First Things First – Pastor Chuck

Matt 6:33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NLT)

Jan 1 is the day recognized around the world as a day of new beginnings, a time with in the journey of life where everyone gets the opportunity to thank God for keeping them and providing for them the year past but also the opportunity for God to give each and every one of us a fresh start as we strive toward the future.

A time where we can let go of certain things that have possibly held us back, and a time where other things that have brought us joy and fulfillment we can work harder at making them a little stronger and a little more effective for the future we believe God has promised us.

 Our walk with God
 Our marriage
 Our families
 Our education
 Our business or career
 Our ministry

We all get a brand new opportunity to make this new year of life the best one thus far.

Most historians credit the Roman emperor Julius Caesar with developing the Julian calendar, designating January 1 as the start of a new year.

The Gregorian calendar, which many nations around the world use today, arrived in 1582 when Pope Gregory XIII aligned the calendar, not with the moon, but with the earth’s rotation around the sun — marking 365 days.

But above Julius Caesar and Pope Gregory XIII being the brilliant minds that have influenced us all to recognize Jan 1 as the day we begin a new year, I believe it is important for all of us to understand how God see’s the first, not just the first day of the year but the first of everything.

Our opening scripture Jesus instructs the Jewish disciples of that time that they should not live their lives like the rest of society, but they should make it a lifestyle practice of putting and keeping God first.

MATT 6:25 “Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear.

Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 26 Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.

Are you not much more valuable than they? 27 Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life?

28 “And why do you worry about clothes? See how the lilies of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. 29 Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.

30 If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith?

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

33 But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (NLT)

  1. God Must Be First

This principle that is being communicated by Jesus here in the New Testament is a principle that God had been communicating to His people from the beginning of time.

Give me the first and I will bless the rest.

We can see the difference when we look at the lives of Cain and Abel.

Gen 4 When they grew up, Abel became a shepherd, while Cain cultivated the ground. When it was time for the harvest, Cain presented some of his crops as a gift to the Lord.

Abel also brought a gift—the best portions of the firstborn lambs from his flock. The Lord accepted Abel and his gift,

but he did not accept Cain and his gift. This made Cain very angry, and he looked dejected. (NLT)

Abel gave God the first and the best and was blessed, Cain gave God what ever he wanted when ever he wanted and he walked away angry and frustrated.

We must decide what type of year do we want, do we want a joyful year with God’s blessing and favor or do we want a year of frustration and disappointment?

The result of our year will be a direct reflection on the practice of our principles.

The main principle we must protect will be the principle of making and keeping God first with in everything we do.

  1. First hours of the day

When we wake up God gets the first hours of the day and the rest of the day will be blessed with joy and favor.

Psalm 5:3 Listen to my voice in the morning, Lord. Each morning I bring my requests to you and wait expectantly. (NLT)

Mark 1:35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place (NIV)

When you and I cultivate the discipline of Morning Prayer and dedicate each day to the Lord we will walk in wisdom, strength and favor to experience everything God has for us on a daily basis.

  1. First day of the week

Not only the first hours of each day but also the first day of the week is a day that we dedicate unto the Lord so that the Lord may bless the rest of our week.

Many believe that their week starts on Monday and they put their energy into how they are going to make as much money as possible that week.

Some live in a way that their week begins on Friday that they are going to put their energy into having an amazing weekend with friends and family

But we as God’s people should start our week in the house of the Lord on Sunday giving God our energy in worship, so that we can walk in the favor of God the rest of the week.

Acts 20:7 On the first day of the week we came together to break bread.

Heb 10: 25 And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near.

  1. First fruits of our increase

Another way you and I keep God first and priority within our lives is through our giving, by giving God our first fruits our tithe.

Prov 3:9   Honor the Lord with your wealth,

with the firstfruits of all your crops;

10      then your barns will be filled to overflowing,

and your vats will brim over with new wine.

Malachi 3:10 Bring the whole tithe into the storehouse, that there may be food in my house. Test me in this,” says the Lord Almighty, “and see if I will not throw open the floodgates of heaven and pour out so much blessing that you will not have room enough for it.

11 I will prevent pests from devouring your crops, and the vines in your fields will not cast their fruit,” says the Lord Almighty.

12 “Then all the nations will call you blessed, for yours will be a delightful land,” says the Lord Almighty.

  1. Love if the foundation of the first

If you and I are going to experience the promise connected to the principle it is not only the practice of the principle but more importantly it is the motive that moves us into the practicing of the principle.

James 4: Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. (NLT)

The motive that you and I cultivate and protect throughout 2023 must be the motive of, “I do what I do because I love Jesus!”.

Before we could put God first we must love God first.

Rev 2:“I know all the things you do. I have seen your hard work and your patient endurance. I know you don’t tolerate evil people. You have examined the claims of those who say they are apostles but are not. You have discovered they are liars.

You have patiently suffered for me without quitting.

“But I have this complaint against you. You don’t love me or each other as you did at first! Look how far you have fallen! Turn back to me and do the works you did at first.

The motivation for 2023 must be a motivation that has been birthed from a deep sincere love in our heart for Jesus.

 We give Jesus the first hours of the day because we love him

 We give Jesus the first day of the week because we love him

 We give Jesus the first fruits of our increase because we love him

Jesus’ greatest desire from you and I as his people is that we would love him with everything that is with in us and that we would love eachother!

Matt 22:36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?” 37 Jesus replied, “ ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’

  1. The Promise is connected to the practice

When you and I practice the principle of the first, we will see the promise of God come to pass within our lives.

Matt 6:25 “That is why I tell you not to worry about everyday life—whether you have enough food and drink, or enough clothes to wear. Isn’t life more than food, and your body more than clothing?

26 Look at the birds. They don’t plant or harvest or store food in barns, for your heavenly Father feeds them. And aren’t you far more valuable to him than they are?

27 Can all your worries add a single moment to your life?

28 “And why worry about your clothing? Look at the lilies of the field and how they grow. They don’t work or make their clothing,

29 yet Solomon in all his glory was not dressed as beautifully as they are.

30 And if God cares so wonderfully for wildflowers that are here today and thrown into the fire tomorrow, he will certainly care for you. Why do you have so little faith?

31 “So don’t worry about these things, saying, ‘What will we eat? What will we drink? What will we wear?’

32 These things dominate the thoughts of unbelievers, but your heavenly Father already knows all your needs. 33 Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need

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