From the Pulpit of a Holiness Preacher August 2010
An email news letter ministry of Richard D. Swift publishing the serrmons of Rev. Reed A Swift (1899-1973), a holiness preacher.
The following sermon doesnot have a notation of the place(s) it was preached. It has the number 20 on the envelope containing the sermon notes which means it at least was preached in the Free Methodist Churches of the Yale, Buel, Ball Michigan Circuit in 1929. This is an expository sermon.
Seek First the Kingdom of God
Text- Matthew 6:33 "But seek ye first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you."
Lesson- Matthew 6:1-10 [ed note: The comments on these verses relate to the text.]
Of Alms Giving v.1-4 [1Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.2Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.3But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:4That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.]
V.1- Righteousness was a common word for alms among the Jews. Acts of righteousness- such as alms giving, fasting, and prayer. The common people believed that alms contributed to their justification.
" MONOBAZES the king bestowed his goods liberally upon the poor, and had these words spoken to him by his kinsmen and friends-'Your ancestors increased both their own riches, and those that were left them by their fathers; but you waste both your own and those of your ancestors.' To whom he answered-'My fathers laid up their wealth on earth: I lay up mine in heaven. As it is written, Truth shall flourish out of the earth, but Righteousness shall look down from heaven. My fathers laid up treasures that bear no fruit; but I lay up such as bear fruit. As it is said, It shall be well with the just, for they shall eat the fruit of their own works. My fathers treasured up, when power was in their hands; but I where it is not.
As it is said, Justice and judgment is the habitation of his throne. My fathers heaped up for others; I for myself. As it is said, And this shall be to thee for righteousness. They scraped together for this world. I for the world to come."- Adam Clarke
Thus we see they understood righteousness as alms. " Our Lord does not forbid public alms-giving, fasting, and prayer, but simply censures those vain and hypocritical persons who do these things publicly that they may be seen of men, and receive from them the reputation of saints." Clarke
V.2- "Do not sound a trumpet" Even like the man Brother Baldwin said kept saying "amen" so vehemently while Bro. Baldwin preached until he said, "I am so glad the Free Methodists are hard headed enough that they won't allow music and jazz things up in the church." The man stopped his amens right there and was not so religious!
In the east sometimes they blow horns to collect the poor but mainly to gratify their own carnal ambition. Or they make it [the money] jingle as they throw it in the box. They recieve their glory in this life, and God is under no obligation to recompense them in the world to come.
V.3- Don't let anything or even a near relative hinder you from doing righteously or giving alms even if you must do it secretly. Give as giving to God and forget it as far as we are concerned.
V.4- God sees the act and the motive, and if righteous, He will increase the substance given and give you freely and publicly of His Spirit.
Verses 5-10 on True Prayer [as it relates to seeking first the Kingdom of God]
V.5- True prayer is the language of dependance and a pouring out of the sincere desire of the soul to God as a free-will offering. satan tempted man to become independent, and he did when partook of the forbidden fruit. Be not a counterfeit Christian to be seen or praised by men.
V.6- Shut out the world when you pray, and pray to God to be heard of God. Our heart is the closet of in the house of God which house our body is.
V.7- Prayer requires more of the heart than of the tongue. "The eloquence of prayer consists in the fervency of desire and the simplicity of faith."
V.8- You can't inform God, but prayer is to give man a sight of his misery, to humble his heart, to excite desire, inflame faith, animate hope, to raise his soul from earth to heaven, and to put him in mind of a Heavenly Father, country, and inheritance. Avoid hypocrisy (v5), dissipation (v6), and much speaking (v7).
V.9- "After this manner pray ye" and have the satisfaction of not praying in vain.
1. "Our Father" denotes unity, fellowship and Christian charity. This is a foundation for every petition: Tender love as for a parent, Strong confidence in God's love for us as a father for his son.
All the petitions have reference to God as our Father. The first three refer to the love we have for God, and the last three the confidence we have in the love of God toward us.
2. "Which art in Heaven" This phrase expresses: (1)His Omnipresence, (2)His majesty and dominion over His creatures, (3)His power and might, (4)His Omniscience, (5)His infinite Purity and Holiness.
3. "Hallowed" means, in our conception and desires, we exalt Him above all things in heaven and on earth.
4. "Be thy name" Wehallow God's name (1)with our lips, (2)in our thoughts, (3)in our lives working for His glory, (4)in our family teaching them Christ, (5)in a particular calling or business separating all falsity, deception, and lying.
V.10- "Thy Kingdom come"
God's Kingdom is not of this world. So why spend so much time groveling down here forgetting our Hevenly Kingdom? Nothing wrong with being a diligent laborer, but don't forget that the crown is above you and not down here among dry bones. Aren't you thankful it is? I am! Oh, the drudgery of working down here but never have time for church. You must have time to die and meet God!
"What will it profit a man if he should gain the whole world and lose his own soul?" Men everywhere are seeking something with profit in it. The question they ask is how much there is in it. What does it pay? What will profit me? Well, we or Christ are not asking you to seek something that has no profit in it, but it is of the greatest profit.
The world calls a man a fool to work for no profit here, and God calls a man a fool to work here for no eternal profit. Which is the greater fool? Alexander the Great and other men of ambition through history usually brought disgrace to themselves before they died by doing ignoble or lowdown untrustworthy things.
What will it profit a man to just seek the kingdom and not His righteousness? He is seeking amiss. let us put first things first. Put the most valuable things first.
"What shall we eat, what shall we drink, and where-withall shall we be clothed." "After all these things do the Gentiles seek." But God's people should be seeking His kingdom and righteousness every day. Put first things first. We consider a man a fool in temporal things if he uses poor judgement and puts secondary things first and comes to poverty and is slothful in business. Well, in this all important matter of eternal value, what do you consider he is if he puts other things ahead of his salvation and is poverty stricken spititually? Folks may put on a good public appearance with nothing to eat at home. So people also put on Sunday religion but don't have any at home.
Then why seek something that will damn your soul? If you seek Christ and His righteousness, you are seeking One who will preserve your soul with eternal life. As to what you seek first in this life will settle what will be yours to enjoy in the world to come or what will be your remorse, for you shall reap the reward for that which you seek. If you seek mammon you shall be rewarded with the fleeting gratification and disappointments it furnishes. If you seek the King and His Kingdom you will be rewarded with the gratification of the results of that seeking.
You tell me what a man or boy is seeking for today, and I can tell you what will be his satisfaction or remorse in the tomorrow. First things must come first in the law of God as in nature, and as God is above nature, God must come before nature. That seems like a logical conclusion to me. You can't seek the harvest before you plant the seed.
[Reader, what are you seeking for? "Seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness and all these things shall be added." It comes by praying, "Thy Kingdom come"!]
Doing a small part in spreading Scriptural Holiness,
Richard D. Swift