Am I willing to spend my energies, resources and time in pursuit of Gods goals rather than my own? This is the question that lies at the very heart of discipleship. Through many parables and in many direct statements (Mt 13:44-46; 16:26; 20:1; 21:33-40; 22:21; 25:14-30) Jesus challenges us to think deeply about our answer, because He says the answer will determine the entire course of our life. Like the poet Robert Frost we stand at a junction of two diverging roads, forced to choose one or the other.
In the passage well read for today Jesus begins with a parable picturing someone who has lived for himself. Then He turns to His disciples and assures them that if they will focus their lives on bringing people to God that He will take the responsibility to see that their practical needs are provided for. And this promise was not merely directed toward that little flock of men who were about to become itinerant evangelists. It remains just as true for each of us today in whatever walk of life God has placed us. We too, like them, can pursue a treasure that lies beyond the boundaries of this present world. We too can focus our hearts on people and our relationship with God and thereby lay up riches which can never be taken from us.
THE PARABLE AND THE PROMISE
1. The rich landowner (vs 13-21): an illustration of someone who doesnt seek Gods kingdom. This man:
a) (vs 17, 18) Took all Gods blessings for himself. He never considered sharing with the needy.
b) (v 19) His focus was on his own personal comfort and security.
c) (v 19) He pushed the thought of death into the distant future.
d) (vs 20, 21) He forgot that God had only loaned him his farm and would someday take it away.
2. The promise (vs 22-34): Ravens and lilies.
When we consider making Gods kingdom our top priority, a fear naturally arises that this will lead to starvation and exposure. We assume we must provide for ourselves. But Jesus says God will arrange our lives so our practical needs are met in ways that leave us time to do what He called us to do. In most cases this means we will be gainfully employed, but for some, like the disciples who first heard this, it means God will have people take care of them (Lk 10:4-8).
WHAT IS GOD'S KINGDOM? (v 31)
The kingdom of God is all the wonderful things that happen when Gods will comes in power to people and situations. When it does, people are saved, healed and delivered; attitudes are transformed until there is: forgiveness, justice, repentance, reconciliation, love, mercy, patience, kindness, joy and boldness.
When the kingdom of God is given place in a person or a situation, Satans hold yields, attitudes change and unbelief is turned to faith. These are the things that Christians are to seek.
WHAT IS TREASURE IN HEAVEN? (vs 33, 34)
These are the rewards that will be waiting for us when we arrive in heaven. Since our eternal life is a gift of God based on what Christ has done for us, and since God does not owe us anything for having served Him (Lk 17:7-10), this treasure can only be two things:
1. The joy of knowing that God is pleased with the way I lived my life (Mt 25:21).
2. People who experienced Gods love (kingdom) through me.
HOW DO WE SEEK HIS KINGDOM?
1. Principles from this passage:
a) The issue isnt what youre doing but why youre doing it (within basic moral and legal boundaries)
- Anything we do is transformed by this change of attitude
- How would the landowner in the parable seek Gods kingdom?
b) You cant set your heart on getting wealthy and serving God
- Lk 16:13 no servant can serve two masters
- However, serving God may produce great wealth
c) God promises to arrange for you to have the resources youll need to do what Hes called you to do.
d) If money or things hold our heart, God will ask us to give them to the needy.
- He surgically removes the cancer
- Matthew 19:21 (the rich young ruler)
2. Practical examples from different walks of life:
a) A business owner would seek to provide a righteous environment, to model integrity, to be generous in caring for employees, to offer true service to the community (Col 3:17).
b) An employee would seek to work with such integrity that people would encounter the Spirit of Christ within him or her. He or she would be diligent to pray for fellow workers and share Christ gently as God arranges divine appointments.
c) If offered another job, a kingdom seeker would ask the Lord to show where he or she would be of greatest service to Him.
d) Those who are young would ask God to show them who He has made them to be and how they are to serve Him (how will God use your life to help people know Him?): business, education, medicine, ministry, music/art, public service (police, fire, city, state, politics).
e) A retired person would ask God how he or she might serve Him during the years of freedom from employment.
f) An incapacitated person would ask the Lord to minister through them through prayer, writing and fellowshipping with the lonely.
g) A parent or grandparent would ask, How can I use my influence to help my children or grandchildren to fall in love with their heavenly Father?
In order to truly seek Gods kingdom, it takes:
1. Two revelations: a) life is about people, not things; b) life is about working for God, not me.
2. A lifetime of decisions: repeatedly choosing to benefit God, not myself.
3. Miraculous provision: enough money to pay the bills while I do what Gods called me to do.
4. A deep love for God: being with Him and pleasing Him is my greatest fulfillment. (He is the air we breathe, the bread we eat. After all, heaven is being with Him forever.)
1. Name a time when God asked you to give away something you dearly loved. How did that experience change you?
2. Given where you are in your life right now, what does seeking Gods kingdom mean for you?