Hebrews 12:1 - Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us.
In 1874 Jules Verne published a novel called The Mysterious Island.
For those of you who haven't read it, the book is sort of a cross between Robinson Crusoe and Gilligan's Island. In the book, Verne tells of five Union soldiers who manage to escape a Civil War prison camp by using 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 will be forced down in the midst of the ocean. If they are to survive, they must lighten the load. The first choices are easy: the bags of ballast are emptied.
That buys some time, but not much.
Very soon the balloon finds itself in danger again. More choices: 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. Eventually, 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 live. It would have been a very short novel if they hadn't.
But what I want you to understand here is that these men figured out what was important and what was not. Things that once seemed to be indispensable necessities 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."
In other words, let's keep God first.
This is why this devotion asks, how are you doing in keeping God first?
By that I don't mean almost first, or close to first, or most of the time first. I mean first -- 100 percent of the time. Probably not too good, I'd guess. Not so long ago when a national magazine took a poll of the things we couldn't live without, 63 percent of the people said they needed a car; 54 percent said light bulbs were important; 42 percent wanted to keep their telephone; 22 percent couldn't give up their TV.
You will note that God isn't in that list, and although He isn't a thing, He should be at the top of every list put together by everybody.
But He's not.
The world, the devil, our own sinful natures -- do all they can to push God to the background and something else to the front. What something else? Goodness, I don't know. I do know every time God says, "I want to be first," you can be absolutely sure that something is going to pop up to move God -- ever so gently, ever so slowly, ever so unnoticeably -- to the side.
This is wrong, The Lord who gave His Son to be sacrificed in our stead is worthy of being held in the highest admiration, respect, reverence, honor and worship. In short, God deserves to be first -- always and forever.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord, forgive me for those times when I have demoted You. Grant that I may always see Your love and appreciate the Savior's sacrifice as being more important than anything else. This I ask in Jesus' Name. 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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