From the book “First Things First” by Paula White-Cain
Genesis 3:9 (NIV) says, “But the Lord God called to the man, ‘Where are you?” It’s a significant question to ask yourself. To simply “exist” would be a waste of your life. In order to live a life of purpose, you must do an examination. You must take inventory and audit your life authentically. When you are living outside your destiny, the plan and purpose God has for you, there will be an underlying frustration that is felt. If you are not living the abundant life of purpose Jesus Christ came to give you it’s not that God isn’t doing His part. Everything you need has already been given! So the question you must ask yourself is . . . why is it not working for me? What adjustments need to be made?
Too many Christians fail to live according to the law of first as outlined in Matthew 6:33 and all throughout the Word. It is often because of the problems and influences of “life” that crowd out their spirit. They fail to focus on what matters because of excesses, entanglements and chains to the past. I know, I have been there before.
We all have that closet in the back of the house . . . our junk closet. There are valuable items in the closet to be sure. But those items are hard to find amidst all the worthless junk. It’s the same with our lives. When we are packed with clutter, we rob ourselves of value.
Clutter diminishes clarity.
Clutter robs valuable time
Clutter drains energy and creativity.
Clutter impedes movement or progress.
Clutter detracts from efficiency and effectiveness.
So what’s the junk cluttering up your life? It is anything that crowds your life from building, edifying and enriching your spirit. Spiritual clutter is made of emotions, mindsets, habits and past history that you harbor and hold in your soul and self, which makes you unable to nurture and support your purpose in life. How do you clear the clutter? Remember that the BIG LIFE God has for you will arrive when you surrender your small for God’s BIG!
LESSONS FROM ABRAHAM
I want to help you dispel the confusion and chaos and discover some of the possibilities why you are not living to the fullness of your potential. Remember, you can’t conquer what you don’t confront. And you can’t confront what you don’t identify. Look at Abraham’s life.
Just like Abraham, the father of our faith, we are covenant people—God’s chosen for kingdom rule, realm and royalty. But, like many, Abraham had a problem. Let me set the scene. God had not yet changed his name to Abraham, but had given him a promise of blessings.
“Now the LORD had said to Abram: ‘Get out of your country, From your family and from your father’s house, To a land that I will show you. I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great: And you shall be a blessing’” (Genesis 12:1-2, NKJV).
Scripture goes on to say, “So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him” (Genesis 12:4, NKJV). There was the problem—Lot. The Bible doesn’t say Abram asked or invited Lot to go. It just said Lot went. You see, Lot was a leech. He probably saw that Abram was going somewhere and latched on . . . tagged along. We’ll always have people in our lives like that . . . who suck the life right out of us. But it wasn’t so much a Lot problem … it was an Abram problem.
We’re often not so direct in our disobedience that we rebel against God. But we have weak natures that are not strong enough to say “no” to what’s holding us back. We don’t always know how to establish healthy boundaries.
There may be people or habits in your life that are just hanging on and pulling you back from your God-given destination. Your Lot is a distraction. A distraction is an “inappropriate attraction.” You are not solely responsible for another’s wellbeing. You can’t make them happy . . . you can’t make them OK . . . and you can’t heal them. Only God can do that.
And if you continually hold others up in life, you will not only cause trouble for yourself, but you will take away their empowerment and make them a victim to you! Let God be God. We must learn to let go of things and or people that are not to be attached to us. Separate yourself from the Lot in your life.
Separation brings revelation and revelation produces worship. Worship always brings exaltation. This is a continuing cycle of separation—revelation—exaltation. God takes us through levels, which include a form of separation, and with each one we get closer to our promise. This famous progenitor of our faith made seven critical decisions of separation, each one bringing him to a “higher” place in his life and walk with God.
If you are stuck and struggling to receive the fullness of what God has for you, then perhaps there is something in your life that needs separation. I encourage you to get up and get out from what is holding you back from all that God has for you. Following the seventh and final separation, God revealed Himself to Abraham as Jehovah-Jireh, the God who sees and provides, which means complete, unlimited provision without any further requirements. Only then, could he experience that abundance. He had to be separated from country and culture (Genesis 12:1), kindred (Genesis 12:1), Egypt (Genesis 13:1), Lot (Genesis 13:1), a desire to get wealth (Genesis 14:21-24), Ishmael (Genesis 17:18/21:9-14) and Isaac (Genesis 22:1-4). His son Isaac was who he loved most, what he had waited for. This was the ultimate test and worship in its purest sense.
