First Place :: by Grant Phillips

Do you remember when you were a youngster, now think hard, and were the last one picked for the sandlot ball game? Perhaps a baseball game with your buddies or a cheerleading event with your friends comes to mind? Remember the time when invitations for a party were sent out, but yours got ‘lost?’

Many folks remember those times, but would just as soon not. Even as adults we often find we may not be in the ‘in’ crowd. That’s okay! Not everybody gets first place in life! (I realize that may not always be the case today, but that’s another story.)

Thinking back to our school days, it is obvious to all of us that some people were popular and envied by others, while most were just lost in the crowd. Again, as adults, that also holds true.

There are many reasons for individual popularity, whether you’re school age or a working or retired adult. For example some reasons could be: a position held among your peers; education; looks; success in sports, music, occupation, wealth, etc. It’s easy to look at others and just assume they got first place in life’s little blessings, and we got left out.

Look, that’s life. We’ve all been there, or at least many of us have, and we need to just move on if we haven’t already. Teenagers are probably the worse for thinking their life is over if some little thing doesn’t work out to their favor, such as a special person they want to notice them. (To you teenagers: Believe it or not, we adults used to be teenagers and know exactly where you’re coming from.)

And now to the real issue, the most important thing in our life is our eternal destiny, and we can all come in first place, if we want to. Yeah, I know, the earthly issues all too often override the eternal issues. Why is that? It’s a matter of the heart.

But when our heart is set on Jesus Christ, everything else lessens in importance, and those things that actually are important are cherished, because they are seen as a gift from God. I look back over the years and for the life of me can’t remember why I thought at the time that some things were so critically important. Now some of those things are not important at all.

For many in society, there is a hunger in the soul that is striving to be fed, but forever remains unsatisfied. The banquet table of the world will never bring true nourishment. We can try to fill that hole in our soul through popularity, wealth, sex, drugs, ‘you name it,’ but there is only one thing that can provide what we need. That one thing that every human being needs to be fulfilled is the presence of God in their very being, their soul. All who have Jesus Christ as the Lord of their life, come in first place.

Truly happy people have Jesus in their hearts. They have His Spirit, the Holy Spirit, directing their path, and because of Jesus, they can fellowship with the same Father God that Jesus prayed to so often as the Son of Man.

In Matthew 5:3-11 Jesus opens each verse with the word “Blessed.” This word means “Happy.” As you read those verses, begin each verse with “Happy” and let them speak to you personally.

To be happy is to know Jesus. All who come to Him through saving faith is first place in His heart. Think about this; even when we were sinners, His enemies, He loved us and died for us. “But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) That’s first place in my book anytime. Think how precious we are to Him as His very own!

He said to Jerusalem, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!” (Luke 13:34) He wants the same for us too, but will we be like Jerusalem, or will we come to Him? He has promised to reject no one who will come to Him.

“All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out.” (John 6:37)

Life throws us many curves. Feelings are hurt. Emotional scars last for years. Memories run deep. None of us are exempt. So, we can allow all the negatives in our lives to destroy us, or we can have victory over them and finally be happy, but our souls will never be content until they are filled with what God intended, and that is His presence.

The world just fills the soul with junk. There will always be a void. We must come to God to satisfy our soul, and the pathway, the only pathway, is through His Son, Jesus Christ.

“Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6)

Maybe you have been kicked around all your life. You have no friends. You have never known love. You are now in deep despair. There is light at the ‘end of your tunnel,’ and that light is Jesus. He loves you. He will save you, give you eternal life and gather you to Him. Jesus Christ is God, and He died and rose again to save you. You are always important to Him, important enough to die for you. He, and He only, can fill the emptiness in your soul.

This hole in the human heart can only be sealed and filled by God. Even a Christian can sometimes fill left out, not in touch or distant from God, but why? It most certainly isn’t because God slights any of us. He wants a close personal relationship with each of us. So what’s wrong?

Any relationship demands communication. So how can there be a relationship without it, and does not communication require at least two participants? Of course it does. God communicates to us through His Word, and even through all His creation, but we need to communicate also, and we do that through prayer.

Our relationship with God is like a marriage. Maybe that’s why God uses marriage so often to describe our relationship with Him. Couples are most happy in their marriage when both communicate with each other. When we don’t communicate with God we aren’t happy. We start having doubts, feelings of inadequacy, and a lot of ‘blah’ days.  When we faithfully communicate with our Lord we are exhilarated and at peace with ourselves because we are conscious of just how important we are to the one and only true God. We know we are loved and “we love Him, because He first loved us.” (1 John  4:19)

We are always first place with the Lord Jesus Christ.

Grant Phillips