THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT

Program Air Date - 1-13-08

LESSON TITLE: "FEAR GOD AND KEEP HIS COMMANDMENTS: SEEKING GOD FIRST"

WELCOME

We thank God that you have chosen to join us today for the Living Word Program. And what a privilege it is today to come together to focus on the most important thing in life - that is God!

Well, I hope you are ready to begin this new week with a day of service and offering to your God. As always, it is our commitment through this program to proclaim the simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ - which is confirmed for us in the Bible. I hope you all have your Bible's handy and I hope you are ready to worship God together as we sing praises to His name and study from His wondrous word. Now let's begin by talking to our Father in prayer!

(Prayer)

At this time we want to sing our first song of the morning. Won't you all join in with the congregation at this time as we praise God together with the hymn, "His Yoke Is Easy."

(SONG # 1)

DEVOTIONAL THOUGHTS

This morning, I would like to take a few minutes to thank our faithful viewers of the past many years. Some of you realize that the Living Word Program began in April of 1970. And for 37 years now the Living Word Program has been in your home every Sunday morning, presenting the perfect and simple truth of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It has been our pleasure and privilege to be with you on a regular basis. So we thank you for your support over the years, as well as for the good comments and encouragement we receive on a regular basis. I believe the Living Word Program continues to be an important and essential part necessary to proclaim the gospel of Christ, and many of you have proved this time and time again.

We also thank God, for the many viewers we have from all walks of life. However, at this time I would like to say a few things to those of like precious faith in the Church of Christ. I think we often forget that there are always two sides to every good work. The most important which is the spiritual outreach and proclamation of God's pure Truth. But we rarely like to think of the second part, which is financial. As you are well aware, there is a great cost to providing this avenue of worship and encouragement, and the reality is without this part of the equation, we can not have the other.

With this in mind, I would like to encourage the faithful Churches of Christ and brethren in this area to prayerfully and urgently consider the importance of this program for the proclamation of the Gospel in our area. The congregation at Kansas Expressway realizes it value, yet we are unable to continue to bare the brunt of the financial cost alone. The fact is, we have been unsuccessful in our solicitation of financial help from our sister congregations in the area. Thus it has brought us to the point of deciding to stop this program if further funds can not be secured. So we present the challenge to you as brethren in the churches of Christ to help with this important cause of Christ. So that we might continue assisting those who are sick, shut-ins, and in the hospital, as well as those who are confined to home. And on the other hand the many souls throughout the religious world who allow us into their home on a weekly basis to hear the truth of God's Word, as commanded from the Bible.

Finally, let me confirm, that if we are unable to see substantial and significant help within the next few weeks, it will be inevitable that the Living Word Program must go off the air, after 37 years of Preaching The Gospel Of Christ. Without the needed help our last program will air mid-February. So, won't you consider these things prayerfully and help us to do what is best for the cause of Christ.

This morning we will begin a new series of study entitled, "Fear God And Keep His Commandment." Our first lesson today will deal with "Seeking God First." So, please continue with us this morning, and after our next song together brother Jerry Sullins will be leading us in this study from God's Word. Now let's return to our songs of praise, the next song is called, "His Grace Reaches Me."

(SONG # 2)

LESSON

By Jerry Sullins

We're certainly happy to have you listening in to "The Living Word" broadcast this morning. We appreciate so much the time you've taken to listen in so that you can study with us God's eternal Word.

This morning, we're considering the subject of seeking God first. Whenever we consider such a subject as this, of course always the answer is found in the Word of God itself. It came to my mind as I thought about this subject that the way we seek God first is revealed to us in God's Word itself. We only need to look at the scripture where we see in Matthew 6 verse 33 where it says, ""But seek first the kingdom of God and its righteousness," and as Jesus said to His disciples, "All these things shall be added unto you," that God has a plan for our seeking Him. It is in that kingdom. Now when we look at the New Testament, we know and even in prophecy of the Old Testament, we know that the kingdom originated in the mind of God itself according to Ephesians chapter 1. We also see that the promise that was made to Abraham and others in the Old Testament concerning that through him all nations of the earth would be blessed, he was speaking of that very same kingdom.

Daniel in Daniel 2 and verse 44 spoke of that kingdom. Isaiah in Isaiah chapter 2 spoke of that kingdom.

In Mark 9 verse 1, Jesus even spoke of that kingdom when He said, "There are few of you who are standing here speaking to His disciples who shall not taste of death til you see the kingdom of God come with power form on high."