ARE YOU OFF-BALANCE?
It took Abraham 25 years from the time God makes the promise before he sees anything take place. Why? When Abraham starts off on his journey, he got sidetracked and settles in Haran, the city with the same name as his brother who had died. Abraham settled in a place of his past. He was stuck between a past pain and a promise for the future. It took a crisis, his father’s death, to get him moving again on his divine course.
When Abraham does move on, Lot goes with him. Lot is the son of Abraham’s dead brother. Probably out of guilt or shame, Abraham feels responsible for Lot. He is living an imbalanced life. He was probably driven to rescue and fix Lot, which was not his responsibility. When you are out of balance with God’s precepts, anything can become an external solution to calm the internal chaos. Consider these eight common excesses that are symptoms of an imbalanced life:
Eating too much. Overeating, binge eating and mindless eating are often symptoms of a greater issue in your life.
Chemical pleasures. People use drinking, smoking and drugs to fill a void or cover pain.
Overworking. If you are pre-occupied with your career to the detriment of your relationships, it becomes an excess. Is your career or job your whole identity?
Overspending. Excessive pursuit of materialism, hoarding and clutter reveals a personal problem.
Rescuing people. If you find yourself continually drawn to people who need a savior, you might want to re-examine your own motives. Do you expect too little out of others?
Putting up walls. If you distance yourself emotionally from others, there is a reason. Do you expect too much out of others? Are you afraid of being hurt?
Overthinking. With obsessive thinking and analyzing, you may be avoiding your feelings.
People pleasing. If you are an excessive people pleaser, you are letting a fear of rejection rule your life. You can’t please everyone.
Behaviors like those above are driven to excess from dysfunction. Maybe you have a relationship in your life that has become an entanglement, a snare and a complication. Is there a Lot in your life? An unhealthy Lot relationship can be characterized by controlling behavior, distrust, perfectionism and intimacy problems.
Ungodly attachments—any person, mindset, habit or attitude you hold against God’s Word, such as unforgiveness, bitterness and malice. Let it go!
Disobedience—to God’s Word and calling over your life.
Distraction—such as inappropriate attraction. As long as Lot is in your life, you are stuck. But if you will clear the clutter and let go of people and things that are not part of your covenant relationship and responsibility, God will help you move above your situation and see with a clearer and more accurate healthy perspective.
THE PAIN OF DISOBEDIENCE
Joshua 7 gives an account of when the children of Israel disobeyed God and transgressed their covenant. After the victory of Jericho, God had commanded a ban for His people on the spoils of the city. “But all the silver and gold, and vessels of bronze and iron, are consecrated to the LORD; they shall come into the treasury of the LORD” (Joshua 6:19, NKJV). The first spoils of warfare belonged to God! All firsts belong to God!
“But the children of Israel committed a trespass regarding the accursed things, for Achan . . . took of the accursed things; so the anger of the LORD burned against the children of Israel” (Joshua 7:1, NKJV). “Accursed thing” in the Hebrew is charam. It means dedicated or devoted to religious uses.
As a result, they suffered defeat in the battle against the men of Ai. When Joshua pleaded before God as to why they were defeated, the Lord replied, “Get up! Why do you lie thus on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. For they have even taken some of the accursed things, and have both stolen and deceived; and they have also put it among their own stuff” (Joshua 7:10-11, NKJV).
God does not “curse you,” but your direct disobedience brings consequences that can hurt you and others, and potentially be tragic. When you knowingly and directly walk out of the covering of God’s protection and provision for your life, you are “vulnerable” to threats, attacks and harm. Achan took what belonged to God—a first or devoted thing—and put it with his own stuff. Because of disobedience, the children of Israel could not stand before their enemies. That is why God declares, “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22).
Are you ready to honor God? Click here for more information on putting First Things First and God’s Principle of First Fruits- paulawhite.org/firstfruits