EXODUS 20:3 NKJ 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.
People can lose perspective and put other things before God, such as wealth, success, pleasure, or even family.
But a wise person will always put God first.
PROVERBS 3:6 LB 6 In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success.
Why should you put God first in your life?
First, because God is worthy. He deserves first place. God is perfect! (And nothing else is.)
Never forget that God knows more than you, and can do more than you can.
Second, because it puts into motion God’s law of sowing and reaping in your life. God says He will honor those who honor Him (1 Samuel 2:30). When you put God first you will be blessed.
DEUTERONOMY 28:2 NKJ 2 “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the LORD your God:
So it’s in your best interest to put God first in every way you can. Here are some ideas for you to consider.
Before you make a decision, look to God for direction.
Don’t ask anyone else for advice before you ask God.
When you have a need, talk to God before you mention it to anyone else.
When something good happens to you, let God be the first one you talk to about it, offering Him thanks.
When you receive income, let giving to God come first before anything else.
Before you eat, first thank God for the food. You don’t need to pray for all the missionaries, or even have to pray out loud. Just look to your Source and thank Him before you eat.
When you wake up, talk to God before you talk to anyone else. That doesn’t mean you have to spend hours praying. It may just be saying, “Good morning, Lord!” but always keep God first.
Every day before you listen to the world’s news, go to the Bible and listen to some of God’s good news.
MATTHEW 6:33 NKJ 33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
1 CORINTHIANS 9:27 ESV 27 But I discipline my body and keep it under control, lest after preaching to others I myself should be disqualified.
Our body is our earth vehicle. Without it, we can’t operate on earth. If our body is not kept under control, and kept in good shape, it can become unfit for use, rendering us disqualified from continuing on in the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1).
The Williams translation of the above verse says “may not myself become unfit to run.”
What could disqualify you from finishing your race here on earth in complete victory? Your body becoming unfit to function fully could certainly keep you from finishing your course.
We have a responsibility to take care of what God has given us — including our body. So there is no reason to mistreat our body, or treat it as evil. We just need to make sure that we control our body, instead of allowing our body to control us.
We cannot expect God to keep our body under control; that is our job. We can ask the Lord to help us, but we must do it (Romans 12:1).
It is important to notice in the Scripture above that “I” is not the same as “my body.” These bodies are what we live in on earth. You could call them earth-suits. You need to understand that you are not the same as your body. Your body will die, but you will continue to live after leaving your body.
The verse above also makes it clear that if we fail to control our bodies we will experience undesirable consequences. So if we desire to walk in victory, we must control our bodies.
Fasting (going without food) is one way we can keep our bodies trained to realize they are not our master.
Forcing yourself to exercise is another way of maintaining control over your body, so that it will be in shape to continue to serve you for a long life.
1 CORINTHIANS 6:12 GWN 12 Someone may say, “I’m allowed to do anything,” but not everything is helpful. I’m allowed to do anything, but I won’t allow anything to gain control over my life.
Of course, as with any message from God, this is not meant to condemn you, but to inform you of what is best, and what is possible with God’s help. If you need help in this area, ask the Lord to help you, then determine, with His help, to walk in victory!
ROMANS 8:34 NRS 34 Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us.
The devil would love for us all to doubt that God loves us. But when you look at the sacrifice of Jesus at Calvary, it is undeniable.
God loves you!
And He proved it!
ROMANS 5:8 NRS 8 But God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners Christ died for us.
ROMANS 8:32 NRS 32 He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else?
Sometimes it’s easy to be tempted to think God does not care.
But if God was just interested in judging and condemning you, why would He go through the suffering of Calvary?
Being crucified is one of the worst forms of torture and death ever devised. Jesus willingly suffered all that for you, so you could go free, and avoid the suffering you deserved.
Someone who was willing to do that for you, would never hurt you.
1 JOHN 4:16 ESV 16 So we have come to know and to believe the love that God has for us. God is love, and whoever abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
It is one thing to mentally assent that God loves you. It is another thing entirely to know and believe it.
Do you truly believe that God loves you?
If not, you should meditate on God’s Word until it becomes clear to you. You should think about the great price God paid to redeem you.
This is foundational. You need to believe the love that God has for you.
God delights in you! God rejoices over you! He truly loves you! And you need to believe it! Because people act on what they believe.
What you truly believe is what you are acting on. For example, if I tell you the building is on fire, you may say a thousand times that you believe me, but I know you don’t believe me unless and until I see you leave the building.
Regardless of what people say, or what games we may play with ourselves, the truth is that we act on our beliefs.
The reason people sin is because they believe that by doing so they will be benefited. Once a person sees the truth that sin is harmful instead of helpful, they can repent (which means a change of thinking which results in a change of behavior).
