The best life is a God First life

Category: Attitude (Page 1 of 3)

The Best Part of our Story

I don’t like giving “Off-the-cuff” answers to questions as my response often seems inadequate; I prefer to think before responding. Last night was no exception when a young man asked: “What do you think is the best part of being married for so long?(We must have really looked old, to him) I had just met the lad about 90mins before when Virginia and I were standing at the restaurant counter reviewing the menu. We were trying to decide, stay or leave.

It was Valentine’s day and our Anniversary. So far, the evening was not going according to my plan. I intended to have an early dinner at a nice Italian restaurant, but we started late. The restaurant website indicated they were NOT booking reservations, so I assumed “first come, first serve,” but when we arrived, I saw the dreaded sign at the doorway “call for reservations.” It was about 5:30 PM; the place was almost empty but, they would not seat us. This snafu put me under pressure to find someplace quickly; Virginia was hungry, and I still hoped to beat the main crowd.

We found a restaurant we had never tried before. It was not fancy nor the type of food we typically eat; In fact, entirely out of the norm for us. It was a family-style Cuban Restaurant called Papis. We entered and talked with a young man behind the counter, mentioned it was our Anniversary, looked at the menu, got his recommendations, and decided to stay. They sat us in a quiet booth where we enjoyed some flavorful dishes. Although we were apprehensive at first, we found that being out of our norm added to the evening and made it even more enjoyable and memorable by night’s end.

We showed our waitress a FB picture I’d recently posted of us over the years. Then, before we left, she presented us with a complimentary dessert, one of our favorites, “Flan.”

As we were leaving, Virginia went to the lady’s room as I waited at the counter. I thanked the young man for his food suggestions and began some casual conversation when he asked: What do you think is the best part of being married for so long? (I was not prepared for that question). I thought for a brief moment looking for a quick answer and said: Contentment – We are both very content with each other now. Then, a short moment longer, I added: When you’re young as you are, jealousies, and things like that, often get in the way, but with a good wife, you don’t have to worry about that. Shortly after that response, I finally hit the nail on the head and Stated: but actually, the best part was when we decided to include God in our lives and live that type of lifestyle. The young man acknowledged my final answer and said: Really? Yes, Really!, Putting God first is the best thing we ever did for our marriage. The young man then thanked me and said: I really appreciate it. I wish my last response had been my first so I could have expanded on it.

Choosing to make God’s Word “The Standard” for our lifestyle has been the most important decision Virginia and I ever made in our marriage. I could expand for hours on all the facets of why our marriage is strong, but the bottom line is: The decision to put God First has by far been the best part of our story!

  • Matthew 5:6
  • Acts 5:29
  • Proverbs 16:3
  • Matthew 6:24
  • Galatians 2:20
  • Galatians 6:9-10
  • 2 Corinthians 8:6
  • Acts 10:35
  • Matthew 13:44-46
  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • Proverbs 19:14
  • Proverbs 31:10
  • Ephesians 5:44-33

God First!

Learning from self-evaluation

Self-evaluation is not about longing for our past but instead learning from it!

Some say: Always look forward, never look back! So, if by looking back, you find yourself longing for those past days and focusing so much on what you once did that it distracts you from being content and enjoying what you can still do at the moment, this is a valid point. In this respect, I struggle in tennis, falling prey to looking back and longing for the game I once played with its power and speed. But, in doing so, I steal from the moment and all it could be If I would just let it.

However, self-reflection and evaluation are different from looking back and getting stuck in the past. When we evaluate ourselves, we create opportunities to take pauses and learn from our experiences.

Self-reflection is essential, it does indeed stir up feelings of embarrassment, regret, and sadness, but it also stirs up levels of self-validation, self-approval, smiles, and laughter which can add to our contentment.

For example, looking back on one such moment was embarrassing and funny.

