My Word (Phrase) for 2023: But First, God

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I have daily quiet time with God, reading the Bible, praying, sometimes journaling. This happens in the morning unless an early appointment delays it. But it’s not the first thing I do. I love the smell of coffee in the morning, so the first thing I do is get the brew going. And because I love the sound of no one talking to me while I savor that first steaming cup, I drink it before anyone else is up. As I sip the hot stuff, I reflect on the day ahead, mentally organizing it, and maybe read some news. I might check email.

When I’m good and caffeinated, I give God my focus.

One morning, as I pulled my favorite mug from the cabinet, this thought cruised into my head.

What if I awoke with the same fervor to drink from God’s cup each morning as I do my coffee cup?

This stopped me in my tracks. It’s a hard truth that I don’t always turn to God first. When I face a hardship, a stressful situation, a scary health diagnosis for someone I love, my first instinct is to problem-solve. I analyze. I research. I plan. It’s only after I’ve worked myself into a dither that I give God my concerns. I request guidance and the strength to accept His will.

Only then do I find peace.

Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:6-7 NIV

But First, God

Each new year, I ask God to reveal an area in which I need personal growth. Usually it’s a single word. This year, I believe God gave me this twist on the phrase featured on my old mug: But First, God.

Could I turn to God first thing every morning before my need for coffee was met? Maybe it would help rehabilitate my natural instinct to figure things out on my own. But doubt crowded my head. And excuses. The devil was at work.

I couldn’t back away from this challenge. God was calling me to this.

I can do all this through him who gives me strength.

Philippians 4:13 NIV

It meant a change in routine. Instead of taking care of my own need for caffeine, I had to put God first. The first and greatest commandment is “love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37 NIV).

To get better at anything, one must practice. Instead of jump-starting my day with coffee, I started in a place of rest, with prayer. I journal any messages and promptings and then read the day’s Bible passage in a “Read the Bible in a Year Plan.”

Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Matthew 11:4 NIV

I started this practice in December. It’s been great. It kept my focus on the manger during the merriest and busiest of months. Quiet time became more centered and of better quality when I delayed that first cup of java. In fact, the routine improved the efficiency of my entire day. Instead of lingering with “just one more cup,” I head to my desk with my first cup of coffee in hand. It signals my brain it’s time to write.

Even better, when I invite God’s presence into my day first thing in the morning, I’m more likely to turn to Him throughout the day. It keeps me less focused on my personal needs and more focused on my need for Him.

My word—er phrase—for 2023 is But First, God.

Father God,

Teach me to seek You first this year in all things.  I want to grow in my trust and dependance on you so I can enjoy the life of abundance you offer.


What is God calling you to do in 2023?

What if I awoke with the same fervor to drink from God’s cup each morning as I do my coffee cup? #ButFirstGod #devotion Click To Tweet

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  1. Candyce, I’m late reading emails. Your message resonates with me too as God should be first because I do reach for the coffee pot in the morning before I do anything else. That quiet time is so important to get us focused on the new day and to follow the Holy Spirit’s leading.

    1. Hi Barbara.
      I appreciate so much you taking the time to read my posts and totally understand that life gets busy sometimes. I hope all it well and you’re enjoying being back home.

  2. Candyce, thank you for sharing the way God answered your prayer. Often when we obey, we later see added benefits to following God’s leading, like your cup of coffee signaling you it’s time to work. I pray before getting out of bed, but my husband and I share breakfast. Then I head to my quiet time spot with my second cup of coffee.

    1. You’ve put that so well, Better time management was a bonus I wasn’t expecting from this small change. But God knows and works all things together for those that love him.

      You have a lovely morning routine.

  3. God did something similar in my life. Challenging me to draw closer and put Him first. It was life changing. Thank you for sharing your experience and encouraging us.

    1. That’s what I’m hoping for. Life-changing results. So far, so good. It hasn’t been difficult. God knows what we need.

  4. You certainly convicted my heart. My morning routine followed your old one. I like my coffee first. I need to work on this too by making God more important than my coffee and checking my phone. Great message Candyce.

    1. Great. Yvonne. It hasn’t been as difficult as I feared and it makes my whole day better.
      Thanks for your feedback.

  5. I’m not a coffee lover, but I admit to thinking about my cup of hot chocolate as soon as I get up in the morning. Your message is a great reminder for me to delve into God’ word first thing–before hot chocolate, before the news, and before my morning chores. I confess I usually don’t start with my God time. Thanks for inspiring me to do better.

    1. Thanks, Katherine. Sometimes schedules and responsibilities don’t allow God time first thing in the morning, but because mine usually does in this season of life I’m compelled to follow God’s leading.

      It used to happen at the end of my day. The important thing is that it happens.


  6. Definitely something I can improve on. Changing routines I have in place is so hard! Maybe it’s just me. Lol. Thanks for the encouragement. Happy New Year, Candyce.

    1. Definitely not just you. I can come up with 900 reasons not to change, but this one has been a good one for me. I hope it becomes so ingrained that it becomes my routine, my default.

      Happy 2023 to you!

  7. Candyce, a great reminder for us all! I enjoyed this great read with a challenging example set before us! I’ve never requested a particular word from God each year, but this year He has prompted me, through my Pastor, to practice my privilege of prayer. I too received an action rather than a word. Thanks for sharing!

    1. I love it. Prayer is definitely something I’m hoping my new routine improves. Not only in the morning but throughout each day.

      I like what Mother Teresa said, “Prayer is nothing else than being on terms of friendship with God.”

  8. Amen Ms. Candyce. I too put my coffee on before I settle in for my God time, with coffee in hand. I sip as I ponder His Word. I sip again before I begin to pray; and I take several more sips before I’ve finished. Don’t even get me started on my second or third cup as I work through devotions and a few blog posts awaiting me. LOL For me, coffee is almost synonymous with my “God time”, but you bring up a great point, “Do I put God first?”. Thinking about this, I want to say an emphatic “Yes!” I’m sitting here telling myself, “Well, don’t you always utter at least “Good morning, God” before you get out of bed? “Isn’t that always the first thing you say?”, trying to convince myself that’s enough. If I’m honest this morning, I’m convicted that “But first, God” is a mindset that I need to apply to the entirety of my day. If I drink coffee all day, and I do, then I need to remember to put God first in all that I do. Loved this post ma’am. Thank you!

    1. Great hearing from a fellow coffee lover! I believe having coffee with God can be a fine thing. I may return to it someday but for now feel the need to delay it a bit.

      Blessings in the new year!

  9. True! I work from home full-time and I became lazy about turning to God first. Something about a “having all day mentality.”

    Even those few minutes during a commute to work you mention impacts our entire day. It sets the tone for our interaction with others, our attitude, and the brightness of our light.

  10. It’s easy to tell ourselves that God needs to come first in our day, but isn’t always easy to put it into practice. Kudos to you for making the “but first” shift! It’s easier for me to follow through with that on the days I work from home instead of the days I go into the office, but even a few minutes with Him before I begin my commute. Thanks for reminding us of that importance — and the multiple benefits!

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