What do you think the concept of putting the Kingdom of God first means? How do you do it? If you remember from last week’s podcast, Jesus gave a Kingdom parable about a Great Feast where everyone who was initially invited to it refused to come. The excuses they gave for turning down the invitation fell into two categories, money and family. We already looked at the first excuse, money. Today, we are going to begin to look at the second which is family.
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Accept the Challenge
Each week’s podcast contains a call to action. The Word of God will not produce in your life unless you put into operation.
This week’s call is:
The top spot in your life should be, must be, ought to be the Kingdom of God. It must be number one among all other priorities. If you desire to put the Kingdom first, then you must constantly make choices between things which will try and compete for the top spot.
Join the Conversation
Each week’s podcast also contains a question designed to encourage testimony. Testimony is vital to a believer’s life. We overcome by it (Rev. 12:11).
This week’s question is:
Question: How do you show the Lord that He is first in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can find additional information on the subject of the Kingdom of God in the resources listed below.
- #S3-044: What is the Kingdom of God? [Podcast]
- #S3-045: What Does The Future Kingdom of God Look Like? [Podcast]
- #S3-046: How Important in the Kingdom of God Are the Kings Kids? [Podcast]
- #S3-047: Why the Lordship of Jesus Is the Linchpin of Kingdom Authority [Podcast]
- #S3-048: The Great Need to Flow in the Authority of God [Podcast]
- #S3-049: Why It’s Tremendously Important to Take Your Stand [Podcast]
- #S3-050: Four Reasons Why You Have More Authority than the Enemy [Podcast]
- #S4:001: What Do Priorities in the Kingdom of God Look Like? [Podcast]
Emery committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ over 40 years ago and has served as both a full-time pastor and an itinerant minister. Both he and his wife Sharon of 35 years emphasize personal growth and development through the Word of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is both the focus and the hallmark of their mission. Read more about them here.
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Our Great Desire to Know All the Steps
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) — 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
- The world of men is such that there’s an overriding desire to have everything in life cataloged.
- People want to know and be able to see what all the steps are.
- That’s why messages that have ‘Three Steps to…’ are so popular.
- Everyone wants what the next thing is.
- That’s why walking by faith is so challenging.
- God doesn’t always allow you to see what the next step is.
- So, when people have seen the word ‘first’ in Matthew 6:33, the almost automatic desire is to know what’s next, what’s second.
- What comes second after ‘Seek first the Kingdom of God?’
- And so various lists have popped up where priorities get ranked because, after all, if there is a first, then there must be a second, and if there’s a second, there must be a third.
- One such priority list went something like this.
- God first
- Family second
- Ministry third
- What do you think of this list?
- Are these priorities in right order?
- Everyone can agree with God first, right?
- But, is the family second ahead of ministry or before it?
- Well, you don’t have to guess at it.
The Example of Jesus and Family
- All we have to do is take a look at the example of Jesus.
- If Jesus said to seek first the kingdom, do you think He walked this ‘Kingdom first’ principle in His own personal life?
- Do you think, He gave us an example to follow?
- Let’s look at His example and let’s look at Jesus words about family.
Matthew 10:34–39 (NKJV) — 34 “Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. 35 For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; 36 and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household.’ 37 He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. 38 And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. 39 He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it.
What Jesus Did Not Come to Do
- There are several things Jesus said He did not come to do.
- He did not come to abolish the Law (Matthew 5:17).
- Nor did He come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance (Matthew 9:13).
- Jesus didn’t arrive on planet earth to be served but to serve (Matthew 20:28).
- And here in Matthew 10, Jesus says that he did not come to bring peace to families.
- In fact, it’s just the opposite.
- He said I came to bring a sword.
- A sword is used to cut or to sever.
- What are we going to do with this ‘sword business’ Jesus talked about?
- When your family gets together for a meal and you are asked to bring something to contribute to the festivities, a sword never makes the list does it?
- It’s always bring a salad, bring something to drink, bring some desert, ‘Oh yeah, don’t ever forget desert’, but never are we asked to bring a sword.
- Of course, the use of the word sword here is figurative language for division in a family.
- Did you ever think about Jesus bringing division to a family?
- We are always praying for peace in our families.
- I know a little of what Jesus was referring to here from a first-hand perspective.
- When I gave my heart to Jesus over 41 years ago, that wasn’t a very popular decision in my nuclear family.
- My dad especially didn’t understand it, and eventually gave me an ultimatum to choose between family or Jesus.
- The decision was easy for me.
- I chose Jesus.
- If I had to do it all over again, I would do it again.
- I was asked to leave home because of that choice.
- Jesus brought a sword to my home life.
- It severed me from my parents.
- Later on, the whole family thing got better but it took a long while.
- So, you can see family isn’t supposed to come first.
- But, the Kingdom of God is.
Context, Context, Context
- Let’s ask again talk about context.
