellite navigation recently. It shows Christopher Columbus saying to his smart phone, “Take me to India.” And the phone saying back, “recalculating to Indiana.”

Matthew 6:25-27 (New Purple Slide 7 – Matthew 6:25-27)

25 “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?

This is a strong passage as well. That is why I wanted to read this whole section and not just verses 33-34 that we just mentioned.

There is a Proverbs like quality to these verses. These are words of Jesus that can be trusted and really can help you live your life in a way that really lets you stand out and gives you a chance to stand up for Jesus and Kingdom principles instead of worldly principles. These two verses are full of spiritual advice and logic that come from Jesus himself.

And these verses are followed up with verses 28-30. (Pink Slide 8 – Matthew 6:28-30) 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?

There has to have been something that you have seen in nature that has brought you to think about the Greatness of God. I do not know what that one thing is, but here Jesus is linking that thought of the wonder of creation, in this case the beauty of wild flowers, to the goodness of God. If God cares for grass, should you not recognize that God cares for you? Flowers do not reach their potential by focusing on all the wrong things. They do what they are made to do, to glorify their creator by being beautiful they way they were made to be beautiful. They point to the righteousness of God in their beauty. They can be seen doing so and through their beauty others see a glimpse of God’s righteousness. Jesus is saying that they can do all of that, and they are only grass! So do not worry about clothes.

When I think about people worrying about clothes, I think of the young. Pre-teens to young adults mostly. I think of the clich├ęd young girl’s expression. “I don’t have anything to where!” I think of the boy who insists on wearing his jersey every day. I think how young adults put perhaps a larger percentage of their income in clothes then anyone else. That is why I mentioned this part of the passage to the kids in the children’s moment. I remember the clothes I loved when I was young. I remembered what seemed so serious when I could not have the number, and quality of clothes that I liked. I remember in Jr. High a friend in homeroom saying, “Now that you finally got a good haircut, we now need to fix your clothes!” 

(Black Slide 9 – Matthew 6:31-32) There is still time to learn more from this passage of Jesus’ teaching. Matthew 6:31-32 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.

Don’t be like the pagans! That makes sense. We are supposed to be different, to have a different focus, different priorities, to be all about the Kingdom. But when we see the commercial on TV for famous footwear where it basically says the greatest thing you can do for your kids, the best way for them to like you, and the best moms buy their kids shoes at famous footwear! Do you believe them? Are you swayed? I love how this teaching seems so obvious when Jesus says this but it is so easy to get caught up in.

Of course our heavenly Father knows we need to eat and drink and have something to wear. Is he the creator of over 10 billion humans up to this point? Does God not care for us? Is God not aware what we need? After all didn’t God show Adam and Eve how to make clothes when Adam and Eve realized they were naked after they both sinned? You could even say that worry about clothes is a direct result of the fall. Because Adam and Eve did not worry about clothes before the fall at all. When they still sought after God clothes did not matter, food was in abundance, water was always nearby, and they had no worries. The fall changed all of that.

Worry. What a big problem this is in our lives. 3 or 4 times in these 10 verses we are told by Jesus not to worry. Yet we worry again and again. We worry about today, and we worry about tomorrow. The worry is a direct opposite to faith. Jesus says, “you of little faith” in verse 30 directly to the worriers. So add the phrase “do not worry” to a magnet on your refrigerator right next to the phrase “do not be afraid.” They are just two expressions of the same problem, which is a failing to have faith in God and not seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.

(Red Slide 10 – Matthew 6:33-34) Matthew 6:33-34, our final two verses. 33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Have you ever had a teacher with high expectations? A good teacher who gives you an idea of what you are capable of and what it will take for you to get there? Olivia has a good teacher like that now. Stephanie and I are often amazed about how quickly she is learning. Olivia went from being expected to know how to write her own name to writing whole sentences, it seems over night, as she came into Kindergarten. Jesus is the good teacher of this passage we have studied today. Jesus is in a great position to know what you are capable of, after all Jesus is God, and God created you, and God if you are a Christian saved you by dying for you, and through the Holy Spirit has given you spiritual gifts. No one loves you like Jesus and he is calling you to seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. Jesus is telling you not to worry, because God provides. (Purple Slide 11- Questions)

Jesus is ready to help you grow, learn, and mature in your faith as well. Because there are consequences to you and the church if you do not. For example: What else will you not be able to do if you spend time worrying? What will you not get done for Jesus when you seek first clothes, money, food, or anything else? And here is another question. What are you, capable of if you “Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness?” Jesus knows. And it is a lot. God has gifted you and gives you ways to bring Him glory. You could also ask the question this way. What is this church capable of if you seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness? We have been blessed with a vision. A vision to “express our faith in love.” It is a high calling, a high expectation, and something we have not yet taken a hold of yet. It is Kingdom thinking, and just like the passage of Matthew 6 today, it is what Jesus is calling us to do.

Let’s Pray:

Lord, you are righteous. Let us keep on seeking after you and the glorious future of the ways things can be, that being the Kingdom of God, or your active rule over us and the world. Help us give up worry and fear for something better. Full faith in you. Help us realize your vision for us and our congregation. In Jesus’ Name Amen.

Power Point Slides:

Purple Slide 1 - Opening / Title Slide

Cream Slide 2 – Matthew 6:25-26

Green Slide 3 – Matthew 6:27-28

Maroon Slide 4 – Matthew 6:29-30

Blue Slide 5 – Matthew 6:31-32

Brown Slide 6 – Matthew 6:33-34

New Purple Slide 7 – Matthew 6:25-27

Pink Slide 8 – Matthew 6:28-30

Black Slide 9 – Matthew 6:31-32

Red Slide 10 – Matthew 6:33-34

Purple Slide 11 – Jesus is ready to help you grow, learn, and mature in your faith.

What else will you not be able to do if you spend time worrying?

What are you, (this church) capable of if you Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness?

Scripture Used In The Sermon:

Matthew 6:25-34

25 “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. 34 Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.