Forever First

Put Jesus first -- put eternity first in your thinking, in your planning, and in all that you do.

Scripture: 1 Timothy 6:12, John 4:36, John 3:15, John 12:25, John 17:3, Galatians 6


Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing alright today? [chuckle] Bless your heart, hope everything’s going well at your house. If you struck a rough day, look up and say, “Lord Jesus, see me through this one,” and He will. The keyword, as I’ve told you so often, is “through,” “And thou passest through the waters, they shall not overflow thee. Yea, though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil for Thou art with me.” Long as you and God are walking together, I’ll tell you, you’re unsinkable. Keep on, trust God, and let Him lead you through victoriously.

We were talking about laying hold on eternal life and the last verse that we were considering was John 4:35, I think it was, or 36. 36. Where our Lord Jesus said to the disciples “Hey, look at that crowd, that’s a harvest.” Not just people. What’s involved here, He was saying to them, is not just the lunch and whether or not you got one; what’s involved is eternal life. There’s a harvest. Look at people as your harvest to be reaped.

Well, what else? This matter of complete commitment and sacrifice. Our Lord Jesus said, “He that loveth his life shall lose it, but he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.” What’s the truth there? What you grab for yourself you can’t hold onto, what you give up for the Lord Jesus Christ, you keep for all eternity.

One of those young men who was murdered in the Auca Jungle back in 1950’s wrote in his diary, “A man would be a fool not to be willing to give up something he couldn’t keep anyway, in order to hold onto something he could keep for eternity.” See, here’s the real perspective of a New Testament believer. You are hooked permanently to eternity. Before, you were living just for yourself. Paul calls it “serving different lusts and pleasures.” Lusts is desires. Serving different desires and pleasures. Before you came to Christ, your life was determined by “what I want.” “I want this, and I want that,” and your lifestyle was determined by that. Now, you’ve given yourself to the Lord Jesus Christ and your lifestyle is permanently connected to eternal values.

And so you evaluate everything on the basis of, “How will it look a thousand years from now? What value will there be in this decision, or this possession, or this position, or this promotion, or this sermon?” Or whatever you want to name, what value will there be a thousand years or let’s say a million years from now in eternity?

You’ll still be alive then, you know that, beloved. You’ll have your faculties, you’ll have your memory, and you’ll be living in a body that is especially suited for eternal existence. Oh, yes. What value then, will those things that you are doing and deciding now have then? That’s the question, you see. So Jesus said, “You grab for yourself, you lose it. You give yourself to Me and to eternal matters, and you’ll keep it. Lay up for yourselves,” he said. “Lay not up for yourselves treasures on earth where moth and rust doth corrupt and where thieves break through and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in Heaven where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt and where thieves do not break through and steal.” You can’t lose what you invest in eternity. And there’s a blessed payoff in terms of blessing, satisfaction, and the provision of God for your life day by day.

My father was always called Charlie by the relatives, Charlie Cook was the name they called him. And oftentimes, the relatives and in-laws were critical of him because he gave so much of his money away to Christian work. When Dr. Fuller was alive, he used to send regularly to him, I remember. And the Pocket Testament League, and I don’t know how many other outfits he would give to generously out of what little, very little, he had. I don’t think he ever made more than $33 a week in his life, as far as I’ve been able to find out. We were poor people. I sometimes joke and say, “Even the poor folks called us poor folks.” And my sister, Mildred, who took over housekeeping as a girl of 11, or 12, when my mother died, she had to pinch every nickel until the buffalo just hallowed in pain.

She had to make sure that every bit of money there was was used wisely in order to feed that little family of three, oh, yes. And out of it, there always was a generous amount sent for the Lord’s work and the relatives would say, “Charlie, you’re putting too much into religion. Why don’t you invest in insurance? Why don’t you do this and that and the other?” Well, maybe he should have. I believe in insurance, I have some. And if you’re gonna put any money in the bank, be sure you get some interest. The Bible is in favor of profit. The Bible is in favor of getting interest when you put your money in the bank, Jesus said so. So, I’m not against these things, you understand that. I’m just telling you what happened.

There came a day when the Depression hit and my father got the dreaded pink slip in his pay envelope over at what was called Toledo Machine and Tool Company in Toledo, Ohio. And they said, “You’re no longer needed,” and he was fired. That day, when he came back to the little rented room that he and I had shared so long, I was then away at Moody Bible Institute, but when he came back to that little rented room, there was a telegram on the table that had been delivered in his absence. It was a telegram from the Veteran’s Administration saying that he had been granted a pension based on disability involved in the Spanish-American War. [chuckle] He wrote to me, and I could just hear him chuckle, when he wrote, he said, “See, my boy, God takes care of His own. You thought I was foolish, but God takes care of His own.” Well, alright. As I say, I’m not against savings, I believe in it. And I’m not against profit and interest and insurance and all of the things that God has provided in this age for us, you understand that.

