Introduction: Welcome to Expound our verse-by-verse study of God's Word. Our goal is to expand your knowledge of the truth of God by explaining the Word of God in a way that is interactive, enjoyable, and congregational.
Skip Heitzig: Speaking of church plants, because my experience was a long time ago, we have one that is more recent, that's been in last couple of years. And he's going to share with us a special message tonight. Justin Marbury was on staff for---well, fifteen years, you said? Seven years. Why does it feel like fifteen years? [laughter] No. Seven years, sorry about that. I couldn't resist. He was on staff for seven years, but you were here fifteen years, right? How old were you when you first started coming? Twenty-two. Okay, so Justin was on staff, was one of our pastors, one of our---very good and solid leader for a long time, and did a lot of organization, and he's very gifted.
And a couple years ago the Lord moved him to the East Coast, New Hampshire. How many have ever been to New Hampshire, raise your hand? Okay, well, good for you. [laughter] And, um, probably as many in New Hampshire have been to Albuquerque. So, anyway he's been back there and just plowing the ground and starting a church. And he spoke with our staff yesterday and it was so good what the Lord has shown him, and I think you're going to richly enjoy it. Give a warm welcome back home to Justin Marbury. [applause]
Justin Marbury: All right. Well, greetings, Nuevo México, from Nuevo Hampshire. [laughter] It's---it is a---I have to give a shout-out to the church in Wolfeboro, those who are watching. We don't have a Wednesday night service. It's two hours later, so they are faithfully up at nine o'clock to---for the beginning of this, now 9:30. When all is said and done, even for us here, that would---most of us that would be bedtime. So hello, Calvary Wolfeboro. Hello, Calvary Albuquerque. [applause] It was a Wednesday night, as Skip mentioned---well, he didn't mention that part.
But it was a Wednesday night when I, at the ripe age of twenty-two, first began to have my eyes open to the pursuit that I am now continuing in right here at Calvary Albuquerque, as I would come faithfully to hear God's Word being taught, soaking it up like a sponge, the blueprint for the pursuit that I'm going to talk to you about tonight. It was right here on this stage ten years after that, I was thirty-two, ten years later that this pursuit landing me in the role of pastor. One of the first of many great surprises in my life. I was ordained on a Wednesday night in December of 2007 right here on this stage.
It was Wednesday night of June 2012 that Pastor Skip, five years after ordaining me, asked me to pray about planting a church in New Hampshire, at that point, in New England. And it was a Wednesday night in May of 2013 that Skip commissioned myself and my family, all six of us, we have four children, on this stage to embark on the latest leg of our pursuit, planting a church in New England. So Wednesday night is pretty special to me. It's special to what God has done in my life. And it is Wednesday night, March 18, 2015, that I stand here once again on this stage, an ambassador for Christ, but also an ambassador for Calvary Wolfeboro, a beautiful, thriving, growing church in the middle of the least-churched region in America.
Isn't it pretty? That red building you can see across the water, that's our building. That's where Calvary Wolfeboro worships. We have a Bible-teaching, God-honoring pulpit. We have great worship, home groups, youth groups, women's ministry, men's ministry, [applause] leadership being developed and raised up by the Lord, and discipleship taking place all over. That was last Easter. So, it was the best picture I had with me, but it gives you a sense of, again, the place, but most importantly the people---all in less than two years. And that's something to celebrate, and that's part of the reason that I'm here. You see, when we left, we were unsure of where God would plant us. We knew that it was New England, but we were unsure.
And it really didn't matter, because we understood something that I'm going to do my best to communicate to you tonight that with the pursuit comes the promise. So what is it that I began to pursue sixteen years ago? And why does the promise linked to this pursuit provide so much peace? How could we go not knowing even where we were ending up and yet be okay with that? Well, let's read our text together and find out. Matthew 6:33, it's on the screen. If you have your Bible, that would be preferable. Matthew 6:33, part of this longer sermon that Jesus gave, the Sermon on the Mount, where he describes this pursuit in great detail, and he challenges us as I challenge you tonight.
