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Learning to put God Number One
Depths of Pentecost ^ | April 28, 2018 | Philip Cottraux

Posted on 04/28/2018 5:39:14 PM PDT by pcottraux

By Philip Cottraux

Genesis 4:3: And in process of time it came to pass, that Cain brought of the fruit of the ground an offering unto the LORD. Cain was an agriculturalist. His sacrifice may have been the best he had. But it wasn’t what the Lord asked for. Fruit and vegetables cannot atone for sin. Sometimes we can bring the best of what we think God wants. But if it isn’t what He asked for, He won’t recognize it. His brother, Abel, was a pastoralist. Some interpret this story as an allegory for the conflict between agriculturists and pastoralists in the early days of man, as the human race progressed forward. And Abel, he also brought of the firstlings of his flock and of the fat thereof. And the LORD had respect unto Abel and to his offering: (verse 4).

What type of livestock Abel brought to sacrifice isn’t specified, though it’s often assumed to be a lamb. This sets the stage for the future, when animal sacrifice would become the only way to temporarily cover sin. But the type of animal Abel carried to the altar isn’t as important as what the specific wording suggests: he brought of the firstlings of his flock. God honored his offering over Cain’s. And the most destructive force on planet earth was born.

Where does God fit into your life? Is spending time with Him your top priority? We tend to make false assumptions about what God wants from us. Perhaps viewing Him as eternally gracious and patient, we tend to put Him on the backburner in our everyday lives. We think He will settle for however much time we decide to give Him. We’ll go about our daily lives, then pray for a few minutes before going to bed. And we think He’s content with that. For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God: (Exodus 34:14). Now compare this scripture with Malachi 3:6: For I am the LORD, I change not.

Read the Bible and compare how it depicts God with the benevolent being you have in your mind. He has not changed; He is still a jealous God. He is not satisfied with any less than your complete devotion. He doesn’t want to be your daily leftovers. He demands your time. He requires your love. He will not wait patiently by while you spend your entire day talking on your cell phone, playing on social media, and gorging yourself in life’s temporary pleasures.

I’m speaking from experience. A long time ago, I fell into this trap myself. And it’s exactly why I had trouble growing spiritually for years. I always understood that reading the Bible and praying were crucial to the Christian walk. But I didn’t make it a top priority. It was on the backburner of my daily life. I would get up in the morning and read the newspaper. I would go to work. When I got home, I would spend large amounts of time on the internet or watching television. Praying and reading the Word were always something I needed to “get around to.” “But one more show,” I would tell God, as if I had a right to bargain with Him. Or “I’ll pray as soon as I get off the computer.”

Then when it was time for bed, all I had time to do was say a quick prayer and read a short chapter from Psalms. “I’ll make it up to you tomorrow,” I would actually promise the Lord. “I’ll say an extra-long prayer tomorrow night. I’ll read two chapters from the Bible.”

But God does not compromise. If you’re trying to negotiate with someone in your mind, odds are you’re actually speaking to the devil in disguise. Compromise is Satan’s middle name. And if you give him an inch, he takes a mile. While every night passed by with me saying quick prayers and reading short Bible verses, my spirit was starving to death. All while I was too busy indulging in the interests of this world to even notice.

I never started to grow spiritually until I learned to put God number one in my life. And let there be no mistake; He honors every sacrifice we make to put Him ahead, no matter how small. The first sacrifice I had to make getting rid of the morning newspaper and replacing it with the Bible. Instead of reading a chapter before going to bed, I make sure to read my morning Bible chapter (or chapters) first thing in the morning.

Think about what you’re addicted to. Social media? The radio? The news? Your cell phone? You might think you can’t live without them. But believe me that when you start replacing them with prayer, the spiritual benefits will be so great that you won’t miss them for long.

While praying before going to bed is important, I’ve always gotten more out of morning prayers. There’s just something about starting the day in God’s presence. It isn’t just because it helps me get through the day. It’s that it shows God that I put Him first each day. I used to listen to the radio on the way to work. That was the next sacrifice; now, that entire time has to be spent in prayer. After doing this enough, I didn’t want to go back to the radio. God honors this.

