1. God’s children, those who love and believe in His Son, Jesus, are the BRIDE of Christ, the WIFE of Jesus! (See Revelation 19:7,8.) When you invited Jesus into your life, He came into your heart SPIRITUALLY like a husband comes into his wife on their wedding night, and you became ONE!
2. “While we were yet sinners, Christ died for us…that we should be married to another, even to Him (Jesus) Who is raised from the dead!”–Romans 5:8;7:4. We were all lost in our sins before Jesus found us and rescued us in love. “Now when I passed by thee, and looked upon thee, behold thy time was the time of love; and I spread My skirt over thee, and covered thee: yea, I sware unto thee, and entered into a covenant with thee, saith the Lord God, and thou becamest Mine.”–Ezekiel 16:8. “As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.”–Isaiah 62:5.–Such love! No wonder, as 1John 4:19 says, “we love Him because He first loved us”. (See also Ephesians 5:23-32 for Christ’s marriage to us, His Church.)
3. But sadly, just as the initial vibrant, alive, hot, sexy love in which many marriages are born cools off after awhile until the relationship becomes just a routine formality, so it sometimes happens with Christians, the Bride of Christ. They forget how much the Lord has done for them, and that first wonderful love they had for Him gradually fades. They may have started off ardently in love with Jesus, eager and willing to do anything for Him, but after a time their fire and fervor cools, and the relationship becomes cold, formal and frigid.
4. Imagine how this HURTS Jesus! It hurts Him in the same way that YOU would be hurt if you were fervently in love with your wife or husband, and they didn’t return that love, but started having other interests and other lovers to whom they gave first place in their lives and loved THEM more than they love YOU! o
5. In fact, it not only hurts Jesus, but it makes Him JEALOUS! “For I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, and I will have NO other gods before ME!”–Deuteronomy 5:7,9. God isn’t SELFISHLY jealous of our love, but He’s jealous for OUR sakes, because He knows that the ONLY way we will find meaning and happiness and fulfillment in life is if we put our love for Him FIRST! The Apostle Paul said, “I am JEALOUS over you with GODLY jealousy, for I have promised you to ONE husband, that I may present you as a chaste virgin to CHRIST!”–2Corinthians 11:2.
6. Also the Lord is jealous for lost souls’ sake, because He knows that only by putting HIM FIRST in OUR lives are we going to have the strength and conviction to want to help OTHER people find Him! He knows that we won’t be a fulfilled, strong and effective Christian if our heart doesn’t totally belong to Him!
7. So what steps can we take to not only put JESUS FIRST in our lives, but also to KEEP Him in that place? One way is in our daily service for Him. ASK the Lord in prayer about everything you do before you do it, and make sure that’s what HE wants you to do! You will find that this principle holds true even in your everyday work. When faced with pressing deadlines, the temptation is often to crowd the Lord out of our lives and concentrate solely on our work. We’ve all done it at times, but putting the Lord LAST simply is NOT the solution!
8. God has blessed and prospered many a great Christian businessman because they put JESUS FIRST in their everyday decisions! The famous industrialist and multi-millionaire, Robert G. LeTourneau, tells a story of when he was first starting out in business, operating one small factory: “One night I had to make a design for a new machine so that a crew of men on contract could build it the next morning. However, that same night I had been invited to go witnessing with some young Christian friends. The Lord and I had quite a struggle while I was trying to decide what to do!
9. “Although I could not understand how I was going to get the plan drawn for the next morning, I went with the young people, and we had a wonderfully fruitful, inspiring time! I returned about 10 o’clock. Up to that time I had been unable to figure out a single plan, but I sat down at the drafting board, and in about FIVE minutes the outline and plan was as clear as could be! What is more, the little piece of machinery designed that night has been the KEY machine in all that I have been building since! It PAYS to put GOD FIRST!”
10. Another famous Christian who always gave God first place in his everyday decisions was William Gladstone, who was England’s Prime Minister three times and was one of the most famous British political leaders of the 1800’s. The story is told of how every day as he went up the steps of the Parliament building, he would stop and witness to the little newsboy there about Jesus’ Love!
11. But one day as he and his secretary were going into Parliament, another little newsboy rushed up to them, exclaiming, “Please, Sir, you know the boy who sells you papers here? Yesterday he was run over by a carriage and he’s badly hurt. He’s going to die, and he’s asking for you to come and get him IN.” The Minister questioned, “What do you mean, `get him in’?” The lad replied, “You know, get him in to HEAVEN!”
12. His secretary, however, protested, “No, no, no, you don’t have TIME to go see a dying newsboy! You know how important your speech today is! It could change the course of English history!”
13. Gladstone hesitated only a moment, then said, “ONE immortal soul is worth MORE than my speech in Parliament!” So off to the little garret he went where the newsboy lay crushed and dying on a rough mat in the corner. With tears streaming down his face, Gladstone led the boy in a prayer to receive Jesus! The newsboy looked up into the great man’s face and whispered, “I knew you’d come. Thank you for getting me in!” Then he closed his eyes and went to be with Jesus!
