The best life is a God First life

Category: Pondering

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

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

Why would you want to cheat yourself like that?

As I pondered my answer, I realized; this is exactly what we do when we don’t take advantage of opportunities to grow in Christ and build on our relationship with Him.

What happens when we make time to attend as many studies as possible? We draw closer to God, and He draws closer to us; we get to know God and fellow seekers of truth better and our actions demonstrate where our heart’s desire resides.

My heart’s desire once demonstrated my love for; time, eating, tennis, TV, relaxation, fun, laughter, etc. I made time for all these things because my heart’s desire once put them on a pedestal. During that period of life and without realizing it, I was not putting God First, but rather at My convenience.

In a discussion about not attending Sunday bible classes, Worship service, and other growth and edification opportunities such as Sunday evening or midweek bible studies, a friend asked me: Why would you want to cheat yourself like that?

As I thought about his question, I realized the validity of his point. That’s exactly what we do. If I don’t prioritize these opportunities, I’m cheating myself. But, that’s not all; I’m cheating others, starting with my family, those who may follow my lead or depend on me to get them to and from services. So, bottom line, I asked myself, What kind of example am I being?

By not prioritizing my attendance at every opportunity, am I not short-changing family, friends, and myself by not leading us toward spiritual growth? When we don’t attend, we miss out on knowledge, better understanding, fellowship, and growth opportunities. In addition, we miss out on being examples to others. Examples that demonstrate our gratitude, understanding, and belief that God should be first in our lives.

I now look forward to every opportunity to increase my understanding of Scripture and to grow through the uplifting unity of fellow believers by sharing and growing in the truth of Christ with one another.

If you are not attending at every opportunity, I offer this for your consideration…

Why would you want to cheat yourself like that?

God First!

I wrote most of this before the COVID-19 virus, which forced us into our homes to worship online. Yet, the point is still the same. Are we prioritizing our worship time and Bible study? Are we taking advantage of every opportunity for spiritual nourishment? Do our loved ones get to see our commitment by our actions? If not, Why would we want to cheat ourselves like that?

The Mirror of Reflection and Growth

Our dual battle between good and evil starts with the desires of our hearts and minds. (James 1:15) When we act with goodness, we glorify God. When we act on evil desires, we sin against God.

Our actions show our heart so let us not be afraid to better ourselves by embracing the mirror of reflection and growth.

Let us ask ourselves daily:

  • Are my actions demonstrating where I know my heart’s desire, should be?
  • Am I proud of my actions?
  • Would Jesus be proud of my actions?
  • Did I reject temptation?

If the answer is “Yes” then you do well if your answers are “No” remember God forgives, He even forgets, If bad habits have formed it’s not too late to replace them with good habits. Scripture tells us to repent, which means: To change direction. There is never a better time to change direction than the moment you realize you need too and reflection helps us get to that point.

 “For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Matthew 6:21

God’s word tells us how to focus our minds and hearts, how to overcome the temptation to sin. (Philippians 4:5-9)

  • Hebrews 8:12
  • Matthew 5:44
  • Matthew 5:16
  • Matthew 22:37–39
  • 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 forgivness 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

AdvocateforChrist.com

God First!

Important rhetorical questions

What action are we as individuals taking to advance the message of Christ?

  • To edify others?
  • To help the Poor?
  • To help Widows?
  • To help Orphans?
  •  Etc., etc., etc.

Could we, or should we, be doing more? As I ask myself this question, the answer is obvious.  Not nearly enough!

I hope for you the answer is much greater than the one I must admit. The theme at the congregation of the Lord’s Church I attend is “Go and Do,” So for me, I will strive after pondering these questions again this year to do more.

God First

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