I Put God First in My Life

It’s hard to believe I am already at the end of week 12–I have worked with the power thoughts from the Joyce Meyer book Power Thoughts for all of 2011!  Twelve thoughts in twelve weeks–all powerful. 

Power Thought 12 had a special, and somewhat unexpected impact on my thinking. 

As I come to the end of my 12th week of power thoughts, and my final power thought, I put God first in my life, I have done quite a bit of reflecting.  I thought (naively) that this would be one of the easy ones for me because I am already in the habit of having my quiet time with God and studying the Bible first thing in the morning. 

What I came to realize over the course of the week is that putting God first in my life means putting him first in everything.  That means saying what he wants me to say instead of what I am bursting to get out.  That means spending money on what he wants.  That means spending time doing things that are important to him.  When what I want and what he wants are in conflict, God comes first.  Ouch! 

The quiet time is the easy part, absolutely.  The hard part is swallowing the juicy tidbit on the tip of my tongue, and speaking godly words instead.  The hard part is giving money to meet a need when I would rather keep that money for myself.  The hard part is giving hours in service to a friend or family member instead of pursuing my own recreation.  The hard part is giving up my personal preferences bit by bit in order to honor him and put him first.  Putting God first isn’t just spending the first thirty or sixty minutes of the day with him.  Putting God first means putting his way of doing and being right above everything else.  Needless to say, I did not master it in a week!  I am still learning all of the ways I can show my love for him by following through with this especially powerful power thought:  I put God first in my life.

First Things First

     The final power thought in Joyce Meyer’s book Power Thoughts, #12 is the most important one of all:  I put God first in my life.  That means that God, his will, and being obedient to his word is our top priority.  We give him the first portion of all that we have–spending the first part of the day with him, giving, going to him first for advice instead of turning to a friend or the Internet. 

     Unlike the other chapters, this one is not sprinkled with lots of “think about it” questions.  At the very end, there is a simply stated question.  We are admonished to be honest with ourselves, and then Joyce Meyer asks if we have allowed anything to get before God in our priorities, and if so, to fix it.

     I realized in doing this exercise that I have put myself before God–only it looks a little more spiritual than that–I think of it in terms of improving myself and my life.  The (wrong) thinking here is that once I am improved and have my life really together, then  I will pursue God wholeheartedly!  This is such a fallacy–I have fallen for it before, and I am dismayed that I fell for it again.  I may long for transformation on many levels–but none of it can happen without God.  He changes us and improves us and enriches our lives as we pursue Him, love Him, and put Him first.

6 Ways to Stop Fearing and Fighting Your List

     Dealing with this week’s Power Thought, “I will not live in fear,” has revealed to me one of my fears.  Most days, I work through the day in fear of not getting everything done.  As you can imagine, this makes it very difficult to enjoy the day because I end up feeling like I am in a race against the clock to get all of my work finished.  I am working on overcoming this thinking, and taking on an attitude of faith.  My method of overcoming is a combination of acknowledging the truth and some practical changes in the way I set up my days.

  1. I acknowledge that my times are in God’s hands.  He does not expect me to do the impossible in a day, and he wants me to enjoy my life.
  2. In the morning, I pray for wisdom about my day.  I pray for God to help me to understand what the right priorities are.
  3. I pray that I will not be so rigid in my scheduling that I can’t enjoy an unexpected visit or conversation, or help someone out with a favor or joining a friend in a spontaneous errand or lunch.
  4. Practically speaking, I am disciplining myself to keep shorter to do lists.  This is a process.  I usually make a list the night before of everything I want to accomplish the next day.  Then, I mark out the things that aren’t true priorities.  Sometimes, the next morning, I mark things out.  I have a tendency to overload the list—so it takes a lot of paring down to get a manageable list. 
  5. Finally, I am making an effort to plan something joyful into each day.  This is hard—I know it shouldn’t be, but I struggle to come up with ideas.  And of course, just as with the “work” type tasks, sometimes I plan something fun, and the circumstances to make it happen just aren’t right.  Today, I gave myself an at-home pedicure, and I planned to being watching Glee.  I received the first season for Christmas.  Sadly, the picture kept messing up, and it actually cut out in the middle of an episode…with that in mind…
  6. Have a back-up plan, and be flexible.

Ready for Anything & Equal to Anything on God’s “To Do” List

Check out Philippians 4:13 in the Amplified Bible:

I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency].

Yesterday, while I was waiting for an appointment at the doctor’s office, I meditated on this verse, which is part of the “Power Pack” of scriptures to go with the power thought, “I can do whatever I need to do in life through Christ.”  Philippians 4:13 in other versions had become so familiar to me that I never really took the promise to heart as I should have.  I memorized the scripture years ago, as “I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”  As I read over the Amplified text, I zeroed in on ready for anything and equal to anything.  Wow!  I imagined someone speaking those words to me:  “You are ready for anything and equal to anything in Christ.”  In the past, I have often used the excuse, “I’m not ready for that,” or “That’s too hard for me.”  Well, here’s the verse to refute that type of thinking.  I am ready for anything and equal to anything.

This verse also has important meaning to me because as I was writing in my journal and thinking about my plans for the day, I realized that I want to as much as it is within my control, always say “yes” when my husband or another family member asks me to do something, issues an invitation, or just wants me to listen.  I also have a rule that I always answer my cell phone whenever a family member calls.  If it’s not possible for some reason, I call back as soon as I can.  I want to be ready and equal to anything they might need or request.  My husband asked me to go with him yesterday afternoon to look at some cattle he is considering buying, and I told him I would let him know.  I was in another town for my doctor’s appointment, and I wanted to browse the January sales, and do some work of my own since classes start next week.  I decided that everything would wait except for the opportunity to spend time with my husband.  I am trusting God that the other things will also be completed in due time.  I had a similar experience this morning.  My “to do” list for today was beginning to reach into Thursday and Friday, and I had no sense of where or how to start on the long list of tasks today.  I went to bed, trusting God to show me when I woke up.  This morning, I remembered that my mother-in-law needed a ride to work so that she could pick up her car which she had worked on, without having two vehicles in town.  My husband told me he could take her to get it Thursday or Friday, and I didn’t say anything.  While I was drinking my coffee, the Lord brought this to mind, and I felt compelled to get myself ready and take her to get her car.  I am trusting God to lead me through the day, even though it means that not everything on my list may get marked off.  I would much prefer to do the things on his list.