Seek Ye First
Most Christians know that we are supposed to put God first in our lives, but so many don’t understand that this includes seeking God first about every little detail in our lives. Even the things we don’t think would be important to Him. Satan comes against us with many different tactics. One of his tactics includes self hate as well as non-acceptance of others. I understand now after many years how satan attacks the minds of our youth with feelings of inadequacy and self hatred in order to destroy them. Teen suicide is sadly on the rise and we need to be aware of how satan uses non-acceptance and self hatred in order to accomplish his horrible work. We need to be on our knees seeking the Lord and teaching our children so that they can be aware and we need to teach them how to battle these feelings that satan places in the mind. The evil one not only uses these tactics on youth, but also on the adult mind. We need to learn to Seek God first in all things in order to give him the fight of his life!
I wanted to do this lesson first because God placed it upon my heart, and secondly, because I understand the way Satan works in so many different ways, with a number of distractions trying to get us away from this principle Jesus taught in Matthew 6:33. The devil knows that if we do this, that if we seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, through Christ we will be unstoppable! He may knock us around, but he won’t stop us. We are conquerors through Christ Jesus!
Handout: Seek Ye First
The Story of the Magnolia Tree
~* The magnolia tree stood tall with her branches stretched out over all the flowers of the field. Her dew covered, soft blossoms shimmered in the sun like diamonds. She swayed and danced in the wind so slowly and gracefully as her limbs reached high in praise to her God, The Creator of all. She was thankful for all the many blessings in her life. All who saw her thought she was the most content and happy of all that lived in the field. Yet, deep inside her spirit, she was filled with fear. So many unanswered questions filled her thoughts.
For so long she had admired the flowers that grew so beautifully in the field that they all shared. Though her branches held petals of its own, she noticed how all who came in the field always seemed to love and admire the flowers most of all. She longed in her heart to feel loved, to be wanted like the flowers were. Many had stopped to rest from the hot sun in the shade underneath her branches and to find shelter from the falling rain. She knew that she was needed at those times and that her Creator had designed her for a special purpose, but she could not understand what that purpose was or what it would be.
She tried to accept herself as she was, but she couldn’t stop the ache inside her heart and the desire to be like the flowers, so delicate and small. She was so different, and wanted so much to be accepted as they were, but no matter what she did, or how hard she tried, she couldn’t change.
Every night she wished on stars to change. Every day she hoped with all her strength to be a flower but with no change. When those attempts failed, she began to stop feeding herself with the nourishment that God had provided, in hopes that she would not grow so tall. She hoped that somehow she would decrease and better fit in with her surroundings. However, in all her efforts to change, she found herself to be the same. She wasn’t even close to being or becoming a flower. She was still a tree.
Time passed, she continued to harm herself more and more in her quest to change. She wanted to change so much so that she didn’t realize the terrible effects her actions were having on her. It soon became apparent. Her branches no longer reached high toward the blue sky. Instead, they dropped sadly toward the earth in defeat and hopelessness. She was no longer as strong as she once had been. Somehow the passing time left her living in shame, and in pain that seemed to never ease or end. She found herself wanting to die. She thought to herself that death would finally end this battle she had been in for so long. She felt she had nothing to live for, she felt as if she had no purpose at all anymore.
In complete desperation, she remembered her creator. She remembered that he could do anything. He had created her. He had created the mountains, and the stream that ran through the middle of the field. He had created everything. He could make her like the flowers! For the first time in a very long time, she saw a glimmer of hope. So the magnolia tree began to cry out with all her might to God. She begged Him to change her. With all sincerity in her brokenness she pleaded with Him. She presented a hundred reasons to him why she wanted to be a flower, why she should become a flower. She told him that if she were a flower she could bring joy to others with her beauty and that she felt she would even be more useful if only she could fit in.
After baring her soul to Him with all the good reasons why He should grant her request, her last hope quickly turned to disappointment when God smiled and very lovingly whispered, “No”.
Her thoughts raced with questions. Doesn’t he understand how much better I would be? Doesn’t he see how unhappy I am being a tree? Is he angry with me? Is he punishing me for some reason? She had no answers, maybe she was just worthless. So she tried to hide herself away, but there was no place to go. She was planted firmly in the ground and there was nothing she could do. She just stood there, feeling helpless in the middle of the field among the flowers that she so longed to be like, for all to see how different she was. She felt even more afraid, embarrassed, and alone than she ever had and she continued to wonder why she was the way she was.
Life didn’t stop for her pain. The earth kept turning, the wind kept blowing, the rain, falling, and day after day, the sun kept shining. When days ended, nights came, and she was covered by a blanket of stars, while the moon spilled soft beams of light down over her as she cried. The flowers continued to blossom around her while many new ones grew, and the magnolia tree, in spite of her unhappiness, stayed the same.
