Me First!

You have probably heard someone say, “Me first!”  Children often say these words or similar to show their desire to be first, have the most, or be recognized in some way.  I have often reminded children to let others go first and to not push ahead.  I have reminded them that Jesus said to do to others what we would them to do to us.  Since the child doesn’t like it when other people push themselves in front, he should not demand “me first” now but wait patiently instead.

I am not talking about “Me first!” in that context.  I want to talk about a time that we need to put ourselves first.  There actually is a time that we should make ourselves be first.  That time has to do with sin.

It is easy to see sin in another person.  We notice it and think about it and talk about it.  Sometimes we talk to the person in an attempt to help.  Sometimes we talk to the person in order to be critical.  Sometimes we talk to other people so the person discussed looks bad to others.

Instead what we need to do is look at own sin.  The problem is that it is so easy to ignore our own sin.  We have ways of justifying what we do or explaining it away.  What we need to do is to be the first one in a relationship to take care of sin – our own sin.

We need to pray for ourselves first – about our own sin and our own need for forgiveness.  Ask God what we have done wrong, what we have done that has not helped the relationship.  When the Lord brings to our minds what that is, then be quick to admit that God is right in calling it sin.  Don’t argue with God; He knows what is sin and He is always right in His assessment.  Then we need to be quick to ask for forgiveness.  It is amazing to see how taking care of “self” helps relationships.

 Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye,
but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?
 Or how can you say to your brother,
‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’
and behold, the log is in your own eye?
  You hypocrite, first take the log out of your own eye,
and then you will see clearly to take the speck out of your brother’s eye.
Matthew 7:3-5

The verses above were spoken by Jesus, and they remind us that we need to take care of ourselves first.  When we have experienced the wonderful joy of God’s forgiveness for our own sin, we will be better able to guide others to Him as well.

So when it comes to taking care of sin, it should be “Me first!”


Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts, Uncategorized | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

A Traffic Lesson

I was on the island of Grenada recently, and I observed the traffic.  There is a lot more traffic on the main island of Grenada than on our little island of Carricaou.  The  traffic flowed smoothly.  The vehicles went around the roundabouts and turned into their desired roads with no horns blowing [at least none that I remember].  People walked in the pedestrian lanes, and all the vehicles behind waited quietly until the first car moved.

A verse came to my mind:  “and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” Ephesians 5:21.  “Be subject” has the idea of making a way for the other person to go ahead of you.

Philippians 2:3 helps us to know the attitude that we need to have in order to let others ahead of us.  “Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves”   Humility is the attitude that makes it possible to let another person be first.

A virtue that needs to be guiding us is found in Galatians 5:13.  “ For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.”  Love should be the underlying virtue that makes this humility possible.  

The purpose that we should have for allowing others to be ahead of us is revealed in Romans 12:10-11.  “ Be devoted to one another in brotherly love; give preference to one another in honor;  not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.”  This humility, these demonstrations of love, this letting others going first is a service to God!  I think that remembering this can be a great help to us so that we are willing to let others be first, so that we are ready to serve others.

The drivers I observed were probably giving way to others in order to prevent accidents.  Accidents are more likely to happen when a driver decides that he wants to get somewhere first and he drives without considering other drivers.  Many frictions in our personal relationships are caused by our wanting to be first, our preferring our own ways instead of others.   When we remember that letting another person go first, rejoicing in another’s success, serving someone else instead of ourselves is a means of serving God, we should be able to do it more easily and joyfully.  After all, Jesus gave up everything for us.  He let our needs come ahead of His and was willing to die on the cross for our sins.

So whether we are driving or just watching the cars pass by, let us remember:
and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ” Ephesians 5:21.

With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men
Ephesians 6:7


Posted in Christian living | Tagged , | Leave a comment

What to Do After Sinning?

This Easter Peter caught my attention.  At the Last Supper when Jesus was washing the disciples’ feet, Peter spoke up and said, “Lord, then wash not only my feet, but also my hands and my head.” (John 13:9)  Later at the meal Peter also said to Jesus, “I will lay down my life for You.” (John 13:36)  These statements of Peter’s give us the impression that Peter was devoted to Jesus and desired to please Him.

