First Things First
For the past 50 years, I have been a diligent student of God’s Word. I have loved mining its treasures, whether that be directly from Scripture, or through the many anointed teachers I’ve been privileged to sit under. I’ve been known to dig into one word for days.
I also love sharing the insights I’ve received. It is the nature of God to give and to share; He said it’s actually more blessed to give than receive. It is my joy to package some of what I’ve been given into bite-size portions and pass them on to you. That is why I write these posts, and it’s why I compile them into devotionals. Today I’m sharing a compilation of 4 posts from our new book, Give Him 15 - An Appeal to Heaven, Volume 2. I believe they’ll feed you. I’ve titled the post: First Things First.
Day 2 - Simplicity
We must learn to de-complicate life, but we must especially uncomplicate our relationship with Christ. Paul said to the church at Corinth:
“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (2 Corinthians 11:3; emphasis mine).
Life can be very complicated; theology can as well. At times, if we’re not careful, both can get downright confusing. But the Lord impresses on my heart time and time again, “There is nothing complicated about a relationship with Me.”
The great A. W. Tozer said:
“Now, as always, God [discloses] Himself to ‘babes’ and hides Himself in thick darkness from the wise and the prudent. We must simplify our approach to Him. We must strip down to essentials (and they will be found to be blessedly few). We must put away all efforts to impress and come with the guileless candor of childhood. If we do this, without doubt, God will quickly respond.”(1)
Tozer also said, “There are occasions when for hours I lay prostrate before God without saying a word of prayer or a word of praise – I just gaze on Him and worship.”(2)
Sometimes no words are needed as we enjoy God’s company.
In 2 Corinthians 11:3, “simplicity” is the Greek word haplotes. Its most literal meaning is “singleness, without dissimulation or duplicity;”(3) or “the opposite of duplicity.”(4)The verse is saying that in our devotion to Christ, we must not be double-minded. We must guard against anything causing dissimulation, division, or a watering down. It is okay to be multifaceted in our gifts and activity, and it is wise to be broad-based in our understanding, but in our approach to relationship with Jesus, we must be very single-minded. Allow no other person or activity to crowd Him out. To take Him for granted or allow Him to simply be one of many priorities will weaken us.
Day 3 - First Things First
“Now it came about after the death of Moses the servant of the Lord, that the Lord spoke to Joshua the son of Nun, Moses’ servant, saying, ‘Moses My servant is dead; so now arise, cross this Jordan, you and all this people, to the land which I am giving to them, to the sons of Israel.’” (Joshua 1:1-2)
Moses’s death had to have been very emotional for Joshua. Moses was gone. No memorial service, burial, time for grieving, or even knowledge of where he was buried. His emotions were probably raw, yet he would have to move into his new role immediately.
In three days, you’re going into the land I promised Abraham centuries ago, God said. That meant – not a pleasant journey into a new homeland – but a challenging move for an entire nation.
And it meant war.
God’s instructions to Joshua at this point would have been incredibly important, perhaps the most important of his life. What were they? Only the basics of our walk with God:
don’t be afraid;
listen to Me carefully and obey;
meditate on My words;
I’ll be with you.
They were not theology. No battle plans, travel formations, or how to get across the Jordan – not yet.
First, God instructed Joshua to keep the connection to Him strong. This will be your lifeline, Joshua. Do this, and you’ll have great success. Have your quiet time - your devotions - then go to war!
When you’re about to go into a spiritual battle, transition into something new, or move forward into God’s plan for your life…first, go have your quiet time. Then, advance.
Day 4 - Love’s Motivation
There are five New Testament words for “servant” or “serving.” Two of these words are doulos and latris. A doulos was a bond slave.(5) Latris, however, from the verb form latreuo, means to serve not out of compulsion but from relationship.(6) A parent serves his or her family by providing and caring for them – not as a slave, but out of the motivation of love. This is latreuo. Romans 12:1 tells us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice to God, “which is [our] reasonable service” (KJV). Other versions of Scripture translate the phrase differently, and appropriately so: “which is [our] spiritual service of worship” (NASB). They do so because the word used is latreuo, not doulos. This verse is not telling us to present our bodies as a living sacrifice because we are God’s slaves, but rather to do so because we love Him and want to please Him. He knows what is best for us, and we trust Him. And as we lovingly serve Him, He considers it worship, not just service.
