The best life is a God First life

Category: Scripture

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!

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!

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!

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!

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

The fall of Jericho in today’s world

In the Old Testament book of Joshua, we read about the miraculous Fall of Jericho. As I thought of this story, I imagined how this might go over in today’s world?

Although this was before Christ when God Spoke directly to some, through prophets, angles, and in dreams, can you imagine if today’s technology and media had been there? Can you visualize how social media and the news would explode with interviews, conjecture, ridicule, and laughter run-amuck touting these people as crazy who say their God, “The One and Only God,” told them to do this, and the city would fall to them?

If today’s media had been around, we would watch as TV news personalities mocked the ideas of those believers; we would have a continuous live feed as they marched around the city once a day for six days, staying quiet, and on the seventh day march around it the city seven times with priests blowing trumpets.

Can you imagine everyone’s profound astonishment when as they all yelled at the sound of the last trumpet, we watched those thick city walls fall flat, letting them take the city?

Can you imagine the wall-to-wall coverage? Can you imagine the shock to all the unbelievers?

Now, If someone in Joshua’s camp had treated the Word of God given to Josuha, the way so many treat God’s Word today, given to all of us, someone might have said; “This is ridiculous; we don’t need to spend 6 days marching around this city. God loves us; he is here for us because we are his people! So let’s just advance on the city and take it; God will provide.

Do you think the walls of Jericho would have fallen had they done their own thing? Had they done anything less than God commanded? I don’t.

Today many believe and teach others that God loves them so much that he does not mean what he says in Scripture. Thus, they can live as they wish, treating sin as if the word itself was wrong rather than actions that go against God’s will. In doing so, they attempt to justify their actions by twisting God’s word; many try to make their will God’s rather than seeking to make God’s will theirs.

Woe to those who call evil good
    and good evil,
who put darkness for light
    and light for darkness,
who put bitter for sweet
    and sweet for bitter!
Isaiah 5:20

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. Matthew 7:7

  • Joshua 6:1-27
  • 2 Corinthians 5:10
  • 1 Thessalonians 2:4
  • Matthew 6:33-34
  • John 14:15-31
  • John 13:34-35
  • John 14:6
  • 1 Peter 1:23
  • Acts 8:36-38

God First!

Edge walking, Fun or Peril

Some like to walk on the edge, and in doing so, make it appear fun, liberating, and exciting rather than extremely hazardous. Like-wise, many Christians attempt to walk on the edge of God’s Word and, in doing so, make it seem to those doing their best to walk on the safety of God’s firm foundation; they are somehow missing out on some of life’s enjoyment.

  • Why do those who walk the Edge of God’s Word want to bring others there too?
  • Why do so many accept their invitation and walk the edge behind them?

One simplified answer to these questions is a lack of understanding; scriptural understanding is needed for building strong faith. We can’t trust God and then distrust or discount God’s Word and/or the warnings found therein of the eternal peril associated with edge walking. We can’t be lukewarm and expect anything less than to be; spewed out. (Revelation 3:15-20)

Some discount their actions with the phrase “God loves us” as if that fact (and it is a fact) means God does not mean what he says in scripture. This statement implies that because God loves us, He will not really allow anyone to spend forever in hell; however, is that what we find in scripture? No.

Instead of edge walking, let’s strive to walk together with our brothers or sisters in Christ. First, let’s follow the pathway of strength and righteousness found in the knowledge and practice of God’s Word, holding securely to the extended hand of Jesus that we may be secure in our footing. Then, being strong in our faith lets us extend our hand in Christian love for others to hold; and instead of being influenced, let’s influence and encourage others who might be walking the edge to walk on the safety of the firm foundation of God’s Word.

When we walk the pathway that God’s word lays out, there is no doubt of our salvation; yet, when we walk on the edge, we are but one misstep, one loose footing, one heavy wind, away from certain eternal death.

For if we go on sinning deliberately after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.” And again, “The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

Hebrews 10:26-31
  • 2 Peter 2:20-22
  • Colossians 2:2-8
  • Acts 11:23
  • 1st Thessalonians 5:11
  • Acts 14:22
  • Ezekiel 18:24-26
  • Matthew 7:21-23
  • Matthew 18:6
  • Colossians 2:2-8
  • Jeremiah 50:6

God First!

Covid19 and Preparation

I’ve been enjoying life for almost 62 years, and while this may seem long to a 20-year-old, It’s very short in my mind. From time to time, I’ve seen and experienced many different Illnesses. I’ve either suffered or seen others suffer from diseases like flu, pneumonia, colds, diabetes, mono, dementia, mobility loss, hearing, eye issues, etc. I’ve lost loved ones to accidents, cancer, heart failure, liver problems. I’ve experienced a friend being murdered and know others who have lost loved ones to crime. Life is difficult at times.

Today we have the threat of Covid19, a manufactured virus that brings death and extreme anxiety as we fear the horrible pain, suffering, and loss it causes. Covid’s existence spurs division among family, friends, and countries. Many feel the need to isolate themselves and fear being around others. Hugs and closeness fade from reality into memories as fears of catching or spreading COVID reign and are adopted as the new norm.

Today, a scratchy throat, the slightest sniffle, sneeze, cough, or faintest fever insights worry and fear.

So, What do we do?

We take precautions, use hand sanitizers, wash hands, pay attention to distancing, some wear masks, and some fight over mask effectiveness. I think most who refuse mask mandates object most to the idea of governments’ abuse of power. (I’m not debating this here, just pointing it out)

All this said: I personally refuse to let fear control my life! Instead, I trust in God!

My Trust in God does not mean I will not die of this virus someday. It does not mean I will not lose loved ones to it.

One ICU nurse stated: “lt takes who it takes,” Since this is true of every ailment, it adds perspective.

I contracted Covid a few months ago, and it hit me hard. In 2019 I found myself close to death with blood clots in my lungs, and I’ve had other close calls with accidents. The fact is; We are going to die of something someday, and none of us know when.

So, what actions should we be taking? And what do I mean by “Trust in God”?

Some dare blame God for this evil virus, but no evil comes from God; evil is Satan’s territory. Some blame God for the death of loved ones. However, death is certain, and as stated earlier, “none of us know when,” so; rather than blame, why not prepare? How? By learning, sharing, and teaching others about Jesus. Jesus is the pathway to an eternal life where death, sickness, and pain have no existence. None!

This life is not the end; it’s the beginning!

When we are “In Christ,” We take advantage of the grace God has extended, our sins have been forgiven, and our forever home is with God. If we are in Christ and pursue a Christ-like life, we can live without fear of death. So why worry? In Christ, we can count it all joy; in James 5:16, God points out the prayers of the righteous avails much so let us live fully using our time to pursue righteousness and have our prayers well heard. There is great comfort in the confidence that our loved ones went on to paradise from this earth.

Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Matthew 10:28

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:21

Always be prepared

  • Matthew 24:36-51 (No one Knows the Day or Hour)
  • 2 Timothy 4:7-8 (Fight the good fight)
  • 2 Corinthians 1:3-11 (God of all Comfort)
  • Philippians 4:4-7 (The Peace of God)

In Christ

  • 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
  • Confession: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

God First!

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