Matthew 6:33, let's read it together. "But seek first the kingdom of God"---everybody---"and his righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you." "Pursuit and Promise," and I want to look at this with you and to break down this verse and understand it. There's three aspects, three things that Jesus brings to life. First of all, in this pursuit that he's just talked about, he tells us the place. He tells us about this place. And we're not going to be able to look at the passages, but I want to go through the reality of this place. He calls it the "kingdom of God," the "kingdom of heaven." And this place has a nature and it has a culture.
So we're going to look at the place, and then we're going to look at the priority of this pursuit, and, finally, when all is said and done, we're going to see that there is a promise that comes with this pursuit. So what is it that we are called by Jesus to pursue? He says it very clearly: "Seek first the kingdom of God." What is the "kingdom of God"? Jesus spoke a lot about it. We have written in Scripture for our consideration, as I said, an entire sermon that Jesus gave on the topic, the Sermon on the Mount; Matthew chapters 5 through 7. The verse we are focusing on being toward the end of this teaching, this monologue. Jesus also told many parables specifically dealing with the kingdom of God.
Eight of them can be found in Matthew 13 alone: the parable of the sower, the parable of the weeds, the mustard seed, the leaven, and so on and so forth. So what is this "kingdom of God," also called by Jesus the "kingdom of heaven"? Well, one thing is for sure, it's radically different than most twenty-first century Christians in America are familiar with. Read the Sermon on the Mount and you find not only that Jesus shattered the status quo of Judaism that existed in his day, he alienated every human being on the planet, and reveals for the first time in detail that up is down, and right is wrong, and good enough just isn't even close to good enough.
So how do we summarize in a concise way the "kingdom of God," this place that we are to pursue, that I am pursuing, and that I pray you are pursuing? Well, first of all, the kingdom of God is an invisible kingdom. That makes it a little tricky, doesn't it? And this is not what the Jews of Jesus' day were hoping for. When Jesus talked about the kingdom, they were expecting something different. When John the Baptist announced Jesus' inauguration, he said that "the kingdom of heaven is at hand." We see that in Matthew 3:2. He was speaking to the heart of a long anticipated and ardently expected future in which God would establish---or reestablish Israel, reestablish the throne of David, the greatness of the kingdom of Israel.
That's what they were looking for. That's what they were looking to. It was an expectation that Israel had based on the many and myriad prophecies that we find in the Old Testament, Psalm 89, just one of them, speaks of. And in verses 19 through 29 a vision that was given to the writer of the psalm. And in verse 27 he says, "Also I will make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. My mercy I will keep for him forever, and My covenant shall stand firm with him. His seed also will I make to endure forever, and his throne as the days of heaven." That sounds like a physical kingdom. It sounds like a physical throne. And it will be, just not yet.
As it became more clear in Jesus' life that the introduction of a visible kingdom was not Jesus' plan, people around him started to doubt. They started to question: "What is Jesus doing? What are you doing? I thought you were the Messiah." Even John the Baptist began to wonder, sending his disciples to Jesus and saying, "Are you the One that we are hoping for, that we have been expecting, or should we look for another?" The invisible kingdom. Now we know, we have hindsight now that what was inaugurated by John the Baptist was Jesus' first coming, his first advent. And this first time the kingdom that he established did not include a throne on earth.
That kingdom is coming. In fact, Jesus, in this same sermon, when asked by his disciples, "Teach us to pray," told them to pray, "Thy kingdom come . . . ." A prayer that will be answered and will be realized in what the book of Revelation reveals as a one-thousand-year reign of Jesus on earth from the throne of David, Revelation 20. So it's not a visible kingdom yet, not yet. And this is where we first recognize something else that's important: the kingdom is not the church. In all of its prescribed visibility, the church, "the light of the world" is not the kingdom. So what is the church then? Well, perhaps Paul's symbolism holds true. We are the bride of Christ, right? So in that sense we are the bride of the King.
And so although the church and the kingdom are two distinct creations and works of God, they are very much intertwined. For the church, the kingdom work is the family business, isn't it? The kingdom work is the family business. And I find it exciting to imagine this, that every time I do ministry in the body of Christ, for Christ visibly in the world, and being salt and being light, there is an invisible, eternal work that God does and takes place simultaneously. But it is an invisible kingdom. Secondly, it's a covert kingdom, a covert kingdom, not just invisible, but covert. The kingdom that Jesus describes is a hidden kingdom of subterfuge. You think, "Ooh, what does that mean?"
