The Last Will Be First

Matthew 19:30 reads, “But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.”

Years ago I was traveling with my mom and daughter along the Pennsylvania Turnpike. We were on our way to our family reunion which was being held in Philadelphia. At some point, we came to a stretch of road on the turnpike that was lined with dead trees. The strange thing about it, was that although the trees on the front row were all dead, immediately behind them, as far as the eye could see, were beautiful, vibrant, healthy green trees. However, these lifeless trees on the front row, stood very tall and erect almost as if they possessed an inner confidence. Because of the green background behind them created by the other trees, they appeared to stand out even more. Odd as it may seem, even though these trees were dead, they were still very much alive. They had a mysterious beauty radiating from them that drew attention to their presence.

As I continued to observe this peculiar scene, God brought to my mind these words, “The first will be last and the last will be first.” I have no idea what natural events may have occurred that caused those trees to end up like they were. But to me they represent many people who may not measure up to the world’s idea of beauty. But because they follow God’s ways He has elevated them to a certain level. Like those trees, you may never know what someone has endured to get to where they are, but because they did endure, God has shown them favor. Never underestimate what God is doing in someone’s life just because things appear a certain way on the outside. As Christians, we should have an inner beauty that radiates from our hearts and changes the world around us. People should be able to sense a distinct difference and want to know more about us and our lifestyles. Ultimately who we are should lead people to want to know more about the God we serve.

Those of us who call Jesus Savior, need to take a stand and be all that God has called us to be for the sake of the cross and the glory of the One who died there.  2 Corinthians 6:17 says, “Come out from among them and be separate, says the Lord, then I will receive you.”

If those trees could speak, I know the stories about life on the “Penna” Turnpike would be unforgettable. The good news is that you and I can speak. We can speak life to those around us. Not only with our words, but through our actions. We must let the life we live speak for us. Ask God to show you how you can “come out from among them and be separate.” When you are serving God, even if you think you are last, in God’s eyes you are first. We need to make sure that wherever we are standing, is the place God really wants us to be. When we are where we should be, we can then be effective and make a true difference.

Father,

Please let the beauty we have in you through your Holy Spirit shine brightly so that those around us may be inspired and changed. Help us not to get caught up in things that do not matter but instead to focus on what matters most to you.

In the name of Jesus. Amen.

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Trust, Lean Not, Acknowledge & Believe

Proverbs 3:5-6

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge him and he shall direct your paths.

Recently while meditating on this verse I decided to look at it closer to make sure I was getting all God wanted me to. Countless times over the years I’ve read, quoted, and heard Proverbs 3:5-6. It’s a very well-known passage of scripture from the Bible. For those of us who are familiar with it, it probably comes to our minds quickly and often especially during stressful times. While some of God’s promises are unconditional there are those that are conditional and this is one of them. There are actions we must take in order to experience the privilege of having God direct our paths.

Trusting God with all of our heart is a decision that we must make. Even after making a decision to trust God, we cannot accomplish this in our own strength.  We must pray and ask Him to help us. Whatever it is we may be going through we must learn to immediately turn it over to Him. That’s the great thing about prayer, we can do it wherever we are. Even if we are at work, we can say a quick, simple prayer and ask God to help us to trust Him to get through our day. There have been many days I didn’t even feel like going to work, but I thank God I have a job and ask Him to energize me and give me grace and a right attitude. Usually after a short time, I can look back and see a change in how I feel and I thank God for helping me.

God then tells us to lean not on our own understanding. A lot of the times we want to know exactly what is going on. We want to know how things will work out, but in scripture we are told God’s ways and thoughts are higher than ours.

Isaiah 55:8-9 (NKJV)

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.

God is working things out in ways we simply cannot understand. Sometimes He will choose to reveal to us what He is doing, but others times we must trust Him for the results and try not to figure everything out on our own.

Lastly, we must acknowledge him in all of our ways. We can do this by making God a priority in everything that we do, which means we must include him in every part of my lives. We must pray often, and ask Him to show us areas of our lives where we are not trusting Him and He will. Fear can hold us back from trusting in God with all of our heart,  so praying and asking Him to take away fears would also be a big help.

All that is left for us is to believe that once we have done our part, he will then direct our paths. When God is directing our paths, we can rest assured that everything will work out for our good (Romans 8:28).

Dear Father,

Please help us to trust in you with all of our hearts, lean not on our own understanding, and acknowledge you in all of our ways. Thank you for directing our paths as You promised You would. Please remove any fears that are holding us back from trusting in You.

In the name of Jesus. Amen

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