The Principle of First
Here it is, already through the first month of 2020. It's flying! But I love the number associated with this year. 2020. One of the things I think of when I hear the term 2020 is vision. That’s because 20/20 vision is something I've never had! I’ve had glasses since the last week of my junior year of high school. Of course, I knew I needed them long before that! I just didn’t want to wear them. Yes, unfortunately, I got all the ridicule that comes with wearing glasses. I got called four eyes and nerd and geek. It wasn’t bad enough that I actually had to pay for seeing, which most people get for free. No, I got made fun of for having to pay. It did pay off later in life, though. For some reason, everyone says I look like a doctor. I’ve been confused for a doctor for nearly 20 years. Which means everyone just assumes I’m a pretty smart guy. It must be the glasses!
But for this year, this new year, I would like you to take on a new vision. A greater vision! Vision that only comes by putting on the glasses of the Holy Spirit, that help you see clearer and sharper all of the things you need to see. I want to talk to you about the most important principle in the Christian life. It’s not the principle of staying out of sin. It’s not the principle of being a nice guy. It’s not the principle of generosity. It’s not even the principle of love. While these are good principles, and no doubt things you will hear and read about this year, they are not the most important. There’s one principle that ties everything together.
But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.
The Principle of First: a principle I've lived by for decades. When we serve God, He is to be first. Sometimes God is just another thing we have to get to today. He’s not first. Sometimes, He’s not second. He’s just another thing on your list. If you find that God’s not first in your life, then you have found the cause of all the problems in your life. If God ain't first, He might as well be last.
If God ain't first, He might as well be last.
God is what you build everything else on. When a contractor builds a home, what does he set first? He sets the foundation. And it’s built to a certain measurement and completely flat and balanced. Once that foundation is set, all the other people he hires work around that foundation. The crew that builds the wooden 2x4 structure knows exactly where to place their beams because of where the foundation is. All the beams can be the same length because they know the foundation is level and won’t move. The plumbers can put in piping and know exactly where they all go because the foundation is set. The drywall team can know exactly how much dry wall to purchase and they know exactly where to put in the drywall because the foundation is set. When you build the right foundation FIRST, the rest of the building falls into place. And when you put God FIRST, when the foundation of your life is God and you put him First, the rest of life falls into place.
Now listen: just like building a house, when the foundation is right, when the foundation is solid, you know when something you put in it just isn't right. One of the support beams might be too long. You can’t tell that it’s too long if you put it on dirt or grass or mud. But when you put it on a solid and perfect foundation, you can tell when something is off. Are you getting ahead of me? When God is your foundation, when HE is FIRST, you can tell when something in your life just isn't right. You can tell when something shouldn’t be there in your life. The foundation helps you determine what belongs... and what doesn’t belong. When you don’t have a solid foundation, you can end up getting rid of the things that should stay in your life, and then keeping the things you should get rid of. When you put God first, you don’t have that problem.
Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?
I like to make dinner about 2 or 3 times each week. When I do, I always focus on the main dish. That’s what I think of first. Am I going to make chicken, am I going to grill a tri-tip, am I going to crock-pot a chuck roast? Once I determine the main dish, everything else fits in around it. I never say, "Well, I really want green beans," or, "I really want tater tots. What can I make as the main dish to go with tater tots?" Never happens. My dinner revolves around the main dish. When you determine that God is the main dish, that He is what you prepare for first, then suddenly all those other things that you could’ve worried about just fall into place. The first thing affects everything.
Seek First the Kingdom of God
Well, Chris, how do I seek the kingdom of God first? I’m so glad you asked! When Jesus taught us to pray, what did He teach us to pray for first? Our Father who art in Heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come.... Tell me: when you pray, do you pray for your church first? Do you pray for your pastor first? Do you pray for God to show you how you can build His Kingdom on this earth first? If not, there’s where you can start. Pray: God, where can I build your kingdom? Who can I talk to about the Gospel? So, first thing you can do to seek the kingdom: Pray for the kingdom first! Make it the first thing you pray about.
What about your time? Most of us have spent most of our lives educating ourselves to make a better future. High school, college, trade school. There’s nothing wrong with that. The problem is when you seek for that and God isn't first. You want God to bless you while you spend more time away from Him. You read more books than you read His Book. You spend more time telling people what you’ve done on Facebook than telling people what He’s done in your life. You spend more time watching YouTube videos than you do in a church. And then you ask God to bless you, while you won’t put God first. God says, "Oh, NOW you want me to bless you???" If you want God’s blessing, you have to put Him first. That doesn’t mean cut out everything from your life. It means make sure God is at the center of what you do.
What about your finances? Oh, boy. Here it comes. This is where the pastor tells us he needs our money. Really? God took care of me for the last 20 years in my career in healthcare before I stepped into the role of Lead Pastor. He can take care of me in any way He pleases. If it's through the church, praise God. But this isn't about the pastor. It's about your walk of faith. Do you put God first in your finances? Do you? God says to bring your first fruits to the house of God. What does that mean? It means you bring the first portion to God before you give to anything else. If you pay off your mortgage and your car and your PG&E and your TV provider...and then give God a little of what’s leftover, is that putting Him first?
There was a family who came home from church one Sunday afternoon. The son said, “The sermon sure was boring today.” The daughter chimed in, “For sure, and that worship band couldn’t get anything right.” The mom said, “And those bathrooms are the smallest and oldest I’ve ever seen.” The dad finally spoke up and said, “What did you expect for the 5 bucks I put in?” #Truth.
The last thing you can do to seek God’s Kingdom and put him first is this. What is your first day of the week? I know what it says on most calendars. But what is YOUR first day of the week. Some people have Monday for work as their first day, and they just dread it. And it makes the rest of the week terrible. Some people start their week when Friday evening hits, work is over, and they want to party or have fun all weekend long. And by Monday, they’re wore out and have nothing left. But God calls you to put Him first, and you do that by making Sunday morning, meeting at your church, first! When you put Him first, at the beginning of your week, He blesses the rest of it. Don’t believe me? Try it. Try it this month. Make Sunday your first day. The day that all other days work around and see if God doesn’t bless your week and your month and all of 2020.
Remember: If God ain't first, He might as well be last.
Pastor Chris Henry
February 3, 2020