Well, Webster defines "subterfuge" as "deception by artifice or stratagem in order to conceal, escape, or evade." The strategy of God to carry out the work of the kingdom on earth now is not overt, it's covert. Now, don't get me wrong. We're not called to sneak around and cheat and lie and steal as citizens of the kingdom. But the work we do and the changes that come are not changes of great political movements or revolutionary war, they are the covert operations of disciples. And what we are doing is planting seeds of rebellion against the ruler of this world and the system of lies that he has established. And it is this aspect of the kingdom work that makes many people uncomfortable.
You see, the big billboards, the TV commercials, savvy marketing campaigns have drawn the ire of believers, especially in our day. But God's work has always involved this kind of propaganda and subterfuge. That's what it is. Think about it. What do you suppose was happening inside Jericho as Israel was marching around? Perhaps, a little psychological warfare? Remember, spies were sent, weren't they? Spies were sent into Jericho. And I don't know for sure, but perhaps in the months and years prior to Israel even coming in to conquer Jericho, there was some godly propaganda involved. Why do I say that?
Well, by the time the spies even came, Rahab (the prostitute who met the spies) shared with them that the people in Jericho, their hearts had "melted for fear" of Israel, already having known ahead of time what was coming. God's work has always involved subterfuge. The covert nature of planting a church. When we first arrived in Wolfeboro, there was a strong sense that I had that what we were doing was very covert. There was this reality that we can't just go into a place and tell everybody that what we are coming to do is to change how everybody does everything. We're coming in to tell people, "You need to live differently. You need to change who you're with. You need to change the priorities of your life. Everything's got to change."
That's overt, and that's true. It may not be that we would tell anybody in that order. We would say, "Christ first, relationship first," but it's true that when we come to Christ, everything changes. But there is a covert nature to the work of the kingdom. I can't even speak now about certain things we have planned as a church because of their necessarily covert nature. So why is it necessary that the kingdom be covert? Why is its work, work of subterfuge? Well, this is why: you see, the kingdom, the work of the kingdom is ultimately disruptive. It's disruptive. Have you ever heard of disruptive technology? Anyone?
"Disruptive technology" is defined as "technology that displaces an established technology and shakes up the industry," replace a current technology and disrupts the industry. Some examples, probably familiar with this one: cars replacing horse-drawn buggy---disruptive technology---computers replacing typewriters, the Internet disrupted all forms of communication and gathering of information, cell phones replacing land lines. Even now, five years ago everything that we would store from our computer would be stored on a hard drive on our desktop, now it's---what?---in the cloud. Some of you don't even know what that is. But we store things somewhere else.
We've all heard of it, disruptive technology. The established technology doesn't like to be disrupted. And the established kingdom, the kingdom of this world doesn't like to be disrupted. But Jesus came to disrupt. And when the kingdom of this world finds out that you're coming to disrupt it, it doesn't like it too much, and so you have to come in with care and sometimes covertly. That's the---that's the place. It's an invisible kingdom. It's a covert kingdom. It's a disruptive kingdom. What about the culture? What does Jesus say? "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness." The culture of the kingdom, it's a culture of God's righteousness.
It follows logically that if one is going to work in a kingdom, then that person will also live under the kingdom's laws. For doing right, doing what is right or living righteously means different things in different kingdoms, right? That was Jesus' point when he began to radically undermine the existing status quo. God's righteousness is not like man's righteousness. Righteousness in the kingdom is very different than righteousness in the world. A couple examples---think about life, life, human life, plant life, animal, but just life: Man's righteousness says life is precious, except the unborn life of human beings. Man's righteousness says life is precious, but for many animal life is equally precious at human life.