Sadly, a few hours later Peter sinned against Jesus, the One he loved.  Peter denied that he knew Jesus.  Not once, but three times.  How could he go on after such a sin?

After Jesus’ resurrection, we find that Peter went back to fishing – fishing for fish.  Three years previously Jesus had called Peter to fish for men – to lead people to Jesus.  I wonder if Peter thought that he was not worthy to serve God anymore because he had sinned.  How is a person, a Christian in particular, able to serve God after sinning?

While Peter was fishing, Jesus was on the beach preparing food for His disciples.  Jesus took Peter aside to talk with him.  Here is where I started to see the answer to my question.

First, we see the mercy of God.  Jesus cared for His disciples, even though they were doing futile work.  They didn’t catch any fish until Jesus came. (John 21:1-11)  Jesus took Peter aside which demonstrated that He cares personally for His own.  Jesus will work with us to help us to change, to do right.

Second, Jesus asked Peter if he loved Him.  Love is the key to serving God any time, even after sinning.  This love is more than nice feelings towards a person.  It is a self-sacrificing love that follows the guidelines of I Corinthians 13.   This love will enable us to serve others.

Lastly, Jesus said “Do you love me more than these?” (John 21:15).   Jesus asked Peter to fish for men three years ago, but Peter went back to fishing for fish – his old way of doing things.  There is no mention in Scripture from this point on of Peter doing any more fishing for fish.  He made his decision,  and God blessed him.  You can read about how the Lord used Peter in Acts and in the two epistles that Peter wrote.  God would love to use us as well, if we are willing to make a decision to leave our own way behind and to serve God instead.

Forgiveness of sin is possible because Jesus died on the cross for our sins.  Because He rose from the dead, we can serve and keep on serving Him.  Having a living and loving Saviour helps us to make a decision to follow God’s way.   Jesus will help us, as He helped Peter.

Posted in Christian living, Encouraging Thoughts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment


Prayer is our means of communicating with God. The Lord’s Prayer is a good place to start learning how to pray.  The Lord’s Prayer is a pattern for us to use.

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.

  1.  We should pray for God’s name to be revered.  Mainly we should pray that we would learn to recognize God’s holiness and to show reverence to Him.

Thy kingdom come

2.  We should pray for Jesus’ return, His second coming.  We should pray that we would long for His return.

Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.

3.  Pray that God will accomplish His will on earth.  Pray that He will be able to fulfill His purpose on earth as freely as He can in heaven.  For God to do that we need to be willing to be used by Him.

Give us this day our daily bread.

4.  We need to ask God to meet our daily needs.  We can have confidence that God will readily and suitably meet all of our needs.

And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.

5.  We can ask God to forgive us of our sins, but there is a condition.  He will forgive us of our sins as we forgive others.  He will forgive us of our sins as we forgive others.  He is not looking for us to be the leaders in forgiveness nor is He vindictive in His attitude.  God is looking to us to be Christlike and obedient which is seen in our forgiving of others.  We need God to forgive us of our sins, so we should also have a forgiving attitude towards others.

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil

6.  Pray for deliverance from temptation.  Pray for the Lord’s protection from those things that will turn us away from Him and His will.  God does not want us to sin, so He will gladly help us to avoid sin if we allow Him to help.

For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.

7.  Recognize the greatness of God.  Our prayers are not to a human but to the almighty, eternal God.  He does hear, and He does answer.

All too often our prayers focus on ourselves.  The pattern given in the Lord’s Prayer is more focused on God than on a list of needs.  This is a perfect pattern.  It is intended to help us to align ourselves with God better.  Our sinfulness keeps us from being always in God’s will.  This pattern helps us to see the need to depend on God and not on ourselves.  Although our praying will not be perfect here on earth, we should not feel hopeless.  As we pray and keep praying now, we will be improving our relationship with God.  An improved relationship with God will make our time on earth more blessed and will prepare us for the glories of heaven.

