The best life is a God First life

Category: Personal (Page 1 of 3)

Personal testimony of the author

God Knows

“In a world that blames God for disasters, yet credits luck for life’s blessings, we need reminding that the Lord alone is the universal Maestro. Evil and suffering are not from his hand, yet he is mighty enough to work the worst of circumstances for our ultimate good and his own exalted glory. It is ours to choose whether we will cooperate with his unfolding redemptive drama—whether we will submit our lives to his will. Each step taken and a word spoken should be a confession of just who is crafting our life’s story.”

Above is an excerpt from the book: The Epic of God – by Michael Whitworth; the book is an in-depth look at Genesis that I found very interesting. I introduced the book to my wife and happened to reread the introduction when the above excerpt stuck out to me. I posted the above in 2016 on Facebook – I wonder now as I see it in my FB memories if God knew I would need this reminder later in life and that I would share it with all who read my articles (of course, he did).

  • Psalm 139:4
  • 1 John 3:20
  • Hebrews 4:13
  • Isaiah 51:3
  • Psalm 119:76
  • Matthew 5:4

Thank you for your help!

Everywhere I turn, I see God’s help extended to our family.

I see what I believe is God’s providence working in our lives and prayers answered. I’ve prayed many times that God would put people in the lives of loved ones to help them on their journeys. I’ve then heard some remarkable stories on how some friendships came to be. Sometimes, unlikely friendships grow into the best kind of friendship; The iron sharpens Iron kind of friendship. I have no doubt that God hears our prayers. I also have no doubt that God has compassion for our pain and comforts those who love Him as only the God of all comfort can and will do.

Without God, we are nothing; Without love, we are nothing; we all need help from time to time and should be humble enough to realize it, pray for it, and remember just to say; thank you!

God’s answer to prayers is not always evident immediately, but sometimes, when you pause later in life, you can view the bigger picture and become aware of uncountable blessings.

So for my family and me to God and all His loving servants! Thank you!

God is Love!

  • 2nd Corinthians 1:3-5
  • James 5:1-20
  • Proverbs 27:17 (iron sharpens)
  • Romans 8:28
  • Philippians 4:8

God First!

Little by little

Have you ever opened your mouth and said things you didn’t really mean to come out the way they did? Well, I did this recently. I listened to a presentation regarding the ongoing efforts of one of the missionary works our congregation help’s support and was amazed at all the accomplishments of this ministry. It touched my heart with the desire to help them continue and do more to the glory of God.

In talking with the missionary, I asked what the best way to give additional help is? right after his answer, I made my regretted statement to the effect: “I was not as blessed as others, “financially, but….”

Instantly, I did not like my statement and how it sounded as I am fully aware that I am very blessed, including financially, when compared to many in this world, and I thank God daily for every blessing.

I was trying to convey that I realized there was a great need for the help they were providing and appreciated seeing how they were helping. Recognizing this made me wish I had thousands upon thousands I could offer to help meet the overwhelming needs.

I didn’t want my question to be misleading as to what I meant by: “additional.” So, I attempted to clarify my question poorly and decrease any expectation of grandeur I may have accidentally implied. I hope I never make such a foolish statement again!

This scenario did remind me of a question my wife once asked me. I had just recently started going back to Church services, and she was not yet going but saw a check I had written, and asking very pointedly, she said;

What are you trying to do, buy your way into heaven?

Well, honestly, no, but my donations at that time were very sporadic, so for us, the check she saw looked big. My wife began attending, studying the bible, and later chose to be baptized according to Scripture.

As our faith and understanding grew, we realized although sporadic giving was helpful, it was not nearly as much as it seemed when we wrote the occasional check. So together, we budgeted a small amount for weekly giving. In comparison to previous years, we found that by doing this, we were helping far beyond those periodic checks just by giving a small amount each week that we could manage.

I should have remembered this lesson before my regretful statement to Mani. And, I pray God continuously blesses those who can write the large checks and that they will never give up doing so.

I need to keep in mind that if I budget small amounts, I can still help in significant ways, and if others do the same, we can all humbly make a vast difference within our abilities. Then, as our blessings increase, so can our help.

In the end, those small amounts can help spread God’s Word, Save lives and bring soul-saving truth to the masses.

Galatians 6:9-10 says:

“And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up. So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”

To God be the glory,

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!

Learning from “Junk Mail.”

Today I read what I normally dismiss as “junk mail.” It was from a natural gas competitor to the company I’ve been using for years. Typically, I throw such advertisements in the trash; however, this promotional from “Walton Gas” sparked my interest. I realized I had no idea what I was paying per therm. So, I got out my last bill and quickly came to the conclusion I must be misreading it. Hence, I called “Consolation Gas” for clarification of the statement.