See the difference? The culture of the kingdom is very different---happiness, happiness. Happiness in the kingdom of man or in the world, the kingdom of the ruler of this world is lack of trouble equals happiness, lack of strain, lack of trial, lack of difficulty, lots of vacations, lots of leisure, lots of rest. This is happiness. Happiness in the kingdom, that which Jesus tells us to pursue---blessedness. And in the Sermon on the Mount Jesus describes the "blessed," the "happy." And he says this: "Blessed are you who are poor in spirit." What does that mean? Those who recognize their spiritual poverty, recognize their need, you are happy, you are blessed. "Blessed are those"---but only those---"who mourn" for their sin.
The meek are blessed, who keep their strength under control. "Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness . . . . Blessed are the merciful . . . . Blessed are the pure in heart . . . . Blessed are the peacemakers . . . . And blessed are you when you are persecuted for my sake," Jesus says. You see, in a kingdom or world where anger is glorified, lust is glamorized, marriage is trivialized, a person's word is minimized, and everything is done to be seen by others, Jesus said anger is like murder, lust is like adultery, divorce is immoral, our word is our bond, and giving, praying, and fasting should be done to---should be done to be seen by no one else but God. That's the kingdom. That's what we're talking about.
That's what we are to pursue. That's the culture. That's the place. Now, the priority, the priority of our pursuit. He tells us, pursue it, the kingdom, first: "Seek first the kingdom . . . ." The word "first" is próton or prótos and it can mean either first in time and place, or first in rank. But it's interesting, it also means "central to." And where have we heard the word próton before when you think of "central to"? Any chemists, any scientists, anyone who remembers high school chemistry or physics? The proton is in the nucleus of the atom. The electrons revolving around that nucleus that is at the center. Próton, prótos. It's also translated "chief" here, "first." Jesus says, "Seek first . . . ."
It also is translated, that word próton or prótos, "chief," like chief priest. Jesus said, "Whoever will be chief among you, let him be your servant." Paul called himself the "chief" of sinners, prótos, first. And it's here where I want to take a minute to consider together what it means to "Seek first," or chiefly, or centrally as the nucleus, "the kingdom of God and his righteousness." What we are coming face to face with in Matthew 6:33 is that to "Seek first [or to seek chiefly] the kingdom of God" means this, this is where the rubber starts to meet the road: every aspect of life must revolve around the kingdom, or more appropriately, the King.
This is where you may hear something you're familiar with, the lordship of Christ. He is Lord of all, or he is not Lord at all. "You can't serve two masters." Where does that come from? Verse 24 of this same chapter. "No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon." To "seek first the kingdom" doesn't mean to put Jesus first in a list of priorities. I remember when I was early in my walk---I hope it wasn't anyone here. But I remember people telling me that the priorities go like this: God first, then your wife, then your children, then your ministry.
And work was just kind of understood as a necessity, a part to provide for number two and three. But this is impossible. I tried. And it's illogical. And to be perfectly honest, it's unbiblical. It's not God first, and then other things after him, it's God throughout. And ministry is not a component of life put somewhere on a list, it's a constant reality. It's the work of the kingdom. So radical is this way of thinking that most people can't even begin to understand what I'm saying. Let me put it in the words of Jesus: "The kingdom of heaven," he said, "is like leaven that a woman took and hid in three measures of flour till it was all leavened." There's that covert idea again. It was hidden.
But also, and this is my point, the affect. How much of a loaf of bread is affected by a little bit of yeast? All of it. How much of life should be affected by the lordship of Christ and the kingdom pursuit? All of it. All of it. So how does this work itself out practically? Let me illustrate it? Remember those mobiles? And maybe some of you still have them in the cribs of your children. The mobiles, right? They hang above and there's a central motor and the place from which all of the parts hang. And what does the motor do? It turns those hanging pieces around in a circle, it plays music, and it lulls your child to sleep. The motor hanging or setting above all that is attached is like Christ.
The lordship of Christ is like that hanging above, and everything proceeds, and those of us who are pursuing the kingdom from that central place of Christ's lordship in our lives, and all of them moving in unison, all of them moving equally around that central motor. There are a bunch of them, including one's I've mentioned before: marriage, family. You could think of each of these as pieces hanging off the motor. Your part, your place in the body is another one. How you function in each of these is different. Your love for your husband is different than your love for your children and for your brother or sister in Christ. But they are all equally under Christ's lordship, and they're all important.
