I see a lot of people who seem somewhat confused by the order of priorities in their life, marriage and family.
A few years ago, before I married my husband, I was drawn into a discussion with a man. He asked me, “Does God want us to love Him more or does He want us to love the people more.”
I answered that God wants us to love Him more, then people second. The man flipped out and over the next two days bombed my email with a barrage of ‘evidence’ supporting his stance that God wants us to love the people first.
He was so very, very wrong but refused to accept scripture supporting that he was wrong that that God wants us to love Him first. He finally resorted to name calling and personal attacks. It was then that I realized that he was not accepting and would never accept the Biblical evidence I provided that showed we are to love God first. He did not want to know the truth; he just wanted me to agree with him and not challenge his opinion – which I might add was inaccurate.
The truth is, Matthew 6:33 clearly says that we are to first seek the Kingdom of God. But if we look a little further, to Matthew 22:36-40, the question is very plainly answered.
36 “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?”
37 Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Hmmm, it is pretty clear to me that we are to love God first.
From there, though, many people are confused. It makes sense because the Bible does not lay out a structure of priorities. However, when we study the scripture, we can see it quite clearly.
Ephesians 5 gives us a pretty clear picture of what our priorities should be. Ephesians 5:25 says that a husband should love his wife the way Christ loved the church. Well, when we look at where Christ placed the church in His priorities we can see that it had the highest place after God. Wives are commanded in Ephesians 5:22 to submit to their husbands as to the Lord.
Children come from that union of husband and wife; they are next in the line of priorities.
So, within the family structure, we are to love God first and foremost, our spouse second and our children third. This is God’s order, how He intended the family structure to be.
Now, we are also commended to honor our father and mother (Deuteronomy 5:16), our extended family (1 Timothy 5: , our church family or fellow believers (most of 1 Corinthians, Romans 14:10, Galatians 5:13, Ephesians 4:32, 1 Thessalonians 5:11, Hebrews 10:24).
Finally, we see in Matthew 28:19 that we are to love everyone else, bringing the gospel to the lost, making them disciples of Christ and baptizing them in His name (Jesus name) – populating the Kingdom.
I hope this clears up any confusion that some of you may have had on this topic. I would love to hear your thoughts on this and if you have more supporting scripture please share.
If you have read any of my books or have been following this blog for any amount of time, you know that I write quite a bit about contentment.
It is a simple concept, really, but so many people seem to struggle with it. I don’t really understand it because it is so simple, so easy. You just make up your mind to be content with what you have.
That’s the way it is for me anyway.
See, being content with what God has given you is a discipline. It isn’t much different from any other discipline. You have to work at it, stick with it and hone it until it is second nature.
I can tell you firsthand that there is nothing that compares to the peace that comes from true contentment. God said that He would give us, those who live for Him, what we need. He said He would never leave us nor forsake us.
This means that as long as we are plugged in to Jesus and trying our best to live for Him, He is going to make sure that our needs are met.
It is important, though, to understand the difference between what we need and what we want. Sometimes what we want is not what we need. In fact, I will take it a step even farther and say that sometimes getting the things that we want could destroy us.
And we have a wise, loving Father who knows this. He knows what is best for us and He wants what is best for us.
The stumbling block that many experience when it comes to contentment is actually trusting Him.
Do you trust God enough to turn your life over to Him and be content with Him plan for you? Do you trust that He knows what is best for you? Do you trust that He will give you all that you need (even if it isn’t all you want)?
Autism Ribbon Zipper Pull
Autism Puzzle Heart Lapel Pin
There are a lot of other things on the site, but these were the ones that caught my eye. What do you think?
A few years ago, a woman approached the doors of a church. Her stomach twisted into knots as she opened the door. She was with a friend, but it made little difference. Her friend was “normal;” she was not. The smile on her face belied her anxiety and apprehension. Would these people accept her? Could she possibly fit in with them? These were her only thoughts as she found a seat.
