Seek First The Kingdom Of God And His Righteousness!

By: Evan Beecham
From: March - April 2013
Found in: The Gospel of Grace
Many Christians labor in their daily lives with anxiety of perpetual lack. But this is not how God wants our lives to be. The bible tells us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all other things will be added.

In Matthew 6:25-34, Jesus instructs us not to worry (or be concerned) about the necessities of life because our Father knows we have need of these things. He has generously supplied everything for the birds and the lilies, so how much more valuable are we to God?

In verse 33 Jesus says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Jesus spoke these words before His finished work of redemption at the cross. God has such an intense love for us that He doesn’t want us to worry, be anxious, or fearful at all, about anything. Jesus redeemed us from these things.

God has such an intense love for us that He doesn’t want us to worry, be anxious, or fearful at all, about anything.

What is troubling you today? Is it your business or occupation? Is it your spouse or children? It doesn’t really matter because if you seek first the kingdom of God and HIS righteousness, He will make sure you don’t lack anything! The Lord is your Shepherd, and you shall not be in lack (Psalm 23). People find themselves in lack because their worry drives them to try to do something through fear and self-effort to fix things which God has already provided for. He said He would add all these things, didn’t He?

The Kingdom of God

Let’s take a moment and define the kingdom of God: “For the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:17 NKJV). Romans 1:16-17: “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is THE power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. 17 For in it THE righteousness of God is revealed….” His righteousness is revealed in the Gospel, the good news of His grace to mankind. Praise the Lord! The kingdom of God is within us; it is revealed to us through the Gospel!

People find themselves in lack because their worry drives them to try to do something through fear and self-effort to fix things which God has already provided for.

Romans 5 tells us that we have been given the gift of righteousness - we are the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. Jesus has made you right with God; He took the punishment for ALL your sins on the cross and gave you His innocence. You were acquitted; you are free. Most Christians would agree that they have been forgiven. If this is so, then why are they still living in guilt and condemnation? Because they don’t really believe they are totally forgiven. They have a compunction to confess all their sins because they’re just not quite sure that they are really completely forgiven.

Folks, this is what righteousness is about - it is a gift. You can’t earn it by your confession of sin, sackcloth and ashes or anything else. It is what Jesus has done and has nothing to do with your efforts. Matter of fact, your efforts to try to become righteous will void your faith according to Romans 4:17. That is also called self-righteousness. Understanding your righteousness is vitally important for the other two parts of the kingdom of God, peace and joy, to operate in your lives, as you will soon see.

No Faith in Self-condemnation

“For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him” (2 Corinthians 5:21 NKJV). Jesus did not know sin, and He became sin, in the same way that you knew no righteousness, and you became the righteousness of God in Christ. It was by pure, wonderful and radical grace; you had nothing to do with it - it is a gift.

It was by pure, wonderful and radical grace; you had nothing to do with it - it is a gift.

Romans 5:17-18 Mirror Translation: “If death saw the gap in one sin, and grabbed the opportunity to dominate mankind because of one man, how much more may we now seize the advantage to reign in righteousness in this life through that act of Christ, who declared us innocent by His grace. Grace is out of all proportion in superiority to the transgression. 18 The conclusion is clear: it took just one offense to condemn mankind; one-act of righteousness declares the same mankind innocent.”

Again, I ask, if you are innocent (and you are), then why are you living in regret, guilt and condemnation? Do you see here that many times we say we’re innocent but our actions scream, “I don’t believe it though. Look at how I’m living, in regret and guilt.” Catching this revelation will change your entire way of thinking! Romans 8:1: “There is therefore, now NO condemnation for those who are in Christ.” If you’re a Christian, then you’re in Christ, so there is NO condemnation for you. Jesus was already condemned for your sin, and it was punished on His body, never to be brought up again! Never! 

No faith is needed to cry big tears, saying, “Oh my God, I did it again. Please God, oh please, please forgive me. I’m so sorry. I confess my sin.”

Jesus said in John 3:17 that He did not come to condemn the world, but to save the world. Does this make sense? Forgiveness is the centerpiece of our redemption and until we know this, (even though we are righteous), then righteousness remains another empty religious word. You are righteous by faith, so next time you mess up, thank God that you are righteous and Jesus made you innocent by His blood. That, my friend, takes faith. No faith is needed to cry big tears, saying, “Oh my God, I did it again. Please God, oh please, please forgive me. I’m so sorry. I confess my sin.”  And then we walk around for weeks full of guilt and self-condemnation. There is no faith in that.