It was John the Baptist who preached in the wilderness and throughout Judea speaking these words that "people should repent for the kingdom of Heaven is at hand." The major message for Jesus while He was upon the face of this earth concerned the kingdom for He was also preaching and teaching that people should seek the kingdom of God through repentance.

Well my friends, as we look at the scripture in Colossians especially, we see that, "God has translated us or delivered us out of the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son in whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of our sins."

So, how do we seek God? Well certainly there is no way that we can ever be in the presence of God unless we seek Him by being in the kingdom of God as the scripture reveals to us when Jesus was with His disciples. In Matthew 16 there around verse 18 he said, "You are Peter and upon this rock I will build My church and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." Then he went on to say to Peter, "And I will give unto you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven." So we see the kingdom and the church and the body according to Ephesians 1:22 where God said that He had "Put all things under His feet and gave Him to be head over all things to the church," which is His body. So we see that the kingdom, the church and the body are one in the same and who makes up that kingdom? Those who do what God says to enter into that kingdom.

Now today, we want to investigate seeking God first by seeking to be in His kingdom. Jesus, in His "Sermon on the Mount" spoke of this in Matthew chapter 7. I would like to go through it. I would like to go through it hurriedly because we really just don't have the time to cover it in depth today. But some of these verses you well remember. For instance, mentioning the kingdom as we said in Matthew 6:33 toward the end of that chapter, He said, "Seek first the kingdom of God." Then in Matthew 7, it speaks of how we can seek the kingdom. If we look first of all in Matthew 7 beginning with verse 7, there Jesus said, "Ask and it shall be given you. Seek and you shall find. Knock and it shall be opened unto you." Now the Lord is not speaking of prayer here. He's speaking of people who have a desire to be in that great kingdom of God. It says, "Whoever asks receives. He who seeks finds. To him who knocks it will be open." We see that in order for us to be close to God, to seek God, we must be willing to turn to God and that is to repent, to turn from our sin like Paul spoke to the Athenians in Acts 17 verse 30 where he told them that they must repent, where Jesus said in Luke 13:3, "Repent or perish." Repentance is necessary that one turn to God. If we want to seek the presence of God, we must do what God has asked us to do.

Now note also and we can see it and it is not really a vague representation of what Jesus is speaking of but basically in Matthew 7 verse 12 when Jesus spoke, "Therefore whatever you want men to do to you, do also to them. This is the golden rule," where it said, "for this is the law and the prophets." Jesus is speaking of conforming our lives to what Christ would do in His life. That's what we must do in our lives. If we want to seek the kingdom of God, then what we have to do is to act differently from the world.

Now no doubt, as Jesus said in Matthew 22 where He spoke, "The first and greatest is to love the Lord your God with all of your soul, mind and strength and the second is likened unto it." This is emphasizing the need to act differently from the world. So we turn to God through repentance. We determine that we're going to act differently. We're going to incorporate how Jesus lived in our lives, how Jesus spoke in our speech. We're going to incorporate what Jesus did in our works. We're going to be living examples of Jesus Christ. Now how could we expect to seek God first unless we seek to be like His only true and living Son, that is Jesus Christ His Son?

Now also in Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus gave this message concerning entering into that kingdom where He said, "Enter in by the narrow gate for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction and many there are who go there by, but narrow is the gate and straight in the path that leadeth unto life eternal and few there be that find it." Now there is a great contrast here. Seeking the kingdom means we go in through the narrow gate. There's an entrance... conditions upon the entrance into the kingdom. So we must go in through that narrow gate and walk down that straightened path, that straightened path that is ruled by our allegiance to God's Word and seeking to do His Will in our lives. How could we ever expect to be close to God, and this is what amazes me in this world today. People seem to feel that they can live any way that they want to live, speak anything that they want to speak, do anything that they want to do whether it is right or wrong in their own imaginations. It doesn't make any difference, and then at the end of these days when they are lying on their deathbed, they want God to accept them in the condition that they are in. How could this be so? How could anyone using any type of reasoning power whatsoever think that I can live any way that I want to live and still die right in the sight of God without repentance, without seeking the kingdom, without seeking to do what God wants them to do? Well, I don't know about you, but I believe the Bible says that there is no way that anyone can enter into that wide gate and walk down that broad way and expect to be saved eternally unless they repent and turn.