It was in the late 80s; There was once a popular sitcom cartoon on TV called “The Simpsons,” One of the characters was “Bartman,” which was the superhero alter ego of “Bart Simpson.” Although I was not a fan of the show, Virginia gave me a pair of Bartman shorts for my 30th Birthday.

A couple of weeks later, probably in November of 1989, we met our friends Jan and Wayne to play mixed doubles tennis. It was a chilly day, so we all started in warmups. As we played, the clothing trickled off till I was down to a T-shirt and my new shorts. A few points after removing my warmup pants, Jan paused the match to ask: Are you going to play in underwear? I quickly stated: No, these are Bartman shorts; Virginia got me for my Birthday.

Jan responds: with a flap in the middle?

I was instantly embarrassed as I realized they were “Bartman boxers,” not shorts. I had never worn boxers and assumed they were regular shorts. Needless to say, I immediately put my warmup pants back on, was relentlessly teased, and we laughed about it.

However, this moment of embarrassment etched a permanent place in my mind, and I learned at least three things from experience.

  • Assumptions are dangerous (Be more careful)
  • Details are important (Pay closer attention)
  • Relentless teasing ( It’s going to happen)

Without self-reflection and self-evaluation, we hinder self-accountability, which helps us make better choices on what to and not do in the future.

Scripturally, We find attributes of self-reflection and evaluation attributed to many of King Soloman’s writings. A man gifted with wisdom from God. And, in the Psalms of David, more on this later.

God First!

Does God love some more than others?

As I contemplated this question, I believe the answer is that God loves the “response” of some more than others.

Like parents and children, one child might do as directed most of the time while the other doesn’t. It’s not that parents love the obedient child more than the other; however, they love the obedient child’s response more than the disobedient response. The obedient response shows a desire to please the parents by doing as told. (love)

In Scripture, we learn Jesus died for all the world and that God shows no partiality. Scripture also tells us to love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength, and we find Jesus said; if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.

David was considered a man after God’s heart; why? God tells us: “He will do my will” Saul, on the other hand, lost his kingdom for doing “his own” will, not God’s.

King David made many huge mistakes and was far from perfect, yet he constantly turned to and relied on God; David pursued righteousness. (doing God’s will mattered to David)

We all have the same choice!

Follow God’s will to the best of our ability by studying and following the commands and examples of Scripture or following our feelings, our ideas, or those of others.

When we choose to follow God according to His will, we spend our lives pursuing righteousness. In James chapter 5, we find the effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much. This should be one of our goals, to have our prayers accomplish much because our hearts are where King David’s was, pursuing righteousness.

God First!

John 3:16 tells us: “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

“So Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Act 10:34-35

“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will.’” Acts 13:22 ESV

But now your kingdom shall not continue. The LORD has sought out a man after his own heart, and the LORD has commanded him to be prince over his people because you have not kept what the LORD commanded you.” Samuel 13:14

“Therefore, confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another so that you may be healed. The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.” James 5:16 NASB

Encourage and build-up

Therefore encourage one another and build up one another, just as you also are doing. But we request of you, brethren, that you appreciate those who diligently labor among you, and have charge over you in the Lord and give you instruction, and that you esteem them very highly in love because of their work. Live in peace with one another. We urge you, brethren, admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with everyone. See that no one repays another with evil for evil, but always seek after that which is good for one another and for all people. Rejoice always; pray without ceasing; in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit; do not despise prophetic utterances. But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil.

‭‭1 Thessalonians‬ ‭5:11-22‬ (‭NASb)

God First!

NOT EVEN 10, Maybe toleration led to apathy

Not even 10 Righteous were found in Sodom and Gomorrah.

1. “And the LORD said, “The outcry of Sodom and Gomorrah is indeed great, and their sin is exceedingly grave. I will go down now, and see if they have done entirely according to its outcry, which has come to Me; and if not, I will know.” Genesis‬ ‭18:20-21‬ ‭NASB

2.” Far be it from You to do such a thing, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous and the wicked are treated alike. Far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?” So the LORD said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare the whole place on their account.” Genesis‬ ‭18:25-26‬ ‭NASB

3. “Then he said, “Oh may the Lord not be angry, and I shall speak only this once; suppose ten are found there?” And He said, “I will not destroy it on account of the ten. Genesis‬ ‭18:32‬ ‭NASB

‬‬Ever wonder how many righteous built the cities?

