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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 03/25/20

First Steps First

When our motive is to please God, what to do FIRST becomes "SECOND nature."

STORY: Five Number Ones

I opened the much-awaited meal prep box. Inside I discovered glorious fresh produce and portions of ingredients enough to prepare the desired meal. I read over the instructions, trying to get a feel for the process and how much time to allot. The step-by-step instructions were numbered. That’s common, so you know what order to do each task. There was just one problem. The next step after the first also started with the numeral one. And the next. Each step was numbered with #1. How was I supposed to prepare this dish without knowing what to do first? It was a nightmare! No really. I woke up and I wasn’t preparing a meal at all. But I was hungry.

In life, it can be confusing to know what to do first, because the Bible is full of instructions that go first. But it’s not impossible when we know that first of all, our motive is to please God. Then the rest of it becomes “second nature.”

Let’s look at some of the firsts in Scripture, giving us instructions for life.

STUDY: First Things First

The first of the ripe fruits and all the gifts brought to the Lord will go to the priests. The first batch of dough must also be given to the priests so the Lord will bless your homes. (Ezekiel 44:30 NLT)
  • Deuteronomy 26 describes the sacrifice of the first fruits. It was a celebration of thanksgiving for God bringing the Jewish people out of Egypt and locating them in a land rich with milk and honey. They took a portion of the first harvest to dedicate to God. After offering it, they would lie prostrate in the presence of God and rejoice, celebrating all of the good things Papa God provided them by bringing them out of Egypt.
  • How can you apply the practice of giving of your first fruits to the Lord? What “Egypt” has God brought you out of?
Hypocrite! First get rid of the log in your own eye; then you will see well enough to deal with the speck in your friend’s eye. (Matthew 7:5 NLT) Also in: Luke 6:42b NLT
  • It’s so easy to see the faults of others and be blind to our own. What does God want us to do first?
  • How does accountability reveal a flaw that needs to be removed?
But when you are praying, first forgive anyone you are holding a grudge against, so that your Father in heaven will forgive your sins, too.” (Mark 11:25 NLT)
  • We often get it wrong by thinking prayer is about asking God for what we need. What does Jesus teach we should do first when we pray?
  • Is there someone you need to forgive? Do you hold a grudge against another?
  • If you are burdened about sin in your own life, how can you receive God’s forgiveness? Envision a white board covered with words representing your sins against God, others, and self. All your shortcomings and flaws. Then imagine God, who sees and knows all, loving you so much that he wipes the white board clean.
Now I want you to know, dear brothers and sisters, what God in his kindness has done through the churches in Macedonia. They are being tested by many troubles, and they are very poor. But they are also filled with abundant joy, which has overflowed in rich generosity. For I can testify that they gave not only what they could afford, but far more. And they did it of their own free will. They begged us again and again for the privilege of sharing in the gift for the believers in Jerusalem. They even did more than we had hoped, for their first action was to give themselves to the Lord and to us, just as God wanted them to do. So we have urged Titus, who encouraged your giving in the first place, to return to you and encourage you to finish this ministry of giving. Since you excel in so many ways—in your faith, your gifted speakers, your knowledge, your enthusiasm, and your love from us—I want you to excel also in this gracious act of giving. (2 Corinthians 8:1-7 NLT)
  • Study these brothers and sisters in Christ. What were their challenges?
  • What traits did they display despite their personal trials?
  • What was their first action?
  • We can gain inspiration from this example. What are you more determined to do and think based on this passage?
Take care of any widow who has no one else to care for her. But if she has children or grandchildren, their first responsibility is to show godliness at home and repay their parents by taking care of them. This is something that pleases God. (1 Timothy 5:3-4 NLT)
  • What is the first responsibility of children and grandchildren if they have a widow in their family?
  • How do we show godliness at home?
  • Are you a caregiver or know a caregiver? Recognize that the sacrifices of a caregiver are pleasing to God.
But the wisdom from above is first of all pure. It is also peace-loving, gentle at all times, and willing to yield to others. It is full of mercy and the fruit of good deeds. It shows no favoritism and is always sincere. And those who are peacemakers will plant seeds of peace and reap a harvest of righteousness. (James 3:17-18 NLT)
  • When we get wisdom from God we recognize it is first of all what?
  • When we operate in God’s wisdom, what else do we display?

STEPS: First do This!

  1. Give your first fruits. What fruits has God given you? How can you give of that back to God? It can be physical or symbolic.
  1. First forgive, then finish your prayer. Name the one you will offer forgiveness.
  1. First, act. What action will you take to reflect God’s work in your life?

(See what I did there, with the numbered steps? Go ahead and grin a little!)

Copyright © 2020 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.

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