In last week’s podcast, we took a look at two Bible examples which illustrated the principle of Kingdom first. One was a positive example in Asa, the other a negative one in the example of Eli. In this week’s episode we are going to look at a few more ‘commitment’ examples, both Old and New Testament people who illustrated by their choices that seeking first the Kingdom of God was the way to live. All this on this week’s Light on Life.
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You can view a basic transcript of this podcast at the bottom of this section.
Accept the Challenge
Each week’s podcast contains a call to action. The Word of God will not produce in your life unless you put into operation.
This week’s call is:
The top spot in your life should be, must be, ought to be the Kingdom of God. It must be number one among all that you commit to. If you desire to put the Kingdom first, then you must constantly make commitment choices between things which will try and compete for the top spot.
Join the Conversation
Each week’s podcast also contains a question designed to encourage testimony. Testimony is vital to a believer’s life. We overcome by it (Rev. 12:11).
This week’s question is:
Question: How do you show the Lord that your commitment is to putting Him first in your life? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.
You can find additional information on the subject of the Kingdom of God in the resources listed below.
- #S3-044: What is the Kingdom of God? [Podcast]
- #S3-045: What Does The Future Kingdom of God Look Like? [Podcast]
- #S3-046: How Important in the Kingdom of God Are the Kings Kids? [Podcast]
- #S3-047: Why the Lordship of Jesus Is the Linchpin of Kingdom Authority [Podcast]
- #S3-048: The Great Need to Flow in the Authority of God [Podcast]
- #S3-049: Why It’s Tremendously Important to Take Your Stand [Podcast]
- #S3-050: Four Reasons Why You Have More Authority than the Enemy [Podcast]
- #S4-001: What Do Priorities in the Kingdom of God Look Like? [Podcast]
- #S4-002: The Danger of Putting Family First Ahead of the Kingdom of God [Podcast]
- #S4-003: Kingdom First? Some Bible How To Illustrations [Podcast]
Emery committed his life to the Lord Jesus Christ over 40 years ago and has served as both a full-time pastor and an itinerant minister. Both he and his wife Sharon of 35 years emphasize personal growth and development through the Word of God. The ministry of the Holy Spirit is both the focus and the hallmark of their mission. Read more about them here.
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If you enjoyed the podcast, please rate it on Stitcher Radio and leave a review. If you have a suggestion for a Bible topic you would like to see taught, or if you have a question, please e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org
John Audubon, the well-known naturalist, and artist, practiced great self-mastery in order to learn more about birds. Counting his physical comforts as nothing, he would rise at midnight night after night and go into the swamps to study certain nighthawks. He would crouch motionless in the dark and fog, hoping to discover just one more additional fact about a single species. During one summer, Audubon repeatedly visited the bayous near New Orleans to observe a shy water bird. He would stand almost to his neck in the stagnant waters, scarcely breathing, while poisonous water-moccasin snakes swam past his face. It was not comfortable or pleasant, but he beamed with enthusiasm and is reported to have said, “But what of that? I have the picture of the birds.” He endured all these things just for a picture of a bird! If a man could be so disciplined for a temporal and physical reward, how much more should your commitment as a child of God be for the imperishable prize before him?1
Peter and the Disciples Commitment to Put the Kingdom First
Luke 18:28–30 (NKJV) — 28 Then Peter said, “See, we have left all and followed You.” 29 So He said to them, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or parents or brothers or wife or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, 30 who shall not receive many times more in this present time, and in the age to come eternal life.”
- Note Peter’s level of commitment.
- He said, ‘We have left all and followed you.’
- He was referring to what he himself had chosen to do as well as the other disciples.
- What does leaving all mean?
- What was left behind to follow Jesus?
- Moreover, who was left behind?
- The list left in the rearview mirror, house, parents, brothers, wife, and children.
- Jesus flat out acknowledged what the disciples did.
- Peter did leave house, parents, brothers, wife, and children for the sake of the Kingdom.
- Peter found the Messiah via his brother Andrew.
John 1:40–41 (ESV) — 40 One of the two who heard John speak and followed Jesus was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. 41 He first found his own brother Simon and said to him, “We have found the Messiah” (which means Christ).
- Via his brother Andrew, Peter had a personal encounter with Jesus.
Peter’s potential at home conversation about his commitment to Jesus
- The thing about having an encounter with Jesus is that after it’s over you have to go home.
- I mean, you have to go home sometime, right?
- Well, how do you imagine that conversation might have gone.
- ‘Ah, honey I met this Rabbi who said He was the Messiah and He told me to give up my fishing business and follow Him. I’m doing it.’
- Maybe that conversation didn’t go so well.
- Maybe Mrs. Peter weighed in on her husband’s commitment decision.
- Peter, after all, was impetuous.
- He was always jumping in mouth first.
- How many times did that get him in trouble?
- How many times did he have to pull it back and say, ‘You know I messed that one up?’
- His wife, knowing his track record, may have said ‘This is just another tangent you are on and I’m not having it this time. It’s either us or Him!’
- Something similar happened when I gave my heart to the Lord.