Entering into God’s Rest

How does righteousness affect our peace? Hebrews chapter 4 speaks of entering into God’s rest. Without peace, there is no rest, and without knowing you’re innocent (righteous) there is no peace. Peace comes from knowing the debt was paid and that God loves you so much that every provision you will ever need in life was richly and abundantly provided for you before you were ever born, by His grace. This includes health and healing; everything provided for at the cross. He has set us at one again with Him. Praise the Lord! He loves us! Peace doesn’t come from being self-occupied but from being Christ-occupied. God doesn’t measure or judge you based on your performance today - He looks at Jesus, and as Jesus is, that is how you are! (1 John 4:17)

If we want to experience success in our lives or businesses, we need to know what God has done for us through Christ, and discover our identity in Him! John G. Lake said: “The only difference between Christ and us was His understanding of who He was.” This is a profound statement and important to grasp. God left nothing out of our redemption. He brought us up into the Trinity; He set us at one with Him. 1 John 4:17: “As He is, so are we in this world.”

“The only difference between Christ and us was His understanding of who He was.”

Everywhere you look these days you see peace signs and “pray for world peace” bumper stickers, and the more peace stickers we see, it seems the less peace there is. The world thinks if we can just get everything calmed down around us, then we will have peace. That kind of peace comes from external circumstances, and is not really lasting peace; whereas God’s peace comes from the inside, knowing who you are in Christ. This peace cannot be taken from you.

Peace from God is a free gift, and you can enjoy the peace of God even in the midst of a storm. Jesus bequeathed His peace to us in John 14:27: “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” The peace Jesus left with us is not like the world gives, as in “can’t we all just get along?” The world is “striving” and attempting to find peace, and sadly many Christians are also striving to try to find peace, but to no avail. Striving for peace is to try to make peace happen with our own self efforts and works-righteousness, and is usually external. According to Webster’s dictionary, strive means “to make efforts; to labor hard” or you could say, to rely on our own efforts to try to make peace. The law always says do more; grace always says done. When you are striving to make peace in your life, you are laboring under the law.

When you are striving to make peace in your life, you are laboring under the law.

Jesus made peace with God by going to the cross for us - He reconciled us back to God. In other words, Jesus did all the work, then bequeathed His peace to us. All you have to do is receive what He gave you. Here is the peace Jesus gave you: the sin debt between man and God has been paid, you have been made righteous and innocent, your salvation includes His peace, you don’t have to strive for it. Learning who you are in Christ - your identity in Him - is important in receiving His peace. This is an internal peace (“let not your heart be troubled”). If you think God is mad at you or upset with you because you forgot to confess a sin, then you won’t experience His peace the way He wants you to. Isaiah 54:9-10: “For this is like the waters of Noah to me; for as I have sworn that the waters of Noah would no longer cover the earth, so have I sworn that I would not be angry with you, nor rebuke you, 10 For the mountains shall depart and the hills be removed, but My kindness shall not depart from you, nor shall My covenant of peace (shalom) be removed,” says the Lord, who has mercy on you.”

If you think God is mad at you or upset with you because you forgot to confess a sin, then you won’t experience His peace the way He wants you to.

This verse was given in Isaiah 54, showing that after Jesus went to the cross for us (Isaiah 53), He would never again be angry with you! Why? All of God’s anger was exhausted on the body of Jesus on the cross. Praise the Lord!

Isaiah 53:5: “...The chastisement for our peace was upon Him….” Or the punishment, so that we could have His peace, was upon Him. He paid for our peace. This is the Strong’s definition of shalom:  “safe (safety) well (wellness) happy, health, prosperity, peace, favor, (good health) + perfect as in health, prosper (prosperity prosperous) Rest, safe (all is well).”

The challenge you face, no matter what it is, did not take God by surprise.

Righteousness, peace and joy is the Kingdom of God. When you have turmoil or anxiety in your heart, you are no longer in the peace that Jesus bequeathed to you. Notice the definition of peace contains “rest” as part of peace. God wants us to enter into His rest, our Promised Land of Hebrews chapter 4. When we face a challenge in life, it is imperative that we know who we are in Him. The challenge you face, no matter what it is, did not take God by surprise. He prepared your victory and provision for you before you were ever born, so rest in the finished work of the cross, and let God take care of it. Rest is the Promised Land; nothing is sweeter than being forever in peaceful rest knowing that God has taken care of everything for you.

Legalism has hindered many Christians, keeping them from enjoying everything God has for them. Our redemption includes resting in Him. In order for us to rest in the finished work of the cross, we must know that we are righteous (innocent and in right standing with God). We have been given His peace, the sin debt was paid on the body of Jesus, and God has also given us His joy.

I recently heard this quote: “Adam’s transgression opened our eyes to a dimension of separation; dragged us from resting in all-sufficiency to the anxiety of perpetual lack.”  Jesus came to redeem us with His blood and restore our rest to us so that we could again rest in God’s all-sufficiency.

Many Christians labor in their daily lives with anxiety of perpetual lack, driving them to work day and night -  usually just to make ends meet.

