The recording of my message on Sunday had some technical difficulty (read: didn’t work) so here are some of the highlights of that message if you’re staying up to date.
I started off by talking about the big shift in my life over the last 10 years. I used to ask the question, “What do I want to do?” and when I found that unsatisfying I started to ask, “Who do I want to be?” This attitude, motive and heart shift has made a huge difference in my life. I believe that asking that question has allowed me to see beyond the external pressures that are on all of us (jobs, kids, family, relationships) to the core of the issues in my life. Though I am far from getting it right, I wanted to take some time to talk about how to live out the answer to the question of who I want to be… in other words, how do I make the Kingdom more present in my life when there are so many distractions?
The answer is so beautiful and simple and found in Matthew 6. In this passage, Jesus talks about giving (generously, not for show, not posturing in any way), he talks about praying (personally to our Father not pretentiously in front of others), he talks about fasting (spiritual disciplines being cultivated in our lives, not showing off our piety), he talks about our treasure (making God more important than anything else in life, especially money) and then he tells that there is no reason to worry. In fact, worrying is the same as being pagan, having no belief in God. So, if we call ourselves followers of Christ and are worrying, we have a knowledge of God but our faith isn’t real. Stings a bit, eh?
And in all of this there is a beautiful solution. Seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and everything about daily living will be given to you as well. Everything that needs to line up (giving, prayer, fasting, money, faith) will line up when we seek Him first.
So clear, so simple but so difficult to live out day to day. Why? I suggested that it’s not the external pressures that we so often blame – the busyness, the schedules, the boss, the family conflict – it’s an issue of how we’ve set up our lives. We think that we need to get our ducks in a row before we really give ourselves to the Kingdom or we think that the Kingdom is about doing more volunteer hours at the church in addition to our schedules. This is the wrong angle, like asking what we should do instead of who we should be.
What would happen if your life was built around Kingdom things instead of trying to add church things into your life?
The truth is, the Kingdom of God is advancing and all the things that distract us and pull us away from pursuing a life with kingdom values have been taken care of in Matthew 6 by this simple principle. There’s nothing in your life that you need to figure out first before you focus on the Kingdom. Nothing. Seek Him first and all the rest of it will come together. Switch up the priorities and it will make sense practically, relationally, financially, emotionally and spiritually.
Could it be that we believe that Jesus can forgive our sins and give us eternal life but he can’t help us to order our lives in a godly way?
I know from my own life that if you determine who you want to be and what kind of family you want to be and make that the filter through which everything has to pass before it becomes a part of your life, you are free to give yourself to the Kingdom.
In my own family, we mark our days with Kingdom things that come first, CP1 on Wednesday nights, the School of Music on Thursday afternoons, Youth Group on Friday nights and of course, Sunday as the Sabbath and all of our activities have to fall around those things. The things that contribute to our spiritual lives and allow us to fuel ourselves for what God has for us are the first things that go on the calendar. It’s so freeing to have said YES to these things so that we know what we have to say no to along the way.
What I want you to hear me say today is that there is no excuse for having faith but not living a kingdom-focused life. The solution to whatever you’re up against is to seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness and then let Him add to your life what needs to be there.
It requires submission, it requires you to slow down so that you can hear Him and it require obedience to what He sets up for your life.
But there is not another life like it. The best part of my week is not watching my kids in their hip-hop class. It’s entertaining to say the least and they love it. But the best part of my week is taking a lasagna to a couple in our church who have had sustained sickness in their home or sometimes it’s when one of my piano students brings me their high school acceptance letter because they know I’ve been praying for them and their future or sometimes it’s when one of my kids asks me how they can hear God speak to them.
My prayer for you is that you would say yes to the kingdom and that that yes would be the filter for all that you do and that all that you do would come from the heart of who you are and who God is transforming you into being.