BY PASTOR T. O. BANSO
“In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts” (Proverbs 3:6 TLB). Someone said, “Put God first and you will never be last.”
In our world today, many things are contesting with God as number one in our lives – our work or career, family, recreation or hobby, friends, social media, etc. But to put anything ahead of God is to make it a god in your life. It is a dangerous thing to do. He says you shall have no other gods before Him (Exodus 20:3).
As I talk about making God number one in your life, I also talk about making Jesus Christ number one because Jesus said, “ I and My Father are one” (John 10:30 NKJV). He said anyone who had seen Him had seen the Father (John 14:9).
God is a jealous God (Exodus 20:5a; 34:14; Deuteronomy 4:24b; 5:9a; 6:15; Joshua 24:19a). God wants to be number one in your life; He wants you to put Him first. When you do, you’ll get other priorities right. Make God your number one priority in all things. A paraphrase of A.W. Tozer’s statement says, “As God is exalted to the right place in our lives, a thousand problems are solved all at once.”
In Luke 10:38-42, the Bible tells us how Mary sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word while her sister, Martha, was distracted with much serving. She was busy in the kitchen. “And Jesus answered and said to her, ‘Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her‘” (verses 41-42 NKJV).
In Luke 9:59-62, the Bible shows two cases where Jesus pointed out the need to make the Lord number one in life. In the first case, Jesus invited someone to follow Him but he sought permission to first go and bury his father. Jesus told him to let the dead bury their dead, but he should go and preach the kingdom of God (verse 60). Apparently, his father had not died yet.
The second case is recorded in verses 61-62. “And another also said, ‘Lord, I will follow You, but let me first go and bid them farewell who are at my house.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (NKJV).
How to make God number one in your life
1. You must be born again. The only way to come into a relationship with God is through His Son, Jesus Christ. You cannot put God first in your life without giving your life to Jesus first. Being born again means that you accept Jesus as your Lord and Saviour (John 3:3). You cannot come to the Father except through His son, Jesus (John 14:6).
2. Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Be Kingdom-minded. Think first of the Kingdom of God – its advancement, its wellbeing. Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you” (NKJV). The New Century Version says, “Seek first God’s kingdom and what God wants. Then all your other needs will be met as well.”
That means in every situation, ask yourself, “What does God want?” Find out what He wants based on what is written in the Word of God or what you perceive the Spirit of God is telling you if the Bible has not specifically said something. Then, do what God wants you to do. If you make a mistake as regards what you believe He wants you to do, God will work everything together for your good (Romans 8:28). Mainstream the will of God into your decision-making process.
Live for God and make the kingdom of God your primary concern in everything. Don’t make excuses as the two people in Luke 9:59-62 did. One asked for Jesus’ permission to first go and bury his father before answering His call to follow Him while the other asked Him to allow Him to first go and say goodbye to his family. Jesus didn’t approve of their excuses.
Neither should you be like the guests invited to the wedding feast three times but failed to turn up because of one excuse or the other (Matthew 22:1-14). The Kingdom of God should come first before any other thing.
3. Love the Lord with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength. Deuteronomy 6:5 says you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your strength. This truth is stated in other scriptures in both the Old and New Testaments (Matthew 22:37; Mark 12:30; Luke 10:27). 1 Corinthians 16:22 says, “If anyone does not love the Lord, that person is cursed. Our Lord, come!” (NLT).
Let your relationship with Him come before any other. Jesus said, “If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple” (Luke 14:26-27 NKJV). Matthew 10:37-38 says a similar thing: “He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (NKJV). Jesus said whoever did not forsake all that he had could not be His disciple (Luke 14:33).
Loving the Lord with all your being means that you’ll obey Him. Obedience to God flows out of love for Him. Deuteronomy 11:1 says, “Therefore you shall love the LORD your God, and keep His charge, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always” (NKJV). You cannot love the Lord and not obey Him (Deuteronomy 11:22-23; 19:9; 30:15-16, 20; Joshua 22:5). Jesus said, “If you love me, obey my commandments” (John 14:15 NLT). This means you’ll live a holy life because God hates sin although He loves the sinner. Without holiness, no one shall see the Lord (Hebrews 12:14).
Only he who has clean hands and a pure heart and has not lifted up his soul to an idol or sworn deceitfully can ascend into the hill of the LORD or stand in His holy place (Psalm 24:3-4). If you commit any sin, promptly repent of it before it becomes a habit or an addiction. If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9).
4. Set your heart on the things above. Live for eternity. Don’t be preoccupied with worldly things. This world is fading away, along with everything it craves. But if you do the will of God, you will live forever (1 John 2:17). 1 Corinthians 7:31 says those who use this world should not misuse it for the form of this world is passing away. As you interact with this world, don’t get carried away.
See yourself as a pilgrim and not a citizen of this earth; you are a citizen of heaven (Hebrews 11:13; 1 Peter 2:11; Philippians 3:20). Therefore, hold loosely the things of this world. Hold tightly to the word of life (Philippians 2:16a NLT). Cling tightly to your faith in Christ (1 Timothy 1:19a NLT).
