by Paul E. Chapman
You have something that takes priority in your life. We all do. It changes our schedules, captures our passions and causes sacrifices. We defend it. We fight for it. We claim it. What comes first in your life? For the Christian, God should come first. He should capture our passions. His worship should change our schedules. His work should cause us to sacrifice. We should defend Him and proclaim Him!
Sadly, for most Christians, God has a small place in their lives. He is low on the priority scale. They feel as though they do God a favor by going to church an hour a week. Others may attend church regularly but act very differently outside of church. Even those that are faithful to church rarely tithe 10% of their income or read their Bibles daily. Work, recreation, and rest often come before God. This should not be.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
God should be first in your life. If you seek God first, He will take care of all the other areas of your life. The first priority of a child of God should be to spend every day making sure God is preeminent in life. This is not easy. The world, the flesh and the devil will conspire together to keep God low on your list of priorities. You must fight for Him.
Let me be clear. The Bible doesn’t mean you should SAY that God is first in your life. It means to LIVE with God first. You are seeking His Kingdom and putting Him first by your decisions and deeds. Lip service only deceives self. Your love for God is proven by your actions. I John 2:3
How do we put God first? What does that life look like?
Give God the First Hour of the Day.
Psalm 63:1 “O God, thou art my God; early will I seek thee: My soul thirsteth for thee, My flesh longeth for thee In a dry and thirsty land, where no water is;”
Mark 1:35–37 “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed. And Simon and they that were with him followed after him. And when they had found him, they said unto him, All men seek for thee.”
Spending time alone with God in prayer, Bible reading, and meditation is essential. During this time you center your mind, heart and soul around God. Your inward man is renewed and grace is given for the day ahead.
Don’t make the mistake of waiting until the evening. By that time you will have been beaten up all day and come weary to God for rejuvenation. I’m all for that, but how much better would your day have gone if you had started the day with God as well. Give God the first hour of your day.
Give God the First Day of the Week.
Revelation 1:10 “I was in the Spirit on the Lord’s day, and heard behind me a great voice, as of a trumpet,”
1 Corinthians 16:2 “Upon the first day of the week let every one of you lay by him in store, as God hath prospered him, that there be no gatherings when I come.”
Hebrews 10:23–25 “Let us hold fast the profession of our faith without wavering; (for he is faithful that promised;) And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.”
Sunday is called “The Lord’s Day” for a reason. It is not your personal day of rest and recreation. It belongs to Him. We worship on the day of His resurrection to start the week with God and live the rest of the week in His power. If you skip church and ministry time on Sunday, your entire week will suffer for it.
I recommend you attend church at least 3 times a week. I know… take a breath. We live in a day when many churches are canceling services. Before a growing trend of people seeing how little God had to impact your schedule, people built their lives around the church for thousands of years. I realize in Bible times they didn’t go three times a week. But before you think that statement proves your point, you should read the Scripture. They assembled every day!
Every activity offered on Sunday is a worldly alternative to God’s House. Build your life around God’s family. Give God the first day of the Week.
Acts 2:46 “And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,”
Give God the First Consideration in Every Decision.
Proverbs 3:5–6 “Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; And lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, And he shall direct thy paths.”
Seek God’s direction. What does the Bible say about it? If there is no verse that specifically addresses your situation, find a principle that applies. Seek advice from godly people who know the Bible. Pray about your decision with a submissive spirit and ask God what He wants you to do. Then do it.
Stop making decisions with no thought of God. It is pride and self-trust. Stop trying to figure it all out yourself. Trust God. He is in your life to stay and will direct your steps to a greater life than you can imagine. Give God the first consideration in your decisions.
Psalm 37:23–24 “The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: And he delighteth in his way. Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: For the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.”
Give God the First Portion of your Pay.
Leviticus 27:30 “And all the tithe of the land, whether of the seed of the land, or of the fruit of the tree, is the LORD’s: it is holy unto the LORD.”
Proverbs 3:9–10 “Honour the LORD with thy substance, And with the firstfruits of all thine increase: So shall thy barns be filled with plenty, And thy presses shall burst out with new wine.”
Matthew 23:23 “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cummin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.”
Yes, tithing is in the Bible. It’s in the Old Testament and the New Testament. Jesus said you should do it. No, most pastors are not money hungry monsters trying to steal from you. Now stop trying to find all the reasons why your money belongs to you. Giving is a test. God doesn’t need your money. He wants your heart and there are few things that people value more than money. Do you love God more than money and things? Your tithing record is the answer.
Your first check written after you deposit your paycheck should be to the local church you attend. Yes, you can afford it. Truthfully, you can’t afford keep God’s tithe. You’ll never get out of debt and save money if the first thing you do each week is rob God. Give God the first 10% of your pay.
Matthew 6:19–21 “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.”
Matthew 6:24 “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.”
Give God First Place in your Heart.
Proverbs 4:23 “Keep thy heart with all diligence; For out of it are the issues of life.”
Proverbs 23:26 “My son, give me thine heart, And let thine eyes observe my ways.”
Matthew 22:37 “Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.”
This is the purest measure of God’s place in your life. Are you living in happy submission to the Lord? Would you go anywhere and do anything that He asked of you? Does He have first place in every area of your life?
Too many have given first place to a job, a person, a cause, a pleasure, a sport, a dream. You are robbing yourself of life’s most fulfilling purpose – to live for God.
What a blessed life when the first thoughts of your morning and the last thoughts of your night are sweet meditations of God! Your heart is a kingdom and He is the King. Everything He asks of you is an honored privilege instead of a resented command. When He has first place in your heart, nothing else on this list will be a problem! Give God first place in your heart.
Perhaps God was first in your life at some point, but that is no longer true. You have placed something or someone else on the throne of your heart. Other priorities crept in. The deceitfulness of sin seduced you. Pride filled your heart. You are miserable because a child of God can never be happy in rebellion to His Father. You can change that today. Repent of this sin and make God first in your life again today. Return to your first Love!
Revelation 2:4–5 “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.”