Keeping God First

Keeping God First

The Lord has always desired a group of people in the earth that would unequivocally place Him, His desires and His purposes first in their lives.

As the earth continues to spin, it can appear that most of the world is against God. The condition of the United States [that often set the standard for many other nations] appears to have accelerated as the values and morals of the people have been compromised by the spirit of the age.

Because the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, immorality continues on a downward spiral and people have set their hearts against not only God’s purposes, but God Himself.

Not wanting anything that deals with the Name of the True and living God, they continue to crowd out the very One that has the power to deliver the nation from the deception they have readily accepted without a fight.

Second Corinthians 4:3

But even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing, 4 whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

If the minds of the people in our day are blinded towards the Gospel of Christ, the reality is that they must be blinded to His purposes as well. Without knowing the purposes of the Maker of the earth, abuse is inevitable.

This is what the earth is experiencing, not only here in our country but around the world. The vast majority of the people is turning a “deaf ear” to the Gospel and the voice of the Holy Spirit - and eventually they will reap the consequences of their ignorance.

Ignorance is defined as “a lack of knowledge or someone being unaware.” It’s been said that “ignorance is bliss” or something to be enjoyed, a pleasure or a delight, but the fact is, God is going to call all of mankind to repentance in spite of their walking in what they don’t know without seeking out the Living God.

But concerning man’s ignorance, Acts chapter 17:30  says 

Truly, these times of ignorance God overlooked, but now commands all men everywhere to repent, 31 because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained.

The word “repent” means “To have regret and sorrow while having a change of heart towards and his actions committed against God. Further it means to change how you think and change what you do.”

This makes what God said in II Chronicles so important for us as this scripture is just as true today as it was when these words were penned, “If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves, pray, seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, forgive their sins and heal the land.” II Chronicles 7:14

One of the things this Scripture reveals is that forgiveness and healing does not precede repentance. True repentance will produce actions in the people of God that are consistent with the Word of God. This heart of repentance [that is a change of mind that produces a change in actions] must be cultivated in the hearts of the people of God.

What must be realized is that “Just because many people in our nation stand in opposition to the purposes of God,” it does not mean that we have to accept the standard that they set for us.

Being opposed to God is not restricted to people that come out and say they don’t like God or don’t want His principles as the standard for their lives. It includes what the people “do” that shows by their actions that they could care less about God and His Word.

The deceptive tactics of the world must not subtly become the standard by which we live as the people of God. The Word will always be the standard by which God will judge the people of the Kingdom.

Trying to befriend and win the world to Christ should still have attached to it a line that you will not cross. You don’t have to partake in the sin of the people in order to prove that you love them or that God accepts them as they are.

If we’re sincere in our walk with God, the grace of God is available for us and will keep us walking uprightly before Him. I believe that the Spirit of God is strong enough to keep God’s people from falling victim to the trap the devil is setting for the earth.

And although Second Timothy 3 says that in the latter days, “evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse,” the reality is that the people of God must continue in the things they have learned and been assured of.

Second Timothy 3

13“But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived,

14 “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them…”

The purpose for you being saved is that you would “…show forth the praises of Him that called you out of darkness and brought you into His marvelous light.”

Anything other than this becomes a distraction to draw you away from God as when you give God praise, just as God inhabits [lives in, occupies and dwells in] those praises, others that are not saved will take notice and respond.

Although it is God’s desire that no one perish, the Scriptures clearly reveal that at the end, many will. There is going to be “crying, weeping and gnashing of teeth.”

But we will practice what the Word says and “Bless the Lord at all times and His praise God shall continually be in our mouths.”

Blessing God at all times mean you will do it during the good times and when your faith is being challenged. Although it may appear that you cannot do it, the reality is as you draw closer and closer to God – You can do it!

This action in the heart of the child of God will go beyond singing a song on Sunday morning to giving God the praise that’s due Him on the job, in the store at school and wherever you are afforded the opportunity to “Proclaim the praises of Him that called you out of darkness and translated you into His marvelous light.”

The reason you can praise God in good times and during the times when your faith is being challenged is because you learned and are obeying the greatest principle that a child of God could ever learn and perform at that is, “You’ve learned to put God first.

You must see the importance of “Giving yourself first to the Lord” and then seeing that it’s equally important to give yourself over to the purposes of the house of God that you have attached yourself to. Second Corinthians 8:5

And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.

Often, it’s hard to separate the purposes of God from the pastor that God placed over us; however God sees them closely associated when it comes to where we are going to allow our hearts to rest.

In loving God and putting Him first, there will be a corresponding love for the pastor that will support the work each of us is called to with our lives and resources.

When God really has us, He has everything we own and because of that revelation, we freely give what the Word of God says is required of us without complaining or second guessing our actions – this includes even our time.

The importance of giving our lives over to God first is reiterated in Mark chapter 10 as Jesus places an exclamation mark on our being blessed according to the Word of God and “when” this blessing is supposed to occur.

28 Then Peter began to say to Him, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 

29 So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, 30 who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.

Over the years there have been various comparisons made about the Church of Jesus Christ that depicts the state many believe the Church is in today.

Among the titles, the Church has been called the Joshua Generation; the Joseph Generation and some have said that the “Tabernacle of David” where true worship is being restored has come into the land.

I don’t dispute those characteristics of the corporate Church, but I want to add what I feel is necessary for us to accomplish the mandate that God placed on us and that is “We must embrace the anointing of Samuel” if we are going to make the impact that God desires.

What’s so evident about the account of Samuel in Scripture is that:

[1] He was dedicated to God as a baby. God gave him to a woman named Hannah that was barren. First Samuel 1:

27 For this child I prayed, and the Lord has granted me my petition which I asked of Him. 28 Therefore I also have lent him to the Lord; as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord.” So they worshiped the Lord there.

