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Refreshment in Refuge

    by Gina Burgess

Keeping God First
Date Posted: April 17, 2016

In our little walk through Judges, we've noticed something quite troubling about the Israelites. They have a terrible time keeping God first. Joshua told them that “you cannot serve the Lord for He is a holy God,” He’s jealous, and won’t forgive their transgressions and sins. This is a deeply troubling statement to me. After all, I know He has forgiven me all my sins. But then, I believed Him about His Son. I trusted Him with my life and heart.

Then Joshua explains why God won’t forgive them. “If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you, after having done you good.”

Ah! That word forsake is truly nasty. It means to leave behind, abandon, neglect, depart from in the Hebrew Qal sense.

Perhaps this was Joshua telling them their choosing to serve God was merely a fleeting thing, completely unlike his own choice of tense when he said, “Choose you this day whom you will serve.” That word in the Hebrew means greater action and determination than making a one-time decision. Just as a couple must consistently and constantly work at marriage, so too must we work at our choice in serving God. This is that choosing I will choose to serve God. It’s the past, present, and future tense all in one word. It is deliberately and continuously walking down a chosen path following God. We don't have the kind of tense in the English language.

Isaiah 58:13 "If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don't use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, GOD's holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,' making money, running here and there-- 14Then you'll be free to enjoy GOD! Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all. I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob." Yes! GOD says so!

I am not preaching "no football" on Sunday afternoon. What I am saying is that I have to sit down with God everyday or the anxiety takes over. I have to practice giving it all to Him or I'll take it back and try to "fix it" all the while making the matter worse. Some problems fix themselves, other problems need the hand of God. I have a lot of the latter kind of problems, yet I get in God's way while He's trying to fix them... or teach a lesson. You can go ahead and admit you are like that, too, because I know I'm not in the boat alone. We are skimming over the water far too fast; I can't row that fast so I know I'm not the only one rowing.

Keeping God first is a daily thing, not just a Sunday thing. Peter sank when he took his eyes off Jesus. The disciples couldn't remove the demon from the boy because they didn't have the faith of a mustard seed. David was lollygagging at the palace when he should have been at the war front with his men and that's when he lounged on the roof and caught sight of Bathsheba. The Bible is full of all kinds of examples of life situations that went awry when folks quit putting God first and that was the first step down their path to trouble.

Not so, Joseph. He got up in the middle of the night and went to get his bride who was pregnant and brought her home with him, effectively silencing any recriminations against her. The likelihood of Mary being stoned was almost certain. I think about my life, and I don’t see one problem that has that kind of likelihood of an end result. So why am I so anxious? Was Mary anxious? How did Joseph feel when he looked upon his bride swollen with child? At that moment he didn’t know the child was the King of the universe. It is one thing to read about an event, to imagine the sweat, the dust, the cold, the animal smells, but it is something different to live through it.

God never promised easy living. What would we ever learn if life's most pressing decision was which bonbon to eat next? Job had an easy life until God allowed Satan to put his foot in it. So, guess who's messing with us now?

Did God allow Job to be harmed past endurance?

Did God share with Job that Satan was the one playing havoc in his life?

Were any of us around when God laid the foundations of the world and when He hung the stars in place?

The correct short answer is, “No.” Although, I’m quite sure that if I had been there, I would have given Him a suggestion or two about how to hang the world. I would have completely not known that hanging it crooked in space is a good thing, not a bad thing. If it didn’t hang crooked, then we wouldn’t have our seasons, and I love the changes as the year progresses. In that respect, change is a very good thing.

In keeping God first, change is a necessary thing. Believers must have a change of heart, receiving their new, tender heart from God Himself. Change of direction, change of path, change of allegiance to the One who can keep us from stumbling and present us blameless into the presence of His glory with great joy (Jude 1:24).

All we have to do is choosing we will choose to keep God first.

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Biography Information:
Gina Burgess has taught Sunday School and Discipleship Training for almost three decades. (Don't tell her that makes her old.) She earned her Master's in Communication in 2013.

She is the author of several books including: When Christians Hurt Christians, The Crowns of the Believers and others available in online bookstores. She authors several columns, using her God-given talent to shine a light in a dark world. You can browse her blog at Refreshment In Refuge.

If you'd like to take a look at some Christian fiction and Christian non-fiction book reviews before the books hit the book store shelves, check out Gina's book reviews at Upon Reflection

Gina is a partner and COO of Common Sense Marketing Strategies, LLC that owns Authors Community and
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