|Vol. 13 No. 9 September 2011||
Most of us are familiar with the Lord’s commandment of Matthew 6:33. “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” In what has become known as the Sermon on the Mount, the teachings of Jesus the Christ are such that we will be challenged by them all of our lives! How do we obey the command of Matthew 6:33?
First, to put and keep God first we must come to recognize that God does not and will not ever take second place to anybody or anything! He stated that candidly to the children of Israel in Exodus 20:1-3. “And God spoke all these words, saying: I am the LORD your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. You shall have no other gods before Me.”
What are some of our modern day gods or idols? The list is practically endless because it could and most times does vary from person to person. For the purpose of this writing, only a few can be mentioned. Some people have family members as their gods. Some have members of the church as their gods. Some have friends and coworkers as their gods. Still others have their money, pleasure, entertainment, jobs, sports, careers, school/college, homes, cars, lands, clothes and on and on we go with the gods and idols of this world! God still says none of those relationships or material possessions can come before Him and our seeking His will for our lives.
Second, to put and keep God first we must be avid students of the Bible. Jesus said in Matthew 5:6, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled.” God’s Word is our daily food – not a supplement every once in a while! We must strive for the spiritual excellence of Job when he said, “I have not departed from the commandment of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).
Third, to put and keep God first we must pray without ceasing. How can we do that? We need to have our minds transformed and set on things above. We are to let the Word of Christ dwell in us richly (Colossians 3:16)! This is a guarantee that our minds will be fertile ground, nourished in the words of faith as we pray daily. Colossians 4:2 says, “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving.” First Thessalonians 5:16-18 reads, “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
Fourth, to put and keep God first we must capture and subdue the last frontier – our thoughts! Paul in writing to the church at Corinth told them they had to cast down arguments “and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). What different turns our lives may have taken in certain situations if only we had seriously thought before we had said or done anything!
These points are but a smidgen of the many that could be explored. Jesus Christ is our supreme example of setting priority in our pursuit of a relationship with God. Perhaps He said it best and most precisely in John 8:29, “And He who sent Me is with Me. The Father has not left Me alone, for I always do those things that please Him.” Now that’s putting and keeping God first!
Two weeks ago, my mother passed from this life into eternity at the age of 83. When my siblings and I met with the funeral director to make the final arraignments for her funeral, some of the questions he asked us were:
Trying to answer all these questions brought back a lot of memories. Some of the things she enjoyed changed over time while others remained constant throughout her life. One of mom’s most enjoyable pastimes was reading – that never changed. Mom was an avid reader up to a week or two before her death. Perhaps our daughter, Rebecca, gets her love of reading from her grandmother.
My niece and I spent several hours viewing, scanning and making a DVD of pictures of mom and family members to show during the viewing and funeral. Looking at those pictures brought back a lot of memories as well. As aunts, uncles, cousins and family friends gathered with us at the funeral home, I often overheard discussions of memories of mom.
One of the visitors to the viewing was an older lady who grew up in the same small community as my mother. Mom had not lived there for many years, but when this lady saw the obituary in the newspaper she remembered her. She told me that she informed several of her friends and neighbors of mom’s death, and none of them remembered mom.
Thinking back to that conversation, has prompted me to wonder, “How will I be remembered when I pass from this life into eternity?” Will there be fond memories, unpleasant memories or perhaps as with those from mom’s childhood community – no memories.
Then, my mind thinks of Dorcas in Acts 9:36-42. She was known for her wonderful care and concern for others. When Dorcas became ill and died, the disciples sent for Peter in Lydda – a nearby town. Upon the arrival of Peter, the widows stood crying and showed him all the garments Dorcas had made for them. Peter sent everyone from the room, kneeled down and prayed to God. Then, he told Dorcas to arise. The power of God brought Dorcas back to life. A beloved friend, a worker for the Lord, a sister in Christ had been restored to them. I can only imagine the rejoicing that followed the awesome event. Verse 42 states, “And it was known throughout all Joppa; and many believed in the Lord.” The miraculous restoration of life caused many to obey the Gospel of Christ.
Will my death prompt others to reflect upon their soul’s condition? Have I lived my life in such a way that others know I am a child of God? Will I be remembered as Dorcas was remembered – one who showed love and compassion for others? Will others ponder their relationship with God and make course corrections so that an eternity in heaven will be their final destination? I have heard of some who have returned to the Lord or obeyed the Gospel when a loved one dies.
How I am remembered on this earth is of little consequence. What is important is how will God remember me on Judgment Day? Will He remember my failures– the sins of commission and the sins of omission (2 Corinthians 5:10; Revelation 20:11-14)? Will He read my name in the Book of Life (Philippians 4:3; Revelation 20:12)?
Since I have obeyed the Gospel, the sins I committed before my obedience were washed away in the blood of Christ when I was baptized a few decades ago (Romans 6:3-4; Hebrews 9:11-14). As long as I live a righteous life to the best of my ability and ask God for forgiveness when I fall into the temptation of the Devil, on Judgment Day God will say to me “ …enter thou into the joy of thy lord” (Matthew 25:21, 23).
How will I be remembered upon my death? How will you be remembered upon your death?