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Seek First the Kingdom

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Parent-Child Dedication

INTRODUCTION: A parent/child dedication is a special time in the life of a church. The opportunity to welcome children into the church community, for parents to make a public commitment to raise their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord and for us as a faith family to assure these parents that they are not alone, but we stand with them and will seek to partner with them to point their children to Jesus. This is a beautiful picture of the Gospel.
TRANSITION: God chose to fulfill the promise (of the Rescuer) He made in
What’s the hardest thing you’ve ever had to do?
Genesis 3
through the most vulnerable of creatures, a baby. Children were special to Jesus. Jesus did not turn the children away when the disciples felt that kids “just got in the way.” Unfortunately, this is in many ways how adults (even Christians) view children. They’re either “in the way” or they’re “worshipped” spoiled and given only the best of the best. This leads to a child who will grow up believing they deserve more than the world is willing to give them. We want to lead them to find their highest joy in Jesus.
CHILDREN ARE SYMBOLIC: Throughout the Scripture children are symbolic. Seeing children helps us understand how God sees us…
TRANSITION: At this time, I’d like the Luke and Grace Smith family to come up to the front:
The Smith’s have four children and this morning they are committing their lives to raising their children for Christ and we in a moment will commit to partnering with them.
Iris Indiana Luise Smith 7/20/2016
When I think of the name Iris (which means Rainbow) I cannot help but think of the great covenant God made with Noah after the flood.
Genesis 9:13 ESV
I have set my bow in the cloud, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between me and the earth.
The rainbow is the reminder of God’s steadfast love and mercy. I pray that you, Iris, will always be reminded of God’s mercy and that you would be used of God to share his mercy and kindness to others.
Evelyn Emma Marie Smith 11/7/2014
Shami Gabriella Pittmann 1/11/2018
The name Evelyn means life. We are first grateful to God, who is the source of life. And although as humans we cannot physically give life, we can do things for others that is life-giving.
1 John 3:18 ESV
Little children, let us not love in word or talk but in deed and in truth.
I pray Evelyn that you will be a Spirit-filled woman that loves others in deed and in truth.
Lois Christine Elizabeth Smith 2/22/2013
Evelyn Emma Marie Smith 11/7/2014
Lois Christine Elizabeth Smith 2/22/2013
Shami Gabriella Pittmann 1/11/2018
Behind the name Lois in the Greek is the meaning, “more desirable or better.” Desire is a major biblical theme. And the spiritual battle that rages all around us is really a war for our desires.
Psalm 37:4 ESV
Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.
Lois, my prayer for you is that you would seek the Lord early and know that He is better than any earthly desire. And I pray the Father would give you His desires.
Partnering:
If you are willing to partner with the Smith family, would you lift your hand out and join me in commissioning this family and partnering with this family?
Ephesians 6:4 ESV
Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
Luke and Grace, Scripture is full of the language of training, instructing, teaching, loving, and disciplining your children. Do you commit today to continuing to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD?
Church community, the Bible also instructs us to play a role in the discipleship of every person whether they are young or old. Do you commit today to partnering with Luke and Grace Smith, to pray for them, to encourage them, to help provide for them (if need be), and to speak up when you see legitimate biblical err in their lives?
Matt and Chena Pittmann
Matt and Chena Pittmann have one baby girl, so they’re just getting started in the parenting game. And they have some friends and family here this morning. Most of Chena’s family lives over 9,000 miles away in Rwanda. I can only imagine it can be a lonely thing for a woman to not have her mother with her when she is raising a child. So the support from family, friends, and church community are vital.
Shami Gabriella Pittmann 1/11/2018
The meaning behind Shami’s name is “She is like a branch, a part of me.” This picture mirrors an image we get from the teaching of Jesus to his disciples:
John 15:5 ESV
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:
My prayer for you Shami is that you would grow to know Jesus; that you would love Jesus. He will never fail you. Abide and stay close to Him, for without him you can do nothing.
Matt and Chena, Scripture is full of the language of training, instructing, teaching, loving, and disciplining your children. Do you commit today to continuing to bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the LORD?
Church community, the Bible also instructs us to play a role in the discipleship of every person whether they are young or old. Do you commit today to partnering with Matt and Chena Pittmann, to pray for them, to encourage them, to help provide for them (if need be), and to speak up when you see legitimate biblical err in their lives?

