SEEK YE FIRST THE KINGDOM
Jesus was clear in His concern that we seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness. It is not a matter of what we believe to be righteous. It is not a matter of making ourselves righteous so we can get into heaven. It is a matter of seeking the Kingdom of God. He spent a great deal of teaching on that one subject - Seek the Kingdom of God. That is where we live in eternal life with God. It is the Pearl of Great Price.
When Jesus defines Eternal Life, it is not in terms of length of time. It is terms of "knowing Thee, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." Jn 17:3 We are able to know God now, and knowing Him now, we are able to enter into the life that He has prepared for us. That is what we are to seek first.
We might translate Jesus' words into, "Get to know Abba, and you will have entered into the life that you will live through eternity. If it is as good as I say it is, why wait.?" If we try it and don't like it, we don't have to go. He will not compel us. If it is as good as He says, why do we put it off? Why suffer from walking in darkness when we can have the light?
THE NECESSITY OF PRAYER
If we are going to get to know God, we are going to have to talk with Him. It is not a matter of prayer as words that are directed to let God know what I want. It is a time of listening to what He wants. It is a matter of deciding to seek His will, and not my own. It is a matter of asking Him my questions and waiting for His answers rather than seeking the view of another Christian who presumes to have the answer.
Prayer is not a computer disc that gets slipped into the hardware and used without a great deal of practice. Prayer is like breathing in the Kingdom of God. We must learn to practice prayer until talking with God is as much a part of our lives as talking with one another.(See tract on Prayer)
It is clear that failure to communicate with others in our world creates havoc in relationships. The same thing holds true in our relationship with God. As we make it a habit to talk with God, we are brought into a realization that the Kingdom of God is at hand, and we are in the presence of the King. To ignore Him in our lives is to trade the wisdom of the Creator of the Universe for the wisdom of the world.
When we are willing to seek God first, and make a firm decision to learn about Him and learn to communicate with Him, we are on the road to the Kingdom. We find that He meets us on the way home, and takes our hand to lead us out of the blindness of Sin into the light of His Kingdom.
EDUCATION AND REVELATION
There are two necessities to our walking with God in His Kingdom. The first is education. Jesus commissioned us to go teach what He taught us. Perhaps the easiest source for us to use is the scriptures that record what He taught. There are other books that are useful, but the Church has determined that the scriptures hold all things necessary to salvation.
In study, we learn about God. That is not the same as knowing God. We do not stop seeking when we have found the words about God. We press on into prayer that we might get to know the One about whom we have learned.
When Peter made his confession at Caesarea Philippi, we might note that Jesus response was, "..flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.."Mt 16:17 Education and revelation are not of the same order. Education may determine the character of God we hold to be true, but it is revelation that enables us to know Him, and walk with Him in His Kingdom, which is at hand.
When we are involved in study of the Bible, it is an easy thing for us to learn enough of the words to create a new law rather than a gateway into the Kingdom where we come to know God. We are satisfied with trying to live with generality rather than the particularity of His love for us. We create a law that enables us to live by the words rather than the Word.
Jesus made that clear when He pointed out to those who were critical of His life, 'You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you do not come to me that you may have life." Jn 5:39
It is important that we press through the scripture to the one to whom they point. The scriptures are an icon. We see through them the revelation of God, but when we fail to see through them to the living God to whom they point, they become an idol that separates us from the life in that Kingdom we are seeking.
Study the scriptures to know about the one we seek, and pray to get to know Him. God is not hiding. He waits for us to reach out to Him. It was not God who hid in the Garden of Eden. It was Adam who hid, and who continues to hide from God today because he is afraid of what God will do if He really meets Him face to face.
WE CANNOT TRULY KNOW WITHOUT TRYING IT OUT
When I first read the scriptures, I was surprised to find that they were not filled with a lot of "Thou shalt nots.." There were a lot of "The Kingdom of God is likes.." The indication I got from the scriptures was that I was to seek God's Kingdom, to know Him, and to walk with Him in the life that He has designed just for me. I found that I could not do that simply by reading the words in the Bible and doing what I perceived them to say. I had to find Holy Spirit, someone to interpret what they said to me in the particularities of my life.
The Kingdom is not a place of stereotypical children. It is a relationship in which each child is different. The love of God is not a generality. It is particular. The Father loved the prodigal son in one way and the elder son in another. He loved them both perfectly, but each in his own way.
When we are willing to try God, we are driven to prayer as our children were driven to talk to us to find out how we loved them in each individual place and event in their lives. We did not express our love in the same way each time, but it was love that we expressed. God does not express His love the same way, but it is love that He expresses.
When I come to Him seeking His will for me at any given time in my life, He hears my prayer and responds to me in love. He does not always grant what I ask, but He gives me what He wills for my well being. He cannot indulge me and love me at the same time. When my will becomes one with His, I receive what I desire, and what He wants to give me. The way I find that relationship with the King is to seek His Kingdom and His righteousness.
I determine the time to give Him in my seeking. I do not find prayer time after the late show, or the ball game, or the family reunion. I must put my prayer time before those things. I don't confine prayer to spare time, but to prime time, intentionally set apart to be with Him.
When I am ready to obey Jesus to seek the Kingdom of God, I must take the time to study the words of scripture, and begin to talk with the one who reveals Himself there. It is not a matter of figuring out how to get what I want. It is a matter of trying to get what He wants. I do not begin prayer with the crises of my life, but with the planning of my life. I pursue it as I come to know the One who has called me to be His own.
God is a Lover. He is not a tyrant. When we find Him in His Kingdom where we are willing to obey, we pray, "Thy will be done one earth as it is in heaven, nothing more, nothing less, nothing else, and we rest in the love He has for us with Him.
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