First Things First

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided to you.

In my Bible, this statement is in red. How does that affect you? In reality, the entire Bible is Jesus speaking to us, but still, there is something impactful about knowing Jesus taught this. Of course, Jesus was talking about seeking God’s kingdom. Provision is in the Father. Jesus was saying that we shouldn’t need to think about food and clothing or any of the other necessities of life. God knows we need those things. Jesus was trying to show people that their task is to seek the Father and the Father will provide. Can you honestly believe that with your heart?

Perhaps you have trusted God for something and not received it. What did that do to your ability to trust Him? Sure, you love Him, but do you trust Him to provide for you? Do you believe He will? If we are honest with one another, we can say that many Christians, many of our contemporaries do not actually put their faith in God’s provision. We have been taught to work for a living, not believe for a living. The mere reading of that statement confounds the mind. What else would we do but work for a living? We know no other way to approach life. Further, it is hard to rely on what we cannot see and touch and what we cannot affect with our own effort, because we have learned to rely on ourselves. This verse requires a different approach, and it is challenging.

None the less, one can see how this verse could be one of the most important scriptures in the New Testament. It is the basis for learning how to live as we ought. It is fundamental. That is to say, it is this scripture which forms the foundation of our Life in Christ theology.

This verse could, and probably should, be the first verse on any list of verses. Whether we need healing, have a bill that needs paying, a relationship issue or something else, this is the place to begin. Seek first, it says. Start here. When we begin with seeking the Father, He then leads us to other verses and to resources we need for our situation.

I cannot find the words to make this verse stand out in volume and magnitude to the degree it should. The beginning of all things is to seek the Father. God wants to be our provider. He is the source of all good things. We must invite Him though. If we will seek Him first, then He will show us the way and give us what we need.

This, literally, could be a weeklong teaching but we are not going to indulge ourselves to that extent. Here are some of the questions that still need consideration. What does it mean to seek God’s righteousness? In short, it means His way of doing things, but there is a whole book chapter there, so please ponder this further. Second, how does one seek God and His kingdom? Are they the same thing? Let me give you a small tidbit on this. First, it is not the same for all people. The question underlying this one is how do you connect with God personally? It necessarily requires slowing down your physiology and your mind so you can hear Him. After that it might involve praise, prayer, Bible study, simply reading the Bible, word studies and more. Some people sing, others even dance. My way is reading my Bible and praying, but that does not mean other forms are not valid or that my way is the only way to seek God. If you don’t yet know how you best connect with Him, then that is the first question I would seek Him about. Ask Him. Just get alone and speak right out loud. “Father, what is the best method for me to seek you? What is the best way for me to find you?” Then, listen. One of the best tools for capturing what you hear is paper and pen. Simply write down what God’s response is. Then look back at it later. If He shows you scripture, make sure to write down the citation so you can go back to it.

Seek the Lord, His kingdom and His methods. Seek His ways first. This is the number one best piece of advice I can give you regardless of the situation you face. He has the answer. He has the way. He has means to an end that you cannot even fathom and that might, frankly, surprise you. This one verse is a doorway to the blessing of God. Seek Him in all things and be blessed.


Isaiah 41: 17

The afflicted and needy are seeking water, but there is none, and their tongue is parched with thirst; I, the Lord, will answer them Myself, as the God of Israel I will not forsake them.

Sometimes we forget that we have the Almighty God of heaven and earth as our provider. Regardless of our need or affliction, He is well able to provide our solution. Even when there is no resource obviously available, He will make a way for you. He can make a river in a desert if that is the need. He can provide healing in your mind, body or emotions. He can give you favor in a difficult situation where there seems no hope at all. And where there is financial lack, He will lead you to a new source or increase your current one.

Jesus talked about how precious we are to the Father in Matthew 6. God provides for the birds of the air splendidly. How much more will He provide for us. Our part is to seek Him (Matthew 6: 33) and just believe. Sure, tell the Father what it is that you think you need but then relax and let Him meet your need in what you truly need. Thank Him that He is your provider and then let Him do His job. He promised it, Jesus confirmed it. That settles it.

Hidden and Revealed

Colossians 3: 1 – 4

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.