My friend, we must do what God says to seek His presence, not what we desire to do. That narrow gate or those people who seem to think and they are thinking properly that they need to enter in upon the conditions that God Himself has placed to be in His presence, and we'll speak of those conditions a few moments from now.

Now also, and this is something that maybe people are unaware of, but Jesus said that concerning seeking the presence of God in Matthew 7 beginning with verse 15, He said this that, "We need to beware of false prophets who come to you in sheep's clothing but inwardly they are ravenous wolves." So what is that telling us? Well that's telling us simply what we need to understand that outwardly there are some people who look like angels of light, who are truly not. There are some people who look like they are religious and they certainly are not. So Jesus is saying this and it's the same thing that John said when he was talking about false teachers in 1 John 4 verse 1. He said, "Try the spirits to see whether they are of God or not." Now when is the last time you questioned what a preacher said? It's time that you did. It's time that you did what the apostle Paul encouraged the Bereans to do and the people at Thessalonica. The people in Berea were more noble than those in Thessalonica because they searched the scriptures daily to see if what Paul and the apostles were telling them was the truth. When is the last time you did that? Are you aware of the fact that there are false teachers in this world today who claimed to be of Christ but really are not. So really if you are seeking the kingdom of God, you must seek it through abiding by His Word.

Now this goes along with what is said in verse 21, "Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord' shall enter into the kingdom of Heaven, but he who does the Will of My Father who is in Heaven because many will come in that day and say, 'Have we not prophesied in your name, cast out demons in your name and did many wondrous works?' Then I will declare to them, 'I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.'" And so we must be conscious of the fact that there are those who are trying to steal our souls away from Christ and even using His name in striving to do that very same thing. So if we seek the kingdom of God, we must beware of the fact that there could be false teachers.

Then Jesus closes seeking the kingdom and how we should seek it by using that wonderful illustration that we teach our children about the wise man and the foolish man. Those who are truly seeking God's kingdom are not like the foolish man who built his house upon the sand and when the rains came and the floods came up, or the rains descended and the floods came up and beat upon that house it fell and great was the fall of it. But we should build our faith upon the rock of Jesus Christ and if we build our faith on that solid foundation, the rains of life may come, the floods may come up and try to devour us, but we will stand strong because we are built upon the solid foundation of Jesus Christ our Lord.

So my friend, the question is: How do I get close to God? How do I seek God first? That is simply by, as Jesus said in verse 21 again, "He that doeth the Will of My Father who is in Heaven." Now how do you get into that kingdom? Well, the Bible is so clear on that. Belief that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. Jesus said, "Except you believe that I am He, you shall die in your sins." That is so true. Jesus said, "You must repent." Luke recorded in Luke 13:3 the very words of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ when He said, "Except you repent, you shall all likewise perish." And Jesus went around preaching repentance. You know that. You've read it many times in the scripture. Jesus said, "Confess My name before men. Whosoever therefore shall confess Me before men, him will I confess before My Father who is in Heaven." Paul also stated in Romans 10 verse 9 that, With the mouth confession is made unto salvation." Jesus said to be baptized. He would send His disciples into all the world, and He said, "Baptize them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit." He gave His apostles through the Holy Spirit the message that they should teach. In Acts 2:38 where the apostle Peter taught, "Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."

Now that's what God says we must do to enter into the kingdom. Men can say many things. Men can lead you astray. In fact, probably over 80% of the religious world today will teach a plan that you cannot find in the Bible. But the plan, my friends, I just gave you is found in God's eternal Word. If we're going to seek Him, we must seek Him according to His standard. It is His plan of righteousness, not ours (Romans 1:17-18). It is His plan that we must follow and those are conditions that we must meet for our salvation and it is only by meeting those conditions of salvation that He has placed that we will have our opportunity to have eternal life and to ultimately be in His presence, to be in His kingdom.

So how do I seek God's presence? How do I seek to put God first in my life? That is simply by doing His Will and then we can have eternal life.

(SONG # 3 - "Let Jesus Come Into Your Heart")

CLOSING COMMENTS

What a wondrous time we have had together in participating in the things of God. I hope we all have been encouraged through our time spent together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God.

Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today's lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a free cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or free Bible correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

The Living Word 2540 N. Kansas Expressway Springfield, Mo. 65803

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May we strive every day to accept and follow the conclusion of the whole matter, that is to "fear God and keep His commandments!"

(Program closing)