Program Air Date - 7-20-03



Welcome to the Living Word program on this wondrous Lord’s Day. What a privilege it is to have you with us today, as we together give this time to God. I know that we will all be encouraged and uplifted by our time together this morning. So, let’s give our best to God so that He may be pleased with our offering. Furthermore, let’s do all things according to His will - so that our worship will be received by Him in a good and perfect way. Now, let’s approach His throne in prayer!


One of the great promises and blessings we have from our God is the great peace and rest that He offers to the faithful in His fold. This morning we want to begin by singing a song about a place in this life where we can find the greatest rest and peace of all. So, won’t you join in with the congregation at this time as we sing together the song, “There is a place of quiet rest!”

(SONG # 1)


As Christians in this life God surely wants us to be confident in His promises and in what we believe. However we must be careful not to allow our confidence and security in God to become something that God really doesn’t want at all.

You see the problems we can often get into with over confidence are pride and the spirit of being puff up! We might seem to others as those who stick our chest out as if we are something or as if we are the icing on the cake, when really we have started to forget that all we are in Christianity is about God and Christ - not us.

Another fear with over confidence is that we often feel we are invincible! We might think, I love God so much and am such a good Christian, Satan doesn’t have a chance with me. You know I think this is exactly the attitude Satan is hoping for from us. Because one He can get us to be self absorbed and puffed up, he has already won part of the battle.

I am reminded of a verse in Matthew 24:24, where Jesus Himself said, “For false christs and false prophets will rise and show great signs and wonders to deceive, if possible, even the elect.” Did you catch that? False teachers would come to deceive all of those of this earth. However, notice that among those who would be deceived are included the elect, of God. So even the most faithful before God, who are consider good and righteous in His sight - even they can be tempted and fall away.

There is another good verse which deals with this found in Galatians 6:1. There Paul said, “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.” Notice how Paul addresses these brethren. He talked about the “spiritual,” brethren and those who are less spiritual. Obviously here he is talking about the more mature in Christ and the less mature in Christ. Now listen to Paul’s final comment in the same verse, “consider yourself lest you also be tempted.” He says, you spiritual, help the weaker, but be careful because you also can fall.

Brethren the thing that we must be aware of is that none of us are perfect and no one is invincible. We need to be confident in the things of God, but not so much so that we drop our guard, or begin to think we can never fall. Because there is nothing that Satan would like to see more than us turning towards him in our words, attitudes and actions.

Today, it’s great to have Jerry Sullins with us as our guest speaker. Brother Sullins is the director of the new preachers training school in Springfield, the Bible Institute of Missouri. Lord willing classes for this new school will begin on August 25, just next month. So please keep this wonderful new effort for God in your prayers.

In a few minutes brother Sullins will return and lead our lesson thoughts of the day, as we consider the next lesson in our series entitled, “Learning to Draw Near to God.” Our specific lesson of the day will answer the question, “What are our priorities in life?” So, please stay with us for this important study from God’s Word. Now it’s time to join in our second song of the morning. Won’t you join in with the congregation as we sing the hymn, “Let Me Live Close to Thee Each Day.”

(SONG # 2)


Speaker: Jerry Sullins

We’re so thankful to have you present in our audience this morning as we continue to consider the subject of “Growing Nearer to God.” It’s something we all long to be and that is close to our Father in heaven. Many people in this United States of America recognize themselves as children of God, But certainly this morning, we want to examine how we can grow really near to God. Some recognize or feel that they close to Him but yet after a careful examination of God’s Word they may find that this is not true. But what we want to consider especially this morning in relationship to this subject is our priorities in life. For my friend, if we do not have the proper priorities in life, that is in relationship to those things that we put first, then certainly we can not be near to our God. We live in such a wonderful country. We’re blessed to be so free. In fact, peoples all over the earth desire to be a part of this country because of the great freedom that they hear that we enjoy and true it is. You need only to live for a short time outside of the United States, just go on a short journey and you’ll find out very soon that the freedoms that we enjoy in this country far exceed any in any other country on the face of this earth. Because of that, we have a great responsibility to look at our lives and to consider the great effect we can have upon humankind and our responsibility to God Himself is something that should be foremost in our minds.