I was shocked and frustrated that we were put on a monthly rate by default since our contract expired sometime back. A rate within two cents of being double the contract rate. This means I have been paying hundreds more for gas than was necessary simply because we did not sign up for a two-year obligation that locks us into a fixed rate.

As I thought about this, I realized It’s My Fault, not the gas companies. I did not take the time to learn or understand how it works. We probably received notices letting us know the contract was expiring, and I paid little attention or put it off until I forgot about it. The offer to lock into a new contract at better rates has always been available to me; however, I paid dearly because I failed to spend time and effort understanding how it works!

I have now invested a little time to learn how it works and took action by locking into a 24-month contract at a rate that was pretty much half what I was paying.

Although God’s Word is not “Junk Mail” as with my gas company experience, it often lays on tables, in bookshelves, and in cabinets untouched and forgotten by many, as if it were.

As someone who once didn’t but now does; study God’s Word, I find numerous similarities between my experience above and how I and others often approach the Word of God by casting it to the side.

For example:

  • Over thousands of years our creator has given mankind the opportunity to know His love and desires for our well being. But, we must study and act.
  • God has given us insite to know His creations, past plans, some future plans, actions and sacrifices for us. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we can know and understand that nothing done by God is an accident but rather part of a plan to give us eternal life should we accept God’s offer and commit to do His will above ours. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we can know the Son of God who was with God in the beginning and part of the world’s creation. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we learn that Jesus’s life, death and resurrection offers eternal life to all mankind through God’s grace and sacrifice. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we find out how to embrace God’s grace and offer of eternal life and how through our study we can know what obedient faith entails. But, we must study and act.
  • Through God’s Word we find out how to discern what is true and what is false teaching. But, we must study and act.

The list of things we can know and understand from God’s Holy Word is without measure; however, if we never take the time to learn the details as I did with the Gas companies offer, we will miss out. It’s never too late for anyone on this earth to start learning, studying, and taking advantage of God’s incredible offer.

God’s offer of eternal life is unmatched and not nearly as difficult as the unlearned; unknowing often assume it to be. So I implore you, spend time studying the one book that leads you to eternal life in heaven. As you do, you will find you want to act on your discoveries. Who’s fault will it be if you ignore God’s offer by failing to learn how to accept it, What it entails and how to submit to God’s loving will for us.

Hear, believe, repent, confess Jesus as the Son of God, be baptized for the forgiveness of our sins in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit and live faithfully till we leave this earth for eternal life with the Godhead and our co-disciples of Christ.

Below are some scriptures to consider…

God First!

Missing the mark so closely can have dramatic results.

One day while cutting down a tree on our property, I ”missed the mark” by a couple of inches and dropped a large dead tree in the opposite direction of my intention. My cut was slightly below the wedge I’d removed. I didn’t realize it until the tree clamped down on my chainsaw and became stuck in the tree. I shut it off and walked away with my brother. As we contemplated the next step, a branch fell from the tree. Shortly after, we watched as the whole tree slowly leaned and fell. The bar on my chainsaw now looks like a twisted metal pretzel.

It’s amazing to think about how “missing the mark” so closely changed the results so dramatically.

Thankfully, the result of that day’s mistake didn’t matter much, and nobody got hurt, but it sure reinforces the importance of “hitting the mark” when missing so closely can result in disaster.

It’s also important that we “hit the mark” in doing the will of God; being careless as I was today can have dire consequences.

In Matthew 7:21, Jesus said:

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”

We really have no excuses for not doing the will of God according to God’s will as we have the complete word of God (The Bible) readily available. However, we can only know scripture through study. It’s so important that we really can’t allow others to do it for us. We all need understanding as we are each responsible for working out our own salvation.

“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” Philippians 2:12 ESV.

God First!

Turn it over to God

Sometimes, it sounds trite to say, “JUST TURN IT OVER TO GOD,” but this is where our trust in God, faith, and belief come into play. When Christians strive to follow Christ with obedient faith, we are striving towards righteousness. In (Mark 11:24) we are told, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” So how do we turn it over to God? Well, we pray, we believe, and we trust in God’s answer, which allows us to let it go.

Once, I became so consumed by my concern for a loved one that it affected everything I did, even my marital relationship, until the day I realized that all my attempts to help were nothing more than temporary fading patches.

