Saturday, January 10, 2009

First Things First

Pastor Tim Howard
January 10, 2009

Like many young children growing up on the east coast, I enjoyed learning and playing the game of baseball. When I hit the ball off that “T” at the ripe old age of 4 and ran directly to second base, however, I should have realized that pro ball was not going to be an option for me. The coaches, players and the people were all shouting the same thing. “You must go to first base first.” It’s a part of the game. It’s the way you play the game. It’s necessary if you are going to win the game. When you don’t go to first - FIRST, you are disqualified and lose.

What is true for the game of baseball is also true for your life. If you don’t put first things first, you will lose. No one wants to be a loser! No one makes plans to end up bankrupt and lose their business, reputation and possessions. Who marries someone with the desire to be divorced? Losing is not fun and losing is not what God intends for those who seek His wisdom. There is a way that leads to death and defeat but God’s way leads to life and victory. The teachings of Jesus help define our priorities and explain the importance of putting first things first. When you do this, you experience fruitfulness, fulfillment and success. If you don’t put first things first, you will be aligning yourself with the losing team.

Take note of what Jesus considered first things.

The First Commandment: Matthew 22:36-38 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.”

To succeed in life you must make God the first one you turn to in life.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” To succeed in life you must make God’s business your first concern, even above your own.

Matthew 7:4-5 “How can you think of saying, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye? Hypocrite! First get rid of the log from your own eye; then perhaps you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye.” To succeed in life you must be willing to let God correct your life before you attempt to correct others.

Matthew 5:23-24 “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” To succeed in life you must make sure your relationships are free from anger, bitterness, resentment, envy, coveting and any damaging attitude.

These “first things,” or core values, are a guiding rule for living successfully with others. They are the bottom line for a victorious spiritual life. God has designed you to be fruitful so I encourage you to put first things first in 2009.