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Putting God First

02/16/20 Matthew 6:25-33 25"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more important than food, and the body more important than clothes? 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." At some time in our lives, we all find ourselves a bit overcome, uncertain as to which way to go, or what to do first. There are times when our circumstances bewilder us. It can be from so many difficult situations arising at once, or one big challenge that knocks the wind out of us. Disease, relationships, money, careers, mistakes in what we have said or done, life meaning and direction, and hopelessness can cause us to stumble on our life journey. These issues and others can dominate our attention. I heard a story about a dog who had to have the front left leg amputated because of disease. After surgery, the dog was lifted down from the table. As he tried to walk he fell. With a struggle, it got back up on its three good legs and wobbled as it took a step. Then it took a few more steps and within minutes it was walking and running, having adjusted to its new life with three legs, and relieved to be free of the pain from its diseased appendage. As far as I know, cows don’t complain or get angry when they are moved from one pasture to another. Fish don’t grow resentful or distressed if the current takes them to new water. Cows still graze, fish still swim. It seems that animals and plants take change as a fact of life, and move forward. The truth is, they are unable to describe it as ‘change’, as humans do. For non-human life, it is simply the way it is now. There is no judgment, no rancor, no disappointment. What a powerful lesson for us humans to learn. We tend to look to the World for explanation, justification, and guidance. When things go sideways, our focus almost always heads ‘out there’ first. Yet, peace is not ‘out there; joy is not found ‘out there’; completion, wholeness, and satisfaction are not experienced ‘out there’. Sometimes we need to take our eyes off the outer world and find the awe and wonder of our inner selves. Although God is everywhere at all times, it is the inner look that stirs the soul to even greater heights than any miracle and beauty of God’s physical Creation. The peace and joy we feel from experiencing the beauty of God’s outer Creation, begin internally. Animals and plants do not have this dual nature; they are not capable of isolating themselves from God. Humankind is quick to move into the illusion that we are separate from God - that we need to do things, get things, and become things in order to be complete. In Proverbs 3:5 we are told: Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. Our human nature tends to ‘lean on our own understanding’. We prefer to do things our own way. We tend to listen to others and draw guidance from whoever speaks the loudest. We look to scientists, politicians, philosophers, and religious leaders for inspiration and answers. We don’t trust moving within and waiting for Spirit to stir within us. It is a strange and unfamiliar protocol. However, it is by putting God first, by looking within to the Christ light, that we move beyond the limitations of form to the formless universe of Spirit. Throughout the Bible, Spirit teaches us to put God first. Proverbs 3:6 - In everything you do, put God first, and he will direct you and crown your efforts with success. We are to go to God first, then to the world as God directs. To put God first means to acknowledge and be responsive to the Presence that made us, moves through us, and in which we have our being. It means to act, speak, feel, and think from our highest nature, and allow God’s will and plans to unfold through us. To put God first means that no matter what the World presents, going within becomes our first choice of action. For eons, during the day sailors have used the horizon for direction, and at night, when things are dark, they used the North Star as their Pole Star. It is their guiding light and standard for celestial navigation. Putting God first means to turn our thoughts inward, when things get dark, and make God the Pole Star of our life, our Source for guidance and spiritual navigation. When we focus on God and indwelling Spirit, then all things unneeded fall away and what we require is drawn to us. When we know our direction through divine guidance, answers to questions become quickly apparent. This is what Jesus taught: seek first the Kingdom of God and His Righteousness, and all these things - the abundance in health, prosperity, joy, love, and peace - shall be added unto you. When we move our heart’s attention to God at the outset, we are promised that all we need will come to us without having to focus in that direction. We needn’t worry about debt, finances, disease, or relationships. We needn’t be concerned with our job or clothing, or whether we look fat in these pants, or any other aspect of our physical appearance. We needn’t be anxious about arriving on time or looking good, or sounding smart, or any of the thousands of other ego indulgences. Our task is to seek the kingdom of God and put God firmly first. When we do, completion and joy follow. If we correct our inner environment, all that we need will be drawn to us. This is done by placing God at the top of our to-do list. There is a simple order to the Universe: put God first; God alone, first. Our inner attention on God allows our life circumstances to flow out of God’s will, rather than trying to use God to change our life circumstances. Worry, concern, disappointment, self-condemnation flow away. When we turn to God first, we live in joy: ease replaces struggle; love supplants fear. We need not focus on our challenges, nor look at our lack, disease, and our limitations. They are distractions - illusions stemming from a belief that we are separate from God, somehow distinct from the perfection that is God and what God created. Eckhart Tolle calls this state ‘collective insanity’, or a dysfunction of the human mind. It is our human ego that manifests and sustains anything imperfect in our bodies and in the world. Wherever we direct our energies becomes more important and more powerful. The challenge, therefore, as difficult as it is at times, is to see only God, focus only on God and God’s kingdom. If we have a challenge, let go of it, stop picking it up and handling it; fear, doubt, and confusion just get all over us. When we lovingly and consistently place God first, we start the journey of transforming the habitual manner in how we react to our world. It is like the dog with the amputated leg. When we remove the painful habits of fear, worry, prejudice, hatred, and judgment, we will stumble at first. They have been our crutches. But soon we learn to walk without them. More importantly, we discover that we walk and live more fully without those crutches, and we realize that they were never meant to be a part of us. Without our negative and dark habits we are more balanced, more flexible, and more resilient as we let God flow through us as peace, love, joy, strength, and confidence. When we trust God enough to put God first, we can release the desire to manipulate others and control events. Circumstances and situations in life will always change, but the truth of who we are - a Child of God, a spiritual being having a human experience – will never change. Our pastures may change, the currents of Life may take us into new waters, but who we are never changes. We cannot focus on two things at the same time; we cannot hold two diverse thoughts in our minds at the same time. We cannot focus our eyes on more than one spot at a time. Through peripheral vision we can recognize some things outside the focal point, and we can move our eyes rapidly from one object to another; but we can only focus on one thing at a time. This is true with God. Jesus said it this way: we cannot serve two masters, we cannot serve both God and Mammon, or Money, or the things of this world. We can either focus on the kingdom of God or the kingdom of man. We can either think of God or ourselves. We put God first by being positive, happy, joyous, loving, forgiving, and sharing. And when we put God first, we become more positive, happy, joyous, loving, forgiving, and sharing. May our prayer be, “O Lord of my being, live Your life through me; express Your Will through me. Live through me as me, right now. Teach me what I need to know; heal me of everything that needs to be healed. Help me put You first in all things and in all ways.”


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