Do you want to know the hardest thing you can do? Pastor, seriously, the HARDEST thing!? Yes, the hardest thing. Ready? It is to keep the first commandment. “You shall have no other gods.” Oh, I get it, there are several commandments which are also very difficult to keep. But, if you break any of those other commandments, then you have already broken the first. You haven’t put God FIRST in everything. You didn’t put your love for him first; your love for his word first; your desire to worship God first.

And, let me tell you as you age, it doesn’t get easier. The devil has placed tempting landmines all around you. Think about your friends growing up. Maybe they didn’t go to church. Maybe they made fun of you for going. Maybe you have been tempted to stop going. Yet, what does God’s word say? And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, 25 not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing. (Hebrews 10:24-25).

It doesn’t get easier. You get older and are now in high school. Peer pressure mounts. Maybe you feel it as you have been dating someone for a while. There is the pressure to take the relationship to the next level. After all, everyone else is doing it! What is the harm? That is the world. What does God’s word say? Let marriage be held in honor among all, and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral and adulterous (Hebrews 13:4).

We get older. The landmines are still present. Now we are no longer under the same roof as our parents. Living on our own; making our own decisions. Now it is time to take that same relationship even further. Instead of living in two separate places, it is so much cheaper to live in one. And, it is good to “try it out first” to make sure you are compatible. That is what the world says. What does God’s word say? For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh (multiple places, Genesis 2:24; Matthew 19:5; Mark 10:7; Ephesians 5:31).

In that passage (as well as several more) we read God’s word on marriage, an institution he created. And, we know the temptations the devil has placed before us and the world when it comes to marriage.

The list could go on and on. The world says one thing; God however says something completely different. Who do you believe? Who do you follow? Who do you listen to?

You can read what God says. You can study his word. But, do you ALWAYS want to follow that word? Remember how I started this post – Keeping the 1st Commandment is the HARDEST thing you can do. Are you starting to believe me? It is so much easier to listen to the world because the world’s reaction is instant. If I don’t always listen to God, it isn’t as though he ends my life in that instant. It isn’t like God persecutes us if we don’t follow him. But, the world will!

To that point, I would just invite you to read these words from 1 Peter 4:12-14: Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. 13 But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed. 14 If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.

Persecution may come, but I know troubles definitely will come! Jesus gave us that promise: In this world you will have trouble, but take heart, I have overcome the world. (John 16:33).

My encouragement for you? Keep God and his word #1. It will not be easy. Jesus never promised that it would. In fact, he promised the opposite. And, you may want to give in. If you ever have given in to the world and the temptation to not put God #1, take heart that God has forgiven you in Jesus.

But, also take heart this in – Jesus has overcome the world. His word will endure to the end and beyond. His promises will last for you. And, in the end, Jesus will have the last say. And, that last say for you? Heaven. A world with no persecutions. A world with no problems. A world surrounded by Jesus’ love.