14. An hour or two later, Gladstone made it back to Parliament where a heated discussion was raging! He was late and had almost missed his turn to speak, but not quite! He spoke eloquently!–And WON the debate! Afterwards his secretary said, “Sir, how COULD you have gone off and bothered with that little newsboy and risked missing your delivery of SUCH an important speech?”
15. Gladstone replied, “This speech today WAS a very important & good thing, but getting that newsboy SAVED and into Heaven was a BETTER, MORE important thing! GOD knew I was going to be able to get back in time for that speech! He was testing me to see if I’d put HIS work first!”–What a lesson on the correct sense of values!
16. However, great Christians are great not only because of their service to God, but because of their close and intimate fellowship with Him. The more they get to know Him, the more like Him they become. Unfortunately, one of the most common mistakes of MANY Christians is to become so engrossed in the WORK of the Lord, that they neglect the LORD of the work!–As a result, they become directionless and impotent in their WORK for Him, because they’re trying to do it on their own without HIS power. He says, “Without ME, ye can do NOTHING!”–John 15:5. You cannot do the Master’s work without the Master’s Power!–And to get it, you must spend time WITH the Master!
17. When you awoke from sleep this morning,
Though the hour was rather late,
Did you stop to speak with Jesus,
And His benediction wait?
Did you thank Him for His mercy,
For His care through all the night,
That no evil had befallen,
That no tears now dim your sight?
Did you ask Him for the blessing
Of His presence through the day,
For His leading safely onward,
For His guiding, lest you stray?
Did you tell Him that you’d gladly
Go wherever He would lead;
That you’d try to do His bidding,
Helping every soul in need?
If you go without these blessings
As you start another day,
Be assured your strength will fail you,
And you’ll faint along the way.
Oh, live CLOSER to the Master;
For unless you’re very near,
Words of Love He whispers to you,
Will not reach your listening ear!
18. Sometimes we get so busy SERVING Him we forget to LOVE Him! God appreciates the service you offer Him and He needs it, but He wants your attention and adoration and intimate communication too!–The Bible reminds us, “This you should have done, and not to have left the other undone.”–Matthew 23:23.
19. Remember the story of Mary and Martha? When Jesus came to visit, Mary “sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His Word. But Martha was cumbered about with much serving.”–She was so weighted down, so busy rushing around trying to get everything done just right FOR the Lord, that she didn’t have time to listen TO the Lord! So Jesus gently chided her and said, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things! But ONE thing is NEEDED, and Mary has chosen that GOOD part, which shall not be taken away from her!”–Luke 10:39-42.
20. Although your service of witnessing and winning others to Jesus IS very important, the time you spend WITH Jesus is even MORE important, and if you take that time alone with Him, you’ll find that suprisingly you’ll have ample time for all the other things you need to do, and you’ll be able to get them done even faster in a shorter amount of time.
21. One day when Martin Luther and his co worker Melancthon had a particularly strenuous and busy day ahead, Melancthon suggested that they cut their prayer time together at the beginning of the day in half. Luther refused vehemently, and insisted that instead of their regular TWO hours in prayer, they would today have to spend FOUR hours in the presence of the Lord because they had so MUCH to do!
22. To neglect your fellowship with the King of kings can be disastrous to your spiritual life and walk with the Lord! God will NOT take second place, even to His service! “Thou shalt have NO other gods before Me!”–Exodus 20:3.–And believe it or not, if you put ANYTHING else BEFORE the Lord, it has become your GOD!
23. So putting Jesus first place in our lives not only involves putting His SERVICE first in winning hearts and lives to Him, but also putting His WORD first in our lives! In fact, the Bible says that Jesus IS the Word! “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was made flesh.”–John 1:1,14. What’s more, Jesus said, “The WORDS that I speak unto you, they are SPIRIT, and they are LIFE”!–John 6:63.
24. God’s Word is food for your soul, and it’s absolutely ESSENTIAL to your spiritual GROWTH! If you DON’T take time to feast on Jesus’ Word, then your soul’s going to literally STARVE! You’ll end up like a retarded, malnourished child or a spiritual dwarf!–And even your SERVICE to God will be powerless and fruitless.
25. Also, we must put JESUS FIRST through PRAYER! Do you have a good prayer time by YOURSELF and/or with your FAMILY every morning to start the day off right? You need it, or things just won’t go right! When you first wake up, before you call anybody or talk to anybody, talk to JESUS FIRST!–Get your orders from HIM for the day! Otherwise you’re going to be like a soldier who’s trying to fight a war all on his own without listening to headquarters, with no organisation from his Commander-in-Chief! Our Heavenly Commander, Jesus, can solve a lot of your problems before the day even begins if you put HIM first and have PRAYER and listen to what He has to say through His Word!