She watched people talking with each other, walking past her. While a few stopped to shake her hand, most passed right on by - almost as if she wasn’t even there. Years of experience told her that she, in fact did NOT fit in, that she would not be accepted because she was too different, too strange, too odd (she had no understanding yet of the devil and his lies). They called it autism, but she thought of it more as the “don’t fit in disorder.” She sat on the outside of their social bubble and watched.
A few services later (she very rarely, if ever missed) she gathered the nerve to walk forward during altar call. She didn’t quite make it all the way to the front – it was just too much. She stood awkwardly on the fringes of the group, watching, alone, waiting for - what? Who would want to pray for her? She was such a sinner, nothing like these people who were so holy and who seemed to know how to pray. She watched, standing on the outside, just beyond the altar. And no one noticed.
That night, she went home and said to her friend, “I don’t belong, anywhere.”
Her friend started including her, drawing her in. Others in the church followed his lead and began reaching out to her. For a year she never quite made it to the altar, but a few people would step beyond the altar and come to her, reach out to her.
At the end of that year I received the Holy Ghost.
Fast forward several years. A young woman walks into a church. She is very quiet, reserved. It is easy to not see her, she rarely makes any noise. No one sees the struggle within her, but her mother cries out to God every night to save her little girl. He is leading her to this church, working in her, stirring her and a hunger is growing.
But she is unsure, apprehensive, shy and maybe even scared. There is so much she does not understand, so much she wants to know but can’t find the right questions. The words escape her. She listens though. Sometimes her head is down, but later she can explain what was taught.
She went to the Ladies Conference and something stirred her more. She was excited. No one could tell, but her mother could. There was something different in her spirit, something stirring, something hungry, something curious, something ignited.
The day after returning there is an altar call. She starts to get up, and then sits back down, unsure. Her mother nods, tells her it is OK. She walks toward the front but stops at the fringe of the altar. For several moments she waits, watches, standing awkwardly but no one notices her because she is beyond the altar.
That night she goes home and posts on FaceBook, “I don’t fit in...anywhere.”
This isn’t anyone’s fault – no one to blame, but we should be sensitive to the people with needs who are beyond the altar.
Because we rush to the altar so quickly, so readily, we just assume that everyone else is just like us.
But they are not.
We need to broaden our scope of vision. Yes, the people who come to the altar need prayer, but there are people who don’t quite make it there that still need something. There are people who stand on the fringe, just beyond the altar, shifting from foot to foot, feeling awkward and unsure. They long for someone to reach out, to draw them in and when it does not happen they automatically think that it is something wrong with them.
These people may not understand the love that God has for them. They may not understand that the sin they carry is the very reason they need to approach the altar and not a reason they are unable. They need to feel like they belong.
We should be drawing people in. Watch, observe, pay attention, listen – especially during altar call. They may not dress the way we do or look the way we do. They may not raise their hands or pray aloud. But everyone has to start somewhere.
It is God’s will that everyone – EVERYONE – be saved. Jesus met people where they were. He did not say that He would only heal them if they raised their hands in worship and dressed a certain way. He met them right where they were and let His love make the difference and start the changes.
Not everyone is bold. Not everyone knows that they can be bold. Some people believe that they do not deserve God’s love or healing or even to be embraced by the body.
We don’t know what people are carrying when they walk through those doors. Behind that smile may be a feeling of not belonging, of being a misfit.
But if they are brave enough to keep coming through those doors, we need to be committed enough to keep trying to draw them in – even those who stand awkwardly beyond the altar.
I was fleeing an abusive relationship. I started 2,400 miles away from "home" (Louisiana - my parents' house). I had managed to get to Texas. It was midnight, I had two young children with me, no money and the low fuel light on the dash was blinking at me.
I had no idea what I was going to do.
I wasn't living for God. Sure, I tossed a prayer His way now and then. We didn't really have a "relationship" though. It was more like a "I'll call on you when I need you" sort of thing.