- I was dating a young lady for three years at the time.
- My intention was to marry this lady.
- I found God and came home and told her.
- Several months later she told me she liked me better the way I was.
- The way I was before I found Jesus.
- She liked me better unsaved.
- Isn’t that sad?
- So she broke up with me.
- Thank God it happened.
- I would have never have found Sharon if Jesus hadn’t bought a sword into that relationship.
What about the commitment of the other eleven disciples?
- What were their experiences like?
- Well, we have the hint in the list Jesus gave: no man who has left house, parents, brothers, wife, and children.
- This whole following Jesus business is not just families sitting around holding hands and singing Kumbaya.
- It’s a personal commitment to follow Jesus no matter what it takes.
- Do you think Jesus might ask an individual to leave family behind for His sake and the gospels?
- If He asked you to do that, what would your response be?
- What gospel is that by the way?
- Isn’t it the gospel of the Kingdom?
- Do you think He would ask you to choose His Kingdom over your family?
- So, Peter and the disciples put Jesus first.
The Children of Levi Put the Kingdom First
Deuteronomy 33:1–4 (NKJV) — 1 Now this is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. 2 And he said: “The LORD came from Sinai, And dawned on them from Seir; He shone forth from Mount Paran, And He came with ten thousands of saints; From His right hand came a fiery law for them. 3 Yes, He loves the people; All His saints are in Your hand; They sit down at Your feet; Everyone receives Your words. 4 Moses commanded a law for us, A heritage of the congregation of Jacob.
- In this passage in Deuteronomy, Moses is describing how God descending on Mount Sinai in fire in Exodus chapter nineteen.
- Read this God encounter.
- You’ll love it.
What the Word ‘Awesome’ Is Used too Casually
- In our day and age, the word ‘awesome’ is thrown out so casually.
- We talk about our football team and how they won the game and we say, ‘Yeah man, that was an awesome game.’
- Or the ladies talk about getting a facial or trying a recipe and sometimes they use the same word, awesome.
- All of this is just diluting the word.
- You see the word ‘awe’ is in the word awesome.
- The English word for ‘awe’ means a feeling of reverential respect mixed with fear or wonder.
- Is that how you feel about a recipe that went over well?
- You see, it’s a misuse of the word.
- Read this verse in Isaiah 64.
- The Spirit of God defines ‘awesome’ for you.
Isaiah 64:3 (ESV) — 3 When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
- The Hebrew word used here for awesome means exactly that, to be inspiring awe or reverence or fear.
- Exodus nineteen is what Isaiah is referring to.
- There is where you have a living example of what the word awesome really means.
- Because, what God did three days after He brought the children of Israel to Sinai, that was awesome in the highest sense of the word.
God on Sinai: That’s Awesome!
Exodus 19:16–19 (NKJV) — 16 Then it came to pass on the third day, in the morning, that there were thunderings and lightnings, and a thick cloud on the mountain; and the sound of the trumpet was very loud, so that all the people who were in the camp trembled. 17 And Moses brought the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18 Now Mount Sinai was completely in smoke, because the LORD descended upon it in fire. Its smoke ascended like the smoke of a furnace, and the whole mountain quaked greatly. 19 And when the blast of the trumpet sounded long and became louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him by voice.
- This God display was so intense that it shook Moses to his very core.
- Moses shook up?
- The guy who is used to hanging out with God.
- Moses, the man known for talking to God face to face, shook up?
- Yes, Hebrews declares it so.
Hebrews 12:18–21 (ESV) — 18 For you have not come to what may be touched, a blazing fire and darkness and gloom and a tempest 19 and the sound of a trumpet and a voice whose words made the hearers beg that no further messages be spoken to them. 20 For they could not endure the order that was given, “If even a beast touches the mountain, it shall be stoned.” 21 Indeed, so terrifying was the sight that Moses said, “I tremble with fear.”
- Let’s go back to our Levi passage in Deuteronomy thirty-three.
The Children of Israel’s Commitment to Make God Their King
Deuteronomy 33:5 (NKJV) 5 And He was King in Jeshurun, When the leaders of the people were gathered, All the tribes of Israel together.
- Moses indicates in this passage that on the fateful day in which God descended on Sinai, the children of Israel made God their King.
- Now that there’s a King, there has to be a Kingdom.
- That’s what Moses said, that’s what he prophesied.
- Then after declaring God King, the Spirit of God through Moses takes each of the twelve tribes and pronounces blessings on them one by one.
- Listen to some of them.
Deuteronomy 33:6 (ESV) — 6 “Let Reuben live, and not die, but let his men be few.”
- Reubens blessing? Let him live and not die.
- Reuben was the oldest of Jacob’s sons by Leah.
- This eldest boy’s blessing is that he would live BUT his men would be few.
- Does this sound like much of a blessing to you?
- In other words, Reuben would not be prominent in Israel.
- He would not have many descendants.
- Reuben wasn’t blessed with riches or honor or any of the other blessings men enjoy receiving from the Lord.
- Why was his blessing so limited?
- Well, one day Reuben did a really bad thing and the Lord saw it.
