March 13, 2023

This coming weekend we are finishing up our series called FIRST – Is Jesus important or is He FIRST? That’s the question we have been asking. By first we mean Christ has preeminence in one’s life. We have shared that He is deserving of preeminence in all things because of who He is.

He is the visible image of the invisible God. This declares that Jesus quite literally is God. He is the One who has revealed the Father to us. Jesus rules the future, and He is the One who willingly, through His sacrificial death, has reconciled us in our relationship with our heavenly Father.

We are familiar with Billy Graham’s wide and effective ministry. He knew people and their spiritual experiences well, and he said that 95% of all Christians live a defeated life. I agree with Reverend Graham, and I believe the reason is quite clear.

God questions us in Isaiah 55:2: “Why spend money on what’s not bread and labor for what doesn’t satisfy?” Sadly, God is describing what many of us do day after day. If we are honest with ourselves, we will admit that this is an easy direction we all tend to take. The song says, “Looking for love in all the wrong places.” Well, we tend to look for life in all the wrong places.

Paul David Tripp says, “We all tend to look for life horizontally when the reality is that we will only ever find life vertically. Somehow, in some way, we all tend to look to the created world to give us life. We all carry around with us our personal catalog of ‘if-onlys’”:

            “If only I was married, then I’d be happy.”

             “If only I could snag that job, then I’d be satisfied.”

             “If only we could buy that house, I don’t think I’d want another thing.”

             “If only my marriage was better, then I’d be okay.”

             “If only my children would turn out right, then I’d been content.”

              “If only I could achieve ____, I wouldn’t want anything more.”

              “If only our finances were more stable, then I wouldn’t complain anymore.”

Whatever sits on the other side of your “if-only” is where you are looking for life, peace, joy, hope, and lasting contentment of heart. The problem is that you continue to spend money on what won’t fill you and to work too hard to get what won’t ever satisfy you. It is a big, disastrous spiritual mess that leaves you fat, addicted, in debt, and with a still unsatisfied heart.

Why? Because earth will never be your savior. This physical, created world, with all of its sights, sounds, locations, experiences, and relationships, has no capacity to make your heart content. This physical world was designed by God to be one big finger that points you to the only place where your heart will find satisfaction and rest. Your heart will rest only when it finds its rest in God, and God alone.

Doesn’t your spirit say “That’s right!” when you read Tripp’s words? You know. You have been there. Maybe you are there now. Jesus knew that’s where the man we know as the rich young ruler was. He came with great interest in Jesus. He wanted eternal life. He believed that Jesus knew the answer. But Jesus saw the man’s heart. He saw that this young man was still pursuing all of his own ideas for fulfillment. He had great possessions and prestige, and the idea of trusting Jesus’ direction to let it all go and come follow Him was unthinkable. He walked away with great sorrow.

This was the consistent message of Jesus. “Sell your possessions and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys” (Luke 12:33). Could that be any clearer? Satisfaction is not found with anything in the center of our lives except Jesus.

What are you currently looking to for hope? What do you think will give you peace and rest? Where do you think you will find wisdom, direction, and a reason for your life? What are you looking for that no one but Jesus can give you? Why would you ask this empty world to fill you? Why would you ask this broken world to save or satisfy you when Jesus has already come to save you and give you all you need? His mercy and grace are all you will ever need.

Unless Jesus Christ is preeminent in your life, there will be no true peace. There will be no true satisfaction. There will be no attractive and compelling element to your life. The way you live will fall short of creating a craving and a desire in your children or other loved ones to know the God you profess to know and follow.

Jesus must be FIRST. Not ON the list, but THE list. That’s the way to the abundant life you desire, and He came to provide.