26. WITHOUT a good daily dose of the WORD and PRAYER, you’ll walk around unempowered, stumbling about in your OWN wisdom and strength. Jesus says, “Without ME ye can do NOTHING”.–John 15:5. But on the other hand, the Bible says, “I can do ALL THINGS through CHRIST which strengtheneth me!”–Philippians 4:13. That strength comes only through putting JESUS FIRST, through PRAYER and the reading of God’s WORD!
27. So do you have Jesus and His Word, and prayer in the proper perspective in your life? Do you give them FIRST PLACE? Or do you let other things crowd God and His Word into second, third, or whatever place? If that’s the case, your whole life will be thrown out of balance, and the result will only be disharmony, disruption and confusion!–Just like we’re seeing on a stupendous scale in the WORLD today which is on the brink of ruin because Man has refused to give God first place!–Or practically ANY place in their lives!
28. Another way to put JESUS FIRST is through our GIVING or TITHING of our monthly income to help support God’s Work! (See “Giving to God!” and “The Windows of Heaven”.) Tithing is one of GOD’S nonfailing laws of economics.–If you put HIM first by paying your full tithe towards His Work, God will BLESS you for it and see to it that you have more than enough to pay the REST of your bills! He says, “Give and it shall be given unto you!”–Luke 6:38.
29. Stories abound of great Christian businessmen who God BLESSED and PROSPERED because they put JESUS FIRST not only in their heart and life, but also in their bill-paying! They knew that before paying any other bill, God’s TITHE must come FIRST!
30. A.A. Hyde, a millionaire manufacturer, said he began tithing when he was $100,000 in debt! Many men have said they considered it dishonest to give God a tenth of their incomes while they were in debt. Mr. Hyde said he agreed until one day it flashed upon him that God was his first creditor. Then he began paying God first, and all the other creditors were eventually paid in full. If a man owes you money, it would be wise business policy on your part to encourage him to pay his debt to God first!
31. John D. Rockefeller Sr., one of the greatest of all philanthropists, once said, “Yes, I tithe, and I would like to tell you how it all came about. I had to begin work as a small boy to help support my mother. My first wages amounted to $1.50 per week. The first week after I went to work, I took the $1.50 home to my mother and she held the money in her lap and explained to me that she would be happy if I would give a TENTH of it to the Lord!
32. “I DID, and from that week until this day I have tithed EVERY dollar God has entrusted to me! And I want to say, if I had not tithed the FIRST dollar I made I would not have tithed the first MILLION dollars I made. Tell your readers to train their children to tithe, and God will never fail to bless and prosper them!”
33. In his lifetime Rockefeller gave away more than $700 million to Christian and charitable causes, three times more than any other man! !
34. R.G. Le Tourneau, who we’ve already mentioned in this article, was ALSO a generous tither! One time, when his business was going bankrupt, he desperately prayed, “Lord, I promise to begin regularly tithing 10% of my income if You will save my business and give me some kind of big order to keep it going!”–And his next order was for $100,000! A short time later, he started giving 20%!–And he found that the MORE he gave God, the MORE God gave back to HIM! 20 years later he was giving 90% of his income to missionaries and he and his family were living on the other 10%! He was still a multi-millionaire! God’s Word says if you put HIM first by faithfully paying your tithe, “I will open the windows of Heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there will not be room enough to receive it!”–Malachi 3:10. It PAYS to put JESUS FIRST!
35. In EVERY area of our lives, JESUS must come FIRST! Jesus said, “Seek ye FIRST the KINGDOM OF GOD and His righteousness, and ALL THESE THINGS shall be added unto you.”–Matthew 6:33. To “seek first” means to put JESUS FIRST and foremost in our lives, above EVERYTHING else!–It means working for Jesus and others more than just for yourself!–More than for money, more than for pleasure, more than for health, more than for the government, more than for ANYTHING else!
36. THEN, when you give Jesus first place in your life, and you give Him and His Work top priority, He will without fail supply all your needs–your food, your clothing, your housing. He can even trust you with OTHER things that you enjoy, if He knows that they will not overshadow or distract or in any way come between you and Him! Thank God that it is not a sin to enjoy sex or food or recreation or our work, as well as all the other wonderful pleasures which God created our senses to enjoy! But we just have to watch out we don’t let THEM take first place in our lives and enjoy them MORE than we enjoy the LORD!
37. What is YOUR sense of values? Are you seeking the Kingdom of God FIRST and ABOVE all? Are you winning souls and promoting the Gospel?–Or are you, through your job, helping to provide the funds or the support or the housing or the opportunity or the government protection that enables OTHERS to do it? There’s “Only ONE life, ’twill SOON be PAST!–Only what’s done for CHRIST will LAST”! What are YOU doing? For WHOM? Will it last FOREVER? He’s coming soon! NOW is your last chance to PUT JESUS FIRST! Today’s opportunity will be gone forever tomorrow!
38. Let JESUS be your FIRST LOVE and always KEEP Him in that place! You’ll NEVER lose by SEEKING FIRST the Kingdom!