The problem is . . . the problem is that like provision and inability for us to honestly assess our need versus our greeds---you ever have trouble with that? Like we are unable to sometimes discern or differentiate, it's the same with the balance as things turn around the lordship of Christ. In order for us to know the balance between our family and our love for our wives and our children and ministry and the things that we're doing to serve in the church, in order to know the balance, we have to pursue Christ. We have to find out, we have to know from God. Only he can guide us. The key? In the words of A. W. Tozer, "What or who is above?"
And I quote, "Millions call themselves by His name, it is true, and pay some token homage to Him, but a simple test will show how little he is really honored among them. Let the average man put to the proof---be put to the proof on the question of who or what is above, and his true position will be exposed. Let him be forced into making a choice between God and money, between God and men, between God and personal ambition, God and self, God and human love, and God will take second place every time. Those other things will be exalted above. However the man may protest, the proof is in the choice he makes day after day throughout his life."
And into that Jesus says, "Seek first"---seek above all, chiefly, central---"the kingdom of God and his righteousness." And so we see the place, this invisible, covert, disruptive kingdom. We see the priority to seek righteousness, to seek it above all and in all and overall. And, finally, we see the promise for our pursuit, the promise for our pursuit: ". . . and all these things shall be added to you." What a promise, ". . . and all these things shall be added to you." You say, "Well, what do you mean?" It's kind of important to understand what he's talking about. What is it that he is talking about? He's talking about provision, all the provision will be added to you.
"Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all [the provision] will be added." That's the immediate context of verse 33. That's the promise. "All these things," our needs: What will I eat? What will I drink? What will I wear? These are important questions, to be sure, but the source of their provision, where we get those things that we need from, just as important. "Do not be anxious," Jesus said, "about any of these provisions. Do not worry about what you will get or where you will get what you need. For the Gentiles do that." The unbelievers do that, those outside the kingdom, blind to the kingdom, who cannot enter the kingdom because they have not been born again do that---not you.
In the kingdom, God is provider---period. The Jews had a name for God the provider: Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides. And this is important, really important in many ways, not the least of which is in this way illustrated by the nature of a child, which all of us, I believe, at one time were, if I'm not mistaken. What happens if you leave a child home alone with the run of the kitchen? I know what happens with my children. It's not one bag of fruit snacks, it's the whole box of fruit snacks. It's not one bowl of cereal, it's the whole box of cereal. It's not one cup of milk, it's the whole gallon of milk. They don't do well self-regulating. They don't do well understanding the difference between need and greed.
They'll eat you out of house and home. They don't understand what they need. Your heavenly Father, Jesus says, knows that you need them all. Our heavenly Father knows what we need. We don't. We think we do, but our list of needs always grows, doesn't it? Somehow we're really good at convincing ourselves that those things that are really greeds are needs. And Paul writes about this when he says, "Godliness with contentment is great gain." You want to have a lot? Then be content. "You brought nothing into the world," he says, "and it is certain you can take nothing out." "Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things," all your needs---what?---"will be [or shall be] added."
Is all these things being "added" the purpose for our pursuit of the kingdom of God and his righteousness? Is that the purpose? No. Not directly. It shouldn't be. It's not the purpose of our pursuit of the kingdom, it's the promise. It's the promise. And I don't believe that this statement by Jesus is as straightforward as an if-then statement. You know what I mean? It's these logical statements like we use with our children, again, going back to our children: "If you clean your room, then you can go to the movies." "If you make this quota at work, then you will receive a free trip." "If you work out this many times a month, then you will get in shape." If . . . then . . . . It's a conditional promise.
Jesus didn't say, "If you seek the kingdom of God, then all these things will be added to you." Now, please don't misunderstand me. Listen, it's not that there isn't any connection between the pursuit and the provision. Psalm 84:10-12, "No good things does he withhold from those who walk in integrity. O Lord of hosts, blessed is the man who trusts in you!" What I think Jesus is pointing out is, is not that there is no connection, but that the connection is a little different. It's a little more subtle than, "If you do this, if you seek the kingdom first, then you will have provision." What God---what Jesus is pointing out is a reality about God's design, about God's creation.
