– Please take your Bible and turn to Matthew 6. We will read verses 24-33.
– Jesus is beginning His earthly ministry with a foundational message which we have called the “Sermon on the Mount”. He has given instruction on several “how to’s” of life. We discover how to be blessed, how to represent the Kingdom, how to give, how to pray, how to act, and much more. In our text, we will pull out a nugget of truth which will guide our thinking and help us understand His desires for His people and His church.
– Verse 24 is actually a transitional verse, but it is also a powerful statement. Let’s read together.
– For the past month, through my prayers and preaching, I have attempted lead us, as a church body, to see, understand, and accept the need to be a Kingdom Focused Church. Most of your recall our trek.
– We began with “Exposing the Kingdom Focused Church” where we unveiled the church. The second week was a call to “Embrace the Kingdom Focused Church” relying on the Apostle Paul’s words. Last week was the recipe for “Empowering the Kingdom Focused Church” and our part in this. We complete our Kingdom Focused Church emphasis today with the thought “Experiencing the Kingdom Focused Church.”
– Experiences are important. They have a way of controlling our lives. In fact, some say that we are a result of our choices and experiences. For me, I remember the thrill of my first “homerun” in baseball. I remember the thrill of my first “hole in one” in golf. However, I remember the first person I baptized as a pastor. It was Jonathon, our son. What a day!
– Also, In 1983 I remember walking into Summer Grove Baptist church in Shreveport, LA, and sensing a spirit of joy, excitement, and happiness that, for me, has become the “environmental standard” for the Kingdom Focused Church.
– Consider our text, “many worry about many things, but seek first the Kingdom all the rest will come your way.” These are the words of Jesus – so I know I can trust the accuracy and the authenticity of these words. So when I seek His Kingdom “first”, then the WOW factor is on.
– I submit that there are those who have walked this trek during this month and are now asking questions. Honest questions are good. Over the next minutes I want to answer 3 basic questions about Experiencing the Kingdom Focused Church. First, we’ll answer the “what” question. What will it mean, what will it be like, what will happen if we are a Kingdom Focused Church? Second, we’ll answer the “when” question. How will this happen, How does it happen, or even How can I be a part? Third is the “how” question. When will this happen, when will it begin, or when will it start?
1) THE “WHAT” QUESTION – If we are to be a Kingdom Focused Church, what does it look like, what are the results, what will it mean? Acts 2 gives us the picture of a Kingdom Focused Church. There are four results which generally identify the Kingdom Focused Church.
a) Spiritual Growth – In the Kingdom Focused Church, we see people becoming more and more like our Lord Christ. The more we “grow” the more our lives change to be like HIM. To be clear, it’s the more we grow, not necessarily the more we know. See the 4 stages ;
i) Conversion – developing our relationship with Christ. This is my initial “faith experience.” I come to Christ for the forgiveness of my sin. This is only the first step in my growth & not the last.
ii) Connection – developing my relationship with other believers. Acts 2 tells us that those who were being saved were being added to the church and this group met together every day.
iii) Concern – (this is one of the weakest link in the church today) developing my relationships with those who are outside of Christ, that is, the unsaved or the lost person. If we are not in relationships with these, we will never reach them.
iv) Consistency – developing spiritual disciplines. Last week, we spent time talking about the need to be consistent in our walk. Things like Bible Study, prayer, worship, and faithful participation in the fellowship of believers.
– What are the results of a Kingdom Focused Church? Spiritual Growth is one.
b) Numerical Growth – Acts 2 certainly demonstrates that a spirit-filled group of believers will experience numerical growth. Sadly, when the average church member considers church growth, this is either ‘the’ measuring stick or it is summarily dismissed as being unimportant. And the deciding factor seems to be whether their church is growing or not. For some, just give me a Bible Study group, a prayer group, a home group, or the like and I’m fine. We are not growing larger, we are going deeper. These concepts are not mutually exclusive. Numerical growth is a normal outgrowth of a church or an individual growing spiritually. In fact, when we understand that spiritual growth is becoming more like Christ, and then we factor in Jesus’ actions, we conclude that our attitude about others is the indicator of our growth true spiritual growth.
– For the Kingdom Focused Church, growth in numbers is quite natural.
c) Ministry Expansion – The Kingdom Focused Church is an exciting place because true ministries are growing. Ministries which are in place can experience new life and new ministries are springing up. Why is this? Because as the church becomes Kingdom Focused, people discover their way to serve the Lord. Every believer is equipped to minister. Using their God given gifts, they find their niche and that God gives them the power to do. Some here today know what God has gifted you to do, and you’ve made a decision to not do it. And most amazingly, you wonder why His blessings are not prevalent or evident. God gives His gifts to be used, not to sit on a shelf.
d) Missions Advance – Jesus’ final words as recorded by Dr. Luke in Acts were, “to the ends of the earth.” Consider this; every believer is a minister, God has empowered every believer, every believer has the gifts required, and God expects believers to reach non-believers. God has only one strategy to reach the world. In Henry Blackaby’s study, “Your Church Experiencing God together”, we are taught that every church is a “World Mission Strategy Center”. The Kingdom Focused Church takes this mission seriously and beginning at their front door they find ways to touch people, reach people, and love people in Christ’s name. RAK
– What does it mean to be a Kingdom Focused Church? It means that we’ll be growing spiritually and numerically and that we’ll be expanding ministries and advancing missions. Why? Our one driving force, “to make disciples.”
2) THE “WHEN” QUESTION – When will we experience the Kingdom Focused Church? When will it happen?
a) When we are Biblical – Some will say, “We are that.” Well perhaps, but let’s look at our text. SEEK literally means to go after until you find it. This speaks of what it is that we are giving our lives to. This verse gives us three thoughts; the objective of our lives – seek, the object of our seeking – the Kingdom of God, and the order of our seeking – first.
b) When we are Balanced – In the course of this series of messages we have discussed that different churches are known for different things. Some for outreach, some for bad things, some for music or worship, some for preaching, or some for small groups, the list goes on and on. From Acts 2, we find what must be done if we are to be Kingdom Focused and it has to do with balance. Those 6 functions we have discussed for 2 years must be in balance.
c) When we are Bold – that is, bold enough to turn loose of our past, pride, and anything which holds us captive.
3) THE “HOW” QUESTION – how will it happen? How can we experience the Kingdom Focused Church? How does it come about?
a) It begins on a “Personal Level.” God deals with each of us personally. It’s the decision that you make to “Seek First” His Kingdom. This means placing Him and His Kingdom on the centerpiece of your life. For most of us, that sounds like the normal thing a pastor would say, and we’ve heard it many time before, but come to grips today with what that means. It means that as He becomes the centerpiece of your life, He takes center stage in the life of your marriage, family, schedule, job, checkbook, priorities, and every other part of your life. It means that His gospel, His purpose, His passion, His desires, His church, means as much to you as they do to Him. It is a life change.
b) It begins with “your response.” It starts one person at a time.
In 1985 the Los Angeles Times ran a human-interest story. It happened a few days after the disastrous earthquake in Mexico City. A little Japanese-American boy was going door-to-door in Los Angeles selling picture postcards for twenty-five cents each. He was giving the profits for earthquake relief.
One man bought some postcards from the little boy … and then he asked the boy how much he hoped to raise. The little boy answered quickly, “One million dollars!” The man smiled and said, “Do you mean to tell me that you are trying to raise a million dollars to help the earthquake victims all by yourself?” “Oh no, sir,” replied the boy, “my little brother is helping me!”