In the Beginning

Marriage is crazy. My wife and I have been married for only five years and so it’s safe to say we’re still figuring things out. And sometimes we’re spot on with each other, completely in sync, bonded, and powerful- and sometimes we couldn’t be further from that statement. We had a similar upbringing, similar adulthoods, even made similar mistakes which eventually God used to bring us together. We came back to Christ around the same time, believe in the bible, got involved with our church, and yet in our faith walk, we have radically different experiences.

That’s not uncommon in a household, one person in the house allows God to author every aspect of their life, even in challenging seasons, nothing shakes them. Then there are those of us that just seem to jump from tragedy, to drama, to conflict, to anxiety, one after another. We all believe in God, don’t we? We’re all reading our Bibles, right? Then why is there such a difference experience between two people who have been walking similar paths? Truth is, it all comes down to order. The ways we prioritize our world directly impacts our life experiences. I would  even say  that  a  life  that  God  blesses.  A  life  empowered  by  His  spirit  is  not  just  about  what  we  offer  to  God,  but  the  order  in  which  we  offer  it.

Here’s  the  truth.  God  must  be  first.  When  God  is  first  in  every  area  of  your  life,  the  rest  of  your  life  will  be  filled  with  order.  If  God  isn’t  first  in  any  area  of  your  life,  I  would  argue  that  your  life  will  be  full  of  disorder.  Order  matters.  Look  at  what  Jesus  himself  said  in  the  gospel  of  Matthew  chapter  6.  He  says, “But  seek  first  God’s  kingdom  and  his  righteousness,  and  then  all  these  things  will  be  added  to  you  as  well.” In fact, the Bible starts out in Genesis with four of the most powerful words in history: “In the beginning, GOD…” I want to look at four truths today, that I think will not only change your year, but change the rest of your life.

IN THE BEGINNING… of our day you roll out of bed, use the restroom, and make yourself a cup of coffee- all important things. But once you get your bearings, the first thing you should be doing is seeking God. Just take a few moments with your creator before anything significant happens. Psalm 63:1 says it tis way, “Oh God you are my God. Early will I seek you. My soul thirsts for you, my flesh longs for you in a dry and thirsty land, where there is no water.” Time matters. Priority matters. Order matters. In the gospel of Mark chapter one. Scripture says, very early in the morning while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went off to a solitary place where He prayed. Before anyone was awake. Before the sun rose in the east. Before nature and creation woke up. The son of man needed to connect and be filled and empowered by the presence of His Father before He started the day. If the son of God needed to connect to His Father before He started the day, how much more do you? How much more do I need that? It’s not that you can’t pray on your lunch break or read Scripture in the afternoon or before you go to bed. All of that is fine, but there is something special about giving the first of your day to God that sets the tone for the rest of the day. It matters, and it will change you.

 IN THE BEGINNING…of our week we are going to worship. Not just worship at church, but worship God together, communally. Acts 20:7 says this: On the first day of the week we, the church, came together to break bread. Every week! Not once per month, not only on Christmas and Easter, but every week. In fact, if you  look  at  The  Book  of  Acts.  At  the  beginning  of  the  church, the  Bible  says  that  the  church  devoted  themselves  to  the  Apostles  teaching.  to  the  breaking  of  bred.  To  the  fellowship  and  to  prayer.  Devoted  themselves.  It  goes  on  to  say  that  they  ate  and  met  together  with  glad  and  sincere  hearts,  and  every  day they  met  together  in  the  temple  courts, then  from  house  to  house.  Every  day  they  met  together,  and  as  a  result,  Scripture  says  the  Lord  added  to  the  number  daily  those  who  were  being  saved. Why was the early church so dedicated to gathering every day and we struggle to dedicate an hour once per week? They were just holier back then, right? No! They were just more honest about how desperately they needed each other. We  need  to  get  better  at  needing  each  other.  This  is  not  just  a  value  added  to  your  week  when  you  can.  Your  soul  needs  what  is  happening  right  now,  and  so  does  mine.    It’s  not  a  suggestion.  It’s  a  priority.