What is really first in our lives? That’s the thing that we need to consider because many people in this blessed country, where we enjoy so many freedoms, put many things first in their lives that should not be there. For instance, what is first in your life? It’s a question that you need to answer for yourself. Would you consider yourself to be first in your life? Really, is all you’re concerned about is what you think, what you feel, what you want to do? This is a common philosophy that is talked about throughout all of our universities throughout America. Not just in our universities but in our high schools. Our young children are taught this sad principle throughout all of their lives in public schools, thinking that really all that matters is the god of self. Is that what you’re putting first in your life? Maybe you put your family first above all things and of course God would have us to take care of our families because “He who careth not for his own is worse than an infidel,” as the New Testament writer says. But certainly, is family supposed to be first in our lives above all other things? Well the way some work in this life and commit their lives and all of their time to their businesses and to gaining the things of this life, maybe money or the obtaining of money or the keeping of money and the things of this world. Well, what’s first in your life? Well the way some people behave it seems like some sport’s team might be first in their life because that’s all they live, eat, breathe, and whatever. Certainly, that should not be first.

Well, what should be at the top of our list? This is a very important subject. If we want to be really and truly God’s children then we need to see how God classifies all of these things. What does God say about what should be first in our lives? It’s in the book, that is in the Bible. We must classify as God does. It’s in the book. It’s in the Bible that we know to be His Word. And we must know the first things and then again those first things that we are supposed to acknowledge in our lives are again in God’s Word and so let us turn to God’s Word this morning and find out what should be first in our lives.

I like what the apostle Paul said in Philippians chapter 3, verses 13 and 14. He said, “Not that I have already obtained (or apprehended, as one version says; laid hold on as another version says),” but he said, “this one thing I do,” and he was talking about laying hold on eternal life. He said, “this one thing I do forgetting those things that are in the past and looking for those things in the future. I press toward the mark of the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus my Lord.” So, it is evident in this statement by the apostle Paul that there was something that he was placing first in this life. So here is an indicator in God’s Word as to what our priorities should be.

Now as we turn to Mark chapter 12 beginning in verse 28, a question was asked of Jesus and it reads, “Then one of the scribes came and having heard Him reasoning together, perceiving that He had answered them well, asked Him, ‘which is the first commandment of all?’ Jesus answered him, ‘The first of all the commandments is Hear O Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one and you shall love the Lord your God with all of your heart, with all of your soul, with all of your mind and with all of your strength,” and He said, “that’s the first and greatest commandment.” So what should be first in our lives? Well here it is indicated by the Lord Himself that we should love the Lord our God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength, that is everything that is within us intellectually, emotionally, physically. We should use every part of our being to love God and to put Him first in our lives.

Now how do we do that? That’s an interesting question and again we go to the Bible for the answer to that question. It was Jesus in His great Sermon on the Mount who said this in Matthew chapter 6, verse 33. He said, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you.” Seek what? Seek first. What? The kingdom of God. And what else? His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto you. Now going together with this statement or putting it together with this statement that the apostle Paul made in Colossians 3:1-3. He said that we are “to set our affections on things above not on things on the earth.”

John said in 1 John chapter 2 that we are to not love the world neither things that are in the world for all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life is not of the Father, but of the world.” He said, “the world passeth away and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the Will of God abideth forever.” So what are we supposed to do first in our lives? What should be the first priority in everyone’s life who claims to be a child of God? That simply is this: to love God with all of our heart, soul, mind and strength.

Now it’s interesting to note in this very same chapter in Matthew 6, verse 24 in the same context, Jesus said, “No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You can not serve God and mammon.” Basically, mammon here is in reference to materialism. Now that’s an interesting comment and a very vital comment in our day and time for in this most blessed nation that we live where we enjoy the greatest freedoms of any peoples on the face of this earth, we are faced with a challenge to not allow our desire for materialism to be placed above our desire and love for our Father and our God in heaven. This is a great challenge to us in living in such a wonderful country that we live in.

