Putting God First In Your Life

We can allow life’s pressures and demands to pull us away from God. Our time with God, the quiet, purposeful, peaceful, and planned time that we spend to “Seek first His Kingdom and His Righteousness” (Matthew 6: 33), is the difference between a life full of meaning, truth, and love and one full of shallowness, meaninglessness, and bitterness. We must guard this time, cherish it, and always make time alone to put God first in our lives.

Matthew 6:33 says, ”But seek first His kingdom and righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.”

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God’s Love Is Permanent

That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; and to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. Ephesians 3:17-19

One of the most vivid characteristics of God is that he is a God of love. God’s love bleeds into every fabric and fiber of our lives. His love touches every area of our lives. There is nowhere we can go to escape his love. There is no problem that we will encounter that is not touched by his love. There is no advancement that we will make where God is not already there. Even when our world falls apart, we can say, “God, I don’t know why this is happening. I don’t understand it, but I am glad to know you love me.

Lately I have been reflecting and thinking about the steadfast love of God. I come to realize that my love for the Lord and others can be so fickle at times. Some days I am thankful, some days I grumble and complain. If someone does something to irritate me, it is natural for me to become withdrawn. But incredibly, God’s love is steadfast. Immoveable, unchangeable and faithful. God’s love is incomprehensible. God’s unconditional and intense love for fallen humanity motivated the plan of salvation (Revelation 1:5). God’s love motivates His compassion and mercy (love in action). His love brings transformation.

Clearly God is love, 1 John 4:9-10 tells us that In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him. Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. God’s love is the foundation of all of life, it is the root that ties us down and nourishes us.

God’s love is the very basis of who we are and all we do. Every phone call we make, every whatsapp message we send, every e-mail we send, every church service we attend, every television programme we watch, every friendship we cultivate is meant to be rooted in the fabulous love of God. If we fail to root deep in the fertile soil of God’s love the only thing that can result is a shallow and sickly life, ending in death.

A few nights ago I dreamt I saw these words written in BOLD on the wall above the clock in my room, “GOD’S LOVE IS PERMANENT”. A sudden calm came over me. I have heard these words, “God loves me” many times and in many different ways, but to think that His love is permanent brought a new perspective to my beliefs. What struck me was how I don’t always live like I believe that “God’s love is permanent.” God’s love is not constrained by my sense of time or limited to our good deeds or lack of it.

While I will be quick to say “God loves me,” if I take an honest inventory of my life, at times I live as if God’s love has an expiration date. It is found in very subtle ways: When I am overwhelmed with life, I’m so busy trying to figure out things on my own that I don’t have time for God’s love (or to think that He actually wants to be a part of my busy schedule. While I do indeed know by experience that God loves me my heart memory fades. But God loves us all no matter where we are in life. His love is unconditional and is without limit. God loves us in all seasons of life. God’s love is permanent and can never fade away. Whether we go forward or backward, up to the heights or down to the depths, nothing will separate us from the love of Christ.

Jeremiah 31:3 “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving-kindness have I drawn thee.”

The sum of all this is that no matter how we attempt to measure the love of God, whether in its height, breadth, length or depth, the result is the same. It is infinite in its extent. There can be no greater love than His! And the supreme demonstration of the greatness of God’s love is seen in what it has accomplished for us.

Father, it is so humbling that you love us! May we fully appreciate that you love us in this way. Help us to understand just how much you love us so that when others see us, they see you! Help us to live in such a way that they see your love in us and through us.

God’s Love Is Steadfast

Isaiah 54:10 says, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”

Do you know that you are loved? Do you live daily in the knowledge of the love God has for you?

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Wholehearted Trust In God

Proverbs 3:5-6: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not to your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths.”

Sometimes the God of the universe pauses in the midst of all His creation to touch the heart of one person. Yesterday He paused just for me. As I was traveling home last evening, the Lord brought me back to Proverbs 3:5-6. As I started to really meditate on the words and what God was trying to speak to my heart, I realized how much I knew the verse in my head but not in my heart. This is a condensed version of how I felt God broke it down to my heart.

Our trust in God must be undivided, for the double minded man is unstable in all his ways. The Bible says in James that we can’t be “double-minded” (James 1:8, 4:8). We are commanded to trust God with nothing less than “all our heart” [Note it says all your heart] and to obey Him in all our ways. This means, undoubtingly; undividedly; lovingly, total commitment to Him. It involves every fiber of our being. That’s the kind of trust we can have in God, a complete, unshakable, deep, abiding trust.

We need to notice something else about where Solomon says our trust should be placed: in the Lord – LORD in all capital letters.