We talked about seeking on Monday. Here Paul tells us what else we should seek. So far this year, we have seen that we are to seek the Lord, His strength and His face continually (Psalm 105: 4), His Kingdom and His righteousness (Matthew 6: 33), and now the things which are above. The shorthand is, fix your eyes on Jesus. Keep looking at him because in him is all that matters. All the universe is in him because he is the light, the life and the way.

Seeking is a very important scriptural and spiritual concept and I wouldn’t minimize it in any fashion. Reading this passage, though, one surely is gripped by our death in Jesus, which brings us to the next thought. We need to be resurrection conscious. By this I mean that by now we should have died to ourselves, died with Christ and been raised up with him in a resurrected life. If, then, you have been raised up with Christ, don’t keep looking back at or longing for the old, dead man. Leave the things of the earth to the dirt they are born of and set your heart on the things above. Does that mean you cannot enjoy any of the good things on the earth? No, absolutely not. God has given us all good things to enjoy (1 Timothy 6: 17).

At some level this is about our values. I think of saints I have studied or known about and the over-arching similarity is their devotion to Christ. They buried the old self with its desires and arose with a new value system. It is just fine to enjoy a new car, a new house or a nice vacation. We know that God gives us those things to enjoy. Dying to self means those things no longer occupy the space they once did. In the resurrection life, God is the center of the universe. If our life is truly hidden in God with Christ, we will have made some choices about what is most important to us. These are choices made with the heart. The lover of God could not choose earthly desires over His longing for God because his heart compels him to seek the face of God. This is about loving God above all else. Some of those old saints I have read about would more likely forget to eat than to miss a single day spending time with God. They needed it, craved it.

We love God too but perhaps our zeal is not as vibrant as that of some of the people we read about. However, we can be as impassioned as anyone. We can have such zeal for God that nothing stands in our way when it comes to our devotionals. We too can have an unquenchable passion for the one who loved us first. I know I want more of that passion in my life. I am sure you do too. As we focus our attention on the thing we want, we draw ourselves towards it. Discipline helps too. The use of discipline helps us to develop a lifestyle that later becomes a part of us. As we discipline ourselves to do what we choose, we begin to enjoy the fruit of those disciplines so that we come to desire the thing we had to almost force ourselves to do previously.

Still, it begins with a decision born out of love for our Father. We choose to die to self and the passions of self and instead live to Christ. This is really some heady stuff, very idealistic and not too common. The modern church certainly is not known for its disciplined devotion to Christ. None the less, we are true believers with a love for Christ and we are finding our way into deeper and deeper ways with him. We are products of the past and the teachings of our time. We have journeyed through many aspects of knowledge and balance. I believe we are beginning to long for more of Jesus and Father. We need more of them in our lives, in our very breath and we are leaning forward into them where the life we live is a product of their lives; us in them, them in us. The great news is, they are leaning toward us too. They are calling for us to come into the deep water, water which is over our heads. As scary as that can be, it is a wonderful place to be. With Christ, hidden in God is our life, our old life having been buried.

Where is your heart? What do you want? Tell the Lord and ask him to lead you. This is a new level in Christ and a very safe place.

Kingdom Living

Matthew 6: 33               Amplified Version

But first and most importantly seek (aim at, strive after) His kingdom and His righteousness [His way of doing and being right—the attitude and character of God], and all these things will be given to you also.

One of the fundamental principles of faith is to seek God. Seeking God’s face and His presence is never the wrong thing to do but, in this passage, Jesus gave us a more precise instruction. He said to seek the Kingdom of God and God’s righteousness, the two being closely related.

Jesus wants us to look at the Kingdom of God and learn how it operates and what spiritual laws control it because once we understand the Kingdom’s operation rules, nothing will be impossible to us. God’s righteousness is similar. It is God’s “right” way of doing and being. It is not about holiness. That is different though how can you do things God’s way and not be holy? Still, this is about “right-ness” and I think this is a much better way for you to think about righteousness. In fact, you will help yourself if every time you see righteousness, you translate it in your mind to rightness. Godly rightness is doing things the way God would do them or how He would have you do them, which can be very different from the rules the world operates by. Understand this, again we are not talking about morality here. Not doing it God’s way does not make it immoral or sinful it just isn’t “right” Kingdom thinking. It’s world thinking which is what most of us were trained in.

