“You shall have no other gods before me.” Exodus 20:3
God has this thing about being first.
You can’t blame Him, really. After all, He is the First. And the Last. And He’s everything in between.
“Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last. My hand laid the foundation of the earth, and my right hand spread out the heavens; when I call to them, they stand forth together. Isaiah 48:12-13
The God who IS —who existed before time and created all things—longs for us to recognize His preeminence. And to honor it.
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” Psalm 46:10
God created us to live in relationship with Him, fully dependent on Him as our source.
Source of what, you may ask? Of everything.
God gives life and He takes it. He commands the sun and the moon. He spins the earth on its axis. He created and governs time. He is our source of love, joy, peace and security. He gives and maintains health. He causes the rain to fall and the ground to produce so we can have food to eat. He gives us the ability to prosper.
Beloved, God simply asks for us to recognize His role.
Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers and sisters. Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. James 1:16-17 NIV
Every good thing we long for can only come from God. And He longs to bless us with those perfect gifts. But to receive from God, we must acknowledge Him as our source.
This, dear one, is where the deceiver wreaks his havoc among us. He convinces us that we’re responsible for providing our own good. He whispers the same lie he offered Eve in the garden, suggesting we don’t need God. No, we ourselves can be like Him.
So we strive and toil to build the life we desire instead of learning to trust God and receive.
Wise King Solomon had a few things to say about that.
What has a man from all the toil and striving of heart with which he toils beneath the sun? For all his days are full of sorrow, and his work is a vexation. Even in the night his heart does not rest. This also is vanity. Ecclesiastes 2:22-23
Have you ever noticed that the harder we work, the more miserable we become? And we never seem to attain the goal we seek. We may get close, but satisfaction remains elusive. Because even if we reach the goal, it changes on us like a shifting shadow. Suddenly what we thought we wanted isn’t enough.
Solomon saw the answer to this vain struggle.
There is nothing better for a person than that he should eat and drink and find enjoyment in his toil. This also, I saw, is from the hand of God, for apart from him who can eat or who can have enjoyment? Ecclesiastes 2:24-25
Do you see it, dear one? Every good and perfect gift comes from above, even our ability to enjoy our work. You see, joy is a gift. We can’t manufacture it. We must receive it from its source. And God is the only source of everything good.
Just in case we missed it the first time, Solomon repeated the concept in chapter 3.
. . . also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God’s gift to man. Ecclesiastes 3:13
God wants us to find pleasure in our work and in our lives, but that pleasure can only come from Him. Otherwise, it will be fleeting, changing and shifting. Never resting.
That’s why He invites us to come close and trust Him. He declares, I AM the First and the Last, and He asks us to live like we believe it. He calls us to put Him first so His blessing can flow into our lives and out on this earth.
Is He first in your life, dear one? Do you run to Him first to share good news? Do you offer your grief to Him before you transfer the burden to one of your loved ones? Is He first in your thoughts when you wake in the morning? Do you recognize He is your only true Healer?
Our enemy would have us believe we can extract our own good from life. If we work hard enough we can prosper ourselves. We can find healing through physicians and medicines.
God may use physicians, but He alone is Healer. Asa, king of Judah, learned that lesson the hard way.
In the thirty-ninth year of his reign Asa was diseased in his feet, and his disease became severe. Yet even in his disease he did not seek the Lord, but sought help from physicians. And Asa slept with his fathers, dying in the forty-first year of his reign. 2 Chronicles 16:12-13
Asa was a man of God. He rid Judah of its idols and won great battles by the Lord’s hand. Yet after so much success, he began to rely on his own strength instead of continuing to depend on God.
It cost him dearly.
Nothing the world offers is an adequate substitute for God. He asks you, dear one. Will you live like you believe it?