We are to set our trust in the Lord entirely, with all our heart, with complete confidence in Him.

Certainly, He is worthy of such whole-hearted trust and confidence. Even so, Psalm 5:11-12 declares, “But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee. For thou, LORD, wilt bless the righteous; with favour wilt thou compass him as with a shield.”

Psalms 34:8 Oh, taste and see that the LORD is good; blessed is the man who trusts in Him. The closing portion of Proverbs 3:5 gives the instruction, And lean not unto thine own understanding.” We are to have no manner of self-confidence whatsoever. We are not to lean in any way, even the smallest bit, upon our own wisdom and ability. We must look unto God for counsel.

We are to acknowledge our Lord in every step, in every decision and direction, that we take in our daily living. He loves to be consulted. Therefore, take all your plans to Him. Be in the habit of going to Him in the first place, before self-will, self-pleasing, self-wisdom, human friends, convenience, expediency. Before any of these have been consulted, go to God at once. Consider no circumstances too clear to need His direction. In all thy ways, small as well as great; in all thy concerns, personal or relative, temporal or eternal, let Him be supreme.

In every step that we take in our daily walk, our Lord is not simply with us to help us along the way; He is also with us to direct us in the way. He is the Lord our God, and we must acknowledge the lordship authority of His will and direction in all our ways. Whatever we do, in word or deed, we are to do all under the authority of our Lord for His glory. Not our will, but His will is to be done. Daily, in all our ways, we are to deny our own will, take up our cross of submission to His will, and to follow after Him in absolute obedience. (Luke 9:23)

Finally, are there any benefits for trusting God, not relying on your own understanding and acknowledging Him in all your ways? I hope from faith and experience you can answer the question. But if you have any doubts, verse 6 concludes with a promise. It says that the result of following these commands is that “He will direct your path.” God promises clear direction to those who trust in Him. The path mentioned here is the course of our lives.

The response that God is commanding from all of us is to trust Him and put our faith in Him and not ourselves. Let each day be filled with the wonder of His presence guiding us, so that His ways become our ways. He is able to make straight paths for those who trust Him, acknowledge Him and lean not on their own understanding.

God wants to give us His guidance. He knows we need it, He knows we will fail without it. He also knows our capacity to follow His direction. He waits for us to pay attention to Him, to trust Him with our whole heart and to reject our own abilities to guide ourselves.

From this experience I do believe that we often sing the words of songs and quote scriptures without really stopping to think about what they really mean. Too often we just go through the motions. I don’t want to take another bible study or go to another church service without leaving there different than when I went in. I don’t want to just gain head knowledge, or have some fuzzy, feel good moment, I want to leave there empowered by the Holy Spirit to be different, to do different. I want to be empowered to be a world changer.

Lord I thank you that while our lives are ‘like the evening shadow’, you are eternal. Thank you that we can trust you no matter what situation we find ourselves in.

Don’t Give Up In The Storm – Part 5

Scripture Reference: Mark 4:35-41

Sometimes before you can put one problem to rest, you find yourself assaulted by another. I can tell you from my own experience that the problems of life can sometimes come upon us and before we can get one thing straightened out, we are bombarded with another. And no one can better testify to that fact than Job. Job as you may recall faced a series of problems that came one behind another.

Job was a great man of faith. He had not just gone through all the right motions. He had the right heart to go with his actions. He had been so faithful that he had been the subject of a conversation in heaven.

“Have you considered my servant Job?” God asked Satan. “There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.” (Job 1:8)

But after the storm battered Job long enough, he had some serious questions about God. The combination of pain, of heartache and of unending agony shattered his impression of the God he had always known. The logic was impossible to miss, no matter how long Job tried to keep a good impression of his God. If God was in control of everything, why had God allowed such suffering? So often we can relate to Job’s concerns. If God noticed the faithfulness of one of his humans, why would God reward that faithfulness with such pain?

Make no mistake about it. Pain is an incredibly powerful tool of teaching. Great change has taken place when people connect with pain, even when the pain is in the life of someone else.

Like Job many of us have gone through and are going through a series of painful experiences. There are times when life feels like being on a tiny, dilapidated boat in a big ocean in the midst of a giant storm. This feeling can be terrifying, as if impending doom surrounds us.

But we are reminded in Isaiah 43:2, When thou passest through the water, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee.

Many persons are in a storm right now and it is not a storm that has been around just a little while, but you have been in that storm for a long time. And you hoped so much that it would soon pass over. But here it is still raging. In some of our lives rather than the storm getting better, in spite of all of our prayers, in spite of all that we have done, that storm is still raging and getting worse.