Why do people not believe that God loves them? Two reasons. First, because they know they are not perfect. Second, because their life experience has not been better.
Can God love imperfect people? YES! Does He? YES! According to Scripture, all people are imperfect. Yet God loves us enough to die for us!
Can we accept our experience as valid evidence that God does not love us? NO! We can believe that our mother still loves us even when we have had a bad day. Why can’t we believe God loves us even when we have had a bad day?
EPHESIANS 3:18-19 NLT 18 And may you have the power to understand, as all God’s people should, how wide, how long, how high, and how deep his love is. 19 May you experience the love of Christ, though it is too great to understand fully. Then you will be made complete with all the fullness of life and power that comes from God.
JEREMIAH 9:24 ESV 24 but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
There is one problem in the world: people don’t know God. Many think they know God, but have been deceived.
This primary problem is the cause of every other problem. All sin is the result of people not knowing God. For if people knew God, they would love Him, respect Him, want to be like Him, and desire to please Him.
1 JOHN 4:8 NLT 8 But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love.
People who don’t know God’s character and nature think He is unreasonable or a hard master. The truth is God is the most loving, giving, unselfish being in existence. Everything He does is for our benefit.
EXODUS 34:5-6 NLT 5 Then the LORD came down in a cloud and stood there with him; and he called out his own name, Yahweh. 6 The LORD passed in front of Moses, calling out, “Yahweh! The LORD! The God of compassion and mercy! I am slow to anger and filled with unfailing love and faithfulness.
The religious leaders of Jesus’ day thought they knew God, but when He talked to them they called Him a devil.
JOHN 8:19 NLT 19 “Where is your father?” they asked. Jesus answered, “Since you don’t know who I am, you don’t know who my Father is. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.”
If you want to know what God is truly like, just look at Jesus. Examine the way Jesus acted in the four Gospels and you will understand how God acts.
JOHN 12:45 NLT 45 For when you see me, you are seeing the one who sent me.
If you think God is different than Jesus of Nazareth, you are deceived. Jesus perfectly revealed the Father God to us. All the revelation we had of God before was incomplete.
JOHN 1:18 NLT 18 No one has ever seen God. But the one and only Son is himself God and is near to the Father’s heart. He has revealed God to us.
Through many years I have experienced the wonderful privilege of knowing God. I am here to tell you that God is good! He is faithful! The better you get to know Him the better you will like Him.
PSALM 34:8 NLT 8 Taste and see that the LORD is good. Oh, the joys of those who take refuge in him!
Taste and see for yourself! Walk with God and you will not regret it!
1 CORINTHIANS 1:30 GWN 30 You are partners with Christ Jesus because of God. Jesus has become our wisdom sent from God, our righteousness, our holiness, and our ransom from sin.
People now have two choices:
Quit trying to be right with God by their own efforts, and accept the gift of righteousness by receiving Jesus Christ.
Or, try to be good enough for God to accept them based on their own performance.
One choice is impossible. No one can succeed with the second choice. Here are three verses that say “no one” can do it.
ROMANS 3:20 NLT 20 For no one can ever be made right with God by doing what the law commands. The law simply shows us how sinful we are.
GALATIANS 2:16 NLT 16 Yet we know that a person is made right with God by faith in Jesus Christ, not by obeying the law. And we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we might be made right with God because of our faith in Christ, not because we have obeyed the law. For no one will ever be made right with God by obeying the law.”
GALATIANS 3:11 NLT 11 So it is clear that no one can be made right with God by trying to keep the law. For the Scriptures say, “It is through faith that a righteous person has life.”
No one can be bad enough for God to reject them. And no one can be good enough for God to accept them. So the only way to have good standing with God is by accepting His gift — Jesus Christ.
JOHN 14:6 NLT 6 Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.
ROMANS 10:3 NLT 3 For they don’t understand God’s way of making people right with himself. Refusing to accept God’s way, they cling to their own way of getting right with God by trying to keep the law.
Yes, God desires for His people to do good, not bad. Jesus was sent to save us FROM sin, not to leave us trapped in sin.
But we cannot save ourselves. We cannot make ourselves acceptable to God by our own efforts. We can only come to Him and accept His free gift, Jesus Christ. When we receive Jesus we also receive right standing with God (righteousness).
ROMANS 5:17 NLT 17 For the sin of this one man, Adam, caused death to rule over many. But even greater is God’s wonderful grace and his gift of righteousness, for all who receive it will live in triumph over sin and death through this one man, Jesus Christ.
Remember: righteousness is a gift!
ROMANS 1:17 ESV 17 For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.”
Since the Bible reveals that we, who have been made righteous by receiving Jesus Christ, are to live by faith, we need to know what faith is.