More and more, I worked God into my daily life. The more I was in His presence, the more I wanted to be in His presence. Prayer shouldn’t revolve around our routine; our routine should revolve around prayer.

But prayer and reading the Word are just the first two steps of a life that puts God number one in everything. Eventually this philosophy starts to influence the everyday life, top to bottom. Deuteronomy 26:2: That thou shalt take of the first of all the fruit of the earth, which thou shalt bring of thy land that the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt put it in a basket, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place his name there.

The Lord wants our first fruits. And this includes tithing. We tend to look at our tenth as a gift to the Him. But tithing is a commandment, and God has provided us with our incomes in the first place. So that ten percent is already His. The real sacrifice is what else you give on top of your tithe.

At my church, it’s been brought up whether one should pay tithes on their net or gross. Personally, I go back to the concept of “first fruits.” While some have trouble swallowing this, I have a much less guilty conscious if I pay ten percent of my gross income. Even if this isn’t necessary according to the Lord, I still feel He can use that extra money to do more for His kingdom. You can’t beat God in giving; the more you give, the more He gives to you.

The first fruits concept is also why I am for paying tithes before anything else. When it’s time to do the budget, I should write my tithe check first. It shows God that I put Him above everything else I might think is a priority. It comes before the mortgage or utilities. I must learn to put my trust in Him to provide those things.

As this concept expands and takes over our lives, it will come full circle in how we treat others. The love we show to our brothers and sisters in Christ as well as those in the world is a microcosm of how much we love God. Absolute love for all people is the primary commandment and one of the chief ways we can be identified as children of God: A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another (John 13:34).

Which brings me back to Cain and Abel. One of the most famous lines in the Bible comes from the moment after Cain kills his brother in verse 9: And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? Sometimes we call this the first example of sarcasm in human history. But the real interesting point to me is that God never answered “Yes!” Cain absolutely was his brother’s keeper! Cain would only ask such a question if he had a heart not truly devoted to God, because he would have known better. And if everyone of us really puts God first in our lives, we would know that we all are our brothers’ (and sisters’) keepers. 1 John 4:20: If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?

TOPICS: Charismatic Christian; Prayer; Theology; Worship
KEYWORDS: biblestudies; christianity; christianliving; god
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Thanks for reading/watching, and God bless!

1 posted on 04/28/2018 5:39:15 PM PDT by pcottraux
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To: pcottraux; boatbums; rlmorel; georgiegirl; Shark24; Wm F Buckley Republican; OregonRancher; ...

My people are destroyed from lack of knowledge: Hosea 4:6.

This is the official ping list for Depths of Pentecost: I’m a Christian blogger who writes weekly Bible lessons. Topics range from Bible studies, apologetics, theology, history, and occasionally current events. Every now and then I upload sermons or classes onto YouTube.

Let me know if you’d like to added to the Depths of Pentecost ping list. New posts are up every Saturday.

2 posted on 04/28/2018 5:40:13 PM PDT by pcottraux (
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To: pcottraux

Yes, please.

3 posted on 04/28/2018 6:08:49 PM PDT by Wm F Buckley Republican (?)
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To: pcottraux

Good thoughts.

Thanks for posting this.

4 posted on 04/28/2018 7:02:17 PM PDT by metmom ( ...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith..)
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To: metmom

Exactly what I was contemplating this morning. We can all get wrapped up in the daily routines until the living Lord becomes just a religious obligation. Fall in love with Him and then spending time with Him is easy and wonderful. How often I leave my first love!

5 posted on 04/29/2018 3:06:13 AM PDT by freepertoo
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To: freepertoo

A human analogy is when you meet the love of your life.

You just want to be with that person all the time.

They consume your thoughts and you want to please them and can’t stand being separated from them.

And then we look at how we relate to God.......

Too often He gets relegated to being a religious obligation.

How is that love?

6 posted on 04/29/2018 4:54:55 AM PDT by metmom ( ...fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of our faith..)
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To: metmom

You’re welcome, metmom! I’m hoping to get more content up more frequently once I get a decent camera. The “New Testament: Fact or Fiction?” class I taught never got uploaded because the camera I was using didn’t work that night (it was borrowed anyway).

7 posted on 04/30/2018 2:19:32 PM PDT by pcottraux (
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