IN THE BEGINNING…of the month we worship with a tithe. Let’s look at this. Leviticus. Scripture says that a tithe of everything from the land, whether grain from the soil or fruit from the trees, belongs to the Lord. It is Holy to the Lord. A tithe. A tenth. The first tenth. It’s not even just ten percent of your income, it’s the first tenth. A tithe, not only is the Lord’s. Not only does it belong possessively to God, but he goes the extra mile to say it is Holy to God. And you may be thinking, a tenth is a stretch for my family, and I totally get it, we’ve been there too. I remember us having to rearrange every aspect of our lives to give the first tenth to God- but that’s kind of the point of all this. We are choosing to rearrange our entire world so that God is first. And when we have the heart to say “God you are first. Before you even bless me God, I worship you.” What do you think that does to the heart of God for his kids? I think it inclines his heart to yours.

IN THE BEGINNING…of our year we offer God a fast. Fasting  is  sacrificing  nutrition.  Denying  yourself  physical  nutrition  for  the  purpose  of  pressing  in  to  God’s  presence.  People  fast  for  all  kinds  of  different  reasons.  They  fast  for  someone  who’s  sick  to  be  healed.  They  fast  because  they  have  a  big  decision  to  make,  and  I’m  going  to  offer  this  fast  God  to  seek  clarity.  Others,  I  just  want  to  feel  God’s  presence  more  in  my  life.  I  want  to  be  more  on  fire  for  the  things  of  God  then  I’ve  ever  been  before,  so  I’m  going  to  offer  a  fast  to  God. All  throughout  Scripture  you  see  fasting.  There’s  even  three  times  in  the  Bible  that  we  know  of  where  people  fasted  for  40  days.  Moses,  receiving  The  Ten  Commandments  fasted  for  40  days.  Elijah  on  the  mountain encountering  the  Lord  fasted  for  40  days.  Jesus  himself,  in  the  desert  being  tempted,  fasted  for  40 days. Fasting  is  one  of  the  most  misunderstood  concepts  in  the  Bible  because  if  you’re  new  to  this  whole  thing,  and  you  say,  “Okay  I’m  going  to  not  eat,  and  none  of  us  are  going  to  eat  much.”  How  is  that  going  to  produce  anything  but  grumpy,  hungry  people?  How  does  that  bless God? We  want  to  be  joyful  when  we’re  fasting.  Matthew  6  says,  But  when  you  fast  put  oil  on  your  head  and  wash  your  face  so  that  it  will  not  be  obvious  to  men  that  you  are  fasting,  but  only  to  your  Father  who  is  unseen.  Your  Father  who  sees  what  is  done  in  secret  will  reward  you.  It’s  something  that  we  offer  to  God  with joy.

SIDE NOTE: We  don’t  put  God  first.  God  already  is  first.  He  has  always  been  first.  Before  the  earth  was  whispered  into  existence  God  was  church.  He  was  there.  Before  He  said  let  us  create  man  in  our  image  to  have  an  object  to  love  and  to  be  loved  by  He  existed.  Before  sin  even  entered  in  the  human  experience,  God  was  scheming  a  plan  of  redemption.  Make  no  mistake.  We  don’t  put  God  first. It’s that we’re  recognizing  he’s  already  first,  and  then  we  are  going  to  then  align  every  aspect  of  our  lives  to  the  order  of  creation.  When  you  do  what  Jesus  did  in  Matthew  6  I’m  going  to  seek  you  first.  I’m  going  to  place  you  first  because  I  recognize  you  have  always  been  first.  The  rest  of  your  life  will  be  power, peace,  clarity,  provision,  and  then  God  is  going  to  use  you  to  impact  other  people’s  lives.

I challenge you, if 2020 isn’t going as you expected (that’s the understatement of the year) then consider focusing on the order of your life and placing God first. It’s time to turn this ship around.

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