Here is a simple example. What is the proper economic response in the time of famine, or in modern language, economic downturn? What if your salary has been reduced or your company is struggling? The world would say this is a time to save for a rainy day. It’s time to stock up and hoard provision for a later time. Kingdom dynamics operate differently. The Kingdom principle is, give in time of famine, sow seed like Isaac did. Now here is an interesting rub. Non-Christians will tap into these Kingdom principles and they will work for them even though they aren’t saved as we understand that term. Kingdom principles are like rain which falls on believers and non-believers. It will water everyone’s seed. The only real question is who has sown seed? So, sometimes non-believers benefit more from Christian principles than we do.

Here is another example. Kingdom principles teach to put other people’s needs and concerns ahead of your own. The world says, this is a dog eat dog world and you need to do unto others before they do unto you. There is a little perversion in that language, huh? I remember hearing a pastor talking about a contract he negotiated. He made sure the other guy got a good deal too. He wasn’t out to just get the best deal he could regardless of who might get hurt. That’s enlightening because a Christian take advantage of someone all the while thinking, “God is blessing me.” That kind of thinking bites back because it isn’t Kingdom dynamics at work. It is worldly thinking. Just get what you can for yourself regardless of the impact upon others.

Jesus wants us to learn to think like he and Yahweh do. They both want us to look at them and do as they do. Jesus said he only did what he saw the Father do. In other words, he totally modeled God and we can do the same by emulating him. We can learn to operate in the Kingdom and have Kingdom blessing working for us. Seek first God’s way of doing and being and in the end, He will give you everything.

Seek and Receive

Matthew 6: 33

But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Last week I wrote to you about Matthew 7: 7 – 12 (See Word of the Day, Fish or Snake, May 15, 2020). The substance of that article was asking and receiving, seeking and finding, knocking and the door being opened. We look for God’s blessing and God is not a man that He would give us a snake if we asked for a fish. He gives good gifts to His beloved.

I was out on a bike ride Friday with those ideas still running through my mind. I stopped at a church to pray, as has become my habit. It sort of feels like with all the churches empty and the parking lots vacant, it is good for me to utilize that space to offer prayers. So, I was leaning on my bike praying when I saw this sign. This verse is so familiar that I almost missed the significance but as I prayed, all of a sudden truth dawned on my consciousness. SEEK AND RECEIVE!

Now before we dismiss this as materialism, take note that God said, ALL things. Jesus was talking about our needs being met, so yes, he meant that our Father would meet our material needs but Jesus is the fullness of all things so this would include your need for social contact and friends, needs for peace, tranquility, relaxation, meaningful hobbies, projects and work. No matter what you need, or want, Jesus included it when he said, “all these things will be added to you.”

The key word, though, is “seek.” Ask, seek, knock; receive, find, have opened. The epiphany that went through me Friday was that “seek” is the word that we should hear and which ties these two passages together. It is worthwhile to note that both passages are part of the same presentation. Each is taken from the Sermon on the Mount which is Jesus’ most comprehensive soliloquy.
We are instructed to seek God’s kingdom and His righteousness and everything else will be given to us besides. It is almost to say we will not have need to ask for those other things because we have sought, and received, the one thing. Our receiving is tied to our seeking and that which we are to seek is God’s Kingdom. God knows what you need, and He does not want you to seek those things or even worry about asking for them. Seek Him and His way of doing things and He will provide for your needs and everything else for which you ask. That surely makes for a powerful prayer life. And on that note, when you are at the point where your needs are met and you don’t spend your prayer time on those things, and, when you know you will receive what you ask, imagine how big your prayer life can grow and the things you will pray about. Seeking God and His kingdom really opens up life. It creates a great release of spiritual energy. We are changed as we move into the Kingdom because we reside in God’s presence.

Ask, seek and knock, but in your seeking, seek the one with all wisdom. Seek God and His ways.

Kingdom Living

Matthew 6: 33            GW

But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.

This quote from Matthew may be familiar to you but it takes on a different nuance when read from the God’s Word translation. It comes at the end of a talk Jesus gave on the birds of the air and flowers and how God meets the physical needs of all His creation.

