Posts Tagged ‘Matthew 6:33’

But seek first the kingdom of God

September 27, 2016

matthew-6-33

Revised and re-posted are comments based on Matthew 6:30-33 in the Message Bible, the Verse of the Day for September 27, 2016:

30-33 “If God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.

From this passage verse 33 is often recited as a reminder of what our priorities should be as believers:

Matthew 6:33 (Amplified Bible):

33 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.

Here is the familiar rendering from the New King James Version:

33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

In light of the Gospel of Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as the King, the expression “the kingdom of God” is used four times in the first book of the Gospel writers: Matthew 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43. In its simplest form, the term is translated from the Greek word basileia, referring to the reign, rulership, the authority or dominion of a king.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word malkūt generally refers to the authority or to his rule of the heavenly king. The Psalmist declares: “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power.… Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145; 11, 13) “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Ps 103:19). Ultimately this sovereign rule of God, which Jesus Christ initiated with his earthly life and ministry will be fulfilled when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

The Verse of the Day and other references to the Kingdom of God remind us that we are all

Living in the Realm of the Kingdom of God

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;

but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

 

In the place of transition where God makes covenant

We find the comfort that we seek and the sweet release

Of the Jubilee extended to a bondservant.

Though turmoil surrounds us, we are kept in perfect peace

With a blessed assurance that we are ever secure,

Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty,

But we must wait with patience and not faint but endure.

While pressing toward the mark for the prize triumphantly

We living in the realm of the Kingdom of God,

As we submit our lives to Kingdom authority

And respond to each fiery trial with the Word of God.

No longer in bondage, we are redeemed and set free.

“It is written”: the true standard where we always find

Strength to triumph, transformed in the spirit of our mind.

The Maranatha Singers offer Matthew 6:33 as part of a medley of commands from the Lord Jesus Christ: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Ron Kenoly provides a lively reminder that “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost” are the essential elements of the Kingdom of God.

First things first

September 27, 2015

Matthew-6-33From Matthew 6:33 comes the Verse of the Day for September 27, 2015

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

In light of the Gospel of Matthew’s portrayal of Jesus as the King, the expression “the kingdom of God” is used four times in the first book of the Gospel writers: Matthew 12:28; 19:24; 21:31, 43. In its simplest form, the term is translated from the Greek word basileia, referring to the reign, rulership, authority or dominion of a king.

In the Old Testament the Hebrew word malkūt generally refers to the authority or rule of the heavenly king. The Psalmist declares: “They shall speak of the glory of thy kingdom, and tell of thy power.… Thy kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and thy dominion endures throughout all generations” (Psalm 145; 11, 13) “The Lord has established his throne in the heavens, and his kingdom rules over all” (Psalm 103:19). Ultimately, this sovereign rule of God, which Jesus Christ initiated with his earthly life and ministry, will be fulfilled when “the kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ” (Revelation 11:15).

The Verse of the Day and other references to the Kingdom of God remind us that we are . . .

Living in the Realm of the Kingdom of God

For the kingdom of God is not meat and drink;

but righteousness, and peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost.

Romans 14:17

                        

In this place of transition where God seals covenants,

We find the comfort that we seek and the sweet release

Of the Jubilee extended to His bondservants.

Though turmoil surrounds us, we are kept in perfect peace

With a blessed assurance that we are ever secure,

Abiding under the shadow of the Almighty,

But we must wait with patience and not faint but endure.

While pressing toward the mark for the prize triumphantly,

We are living in the realm of the Kingdom of God,

As we submit our lives to Kingdom authority

And respond to each fiery trial with the Word of God.

No longer in bondage, we are redeemed and set free.

“It is written”: the true standard where we always find

Strength to triumph, transformed in the spirit of our mind.

Matthew 6:33 is offered as a familiar hymn: Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God

Ron Kenoly also provides a lively reminder that “Righteousness, Peace and Joy in the Holy Ghost” are essential elements of the Kingdom of God.

