July 7, 2016
Hopes, dreams, wants and desires are all a part of being human. It’s not wrong to want to better ourselves, but many of those hopes and dreams aren’t in God’s will. Many are ways to glorify us, but have nothing to do with glorifying God. When wrong desires come along, we usually know who to go to for advice…we know who will tell us what we want to hear. Do you want a bigger house? Talk to a real estate agent. How about a brand new car with all the bells and whistles? Talk to a car salesman. These things aren’t bad desires, but a Christian needs to look to God for guidance. If you’re seeking the kingdom of God, then talk to God. When a Christian desires something that’s not within God’s will, unrest and unhappiness will result if you don’t accept God’s direction. God wants us to talk to Him and tell Him our hopes and dreams, but then we need to humble ourselves and submit to His will. If He says “No” then accept His answer and ask Him to show you a better way. “Therefore take no thought, saying What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek;) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.” Matthew 6:31-32. Jesus had just told His listeners about how God cares for the birds of the air and how beautiful the lilies of the field are clothed. He wanted these people to understand that God knows the needs of all of creation and will meet the needs of His people. Why, then, do we worry and fret? The answer is easy, and the solution depends upon us. “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. Put aside “me, me, me” and seek the kingdom of God. You might be surprised at how many things that you want are not things you need.
What do you want that God hasn’t already provided? Instead of being content with what He provides we think we need any number of worldly things to make us happy. Most of us make our own troubles by not seeking God in everything. Advertising plants seeds of discontent in our minds that tell us that what we have isn’t sufficient to make us happy. Instead of thanking God for His blessings we covet worldly possessions. Instead of seeking God and His righteousness, we go deeper into debt and buy things we want but don’t need. Things can never give us long term happiness or contentment. Dissatisfaction will then lead us to buy more things we don’t need and put us deeper in debt. It all becomes a vicious cycle. The debt and inner turmoil this causes might be what finally prompts us to cry out to God for help. “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7. If we truly seek His guidance and follow His lead we will find peace. This applies to every part of our life, such as choosing a career or choosing a spouse. If we seek the kingdom of God we will put Him first and everything will fall into place.
Pray about decisions, then submit to God’s answer. How often are you faced with a decision but instead of going to God and seeking His answer you go to secular friends or nominal Christians who give you worldly advice? This will only add to your turmoil and bury you deeper in anxiety. People who don’t honor God cannot help you to seek God’s answer. Jesus is our example in all things. We know that He was fully God and also fully human. He entered His creation to give us the only way of salvation. Because He was human there would be overwhelming pain as He was beaten and nailed to the cross. “For he hath made him to be sin for us who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” 2 Corinthians 5:21. He knew that when He became sin in our place that for the first time ever He would be separated from the Father. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani? which is being interpreted, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me”? Mark 15:34. Did Jesus put a smile on His face and skip happily to the cross? No. He went willingly, but when He knew the time had come and He was about to be arrested He went to God the Father in prayer. He sweat drops of blood as He agonized over what He was about to face. As He waited for Judas to bring the authorities to arrest Him, He prayed. He told God the Father what His desire was, but He submitted to His will. “Saying, Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.” Luke 22:42. If Jesus had allowed His dread of what was to come stop Him from going to the cross, salvation would not be available to us. Had there been any other way, the Father would have provided it. He wouldn’t have required His Son to face the agony of the cross. When you seek the kingdom of God you need to be willing, like Jesus, to submit to His authority.
God will meet our needs, but there are false teachers who try to convince people that all you have to do is visualize what you want and God will give it to you. That attitude is not seeking the kingdom of God, but seeking your own selfishness. “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: and if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:14-15. This verse dispels the “name it and claim it” ideas. These false teachers see the part about “whatsoever we ask“, but they miss the part about asking “according to his will“. If visualize that want worldly goods and then tell God to give it to you, you are not seeking the kingdom of God. He may allow you to have money, but then comes the responsibility to use His provisions for His glory and not your own. Pray according to God’s will and He will hear and answer. Jesus gave us the example of prayer when He taught us to pray “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” Matthew 6:10. If your prayers don’t seem to be answered, examine your petitions. Are you seeking God and His righteousness, or are you behaving like a spoiled child demanding that you get your own way and pouting if it doesn’t happen? That’s pride. “Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and he shall lift you up.” James 4:10. He owes you nothing; you owe Him everything.
If you seek the kingdom of God you need to have a desire to find it. If someone handed you a treasure map and said to follow the directions and you’ll find all the riches you can imagine, what would you do? First you would study the map and then follow the directions to find the treasure. “Again, the kingdom of heaven is like unto treasure hid in a field; the which when a man hath found, he hideth, and for joy thereof goeth and selleth all that he hath, and buyeth that field.” Matthew 13:44. The Bible is God’s directions for us to follow as we seek His kingdom and His righteousness. There is no treasure more valuable than eternal life. In seeking the kingdom of God we need to put Him first in all things. Get rid of all those idols you put ahead of God. When we think of idols and false gods we usually think of little statues, but it goes much deeper than that. A false god is anything you put before God Almighty. Most Christians put everything before Him. Television, hobbies, work, and even friendships that don’t honor God all get in the way of seeking Him. When we put our own desires first we miss out on the treasure that awaits us.
Another thing that gets in the way of seeking the kingdom of God is an attitude that doesn’t agree with God’s ways. “This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you.” John 15:12. When you love someone you show God’s love. The Greek word agapaō is the word translated “love”. Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words makes note that “Christian love has God for its primary object, and expresses itself first of all in implicit obedience to His commandments”. It isn’t always easy to show God’s love to others, but if you are seeking His kingdom you need to do this as a habit. Showing God’s love to fellow Christians doesn’t necessarily mean we are “cheerleaders”. If we see a fellow Christian openly participating in sin or turning away from Jesus, it doesn’t show God’s love to encourage them in sin. Condemning a person isn’t our place, but approving of their sin is not showing love. If you love someone as God loves, you will help them to turn away from sin and seek God’s righteousness.
When God is first in your life everything else falls into place. When you’re faced with decisions you will seek God’s guidance by studying your Bible, praying, and talking with people who also have God first in their life. Then, conform yourself to God. Change any attitude that doesn’t line up with God’s word. Remember, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” Matthew 6:33. He will provide for your needs.
God bless you all,
Ron Graham’s previous commentaries archived at http://www.raptureready.com/featured/graham/graham.html
All original scripture is “theopneustos” God breathed.