Many Christians labor in their daily lives with anxiety of perpetual lack, driving them to work day and night -  usually just to make ends meet. Some are driven endless hours to try to get rich. Many spend the first half of their lives building their wealth just to spend that wealth to restore their failing health. Friends, there is something drastically wrong with that picture. Those folks I described are not at rest! Come to the table of grace, stop the toiling, and find His rest! Many have missed out on the precious moments of their children growing up. To them I say, there is no condemnation, and it’s never too late. Wake up and quit doubting your redemption. He has prepared a rest in His all-sufficiency for you! Enter into the joy of the Lord.

“And he called his name Noah, saying; This one will comfort us concerning our work and the toil of our hands….” (Genesis 5:29 NKJV). This is a reference to Jesus, and the rest we have in our redemption. The name Noah means “rest.”

Full of Joy

Within every Christian is the kingdom of God and part of that kingdom is joy. The word joy means to be happy, calm delight, glad and joyful. Joy also means to be content. Wherever you are, God wants you to be at peace, and full of joy (be content) because He has made it clear to us through Paul that “my God shall supply ALL your needs according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).

We can be content and at rest in the finished work of Jesus, knowing that He will never let us down. Let’s not refer to contentment, as some do, by saying, “well, this is my lot in life; God is teaching me something.” No, a thousand times, no. That isn’t like your loving father who finds GREAT worth in you and has richly supplied for you in Christ. When you are fully persuaded of this, you can have exceeding joy, and you can have contentment..

Matthew 6:25: “Therefore I say to you, do not worry….”

To worry is to be anxious, fearful, and also doubtful. Webster’s dictionary says that worry also means to   “strangle”. Where have we heard that before?  In Mark 4:19, Jesus speaks of worry and anxiety entering in to “choke” the word, making it unfruitful.

God doesn’t want us seeking after things, for He knows we have need of these things.

God doesn’t want us seeking after things, for He knows we have need of these things. He is showing us in Matthew 6 just how valuable we are to Him and how much He loves us.

There was a saying in my business that said: “Nobody cares how much you know, until they know how much you care.” God is love, and He is showing us His love for us. We are more valuable to Him than anything. Rest and take great joy in His love and provision. “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness,” and He will add all those things to you.

When you seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, you will find His love and your redeemed innocence, which will persuade you that God will richly care for every detail of your life.
Understand God’s love for you and your value to God. Matthew 6:25-34 makes it clear that God doesn’t want us to worry about anything and it also makes clear His love for us and our value to Him.

God doesn’t want us to worry about anything at all, because we are so highly valued and greatly loved by Him.

Different translations say it a little differently, such as “take no thought,” “do not worry,” and “don’t be anxious.” In any event, God doesn’t want us to worry about anything at all, because we are so highly valued and greatly loved by Him. He’s not just saying to not worry, it’ll be all right. He is saying we don’t have to worry because He loves us so much that He has prepared the good life for us and we won’t fall short in any area of our life. He has abundantly prepared everything we would ever need, before we were even born. Worry and anxiety are really fear and doubt. Many times this comes from what religion has erroneously taught us about God - things like God is angry because of what we have done, or God is trying to teach us something by putting us in hardship. Friends, this is not how God operates. He loves us!

In Mark 4:19, we’re told that worry, cares, and anxiety choke the word making it unfruitful. God wants you fruitful in everything you do.
Back to Matthew 6, Jesus points out that the birds of the air don’t sow, nor reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? Who feeds the birds? Our heavenly Father! Jesus is making a very vivid point here: if the birds are important to God and He feeds and takes care of them, then because you are of MUCH higher value to God, He will never let you down.

Your value to God is what Jesus is showing us. God values us with such intensity that He came down from heaven, manifested in the flesh, just to redeem us! We are so important to Him that He entrusted this to no one, but He did it himself! Wow, what a loving Father.

His Kingdom is within us

He didn’t stop there - He placed His kingdom within us, and He gave us HIS righteousness, HIS peace, and HIS joy! After this great act of love, Jesus tells us to not seek after these things that the world seeks after, but seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. The good news of the gospel spoken of in Romans 1:17 is the revelation of His righteousness. If you know your identity in Christ, you will not lack any good thing. We’re told in Romans 2:4 that the goodness of God produces repentance. Repentance is actually a radical change of mind – not grovelling, crying, and confession of sins. Even as we read of the love and goodness of God, our minds begin to see just how loving and wonderful He is and that is repentance. We change our minds to God’s way of thinking and how He sees us. Now we become more righteousness-conscious versus sin-conscious.

He placed His kingdom within us, and He gave us HIS righteousness, HIS peace, and HIS joy!

In order to fully grasp His righteousness, peace, and joy, which is the kingdom of God, we need to know how valuable we are to Him. We are so amazingly valuable to Him, that we are actually priceless!

Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and He will add all those things that the world seeks to you! God wants you to reign and enjoy the good life He has prepared for you (Eph 2). He has equipped you in Christ, so joyfully reign in life as kings today!

By: Evan Beecham

Evan Beecham is a Pastor and Business owner, he owns an Insurance and Financial Planning Service, for the last 20 years, and has been in various aspects of ministry for 31 years.

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