Keeping God first in our lives takes endurance. It’s a decision we make day by day, even moment by moment at times. We want to keep Him the priority in our decisions and in how we live our lives. That may not always be easy. We can be tempted to give up at times, to think it is too difficult to live like that for the rest of our lives. Pressures and even pleasures of this life may try to distract us from keeping God first.
Our heavenly Father knows that we have an opponent, an adversary, who does not want the true God to have first place in our lives. It’s a spiritual competition, and God has given us everything we need to be successful. He has given us the resources we need, and He has given us the promise of the hope of Christ’s return to help us keep Him first in our lives now. Remembering the Hope gives us endurance, comfort, and encouragement to be strong in the Lord.
Finally, my brethren, be strong in the Lord, and in the power of his might.
Put on the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil.
For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.
Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.
God’s Word gives us many examples of men and women who loved God and faithfully stood for Him throughout their lifetime. What helped them stay committed day after day to keep God first? Jesus Christ stood strong, no matter the circumstances he faced. The Apostle Paul also faced challenges as he stood for God. What helped him say in II Timothy 4:7, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith”? As we look at the examples of Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul, we will see that they kept the reality of their glorious future alive in their minds. By seeing their examples and by reading vision-building scriptures about our glorious future with the hope of Christ’s return, we will gain a deeper appreciation for how the Hope helps us keep God first now.
Throughout his earthly ministry Jesus Christ walked in fellowship with God, keeping Him first day by day. He manifested God’s strength and always did his Father’s will, no matter the circumstances.
For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.
Jesus Christ endured much, much more than any of us will ever have to. Shortly before his crucifixion, Jesus Christ prayed three times for “this cup” to pass from him. “This cup” represented what Jesus Christ would need to do to take the judgment for man’s sins upon himself by his suffering and dying on the cross. Yet each time, he prayed that not his will, but God’s will be done. Jesus Christ chose to take the cup God set before him. What helped him do this?
The Book of Hebrews teaches us that Jesus Christ focused on the joy that was set before him, and this helped him do what he needed to do to redeem mankind.
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds.
Jesus Christ saw beyond the cross, beyond the torture and the mocking of the onlookers. He chose to focus on “the joy that was set before him”—the joy of fulfilling God’s will and redeeming mankind, the joy of being seated at God’s right hand forevermore.
As we consider how Jesus Christ lived and how he held God’s Word in his mind, it helps us to stay strong and focused in our desire to faithfully keep God first. We want to walk like Jesus Christ did. We also want to serve our heavenly Father and carry out the good works He has called us to do. We look unto Jesus Christ, the author and finisher of believing. By doing this we can lay aside anything that could distract us from our desire to keep God first and to focus on the joy of our future, living with Him for all eternity.
We run this race of life with patience. We do not give in to the pressures of this life, and we do not get enticed by the things of this world. Instead, we consider how Jesus Christ dealt with the pressures and the unbelief he faced. He endured by anticipating the joy of his future. This joy is an inside quality which is not dependent on our immediate circumstance but comes from within, from knowing we have a glorious future promised by God Himself….
This is an excerpt from the May/June 2014 issue of The Way Magazine.
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