Man of faith. . . pursue

April 6, 2015

1 Timothy_6-11Recently I did not have an Internet connection one morning, and I could not access BibleGateway.com to start off my day with the Verse of the Day. As I made my morning cup of tea, I noticed a special cup that my daughter had used the night before. On the outside of the black ceramic cup was the inscription “Blessed is a Man of Faith.” Around the light green rim which had been widened and flattened to a degree were these words: As for you, man of God. . .pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness—1 Timothy 6:11. I read the verse and smiled, thinking I’ll let this be my personal Verse of the Day. God seemed to be speaking directly to me, as I considered deeply the word that Paul directed to Timothy, his true son in the faith:

Pursue

The word pursue is translated from the Greek word dioko, which has been translated “to pursue, to follow after, to seek after eagerly, earnestly endeavor to acquire.” Clearly, to pursue is to put forth effort; it is an active verb with an object of pursuit in mind.

Righteousness

Matthew 6:33 reminds us of what should be our priority:

But seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.

Indeed, righteousness is a vital component of the Kingdom of God:

For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Ghost (Romans 4:17).

Andrew Womack comments regarding various aspects of the Greek word translated righteousness. “This word refers to our actions toward others (equity of character or actions) as well as our relationship with God (justification). Our relationship (righteousness) with God is an accomplished fact, but our godly actions toward others must be walked out daily.”

As believers, we should always desire to live righteously and pursue righteousness.

Godliness

Godliness refers to a true and vital spiritual relationship. With any relationship, both individuals must be mutually committed and intentional in their desire to see that the relationship continues to grow and thrive.

Paul reminds us in Philippians 4 that “Godliness with contentment is great gain.”

Faith

Faith, the bedrock of my life, is defined as confident assurance, trust and conviction in God that I will prevail. Faith–“the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”– operates beyond what we see, for we walk by faith, not by sight. Faith is essential to living a successful Christian life. Hebrews 11 reminds us that “Without faith it is impossible to please Him. For he that comes to God must believe that He is and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” For us, faith is the essence of life itself, for the just shall live by faith.

Love

In addition to pursuing faith, the man of God is to pursue the love of God or agape. With love, as with any other emotion, there must be a demonstration or manifestation whereby one knows the reality of the emotion in question. We speak of the love of God in manifestation which is so clearly demonstrated in one of the most widely recognized verses in the Bible, John 3:16:

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that whosoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

Not only is this the verse so often referred to during the time of the celebration of the resurrection, but this is a verse for all seasons.

It has been said that you can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving. Indeed, all love is giving. The essence of love as defined by giving is also seen in this poem by John Oxenham:

Love ever lives, outlives, forgives,

And while it stands with open hands it lives.

For this is love’s prerogative:

To give and give and give

 

Endurance

As one of the fruit of the spirit, “patience” is translated: “to stay, remain, abide”, literally “abiding under.” As a verb it figuratively means, to undergo, i.e. bear (trials), have fortitude, to persevere — abide, endure. The essence of the word involves the yielding of the will to something against which one naturally would rebel. It means cheerful (or hopeful) endurance, constancy. It is a bearing up in a way that honors and glorifies God, not merely to grin and bear it.

The epitome of patience in an individual is Job, whom Chuck Swindoll described as a “man of heroic endurance.” One of the spiritual principles that the Book of Job demonstrates is that God is “full of compassion and tender mercy” and that he rewards those who demonstrate “patience.” The scriptures offer this reminder: “You have need of patience, that after that you have done the will of the Lord you might receive the promise.” As I pursue patience, I am patiently waiting.

Gentleness

Here we find yet another the fruit of the spirit which is often associated with meekness. Stanley Horton comments that “Gentleness includes true humility that does not consider itself too good or too exalted for humble tasks.”

Paul also instructs Timothy regarding this quality: The servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, in meekness instructing those who oppose themselves.

As I sipped my tea while considering the words of 1 Timothy 6:11, I thought of this poem that express my deepest yearning to follow Paul’s exhortation:

The Proof of Desire

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts,

but especially that you may prophesy.

1 Corinthians 14:1

The proof of desire is pursuit.

Mike Murdock

In each new season may my life abound with fruit,

As I follow after God and seek His favor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

This passion to please is my relentless pursuit,

As I seek to taste His goodness and to savor.

In each new season may my life abound with fruit.

As a seasoned tree is strengthened from leaf to root,

I flow with fullness of joy as I labor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

Though I may seek as silver His wisdom and truth,

This life swiftly passes, fleeting as a vapor.

In each new season may my life abound with fruit.

I have yearned for God’s presence, even as a youth.

I now forsake all to scale the heights of Mount Tabor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

I ever seek to know God’s will and to do it,

To follow in the steps of Jesus, my Savior.