- What’s the context for Jesus comments on bringing a sword to families?
- You need to back up from verse thirty-four to verse sixteen.
Matthew 10:16–20 (NKJV) — 16 “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. 17 But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. 18 You will be brought before governors and kings for My sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. 19 But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should speak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; 20 for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you.
- The context here for being delivered up to councils and being scourged in the synagogues is sheep being sent out in the midst of wolves.
- The context here is not how things are going to be in the last days.
- This passage in Matthew is not about end time prophecy.
- It’s just regular, “I am sending you out into the harvest fields building up the Kingdom stuff.’
- It’s just the normal Christian life.
- This is stuff that happens in families every single day on planet earth.
Wolves, Sheep, and Other Matters
- Well now, who are these wolves?
- According to verse twenty-one, the wolves are family members.
- You see in some families there are sheep, people who love the Lord, and there are wolves, people who don’t love the Lord.
Matthew 10:21 (NKJV) — 21 “Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death.
- The Bible refers to believers as sheep.
- They are sheep when they arrive at the local church.
- They are sheep when they leave church and go home to their families.
- But, everyone in a family is not sheep material, right?
- Just like in the local church.
- Everyone who comes to the local church is not a sheep in the Jesus sheepfold.
- Sometimes wolves come to church.
- The Bible speaks of a particularly dangerous type of wolf, a ravenous wolf.
Matthew 7:15 (NKJV) — 15 “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves.
- The Greek word ‘ravenous’ means greedy, grasping and thieving.
- So money is one the motivators behind the whole false prophet phenomenon.
- They are greedy and grasping.
- And, they are thieves.
- So in families, there are sheep but there are also wolves.
- They may not be ravenous wolves but they are unbelievers.
- Unbelievers are wolf material.
- And, in families, there are also wolves dressed-up like sheep.
- Jesus said, plainly that in your families, among the people you know the best, among the people you think you should feel safe around, that some of them are wolves and some of them are sheep dressed like wolves.
- Jesus told us when the rubber meets the road, there will be family members who will turn on you.
- So knowing this is true, are you sure that family comes first?
- Would you put a wolf ahead of Jesus?
- Now, Matthew was talking to Jewish brethren here.
- We’ve already noted the Jewish flare about the gospel of Matthew.
- But, this is not just a Jewish thing because wolves are wolves and sheep are sheep in any generation.
- A twenty-first-century wolf is no different than the first-century wolf.
- They act just the same.
- A Jewish wolf is no different than a Gentile wolf.
- Kind of like a drunk.
- Drunks act the same no matter what country they’re from.
- A Hungarian drunk acts the same way as an American one.
- But, in America, family is many times put above Kingdom business.
- Sheep, wolves and all.
- Because after all, it’s family.
- Everyone says family comes first, that’s a common saying.
- But what about God’s business?
- What about Kingdom business?
- Is family above the business of the King?
- You see, there is the King and there is the business of the King.
- Matthew 6:33 says to seek first the business of the King.
- Does family come ahead of ‘seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness?’
Let the Dead Bury the Dead
Matthew 8:21–22 (NKJV) — 21 Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 22 But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.”
- Luke’s version of this same comment of Jesus has some added words.
Luke 9:59–60 (NKJV) — 59 Then He said to another, “Follow Me.” But he said, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” 60 Jesus said to him, “Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and preach the kingdom of God.”
- What do you think about these words?
- Here we have a family matter, burying the dead pitted against preaching the Kingdom.
- Which comes first according to Jesus?
- One commentary had this to say about it.
This man’s request to first take care of a family matter demonstrated that he felt discipleship was something he could pick up or lay down at will. He put material concerns ahead of Jesus, for he apparently wanted to receive the estate when his father died. 1
You Can’t Put Your Kingdom Life on Hold
- What this man was saying to Jesus is ‘Allow me to put my preaching the Kingdom life on hold while I attend to this earthly matter.’
- Jesus denied this request.
- Why? because his priorities were wrong.
- Are you shocked at how strong Jesus is about burying a parent?
- If you are, could it be because of a wrong concept you may have of what seek first the Kingdom means?
- These words are so mind-jarring until some people just read right past them with the thought, ‘You know, Jesus didn’t really mean this.’
- But, those who really put the Kingdom first understand these words.
- They know the family doesn’t come first.
- How can we tell if we are putting the Kingdom first?
- How can we tell if we are not just mouthing a bunch of words?
- You know sometimes we can talk a good game.
- But, you can look at anyone’s checkbook and see what the Kingdom is to them.
- You can look at a person’s Day-timer or planner and see where their priorities are.
- Because, how you spend your time and how you spend your money speaks way more about your priorities than the words of your mouth.
- If we went around the room and asked the question, ‘Are you putting the Kingdom first?’
- The answer would be, “Oh, Yes of course I am.”
- Louis A. Barbieri, Jr., “Matthew,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 38. ↩