You see, pursuit and provision, they go hand and hand. It's not that one triggers the other, like an if-then, it means that they are two sides of the same coin. In other words, rather than thinking of provision as reward, think of it as a promise. Think of it as a promise. Dr. Kenneth Boa writes, "We do not work to provide for our needs." Now that's a radical statement. Think about that. "We do not work to provide for our needs." Who is he talking to? He's talking to, believer, you and I. "We not work to provide for our needs. Our culture, the world, the kingdom of this world, associates work with the quest for success, significance, provision, esteem, and purpose.
By contrast, Scripture teaches that it is God, not our work, to whom we should look for these things. Believers must come to see that God is not---is their source of provision, and their work is a means he uses to supply their needs." Let me ask you a question: When you were a kid, when you were a kid---for some of you that maybe a little harder to remember. But when you were a kid, was the provision of the next meal dependent on how faithful you were? Is that how it worked at your house? No. Not mine either. And not only did that not work or wasn't like that when I was a kid, it's not like that now.
Our parents, as sometimes frail and imperfect as they are, as I am, we provide for our children because we love them, because we love them. I don't believe that the promise of provision is directed at only the faithful. Just like the promise of provision for our children is not directed only at those of our children who are faithful. I believe the promise is to all those who have God as their heavenly Father. Who does that include? All believers. "But wait, Justin," you're thinking, "wait. I know that there are people who are believers who don't have provision, are starving without clothing and dying of thirst." God's provision can be thwarted. It can be thwarted individually or it can be thwarted societally.
It can be blocked. It can be limited. I often think about the millions of children in Africa and India in particular who are starving to death and question why. Why? And it's a tough question. But it's interesting that when the love and light of the gospel, when the kingdom comes into a place, what comes with it? Provision, food, clothing, water, fresh water. So much of what has caused the starvation of these children is a result of wickedness that rejects the provision of the heavenly Father. Think about it. The rain falls from the sky, but men build dams blocking it from ever reaching the dry ground downstream.
And so it is true too that although we can't earn God's provision, we can reject it, we can deny it, and even build barriers to hinder it. The provision is promised. Remember what John said in chapter 3, verse 17 and 18, about why Jesus came? He said, "For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved. He who believes in him is not condemned"---why?---"but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God." You see, man enters the world condemned. There's nothing that man can do to be condemned or to become condemned. He's already condemned.
And it is by belief that he is saved from condemnation. Man is born again into the kingdom, where provision is promised, and it is by unbelief that it is eliminated. The path of pursuit of the kingdom includes provision. Seek above all the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things you could worry about will find their rightful place---in the hands of our great provider, sustainer, deliverer, friend, and heavenly Father. My family and I are pursuing the kingdom of God and his righteousness. And guess what? It continues to include provision.
We arrived in Wolfeboro, May 31, 2013. God, by that point, had already provided the sale of our house, a temporary place for us to live in Albuquerque while we prepared, the means financially to move, a house to live in when we arrived, a venue to announce our arrival in Wolfeboro the day that I arrived. That was May-June 2013. By July 6 of that same year, God provided the invitation through a man named Roy Thomassian to begin a Bible study in his home, July 6. By October, God provided enough people that we had to move out of the Thomassian's home because it was too small. Where? Where? God provided an awesome place, a camp, a conference center where he had also provided a job for me that first year.
We met in a little theater at the conference center until it became too crowded and then we moved upstairs. By June of 2014 we couldn't be in that conference center, so God had to provide again. This time, 43 Mill Street, a beautiful place, 1.3 acres, 300 feet of waterfront (you saw a picture of it), 5,900-square-foot building, 4,000-square-foot barn. It came to us through an auction January 15, 2014. God had provided $50,000 from the foundation of someone in my extended family in Dallas, Texas. A lease $6,000 a month, first and last secure---first and last month's rent, security deposit, $18,000, one check. God provided.
On my way to the auction I mentioned to Roy Thomassian, the man who was with me, my brother in Christ, "Fifty thousand dollars isn't going to be enough to even win this property at an auction. Maybe God will send somebody there who will purchase the property for the sole reason of us being able to lease it." That's what happened. God provided. Then the zoning. You see, the property was a beautiful place with a beautiful building in the perfect setting with the wrong zoning. A church, not something that we could have established in that place in Wolfeboro. God provided.