An observation:  In the NASB the Lord’s Prayer is written in poetry form.  In the Old Testament God often stated some of His serious words of judgment in the form of a poem.  I see that as a reminder of God’s love.  He chooses to take His time and put His words together in a beautiful form instead of speaking harshly, as we humans are inclined to speak.  Putting this prayer in a poem is a reminder to us that our carefully chosen words to God can be beautiful as well.

The Lord’s Prayer is found in Matthew 6:9-13

Posted in Encouraging Thoughts, prayer | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Verses for Weeks 27-29

Week 27

Pursue peace with all men,
and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.

Hebrews 12:14

This verse indicates that peaceful relationships and sanctification are things to be pursued.  They also need to be part of our lives if we want to see God.  I was struck by the seriousness of this verse. If I want to see God, I need to work on my relationship with others and be working on removing sin from my life.

It is so easy to think that the other person should be kind and considerate of me; yet this verse points out that it is something that each of us should do.  The word all adds another difficulty.  There are some people who are easier to get along with than others.  But God, who loves all people, has asked us to work on peaceful relations with all the people we interact with.  I need to humble myself and be willing to trust that the God who loves all and who I have chosen to follow will help me to improve relationships with others.

Peace was the part that I was focusing on, but sanctification is important too.  Ask the Lord to show you sin in your life.  Agree with Him that it is sin and ask for forgiveness.  Also ask Him to help you to avoid doing that sin again.  He will help because sanctification is what He wants for us.

Week 28

Now it shall be, if you diligently obey the Lord your God,
being careful to do all His commandments which I command you today,
the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth.

All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you
if you obey the Lord your God
Deuteronomy 28:1-2

Deuteronomy 28 lists the blessings that God will give if we obey Him and the curses or punishments that will come if we do not obey. Verses 2-14 list the blessings and verses 15-65 are the curses.  This seems very unbalanced, more curses than blessings.

I think God cannot list more blessings because they are so wonderful that our language cannot express that level of greatness.  Maybe also because our minds cannot fully appreciate and understand how wonderful the blessings are.  What God states as a blessing is better than anything we picture it to be.

The long list of curses probably has to be so long because we humans have a tendency to look for loop-holes and exceptions.  God is making clear here that sin will bring serious consequences.  This chapter is specifically directed to the Israelites of the Old Testament, but God hates sin no matter whose life is exhibiting the sin.  When things do not seem to be going “right,” it would be good if you and I asked God if there were any sin in our lives that we need to confess and forsake.  If we make that a habit of life, we won’t experience the curses; we will receive the blessings.  When we are surrendering our lives to God, we will start seeing how blessed the blessings are. We will be so thankful that we were willing to turn from sin.

How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven,
Whose sin is covered!
Psalm 32:1

Week 29

. . . Indeed, has God said . . .
Genesis 3:1

Genesis 3 is the chapter that records how sin entered into the world.  It seems that sin has on my mind that past three weeks.  Actually during this week what I was thinking about was how easily Satan deceives us.  How can we help ourselves not to fall for his deceit?  The main way is to fill our minds with God’s Word so that we know, understand, appreciate, and love what God has to say then we won’t be tempted to follow Satan’s lies.  I would also add reading The Holy War by John Bunyan.  I am reading that book to my students.  The book is a story of how Satan tempts and how people respond.  I have found the book to be helpful to see more clearly Satan’s tactics and the biblical ways to combat his tricks.  The Bible is our strong defense against the devil and the temptation to sin.

These verses were a help to me months ago.  Considering the events of recent days I pray that they will be a special help to us now.  God’s Word is true and worth following and obeying.

Posted in 52 Week Challenge | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Verses for Weeks 25 – 26

After a long silence I will renew my 52 week challenge.  I chose a verse for each week, even though I did not write any posts.

