Well, we’ve done it! We’ve started our biblical adventure for 2017. We are seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness as we read through the Bible together! I’m wondering how your Bible readings went for you this week. Did you make any notes? Did anyone have a hard time finding the kingdom of God and His righteousness? Did you notice that God’s kingdom and righteousness often seemed distant and even missing? There’s a reason for that! We must not forget that the hero of the Bible is not any man or woman, but the true hero of the Bible is God Himself. We have to keep in focus that He is the king and His is the kingdom, the power and the glory forever. As Jesus reminded us as He stood before Pilate, His kingdom is not of this world. Paul also tells us plainly: Flesh and blood can NOT inherit the kingdom of God. Until His kingdom comes, His will will not be done on earth as it is in heaven. Ever since the fall that we read about in Genesis 3, we live on a cursed planet, with the curse of sin and death infecting every one of us. Remember Romans 3:23? Yet, even after the darkness of the fall, even after sin and death grips humanity, we still find seekers of God’s kingdom and righteousness among the few, do we not? There is a radical remnant always. God preserves His seed of promise that He gave in Genesis 3:15.
Hebrews 11 gives us a list of Old Testament people of faith. We are reminded that these were all wanderers, pilgrims in this world. Look at Hebrews 11:6, (we must be seeking Him too!). Look at what they were seeking in verses 8-16 with me. Now see 39-40. What were these people of faith seeking? Where did they put their hope? In whom did they place their faith and their future?
In your reading this week: Remember Abel and His pleasing sacrifice? Remember Enoch who walked with God and God took him? Remember Noah, who was found blameless in his evil generation? Remember Abram who believed God and God credited him with righteousness?
It looks like the Hebrew writer read his Bible doing exactly what we are doing! Seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness! We get to see what he saw.
In the midst of a fallen, sinful, dying world, there were a few who were found righteous before God. Only a few. But what a great company to be in!
How many people are there today that walk with God in righteousness seeking His Kingdom and righteousness first? Are they the majority or minority? Hey, do you want to be radical and do something risky today? Walk with God! Put your faith in Him and follow after Him. Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness. You will be different, unique and you will stand out in the crowd. Most importantly, God, our eternal King and Father, who sees us all, will bless you with His own righteousness and ultimately reward your faith with a grand entry into His eternal kingdom. But you’ve got to believe Him! We’ve got to keep seeking Him.
In this week’s readings we saw a few sections where the generations are recorded for us in Genesis 5, 10&11. Here we have genealogical lists of family fathers and sons names. Of these names only a handful have any recorded stories about them. The major events may be entitled: Creation, Fall, Spread of evil, Flood, Scattering of the Nations from the Tower of Babel, Call and life of Abraham. That’s Genesis 1-24 that you read this week. In all of these we discover two tracks running side by side. There is the track of those who seek God in faith and are instruments of God’s kingdom and righteousness. Then there is the other track of those who do NOT seek God in faith and are obstacles of God’s kingdom and righteousness. These two tracks run throughout the entire Bible. Ultimately the instruments are rewarded with God’s kingdom and the obstacles are condemned and punished.
The question arrises, which one am I? Are we instruments of God’s kingdom and righteousness or are we obstacles to His kingdom and righteousness? This is a critical matter to consider. If we are honest, most of us must admit that while we have a desire to be an instrument of God’s righteousness and ultimately enjoy His eternal kingdom in glory, we can easily get tangled up in the obstacle track and let the love of this world infect our hearts and minds and distract us from God.
Remember Lot? When Abraham and Lot got so rich with flocks and herds they had to separate, Abraham gave his nephew, Lot, a choice didn’t he? Genesis 13 begins the story of how Lot chose the well watered Jordan valley and pitched his tents toward Sodom and Gomorrah. It wasn’t long before we find Lot living in the city. Genesis 19 tells the tragic consequences of Lot’s choice, including the terrible choices of his wife and later his daughters. Yet listen to 2 Peter 2:5-10.
Does Lot’s story give us a warning? What happens when instruments of righteousness make bad choices? What happens when Christians entangle themselves in this world? Peter tells us that Lot was miserable. He was like an instrument all tangled up with obstacles.
Let me tell my own story. I was baptized into Christ when I was 12 years old. Through my parents teaching, example, and sharing God’s word with me, my church teaching and examples of faith I’ve see in others, and through my Christian education at Mars Hill Bible School, I really had a fear of the Lord embedded into my heart and mind as a child. I believe God used it to save me. I was among several peers who came to church and some led singing and served at the Lord’s table and did scripture readings and prayers at our church services, but I knew that most of them didn’t share my faith and fear of God. That was clear by the way they talked and acted outside of church, and sometimes even in church. I remember feeling alone and cut off from a lot of their activities. Wanting to be accepted I got involved in trying to be “cool” and for about four years I just tried to fit in and find my place with everyone else. It made me miserable. I tried using foul language and lying about things I’d done in an effort to impress my peers. What a fool! I remember waiting on the Lord’s table on Sunday and telling dirty jokes with some of my buddies after church. What a hypocrite! My parents wouldn’t even let me hang out with some of the kids at our church but I found ways around them. God’s word says, “Evil companionship corrupts good morals.” It’s true. It’s also true that one good friendship can give you strength, and a cord of three strands is not easily broken.
God’s grace is amazing. T’was grace that taught my heart to fear, and grace my fears relieved. By God’s grace I finally came to my senses and decided to follow my faith in Jesus Christ as my Lord and King. It was a turning point that I’ll always remember, a gift from God that gave me strength to break free from the bondage of being an obstacle and joining with obstacles. God began to make me an instrument and give me the company of other instruments of righteousness! There were just a handful of us, even at Mars Hill that openly wanted to follow Christ even in the locker rooms and in those places where obstacles gather. I certainly have NOT been the best instrument, but God has worked with me and patiently led me. Now I find that when I know I’m pleasing my King I am most fulfilled. When I see I’ve disappointed Him, I am most miserable. I want to honestly pray this prayer: Heavenly Father, whose very name is Holy, make me an instrument of your righteousness to bring glory to you. And Father, if you foresee things ahead in my life that would cause me to turn away and dishonor your name, in your gracious kindness, kill me first. Let me never outlive holy fear and love for you. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
Sing: Seek ye first the Kingdom of God.