Introduction:

After thirteen years and four kids about two years apart, I’ve concluded it’s raising kids.
So hats off to all parents who have raised children into adulthood.
Hats off to all the moms in the room today. You are incredible. How you’re able to walk the tightrope of life with kids hanging all over you, is truly a beautiful picture of sacrificial love. (Clap for moms)
And for every woman who is struggling to put a smile on your face today because, for whatever reason, you’ve not been able to bear children whether because of bareness or singleness, you must be reminded that those circumstances do not define who you are.
You are fearfully and wonderfully made; you are daughters of the King; the bride of Christ that is who you are… And there are literally thousands of children in the world who want nothing more than the love of a mother, but they’re without one.
Before Eve ever had children, she was called… “The mother of all living.”
My prayer is that whoever you are this morning and whatever stage of life you’re in, you would know the Father’s love and care for you as he expressed it to us through the life of Jesus.

Tension:

The passage of Scripture we’re looking at this morning is not a specific parenting passage. In fact as pastor and author Paul Tripp says, “If you take all the passages in the Bible on parenting, you will not fully understand how to raise your children.”
I think the point he’s making goes against much of what is taught in the church today, that the Bible is some sort of instruction manual on everything in life. In other words, the way we think about the Bible is that when we run in to a parenting issue and want to know what God thinks about it, we flip to the concordance (Google search) and say,
“What does the Bible say about texting?”
“What does the Bible say about sleepovers.”
And what you’ll find is God has absolutely ZERO to say to parents about “what age children should have a smart phone.”
“Should I homeschool, christian school, public school?”
“Should we vaccinate?
So what do we do? Well we still google it (and this is going to sound harsh) but that’s probably the worst way to develop your theology. That and facebook. Please don’t get your theology from facebook.
This section of Scripture that we’re going to look at today is one of those sections that will absolutely change your life, and how you think about parenting, marriage, work, society, your finances, decisions and even the church.

Scripture:

Matthew 6:25–34 ESV
“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.
Matt 6:
Before we dive in, we should pause to ask, “Why does Jesus say, ‘therefore’?”
Well, he wants his listeners to connect what he has previously said with what he’s about to say. What did he say?
19-24 teach us that the disciple of Jesus (aka Christians) are to order their priorities (that is their affections, attention, and allegiance) with Jesus and His Kingdom.
This goes completely in the opposite direction from our culture doesn’t it? I don’t know where the phrase “You Do You” originated, but it’s increasingly popular.
Interestingly enough, the church bought in to this idea a long time ago. With phrases like:
You’ve got to do what you think is best for your family
You should do whatever you think God’s will for your life is
You do your relationship with God your way, I’ll do it mine
We talk about God’s “plan for your life” and “God’s will” almost as if it’s some sort of mysterious puzzle that we have to search for clues to find out what God wants us to do.
Jesus is teaching his disciples very clearly that even our priorities, even what motivates us, even our goals, are shaped by the fact that Jesus is King.
SO — Therefore, because “our affections, our attention, and our allegiance is to be aligned with Jesus and His Kingdom” his point today in today’s passage is:

We have no need to be anxious about life. Instead, we are free to trust the Father fully and pursue His Kingdom wholly.

According to the “Anxiety and Depression Association of America” 44 million children and adults suffer from anxiety disorders.
Anxiety is a feeling of worry, nervousness, or unease, typically about an imminent event or something with an uncertain outcome.
A certain amount of anxiety is (however) a normal part of the human experience.
Think about Jesus, there are a couple of times we see the humanness of Jesus:
John 11:33 ESV
When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, he was deeply moved in his spirit and greatly troubled.
John
This picture was taken outside of the tomb of one of his friends.
Mark 14:33 ESV
And he took with him Peter and James and John, and began to be greatly distressed and troubled.
That scene is just outside of the Garden before the crucifixion of Jesus.
2 Corinthians 11:28 ESV
And, apart from other things, there is the daily pressure on me of my anxiety for all the churches.
And here is the Apostle Paul revealing signs of human anxiety...
Philippians 2:20 ESV
For I have no one like him, who will be genuinely concerned for your welfare.
Now the Apostle Paul is talking about his apprentice, Timothy...
So, we see Jesus, the Apostle Paul, and his apprentice Timothy showing signs of anxiety and worry and concern, BUT with their care is pointing in a very different direction from the anxiety that is so common in the human experience… Where is it pointing? Towards others.
The term Jesus uses is also translated as “striving after” or “to care about.”
I am not a physician or a counselor, but I believe there is a difference between what Jesus is speaking of here and what today many suffer from at a clinical level. I do not believe Jesus would be against seeing a doctor for mental health just as I do not believe Jesus would not have discouraged people seeing a doctor for physical health conditions.
So what I’m speaking about this morning is an anxiety that stems from lack of knowledge of who God truly is and a lack of trust in what God is capable of doing.
So then, if Jesus himself
“Do not be anxious about your life”