One morning she began to think about how tired she was of this war she had been in for so long. She was tired of living in this field, she was tired of being afraid, she was tired of feeling alone and she was tired of fighting to change things that she had no power over. She knew something had to be done. She was tired of being unhappy. So she gathered up all the courage she could find, and once again she cried out to God. “Father, please help me she began, I feel like I’m dying inside. I don’t know how I’m supposed to be. I don’t know what to do. Quietly, she whispered again, Please, God, will you help me? When she ceased, there was silence for a moment, then, she heard a still, sweet voice gently speaking to her. It was Him; it was the voice of God. His words were like cleansing rain to her as she heard. “Listen”, he said. “Accept yourself little one, I accept you. I love you just the way you are. You are wonderfully and beautifully made, and your worth to me is far beyond the most priceless of treasures.” At that moment, she felt The Creator’s love for her stronger than she had ever experienced it before, because she knew that he is truth and life. She began to realize how very wrong she had been. She realized that what had been truth in her thoughts, were in reality, false. She was seeing God’s truth and it was refreshing. At that moment she understood that God was an artist and he had created her just as she should be, he had designed her just as he wanted her to be. How foolish it had been to try to change his work, his masterpiece.
Repenting, she asked God to forgive all of her past sins and foolish desires to change. She asked for wisdom that only he could give and she asked him to help her to make wise choices that would bring restoration for the damage she had done to herself. She asked Him to heal her heart and her mind, and to change her way of thinking to be that of his ways. Instead of seeking approval from others, she began to seek His approval. She wanted to reach his standards of beauty and grace. She wanted to be a trophy that could stand and show his work, love and skill, so that others could see his heart. She wanted to live the rest of her life in a way that would display the work of The Creator’s hands. She now desired to bring glory and honor to Him through her life.
She began to be thankful that she could be a shelter and a safe place for others from the wind, the rain, and from the heat of the summer sun. She understood that had been her purpose all along. She saw God’s plan for her existence. It wasn’t long before her branches once again lifted from their bowed position, and reached high in praise and thanksgiving to The Creator once more. She felt peace in knowing that God’s ways are always the best ways.
It would take time, and she knew that other storms would come, there would be other battles to fight, and she knew that she would make foolish mistakes again perhaps. She understood that the flowers would always be loved more and preferred by others, but she had the knowledge that life wasn’t about being praised and appreciated by others but life was instead about loving and helping others. Life wasn’t about her. Life was about worshipping the one that created her. It is all about HIM. She had learned that in order to live in joy, peace, and victory, she was to seek Him first and all other things would fall into place.
Thanks to God and his patience, she had finally reached the point where she was truly and profoundly thankful for her life and for the way God made her. She breathed in the wonderful feeling that came in knowing with no doubts whatsoever, she was loved by The Father above, unconditionally, and that would never change. To Him, she would always be special and beautiful. There was nothing more she needed because in God’s love and acceptance, she had everything, she was complete, and there is nothing more beautiful than that.*~
One night a few years ago, after being in despair for a very long time over some things in my life that I could not change, I sit at my computer and began to type. Without a thought, the words to the story you just read came forth from my fingers like water rushing from a swift moving river. Tears fell the whole time as I typed the words God was giving me while at the same time through those words he was teaching me very valuable lessons. He also was giving me a better understanding of one of the principles in his word found in Matthew chapter 6 and verse 33.
Matthew 6:33 “But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.”
This is so imperative for all of us, because this is the most important thing we will ever do in our lives. If we choose otherwise, we can forget having peace, joy, or victory. I began to better understand that if I would seek Him first in all things, even these things that I didn’t think were important to him, that everything else would fall into place and I could live happy and joyful in the victory that he wants for my life and for all the lives of his children. I could live that abundant life his word teaches about. So can you dear one.
Satan works in many ways. He knows that our flesh is weak but the spirit is willing. So he finds out our weaknesses, and he makes sure he uses them against us. He doesn’t want us to seek God’s wisdom and guidance about anything.
1Peter 5:8 “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:”
Satan does this because he hates God and the only way for him to get at God is to torture God’s children because he knows how much God loves us. I want to discuss some of the ways we can seek God first and one of the major tactics Satan uses to come against us.
I have learned that one tool satan loves and uses much is Prejudice. What is Prejudice? Prejudice is an act or state of holding unreasonable preconceived judgments. It is an irrational suspicion or hatred of a particular person, group, race, religion or gender.
What does God say about our judging others?
