When First Things are First
Then All Else Follows
Like many books on Christian growth and discipleship, Dallas Willard in The Great Omission, mentions various spiritual disciplines; prayer, fasting, silence, solitude, worship, scripture memorization, and proper fellowship. And if we do these, then they will aid us in being true disciples of Christ and conforming to His image.
As I thought about these disciplines, what came to mind were two things 1.) the verses that state the Word needs to be our foundation to each one of these acts and 2.) my own experience.
1 Corinthians 14:15 What is the conclusion then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will also pray with the understanding. I will sing with the spirit, and I will also sing with the understanding.
John 4:24 God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.”
Proverbs 28:9 One who turns away his ear from hearing the law, Even his prayer is an abomination.
Hebrews 11:6 But without faith (acting on His Word) it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
Romans 10:17 So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
Luke 4:4 But Jesus answered him, saying, “It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God.'” (during a 40 day fast)
The Word is to be our foundation to all we do because it is the originator of our understanding, trust, faith, and beliefs. Without it spiritual disciplines aren’t worth much, but with it they powerful beyond measure.
I have found this true in my own life. Despite my diligence in doing various spiritual disciplines, I was empty, in bondage, spiritually starving, powerless and wanting more. Frustrated, overwhelmed and tired, several years ago I put everything aside and did the one thing my Lord commands in Matthew 6:33. With His Word in first place, my spiritual life started to prosper. All else followed. Everything changed. Abiding in His Word is the key to everything else because then truth and faith in Him is infused into the depths of our soul.
When we put first things first, then everything else flows with purpose, depth and power. If we don’t, the rest is forced and ineffective, weak, and shallow.
Therefore, personally abiding in the Word is the cornerstone to our spiritual lives. We can’t own His truth by listening to someone else’s rendition of it. We have to engage, abide, and swim in it and look to the Spirit to write it in our minds and hearts. Why can’t we just listen to the preacher? Our abiding fosters intimacy with our Husband, His will for us. A personal engagement with the Word requires us to trust Him to teach and guide us through the intricacies of His words. That trust leads to the relationship He desires with us. When we come to God in His Word like we would our spouse; intimate, alone, consistent, and with a heart to know Him and be united to Him, then His truth will become ours. This is God’s design. Our beliefs will move in line with His truth and will, and everything will start to flow from that foundation.
Yet how often is abiding in His Word the last thing we do or have time for? Everything else comes first. Many churches overtly or covertly support that abiding is no big deal. Stop listening to them. Listen to God’s truth. He says His Word is the cornerstone of our lives. It is the cornerstone because our beliefs affect everything else.
All we do comes down to the beliefs we hold. Belief is the work that Christ gave us to do (John 6:29). It is work to believe because the world inundates us with its lies. Faith, our beliefs in motion, comes from hearing the Word, not interpretations, stories and someone else’s opinions, but hearing the pure Word taught to us by the Spirit. (John 14:26) Without faith in Him and the right beliefs, then our prayers, worship, acts of service, fasting, fellowship and all else is without truth. We are following the god of our minds which we, society and others have created. Yes, straightening out our beliefs and faith in Him takes time, but who are we cultivating faith in?
If we want to honor God and have our lives infused with His then we have to do things His way. His will is for us to abide in Him, the vine, the truth, the light, Christ, the Word. When we do He promises that all else will follow and all we do will be done in truth, spirit and power.
John 1:14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth
How different Christendom would be if each one of us abided in God’s Word as He instructs us. The Word is to be the cornerstone of our lives. Without the cornerstone the temple falls apart as we are witnessing.
What is the main act you do for your faith? Church, prayer, service? Whatever it is that is your foundation. Spiritual disciplines are very important, but if they are not established on a personal engagement of the Word of God then those acts lack power because they are based on something else and honoring someone else. What was designed to be first can’t and won’t take second place. Let’s put first things first and abide in The Word.
September 30, 2008 at 11:42 pm
Great post…as usual.
I especially liked your two ways you described faith.
Faith is acting on God’s Word.
Faith is our beliefs in motion.
Two of the best definitions I’ve ever heard.