Teaching:

See the crowd that Jesus was preaching this to was a crowd in one way very much like this one and in another way very different from our own.
This crowd was filled with people who really did worry where there next meal was going to come from.
This crowd really did worry if when they lost their shirt in the courtroom where they were going to get a replacement.
This crowd was the lowly of the lowly in society and there was no system in the Roman government to give them a sense of dignity and help them with their needs… the Romans cared nothing about human dignity and providing basic needs that every human being should possess.
And the Jewish community of the day had in many ways forsaken their duty to help the poor in their community. The reality was that this crowd had a reason to be anxious and worried about food, and drink, and clothing.
In that way, we are NOT like this crowd
Not many, if any of us left our homes with an empty stomach. And if we did, it’s because we knew that Jennifer was gonna hook us up.
Most kids in this Roseville area are waking up to five varieties of Captain Crunch.
And water to drink? When was the last time you actually stopped and worried… where are we going to get water to drink? We have good clean water straight out of the tap… and I still bought a water filtration system for my house.
And clothing? We all stood in front of our closet for 15 minutes imagining what we would look like in every outfit. We’re not worrying about what we’re going to wear. If we feel like we don’t have anything to wear, we go to the store and buy what we need. It’s just the facts.
But we ARE like this crowd in this way...
We still worry about life...
Our anxiety looks different. We’re concerned about what others think about us.
We’re concerned about what others say about us.
We’re concerned about leveling up at work...
We’re concerned about leveling up the cars...
Leveling up the houses...
Increasing our investments...
How we’re perceived, how we look, how many likes, follows, hearts, friends, retweets, snapchats...
We’re consumed with the worries and cares about life.
And maybe you’re not all in to the materialism, maybe you just worship your spouse or your family or your children...
There is a fine line between a concern for the well-being and spiritual health of your children that leads to love and sacrifice, and straight up idolatry.
When all of our time, our money, and our thoughts are spent on our children, we have made them into an idol.
In the book called Parenting by Paul Tripp, he says this:
Your job as a Christian parent is to do everything within your power, as an instrument in the hands of the Redeemer who has employed you, to woo, encourage, call, and train your children to willingly and joyfully live as disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ.
You ask, “What does he base that off of” and he would say, “the best passage of Scripture on parenting in the Bible.” You know what that is?
Matthew 28:19–20 ESV
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
We all experience anxiety and worry, but Jesus says, “My disciples don’t need to be anxious about this life...”
What is the logic Jesus uses to make his point?
“Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?”
In other words, don’t spend your energy worrying about just stuff. Life (IN THE KINGDOM) is bigger than worrying about that.
And then Jesus illustrates his point with natural examples of God’s Fatherly care for His Creation:
Matthew 6:26 ESV
Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?
Matt 6:26
One of the things that worry does to us is tax our brains so that we’re inactive. We actually become fearful to the point of becoming immobile.
If a bird woke up and paced their nest wondering where they were going to get food, they’d die. Jesus says, they don’t even do the work that you do and yet, they actively look for food for themselves and for their young based upon God’s own care for them.
And you (farmers) you sow, you reap, you gather into barns and yet you still worry about the soil, your physical health, the weather…
In this example Jesus is not suggesting inactivity, but active faith. Ok, the soil is hard, but God will provide. The weather is dry, but God will provide. I am losing my strength, but God will provide.
The key to understanding Jesus use of the example is his last phrase…
“Are you not of more value than they?”
You are valuable to God your Heavenly Father. There is no need to worry and fret excessively over bills or relationships or other people’s perceptions. Because you are highly valued by the Father.
And…
Matthew 6:27 ESV
And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life?
Worry is pointless. It doesn’t change a thing.
Worry feels productive, but it’s the least productive thing we could ever do.
Going back to family idolatry, we are at the same time the most protective society and least protective society.
My brother heads up our student ministry and after 13 years working in a Christian school and 2 years here, he’s concluded that “Today’s parents are neglecting to make the decisions for their kids that they need to make and are making decisions for their kids that by now they should be making.”
And the second natural illustration Jesus uses says gets to the heart attitude that causes the anxiety:
Matthew 6:28 ESV
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin,
Matthew 6:28–30 ESV
And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?
If you’ve ever driven to or through Lancaster/Palmdale… (I’m sorry) you may have seen this in person, but look at this. No one planted these, they’re wild flowers… weeds.