Matthew 7:1-2 “Judge not, that ye be not judged. 2. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again.”
Luke 6:37 “Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven:”
Romans 14:13 “Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in his brother’s way.”
I have found that the devil uses our differences with others against us. He tries to get us to judge and hate others because of differences, as well as trying to get us to hate ourselves because of them. There are so many prejudices in the world. This is against God. God made us all and he made us all unique for a reason and we should celebrate our differences as well as the differences of others. Prejudice is a learned behavior. Most children will love everyone around them regardless of how different they are. That is until someone teaches them otherwise. It is so important for us to learn and teach others, children and adults alike, that we should accept and see ourselves and others in God’s light and love.
Still, we have to deal with those who do have prejudices. He can even make us have prejudices against ourselves before we even realize it. Satan will use someone to say or do something to hurt us in regard to the way God made us in order to make us feel like our differences are something that we should be ashamed of. He will work hard to get evil thoughts into our minds that make us feel less than or worthless. He uses this even more with youth than he does with adults I think. Most people know that it’s not good to think to highly of oneself or to put self needs ahead of everyone else. However, Satan is a sly old fox and will be sneaky about it. He will work in trying to get you to feel badly about yourself so much that you lose your focus and confidence in Christ. He will get you to feel so badly about yourself you will feel afraid or shameful to seek God on some matters, forgetting that He already sees and knows all about you.
Have you ever felt like you were not good enough? That everyone else was better? I sure have. Has Satan ever made you think that you were too tall, or too short? Has he ever told you that if only you had more money or better clothes or a bigger house that everything would be better for you? Has he ever caused someone else to laugh at you or make fun of you for whatever reason? Has he ever attacked you because of the color of your skin, or because of your gender? Has Satan ever made you hate yourself because of your weight, be you overweight or maybe underweight? Has he ever told you that you were too young or too old to accomplish dreams that the Holy Spirit has placed in your heart? Has he ever told you over and over that you are not as intelligent as others? Maybe Satan has gotten in your mind and made you laugh at someone else because they were different. These are things that he will come against you with. He definitely comes against our young people with these issues. It may seem like these things are unimportant, but to the person who is hurting, it is very important and it is a prison. God created us to be free through Christ, and when one accepts Christ, the devil cannot get in us because God’s spirit lives in us, but still he will try to capture our minds and bring us down into a dark pit to where we cannot focus on the things of the Lord. He will try to get us to a place where lies seem like truth. That is a dangerous and painful place to be. I know about self hate from experience. Thank God for deliverance and restoration!
When we start to have an opinion about something, someone, or ourselves, we need to stop and ask God, are these thoughts are based on His word, or are they just something that I have been taught by others? We need to ask, is this thought or opinion a trick from Satan? This is a way to seek God and his righteousness first. In seeking the Lord, he will direct our thoughts and show us the right way to be and the correct ways to think.
It is so important for us to learn and understand, as well as to teach our children that God did indeed make us all wonderfully special and unique and the value of seeking his standards of beauty and to seek his acceptance in all things instead of seeking acceptance from the world.
1 Samuel 16:7 “But the LORD said unto Samuel, Look not on his countenance, or on the height of his stature; because I have refused him: for the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart.”
Proverbs 31:30 “Favour is deceitful, and beauty is vain: but a woman that feareth the LORD, she shall be praised.”
If you are in pain and struggling with accepting yourself as God made you for whatever reason, remember to “Seek Ye First.” Ask the Lord to help you to see yourself through his eyes and to help you understand that He does love and accept you and that is all that really matters. You are approved of by God in the way he made you through Christ. Ask Him how he wants you to be. If someone hates you or is hurting you because they have a prejudice against you, Seek Ye First. Seek God on this matter and ask Him what he would have you to do about it. Listen, He will never lead you wrong.
1 Corinthians 6:19 “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?”
1 Corinthians 6:20 “For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God's.”
God made us all different for a reason. It is foolish for us all to try to be the same. I’ve said this so many times and I will continue, God will never help you or I become someone else. He will help you and I become the best that we can be as he has planned. Just as God taught me in the story, a tree can never become a flower, and a flower can never become a tree. You and I are as he made us and for a reason and everything God does is good! He created us to bring glory and honor to him and to show the wondrous works of his skilled hands. What a wonderful artist God is, the best one.
Psalm 139:14 “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvelous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well.”
If you do have a prejudice against yourself or against someone else, it is wise to seek God and to ask his help in changing your heart about it before it hinders you and God’s work in your life. It is beautiful that we can relate to each other because we are all more alike than we are different, but our differences are wonderful as well. Our differences are the things that make the world exciting. What does God’s word say about how we should be toward others?