The storms of life are many and varied. Storms can affect our health, one bad report from the doctor can cause our life to end up in a storm. Sometimes they are named Ivan, Andrew, Gilbert or Matthew. Other times they come clothed in the loss of job, financial crisis or family problems. Storms can get into your homes and cause turbulence for you and your family.

In John 16:33, Jesus promises, “In this world you will have trouble.” He doesn’t say we might have trouble or that the possibility exists. Instead, He assures us that life will bring trouble. Thankfully, He doesn’t stop here. He continues, “But take heart! I have overcome the world.”

James 1:12 Blessed is the man that endureth temptation: for when he is tried he shall receive the crown of life, which the Lord hath promised to them that love him.

Sometimes the storms in our lives appear without warning. Jesus was in the boat with his disciples sleeping when ‘without warning, a furious storm came up on the lake, so that the waves swept over the boat’ (Matthew 8:24).

Presumably the disciples were used to storms on the Sea of Galilee; it was renowned for sudden flash storms, stirring the water into huge waves. However, this storm must have been a particularly serious one because his disciples came to him, and awoke him, saying, Lord, save us: we perish!’ Matthew 8:.25.

Sometimes it appears that Jesus is ‘sleeping’ and does not appear to be doing anything about our problems. Thankfully, like the disciples we can all cry out to him. Peace may not always come as it did that day, the storm may not be replaced by perfect calm. Instead the peace the Spirit brings is there pulling us THROUGH.

He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. Psalms 91:15

My brothers and sisters, in spite of the shaking, in spite of the thunder and the lightening; in spite of the waves, that seemingly will destroy the ship, hold on in the storm. Psalm 30:5 says, “Weeping may endure for a night, but JOY comes in the morning.

I can tell you this, many times you see me smiling but you don’t know what I am going through. You hear me telling people to hang in there but they don’t know what I am going through. You don’t know the hardships I may be going through; but God allows me to encourage others in spite of it; he allows me to pray for others in spite of it and He keeps me going in spite of.

The word of God declares in Ps 119:92 that “If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”

Knowing that Heavenly Father is always there for me is one of the things that gets me up and willing to face another day. Whether it be a small thing or a big thing , I know that my Father is watching over me. When the tempests are raging in my life, when I don’t know who to trust or where to go for help, I know that He won’t abandon me. Bad things may happen, and dark times may come, but my Father loves me and cares about me.

In the storms, it is the word of God that gives us peace, hope, and assurance and that is why we need to trust the word of God. In the midst of the storms David says, ‘My shield is God Most High…I will give thanks to the Lord because of his righteousness and will sing praise to the name of the Lord Most High’ (Psalm 7:10, 17).

It is important to realize that we won’t be where we started when the storm ends. Just as the ark carried Noah to a new location to start again, we will be different and changed. Hopefully, we will feel that olive branch of peace in our own hands as we trust the One who works all things for our good. But certainly, if we keep looking up, we’ll notice our rainbow.

Our God is the God who parted the Red Sea, stilled the sun, raised people from the dead, healed the sick and control nature. This God is on our side! He is the captain in the storm; He has not stopped driving and is fully in control. The storm you are in is an opportunity to display the faith you say you have. Jesus is with you in the middle of the deepest storm.

No one enjoys suffering. But in the hands of almighty God, trials become tools. He uses hardship to shape believers into the people He intends them to be. Jesus allowed the disciples to experience the fear and anxiety of being in a boat on a raging sea. He permitted them to suffer because He had something far more important to teach them. He wanted the disciples to recognize their own helplessness, His sufficiency and their dependence on Him.

Are you facing a storm today? Are you being pounded by life’s rough waters? Are you facing some of the darkest days of your life right now. Let me remind you that our God is ever with you. For he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee! Hebrews 13:5. Let me remind you that even in the darkest hours of life God is still God and He is still in control of your life. Even the darkest hours of life cannot hide you from the face of God. He is there even when you cannot see Him.

Regardless of what you are facing in life, remember that Jesus is greater than that storm you may be facing. If you will be patient and wait for Him, He will show up right on time. You will see that the storm was used by the Lord to make Himself clear to you. The very thing you fear will be the vehicle He uses to show up in your life. God can use the difficult days to teach us more about Himself and to help us grow in the Lord. He will use the storms to make you more like Him. As we look to the future, I urge you to stay in the boat through the roughest storms. For God is truly with us in the midst of the wind and waves.

(If this devotion was helpful to you please consider leaving your feedback in the comments section at the bottom. It would be a great encouragement to me personally)