What happened?

Maybe toleration led to acceptance followed by apathy till no one cared about doing what was right, All the way to the point they convinced themselves there were no absolutes to right and wrong. Void of God maybe they relied on their wisdom rather than following God’s.

Sounds eerily familiar to the attitude of many today.

God First!

The prayer that started my change in direction

Life can be really hard sometimes, and when we live by our own standards, we are ill-equipped to deal with all the hardships. I lived by my own standards for a number of years. Yes, as a baptized believer, my standards had been influenced by the teachings of God, but instead of submitting to God’s standards, I strayed and created my own, which did not include putting God first. Instead, I was wise in my own eyes, putting worldly desires, worldly goals, worldly satisfactions, me,  family, sports, and TV before God and His will.

Eventually, I found myself in several situations where my standards were not good enough. I had no real answers. My solutions were Band-Aids, not fixes. Finally, I found the foundation of “my standards” to be rooted in the sand. My life felt like a leaf floating In the wind.

I am so very thankful that I knew where to turn. Thankful that I had been exposed to God and His Standards while younger.

Not only could I pray for God’s help but, I could choose to “change the direction of my life” (repent) and follow the standards of life that God, set before us. Through Jesus, and God’s perfect and complete Holy Word (The Bible), we can be complete.

I found myself humbled through turmoil beyond my control. Turmoil, I so much wanted to control. I had to realize that God was the only answer. God is the only being with the ability to help in all situations.

I started my change with a deeply heartfelt and tearful prayer. That night, I made the decision to turn my troubles over to the Lord while at the same time deciding I wanted to be an advocate for Christ (a disciple). I wanted to pursue righteousness way beyond ”my standards.”

I had read part of a verse in the book of James that said: “The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” And I wanted my prayers to have great power. I wanted and needed God’s help.

That night, I did not give up on any of my concerns; rather, I sought the most powerful help available to all of mankind, and through the name of Jesus, I approached our Creator.

Since that night, the changes I’ve chosen to make in my life have helped me establish a firm foundation. To grow healthy roots in healthy soil, creating peace And joy within. My understanding of God’s Word blossoms continuously now, as it would for anyone who chooses to seek God through His Word. It just takes study, effort, and action on our part.

God’s all-powerful and just standards have now replaced the insufficient and weak standards I once created for myself.

The bible lets us know that hardships fall on the just and the unjust as rain does the fields. Having God in the forefront of our lives gives us a reason and strength to embrace all that life offers, good and bad, and be able to count It all, joy!

There really is a peace beyond understanding, and it is attainable when we decide to deny ourselves and follow Christ.  I now use the two words “God First” all the time. It is embroidered or printed on many of my clothes as my spirit-wear. A constant reminder to me and others that putting God First is the most important thing we can do, teach and share.

There’s a reason why loving God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength is The Greatest Commandment.

God First!

Why?

In the book of Job; Who brought all the calamity to Job? It was NOT God. Who blamed God? It was NOT Job. Who believed Job would NOT turn from God? It was NOT Satan.

Job’s friends were wise, and much of their logic was sound. Their problem was that they misapplied their wisdom by trying to force it into Job’s situation, making assumptions, and leaning on their own understanding. They tried to deduce answers and assign blame, which made God angry with them.

When we lean on our own understanding and try to force it into God’s Word, we find ourselves missing out on the wisdom and love found in God’s Words. We miss out on the understanding and peace that can only come from listening and applying the Words of God rather than applying our own.

Scripture tells us to study. It tells us how to become” In Christ.” Jesus said: if you love me, you will keep my commandments. God’s Word is the way to wisdom, understanding, and peace.

