Number One

by Sean Ewing

As sports fan and a past competitor in sports I have heard the phrase “number one” many times. Participating in sports, we focused on being number one. What do we need to do better to be number one? How do we remain number one? The clear priority in sports is to be number one. ABC Wide World of Sports used to say “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat”. Nobody wanted anything to do with the agony of defeat, so we worked hard to achieve the status we were looking for, number one.

As a believer in Jesus, the Bible says a lot about our focus and what should be number one in our lives. The first of the ten commandments says “You shall have no other gods before me” (). The first commandment seems straightforward, but is it? This commandment isn’t just saying that God should be or become our number one priority. I think it is deeper than that. When we think about numbering our priorities, it assumes we can divide our lives into clean tidy boxes; a God box, family box and a work box. There is little or no integration with this. When we think like this we tend to live by a different set of values based on the box we are in. This is not what God is stating in the first commandment.

Instead, through the first commandment, God is getting at something deeper. He should be more than a number on our list. He should be the center of everything in our lives. He should be the hub of the wheel of our lives, holding everything together. He should be our single passion. Nothing should rival God’s place as center of our lives. Nothing can compare to him! John Calvin said this would boil down to four things: adoration, trust, invocation and thanksgiving.

God desires our adoration. God wants to be the one who captures your attention, the one you can’t get enough of and the one you love to talk about. (, , )

God desires our trust. God wants to be the one you depend on for everything, the one who gives you a deep sense of security because you know He is trustworthy. (, )

God desires our invocation. God wants to be the one you turn to in times of need, the one you run to when trouble comes your way. When you need forgiveness, wisdom or encouragement! ()

God desires our thanksgiving. God wants to be the one you thank for everything, in times of plenty and times of want! (, )
Why should God occupy this position in our lives? Well for one, He deserves it! says “I am the Lord.” Don’t miss this! This is a statement of who God is. When God appeared to Moses in the burning bush in he said “I AM WHO I AM.” In other words, He is the sovereign ruler of all. He made it all. He is not limited. I AM. Second, God should be the hub of our lives and everything flows out of this commandment. Third, God wants to occupy this position in our lives because there is only room for one throne in our hearts.

Occasionally it is important to step back and evaluate whether God is truly the center of your life. As the new year begins, it is the perfect time to do this! A few areas to consider:

  • Focus. What is your focus? What do you think about? ()
  • Relationships. Who influences your life? Who is in your inner circle? Who do you turn to? Who are you trying to impress or please?
  • Spiritual food. How is your spiritual diet? Are you hungry for God’s Word? ().
  • Time. How do you spend your time? Is the time spent on the necessary and important?

When I ask myself these questions I realize how many times I miss the mark and fall short. I need to run to Jesus! If you are like me, so do you. Don’t delay. Don’t run elsewhere! Don’t feel guilty or burdened by sin. Confess and remember the promise in “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”. Also, ask God to help you make changes in your life to make Him the center of your life and experience the thrill of victory in Christ!

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.

“You shall have no other gods before me. (ESV)

18:1 I love you, O Lord, my strength. (ESV)

But I, through the abundance of your steadfast love,
will enter your house.
I will bow down toward your holy temple
in the fear of you. (ESV)

29 Ascribe to the Lord the glory due his name;
bring an offering and come before him!
Worship the Lord in the splendor of holiness; (ESV)

Such is the confidence that we have through Christ toward God. Not that we are sufficient in ourselves to claim anything as coming from us, but our sufficiency is from God, who has made us competent to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. (ESV)

The Lord is good,
a stronghold in the day of trouble;
he knows those who take refuge in him. (ESV)

31:1 In you, O Lord, do I take refuge;
let me never be put to shame;
in your righteousness deliver me!
Incline your ear to me;
rescue me speedily!
Be a rock of refuge for me,
a strong fortress to save me!

For you are my rock and my fortress;
and for your name’s sake you lead me and guide me;
you take me out of the net they have hidden for me,
for you are my refuge.
Into your hand I commit my spirit;
you have redeemed me, O Lord, faithful God.

I hate those who pay regard to worthless idols,
but I trust in the Lord.
I will rejoice and be glad in your steadfast love,
because you have seen my affliction;
you have known the distress of my soul,
and you have not delivered me into the hand of the enemy;
you have set my feet in a broad place.

Be gracious to me, O Lord, for I am in distress;
my eye is wasted from grief;
my soul and my body also.
10 For my life is spent with sorrow,
and my years with sighing;
my strength fails because of my iniquity,
and my bones waste away.

11 Because of all my adversaries I have become a reproach,
especially to my neighbors,
and an object of dread to my acquaintances;
those who see me in the street flee from me.
12 I have been forgotten like one who is dead;
I have become like a broken vessel.
13 For I hear the whispering of many—
terror on every side!—
as they scheme together against me,
as they plot to take my life.

14 But I trust in you, O Lord;
I say, “You are my God.”
15 My times are in your hand;
rescue me from the hand of my enemies and from my persecutors!
16 Make your face shine on your servant;
save me in your steadfast love!
17 O Lord, let me not be put to shame,
for I call upon you;
let the wicked be put to shame;
let them go silently to Sheol.
18 Let the lying lips be mute,
which speak insolently against the righteous
in pride and contempt.

19 Oh, how abundant is your goodness,
which you have stored up for those who fear you
and worked for those who take refuge in you,
in the sight of the children of mankind!
20 In the cover of your presence you hide them
from the plots of men;
you store them in your shelter
from the strife of tongues.

21 Blessed be the Lord,
for he has wondrously shown his steadfast love to me
when I was in a besieged city.
22 I had said in my alarm,
“I am cut off from your sight.”
But you heard the voice of my pleas for mercy
when I cried to you for help.

23 Love the Lord, all you his saints!
The Lord preserves the faithful
but abundantly repays the one who acts in pride.
24 Be strong, and let your heart take courage,
all you who wait for the Lord! (ESV)

do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (ESV)

“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. (ESV)

14 God said to Moses, “I am who I am.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I am has sent me to you.’” (ESV)

Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. (ESV)

Like newborn infants, long for the pure spiritual milk, that by it you may grow up into salvation— (ESV)

8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. (ESV)

There was a time when Sean Ewing was a corporate cube farm dweller managing IT projects. These days he occupies his home basement office working as an IT project manager. His passion has nothing to do with the conundrum of managing software development. Rather, his true passion is living and serving to bring God glory.