Week 25

And He spoke many things to them in parables, saying, “Behold, the sower went out to sow; and as he sowed, some seeds fell beside the road, and the birds came and ate them up.   Others fell on the rocky places, where they did not have much soil; and immediately they sprang up, because they had no depth of soil.  But when the sun had risen, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away.  Others fell among the thorns, and the thorns came up and choked them out.   And others fell on the good soil and yielded a crop, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty.  He who has ears, let him hear.
Matthew 13:3-9

This parable is one that makes me think about many things in the Christian life.  I have been reminded not to let “thorns” come in my life so that I am not full of anxiety.  I have been encouraged that fruit is possible.  This time when I read the passage, I wondered if this is a story of how it has to be or is it possible that the seeds could be protected from “the birds” and “the plants” moved to better soil.

Part of the answer is found in verse 9:  Who hath ears to hear, let him hear.  Prayer is also key to helping others to come to Christ.  By bringing the needs of others to the Lord, I can have confidence that the Lord is able to protect people and to help them grow spiritually.

the prayer offered in faith will restore the one who is sick,
and the Lord will raise him up,
and if he has committed sins, they will be forgiven him.
Therefore, confess your sins to one another,
and pray for one another so that you may be healed.
The effective prayer of a righteous man can accomplish much.
James 5:15-16

Week 26

Those who are sickly you have not strengthened,
the diseased you have not healed,
the broken you have not bound up,
the scattered you have not brought back,
nor have you sought for the lost;
but with force and with severity you have dominated them.
Ezekiel 34:4

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble,
and make straight paths for your feet,
so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint,
but rather be healed.

Hebrews 12:12-13

I read the verse in Ezekiel first.  It is a condemnation to the leaders who had not cared for their people. After reading this verse I thought about my students.  Was I a helping them or hurting them?  I decided that I need to strengthen the sick, heal the diseased, bind up the broken, bring back the scattered, and search for the lost with love and gentleness.

A few days later I read Hebrews 12.  The verses were a beautiful confirmation of my thought from Ezekiel.  My goal should be to strengthen, guide and heal.

Posted in 52 Week Challenge, Christian living, Serving God | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Verses for Weeks 22-24

I have gotten behind in posting my verses.  The last term of school is very busy, but we will be finished at the end of the month.

Week 22

In Ezekiel the statement “you shall know that I am the LORD”  is repeated often.  It is mostly used when God has to bring punishment to a nation because of their ungodliness.  He would state that as a result of the punishment the people would know that He is the Lord.  How much better it would be for us if we choose to get to know Him now.   It would be better if we choose to know God before He has to deal with our sins.  By reading His Word and asking for forgiveness we will have the joy of knowing Him.

 that I may know Him
and the power of His resurrection . . .
Philippians 3:10a

Week 23

Those who sow in tears shall reap with joyful shouting.
He who goes to and fro weeping, carrying his bag of seed,
Shall indeed come again with a shout of joy,
bringing his sheaves with him.
Psalm 126:5-6

If a person’s spiritual condition is important to me, my response should be to weep.  Weep – because sin causes so much trouble and it looks so hopeless from a human perspective.  Weep – because it is difficult to represent Christ well sometimes.  Weep – because I could be in the same condition except for the salvation of Jesus Christ that I have received.

These verses are encouraging because they talk of joy.  Joy  will come as a result of the prayers and weeping.  It is encouraging to remember that what we have done for Christ will result in fruit.

Week 24

For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer
sprinkling those who have been defiled
sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh,
how much more
will the blood of Christ,
who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God,
cleanse your conscience from dead works
to serve the living God?
Hebrews 9:13-14

God accepted the sacrifices of animals because He knew they were a picture of the greatest sacrifice – the blood Jesus shed.  Because Jesus is without sin, His death on the cross is sufficient to bring us salvation.  Jesus is able to do so much more for us because He is still living.  His resurrection enables Him to help us to live changed lives and to be godly.  Because He can do so much more for us, we can go to God with confidence.

let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith,
having our hearts sprinkled clean from an evil conscience
and our bodies washed with pure water.
Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering,
for He who promised is faithful
Hebrews 10:22-23

Posted in 52 Week Challenge, Christian living, Knowing God | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment