What Are Our Priorities? - Part 1
At this moment, if you are completely honest with yourself, can you wholeheartedly without a shadow of doubt say that God is the absolute number one priority in your life?
Have you every been overwhelmed with a million different things to do?
As I entered this new year, I had several thoughts and ideas of things I wanted to do. Projects I wanted to do around the house, routines I wanted to instill in myself and my family, and several other hundred time-sensitive to-do tasks. All wonderful good productive helpful things. One night, my mind was racing and I could not fall asleep as I lay awake thinking of my mounting list of tasks. I finally remembered 1 Peter 5:7.
1 Peter 5:7 "Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you."
I prayed this prayer, gave it all to God and went to sleep in peace.
WHAT DOES OUR LIFE SAY ABOUT OUR PRIORITIES?
The next morning, during my quiet time, I happened to be reading Haggai. It was absolutely no coincidence that God allowed my reading plan to align itself in such a way that I would be reading Haggai that very morning.
In the brief 2 chapters of Haggai, God repeats FIVE times the phrase "give careful thought". God was talking to the Israelites about giving careful thought about the way they were living. And how their to-do lists spoke directly about their priorities in life.
God asked the people why even though they were working so hard, there were barely any results. The people were working extremely hard. They were doing all the "stuff". All wonderful good productive helpful stuff. But there were very little results to show for all their hard work (Haggai 1:5-11, 2:16). And God tells them why.
Haggai 1:6-11 "Now this is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Give careful thought to your ways.
You have planted much, but harvested little.
You eat, but never have enough.
You drink, but never have your fill.
You put on clothes, but are not warm.
You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” This is what the Lord Almighty says:
“Give careful thought to your ways.
Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord.
“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little.
What you brought home, I blew away.
Why?” declares the Lord Almighty.
“Because of my house, which remains a ruin,
while each of you is busy with your own house."
Why were there barely any results for all their hard work?
SEEK GOD FIRST
Because they were so focused on themselves
and their lives
and their work
and their families
and their career
and their wellbeing
and their finances
and their health, etc.
instead of focusing first on God.
Now, don't get me wrong, none of these things are bad things to focus on.
All of them are important good things.
BUT, our priorities need to be in the right order.
Our first and foremost priority HAS to be God.
Are we spending the same time, effort, money, and energy on getting closer to God that we use on other things we want/need? Or is seeking God lower on our list?
Matthew 6:33 "Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
Friend, we need to desperately SEEK GOD FIRST ALWAYS.
WHAT IS OUR GOAL?
The Bible is clear on what is expected of us.
We are to love God. And love others.
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”
Seeking God and keeping Him number one in our lives directly helps us to accomplish both of the above commandments.
HOW DO WE PRIORITIZE HIM?
God has clearly said that we need to prioritize Him (see also 1 Chronicles 16:11).
But what does that mean in a practical physical sense for us?
Practically, it starts by us spending time with Him.
The way we strive to live should be in alignment with what the Word says:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 (praying continually),
Colossians 3:17 (everything we do and say be done in the name of God) &
Psalm 1:2 (meditating on God's word day & night)
This is a life lived in constant communication with God, throughout the day, where we are always cognizant of God, and always doing everything for His glory.
"My soul yearns for you in the night;
in the morning my spirit longs for you."
We literally wake up thinking of God,
live out our day with Him and
go to bed talking to Him too.
Isn't that an amazing way to want to live!
When we start to live our lives this way, we will automatically start to prioritize God in everything that we do.
This is our goal.
But it starts with us making it an absolute non-negotiable priority to spend time quietly with Him, every single day.
Whether its for 5 minutes, 15 minutes, 50 minutes or more.
It starts here.
Time alone with God with the desire of wanting to know Him more.
Reading His Word
Listening to Him & Talking to Him
WHY IS SPENDING TIME WITH GOD IMPORTANT?
Why is something as simple as spending time with God so important?
the more time we spend with God,
the more we get to know Him (Jeremiah 29:13).
The more we get to know Him,
we can't help but come to deeply love Him (1 John 4:19)
The more we love Him,
the more we genuinely yearn to please Him (Deuteronomy 6:5).
The more we want to please Him,
the more we willingly desire to obey Him in everything (John 14:15).
And the more we live a life of obedience to Him,
the more we start being better ambassadors for God
in our broken world (2 Corinthians 5:20).
Think about someone that you love deeply.
When we love someone, our natural response is to want to spend more time with them.
We long to get to know them more.
And the more we know them,
the more we fall in love with them.
And the more we love them,
the more we want to make sure we never do anything to disappoint them.
It brings us great joy to please them.
And this is exactly the relationship God longs to have with us as well; a relationship based on love and not terror (1 John 4:18).
Through the simple start of spending time alone with God daily,
we start the journey of making Him our #1 priority.
We start to build a relationship with Him that will transform our entire life.
And through this transformation, we are able to
joyfully, genuinely and wholeheartedly
fulfill the two commandments of loving God and loving others.
GOD WILL HELP US WITH EVERYTHING THAT WE NEED
Once seeking God is the #1 focus of our lives, God has promised that He will help us sort out everything else that we need.
"Seek the Kingdom of God above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need."
What does that verse say?
Seek God and "maybe" He will give you "some" of the things that you need?
It says seek God and He WILL give you EVERYTHING that you need!
When you are living with God being your #1 priority, your entire mindset shifts.
Your "needs" and "wants" change.
You might realize that some things that you used to think you desperately "needed" are actually things that you do not need at all.
But rest assured, God knows exactly what we need and
He has promised that He will provide exactly what we need exactly when we need it.
Friend, let us stop laboring in vain,
being consumed with our anxious thoughts of all the things that "need to get done".
As Pastor Rick Warren says, "We were not put on Earth to just check off our to-do list".
Our only "need to get done" is needing to get closer to God.
Needing to know Him more.
Needing to love Him more.
Everything else is secondary.
Let us go to Him.
Let us seek Him first.
Let us yearn for Him as for one we deeply love.
He will help sort everything else out.
He will. Trust Him.
He has promised us this. And He is faithful in His promises. (Deuteronomy 7:9)
As I read Haggai, I felt like God was asking me to give careful thought to everything I had going on in my life at that moment. And now in that same vein, I ask you dear friend, give careful thought to how you are living your life right now.
At this moment, if you are completely honest with yourself, can you wholeheartedly without a doubt say that God is the absolute #1 priority in your life?
Or has God always been #1 in your life but recently, there have been other things coming up that are taking up more and more precedence and crouching close to take the #1 spot?
And if so, friend, I urge you to ask Him to help you.
Don't just try to do it on your own.
Ask Him to help you seek Him first.
He wants to help us!
He wants us to ask Him.