First and Last

I alone am God, the First and the Last
(Isaiah 48:12; NLT).

1. What God wants
Comes first.

2. What God wants
Is good.

3. What God wants
Is mercy.

4. What God wants
Is love.

5. What we want
Is fleeting.

6. What we want
Is past.

7. What we want
Is fruitless.

8. What we want
Comes last.

Christ is all that matters, and he lives in all of us
(Colossians 3:11; NLT).


References

1. Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent” (John 6:29; NLT).

2. Don’t copy the behaviour and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2; NLT).

3. If you had known what this means, ‘I desire mercy and not sacrifice,’ you would not have condemned the guiltless (Matthew 12:7; NKJV).

4. Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself.’ The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:37-40; NLT).

5. Charm is deceptive, and beauty is fleeting (Proverbs 31:30; NIV).

The Lord gave me what I had, and the Lord has taken it away (Job 1:21; NLT).

He chose to share the oppression of God’s people instead of enjoying the fleeting pleasures of sin (Hebrews 11:25; NLT).

6. Stop sinning and do what is right. Break from your wicked past and be merciful to the poor (Daniel 4:27; NLT).

It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me. So I live in this earthly body by trusting in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me (Galatians 2:20; NLT).

7. Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives (Galatians 5:24-5; NLT).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

8. Whoever wants to be first must take last place and be the servant of everyone else (Mark 9:35; NLT).

Dead leaves

Image: Ruth Kirk

Lord,

1. Sheltered by last year’s dead leaves,
Can I spring up anew?

2. Shielded by last year’s sparse crop,
Can I bear fruit, like you?

3. Nourished by last year’s parched growth,
Can I accept your will?

4. Strengthened by last year’s dry stems,
Can I, Lord, serve you, still?


References

1. Some [seed] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root (Matthew 13:5-6; NIV).

2. It has been planted, but will it thrive? Will it not wither completely when the east wind strikes it? (Ezekiel 17:10; NIV).

The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-3; NRSV).

3. He nourished them with honey from the rock and olive oil from the stony ground (Deuteronomy 32:13; NLT).

May your will be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 6:10; NLT).

4. The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised (Job 1:21; NIV).

Worship the Lord your God, and serve him only (Luke 4:8; NIV).