A Wrong Sex Mistake
- After Rachel died, he slept with Bilhah, Jacob’s concubine.
Genesis 35:22 (ESV) — 22 While Israel lived in that land, Reuben went and lay with Bilhah his father’s concubine. And Israel heard of it. Now the sons of Jacob were twelve.
- Reuben’s mistake was wrong sex and it limited his blessing.
- Rheben didn’t make a Kingdom first commitment.
- His commitment was to himself.
- His antics angered Jacob.
- It didn’t sit well with the Lord either who prophesied these words by the mouth of Jacob concerning this eldest son of Jacob.
Genesis 49:3–4 (ESV) — 3 “Reuben, you are my firstborn, my might, and the firstfruits of my strength, preeminent in dignity and preeminent in power. 4 Unstable as water, you shall not have preeminence, because you went up to your father’s bed; then you defiled it—he went up to my couch!
- Notice what Jacob prophesied, ‘You shall not have the preeminence.’
- The Hebrew word ‘preeminence’ means to excel, to distinguish oneself.
- Because of his sin, Reuben would not distinguish himself.
- He would not excel no matter how many self-help books he read.
- No matter how many years he would try to study and become smarter, he would not excel.
- Because his problem would not be lack of ‘smarts’, it would be sin.
- At first glance, it may have looked to Reuben that he got away with his sin because nothing immediately happened to him.
- A house didn’t fall on Reuben.
- The earth didn’t open up and instantly swallow him up like it did with Korah.
- Some judgment is immediate and some comes after a while.
- But, judgment does come.
- The books will balance.
Sin will always find you out.
Numbers 32:23 (ESV) — 23 But if you will not do so, behold, you have sinned against the LORD, and be sure your sin will find you out.
- Sin is searching according to this verse.
- Now in this age of grace, we can stop the searching process by coming to Jesus.
- He has wiped the books clean.
- The Blood of Jesus has balanced the ledger sheet.
- Even after you come to Jesus and are walking with Him, if you miss it, you can stop the searching behavior of sin.
- You do it by repenting.
1 John 1:9 (ESV) — 9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
- Now, lest you allow this thought which actually originates from the enemy into your mindset, that I can just sin, and God will forgive me, hear this.
- God will forgive you but understand that the Lord is always watching the intent of your heart.
- If your motives are not pure before God, He will still forgive you alright, but He may not allow you into certain areas in life and ministry.
- Places you were designed to be in.
- Areas your God-given gifts should have taken you into.
- Don’t be a Reuben.
- Refuse to think you can blatantly sin and get away with it,
- Don’t lose your preeminence.
- Now, look at Moses prophecy concerning Levi.
Deuteronomy 33:8-9 (NKJV) 8–9 (NKJV) — 8 And of Levi he said: “Let Your Thummim and Your Urim be with Your holy one, Whom You tested at Massah, And with whom You contended at the waters of Meribah, 9 Who says of his father and mother, ‘I have not seen them’; Nor did he acknowledge his brothers, Or know his own children; For they have observed Your word And kept Your covenant.
- What’s this verse referring to?
- It’s pointing to the stand Levi took during the golden calf incident.
The Golden Calf Incident
Exodus 32:1 (ESV) — 1 When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron and said to him, “Up, make us gods who shall go before us. As for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”
- So, the people took off their jewelry they had gotten from the Egyptians and turned it into an idol.
- Think about it.
- All their wealth that God had blessed them with, their wages that they were reimbursed for as slaves, the supernatural financial blessing they had received from the hand of God, they took that same blessing and turned into a cursed idol.
- A golden calf they could worship.
Exodus 32:25–29 (ESV) — 25 And when Moses saw that the people had broken loose (for Aaron had let them break loose, to the derision of their enemies), 26 then Moses stood in the gate of the camp and said, “Who is on the LORD’s side? Come to me.” And all the sons of Levi gathered around him. 27 And he said to them, “Thus says the LORD God of Israel, ‘Put your sword on your side each of you, and go to and fro from gate to gate throughout the camp, and each of you kill his brother and his companion and his neighbor.’ ” 28 And the sons of Levi did according to the word of Moses. And that day about three thousand men of the people fell. 29 And Moses said, “Today you have been ordained for the service of the LORD, each one at the cost of his son and of his brother, so that he might bestow a blessing upon you this day.”
The sons of Levi made a commitment for God.
- Levi made a stand for right.
- They planted their feet on the covenant.
- These Israelites made a commitment.
- They refused to compromise the Word of God which said, ‘You shall have no other gods before me.
- Look at who they took their stand against
- According to the Spirit of God by the prophet Moses, that stand was made against father and mother, brothers, and children.
- You understand the nation of Israel came from twelve brothers.
- The whole nation is related.
- Their just one big huge pile of cousins.
- Levi stood against their relatives in the instance of the golden calf and God marked that.
- The question we have to ask again, is ‘What if it was your relatives who were dancing before the golden calf that day?
- What would you have done?
- What would your commitment have been?
- Michael P. Green, 1500 Illustrations for Biblical Preaching (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2000), 71. ↩