This past Sunday (5/2/10) my church celebrated 208 years of existence! What an honor to serve in a ministry that has faithfully preached and boldly stood on the truth of God’s Word for over two centuries! During the afternoon service my Pastor, Chuck Woodruff, preached an excellent sermon on how to biblically and practically keep God first place in your life.
1) Plan- Creating and executing a plan is vital if we want God to have first place in our life. We are very good at doing this when it comes to our vocation. Teachers develop lesson plans, coaches design game plans, students carry around day planners, financial planners…well uh…plan out our financial goals. Whatever career path we are in, it requires some form of planning in order to be effective and meet deadlines. Planning is the tool that assures that we keep and meet our top priorities. Planning greatly relieves the pressure. Planning gives us direction. Someone has well said, “Plan your work and work your plan.” Why is it, when it comes to keeping God first in every area of our life we fail to plan? How often do we wake up in the morning and HOPE to have time to read God’s Word and pray? How often do we miss church because we fail to plan? How many times do we neglect family devotions because we fail to plan? Perhaps the reason we don’t have God first in our life is because of a failure to plan to keep God first. We must plan our day around God, not God around our day. Matthew 6:33, “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
2) Prayer- One of the reasons God gets the “backseat” in our Christian life is because we have committed to things that may not be in His will to begin with. In other words, we are overcommitted, too busy! Someone may be thinking, “Well, 2 Corinthians 9:8, says God’s grace is sufficient in all things.” That’s true; however those “things” must be in the will of God. Spending quality time (that takes planning too!) in prayer asking God’s will in a matter is how we keep God first. We must stop assuming that every opportunity that presents itself must be committed to. Too many good things will keep us from the main thing! Pray! James 4:13-15, “Go to now, ye that say, Today or tomorrow we will go into such a city, and continue there a year, and buy and sell, and get gain: Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away. For that ye ought to say, If the Lord will, we shall live, and do this, or that.” (see Proverbs 3:5-6).
3) Proper Perspective- It’s not easy to keep the proper perspective in life when we are too busy or don’t know what the proper perspective is. John 3:30, “He must increase, but I must decrease.” Ok, this will sound really simple, God is the Creator and we are the Creation. Therefore, we lose all prerogatives (rights) to determine how we are going to live our life. As the verse clearly states, we must decrease (humble ourselves) Why? So God can increase (be magnified). When we have this perspective in mind our practice will reflect a God first life!
4) Prompt- God loses first place in our life when we delay in doing His will. Delayed obedience is disobedience. We must obey and stop wasting precious time that we can’t get back. Ephesians 5:16, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” Also see Ecclesiastes 12:1; Colossians 4:5; James 4:14.
5) Persistence- Distractions keep us from focusing on the finish line. Have you ever walked down midway at the state fair? Talk about distracting! It’s very hard to get through there without stopping to look, buy, or taste something! Isn’t the Christian life like that? If we want God to have first place in our life we must eliminate the distractions and keep our eyes on the prize! Philippians 3:14, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Hebrews 12:1-2, “Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
6) Passion- We are always faithful, dedicated, and committed to whatever thing or person we truly love. Think about it…why do athletes play through severe pain? Why does a boyfriend drive many miles to see his girlfriend? Why do employees work long hours to get that promotion? When we truly love something or someone decision making isn’t that hard anymore. We need more Christians who are very passionate about serving God Almighty that everything else in life takes a backseat. Take a few moments and check what you are passionate about? This exercise will quickly reveal your priorities. For example, if you had to choose between attending your church’s Sunday worship service or play in your ballgame, which would you choose? Psalm 42:1-2, “As the deer panteth [longs/desires] after the water brooks, so panteth [longs/desires] my soul after thee, O God. My soul thirsteth for God, for the living God: when shall I come and appear before God?”
God can and will have first place in your life if you execute these 6 biblical principles!