Now we can also look at Matthew 6 here and we can see some indicators as Jesus has given us that we should seek first the kingdom and we should not even allow obtaining the necessities of life to come before our seeking first the kingdom. Now this is something that many Christians do not understand, but it is very true. Let’s put it this way. What did He say in verse 25? He said, “Therefore I say to you do not worry about your life, what you shall eat, or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not the life more than food and the body more than clothing?” Then verse 27, “Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?” Verse 28, “So why do you worry about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow. They toil not neither do they spend.” Verse 31, “Therefore do not worry saying, ‘what shall we eat or what shall we drink or what shall we wear?’” And then verse 34, “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow for tomorrow will worry about its own thing sufficient for the day is it’s own trouble.” Now backing up in verse 33 then, we understand what Jesus is talking about. He said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all of these things,” He just mentioned them, “food, clothing, all of the things of this life, the necessities of this life will be given to you.” So sometimes my friend, we seek to do God’s Will and we think it is God’s Will to spend all of our time to gain the things and even the necessities of this life. In other words, we do not put our faith and dependence upon Him to give us those things and He will indeed do that if we will seek first His kingdom.

Now how do we seek first the kingdom? This is important for us to understand and to know as we look again at the scripture in Matthew 5, verse 3, Jesus said in the same great sermon, Matthew 5, verse 3, He said, “Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God.” For this indicates this to us that first of all that we must humble ourselves, humble ourselves to what? To want to do simply God’s Will for not everyone that sayeth unto me Lord, Lord shall enter into the kingdom of heaven, but he that doeth the Will of my Father who is in heaven. In that day, many will say, ‘Lord have we not prophesied in thy name and thy name cast out devils and in thy name did many wondrous works,’ then I will say unto him, ‘depart from me ye that worketh iniquity. I never knew you.’” Now these were people who were thinking they were doing God’s Will. They were thinking that they were seeking first the kingdom. But Jesus said that these are not people who are seeking to do my Will because they are doing their own will. So what is the answer here? By the way, that was in Matthew 7:20-21. What is the answer here? Obedience to the Will of God.

Now I want to test your faith this morning in seeing if whether or not you are putting God first in your life by doing His Will.

Have you obeyed the gospel? Some people say, “Well yes, I’ve obeyed the gospel.” Well, let’s examine that. You believe it is necessary for one to hear the Word of God in order to be saved? Well that’s just a natural thing. Certainly all people would say that. Do you not believe and teach that one must confess with his mouth that Jesus Christ is the Lord in order to be saved? Well certainly you do. Because Jesus said that in the book of Matthew. He also said that through the apostle Paul in Romans 10:9-10 that “confession with your mouth is made unto salvation.” Can one be saved without confessing Christ or admitting that he believes that Jesus Christ is the son of God? Certainly not. And not a one of you would say that that could be true. Must one repent in order to be saved? Well certainly he should and she should. Because what did Jesus say in Luke 13, verse 3? “Repent or perish. I tell you nay but except you repent you shall all likewise perish.” And He told Peter in the great Sermon on the day of Pentecost through the Holy Spirit to preach this: “Repent and be baptized everyone of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins.” Now most all religious people who claim to be Christians would say that one who becomes a Christian must hear, believe, repent, and confess, but they stop short of what Jesus said when He said in the Great Commission, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved.” My friend, we must be baptized in order to be saved. Baptized for what? Romans 6, verse 3-4, “Baptized for the remission of our sins in the likeness of His death, His burial, His resurrection,” and that’s what Peter said on the day of Pentecost in Acts chapter 2, verse 38. He said, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of your sins and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

Now I ask you, are you seeking first the kingdom of God? You say, “Yes, I am.” Have you obeyed the Will of God? That’s something that you must examine because if we seek to do His Will, if we claim that He is first and foremost in our lives, we will have to obey what God has said we must obey. How do we do it? Well we do it by living the life that Christ wants us to live. Isn’t it wonderful to have the opportunity in this wonderful country to hear the truth and if Jesus said, “You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” There are many people all over this earth who do not have that opportunity. My friends, those of you who watch this show, I plead with you in the name of Jesus Christ to do His Will, to put God first in your life. Life is so brief and eternity is so long. Would you not this morning consider the great need that you have and I have to put God first in our lives and may God bless us in doing that very thing.

(SONG # 3 - “Yield Not To Temptation!”)


Thanks for putting God first and choosing to be with us this morning. I hope you have benefited from our time together. Please remember, you are invited to join us every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this offering for God.

Now let me ask if you have any questions or comments about today’s lesson? Maybe, you would like a free transcript or a cassette tape of this program? Possibly, we could assist you with free Bible materials or correspondence courses? No matter what your need is, please contact us at the following address:

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May we all strive more every day to see that our lives are focused totally on the Lord, so that our God and the whole world will truly know where our priorities lie in this life!

(Program closing)