Friday, January 20, 2017

God First

I pray that God will bless our new government and will bless our nation through our new government.  At the same time, I want us all to remember that as Christians we have a better, higher, truer, more powerful standard than “America first”.

God first.

God wants us to put Him first in everything, all the time.

Riches, prosperity, material needs, daily food?  All those things must give way to God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.  God’s kingdom means God’s reign. In other words, we do what He says and follow His ways without concern as to whether they result in material wealth or poverty in this world (Matthew 6:33) .

What about our families?  Our dearly loved parents and children?  It is right to love them, but we must never love them more than we love Jesus.  I wish this was not true, but sometimes we will have to choose between Jesus and our families.  And Jesus makes it very clear that if it comes to a choice between dearly loved family and Him, we had better choose Him (Matthew 10:37).

What about our government and our nation?  God directs us to honor and obey our government, and we should pray for our nation.  But once again, if a day comes when we have to choose between obeying God and obeying our government, we must always put God first (Acts 5:29).

And what if it comes down to our own safety?  Our own skin?  Our very lives or well-being?  Christ calls us to take up His cross and follow Him and to cry out along with Him, “not my will, but Yours be done” (Luke 22:42).

When we put God first, He arranges all our other priorities.  He often calls us to spend time caring for our family.  Other times He asks us to serve our church family.  He may call us to serve our nation in various ways.  He does lead us to take times of rest, refreshing, and renewal.  He may call us to go and pour out our lives for an unreached people group far from America.  If we put God first He will guide and empower all our efforts and arrange all our other priorities.

Putting God first in some ways is a simple principle.  It is simple because it is absolute.  We never, in any circumstance, under any conditions, or for any reason, should put anyone or anything ahead of God.  In this way it is simple.

Yet in practice, it is not always easy to know what putting God first means.  We are constantly dependent on His Spirit to guide us.  We seek understanding through the Bible, through prayer, and through other Christians. Sometimes there do seem to be competing priorities between family, ministry, work, and other concerns.  So “God first” is simple, but it is not simplistic. And often it is not easy.

But it is incredibly rewarding. Being used by God to achieve His good eternal purposes gives rich meaning to our lives.  And in the end, putting God first is actually the best thing we can possibly do for our families, our nation, other nations, our churches, the lost, and ourselves.

God first.

Hebrews 13:16 And do not forget to do good and to share with others . . .

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