[2] He was given over to the purposes of God at a very young age as after he was weaned [or began to eat food other than his mother’s milk], his parents took him to the temple as they promised and allowed the priest of the day to raise him. I Samuel 2:18 “But Samuel ministered before the Lord, even as a child, wearing a linen ephod.”

[3] Eli the priest had wicked sons that did not know the Lord. They were influenced by the generation they lived in and became more corrupted than many of the people they pretended to serve.

Chapter 2 says they “Took the best of the sacrifices the people brought into the Temple” that was supposed to belong to the Lord [Verses 12 – 16]. Verse 17 says, “Therefore the sin of the young men was very great before the Lord, for men abhorred the offering of the Lord.”

[4] Not only were the two sons of Eli thieves, the also committed sexual sin with the women that came to the tabernacle. Verse 22 says, Now Eli was very old; and he heard everything his sons did to all Israel, and how they lay with the women who assembled at the door of the tabernacle of meeting.”

[5] In spite of what went on around him, Samuel kept himself pure before God. As he grew, he learned to hear the voice of God. I Samuel 2:26 And the child Samuel grew in stature, and in favor both with the Lord and men. 1 Samuel 3:10 “Now the Lord came and stood and called as at other times, “Samuel! Samuel!” And Samuel answered, “Speak, for Your servant hears.”

[6] Samuel became the voice of God to the generation he lived in. 3:19 So Samuel grew, and the Lord was with him and let none of his words fall to the ground. 20 And all Israel from Dan to Beersheba knew that Samuel had been established as a prophet of the Lord. 21 Then the Lord appeared again in Shiloh. For the Lord revealed Himself to Samuel in Shiloh by the word of the Lord.

The reason these are brought out is because the times we live in requires that the Church be on guard for a spirit of un-righteousness that will appear in many religious circles portraying itself as a voice from God.

I have frequently said that the last days are going to produce in the Church of Christ, a “prophetic voice” through the people that will speak as the voice of God.

This means they will have knowledge of the Scriptures and will cultivate a listening ear to the Holy Spirit. It’s here that the “Spirit and the Word” are going to agree and shine God’s search light on the deceptive tactics of satan in our day.

Just as Samuel was raised up in his generation and was kept from being tainted in mind and body, this is what is going to happen in our generation. The Lord will cause what the Bible refers to as a “remnant” that will represent Him to be revealed just as God revealed to the prophet Elijah that he was not the only person left in the land that served and feared God; but there were reserved 7,000   men that refused to bow to the false god of their day [baal].

Romans 11: 2

God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, 3 “Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life”? 4 But what does the divine response say to him? “I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” 5 Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace.

In order to do this, you must remain steadfast in your walk with God and not be distracted by the good things that come or the bad.

God must be first and first for the right reasons.

  • He must be first because He is God;
  • He must be first, because He did deliver you out of darkness;
  • He must be first because He created you and you didn’t create yourself;
  • He must be first because there really is no other answer to the issues the world is facing and if we believe the Bible, for those in the world – that have no relationship with God – things will become worse and worse as we saw.

As far as the destruction of the nation is concerned, the Lord has a plan for the United States, in spite of the messengers of doom and gloom that surface from time to time.

With all the bad things going on in the earth, and even the prophetic teachings of Scripture that reveal that a time is coming on the earth when things are going to escalate and no one will be able to stop it, we have the promise that we will be protected.

The fact is that God looks at the earth from two perspectives “the world” that is influenced by satan “and the Church” that Jesus purchased with His Own blood.

Both will be judged, however those that are part of the Church will be spared eternal damnation because of the grace of God.

God will not destroy the righteous with the wicked and neither will un-righteousness go unpunished.

We have an example in Scripture of the close relatives of Abraham living in Sodom and Gomorrah. They were surrounded with wickedness and God made up His mind that destruction was inevitable.

But Abraham was a friend of God and interceded on behalf of the people. Genesis 18

20 And the Lord said, “Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grave, 21 I will go down now and see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry against it that has come to Me; and if not, I will know.”

22 Then the men turned away from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. 23 And Abraham came near and said, “Would You also destroy the righteous with the wicked? 24 Suppose there were fifty righteous within the city; would You also destroy the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous that were in it? 25 Far be it from You to do such a thing as this, to slay the righteous with the wicked, so that the righteous should be as the wicked; far be it from You! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

26 So the Lord said, “If I find in Sodom fifty righteous within the city, then I will spare all the place for their sakes.”

27 Then Abraham answered and said, “Indeed now, I who am but dust and ashes have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: 28 Suppose there were five less than the fifty righteous; would You destroy all of the city for lack of five?”

So He said, “If I find there forty-five, I will not destroy it.”

29 And he spoke to Him yet again and said, “Suppose there should be forty found there?”

So He said, “I will not do it for the sake of forty.”

30 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak: Suppose thirty should be found there?”

So He said, “I will not do it if I find thirty there.”

31 And he said, “Indeed now, I have taken it upon myself to speak to the Lord: Suppose twenty should be found there?”

So He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of twenty.”

32 Then he said, “Let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak but once more: Suppose ten should be found there?”

And He said, “I will not destroy it for the sake of ten.” 33 So the Lord went His way as soon as He had finished speaking with Abraham; and Abraham returned to his place.

Although the entire nation may not be saved, the remnant of God’s people shall be spared.

God is not going to destroy his people because of the sin of the nation. There may be many more people that stand in opposition to the purposes of God than those that stand for Him, but “Your voice carries weight” and God will heed the cry of His people.

He said, “If His people, who are called by his name, will humble themselves, pray, seek his face and turn from their wicked ways, then God will hear from heaven and heal the land.” II Chronicles 7:14