Both I and my loved one needed to know that God WAS the answer, NOT me or anything else. I asked myself, who would be there for them if I was gone? As I thought about my question I realized, God was the only answer! So, that night, I got on my knees and prayed; through heartfelt tears. I begged and pleaded in anguish and fear, asking God to help them, asking God to put people in their lives that could help them. I know that God’s will is the best will for all of us so, I took my cue from Christ’s example in the garden, and I asked that God’s will, be done. I turned my cares over to Jesus. My prayer that night wasn’t me giving up on that person in any way. I just realized as never before that God has complete control and mine is extremely limited. That night, I literally felt a great invisible weight removed from my shoulders, replaced by a trusting calm.

After this prayer, when I heard from this person about self-inflicted difficulties, I limited my involvement and encouraged them to seek God’s will, to pray, and offered to pray with them. To this day, I still pray for this person every day, and they have now come a long way from those days, now including God in all that they do.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” In 1 Peter 5:6-7, “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for He careth for you.”

In summary, don’t allow yourself to be consumed by things you can’t control, Turn them over to God. Pray and seek help from the one who can help when no one else can, the one who created everything you see and know, the one who created you and loves you like no other – The God of Love, who is Love.

When Christians strive to follow Christ with obedient faith, we are striving towards righteousness. When we turn that which we cannot control over to God, it’s not trite; it’s where our trust, faith, and belief come into play and substantiate our trust in God. God is love and will carry us through. For Christians, this world is not our home. Christians look forward to the fact that there will be no tears in heaven. By putting God First in our lives, we make this world a better place by our loving actions.

God’s word tells us to believe, repent, and confess the name of Jesus and be immersed in the watery grave of baptism for the forgiveness of our sins. In (Acts 2:38) we find in doing so, we receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. By doing so, we live with the knowledge that heaven is now our eternal home.

  • Grace:Ephesians 2:8, Romans 3:24, Titus 2:11, Acts 15:11
  • Belief/Faith:Hebrews 11:1, John 8:24, Romans 10:17, Acts 3:19
  • Repentance:2 Cor. 7:9-10, Luke 13:3-5, Acts 17:30
  • Confess:Romans 10:9-10, Matthew 10:32-33, Luke 12:8-9
  • Baptism by immersion for forgiveness of sin:Matthew 16:15-16 1 Peter 3:21, Acts 2:38, Mark 16:16, John 3:5, Matt 28:18-20, Ephesians 4:5, Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12, Acts 8:36-39, Mark 1:9-10, John 3:23

God First!

Protect yourself by Forgiving

One of the most memorable pieces of advice my mom ever gave me was “Don’t go to bed mad,” and she lived her words. Mom was the sweetest, most forgiving person I’ve ever known. I saw mom’s feelings hurt many times over the years (by all of us.) Of course, those things happen within families from time to time but, to the best of my knowledge, Mom would never burden herself with grudges. She might go to bed in tears or some sadness but never with bitterness, anger, or wanting revenge towards others. If you hurt mom’s feelings and apologized, she accepted it with joy so that the wounds could heal quickly. On the other hand, if you never apologized, I think mom just turned it over to God because she knew grudges harm our souls. I wish you could have known my mom; she was awesome, and I miss her!

Jesus thought it important we not hold grudges against each other; in fact, in Jesus’s own words, He said: “But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you; leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:22-24)

So, If you’ve harmed someone, make it right; if you’ve been harmed, do your best to make it right, and don’t let the sun go down on your anger.

“If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.” (Romans 12:18)

Be forgiving!

Ephesians 4:26-27, 30-32

God First!

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

Relationship bliss

It’s not luck; It’s caring!

From time to time, people have commented on how lucky Virginia (my wife) and I are to have a relationship that works so well, and while I appreciate their words, I also know it’s more than luck. I believe it’s largely due to our aim to please, not just ourselves, but each other.

Our daily actions are mindful, considerate, and inclusive of each other, so we end up doing many things together rather than taking part in the “ME Me me” attitude of today’s culture, which is destructive to relationships and opposes the teachings of Christ.

In today’s environment, it’s all too common to exclude loved ones from our lives with individual activities that distract rather than encourage communication and interaction. Yet, our time together is one of the most valuable earthly blessings we have. Seize its blessings with every breath you take!

  • 1 Peter 3:7
  • Proverbs 3:3-4
  • Proverbs 30:18-19
  • Song of Solomon 8:7
  • Ephesians 4:2
  • Ephesians 5:1-33
  • Philippians 2:1-30
  • Ecclesiastes 4:9-12
  • Romans 13:8-10
  • Mark 12:31
  • John 15:12
  • Matthew 22:37-39
  • Colossians 3:4-8
  • 1 Corinthians 13:4-5
  • 1 Corinthians 16:14

God First!

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