If We Say God is First on Our List, Why does He seem Last?

Snow on a Holly Shrub
An Unusual Snow

The Christmas season is among us and it has bounded in full force this year in a hectic race against time as Thanksgiving came at the end of November. We are pushing the limits of the clock to get everything done that we “feel” we “must” do; the decorations placed just so, the gifts purchased, the food prepared, the parties, concerts, and events attended, and travel plans made…whew!, but where is God? Have we lost our values or most importantly our priority of why we are feeling so stressed and pushed for time? Does the way we celebrate the season, spend our money, and live our lives show that God is first in our life? Our focus verse this week is Haggai 1:6.

You have planted much but harvest little. You eat but are not satisfied. You drink but are still thirsty. You put on clothes but cannot keep warm. Your wages disappear as though you were putting them in pockets filled with holes! (NLT)

Twenty-five centuries ago Haggai went to remind the people that they had lost sight of God. They had become so worried about getting their own lives straightened out to their satisfaction that they had put God last. They had built and made beautiful their own homes and lives yet it wasn’t enough, they were not satisfied, they wanted more. They had their priorities all out-of-order. We do the same thing today. We claim that God is first in our lives but if we reflect on what we actually do, He is often found last. Even under the disguise of preparing to celebrate Christmas the reason for the celebration somehow gets lost in the preparation and the results are often dissatisfaction in the overall holiday celebration. We find ourselves saying it wasn’t enough, next year we will do this or that.

The dissatisfaction comes from not putting God first. God pointed this out to the people of Judah in Haggai 1:9. The people realized that by putting God last they had really put themselves at a disadvantage and created their own dissatisfaction. We get so caught up with the worries and concerns of this world that we crowd God out of it. Jesus reminds and warns us of this in Luke 8:14.

“The seeds that fell among the thorns represent those that hear the message, but all too quickly the message is crowded out by the cares and riches, and pleasures of this life. And so they never grow into maturity.” (NLT)

We hear the message, we believe the message but we allow the ways of the world and its materialism to push God to the side. The people of Judah quickly realized that when they put God first on their “to do” list blessings came into their lives.

So as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Christ it is most important that we remember and not forget what we are celebrating. We will not find God standing or waiting for us in the bedazzled Christmas trees, beautiful wrapped gifts, or feasts of food. God doesn’t need or want any of that and we will not find the satisfaction that we are looking for in them. We must remind ourselves that God is the gift giver of the season and without acknowledging that first we will never find the true blessings of this life or the next. In John 3:16 Jesus himself said,

“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” (NKJV)

The greatest gift ever given to humanity was given by God. This “only begotten” gift translates from the original Greek as; unique – one of a kind. The transliteration is from monogenes – mono meaning one and genos meaning one of its kind. A gift doesn’t get any better than that and this gift will never wear out, go away, or get misplaced. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving as long as we believe we will have everlasting life. We must realize that we will never be able to “out do” this gift no matter how much time, preparation, money, or stress we put out to celebrate this season. So we need to step back and remember our priorities, remember why we celebrate.

Putting God first in our busy, troubled, and often self-induced burdened world is as much of a challenge for us as it was for the people of Judah twenty-five centuries ago. We must remember in our challenges of life to place Christ at the center of all our activities not only for this season of love but in all the seasons to come. As we put our priorities in order we will find our deepest needs met and realize how important the “gift” that continues to give really is.

Have a great stress free week remembering Christ first in your day-to-day life and in the preparing of the season.

E.J.

 

How God is working through your life?