When I was a new Christian, The Lord taught me many lessons about putting Him first.
I was raising my daughter, and I was always so concerned about her well-being and education. It seemed that my life was revolving around her.
One day, The Lord spoke to me that if I continued putting her first; He would have to take her home to Himself. He told me that she was "His" daughter, and that He had chosen me to raise her up in the way she was to go.
I was putting my daughter on a pedestal without realizing it. Later, I was fixing up an old home, and it took me three months to paint the home, plaster the cracks and to clean it. I remember that I was just enjoying the home so much after I finished the work, and I would often think of how much I loved the home, the yard and the beauty there. The Lord again spoke to me, and He asked me, "Would you be willing to leave this home right now if I asked you to leave?" I thought about it for a second, and I said, "Yes, Lord". He then allowed me to stay in the home for several years after that.
God requires first place in our lives as He did with Abraham when He told Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son. We always talk about the blessings of Abraham, but Abraham was totally obedient to God in being willing to obey God. We will be blessed when we put God first in every area of our lives.
The Lord taught me about money many times. I remember one day, when I was making plans to attend a Christian Breakfast Meeting that would cost $6.00 for myself and my daughter. At the time, I was going to school, and so it seemed like an extravagance, and I decided not to go because I needed the money for other things.
The afternoon before the Breakfast Meeting, my good friend came to my house, and she told me that The Lord spoke to her to come to my home and give me a specific amount of money. She then took six one dollar bills and counted them out in my hand. My daughter and I went to The Breakfast Meeting, and I learned that where God guides; He also provides.
Matthew 6:33, "But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you."
Our main concern must be to seek what is important in God's Kingdom above everything else. Most of all He requires our love for Him, and others, and to do His will in our lives.
We must always be willing to say Lord, "Not my will but Yours be done". If we are not willing to say and pray that wonderful prayer; we need to ask The Holy Spirit to reveal what is blocking our total surrender to The Lord.
We are never to be striving after the attainment of money, reputation, prestige or titles because all that we should have will be given to us as we seek The Lord first. Our love for Him is first, and all else will fall into place when we love God above everything else in our lives.
Many ministries have fallen because their emphasis was raising more and more money. They had gotten off of the straight and narrow road which leads to the Kingdom of God.
Matthew 7:13, "Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat:"
Many Christians have gotten off the straight and narrow road in order to seek after the things of the world. The love of the world lured them onto an insidious side road.
1 John 2:15, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him." The Lord wanted the rich, young ruler to give up all of his worldly goods out of love for Him. We will all be tested in this area. God wants us to always care more for His commandments and His will than we do for our money and possessions. We must always be willing to give away all that we own if The Lord tells us to do that.
1 John 3:17, "But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?"
God doesn't need our money, but money is a means of exchange, and when we refuse to use it according to The Lord's will and for His glorious purposes; it can become an idol. Money is a common idol, but an idol can be anything that separates us from putting God first in our lives. An idol can be a husband, a wife, a child, our home, our savings, our jobs, our title, our education, our ministry and the list can go on and on. An idol is what we think about, talk about and seek after more than we think, talk about and seek The Lord, His Kingdom and His righteousness. An idol is anything that has become a god in our lives. For those in sin, it could be alcohol, sexual lusts and/or perversions, gambling, pornography, adultery, fornication, lying, stealing and the list can go on ad infinitum.
We must always make sure that our source of strength, wisdom, love, joy, hope and faith is based in The Lord Jesus Christ. If we are looking to any other source for our contentment; we must repent and get right with God. We must come back to our first love of The Lord Jesus Christ. Today, He is looking for those who will be sold out to Him and not to this world. The world is everywhere, and it permeates every area of our lives, but we must look beyond the world, and the things in this world. We need to be like the five wise virgins, who were instantly ready and prepared to meet The Lord. The Holy Spirit in them was burning brightly. They had their eyes fixed and their hearts focused on their Lord. They were ready. Are you ready? Are you watching and waiting for Him? Rev. 3:3, "Remember therefore how thou hast received and heard, and hold fast, and repent. If therefore thou shalt not watch, I will come on thee as a thief, and thou shalt not know what hour I will come upon thee." None of us know when our time will come to meet Him. Our breath is as a vapor.
Luke 21:36, "Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man."
We are commanded by The Lord Jesus Christ to "watch and pray". Why? So that we will be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come upon this earth, and to be able to stand before The Lord Jesus Christ.
We are not to wait until a disaster comes, or to wait until we are ill or dying, but we need to get right with The Lord today. Now, during our good days; we are to seek The Lord with all of our hearts, and to put Him first in our lives.
Psalm 32:6, "For this shall every one that is godly pray unto Thee in a time when Thou mayest be found: surely in the floods of great waters they shall not come nigh unto Him."
Some Christians during these times, think that they no longer need God or His wisdom, and some even think The Bible is old-fashioned, and that the things of God should be modernized. They use Madison Avenue techniques to raise huge sums of money, and they copy the music and entertainment of the world in order to attract people who love the world and its ways. Matthew 7:21, Not every one that saith unto Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the Kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of My Father which is in heaven.
Matthew 7:22, Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Thy Name? and in Thy Name have cast out devils? and in Thy Name done many wonderful works?
Matthew 7:23, And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.