In each new season may my life abound with fruit,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

The verse that I designate as my personal Verse of the Day also brings to mind the Don Moen song: “My Soul Follows Hard after Thee”:

Love fulfills the Law

February 21, 2015

Romans_13-9

“Everything must change”: the lyrics to classic song, a showpiece for countless singers, is really an adaptation of the words of Solomon from Ecclesiastes 3 which reminds us that “To everything there is a season and a time for every purpose under the heaven.” This past week has been one of significant change for me, in that the problems that I had been having with my laptop continued until my faithful device “gave up the ghost” and totally gave out on me. Fortunately, I had a replacement, a tablet which I should have been getting accustomed to using months ago, but I kept putting it off until now, when I am forced to make a quick adaptation. In the process, I have not been blogging consistently, but I am trying to get back on track. Here is an entry which is a re-posting of the Verse of the Day entered a year ago.

Romans 13:9-10 NIV

The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

The Verse of the Day for February 21, 2015, reminds us once again that “It’s all about relationships. . . Whether interacting as a married couple, getting acquainted as a single man or woman, whether communicating as friends or co-workers, from pre-teens to senior citizens:

Whether with God, family, friends, co-workers, husband or wife,

“It’s all about relationships,” the foundation of life

Dane Findley, health writer and wellness coach, commented that “Paying close attention to the relationships in your life is not an extracurricular activity — it’s the reason for life itself.”

Without question, “It’s all about relationships. . . “from Genesis 1:1 to Revelation 22:21. The opening verse of Bible declares, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth,” establishing the relationship between the heavens and the earth, between bodies celestial and bodies terrestrial. Genesis further reveals the relationship between God, the Father, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and the Holy Spirit. The expression of the interaction of the three is in revealed in Genesis 1: 26: “And let us make man in our own image, after our own likeness.”

Verse two of Genesis 1 beginnings with the conjunction “and,” the most frequently used word in the King James Version of the Bible, being used 28,364 times. The figure of speech known as polysyndeton involves using “many ands” where is there is emphasis placed on each item listed in any series connected by the conjunction. This figure is particularly noteworthy in Genesis 1:2 and the verses that follow.

The Book of Genesis and subsequent books of the Bible unfold the consequences of the first broken relationship when Lucifer chooses to break fellowship with God, thus becoming the “first murderer” and “the father of lies” who begets an untruth in the very presence of truth. We see the devastating consequences of his deadly influence in the Fall of Man and the degradation of humanity and all of earthly life itself.

The Scriptures reveal God’s ultimate desire for reconciliation and the healing of all broken relationships, expressed through Jesus Christ. As ambassadors or representatives of Christ, we stand in his place, using the word of reconciliation which is part of the ministry of reconciliation, as we endeavor to restore broken relationships, first with God and with others as well (II Corinthians 5:17-21).

The primary relationship in life is one’s relationship with God. Matthew 6:33 reminds us to “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.” We also recognize “The first and great commandment: To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.” Believers are further instructed to “love your neighbor as yourself.” When we love God, first of all, and then love others to the same degree that we love ourselves, we fulfill the law of love which is the highest expression of God who is love.

Here is a musical expression of these profound truths by Martha Hall Bowman, who sings “The Greatest Commandment”:

The Proof of Desire

February 6, 2015

Proverbs 21--21

The Verse of the Day for February 6, 2015 comes from Proverbs 21:21 (New Living Translation):

Whoever pursues righteousness and unfailing love will find life, righteousness, and honor.

Matthew 6:33 (NLT) echoes a similar exhortation to pursue righteousness:

Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

These verses bring to mind comments that were made in a previous blog entry related to pursuing wisdom. The post is modified and re-posted below:

In reflecting on the Verse of the Day, an incident came to mind that occurred while I was in basic training, after having been drafted into the U.S. Army back in 1967. At the end of the training period, we were told to prepare for a thorough inspection of our barracks by the Inspector General. I recall that I had received my first pay which I had placed in the bottom of an empty stationery box that I had hidden underneath some of the clothing items that lined my footlocker. In my haste to prepare for the IG inspection, I inadvertently threw what I thought was an empty box into the trash which I later recalled having thrown into the dumpster behind the barracks. We passed the inspection with flying colors and our company performed well on the parade field, being selected as the group with the best formation. As a result we were given a pass to go into the neighboring town for the day.

