“2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
When God saved me, the devil had me bound by unhealthy and immoral vices of the world, and God, in His mercy and goodness, broke the power of those things in my life. So by faith in God’s Word and His power, I overcame the corruptible habits in my life that were destroying the hope for a promising future. But I had to learn to put God first every day moving forward and keep Him first. My responsibility was learning to keep God in His rightful place of my heart. Young people, if you have Salvation this morning, keeping God first in your life is your responsibility. No one can do it for you. That’s why the scripture tells us to set our affections or our love on things above.
“15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
16 For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.”
When we read scriptures like this, we often think of the excesses, like drinking, drugs, lying, and other behaviors that we associate with sin. But after God saves us, the devil knows he cannot trap us with the excesses. So he tries to trap us with other things of this world, the legitimate things. For example, our jobs or careers, reputations, traditions, heritage, cultures, talents, and hobbies should not love anything more than God. If we get off track and begin to love any of these things mentioned more than God, we need to change our direction and give God back His rightful place in our hearts. So even after God changes our hearts, if we aren’t careful, these things will crowd God out of our lives and occupy the place God wants to own. God wants to occupy the throne of your hearts. He wants to be first in our lives, the foundation we build on, and the rock that keeps us steady in life, but it is our responsibility to keep God first. Why should we put God first?
17 And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.
We should put God first because even the legitimate things of this world will passway, but he that doeth the will of God abides forever! Listen carefully to the following thoughts.
- Your career will be brief, so choose one that can glorify God.
- Your companion will pass away, so choose one that loves God.
- Your friends will move on, so choose friends who seek God’s will in their lives.
- Our traditions mean nothing in the eyes of God, so be spontaneous for the Lord.
- Our culture will not matter after this life, but God will judge our behavior. So show compassion and kindness to others who are different from you, and remember to keep your behavior holy.
- God is the one who gave you the ability and the aptitude for your talent, so write songs, play instruments, and use your abilities whatever they are to the glory of God, in humbleness of mind and modesty.
But how do we keep God first in our lives? Prayer is probably the most important thing we can do to help God remain first in our lives. Prayer is simply talking to God. Did you know that prayer or talking to God about our plans for the future is crucial? Talking to God is how you can understand what companion or career God wants you to choose? God can also show us things about ourselves in prayer that might be crowding out our ability to keep Him first. We should pray every day and keep prayer in our hearts. Daniel was known as a man of prayer. Daniel prayed every day without neglect three times a day, even when the law against worship to anyone else but the king threatened his life.
“10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went into his house; and his windows being open in his chamber toward Jerusalem, he kneeled upon his knees three times a day, and prayed, and gave thanks before his God, as he did aforetime.”
Is your life so busy that you set aside talking to God for other things? Do we take time to pray for the needs of others? Are we setting time aside to be alone with God and deal with things we need to overcome? Sometimes young people don’t know how to pray, or they don’t feel confident praying. Young people, I want you to know that how you say your prayer isn’t as important as what is in your heart while you pray. Prayer only requires you to be yourself with a pure heart before God. And if God is first in your life, He will hear your prayer. As you pray every day, you will begin to notice your prayer life and relationship with God growing.
On the other hand, if you find you never have quiet time with God, something else might be taking God’s rightful place in your heart. God loves to hear prayer and thanks for what He has already done in your life. It’s not enough to show up to church and Bible study twice a week. We must continue to build a personal relationship with Christ so we can know God as our friend and Father. Have you ever had a friend you called or made plans with, but they always seemed too busy for you and didn’t follow through on their plans? After a while, you’ll stop calling, or you’ll find others to spend time with. God is with us, waiting for us to speak with Him.
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”
God wants us to respond to His ever so slight knock. But if we don’t respond, God doesn’t stop knocking. The problem becomes that we ignore Him for so long that we don’t hear His knock anymore. For us to grow spiritually, so should our relationship with God. David is an example of this kind of spiritual growth. When David was a young boy, he spent most of his time alone with God, and this experience taught him to encourage himself in the Lord when he became a man.
“60 And David was greatly distressed; for the people spake of stoning him, because the soul of all the people was grieved, every man for his sons and for his daughters: but David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.”
David was in a trial, and everyone was against him in this situation. Have you ever felt that everyone was against you only to find your imagination working overtime? We are human, so misunderstandings like this might happen from time to time. But in David’s case, it was true everyone was against him. The people were so angry with David they wanted to stone him! But because David nurtured his relationship with God over the years, he could encourage himself in Lord. If we aren’t nurturing our relationship with God through prayer and Bible study, we will not be able to encourage ourselves in the Lord the way David did. People backslide from God when they become discouraged and cannot pull out of it. Keeping God first will help us stay encouraged. In David’s case, he could encourage himself, and we should grow to that ability too. It is hard to grow in Christ without looking to God’s word on our own.
“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”
God will show us many things through His word about us if we read it for ourselves. He can answer questions for us and give us solutions to our problems. God wants your heart, your love, and your gratitude. God wants you to feel Him within you so you can access His grace and peace in the hard places of life. Then we can be a true reflection of God’s light to others. But God can only be these things to us if we keep Him first, and keeping God first is our responsibility. No one can do it for us.
Where are you standing today? Is God the priority in your life? Are you reading and praying regularly? Or are the legitimate things of this life competing with your affection for God? God wants his children to come to him if they need help. It isn’t too late to get back on track if you’ve gotten off track. Find someone to pray with or pray to God on your own. Ask Him to help you get back on track. If you aren’t saved, God wants to save you today. Give your heart to God, and believing by faith, experience the power of sin breaking in your life.