Faith is what you believe. In the New Testament, faith is the noun form and believe is the verb form of the same word.
Faith is not difficult to understand. If you believe something, that is your faith. Faith and belief are the same thing.
A belief is something you have accepted as truth and consider to be true, whether it is actually true or not.
Faith is not a feeling, attitude, outlook, or state. Faith is primarily a choice, a decision of your will. Nothing can force you to believe. What you believe is a decision you make.
Here is a definition: Faith is always a decision, based on some evidence, resulting in some action.
So faith is when you are persuaded by the evidence you have been presented, and you make the decision to accept it as truth worthy of action.
If you were told the building you were in was on fire, you could say all day “I believe the building is on fire.” But when you actually believe it, you will leave the building.
Faith in God is a choice to believe what God says is true. It is accepting God’s Word as evidence worthy of acting upon.
Faith in God and His Word operates on the same principles as faith in anything else. There are no special rules. It is all a matter of what you believe.
MATTHEW 4:17 NKJ 17 From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”
The word “repent” as used in the New Testament, means to have a change of thinking, which results in a change of action.
Repent does not mean to ask forgiveness. You could ask for forgiveness all day and never repent.
Repent does not mean to have regret, remorse, or sorrow. You could be remorseful, full of sorrow, and regret greatly what you have done, yet never repent.
Repent does not mean to “shape up” and “live right.” Of course, the right kind of repentance should cause your actions to change so that you will be living right. But repent does not mean “to live right.”
It is even possible to quit a sin without repenting. People can quit a sin (at least temporarily) for many reasons. For example, the danger of being caught. That does not mean they have changed their thinking regarding the sin.
Repentance has to do with your beliefs, not primarily your actions. Do beliefs determine actions? Certainly. But we must look at them separately if we are to understand truth.
You might say that repentance is “coming to your senses” or “waking up to reality.”
Repentance has more to do with unbelief than with sin. But we have become so sin-conscious that most people think about repentance only as it relates to stopping sin.
If a person is walking one direction, why do they turn around and change direction? Because their belief changed.
They previously believed going that direction was the best thing for them to do under the circumstances. Then somehow they got new information and their belief changed to thinking going another direction was best for them under the new circumstances.
What you believe is what you will be-living or be doing.
A belief according to the Bible teaching is not just a mental idea, but what you have accepted as truth worthy of action.
Everything you now believe was once a choice you made. You chose either to accept or reject the evidence presented to you as being worthy of believing.
No human being is forced to believe anything. Every belief is a choice we make.
You may think that “seeing is believing,” but it is not true. Many times people have seen things but still refused to believe what they saw.
Repent does not mean “shape up and do right.” It does involve change. But the reason for the change is not guilt, but a change in belief.
Humans always do what they do because they believe it is in their best interest. What you have been doing in life is what you believed was your best option — under the circumstances you faced.
When you get new information and see a better option for yourself to take, it requires no struggle to choose the new better option.
So what was Jesus really saying when we read, “Repent, for the Kingdom of God is at hand.”? Change your beliefs! God’s rule is here!
MATTHEW 6:19-20 NLT 19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
When I was young my family had a wall plaque which said:
“Only one life, will soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last.”
1 CORINTHIANS 3:13 NLT 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.
If I buy a vehicle for myself it will last only a few years. Then it will rust, wear out, and break down.
But if I buy a vehicle for someone that will enable them to preach the Gospel to more people, the blessing and memory of that purchase will last for eternity.
This is not to say it is wrong to have nice things for ourselves. (For it does not bring glory to God for us to be in lack.) But we should not focus only on ourselves and our needs alone. If you are selfish and self-centered you will actually rob yourself of blessing, both now and for eternity.
GALATIANS 6:10 NLT 10 Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone — especially to those in the family of faith.
Each day we have a choice: live for eternity, or live for today.
The wise person will invest time and treasure in what will last.
JOHN 12:14-15 NKJ 14 Then Jesus, when He had found a young donkey, sat on it; as it is written: 15 “Fear not, daughter of Zion; Behold, your King is coming, Sitting on a donkey’s colt.”
If you have received Jesus, then Jesus lives in you. So wherever you go, Jesus goes. Just like the donkey in the verse above, you carry Jesus.
2 CORINTHIANS 6:16 NKJ 16 And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: “I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people.”
God is not living in a building on earth, but in people who believe in the Lord Jesus Christ. When people need or want to find God, they should be able to come to you.
GALATIANS 2:20 NKJ 20 “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.
Paul, who wrote this, understood that he was a carrier. You need to understand that you are also a carrier of Jesus. Jesus did not die on the cross just to redeem Paul the apostle. You are saved just like Paul was, with the same salvation and the same benefits.
COLOSSIANS 1:27 NKJ 27 To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory