THE FOUNDATION FOR A STRONG FAMILY

Today we're going to look at the foundation for being a strong family, the very first command of the ten commands is:

Exodus 20:2 "You shall have no other gods before Me." What's the principle? Put God first. In my life and in my family. God says, I demand top priority in your life. I'm not going to play second fiddle to anything. He deserves to be number one in your life because He made you. If He hadn't made you, you wouldn't even be around. Everything you have in life is from God because He's given it to you. He's allowed you to have it.

What does it mean to "have no other gods before Me"? No other gods? I thought there was only one God. There is. The word "gods" is written with a small "g". He's not talking about "the God"; He's talking about little gods.

What is a god? A god is anything that dominates your life, anything that controls your life. Can a career be a god? You bet it can. Can another person be a god? Yes. Can an hobby be a god? Even good things that God has created for us to enjoy, become gods when you give them first place in your life. God says, "Wrong. I deserve first place in your life." This is the foundation -- put God first.

Every time God gives a principle, He gives a promise. The promise: In everything you do, put God first and He will direct you and crown your efforts with success."

There's one of the great promises of success. Do you want to be successful? Put God first. Wherever you want God to bless, you put Him first in that area.

  1. HOW DO I PUT GOD FIRST?

How do I do it? What does it mean to put God first? I took the acrostic F-I-R-S-T and I'm going to give you five ways to put God first in your life and your family.

F - FINANCES

Put God first in your finances. Let's start with the most difficult one. Proverbs 3:9-10 "Honor the Lord by giving Him the first part of all your income, and He will fill your barns to overflow." God says give Me the first part back and I'll bless all the rest. God has said that money is the number one test of your priorities. We spend most of our lives trying to earn it.

The way you spend your money says what's first in your life. Deut. 14:23 "The purpose of tithing is to teach you to put God first in your lives." What's tithing? God says that the first 10% of all I make goes back to Him. Why 10%? That's just what He said. The purpose is simply to teach you to put God first.

Why is tithing so important? God says that if I'm not tithing God is not really first in my life. If He's not first in your finances He's really not first in your life.

When should I do it? "On the first day of every week..." I give Him the first 10% of my money on the first day of the week to show that He's first in my life. "If you put Me first, I'll direct you and crown your efforts with success."

The first day of the week is Sunday. Why does He say tithe on Sunday? Because tithing is an act of worship and that's the day you worship. Tithing is an act of worship and you do it when you worship.

I - INTEREST

If God's really going to be number one, you put Him first in your interests. That means in my fun times, my play times, my amusements, recreation, hobbies, pass times.

I Corinthians 10:31 "Whatever you do, do it all for God's glory." Free time; hobbies; vacances; etc.

R - RELATIONSHIPS

If you want God first in your life you're going to have to choose your friends carefully. Prov. 27:19 "What a man is really like is shown by the kind of friends he chooses." Why is that? What does who my friends are have to do with God being first in my  life? Because you become like the people you spend the most time with. If you spend time with people who take God lightly, you will tend to become a casual believer. But if you spend time with people who are committed and take God and His word seriously you will become a stronger, committed Christian. Whoever you spend time with that is what you're going to be like.

Those of you who are parents, let me ask you who or what type of people are you exposing your children to? Who are you inviting into your home? If you're serious about building strong values in your kids then you ought to be inviting people over to your house from this church who model the kind of behavior you want your kids to have. If you don't provide models for them they're going to get it from TV. That's why you ought to be in a small group. You get to know other people so you can invited godly men and women into your home and your kids can see what people are like who love God.

Prov. 12:26 "A righteous man is careful about his friendships."

S - SCHEDULE

Put God first in your schedule, in your time. "Make the most of your time, grasp firmly what you know to be the will of God."

How do I put God first in my schedule. I ask Him to help me use my time wisely. You get up, make a TO DO list of things you have to do and you say, "God, which of these things do You want me to do? I have 17 things to do today and I only have time for 5."

You do not have time to do everything. Selection is the name of the game. How do you select? You ask God to help you. You have just enough time to do God's will.

T - TROUBLES

When you face unexpected problems and pressures, when you have a crisis, who do you turn to? God says,"Turn to Me first when you've got a problem."

Psalm 50:15 "Call upon me in your day of trouble and I will deliver you and you will honor me." God says, Put Me first, even in the tough times. Don't carry it all yourself." This brings up an interesting point. How do you know when God's first in your life? You stop worrying. Worry is the warning light that God is not first in my life at this particular moment. When I start worrying, it says, I'm playing God, I'm assuming responsibility He didn't intend for me to have. When God is not first in any of these five areas we begin to worry about it.

When He's not first in my finances I worry about them. When God is not first in my relationships, I worry about them. When God isn't first in my problems, trials, troubles, I worry about them. When God isn't first place in my schedule, I worry about my schedule. But when I stop and do a priority check. "God, You be number one in this area, You handle it, You're in charge." I take a deep breath and relax.

Matthew 6;33 "Seek first the kingdom of God [put Him first in every area of my life] and all these other things shall be added unto you." Jesus said that right in the middle of a sermon on worry. It's the antidote to worry. Put God first.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Bishop Dr. Bert Elferink