Yes, God owns us. But His heart is not to treat us as slaves “owned” by Him. He wants to relate to us as His children and friends (John 15:14-15). His desire is that we serve Him from hearts of love and worship, from relationship. When we move into this type of relationship with our Father, we become His co-laborers, working together with Him.
We embrace His Great Commission as a co-mission. Our hearts mingle with His, and we want what He wants. We’re members of Abba’s household of faith. This motivation changes everything.
Even though Paul referred to himself as a bondslave, he also said the love of God constrained him to minister as he did (2 Corinthians 5:14). As we pray and work toward God’s great harvest, we must establish in our minds that we will obey God fully. But our primary motivation must be that we are His partners, friends, and kids. As the Senior Partner, He will give direction, but He delights in involving us in the plan and process.
Day 15 - God Meetings
At the end of his life, Paul, the apostle who wrote more of Scripture than any other person, said he was endeavoring to “know” God (Philippians 3:10). One would think that if anyone knew Him, Paul certainly did. However, the Greek word he used in this verse (ginosko) has a threefold meaning,(7) which explains fully what Paul was saying:
Ginosko is a relational knowledge. It is not generic knowledge, as in knowing about a place or person. This word suggests there is an intimate relationship with the object known. It is actually used of a husband and wife “knowing” one another sexually. Paul was saying, Even after all these years and all of this revelation, I want an even more intimate relationship with God.
Ginosko is a progressive knowledge. It does not start as complete knowledge but grows as the relationship progresses. Paul stated, Even though I know God, I want to know Him more.
Ginosko is an impactful knowledge. This type of knowing changes the knower: it impacts, affects, and transforms. Paul realized that although he had been conformed to the image of Christ, he could become even more like Him.
Get to know your Abba. If you will draw near to God, He will draw near to you (James 4:8). If you desire to meet with Him, He WILL meet with you. And through the connection, He will meet with other people and situations. He will.
Let’s do it now.
Pray with me:
Father, Your heart toward us is amazing. Though You are Almighty God, You want relationship with a human family. We are overwhelmed by Your incredible plan of the ages: creating us, redeeming us, and welcoming us into Your heavenly family. May we never take this for granted. We are reminded today that You are indeed our Lord and Master, the Most High God. But You are also Father, Abba, and You love us with an everlasting love. As we pray, may we always remember that we are working together with You, not just for You.
As we intercede today, we remember that we are agreeing with You, not attempting to talk You into something. We extend the victory of the Cross, declaring that a spirit of deliverance is being released throughout the world. We call forth this great awakening and harvest in Your heart, and release it into the earth now, in the mighty name of Jesus, Amen.
We decree that we are co-laborers with God on the earth, and, as such, we move according to His plan and in His authority.
Click on the link below to watch the full video.
Rowell, Edward K., ed. Quotes and Idea Starters for Preaching and Teaching: From Leadership Journal. Baker Books, 1996, p. 181.
Ibid., p. 181.
Strong, James. New Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance, Thomas Nelson, 2003, Greek ref no. 572.
Zodhiates, Spiros, ed. KJV Hebrew-Greek Key Word Study Bible: Hardbound. AMG Publishers, 1991, p. 1808.
“Strong’s Greek: 1401. (doulos). A slave, bond slave.” Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/1401.htm. Accessed 12 May 2023.
“Strong’s Greek: 3000 (latreuó). To serve, service, worship.” Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/3000.htm. Accessed 12 May 2023.
“Strong’s Greek: 314 (Anaginóskó). To know certainly, know again, read.” Bible Hub, https://biblehub.com/greek/314.htm. Accessed 12 May 2023.