Keeping God First, pt 1

Mark 12:28-31 says God’s first commandment is to love HIM, with everything we are. 

Read Matthew 14:22-33. It is our CHOICE to activate the authority God has given us. When we keep our eyes and our focus on Jesus, the storms and distractions of life remain UNDER OUR FEET. But as soon as we start focusing on the waves (our problems, worries, etc.), we transfer our power to our problems, thereby letting them control US. We begin to sink as if into quicksand.

Here are excerpts from the song “The Voice of Truth” by Casting Crowns:
The waves are calling out my name and they laugh at me
Reminding me of all the times I’ve tried before and failed…
But the voice of truth tells me a different story
The voice of truth says do not be afraid…
And the waves they don’t seem so high
From on top of them looking down
I will soar with the wings of eagles
When I stop and listen to the sound of Jesus singing over me…
I will choose to listen and believe the Voice of Truth

When Jesus says, “Oh you of little faith, why did you doubt?” I detect some loving disappointment… He is promising us that if we only keep our eyes on HIM, He will not allow us to drown in the problems of this world. Taking our eyes off of Jesus temporarily will not prevent Him from reaching out and saving us from the storm if we ask. But if we never waver from our focus on him, we will have so much more peace and power in our lives.

How can we do this, though, amidst our busy lives?

Here are a few areas on which we can focus: In the morning, In eliminating other gods, In knowing God’s Word, In controlling our thoughts, In prayer, In deed, and In Submission. We will just discuss a few today.

In the morning. Read Psalm 5:3, 59:16, 88:13. Remember the lyrics to this well-known hymn: “In the morning when I rise… give me Jesus.” Ask God to help you remember HIM first every morning – to greet him with praise and thanksgiving for the gift of another day. These verses in Psalms remind us that when we cry out to God in the morning, He hears us. It doesn’t have to be very long or detailed at first. It takes 21 days to make a habit – if we start today that means in 3 weeks this will become a natural part of our waking. What simpler way is there to show God that He is first in our life than to speak to Him first every day? (My legalistic past self has to include that some days we may speak to our children first, if they wake us up. I don’t suggest ignoring them until you’ve prayed for half an hour. But in these instances remember to pray as you get them what they need.)

Practical ideas: KLove Radio has an app you can download for free on your phone. It has an alarm feature. Or, if you have an iPod or CD player for an alarm, you can have Christian songs wake you up as a reminder to praise God first. Keep a study book, a daily verse calendar, or your bible by your bed. Take 5 minutes every morning to meditate on a verse or passage. Write a ‘life verse’ on your bathroom mirror in dry erase marker. Or pin up a 3×5 card with a favorite bible verse somewhere you’ll see it when you first wake up.

Eliminate other gods. First, see Exodus 20:3. What are the gods in your life? TV? Video Games? Magazines? Celebrity news? Fiction stories? These days we don’t construct statues of idols or gods out of copper or gold. But identify places you spend your time which are yielding no fruit for you or your family, and you will find the gods that need to be eliminated from your life.

Practical ideas: Each time you find yourself wanting to do something that you know is keeping you from God’s best, refocus your attention by praying, praising, reciting a verse, or singing Christian songs. James 4:7 says if we submit to God and resist the devil, he will flee. Remember our verses from last week and know that you are stronger than the temptations you’re experiencing. Create a plan of action for every time you are tempted. For example, if you are sitting in front of the TV, stand up and go to a different room. Remove yourself from the temptation. Pray or praise God for His goodness, and ask Him for help. Then repeat a verse to yourself that empowers you to do the right thing. (A few good ones are: 1 Cor 10:13, Matt 26:41, Hebrews 2:18, Gal 6:9, Eph 6:11)

Know God’s Word. Now read Proverbs 7:2-3. If we don’t know what God’s word says, we cannot make wise decisions. We need to dive into our bibles and find as many verses as we can that allow us to make those wise decisions. Do you have a list of verses that come to mind in different situations? What verses do you refer back to when you are in times of trouble?

See Jeremiah 31:33 and Hebrews 8:10. When we keep God’s Word in our hearts God says that HE WILL BE OUR GOD and WE WILL BE HIS PEOPLE. If we want to keep God first we have to know his Word; and if we know his Word, God claims us as his own. God’s Word connects us to him in a very real way. He takes a fatherly ownership of us when we know His Word; it causes Him to reign over our life.

Practical Ideas: Get a topical index companion book, which allows you to find verses that pertain to your situation quickly and easily. Joyce Meyer’s The Secret Power of Speaking God’s Word is a great one. Many bibles also have a topical index in the back. You can also use this website: http://www.openbible.info/topics/

Key Points

  • God’s first commandment is to Love HIM with everything we are
  • Keeping our eyes on Jesus allows us to live with peace and victory
  • Eliminate distractions/ other gods
  • Learn God’s Word and memorize verses which bring life to you so you can repeat them in times of trouble

Supporting Verses

Mark 12:28-31: One of the teachers of the law came and heard them debating. Noticing that Jesus had given them a good answer, he asked him, “Of all the commandments, which is the most important?” “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “is this: ‘Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Psalm 5:3 (Amp): In the morning You hear my voice, O Lord; in the morning I prepare [a prayer, a sacrifice] for You and watch and wait [for You to speak to my heart].

Psalm 59:16 (Amp): But I will sing of Your mighty strength and power; yes, I will sing aloud of Your mercy and loving-kindness in the morning; for You have been to me a defense (a fortress and a high tower) and a refuge in the day of my distress.

Psalm 88:13: But to You I cry, O Lord; and in the morning shall my prayer come to meet You.

Exodus 20:3: You shall have no other gods before or besides Me.

Proverbs 7:2-3: Keep my commands and you will live; guard my teachings as the apple of your eye. Bind them on your fingers; write them on the tablet of your heart.

Jeremiah 31:33/ Hebrews 8:10: “This is the covenant I will make with the people of Israel after that time,” declares the LORD. “I will put my law in their minds and write it on their hearts. I will be their God, and they will be my people.”

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