As I went to get my pay which I had stashed away, I realized that I had thrown my month’s wages into the trash, as I remembered what I had done in preparing my footlocker for inspection. Without hesitation, I walked swiftly to the back of the barracks and climbed into the dumpster. In pursuing the object, I ignored the strange looks and snide comments and inquiries that asked “Johnson, what are you doing? What are you looking for?” I walked over to the area where I recall that I dumped the trash, and I diligently searched for and finally found the box that contained the money that I was looking for.

The Bible urges us to follow after or to pursue wisdom in the same manner that you would seek to find hidden treasures, such as silver or gold. In a similar manner, the object that I was seeking was more valuable to me than the embarrassment or inconvenience that I had to endure in order to obtain it. When I jumped into the dumpster without hesitation, I demonstrated that was I was seeking was valuable enough for me to put forth a serious effort to find. As mature followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, we demonstrate our desire for more of the life-sustaining Word of God, as we pursue “righteousness and unfailing love.” The following poem personalizes our yearning for more of God:

The Proof of Desire

Pursue love, and desire spiritual gifts,

but especially that you may prophesy.

I Corinthians 14:1

 

The proof of desire is pursuit.

Mike Murdock

 

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit,

As we follow after God and seek His favor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

This passion to please is our relentless pursuit,

As we seek to taste His goodness and to savor.

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit.

 

Seasoned trees are strengthened from the leaf to the root,

As we flow with fullness of joy while we I labor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

Though we may seek as silver His wisdom and truth,

This life swiftly passes, fleeting as a vapor.

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit.

 

Having yearned for God’s presence, even as a youth,

We now forsake all to scale the heights of Mount Tabor,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

 

We ever seek to know God’s will and to do it,

To follow in the steps of Jesus, our Savior.

In each new season may our lives abound with fruit,

To show that the proof of desire is pursuit.

In reflecting upon the pursuit of spiritual matters, I thought of the lyrics of the Don Moen song “My Soul Follows Hard after Thee”

Matthew 6:33–First things first

September 27, 2014

Matthew-6-33

The primary relationship in life is one’s relationship with God. Matthew 6:33, the Verse of the Day for September 27, 2014, reminds us of this truth:

“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added unto you.”

We also recognize “The first and great commandment: To love God with all your heart, soul, mind and strength.”

I see a similarity between the building of relationships, beginning with God, and the building of individual or separate fires in our lives. I became glaringly aware of this reality during graduate school while working on my doctorate, and I made this comment in an article entitled “‘My Soul Looks Back and Wonders. . .’ Reflections on My Journey”:

Getting a Ph.D. was important, unquestionably, but for me it was not the most important aspect of my life. My relationship with God is foremost in my life, and I attempt to always maintain that priority. My relationship with my wife and children, and others, at times, took precedence over my graduate studies. I learned how to keep many fires going at once–cooking at four different fires–moving from pot to pot–as a student–as a teacher–as a husband/father (home fires need special attention)–and as an employee. So often I felt like a Boy Scout, a builder and sustainer of fires.

A number of years prior to enrolling in graduate school, I participated in an outdoor wilderness experience at the Total Fitness Institute in California where I actually built a fire, the inspiration for this work:

Once I Built a Fire

For our God is a consuming fire.

Hebrews 12:29

 

Scout’s honor—Once I built a fire from scratch:

Gathered dried grass, spindly twigs, kindling and

A love letter, then proceeded as planned.

The careless wind brought me to my last match.

I held my breath and prayed this time it would catch,

Then knelt, exhaled, coaxing with bellows mild

As baby’s breath to inspire my ailing child.

Throughout the night I lie awake and watch.

Indeed, I did my duty to protect,

To build and gather even more to give

To nourish this infant and not neglect,

For no fire has power within itself to live.

Though ablaze, fire demands not less but more.

Once from scratch I built a fire—Scout’s honor.

How do you build and sustain an intimate, personal relationship with God? How do you also build close relationships at home, at school, at work or in some other social setting? Building relationships and then nurturing them so that they flourish and grow require being consistent and persistent in our efforts. The challenge is not only to build a fire but to keep the fire burning, recognizing that “home fires,” in particular, demand time, energy and consistency in order to obtain the desired results.

Inspired by Matthew 6:33, “Seek Ye First the Kingdom of God” is offered as a scripture memory hymn: