When we do not love God and our neighbors, blessings will not flow.

When God Is Not First

“For God’s [holy] wrath and indignation are revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who in their wickedness repress and hinder the truth and make it inoperative…Because when they knew and recognized Him as God, they did not honor and glorify Him as God or give Him thanks. But instead they became futile and godless in their thinking [with vain imaginings, foolish reasoning, and stupid speculations] and their senseless minds were darkened.”1

Why can’t Americans hear and see clearly? Why are they blind, dull of hearing and even deaf when truth is the issue? When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandments were, He answered, “Love God with all your heart, soul, mind, and strength; and love your neighbor as yourself.” The apostle Paul re-emphasized the importance of loving your neighbor. “For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command,”2 he said.

When we do not obey these great commandments, everything is in disarray, leading to deception and the destruction of that which is precious, including true freedom.

All of creation (except human beings) recognize God must be first, and that He is the source upon which to depend. Romans chapter one says God revealed Himself in creation so that as human beings are without excuse. Nature reveals that life is of ultimate importance and predatory forces are seeking to diminish and even destroy it. Even wildlife understands that predators take life, and the fertile fields show us that pestilence and briars hinder fruitfulness.

Jeremiah pointed out that the oceans must remain within the boundaries set by God. When the oceans move beyond those boundaries, catastrophic consequences are the result. Consider the negative damaging effects of tsunamis, hurricanes, typhoons, and floods. Jeremiah also noted that the oceans return to their borders. All creation must yield to the boundaries established by God in order for life to be sustained and secure. Tragically throughout history, human beings created by God have chosen to live outside the boundaries and to put many things before Him, making something else their source.

Jesus proclaimed that God loves us more than He does any other creation. He considers us of far greater value than mere sparrows—and yet He is aware when even one of them falls to the ground. Jesus said, as the children of God, we should open our eyes and consider all of creation, such as birds. They trust God as their source, but they do not worry. At the same time, they do work diligently. They don’t simply wait on a branch for God to build a nest, provide for them, drop insects or worms nearby so they can pick them up. They go to work. They are continually seeking to find and utilize what God has made available for their well-being.

Those of us created in God’s image too often seek a source other than God. When we turn to another source, just as Israel did with Pharaoh, bondage is the result.

The well-publicized documentary airing on the History Channel, “The Bible,” is produced by truly gifted people and a couple whom I believe wish to share God’s love with the world. The first program aired this past Sunday. The ratings indicate that more than 14 million people watched it, and I was one of those.

I appreciated many of the truths presented, though I’m wondering how well Jesus will be presented and perceived. It is very hard for people to see Him clearly apart from the power of the Holy Spirit. One thing I noticed is that the documentary moved from Abraham’s offering of Isaac—a definite picture of the promised Messiah—into Israel in Egyptian bondage. Perhaps for time’s sake or maybe an oversight, they didn’t reveal how Israel became slaves to Egypt and to Pharaoh. They actually sold themselves to Pharaoh because of the success he had when he received the wise counsel God offered through Joseph.

We have seen the same practice repeated throughout history. In our own day here in America, we are now witnessing the consequences of turning to the federal government as our source. The American people have put before God many idols: pleasure, success, various forms of entertainment, sensual pursuits, addictive practices, greed, religious traditions, and partisanship, to name a few. We are rapidly moving toward an extreme socialist government that actually borders on pure progressive collectivism—even communism. It won’t work. It never has, and it won’t now. Why can’t the American people see this? Because they have put something before God. It could even be religious beliefs, absent the personal relationship with the living God through faith in Jesus Christ.

All religions are not the same. Relationship with God comes through faith in the sacrificial gift of His Son, and abundant life is found in the reality of His resurrection and the power of the Holy Spirit to indwell us and flow freely through us like a river of love and life. When God is not first, true expressions of genuine abundant life Jesus referenced will cease, we do not love ourselves properly, and we certainly cannot love our neighbor as we should. Such is the case in too much of our own country. We are seeing the tragic result of not loving God and our neighbor.

Let me give you an example. Because we found a source other than God, we have erroneously turned attention to the needs of the poor, helpless, and downtrodden over to the wrong source—another form of Pharaoh—and catastrophic results have followed. This is not to imply that “we the people” cannot inspire and instruct correct federal and state programs for the benefit of the people; but they will never be effective without the focus on and love for the people in need of help.

Today, we are witnessing ever-increasing hostility toward those who are referred to as the top five or ten percent – the upper class, the prosperous or the wealthy. Without knowing it, some of the nation’s wealthiest families have excused themselves from paying proper attention to their neighbor. First of all, many of them have not recognized God as their source—the One who gave them the ability to be productive, creative, meet legitimate needs effectively, and offer people things they rightfully desire and enjoy. It’s easy for entrepreneurs and highly motivated people to put business, success, and visionary goals ahead of the God who gives them the resources to use creatively so they can accomplish their goals and succeed.

Also, when these people are paying a large percentage of their hard-earned income to the federal government—30%, 35%, now reaching nearly 40%, and as high as 70% in the past–the prosperous feel like they have handed the federal government, our present-day Pharaoh, the resources to take care of the poor. After all, the politicians have promised the people they will take care of them.

The government and politicians, who unwittingly or deliberately are manipulating the needy, promising to meet their needs by taking from the “haves” to distribute to the “have-nots,” have actually helped keep these people in bondage and dependency. They also have encouraged the wealthy, who could address the serious problems of our day and come up with meaningful solutions, to simply dismiss themselves from that responsibility and “just trust the Feds.”

There we go…professing to be wise, we prove to the whole world how foolish we actually are. Everyone suffers! The poor suffer the most because the only way to correct our nation’s catastrophic course, to assist the poor and alleviate suffering, is for the people who create, who know how to meet challenges and needs, to focus their own personal attention first on God, then on their neighbor.

When God is first, we will keep “first things first.” We will be committed to our spouse, family, church, community, state, nation, and reach out to the ends of the earth. When our priorities are right, we will begin to restore the breach in the wall and stop the catastrophic consequences resulting from living outside the boundaries set by God.

As Jeremiah pointed out, the oceans return to their boundaries. Surely we as human beings can come to our senses, return to God with our whole heart and move back within the boundaries He established. The prophet Isaiah said, “We can be known as people who restore the foundation and begin to rebuild the walls.” Can’t we have the wisdom of Nehemiah who rebuilt the walls in the face of fierce opposition?  Can’t we somehow heed the words of Jesus and reveal the Light of the world, not “in word only, but also in deed”?

Please keep this simple truth in mind: poverty, lack, serious need including hunger—both physical and spiritual—can only be met by those who have the means to address it. Spiritual needs can only be met by those who have experienced a life-transforming relationship, who know God personally and live in the power of His indwelling Spirit. Physical needs can only be met by those who have the ability, wealth, and resources to address those undeniable, legitimate needs. We don’t have to be rich to help our neighbor. We just have to care enough to share.

The current, prevailing, upside-down worldview must be impacted the same way it was in Acts 4 when the New Testament believers turned their inverted world right-side-up. It’s not too late to do this. I pray the poor will hear this: the federal government and politicians are not the solution to the challenges you face and experience daily. The love of God expressed through people committed to God is your hope, and the resources necessary to meet your need will come from people who have been blessed by God—many of whom have been deceived and misled to trust the wrong source to meet the needs of their neighbor.

To those who are successful and blessed: you were blessed for a reason. Not just to soak them up, but to become fruitful. To become an ever-flowing river of God’s love and life, offering His mercy and help to those in need through focused, compassionate acts. Stop just giving handouts and allowing the government to dole them out without ever offering a hand up. It’s time for all of us to refocus our eyes on God, love Him with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and begin to love our neighbor the way God expects us to.

I still believe the vast majority of Americans want to alleviate suffering. It’s been the American way. I don’t think we have lost it yet, but we’re getting close, and we’re in the process of destroying the ability to be in a position to do something effective. Let’s refocus our attention on God and our neighbor, and together work to help others by inspiring people to rise above their present circumstances in the power of love. We must do it, and we must do it now for the glory of God and the benefit of all.

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12 comments

  1. Laurence St. John

    James asks a most profound and disturbing question:

    “Why can’t Americans hear and see clearly? Why are they blind, dull of hearing and even deaf when truth is the issue?

    Jesus Christ gives us the most profound and disturbing answer:

    And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write these things says the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God; (this none other than Jesus Christ speaking to this church age and he is identifying himself as the spoken word of the Spirit, Elohim, which is the original seed and his word to this age is the last faithful and true witness. All else is an unfaithful lie and a false witness of Satan)

    I know your works (as Cain in the Garden and down through the scriptures, they worship the works of their hands, idolatry) that you are neither cold nor hot: I would you were cold or hot. So then because you are lukewarm, (lukewarm water is a mixture of cold and hot, which in this context Jesus Christ is exposing a religious and political hybrid condition of the age. They have mixed a man made religion and secular politics to fashion a form of godliness) and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of my mouth (He is telling this hybrid age that he will spew out of his mouth a flood of rebukes and corrections directed toward their lukewarm idolatrous condition) Because you say (Christ is not saying this, but the people of this age say this by their lives and actions) I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; (now Jesus Speaks) and know not that you are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked.

    I counsel you (he is the Counselor, the Mighty God, the Everlasting Father) to buy of me gold tried in the fire (the revelation of his unfailing word of promise) that you may be rich and white raiment (lay up for yourselves treasure in heaven) that you may be clothed (as a bride adorned for her husband) and that the shame of your nakedness does not appear; (the people in this last age are in the same spiritual and physical condition Adam and Eve was in when they fell under the lie and lukewarm message of the serpent in the beginning. The serpent mixed Elohim’s original word with his own interpretation) and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see. (Jesus told Nicodemas, if you are not born again, you cannot see the kingdom of God).