It was because we signed a lease and didn't own the property that the plan---that the zoning board---with two members all for us, and two members all against us, and one waffling---discovered that we were leasing the property as a church, as a nonprofit, and not owning it, and therefore the town would still get their property tax, and so he voted yes. We got the zoning. And then the planning board, we go before the planning board. Can we function as a church in this place, not just the use of the space, but who we are and what we will be doing? And the planning board, God provided.
And we were able to use it, not only the property as a whole, but you see, it would take us nine months from the moment we signed the lease until the time that we were in the building. It would take us nine months to prepare, so God provided a tent that we could meet in outside, and the town of Wolfeboro allowed us to do that. There it is. "Join Us for Worship, Calvary Wolfeboro," in the tent. "The big top," we called it. Not only did God provide for us a tent, he provided for us perfect Saturday nights all summer. Out of the eighteen weeks we were in the tent, only two or maybe three had bad weather.
The rest were almost picture-perfect. God provided people to work on the building, a lot of work; a lot of provision, $10,000 coming here, $10,000 coming there. And then . . . and then on the day before we were to move into our sanctuary, finally having signed the lease, eight months earlier having worked all summer and met in the tent, it's the Friday, the day before we're to worship in our sanctuary the first time. And the town has just left, and they've given us temporary occupancy of our sanctuary, and we're relishing in the victory of that. But we realize at the same time that to get to that place we've spent a lot of money.
And in the next week or two---because the occupancy is just temporary, one week at a time---in order to finish what needs to be done, there's a significant amount of money that is necessary: $10,000 we already owe, another $10,000 (at least) necessary to finish. Standing in the sanctuary, celebrating that we will be able to worship in there tomorrow, I get a text message from our treasurer, the business manager. And he says in his text message, "Just went to the post office. There was a check in the mail for $20,000." Twenty thousand dollars. [applause] Now, at the time I had no idea where this money came from, but listen to the providence of God---always on time, never too early, never too late, just for today, not for tomorrow.
Like manna, God provides. I found out where the money came from. Listen to this: remember that original $50,000 that we came to New Hampshire with from a family foundation? That was the result of Kari and I visiting Dallas. We just happened to be there for a wedding. Now fast-forward almost two years from that trip to a trip my brother and sister-in-law made to Dallas and a visit with another part of the same family, the part of our family we don't talk to very often. I hadn't mentioned or talked to them the entire time we were in New Hampshire, but it just so happened that my brother and sister-in-law had just come from Wolfeboro.
They had just returned to New Mexico from being out with us and seeing what God is doing. And they go to Dallas and they report to this same family. And at the very moment that we needed it, the family decided to send another $20,000, and it arrived that day, the day that the need was most. The provision of God. Pursuit and promise, with the pursuit of the kingdom, comes the promise of provision. And you know what hinders us most from pursuing the kingdom? The fear that the provision won't be there. It's the number one thing. I see it all the time, anxiety and fear that if I pursue this kingdom of God, if I do what Jesus calls me to do, to seek the kingdom first above all and in all and through all, that the promise won't be real.
And let me tell you, over the last two years, I've been there. I've questioned whether or not that promise was going to be true. I've questioned whether or not at the end of this month there was going to be the money to pay the bills. I've questioned whether there was going to be the provision of food on the table. There always was. There always has been. My wife is sitting right up here and she can attest to that fact. And what I want to say to you tonight in closing, and what I want to give you an opportunity to do is this: surrender, put it all in. That's what we have done. And it's something we do every day again and again, because it's not one-and-done thing, it's a daily surrender.
It's a daily pursuing. It's a daily saying, "I will put you, Christ, above all. I won't be like those other men and women, who money is before God, who sports are before God, who pleasure is before God, who even the good things come before God. I will put you first." I'm speaking to believers now. I'm speaking to those of us who have given our lives to Christ. We've been born again. We can see the kingdom. Jesus said that's the only way. In order to see the kingdom, in order to enter the kingdom, "You must be born again." And we have been. We can see it. We can enter into it, but we're not. We've thwarted it. The rain falls, but we dam it up.
