(Jesus said) "But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." Matthew 6:33
In 1874 Jules Verne published a novel called The Mysterious Island.
In the book Verne tells of five Union soldiers who manage to escape a Civil War prison camp in a hot-air balloon. According to the storyline, a great storm catches the balloon and carries it over the sea and across countless miles.
Horror comes upon the men when they realize their torn balloon is losing altitude and will be forced into the midst of the ocean. If they are to survive, they must lighten the load. The first choice is easy: the bags of ballast are emptied. That buys some time, but not much.
Soon the balloon finds itself in danger again. The men throw over all unnecessary provisions. Guns, extra clothing -- almost everything goes. It's a losing battle. Each choice buys them time, but only for a while. Next the men agree to jettison their food, then their gold, and finally, with the men clinging to the netting of the balloon, even the gondola in which they had been riding.
The men do live. It would have been a very short novel if they hadn't.
But what I want you to remember is that these men figured out what was important and what was not. Things which had once seemed to be indispensable were reduced to being nothing more than excess baggage.
Although he didn't know it, Verne was putting into fiction the Scripture verse which says, "Let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles" (Hebrews 12:1b). In other words, let's keep God first.
Understand, the Lord isn't saying, almost first, or close to first, or most of the time first.
Not so long ago, a national magazine asked people to list the things they couldn't live without. Sixth-three percent of the people said they needed their automobile; 54 percent said light bulbs were necessary, and 42 percent wanted to keep their telephone. Twenty-two percent were unable to give up their television, and 19 percent had to hold on to their aspirin. Seven and eight tenths percent of the folks asked needed their blow-dryer, and 7.6 percent said they couldn't lose their personal computer. You will note that God isn't in those lists.
He ought to be at the top of everybody's list, but He's not.
The world, the devil, our own sinful natures do all they can to push the Lord to the background and everything else to the front. Indeed, every time God says, "I want to be first," you can be sure something is going to pop up to move God, ever so gently, ever so slowly, ever so unnoticeably, to the side.
This is exactly why we sinners need the Holy Spirit to hold His ground. He needs to make sure the Trinity is first and the Savior -- the Savior who gave Himself to rescue us from damnation -- remains paramount in all that we hold to be precious.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, in spite of the world's seductions, keep me faithful to You. Help me see the world's distractions for what they are: things that would separate me from the blood-bought salvation the Savior has won. In His Name I pray this. Amen.
In Christ I remain His servant and yours,
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries
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