God is Love, God is Good; Satan is the evil one!

  • Proverbs 3:5-6
  • 2 Timothy 3:1-17
  • Acts 2:38
  • Romans 6:1-23
  • 1 Corinthians 15:22
  • Job 1:1-42

God First!

Doing our part – takes work!

Believers in God don’t sit around waiting on God to provide everything for them!

No, that would be sluggishness (laziness) and is not the role we find endorsed by God in Scripture; God expects us to work! It would be misrepresentative of scripture to believe it’s all about what God can do for us when so much is about what we can; Go and Do!

God expects us to do our part in providing physical and spiritual nourishment. God has given mankind a working role since the beginning. (Gen.2:15) Throughout Scripture, we find being a sluggard has been condemned while effort has been rewarded. (Matt.25:24-30)

Working towards righteous goals may take much patience; on our part, and we should be mindful of that fact that seeing the full results of our efforts may never happen; even so, in our ongoing, consistent unrelenting effort, we can know that working for good; will reap good in time if we don’t quit.

How can we know this? Because God tells us so.

And let us not grow weary while doing good, for, in due season, we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

If we do our part, God will always do His!

  • Proverbs 18:9
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10
  • Proverbs 26:14
  • Proverbs 26:16
  • Proverbs 24:30–31
  • Mark 16:15-16

(Several proverbs address sluggards)

God First!

30 Characteristics of Agape love

  1. Unconditional
  2. Without expectation of reciprocation
  3. Desiring good for others
  4. It’s eternal
  5. We desire it
  6. It has no evil in it.
  7. It covers a multitude of sins
  8. Provides motivation
  9. Brings peace
  10. It is a choice
  1. Fruit of the Spirit
  2. Not resentful
  3. Love is God as God, is love
  4. It’s forgiving
  5. Selfless
  6. Patient
  7. Kind
  8. Not envious
  9. Not boastful
  10. Not arrogant

  1. Not rude
  2. Does not insist on its own way
  3. Not irritable
  4. Does not rejoice in wrongdoing
  5. Rejoices in the truth
  6. bears all things
  7. believes all things
  8. hopes all things
  9. endures all things
  10. LOVE NEVER ENDS.

Agape love is choosing to love unconditionally; it never changes. We should love God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength.

  • 1st Corinthians 13
  • Galatians 5:22-23
  • 1st Peter 4:8
  • 1st John 4:8
  • Philippians 4:8-9

One of the best things my brother did was; hurt me with love

One of the best things my little brother ever did for me is something many would not understand, and some would disagree with. Admittedly, when he decided to take action, I myself thought he was being ridiculous. I understood his intent but gave little thought to the strength and courage it took him to take the stance he took toward me. I know now he did have sound reasons for his actions, but I was so wrapped up in my life, I wasn’t willing to listen. So, I acted as if it was “his” choice and dismissed his decision when down deep, it bothered me.

At that time in my life, I was a young baptized man with a “milk feed” understanding of scripture. Although I knew better, I had allowed myself to slowly become consumed in worldly ways. Although mindful that I was on the wrong path, I chose to ignore my bad choices rather than change direction. Instead of turning back, I stopped referring to myself as a Christian and convinced myself I did so because I did not want to seem like a hypocrite or bring reproach to the Lord’s Church.

For some reason, I convinced myself this was logical, but in reality, I didn’t want anyone to convince me I needed to change. So, I wouldn’t give them the chance. Instead, I ignored or avoided them and, in effect, ignored and tried to avoid God. I would smile, cut jokes, “always had to go,” anything to avoid giving birth to a serious conversation. In latter years I came to the realization that by my choices, I had been denying Christ, turning my back on His love, and crucifying Jesus yet again. (Oh’ how much this hurts to think about now.)

My parents and brother tried to talk with me about my choices and what God’s Word says about my decisions, but I would have nothing to do with it. These conversations were like the plague to me. I didn’t want to risk changing my lifestyle. I wanted to ignore them. I feared conflict because it might lead to a sense of accountability or change, and I feared change might rock my relationships.