    As many as I love (this is the fulfillment of the law, love) I rebuke and chasten (a loving Father always corrects the error in his children) be zealous therefore, and repent. (Repentance of a human is the highest expression of the grace of God) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: (the door of every human heart) if any man hear my voice (his voice is his faithful and true word) and open the door (of the heart) I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes (overcomes the lies, deception, materialism, and lukewarm religious and political spirit of this age) will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches.

    This is why men of God, such as James Robison, continually scream out a rebuke and chastening in their messages: It is not being mean spirited, but it is the Spirit and love of Jesus Christ calling to every human soul, Repent, and turn from this sinful age of idolatry and antichrist influences and leadership and turn your eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of this world will grow strangely dim, in the light of his glory and grace.

  2. JOSEPH ADDAE MSNSAH

    Please your words always bring encouragement to my life. And i strongly believe that it always motivate we the Pastors must read the bible to know the word of truth and we must be truthful in all what we are doing.
    thank you.

  3. Excellent , and really inspiring ! Reading this in Pakistan , this is really hopeful

  4. Uncomfortable words, but I know I am guilty of this very thing….I could actually feel my heart harden as I read those words….

  5. Cheryl Wolverton

    i so believe what you are saying…but the church itself needs to wake up. It’s bought into the lie too. Sooo frustrating.

  6. I am 68 years old and grew up In poverty. When I look back to that time, I see God’s love in how he sustained us with his love. Then I can’t help but cry deep inside because of the times in my life as I was becoming an adult…how I neglected my God many times and fell to sin and waisted such presious time. I pray my God to forgive me and thank God for giving me his precious son Jesus who shed his blood for such an unworthy person as myself.
    I love my God with all my heart and I have wronged him so many times.

  7. Cheryl Gardenhire

    I have started reading and trying to study the old Testament and have found this to be so true. Put our God first if not what separates us from making us so different than now in times than back then. Our God took away and sent plagues and destruction who did not follow his instructions. To me as just learning the bible what I see is we are all fixin to suffer if the nation does not trust and put the Lord God first. Thank you for this news letter . I know our Lord works in ways we can`t understand but to only trust in him first.

  8. What an awesome God we serve, James this is an absolute timely word from the LORD. I am blessed having read it and it is effectual to my heart, I believe it will be to many others as well. Today is my Birthday and I believe this is Gods gift to me today. I am going to share this message all over the web today as a gift to others from God as well. That wonderful comforting voice of the LORD is saying to me, I discipline and I chastise those whom I love. I know that God wants us, His children to be willing at all times to share His love and compassion with our neighbors, the lost, the down trodden, the suffering people all around us and I am encouraged to do so no matter what by this inspirational word. It has become a very challenging time in our Nation and I have personally experienced some of the pain and suffering and loss that so many have been going through. I and my husband and our family have been trusting in and turning to our LORD through it and God has been so faithful through it all. We have encouraged people and shared with others to turn to the LORD for what ever their need may be and have helped them with what we can. I must confess that I myself have sometimes been too self centered to see others needs when I have dwelt on my own. The LORD has been faithful to bring me out of my selfish thoughts each time and get me back on Him and His will, but this message is one that I know he wanted me to hear so that I do not lose heart in doing well. I want to I need to be more like Jesus and this message reminded me that I am not able to look at the problems so many people have and figure out what to do, but God can. That as I look to Him for all of those things He will provide the way and the means if I am just willing. I thank the LORD for using you in writing it and sharing it with us. God bless you and you work in the LORD Brother James Robison, in Jesus love. Sincerely, Diane Crouse.

  9. Great article, and very timely……thanks for your Godly insight Brother James

  10. The truth and nothing but the truth.and the truth will set Us free

  11. This article just re-enforces how God needs to be #1 in our lives. Thank you for writing such a wonderful truth.

    You are such a blessing in our live through all you do through Water for Life and Feeding Missions. I am a supporter for these wonderful causes and will continue being one. May God Bless you and Betty for your television ministry. Love you guys.

    I follow you on Twitter.

  12. Dear James:

    The reason God told me to go to you with my ideas and proposals for Christian activism at a high level is most revealed in this essay. The spiritual foundation for every good work must be God and the Word of God, for as Jesus told us, “there is none good but God”. And you and I know that God is good all the time! Oh that Americans would come to learn the provision, the power and the safety that we have in God! I believe that it is our time to tell them all about that. Ephesians 2:10 tells us that we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works which God has before ordained that we should walk in them. If we do that, God will be glorified and we, His children will have an abundance of the life that God desperately desires for His children and not the less than abundant life we live today.

    Sadly, I must defer meeting or working hard on this until Abba finished healing my 71 year old body. He is even healing my mind and my spirit, as I find I have entered into his rest more and more and now it seems that I am working hard to NOT work hard and God is moving mightily within my spirit and soul. When my body catches up, I will contact you. Meanwhile you and Betty and the good works you all do are in our prayers daily. The Peace of God be upon you and Betty, your family and your staff. You are an example to all of us who love God and seek to be men and women after His own heart. Shalom!