We limit what God wants to do because we're afraid, we're fearful, we don't believe the promise. And so we live lives that are squelched, that are hindered, that are not all that God wants us to be and to do. And so I challenge you tonight, Christian, follower of Christ, pursue the kingdom first above all. Don't leave anything back. Don't hold anything back. Risk it all for Christ. It's worth it. It's what God created us for. You will never ever be fulfilled, you'll never be blessed, you'll never be happy if you don't pursue him above all, first, central, however you want to think of it. If you don't seek him and the kingdom first and his righteousness, you will never be who God's called you to be.
It's time to stop sitting in the pew. It's time to just stop sitting and listening and taking in. Some of you, it's time to get up and to start getting involved in what God's doing. It's time to start, see his kingdom grow. It's time to see more people go out and start churches. Twenty percent of the people that live in Wolfeboro even go to church, 20 percent. There's many places where it's even worse. America is nothing compared the places around the world. And we sit and we listen and we're equipped and we're prepared. And we sit and we listen and we're quipped and we're prepared. It's time to get going. It's time to seek first the kingdom. Let's bow our heads.
Father, as we close our time together, I know that there are those here tonight, brothers and sisters in Christ, born again, seeing what God is doing, understanding the work of the kingdom, but sitting on the sidelines, Lord. Fear has gripped their hearts. Fear has held them back. The fear that your promise isn't true, that if I lay it all on the line, if I seek the kingdom first in everything, that I won't have provision, that he won't provide. Fear that if I get involved, if I begin to serve in ministry, if I begin to work and build the kingdom of God on earth, that I'll fall on my face, that God won't be faithful.
Lord, I pray that by your Spirit you would strengthen, encourage, and confirm that this challenge is a challenge for them, for that person, for those individuals. They know who they are, Lord. You are able to speak to the heart of every man. And I pray that tonight, right now those individuals would respond to the prompting of your Spirit and that they would step up and be willing to lay it all on the line. You won't necessarily call a person to that tomorrow, not today. It may take years to get to the place where that is a reality. It took you fifteen years to prepare me for these steps that I've taken in the last two years. It will start one baby step at a time, one piece of surrender, one piece of trust.
What is it going to be, Lord? Only you know. If you're here tonight and you feel that that's you, I want to pray for you. Would you raise your hand if you would say, "I'm ready. I'm ready to seek the kingdom first. I'm ready to test and see that what God says is true, that he will provide, that he will come through, that he is faithful." If that's you here tonight, would you raise your hand? Brother and sister in Christ, would you raise your hand? Raise it up high. Praise the Lord. It is good to be recognized. It is good to be recognized. I see your hand. God sees them, most importantly. Would you stand with me, everyone stand up.
And if that was you and you just raised your hand, I'm going to ask you to do one more thing, because I want to pray for you right here, and I want everyone here to witness your commitment. I want you to come down and stand right here. Believers, come here, let's pray. Come right now. Come right now. [applause] Wherever you are, we'll wait. My brothers and sisters, God is refining his church. He's calling us to a different level of Christian life than we've had. He's calling us to step up and to step out. I want to pray with you. And what's so cool about this is that I know that you are in a church and you're part of a church and you are a church where you will have everything you need to follow through with this commitment.
So let's pray. Lord, it is such a pleasure for me, I'm so honored to pray with my brothers and sisters. I know in my life, Lord, that there were many times where you came to me in the stillness and the quiet of my heart, and you prompted me to go a little deeper, to give a little more, to empty myself a little further, so you could fill me up a little more. And that is what you're calling these to today. And so, Lord, I affirm that. I confirm that. I pray that you would surround each of these with brothers and sisters, with pastors, with all that they need so that they cannot only raise their hand and walk down and accept the call to seek first the kingdom of God, but that they would have all that they need to follow through. Bless them, Lord, and open their eyes more and more each day to the invisible, covert, disruptive work that you're doing in this world, in Jesus' name, amen. Amen. God bless you guys.
Closing: If you've missed any of our Expound studies, all of our services and resources are available at expoundabq.org.