Colossians 3:2 says, “Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth” (NKJV). “Aim at what is in heaven” (New Century Version). There is a difference between those who set their minds on what is in heaven and those who set their minds on what is on earth. Romans 8:5 says, “For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit, the things of the Spirit” (NKJV).
5. Fellowship with the Lord in His Word, prayer, and worship. If Jesus is number one in your life, you will spend ample time with Him in fellowship to learn of Him, hear from Him and talk with Him. Many are too busy to have time for Jesus. They have gotten their priorities wrong and Jesus is not number one in their lives. The Word of God such people hear is unproductive in their lives because of other things competing for supremacy in their hearts. Jesus explained this in His interpretation of the parable of the sower in Mark 4:13-20 and Matthew 13:18-23
Paul wrote from prison, “That I may know Him” (Philippians 3:10a). This was after years of walking with Jesus. Paul still desired to know more of Him. As you study the Word of God, pray, and worship, you know more of Jesus and your walk with Him gets better.
1 John 2:28 says, “And now, dear children, continue to live in fellowship with Christ so that when he returns, you will be full of courage and not shrink back from him in shame” (NLT). Without daily fellowship with Him, you stand the risk of leaving your first love for Him like the church of Ephesus (Revelation 2:4); you stand the risk of becoming lukewarm like the church of the Laodiceans (Revelation 3:16).
6. Take the yoke of Jesus upon you. Jesus said, “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light” (Matthew 11:29-30 NKJV). A yoke is “A type of harness which connected a pair of animals to a plow or similar tool” (Nelson’s Illustrated Bible Dictionary). It is a wooden frame or crosspiece used to harness two oxen or animals at the necks or shoulders, connecting them to a plow or whatever they are to pull.
The scribes and the Pharisees who sat in Moses’ seat made hard laws and put great weights on men’s backs, but they themselves would not put a finger to them (Matthew 23:2). But Jesus said His yoke was easy and His burden light. 1 John 5:3 says God’s commandments are not burdensome. Jesus’ yoke is easy and His burden is light because you’re yoked together with Him and you’re not carrying the burden alone.
To take the yoke of Jesus upon you means to submit to His will and follow His direction in everything. Jesus, though aware of His impending death, said not His will but the will of God be done (Luke 22:42). In John 5:30, Jesus said, “I can of Myself do nothing. As I hear, I judge; and My judgment is righteous, because I do not seek My own will but the will of the Father who sent Me” (NKJV). He taught His disciples to pray that the will of God be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; Luke 11:2). If you take His yoke upon you, you will be obedient to His will.
David, a man after God’s heart, was also concerned about doing the will of God. He prayed in Psalm 143:10, “Teach me to do your will, for you are my God. May your gracious Spirit lead me forward on a firm footing” (NLT). If you make God number one in your life, you will seek to know and do His will in every matter. Ask what He will have you do; don’t just pursue whatever appeals to you. Proverbs 3:6 says, “Seek his will in all you do, and he will direct your paths” (NLT).
If you take the yoke of Jesus upon you, you will make yourself available for Kingdom service. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:9a, “For we are God’s fellow workers” (NKJV). A yoke is for work. Paul said, “We then, as workers together with Him” (2 Corinthian 6:1a NKJV). Are you working with Him? Let Kingdom service be your priority.
Conclusion: Make God number one in your life. Christ is the one through whom God created everything in heaven and earth (Colossians 1:16). He created you for Himself (Colossians 1:16). “For of Him and through Him and to Him are all things, to whom be glory forever. Amen” (Romans 11:36 NKJV). John the Baptist says He must increase, but he must decrease (John 3:30). Let the will of God be uppermost in your life. Do everything to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
If you are not born again, you need to give your life to Jesus now. I urge you to take the following steps: *Admit you are a sinner and you cannot save yourself and repent of your sins. *Confess Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. *Renounce your past way of life – your relationship with the devil and his works. *Invite Jesus into your life. *As a mark of seriousness to mature in the faith, start attending a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church. There they will teach you how to grow in the Kingdom of God.
Kindly say this prayer now: O Lord God, I come unto You today. I know I am a sinner and I cannot save myself. I believe that Jesus is the Son of God who died on the cross to save me and resurrected the third day. I repent of my sins and confess Jesus as my Lord and Saviour. I surrender my life to Jesus now and invite Him into my heart. By this prayer, I know I am saved. Thank You, Jesus, for saving me and making me a child of God.
I believe you have said this prayer from your heart. Congratulations! You will need to join a Bible-believing and Bible-teaching church in your area where they will teach you how to live your new life in Christ Jesus. I pray that you flourish like the palm tree and grow like the cedar of Lebanon. May you grow into Christ in all things and become all God wants you to be. I will be glad to hear from you. The Lord be with you.
T. O. Banso is the President, Cedar Ministry International, Abuja, Nigeria.
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