Questions we must ask ourselves…am I giving God the priority in my day? Am I starting my day (first fruits) with God by reading His Word – the Bible? What are my goals for each day? Am I seeking God’s kingdom and His righteousness in my life? Do I design time with God like I do family, work and play?
33But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
God promises that if you seek Him first, food, shelter and clothing will be provided to you; thus eliminating the need or the excuse to place work or the idea of working to survive ahead of seeking God first. If our basic needs will be taken care of, what would be our reasoning for placing our priority for day to day living not on Him? It would simply be to put our own personal desires for prosperity, pleasure and authority ahead of God…thus we are not putting God first.
This is difficult on a daily basis, especially when first starting, since most of us have grown up (especially in the American culture) thinking of me, me, me. For me, I know that scheduling time on my calendar first thing in the morning and being consistent with it is the only way to overcome years of habit.
If we are honest with ourselves, we would say that the reason God is not placed first in our lives is because we have other priorities. These priorities are not the same as God’s priorities for our life. When I look at my priorities, it is easy for me to say they are based on providing for my family and doing the right thing. In reality, if I was just trying to provide for my family, my day would look remarkably different. My time, emotion and energy spent with my family would be just as intentional (love that word from my good friend Pastor Joe LaCognata) as it was in the time, emotion and energy I place in work and personal pleasure.
As people, we tend to be goal or outcome oriented; we strive for things or an outcome we desire. Things like wealth, status, familiarity and comfort. Putting God first would necessitate that we change what we strive for and go after things that are of God’s kingdom; thus, not what we consider our treasures.
19Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
When we attempt to do this, it feels like a war in some ways. Most of us would acknowledge that we want to put God first; however, it is a struggle to do so as we often do that which we do not want to do. I have come to love this battle, as for me it is concrete proof of the war that wages inside of me; that of my spirit which desires God, and that of my flesh which desires self or sin. I am so grateful for Paul’s words in the book of Romans 7 that describes this battle in detail.
14For we know that the law is spiritual, but I am of the flesh, sold under sin. 15For I do not understand my own actions. For I do not do what I want, but I do the very thing I hate. 16Now if I do what I do not want, I agree with the law, that it is good. 17So now it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me. 18For I know that nothing good dwells in me, that is, in my flesh. For I have the desire to do what is right, but not the ability to carry it out. 19 For I do not do the good I want, but the evil I do not want is what I keep on doing. 20Now if I do what I do not want, it is no longer I who do it, but sin that dwells within me.
There is a clear reason for this battle and it comes from the two natures that live inside us. It is not possible to serve or follow both.
24No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
The idea of putting God first means that nothing comes before Him. For me, and I believe most people agree, that means giving God the first part of my day. I look at it as the first fruits of each day – after all, every day is really a gift from God.
Do you read the instruction manual before using your new toy or setting up what you just bought? Or perhaps you just dive in and see how it goes. If you get stuck, then maybe, as a last resort, you’ll find the instructions, assuming you haven’t tossed them out.
Have you ever wished that life came with an instruction manual? Well if you did, there is good news; we have one. In fact, it covers every facet of life, and if followed guarantees a better, more enjoyable and peaceful life.
Why am I writing this post? Well, it’s quite simple really; I’m watching something happen with my kids as it relates to reading instructions. For whatever reason, I’ve always been one of those that has to read the instructions before setting something up. Since my kids were born, the first thing we do is read the instructions. At first it was a little hard for them as they wanted to tear right in, but after time, they began to see the benefit. Things worked the first time. They knew all of the features of the toy. They didn’t miss out on anything. They were, in fact, happier, and enjoyed whatever it was much more.
Here’s where I may loose some of you, as I’m about to bring up a word that turns many people off, so let me just ask you to keep reading till the end as there is a point in it for you. Before my oldest could speak, I’ve called God’s Bible, “Life’s Instruction Manual”. They see mom and dad reading it and talking about it. My kids have heard it as part of their vocabulary, and now are thinking of it as a resource, at least the oldest two are (the younger two haven’t started to read yet). The Bible speaks a lot about wisdom and understanding, what it is and how to get it. My kids picked up on that part of the “instruction book” and talk a lot about what they do and if it is wise or not. Another example is when my oldest was scared and couldn’t sleep because of seeing something about earthquakes, she turned to the Bible and found peace. They are also understanding that true love is not a feeling but a set of actions that you choose to do. By making those choices you get the feeling. There are many, many more examples that I could give you, but you get the idea.
As an adult, I am still amazed by how much about life is contained in the Bible. From relationships and marriage to creating a life plan, developing a successful career, how to handle money, even how to resolve conflicts between two friends. The Bible is a complete instruction manual for successful living; ironically, even for those that don’t believe it was written by God. What did I just say? You heard me correctly, you don’t even have to believe that the Bible was the inspired writing of God to enjoy some of the benefits contained in the book. Truth is truth right? Or to put it another way, the laws of life and nature keep working even if you don’t believe in them, and that my friends is a big part of what the Bible is; a Book about how life and nature works. Of course for the believer it’s also a Book about how life begins, ends and a possibility of an eternal future. Both for adults and kids…
“If we lose freedom here, there is no place to escape to. This is the last stand on Earth. And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except to sovereign people, is still the newest and most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man. This is the issue of this election. Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capital can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.”
For I am dying
Oh, if only I could return to the way that I was
where I was born from tyranny
I was created from one faith
and for the freedom of that faith
Now I am tired,
I have forgotten from where I have come
Nay, I seem to not even care from where I have come
But only if I could return to the days from afar
where freedom was true and faith was in the “I Am”
I remember the days when food was plenty, people were strong, and we walked with the Creator
Who gave us all things and wrapped us in His protection
But I have grown to not need the Creator
because I have decided I am better
For truth is no longer important and I have no need for faith,
I have no need for freedom
I have sold it all for gold and power and desire
I just want what I want as I die a slow death
I was once a Great, as proud as the eagle
I have sold it for the now, and tomorrow is no more
Should I get your pity if I cry out,
You that I have mocked?
But I have forgotten to Whom I should call
Perhaps I’ll just lie down and sleep and wait for nothing
My time may be done
since I gave it all up
by Richard M Hartian
further information on the author can be found at
www.hartian.com – About the author