I believe that one of the really good things God is doing through this time in our history is making us all reevaluate our lives and our priorities. We are being made to slow down and realize that God must come first in our hearts and lives.
This week’s devotional post was actually a “mistake.” I had written one too many posts for this study! Originally, this was going to be a six-week study. But I forgot that I had changed my mind about that, and wrote six posts. So this post today actually fits with last week’s reading. And wasn’t going to be shared with you all. But God.
As I was proofing this week’s post that I had scheduled, the Lord brought me back to this post. I believe He has something to tell us in what He gave me to write in this post.
As a believer and follower of Jesus Christ, I do truly desire to do what pleases my Saviour.
I want my Father in Heaven to be able to take pleasure in the life Christ lives through me. (Galatians 2:20) In fact, one of my life verses that I pray often is Colossians 1:9b-10—
…walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
With all my heart I want to stay close to my Saviour, standing firm as a faithful, loving, obedient servant of the Lord. It would be so wonderful to hear Jesus say to me one day…“Well done, good and faithful servant”!
But do I faithfully live out that desire?
In our reading in Psalms last week, David expresses that same desire to stand firm in faithfulness, and also tells us how to accomplish it.
I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved. Psalms 16:8
David says that the reason He knew that he would be able to not wander from God, or “be moved,” but rather stay close to God, was because he had “set the Lord always before” him.
But what does that mean to “set the Lord always before” us? How do we do that?
First, the Lord must be in all our thoughts.
If God is “before me,” as in, in front of me, then He is what I see. Hebrews 12:2a says it this way—
Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;
Isaiah 26:3a tells us to keep our “mind stayed on thee [God].”
For God to be “always before” us, in front of us, we must be continuously looking unto Jesus, keeping our mind stayed on Him. (Isaiah 26:3)
God and His Word must be in the forefront of our thoughts.
As God’s children, God should be in ALL our thoughts, anyway.
The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts. Psalms 10:4
If we would be close to our God, and not counted among the wicked, then God must be in all our thoughts.
But that will only happen as we re-train our thinking to focus on the true, honest, just, pure, lovely, good, virtuous, and praise-worthy things in life.
Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things. Philippians 4:8
Our thoughts can easily stray from the lovely and pure, almost as soon as we start our day. If a frantic morning routine doesn’t get us off course, then traffic made worse by road construction surely will! Or any number of other life experiences.
That’s why it is so important to have God’s Word stored up in our hearts. In those moments in our day when life begins to distract us and tempt our thoughts away from all that is good and holy, recalling memorized scripture will once again put God right up front in our thoughts.
And while I say that I want to set the Lord always before me, to have Him in all my thoughts, I have to ask myself…
How much do I want it?…
Do I actually hunger and thirst after righteousness, after God Himself?
…or do I wallow in my apathy toward the things of God?
Do I get up before my family and seek the Lord in prayer and in His Word?
…or do I give God my left-over time, if there is any?
Do I spend time hiding God’s Word in my heart, so that I can think His thoughts?
…or do I go about each day in my own thoughts?
Do I regularly acknowledge my need of the Spirit’s power and guidance?
…or do I hurry on in my own willfulness and pitiful strength?
Second, the Lord’s will must be our greatest desire.
For God to be “always before” us, as in, God first, we must put what He wants before what we want.
Our prayer must be…
Ever since I was saved, shortly after my thirteenth birthday, I’ve understood that God requires that we put Him first. And I’ve sought to do that, but alas, with multiplied failures. Just like David.
However, there was one time when I got it right, and wasn’t even aware of it, until my friend pointed it out.
I was on my way to lunch in the school’s cafeteria when a fellow teacher asked me for something she needed. My morning had been a bit stressful and I desperately needed ALL of the measly twenty minutes I had for my lunch break. If you’ve ever taught teenagers, you know what I mean! They can give you great joy and comic relief…or make you question your whole life’s goals. 🙂
Anyway, on this particular day, the Lord had my heart, and mind, where it needed to be. So, without thinking twice I immediately turned around to go back to unlock my classroom door, so she could get what she needed.
Her response surprised me.
“Aww! You put me before you!”
Oh my! How humbling that statement! Because I knew that any other time, I could have just as easily been a tad resentful of losing out on MY time. Time I needed to decompress and recharge. Time I wanted to use to do something for myself, not for someone else!
I’m so thankful to have this memory of one time that I got it right. For the Lord uses it to encourage me from time to time when I’m beating myself up for yet another failure. I’m reminded that at least I’m not a failure 100% of the time! 🙂
The Lord used that incident to illustrate something else to me, as well—One way to put God first, one way to “set the Lord always before me” and show that His will is my greatest desire, is to put others’ needs before my own. (Matthew 22:37-40)
For we serve the Lord when we serve others!
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. Matthew 25:40
We put God, first…before ourselves…when we put the needs of others first in our daily lives!
And as much as I would love to say that I put God first, I have to ask myself…
How much do I really put others first?…
Do I willingly drop whatever I’m doing to help someone out
…or do I ignore the Spirit’s nudging and put off being a help to someone in need?
Do I take time to visit a friend in the hospital
…or do I go about my day accomplishing my own to-do list?
Do I care enough for others to pray and seek God’s wisdom and meekness before my conversations with others
…or do I just speak and hope for the best?
Do I respond with kindness to customer service representatives
…or do I allow my displeasure at the injustice of the situation to show on my face or in my voice, harming my testimony for Christ? (a real area of temptation for me—especially cell phone companies…ugh!)
I have to say that I have failed the Lord in each of these situations, and not just once, either.
Thank the Lord for His mercy! And that each day His mercies are new, and I get to try again!
David also knew what it was like to fail God, and in some mighty big ways, but he also knew how to repent, and once again put the Lord before him. And the Lord forgave him. Every time!
But the Lord gave David many victories, too. To the point that God says of David something He doesn’t say of any other person in scripture!
…I [God] have found David the son of Jesse, a man after mine own heart, which shall fulfil all my will. Acts 13:22b
May the Lord help us be women after God’s own heart, standing firm in faithful love and service to Him! Fulfilling all His will!
You before me, Lord! — My prayer
Keep drawing nigh to Him,
LET’S TALK ABOUT IT.
Are you like me? Do you struggle to keep God always before you, first in all your thoughts? Can you relate to any of my struggle areas for putting God and others first, or is your struggle something different?
I shared one time when I got it right…why don’t you share one time you got it right. God can use our stories to inspire someone else to keep trying!