God knows we need clothing, food and shelter so we really do not have to pray about those things in the first place. That is Jesus’ first point. If God clothes the flowers with such beauty and feeds all his creatures, will He not also care for you? We have become so smart and so independent that we get the idea it is up to us to meet our needs. No way! That’s God’s job and His delight.

You have probably heard the version that reads, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” The GW version essentially translates righteousness for us and also answers the question, “What does it mean to seek the Kingdom of God?” Righteousness is not the holiness doctrine we sometimes make it out to be. Holiness is good, I am not arguing that but righteousness has more to do with right standing with God. Another way to think of it is doing things God’s way. The GW version points out that seeking God’s kingdom has to do with concerning ourselves with the things God is concerned about. Meeting our needs is not on that list. Those are automatic fulfillment orders for God. Frankly, our need fulfillment really isn’t even our business. So Jesus’ second order of business here is that we should set our sights on Kingdom business. We are to seek out God’s direction on what He would have us think about and work on just as if He is our boss. We seek to do the things God wants AND do them His way. That means we will have faith projects instead of works projects.

Many of us try to fulfill righteousness through works projects. It is also how we attempt to meet our own needs. As we seek God and His way of living, all those “things” we need are just automatic. They exist in His kingdom. So when we put them aside, focusing instead on Kingdom goals, God’s inverse logic takes over. We get all that is in the Kingdom, but we also get the things we need in the world even though we forego seeking them. Seek God, and all else will be added to you. And, may I say, don’t even bother Him with the mundane things of life. Sure, you want to tell Him what you want but focus 99.9% of your time with Him seeking His mind and His thoughts. He knows you need food, don’t waste your time together telling Him you need food. Ask Him, if you want, what food He wants to give you. He may surprise you, though, because He thinks differently than do we. He may begin talking about feeding you with His Word.

Seek God. Put your mind on what is going on in God’s Kingdom. Talk with Him about Kingdom goals. You will have fun and enjoy all the Kingdom benefits too.

One Thing

Luke 10: 40 – 42

But Martha was distracted with all her preparations; and she came up to Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving alone? Then tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”

I seem to come back to this verse every year or two. There is a gold mine here if we can unearth it.

I want to show you another translation as well. This is from the Passion translation. A friend of mine shared this translation with me. If you are not looking at it, you may want to. “The Lord answered her, ‘Martha, my beloved Martha. Why are you upset and troubled, pulled away by all these many distractions? Are they really that important? Mary has discovered the one thing most important by choosing to sit at my feet. She is undistracted, and I won’t take this privilege from her.”

The disciples were staying at Mary and Martha’s house. Martha was busy trying to serve everyone while her sister, Mary, parked herself at Jesus’ feet and listening to him. Martha was incensed that Mary was enjoying Jesus’ presence when there was so much work to be done. What did Jesus say, though? He honored Mary’s pursuit of the one thing, which is, of course, him.

The word for us today is that we need to do as Mary did, seek his presence, listen to his voice. All of the other stuff are just distractions which, like Martha, pull us away from Christ. I know I often get mentally wrapped up in all the things I think I need to do and all that is going on in my life. I have learned to write down the to’ do’s so that my mind can be free. I have also discovered that many of the things that seem important at the time don’t actually matter at all. Some of the things I fret about getting done would go unnoticed if I didn’t do them at all. The One Thing, the thing which is important, is seeking Jesus. It’s not just about spending time with him. Many of us translate that into reading our bibles which is possible to do without Christ. No, the one thing is seeking his face and actually spending time increasing in relationship with him.

Matthew 6: 33 reads, “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” The things, both material and non-material, which you need, are in him. He is the answer, so all answers are in him. Don’t seek the answers, seek him. When you do, you will have the answers. You will also find the material you need to build your dreams, take care of your family and give to others.

These are such simple verses, simplistic even. Yet, I think the wealth of revelation in them could radically change our lives if we could see the truth in them. There truly is only one thing which is important. When we set our hearts and minds on deepening our relationship with Jesus, when we seek his presence, then many of the other things take care of themselves. He is the power which fuels our day. Put the one thing in place and all the other things will fall into place.