Hey Everyone! Here is the second part of Seth’s teaching on Christ is First. Go back and check out Christ is First-Singleminded to read the first part. Their will be one more after this in a few days.
“Jesus said, ‘No procrastination. No backward looks. You can’t put God’s kingdom off till tomorrow. Seize the day.’” Luke 9:62 The Message
So, what does it look like to put Christ first? Let’s consider two examples, both from the Old and New Testaments.
About 930 years before Jesus came, the nation of Israel was divided into two Kingdoms: Israel to the North and Judah to the South. From that time both nations had a long string of Kings who neither feared God nor walked in His ways. In 2 Chronicles 34:2-3, we read a telling description of one of the few good Kings who ruled over the Southern Kingdom of Judah; a young leader named Josiah.
“He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight and followed the example of his ancestor David. He did not turn away from doing what was right. During the eighth year of his reign, while he was still young, Josiah began to seek the God of his ancestor David. Then in the twelfth year he began to purify Judah and Jerusalem, destroying all the pagan shrines, the Asherah poles, and the carved idols and cast images.“ 2 Chronicles 34:2-3
Josiah had a lot working against him. His grandpa, Manasseh, did everything he could to get rid of God’s word and sought to replace worship of God with idol-worship. He even sacrificed some of his own kids to satanic gods (see 2 Chronicles 33:3, 6). Then there was Josiah’s dad Amon who was equally wicked and ruled over Judah for only two years. He abandoned the Lord, refused to follow in His ways, and was ultimately assassinated by his own servants! (See 2 Kings 21:22-23) Let’s just say Josiah’s family tree wasn’t doing him any favors.
So what made this young king so successful in God’s eyes? How did he break free from his family’s pattern of rebellion? The Scriptures don’t tell us exactly, but we do know that Josiah set his eyes on the Lord. He had a single-minded, and wholehearted desire to live in a God honoring way.
“Never before had there been a king like Josiah, who turned to the Lord with all his heart and soul and strength, obeying all the laws of Moses. And there has never been a king like him since.” 2 Kings 23:25
Do you remember when a lawyer came asking Jesus what the greatest commandment was? Jesus’ response, quoted from Deuteronomy 6:5, echoes the life and wholehearted devotion of King Josiah (See Matthew 22:37-39). Wholehearted means “to hold nothing back.” Putting Jesus first is not only about priority but also about our strength and energy. We are to go after Christ with all that is within us. As we grow in God’s grace, the pattern of our lives will become increasingly uncompromising to our Lord Jesus and the values of His Kingdom. This is how Josiah’s life was characterized.
Then there is the New Testament example of the Apostle Paul. We would be hard pressed to find a biblical character more committed to putting Christ first than Paul. Writing to the Philippians from prison, Paul expresses his deep and life-long calling to know Christ intimately experience Him powerfully, and reflect Him accurately (See 3:10). Paul knew that he hadn’t achieved perfection but the direction of his life was constantly one of forward-motion.
“No, dear brothers and sisters, I have not achieved it, but I focus on this one thing: Forgetting the past and looking forward to what lies ahead, I press on to reach the end of the race and receive the heavenly prize for which God, through Christ Jesus, is calling us.” Philippians 3:13-14
Paul’s focus was on plowing a straight line. Like anyone who’s walked with Jesus more than a day, Paul knew how distraction, wandering, and sin could steer a person’s life radically off course. He taught and modeled a simplicity of devotion, fixing his eyes on the true prize of life — hearing the Father say, ‘well done good and faithful servant!’ (See Hebrews 12:1; Matthew 25:21)
Regardless of your background, personality, and even your limitations, God will meet you with the desire and power to do what pleases Him (See Philippians 2:13). Begin to move out in faith to put Jesus first in your priorities, energy, and strength.
“There is a simplicity to the life of the godly. All through the Bible, the way of righteousness is a straight ahead. It calls us avoid the detours off this path; they promise much, but lead you to dead ends and death. Josiah won the battles with temptations before they came by determining what he would and would not do.” Lloyd Stilley
- Read Philippians 3:12-16. Believers in Jesus Christ must know where they are going in order to press on toward the goal. From these verses, what seems to have contributed to Paul “pressing on”? What does he mean when he talks about forgetting what lies behind? Why is this so important for moving forward in our walks with Jesus?
- Take a broad look at your life. What stands as the greatest obstacle to your “wholehearted” devotion to Christ in this season of life? Through God’s grace and power what can you do about it?
Seth & Dale