Putting God first is not only basic, it is crucial! Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other…” (Matthew 6:24). That statement spells out the end result in our life when we have a divided heart toward God. It’s where the rubber meets the road, where and how life gets lived, that such a “sort-of” commitment is identified.
How is that, now? Jesus also said this:
“I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing” (John 15:5).
And the writer of Psalm 127:1 made this declaration:
“Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.”
This takes us back to the very first of the Ten Commandments: “You shall have no other gods before Me” (Exodus 20:3). And then, Jesus makes what could be considered the harshest statement that was ever uttered when He said this:
“Do not think that I came to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to ‘set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law’; and ‘a man’s enemies will be those of his own household” (Matthew 10:34-36).
It begs the question of what is God doing, and what is this all about? Is God really crossing Himself up? Are we not to love our neighbor, even our enemy and our family, especially? No! God is not confused, and His wisdom is not the wisdom of man. He is the source of all life, even of all things, and when the Scriptures tell of His jealousy for us, it is not in the manner of mankind. His jealousy is that man might really be the best of His creation. A well-intentioned and unselfish parent would want his child to excel in quality character traits and enjoy the best that God has for him or her.
That would be in keeping with the reason Jesus tells us, in John 10:10, this great contrasting of destinies:
“The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly.”
And that most positive of destinies starts with redemption:
“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus” (Romans 3:23-24).
The words Jesus said to the woman at the well in John 4 were so radically different than how she , a Samaritan, was thinking—that one would have to go to Jerusalem to worship God, if the Jews had their say about it. Jesus told her that the Jews had the message of salvation, but He said this, in a great departure from that well-trodden path to the temple in Jerusalem:
“But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for the Father is seeking such to worship Him. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth” (John 4:23-24).
The fact that God is Spirit means He is always present with the believer and is readily accessible in the name of Jesus Christ. That fact also demands that we come to Him in truth, that is, not selfishly or insincerely, but in repentance.
I have this gnawing suspicion that many of us spend a lot of time patching up our covering of fig leaves and not lifting our eyes up to see the awesome promises of God for those who have repented of their sins and accepted Jesus as their Savior. It happens to me, and to you, I’m as sure. Taking up our cross daily is a constant admonition to heed, for we are constantly nagged by our flesh to turn aside to those glittering baubles of delight that would entice us.
How Much of All Is Everything?
So let’s turn to some uplifting realities that are so because God is real and His promises are true and enduring. The Apostle Paul even makes this bold declaration, In 2 Corinthians 1:20 (for emphasis I am putting the word “all” in italics in the following verses.):
“For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God….”
“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
“And my God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19).
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us” (Ephesians 3:20).
“And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).
“The Lord is not… willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).
There are several verses listed here, and many others could be found. Isn’t it astounding how we stumble right on past these promises? May God help us in our unbelief!
God Is Not a Practical Joker
The following passage has always intrigued me because of its straight-forward and simple honesty in the comparison that is made to insure truth of the promise:
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened. Or what man is there among you who, if his son asks for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will he give him a serpent? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him!” (Matthew 7:7-11).
The words of that promise speak of relationship and kinship—we are sons of God, which is implied to be so much more than our human family relationship. It is one of positive intent, but let’s remember that God, as the knowing heavenly Father, measures out to us according to the measure of our faith. That is, is it such that we can handle it and keep Him first place in our lives? Even the Apostle Paul acknowledged, “I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound” (Philippians 4:12).
Even so, God will not let Himself be found as one who holds back any promise, any blessing, from those who put Him first and whose hearts are right with Him, having wrapped all of them up in this declaration:
“He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things?” (Romans 8:32).
No doubt we will be probing the depths of that one for a long, long time!