Faith & Insight: Putting first things first: A testimony to discipleship

Brian Underwood is director of School Development for Sierra Lutheran High School.

Brian Underwood is director of School Development for Sierra Lutheran High School.

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He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed. Alleluia!
This familiar call and response in churches and between Christians on Easter, and in the days that follow, communicates the holy celebration of Jesus’ victory over sin and death on the cross through his resurrection on Easter morning.
It represents joyous jubilation of the Risen King’s redeeming work that those who believe in him will not perish, but have eternal life. However, in the days after Easter, the sweet message and music of salvation can sometimes ebb as quickly as the sweets children collect that day.
The power of inspiring Easter messages, and of such hymns as Amazing Grace, sung from a place of renewal and restoration, can often dissipate as hurriedly as the notes fade. So, after all the power and pageantry of Easter, how do we sustain our spiritual life in Christ? How do we fuel that fire for him?
As it is with most things, we reap what we sow, which, unbeknownst to many, is Christian teaching, coming from Galatians 6:7. In this way, one’s desire to develop a deeper relationship with Jesus is realized through the power of the Holy Spirit, which comes with a personal invitation from Christ.
“Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Revelation 3:20).
Jesus wants nothing more than to have a personal relationship with us, and he invites us to do this. To do this well, we must know his teaching. And just like with any relationship we have with others, the success of that relationship comes with investing time to know them.
"All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work." (2 Timothy 3:16-17)
As written here, God’s Word provides us all we need. It is the bread of life that sustains us to serve, honor, and love the Lord. To know him, though, we need to commit to be in his word, which takes the faithfulness of placing him first, above all else.
One of my favorite chapel messages, or object lessons, that illustrates this is called Rice & Reeses. The lesson opens with one jar full of rice, with pieces of Reeses nicely settled at the bottom. Next to it sits a second jar that is empty, with a bag of rice and Reeses next to it, ready to be inserted.
The jar represents our life, the rice represents our daily commitments, and the Reeses represents the sweet relationship with Jesus. More often than not, we put our daily commitments ahead of time with the Lord. in this way, if we fill our life (the jar) to the brim, which most of us do, it becomes nearly impossible to put God in afterward. I invite you to try this.
However, in the case of the first jar, the candy was placed first, and the commitments (rice) fit in around it without any problem. This is the case with trusting God first with our time with him. When we do this, he sees to it that our needs are met.
Though we all follow different rhythms and paths into each new day, I invite you to put Jesus Christ first in your life by putting him first in your day. Recently, I’ve experienced a more invigorating approach to this time by using YouVersion, which is a free Bible app that offers a brief Scripture of the Day, a 2-3 minute teaching by a rotating group of pastors from around the world, followed by a short devotional reading.
In all, including prayer at the end, I find myself blessed with 5-10 minutes of incredible devotional time. The teaching by the pastors gives me greater insight to the Scripture of the Day, and it helps focus my prayer time, too.
Whenever and however you spend time with our Lord, the important thing to remember is that you find that time because He wants nothing more than to have a relationship with you. He knows your joys, burdens, and sorrows, and wants to love you through all of them.
He is Risen! He is Risen, Indeed! Alleluia!
Brian Underwood is executive director of Sierra Lutheran High School.


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