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.