These leaders cannot make true disciples of Jesus Christ because they themselves are not disciples of Jesus Christ. These "religious" leaders are making their own disciples which are manipulated into their own images. They are not making disciples of Jesus Christ because those that follow them will not be able to know or find the true love, fruit and character of The Lord Jesus Christ in them. They will find a counterfeit Jesus that is formed in their own image.
Their main goal is to gain more and more popularity which then produces more money, power and prestige. They sacrifice the real truth found in the whole Word of God in order to win many people to themselves. They find Scriptures that entice their followers into believing that their luxurious lifestyles are Biblical. People who are not grounded in the true Word of God are easily deceived. Jesus Christ warned us about these hypocrites repeatedly in His Word.
Matthew 7:15, "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.
Matthew 7:16, Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
Matthew 7:17, Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit."
These religious leaders are not putting God first or His Kingdom because they are building their own kingdoms. All that they are building through their own efforts will be burned up as wood, hay and stubble. Only The Lord Himself can build His church, and then the gates of hell will no longer be able to prevail against it.
These charlatans preach an easy salvation without the conditions necessary for true conversion. These religious leaders and those who think that their salvation is easy and light need to have a fear of the living God. We have heard about a God that is of our own creation, but we need to study the Word and find the real Jesus Christ, and the real Gospel message.
Phil. 2:12, "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in My presence only, but now much more in My absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
The Word of God tells us that only those who obey God and endure to the end will be saved. The attainment of our salvation by Jesus Christ on the cross was not easy, and our denying ourselves, taking up our crosses and following Him will not be easy, but by The grace of God we can finish the race victoriously.
Tit. 2:12, "Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;" Our blessings are not automatic, but they are based on contingencies. These requirements are clearly stated by our Lord throughout The New Testament. Jesus commanded us to love Him first, to love even our enemies, and He said that if we loved Him; we would obey His commandments.
2 Tim. 3:12, Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.
Are you suffering persecution because of your walk with The Lord Jesus? Many true Christians throughout the world are suffering persecution because they follow the Lord. Many are being persecuted by the religious leaders and their many followers because they are preaching The pure and holy Word of God.
When you put God first; you will no longer be a man pleaser. If you are still trying to please people for your own purposes; you cannot be a servant of Jesus Christ.
Gal. 1:10, "For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ."
When we refuse to put God first and as Head in His church; the church will not have its needed power, authority and effectiveness. When we stop doing everything "our" way, and we start doing everything in the church His way; we will experience the magnificent, glorious power of God in The church. When The church becomes one, and it becomes all that God ordained it to be; the people of the world will know That Jesus Christ is The Son of almighty God. When they see Him and His love in His people; then they will believe and know The Lord Jesus Christ.
Many "religious" leaders want to make their own doctrines, their own rules, and their own methods which are no different from the ways of those who never knew The Lord Jesus Christ. These are those who believe that they are rich, well-dressed and they think that they know everything and can see, but Jesus says that they are poor, naked, miserable and blind. It is very sad because those who have so much of the world's goods, titles, prestige, money and power are unable to discern or understand their true condition. Jesus says to them:
Rev. 3:17, "Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
Rev. 3:18, I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see."
Jesus is giving these "Christians" wonderful advice, and He is even standing at the door of their hearts trying to come into their hearts and lives. They have ceased to put God first in their lives.
Wealth, prestige, possessions and power have turned their heads away from God. They think that they no longer need Him or His Truth. They have become very "prosperous", but it is not the kind of prosperity that The Lord honors. God honors the prosperity found in a soul that is totally yielded to Him. God's prosperity consists of having a pure heart, a right spirit and clean hands before Him.
There are so many godly men, women and children who are humbly working out their own salvations with fear and trembling. They are following The Lord Jesus Christ every day, and seeking His Kingdom and His righteousness. These are those who will go through much persecution because they have chosen to live a godly life and live righteously in a world that is completely opposed to living a pure and holy life. Mat. 5:10, "Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the Kingdom of Heaven."
These are those who have put God first, and they will be greatly blessed.
The Lord came to earth with nothing, He didn't have a place to lay His head and He was of no reputation. He came to set the supreme example for all of us as He said that we are to deny ourselves and take up our crosses and follow Him.
He had nothing, but He accomplished more than all others by laying down His life, and by putting His Father first. He only did what His Father gave Him to do. He had given up everything in order to fulfill God's glorious purposes.
We are called and commanded to do the same. It is not an easy salvation, but it is a great salvation that cost God and The Lord Jesus Christ everything. Through God; we can do all things and nothing that He requires will be impossible to those who believe and trust in Him. Real success is putting God first in every area of our lives.
Margaret (Peggy) Kannaday
Margaret (Peggy) Kannaday has been the managing editor for The "Church Growth International" Ministry since 1991.
She was The Director of The International Briefings and The International Home Cell at The "Yoido Full Gospel Church" in Seoul, Korea for many years.
She has written the book entitled, "Church Growth and The Home Cell System", and she has written for The Evangel Magazine, The Living Waters' Magazine, and she is a regular contributor for The "Church Growth" Magazine.
Peggy holds a M.Ed. degree and a B.A. degree in Clinical Psychology. In 1972, Peggy had a life-transforming experience with The Lord Jesus Christ, and she has not been the same since.
(The poem is available to general media, publications and webmasters under condition that the author's name and the link to www.paulmurphybooks.com will be provided under the poem.)