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One Thing is Needed! part 2
So the question is: What does it mean to seek God’s Kingdom first?
Simply put, it means to seek God’s Kingdom rather than our own. Martha had her kingdom before God’s. She was so preoccupied with what she considered the necessities of life, that she totally missed the fact that the Messiah Himself was sitting in her house. Mary, on the other hand, understood the significance of putting God’s Kingdom before her own. I wonder how many times we have missed Jesus because we have been in a world of our own rather than in His world.
A couple of weeks ago I was doing some reading in one of the “Live Dead” Journals when I came upon something that Søren Kierkegaard wrote in his "Christian Discourses:"
What does this mean, what have I to do, or what sort of effort is it that can be said to seek or pursue the Kingdom of God? Shall I try to get a job suitable to my talents and powers in order thereby to exert an influence? No, thou shalt first seek God’s kingdom. Shall I then give all my fortune to the poor? No, thou shalt first seek God’s kingdom. Shall I then go out to proclaim this teaching to the world? No, thou shalt first seek God’s kingdom. But then in a certain sense it is nothing I shall do. Yes, certainly, in a certain sense it is nothing, become nothing before God, learn to keep silent; in this silence is the beginning, which is first to seek God’s Kingdom.
I believe we tend to mix-up our kingdom with God’s Kingdom, often trying to apply this world’s principles to God’s world. Let me give you an example of that. One of Kierkegaard’s comments was; “Shall I then give all my fortune to the poor? No, you shall first seek God’s Kingdom.” When it comes to giving to the work of God – at least here in America – we have tried to inject the world's principle of prosperity into our giving. We have taken verses out of the Bible where God says He will bless those who bless Him, and allowed that to pervert our motives for giving. We are to give to the work of God for one reason, and that is to “seek first His Kingdom.” That is it, there is no other reason. Instead we have come to believe that if we give to the church, or to someone in need, God will bless us. We have allowed the blessings of God to become our motive; subsequently our giving might not be unto God at all. It might have nothing to do with the Kingdom of God but rather our own blessings.
If you give to the Kingdom of God because of how it will bless your kingdom, then you have complicated what should have been a very simple matter. The issue is not our blessing at all; the issue is the Kingdom of God. We are to give because it advances God’s Kingdom. If, in the midst of that, we get blessed. Praise God for that! - but don’t allow that blessing to become your motive.
I think we have failed to grasp this simple principle of seeking first His Kingdom. It’s not uncommon to find ourselves praying for God to bless our lives while the whole time God has said that our lives will be blessed if the Kingdom of God is the first priority of our lives.
Kierkegaard continues, “Shall I then go out to proclaim this teaching to the world? No, thou shalt first seek God’s Kingdom.” This sounds kind of odd. If he is saying, “Don’t go out and preach the Gospel – just seek God’s Kingdom,” that wouldn’t sound right. I don’t believe that is what he is saying. Richard J. Foster once wrote: “Everything hinges upon maintaining the ‘first’ thing as first. Nothing must come before the Kingdom of God.” Seek first the Kingdom of God… does not necessarily mean we are not supposed to do anything else as much as it’s talking about maintaining proper priorities. When it comes to proclaiming this teaching to the world there is a danger of putting our doing ahead of His Kingdom.
I’ve traveled, a little, with a national and international ministry and I know the temptations of allowing what you are doing for God to become the thing that gets exalted, rather than the Kingdom of God. Oh, it’s all done in the Name of God’s Kingdom, of course, but it’s also exalting us in the eyes of men, it’s allowing us a comfortable lifestyle, it’s permitting us to drive nice cars. Kierkegaard was not suggesting that we don’t to go out and preach the Gospel, as much as he was suggesting to us to make sure our motives are pure. We need to make sure God’s Kingdom is more critical than our own kingdom.
Medication: A Merry Heart: UPDATED EMPLOYEE HANDBOOK
DRESS CODE: It is advised that you come to work dressed according to your Salary.
If we see you wearing $350 Prada sneakers and carrying a $600 Gucci Bag, we assume you are doing well financially and therefore you do not need a raise. If you dress poorly, you need to learn to manage your money better, so that you may buy nicer clothes and therefore you do not need a raise.
If you dress in between, you are right where you need to be and therefore you do not need a raise.
SICK DAYS: We will no longer accept a doctor statement as proof of sickness. If you are able to go to the doctor, you are able to come to work.
SURGERY: Operations are now banned. As long as you are an employee here, you need all your organs. You should not consider removing anything. We hired you intact. To have something removed constitutes a breach of employment.
PERSONAL DAYS: Each employee will receive 104 personal days a year. They are called Saturday & Sunday.
VACATION DAYS: All employees will take their vacation at the same time every year. The vacation days are as follows: January 1, July 4 & December 25.
BEREAVEMENT LEAVE: This is no excuse for missing work. There is nothing you can do for dead friends, relatives or coworkers. Every effort should be made to have non-employees attend to the arrangements. In rare cases where employee involvement is necessary, the funeral should be scheduled in the late afternoon. We will be glad to allow you to work through your lunch hour and subsequently leave exactly one hour early, provided your work is done.
ABSENCE DUE TO YOUR OWN DEATH: This will be accepted as an excuse. However, we require at least two week's notice as it is your duty to train your own replacement.
RESTROOM USE: Entirely too much time is being spent in the restroom. In the future, we will follow the practice of going in alphabetical order. For instance, all employees whose names begin with 'A' will go from 8:00 to 8:20; employees whose names begin with 'B' will go from 8:20 to 8:40 and so on. If you're unable to go at your allotted time, it will be necessary to wait until the next day when your turn comes again.
In extreme emergencies, employees may swap their time with a coworker.
Both employees' supervisors must approve this exchange in writing. In addition, there is now a strict 3-minute time limit in the stalls. At the end of three minutes, an alarm will sound, the toilet paper roll will retract, the stall door will open and a picture will be taken.
After your second offense, your picture will be posted on the company bulletin board under the "Chronic Offenders" category.
LUNCH BREAK: Skinny people get 30 minutes for lunch as they need to eat more so that they can look healthy. Normal size people get 15 minutes for lunch to get a balanced meal to maintain their average figure. Fat people get 5 minutes for lunch, because that's all the time needed to drink a Slim Fast and take a diet pill.
Thank you for your loyalty to our company. We are here to provide a positive employment experience. Therefore, all questions, comments, concerns, complaints, frustrations, irritations, aggravations, insinuations, allegations, accusations, contemplations, consternation and input should be directed elsewhere.
Have a nice week.
God Bless, Press On!
New Beginnings Church, New Ulm
Verse of the Week: Philippians 4:8 ESV
Today’s readings: Matthew 5 – 7