Assorted Lessons for Us Life-Long Learners, Pt. 3
Study Guide, August 23, 2020
Pastor Clay Olsen
So here is another gift I received last week along with the chocolates…a can of kippered herrings. They are German Bratherings or Fried Herrings. Many people love these things. I learned that this was one of Martin Luther’s favorite dishes…fried herrings with green peas and mustard. That would help power up the Reformation, right?
Actually, herrings are like a ‘super food’. One filet has 33 grams of protein…that’s more than in a protein shake. And herring lowers bad cholesterol and raises good cholesterol, along with lowering blood pressure. Plus, they are filled with antioxidants, omega 3’s, vitamins D and B-12. So you can add this to your diet and power up!
Assorted illustrations for assorted lessons…that’s how we are rolling in our recent studies of some great lessons from the Promise Keepers Conference. So let’s consider some more together.
If anyone is going to challenge you to a deeper devotion and a higher commitment in your discipleship, it’s going to be Dr. Tony Evans. Tony Evans has been leading, teaching, and inspiring men and women for years and years to step up the pace in their Christian walk. And in the recent conference he did so again by exhorting Christians to refocus their attention. Here’s what we mean…
Throughout the Bible the word ‘Christian’ is mentioned just two times. Yup, two times. While the word ‘Kingdom’ is mentioned 321 times! Now, not all of these times are in direct reference to the Kingdom of God, but many are. And the point is that the Christian life is not all about just being a Christian, as crucial as it is to become a Christian. But the Christian life is not all about just being a Christian….rather, the Christian life is all about living for the Kingdom because you now are a Christian! It’s not just what you are living ‘as’…living ‘as a Christian’; it’s about what you are living ‘for’ as a Christian…what are you seeking first as a Christian. Life is not just about living your life as a Christian man or Christian woman. No, life is about becoming a Christian and then living your life as a ‘Kingdom’ man or ‘Kingdom’ woman.
Once a person becomes a born again Christian, their priority focus is to then be fixed on living for the Kingdom of God…or…seeking first the Kingdom of God. Remember that? Matt 6:33- “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” KJV By the way, that’s quite a division of life represented here. Life is made up of two aspects: ‘The kingdom of God’ and ‘Things’. After the kingdom of God, everything else is just ‘things’. So we could ask it another way: “Are you seeking first the kingdom of God” or “Are you seeking first the ‘things’ of this world? The Kingdom of God or Things…that simplifies the picture, don’t you think?
So much of our focus is locked onto the ‘things’ of this world. And sure, there’s nothing wrong with enjoying all the good things that God has given us to enjoy. There is even a Bible passage that points this out: 1 Tim 6:17-19- “…they should place their confidence in God who richly provides us with everything to enjoy. Tell them to do good, to do a lot of good things, to be generous, and to share. By doing this they store up a treasure for themselves which is a good foundation for the future. In this way they take hold of what life really is.” God’s Word Version
So our loving and generous God gives us many good things to enjoy. Thank you Lord. And, of course, good things are even made better when we share our good things, and do good things with our good things, which then become rewardable things that God gives to us to enjoy forever in the Kingdom of Heaven.
So again, ‘Things’ are not a problem, unless….unless the ‘things of this world’ replace the ‘kingdom of God’ in our priorities of what we are seeking ‘first’! And we can even partially measure that by how we answer this question: Do you just see yourself as a Christian, or do you see yourself as a Kingdom Christian? You see, By the grace of God you have become a Christian. But for the glory of God, have you become a Kingdom Christian? Making you a Christian is God’s work. But making yourself a Kingdom Christian is your work. The conversion of your soul is the work of God in you. But the conversion of your service is your work for God. Like Joshua said: “Choose you this day who you will serve!” Actually, we have to choose everyday…we have to make the choice that- “Today, I will serve my King and seek first His kingdom and His righteousness!”
Would you describe yourself as a Kingdom man or a Kingdom woman? That means that you are seeking to be a Matthew 6:33 man or woman. And in being a Matthew 6:33 man or woman, that means that you are now seeking to be a ‘first things first’ Christian man or Christian woman. And a ‘first things first’ Christian man or Christian woman is one that is now living as one who is seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, which come first, as in, before anything and everything else in life; like all of the things of life.
A lot of the Christian life is about re-orienting your thinking about life. We even have to re-orient our understanding about life itself and then re-purpose our life according to that. In fact, a ‘Kingdom Christian’ even thinks about this world in ‘kingdom’ terms. For example: When it comes to thinking about this world, we naturally think in terms of ‘life on planet Earth’. But while ‘Earth’ does represent a physical planet…it more so represents a present kingdom. And it is a kingdom that is passing away. And it is not only passing away…it is also about to be overcome by another kingdom. Remember what Jesus told Pilate? John 18:36-37- “Jesus answered, “My kingdom is not of this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would be fighting so that I would not be handed over to the Jews; but as it is, My kingdom is not of this realm.” Therefore Pilate said to Him, “So You are a king?” Jesus answered, “You say correctly that I am a king. For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” NASU
By the way, in that last statement by Jesus we are given a clue as to what marks a person who, in their state of ‘pre-conversion’, is responding to the work of the Holy Spirit in drawing them to Christ and salvation. The clue is this: “Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” ‘Of the truth’ refers to someone who, by the power being supplied to them by the Holy Spirit, is seeking to find God as their Lord and Savior. Remember the promise of Jer 29:13- “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” NASU What an amazing and loving promise of God, which friends, also comforts us in that we can rest assured that everyone who is seeking God with all of their heart to find God as their Lord and Savior will find Him. Yes, we do have to be vigilant and urgent about getting the Gospel out to others around us, but at the same time, we can also be assured that none will be lost who seek the Lord with all of their heart. God knows the hearts of people, and every heart that seeks to know Him as their Lord and Savior will find Him as such.