I was a cowardly man who perceived myself as a strong and good man. I played a dangerous game and gambled my soul, thinking, “God will take me back when I’m ready.” This was arrogant and foolish. I somehow thought if I died, I could explain to Jesus how things came about and, because of His great love, Jesus would cut me a break. He would understand and forgive me. I think I actually thought myself so sly that I could talk my way out of eternal punishment by pleading ignorance.

Deep in the recesses of my mind, I wanted to follow Christ and secretly hoped I would man up. I recall praying from time to time that it wouldn’t take some great loss or terrible event to get me serious about changing direction.

The truth is, it was not really a gamble at all; had I died at that time of my life, I was lost for eternity. My keen wit and ”worldly sorrow” would NOT have saved me. It would take ”Godly Sorrow.” Why? Because Godly sorrow leads to repentance. I was wrong and needed to realize it; since I was already baptized, I needed to repent (change direction), ask forgiveness for my sins and, live for Christ; rather than self.

Spiritually I was worse off than a Non-believer. I was a baptized believer who chose satan’s offerings over God’s grace and Christ’s Sacrifice.

My brother’s efforts were done out of love and designed to help me see the seriousness of my condition when he informed me that he would not bring his family to my home. He was, in fact, ”disfellowshipping me.” To many, this sounds horrible, But it wasn’t! It was an extremely difficult act of concern and love for my soul. And what I needed. He was also protecting his family from my worldly influence because condoning my chosen lifestyle inferred acceptance of that which goes against the teachings of God.

Unfortunately, my brother’s actions alone did not get me to change, but they did prompt me to take pause and give some attention to the seriousness of my soul’s condition. Years went by where I missed out on opportunities to influence my nieces in positive ways because of my choices at the time, not my brothers. I chose a lifestyle I knew was contrary to scripture, contrary to living for Christ; I was living in sin, and very importantly, “I knew better!” My brother’s action was a blessing; it was one of the best things he could have done. It was far from the first or last thing he tried. He did continue to reach out to me, and we would talk from time to time about scripture. We would still see his family on special occasions. My brother’s influence and his actions at the time helped lead me back to Christ and an eternal home with God. Today, We are the best of friends and both brothers in Christ.

Since my repentance several years back, I have studied diligently, I have come to realize how little I understood of God’s will, His Grace, His forgiveness, and the importance of ”my role” in God’s plan. We cannot just receive; we must give!

I wish I had been consuming both the milk and ”the meat of Scripture” when I was in my youth; Thankfully, I knew enough to realize that as Godly sorrow took hold, I truly had no excuses. I knew enough to know I needed God’s forgiveness and that for me as a baptized believer of Christ, that meant change (repentance), asking forgiveness of God and the Church.

With today’s understanding of Scripture and God’s love, I cannot fathom living and NOT doing my best to put God’s will first in my life; after all, God’s will is the best will!

Love is sometimes difficult, it sometimes hurts, but love always wins in the end. God’s forgiveness and God’s eternal home is available to all who will follow Him and pursue doing God’s will over our own.

God First!

  • James 4:17
  • 2 Peter 2:21-22
  • Philippians 2:10-11
  • Revelation 21:8
  • Romans 12:2
  • Ephesians 2:8-9
  • Hebrews 2:3
  • 1 Peter 2:2
  • Hebrews 6:4-6
  • 1 Corinthians 3:2
  • James 2:18
  • Hebrews 11:6
  • Luke 8:13
  • 2 Peter 3:18
  • John 15:1-6
  • 2 Timothy 3:12
  • 2 Timothy 4:10
  • Galatians 5:4
  • Matthew 22:23-33
  • 1 Corinthians 13:1-13
  • 1 Corinthians 5: 1-13
  • 2 Corinthians 2:1-17
  • Hebrews 12:1-29
  • Galatians 5:1-26
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:1-18

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