First Things First
In the late 19th century John Wanamaker opened a department store in Philadelphia. Within a few years that enterprise had become one of the most successful businesses in the country. But operating his store wasnt Wanamakers only responsibility. He was also named Postmaster General of the United States, and he served as superintendent for what was then the largest Sunday school in the world at Bethany Presbyterian Church. When someone asked him how he could hold all those positions at once, he explained. “Early in life I read, Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. The Sunday school is my business, all the rest are the things.”
One evidence of Wanamakers desire to keep the Lords work first in his life was a specially constructed soundproof room in his store. Every day he spent 30 minutes there praying and meditating upon Gods Word. He had his priorities straight!
Have you ever noticed that the great saints of the Bible often met with God at daybreak to seek His leading? For example,
- Abraham got up very early to stand before the Lord (Gen. 19:27).
- Jacob woke up with the first light of the morning to worship God after having seen a vision of angels in the night (Gen. 28:18).
- Moses went early to meet the Lord at Sinai (Ex. 34:4).
- Joshua got an early start when he prepared to capture Jericho (Josh. 6:12).
- Gideon made his way at dawn to examine the fleece he had placed on the ground to discern Jehovahs will (Jud. 6:38).
- And in todays Scripture we learn that Job left his bed at an early hour to offer sacrifices to the Lord in behalf of his children (Job 1:5).
A noted young concert violinist was asked the secret of her success. “Planned neglect,” she replied. Then she explained, “Years ago I discovered that there were many things demanding my time. After washing breakfast dishes, I made my bed, straightened my room, dusted the furniture, and did a host of other chores. I then turned my attention to violin practice. That system, however, failed to accomplish the desired results. So I realized I had to reverse things. I deliberately set aside everything else until my practice period ended. That program of planned neglect accounts for my success!”
See Gods Kingdom First
Henry Drummond, a scientist at the turn of the century, speaking to a group of college students:
“Gentlemen, I beseech you to seek the kingdom of God first, or not at all. I promise you a miserable time if you seek it second.”
Wealth and Generosity
Among those in the court of Alexander the Great was a philosopher of outstanding ability but little money. He asked Alexander for financial help and was told to draw whatever he needed from the imperial treasury. But when the man requested an amount equal to $50,000, he was refusedthe treasurer needing to verify that such a large sum was authorized. When he asked Alexander, the ruler replied, “Pay the money at once. The philosopher has done me a singular honor. By the largeness of his request he shows that he has understood both my wealth and generosity.”