But I want you to know that when you put Jesus first, He puts you first. “Them that honor Me, I will honor,” saith the Lord. I used to have a sanctified barber who cut my hair back in the days when I had some, back in college days. And he would often quote that verse to me, Jack Richards would. And he’d say, “You know, my brother, God says, ‘Them that honor Me, I will honor.'” And then he would whirl me around in the chair until he was looking right into my eyes and he would say, “And the more you honor God, the more He’ll honor you. Hallelujah.” [chuckle] I’ve had some good friends and advisors through the years, and there’s one piece of advice that has stuck in my mind. You honor God, He’ll honor you.

Now that’s what Jesus was getting at here. Eternal life, eternal life, what is involved? You don’t grab for yourself; you invest in eternity. Yes, you take care of your business. Yes, you pay your bills. Yes, you plan for the future. Yes, you get enough insurance to take care of you and bury you and take care of your heirs and assigns. Alright, this is all true. You know, we’re not arguing those points, are we?

What we are emphasizing is put Jesus first, put eternity first in your thinking, in your planning, in all that you do, including making your will. Have you ever made a will? You’d be amazed how many Christian people die without leaving a will, and the state steps in and distributes their estate according to law without one dime ever going to their church, or their pastor, or their missionary society, or their Christian radio station, or their Christian college. Nothing goes because they didn’t make a will. You remember to make your will. A Christian will that puts God first. Good idea?

Alright. We’re talking about laying hold on eternal life, aren’t we? And so, what else? John 17:3 is a great verse. “This is life eternal,” said our Lord Jesus, in His high priestly prayer. “This is life eternal that they may know Thee, the only true God and Jesus Christ whom Thou hast sent.” That word “know” is interesting. It means to have a personal experience of. A personal experience of. It’s not simply head knowledge. You can’t take the things of eternity and simply cram them into your head. This is life eternal, that they may know Thee. Greek verb “ginosko,” which means “to know in terms of a personal experience.” He says, “Lay hold on eternal life.”

Now let me ask you this question, my beloved friend. How well do you know your Heavenly Father? How well do you know your Savior? Many people are terrified if they are restricted even to conversation about God over a period of time. They run out of things to say. Quite the opposite is true if they’re talking, let us say, about a grandchild. “Let me tell you about my grandchild.” Why, that’s good for an hour’s conversation and 39 pictures, isn’t it? [chuckle] Nothing wrong with it, but that’s how it is.

But, oh, people get uneasy and almost terrified. And if you insist on talking about God, they get resentful because they don’t have, really, anything to say. See, most folk don’t really know God very well. And when Paul was saying lay hold on eternal life, he was also indicating that you better spend enough time with God so that you know Him. “This is life eternal,” Jesus said, “that they may know Thee.” Greek verb “ginosko,” have an experience with God. Walk with Him closely enough so that you understand Him, He understands you. “Can two walk together except they be agreed,” said the prophet. Go God’s way instead of fighting His Will.

Spend time communing with Him. Take time to be holy. Speak oft with thy Lord. Abide in Him only and trust in His Word. See, this is what’s involved. Do you want to think about that for yourself? How well do I really know God? Yes, you go to church. Yes, you’re faithful. Yes, you pray. Yes, you read your Bible. Yes, you give your tithes and offerings. All of this may be true of you, but I ask you, do you really know God? Are you comfortable with Him? Does He talk with you and you with Him as you walk along life’s way? It’s part of laying hold on eternal life. And then there’s the matter of a focus of your life, a focus of your life on eternal matters knowing that there’s a harvest involved.

Galatians 6 says, “Be not deceived, God is not mocked. For whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap. He that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the spirit, shall of the spirit reap life everlasting.” It’s the focus of your life. What kind of a harvest are you going to reap out of the emphasis, the major emphasis, of your life? Is it on your old flesh and your old nature, and your body, and things, and money, and comfort and all of that? Or is it, hopefully, on God? The Holy Spirit, eternal matters? Make sure that the major emphasis of your life is on God. Lay hold on eternal life.

Blessed Father, today, help us to emphasize eternal matters in our planning, our deciding, our actions and our words so that we’ll reap an eternal harvest, I ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!

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