And I rarely thought I needed Him.
I was too blind - or too dumb - or both - to see how much He did in my life, how He moved, how He made everything happen.
But that is another story for another day.
I was leaving Montana after being in a horribly abusive, adulterous relationship. I was broken, exhausted and had no clue what I was going to do next. As I drove the 34 foot moving van (that I had loaded myself with stove, fridge, washer, dryer and all the furniture in my house) that was pulling my '81 Ford Bronco on a trailer, I began to believe I had bit off more than I could chew. My daughter and son, 10 and 8 respectively, sat in the cab of the truck with me. They had no idea that I had no idea what we were going to do and how we were going to complete our journey.
We were tapped out. No money for fuel or food. We had a few more miles and it would end. We would be stranded. The cell phone I had used for the trip had died the day before and I had not been able to recharge it (this was early on in the cell phone times - we weren't as sophisticated back then).
But my family couldn't help anyway. They were living on a shoestring budget too.
I couldn't go back, though, so I pressed forward, my headlights cutting the darkness to only reveal more darkness. My hope was fading quickly.
I chose this time to toss up one of those prayers to God, though. "God," I said, "If you are really there; if you really hear me, I could sure use some help right about now. I know I am just coming to you like this out of the blue and it's kinda weird, but I really need some help and you are the only one I can think of to call on."
Good thing God doesn't require flattery or ego boosts. I pretty much told Him that He was my last hope - and He was.
Not long after that, I pulled off the interstate to stop at a fuel station. Wasn't sure what I was going to do there, but I just felt like I needed to stop. The sign was deceptive though. I did not find a fuel station at the exit (as the sign said I would). Instead it was more pitch black darkness. It might as well have been nothingness I thought as a sighed hopelessly. I slowed and swung out a little to make a U-turn.
I heard honking but did not feel anything. When I looked in my rearview mirror though, I saw that a woman had run into my trailer. She got out and was yelling at me. I just sat and let her yell. I was too defeated, too tired, to hopeless to even say more than "I'm sorry."
Apparently, though I had not swung out far, it was far enough for her to think I was changing lanes and she did not see my blinker. She tried to pass me on the left and ran smack into my trailer - and she was hopping mad at me.
She calmed down later and we actually talked. She apologized for yelling at me. I told her it was OK.
The police came. I got a ticket because my wheels were just over the line - barely, the police officer said. He said he did not want to give me the ticket, but his sergeant said he had to.
He asked me where I was coming from. I told him. He asked where I was going. I told him. He went about his business.
When everyone had gone, though, he told me to follow him. He said he was going to show me how to get back on the interstate.
First, though, he led me to a convenience store where he put fuel in my truck and bought food and drinks for my kids and me. Then he opened his wallet and gave me $200 saying, "I wish I had more to give you."
I will never, ever forget that night.
He got us back on the interstate and we made it to my parents' home without further incident, arriving in the late morning.
I will never, ever forget that night. It was one of the times that I can look back and know I felt God moving although I was too ignorant to recognize it. But it lets me know that He has been there for me all along, through my mess ups, my blinding errors and now as I live for Him, through my mess ups and blinding errors. He holds me close and gives me these wonderful testimonies to share with others so that they can come to know Him. Though a lot of water has passed under that bridge, I can see God's hand in so many times in my life when I felt alone and abandoned. I never was.
But that one night has stayed with me. That one time I cried out to God in my blundering, unbelieving way and He showed me a love that was bigger than I could ever imagine. It took me years to piece it all together, to see just what He did and how He can use the most dire times of our life to make the biggest, brightest miracles.
Certainly He knew that I would come to Him, would one day live for Him, but I don't think that was why He answered my desperate prayer. I think He just wanted me to know that He was there and that He could move in ANY situation, even the most dire and depressing.
He made a way for a lost woman, knowing (I believe in my heart) that it would be years before she would be "found" and come to Him. Yet He still provided a way in the darkness...