In just a few weeks, they’ll look like shriveled up dead, weeds. And in many cultures they would gather the weeds (that were once beautiful wild flowers) and use them for fuel.
His point being that God cares enough about his Creation to clothe even weeds before they become fuel for the fire. And he cares even more about you, don’t you think that he will make sure that you’re cared for?
But the heart attitude that creates the worry and anxiety is now exposed. The real problem we have is that we don’t know God intimately enough to know that he cares for you. And for those who do know (intellectually) we don’t believe it.
“O, you of little faith.”
Faith is a major theme for Matthew’s Gospel. What he means by it is this:
“Faith is, for Matthew, a very practical reliance on the care and power of the Father and of Jesus.”
-R.T. France
For Jesus, the opposite of faith is anxiety and worry.
When we worry and become anxious about our lives we are failing to trust in the care and power of the Father and of Jesus.
It’s either,
“He doesn’t really interact with me”
“He doesn’t know me”
“He doesn’t care about me”
OR
“I don’t even know if God CAN provide / take care of / protect these things in my life.”
Well, as we’re about to see, when you become a disciple, that’s no longer your concern
Matt 6:31-
Matthew 6:31–32 ESV
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all.
The Gentiles does not refer to an ethnicity, but rather it’s a category for people who are religious, but don’t follow Christ.
So, in the section on prayer, they’re biggest concern is getting a hold of their god. Waking him up. Hoping he’s paying attention.
In this section, they’re not convinced that Jesus cares for them and is powerful enough to provide for them, so they must have total control over everything. They must know what they’re going to eat and when, and what they’re going to drink and wear and how they’re going to get it.
And it’s no different today. We profess, sing, and talk like we have complete faith in God, but when things get tight financially where do we run? When things aren’t going well relationally, where do we go?
We overprotect
We manipulate
We stress out
We isolate
And we have convinced ourselves that faith doesn’t work.
No. Jesus is saying, knowing God intimately and trusting God completely actually free you from yourself. The energy, resources, and mental strain has been reassigned. God’s GOT you.
So if Jesus is saying that we’re free from worry and anxiety in the areas of parenting, and relationships, and finances, priorities and goals has been reassigned, where do we funnel them to?
Matthew 6:33 ESV
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
All that striving to be number one
All that worrying about making a name for yourself
All that anxious glory-seeking
All that obsessing over our children
YOU ARE FREE. DON’T PURSUE THOSE THINGS. INSTEAD:
Pursue the Kingdom of God… what does that mean?
Remember those passages of Scripture about Jesus, Paul, and Timothy?
Their concern was for others. Which is what Jesus’s primary mission was all about. God’s Kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.
So instead of Jesus stressing out because everyone was crying, he took his troubled heart to God in prayer and then he raised Lazarus from the dead. You can do at least one of those things when others are troubled.
Listen to Jesus’s prayer:
John 11:
John 11:41–42 ESV
So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.”
He trusted the Father’s promise to hear when we call him.
Instead of Jesus avoiding the Garden where he knew he would be captured, wrongfully tried, and then crucified, he went into the Garden and prayed.
John 17:20–21 ESV
“I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
Matthew 26:39 ESV
And going a little farther he fell on his face and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.”
The context of the Apostle Paul’s comment about his anxiety for the churches is that he had already risked his life so many times, but he wasn’t so concerned for his own life, but his energy and concern was directed at the people that God had placed in his life to serve and preach the Gospel to.
The context of Paul’s comments about Timothy was that Timothy was going to be traveling to the church in Philippi so he could minister to the Philippian people.
Seeking first the Kingdom of God is an orientation of heart, mind, and body that risks it all to love others.

Conclusion

Christians it begins with Peter’s call:
1 Peter 5:7 ESV
casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.
1 Peter
And continues with Paul’s words:
Philippians 4:6–7 ESV
do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
And this must be practiced continuously. It’s not a one time anxiety dump… it’s constant. But then you’re free to ask:
Teenagers - what would your life look like if you were to risk it all to love others?
Singles - what would your life look like if you were to risk it all to love others?
Couples - what would your life look like if you were to risk it all to love others?
Families - what would your life look like if you were to risk it all to love others?
Seniors - what would your life look like if you were to risk it all to love others?

Gospel

If you’re an unbeliever, I want you to know that God absolutely does love you. It’s not a coincidence you’re here.
We want you to know how you can be a follower of Jesus.
When those who follow Christ with their life come forward for communion, you can come forward to and talk with myself or one of our men or lady deacons. If you’d feel more comfortable going to the back, we have an elder and men and lady deacons who would love to pray for you or talk to you about Jesus.
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