But, again, what all of life comes down to is that it comes down to two kingdoms. Note carefully Col 1:13-14- “For He has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of His dear Son, Who purchased our freedom and forgave our sins.” Two kingdoms: the kingdom of darkness and the kingdom of Christ; the kingdom of death and the kingdom of life. And every person belongs to either one or the other of these kingdoms. Praise God, part of our salvation was that God transferred us out of the kingdom of death and into His kingdom of life. But now as citizens of this kingdom of life…and now as servants of the King of the kingdom of life, and as royal sons and daughters of the King who is about to impose His kingdom upon this world and establish His kingdom over the whole world, we are to be serving our King day after day by seeking first the Kingdom of God and promoting the righteousness of the King, who is our God.
Men, there is something within you that can only be satisfied by one thing, and that is; service to your King. Like the Knights of old, who found their joy and even their identity in serving their King, who found their sense of significance and their purpose in living by serving their King, who would live for and even give their life up for their King, so every man was made to serve a King…King Jesus.
Many men are wandering through life wondering what it is that seems to be missing, no matter what they accomplish or no matter what they achieve. There is still something missing. Well, it will always be missing until they find what that one thing is; it is their need for a King to serve and a Lord to love above themselves. Every man needs a King to serve and a Lord to love above themselves, and that King and Lord is Jesus.
It’s the same kind of longing within women. Ladies, there is something within you that can only be satisfied by one thing, and that is, your need for a Lord to love and a King to serve above yourself., love and service for your King and your God. We see it most clearly in Mary, and in what Mary revealed: Luke 1:38- “I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as You have said.” And the angel left her.” 46-50- “Mary said, “My heart praises the Lord; my soul is glad because of God my Savior, for He has remembered me, His lowly servant! From now on all people will call me happy, because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me. His name is holy; from one generation to another He shows mercy to those who honor Him.” TEV
Yes, God has made you a princess to honor your value as His own child. But like Mary, you are now to make yourself His servant…and when you make yourself His servant, you then honor His value to you as your Lord and your King.
Many women are wandering through life wondering what it is that is missing, even if they seem to have everything they could want. Still, it is the same thing they are looking for, and what Mary found. Mary found her joy and even her identity in loving and serving her Lord and King. She found her sense of significance and her purpose in living by loving and serving her King, whom she would live for and would even give up her life for if it came to that.
Every woman was made to love and serve her King…King Jesus. And nothing can ever take the place of that or eliminate that need. And it will always be missing until they find that one thing: It is their need for a Lord to love and a King to serve above themselves. Every woman needs a Lord to love and a King to serve above themselves, and that Lord and King is Jesus.
So add that to your identity about yourself; either, ‘I am a Kingdom man’ or ‘I am a Kingdom woman’. And then think about this world around you as a kingdom that is passing away and is about to be replaced by your King’s kingdom. Which also means that as Kingdom Christians, we are on assignment by our King to be promoting the very things that are about to replace this passing kingdom; like that ‘righteousness’ that Matthew 6:33 pointed out. And here, we know that we have been given Christ’s righteousness for our salvation, but Matthew 6:33 is stressing our need to now live righteously, as a saved Kingdom believer. Notice again: Matt 6:33- “Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and He will give you everything you need.” NLT
Along with our salvation we were given a new standard of living; righteousness. That’s another difference in how a Kingdom Christian thinks from the world. When the world thinks about their ‘standard of living’, again, they think in terms of the things of this world; their physical standard of living. But when a Kingdom Christian thinks about their standard of living, their first focus is not on their physical standard of living, but on their spiritual standard of living, not foremost on the things of this world, but foremost on now ‘living righteously’ in this world, for ‘living righteously’ is now their first ‘standard of living’!
And the thing is, unlike a person’s physical standard of living that can be out of their control because of the hard circumstances of life, a Kingdom Christian’s spiritual standard of living is outside of the circumstances of life. And therefore, the Kingdom Christian, by the power of the Holy Spirit, can control his or her spiritual standard of living. Like, again, “As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.” And friends, it is not only a great blessing to our King when we live for His kingdom and His righteousness, but it is also satisfies that inner craving in your soul, like nothing else can do, to be of great service to your King.
Brothers and Sisters, by God’s grace you have become a Christian. And now for God’s glory, live as a Kingdom Christian, seeking first the kingdom of God, and living righteously for the sake of your King.