Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Grin and Grow with Kathy 02/26/20

First, Follow the Leader

First things first. 1.2.3. God Is First. Then comes me.

STORY: First Things First

Last night, we had the most delicious brownies and lemon bars at small group. The members displayed various versions of a food happy dance! They thought the bars were made from scratch. Each declared they were the most delicious they’d ever tasted. One said the homemade crust on the lemon bars was amazing. Sure, I could have played along, but I had to confess they were made from a box. The lemon bars I made exactly like the recipe on the back. The brownies had three added ingredients, but I still followed all the steps.

The reason these turned out so good must be due to one factor. I confessed to my friends I was merely good at following instructions. First things first. 1.2.3. God is first. Then comes me.

Just like recipes require step-by-step instructions with a focus on what comes first, my Christian life also has many firsts. During this new study, we’re going to explore the word first.

STUDY: Seek First

Then Saul said, “Let’s chase the Philistines all night and plunder them until sunrise. Let’s destroy every last one of them.” His men replied, “We’ll do whatever you think is best.” But the priest said, “Let’s ask God first.” (1 Samuel 14:36 NLT)
  • Do you tend to make decisions based on whatever you think is best, or do you ask God first?
  • How can you implement an “ask God first” approach to life?
  • After you ask God for his direction and wisdom, how do you know what his reply is?

During the visit, the king of Israel said to his officials, “Do you realize that the town of Ramoth-gilead belongs to us? And yet we’ve done nothing to recapture it from the king of Aram!”

Then he turned to Jehoshaphat and asked, “Will you join me in battle to recover Ramoth-gilead?”

Jehoshaphat replied to the king of Israel, “Why, of course! You and I are as one. My troops are your troops, and my horses are your horses.” Then Jehoshaphat added, “But first let’s find out what the Lord says.” (1 Kings 22:3-5 NLT)

  • This passage is also mentioned but not an exact quote in 2 Chronicles 18:4.
  • You can find a great deal of military and political strategy going on in this passage. What happens when elected and ordained officials seek the Lord’s wisdom?
  • Verse 5 uses the title Lord for God, rather than simply, “But first let’s find out what God says.” What does the word Lord mean in this context? Could you act on your own wisdom apart from God and really call him Lord?
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33 ESV)
  • What does it mean to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness?
  • Read Matthew 6:19-32 to gain the context of this passage. What are the “all these things” that will be added to us when we first seek God?
Then one of the scribes [an expert in Mosaic Law] came up and listened to them arguing [with one another], and noticing that Jesus answered them well, asked Him, “Which commandment is first and most important of all?” Jesus answered, “The first and most important one is: ‘Hear, O Israel, the Lord our God is one Lord; and you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul (life), and with all your mind (thought, understanding), and with all your strength.’ (Mark 12:28-30 AMP)
  • The Amplified Bible is like having a dictionary, thesaurus and King James Version of the Bible, all in one. (That’s why you find extra content in brackets or parentheses.)
  • What does Jesus say is the first and most important commandment?
  • What does it mean to love the Lord your God with all your heart? With all your soul? With all your mind? With all your strength? Which one of these is most difficult for you?

“If you want to be my disciple, you must, by comparison, hate everyone else—your father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even your own life. Otherwise, you cannot be my disciple. And if you do not carry your own cross and follow me, you cannot be my disciple."

“But don’t begin until you count the cost. For who would begin construction of a building without first calculating the cost to see if there is enough money to finish it? Otherwise, you might complete only the foundation before running out of money, and then everyone would laugh at you. They would say, ‘There’s the person who started that building and couldn’t afford to finish it!’" (Luke 14:26-30 NLT)

  • This is always a difficult passage because it tells us to hate our families and ourselves to be Jesus’ disciple. The NLT adds the phrase, “by comparison.” How do you interpret the level of love or hate we are supposed to have for everyone but Jesus?
  • What does it mean to carry your own cross and follow Jesus?
  • Jesus recommends first counting the cost when it comes to being his disciple. What is the cost for you to be his follower? Think again as you consider the word first in this passage.

STEPS: First Seek

  1. First ask God. What are you seeking today? Have you consulted God? How will you know his response?
  2. First ask the Lord. How do you make God Lord of your life today? How does that help you gain clarity on your current situation?
  3. First seek the Kingdom of God and his righteousness. How can you do this today?
  4. First count the cost. What have you rushed into without considering the cost? How can you rectify it today?

Copyright © 2020 Kathy Carlton Willis, used with permission.