John 13:34 “A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another.”
This commandment does not have specifications. It does not say love only those who are like you. It does not specify race, gender, age, weight, wealth, status, culture or otherwise. We are all God’s creation and we are to love one another. Simple as that!
We in our own strength are no match for Satan. This statement is not to frighten you. It is truth and it should make you aware of his tactics. Of course he has many tactics, but the more of them we learn about, the more we can be aware and seek the Lord first about those things so that he cannot make us fall with those ways. You do not have to fear. We have a Father who is ALL POWERFUL. Through Christ we can overcome him. If Satan can get your focus off of Jesus and on yourself, be it in getting you to think you are the most important person alive, or be it in making you feel like you are worthless and getting you to hate yourself, or others, either way, he is getting you to focus on yourself, on others and not on God. This is detrimental to your walk with the LORD. It is hazardous to your life of peace and victory with God. Remember, Seek Ye First! Praise the Lord.
We are to put God first in all things, before everyone and everything including ourselves. Putting other things ahead of God is pointless. In putting others or other things before God will only cause chaos and turmoil in life. God gives all of himself to us, and he wants us to give all of ourselves to him.
As we have learned in past lessons, we all have free will of choice, we do not have to seek God and his ways first, just like God doesn’t force people to believe and receive salvation, but we who are born again know that knowing Jesus makes life worth living and in him is peace and life. There is an order in which to do most things, and trying to do them out of order will only further complicate things.
Can you imagine a baker trying to bake a cake before combining all the ingredients first? It would be disaster. There is an order. In living life, there is a specific order and key to living it right and with victory and that is what we are learning today, to seek God first in all things. Every morning or every time you wake for a new day, think of this. Seek Ye First and then do it.
Seek the Lord about what lies ahead in your day. Seek him about every little thing. Ask him everything. Everything about you is important to the Lord, and he wants that intimacy with you. What an honor that is. The God of all wants an intimate relationship with you and me. We should return that desire and seek utmost intimacy with him. We should pursue it with everything we have in us.
I heard a story once about a little boy who was putting a puzzle together. The finished product was to be a picture of Jesus walking on the beach. The little fellow’s mother watched him working diligently to find all the pieces of the puzzle that made up the image of Jesus and then putting them together and leaving the other pieces for later. She asked him why he was focusing only on putting the image of Jesus together and leaving the other pieces for last. The little boy replied, well, I’ve worked this puzzle once before, and I learned that once you get Jesus into focus first, all the other pieces fall right into place. Wow, how profound that is and so true. Once we get our focus on the Lord Jesus Christ first and foremost, everything else in our lives will fall right into place. He will make sure of it. We can trust that and we can trust him always! Remember, Seek Ye First! God Bless you all.
Reminder: Remember to love and serve others in the attitude of Christ!
Dear Righteous, Father,
Thank you for who you are and for all you do. Thank you for creating us wonderfully and in the way that you wanted. Father we praise you for your wisdom and your understanding. We thank you that you made us all similar but different as well. You are truly an artist and we are honored to be part of your creation.
Father we ask you today to help us to always seek you first in all things. We ask that you help us to beware of the tactics of the evil one and to help us to not fall prey to his ways. Help us to accept ourselves and others as you do. Help us to seek you in the ways that we need to be and to seek your acceptance and your ideas of beauty and grace. Help us to teach our children and others your ways and that in seeking you first, all other things will be added to us. You know what we are in need of and you will supply that need. We trust you LORD and we believe in your word and your promises. We know that you are truth and life.
Father, thank you for teaching us that we are to love others without judging. Help us to live by that principle and all the principles in your word as we study and learn them day by day. Thank you for being patient with us and for being the best teacher. Help us to see all of your creation through the eyes of love, that is, through your eyes, so we can further understand and appreciate you the way we should.
We ask that you watch over us and our loved ones yet another week and help us to bring the glory and honor that is rightly due to you. Help us to seek you first everyday and to remember that you will take care of everything else.
Father, please keep your hand and favor upon this ministry and those who are touched by it. Take our little parts and increase them for your glory and to fulfill the plans you have for us. Please continue to use us for your greater purpose and plans. Father we ask you to teach our ears to be keen to your voice and your instruction in all things.
We thank you LORD, for hearing and answering our prayers. Father, we humbly ask you to save our lost loved ones and bring all those that do not know Christ to the knowledge of truth and help them to accept Him. Thank you for being such a wonderful Creator, God, and Father. Thank you for intimacy we can share with you through Your son and our blessed, lovely Savior Jesus. In Jesus name, we thank you and we pray…Amen.
March 8, 2009