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Godly Priorities

Hi Church Family – On Sunday the Holy Spirit led me to minister a word on Godly Priorities, and I didn’t have notes prepared for the morning, but was led by the Spirit. I have put together some notes below as best as I can remember them, and from a previous devotion on the subject which I presented at Wandalgu. Hopefully it all makes sense – but remember, you can follow Sermons from Sun City Christian Centre on our YouTube channel. – Bonnie -

There is one significant difference between Wayne and I – and it involves packing. No matter what we pack, whether it be a bag, a car, a truck or a trailer – he knows how to fit things in, whereas I do not. Wayne has a way at looking at what needs to go in, how it all fits together and can pack it all in so the load doesn’t shift and he has room to spare. He really is the king of Tetris.

I cannot do that. No matter how hard I try, I’ve always got bits I couldn’t fit in and the door doesn’t close properly and if there is a slight breeze my load would simply fall apart. I have never been able to work out those metal rachet tie down straps and so if I were to travel down the road a bit, my load would shift.

And I think our life can be like that sometimes. If we don’t make a real effort to examine our priorities, consider what is important and use our time wisely and effectively then stuff will be left out, and often it is the really important stuff that gets missed.

When we don’t have a sense of where we are going, then where we are now isn’t that important.

We all get to a place in our life where we want to sort our priorities out. It might be as simple as asking yourself the question – if I continue my life on the same path that I am currently on, what will it look like in 5 years?

I’m not real big on geography, so forgive any blinding errors in this analogy, but if I set sail from the Geraldton port and head due west – I should eventually hit the continent of South Africa. However, if I am one degree off in my calculations when I leave the port, I could miss South Africa altogether. Our final destination depends on us charting our course with the right coordinates and holding to them. When our priorities are out of line, we could find ourselves far from where we meant to be.

The world is moving faster and growing more hectic for all of us. It’s easy to feel pressured to do it all, or get so overwhelmed that we simply feel like we can’t do anything. From our jobs, our families, our bills to pay, other people’s needs, demands or expectations – everything seems important. But all that busyness leaves us with crumbs of time to scrape together for family, friends and yes, even God.

We end up with a left-over lifestyle. We cram so many things into our life that sometimes, the big things, the important things get left out altogether, or they simply get what’s left over. And we are left feeling drained and unsatisfied.

So, where do we start to order our daily lives?

It isn’t easy for sure, but maybe you’ll find this illustration that I heard 25 years ago when I was doing my nursing helpful.

Imagine you have three jars – each one if half filled, one with sand, another with pebbles and the third one with golf balls. The challenge is, to fit the contents of each jar into one. You might start with the sand first, but you will find this doesn’t leave enough room for the pebbles or the golf balls. The same thing will happen if you put the pebbles in first. But, if you put the golf balls in first, followed by the pebbles which will fill the spaces in and around the golf balls, there will still be room for the sand and everything will fit. There is even enough room for two cups of coffee, because we should always be able to find time for coffee with friends. Godly Priorities

The takeaway is pretty obvious. It all fits as long as you begin with the big things first. We have to focus on the important things firs and let everything else fit into the cracks that remain.

Scripture speaks of a biblical order, or biblical priorities for our lives. As we heard earlier this morning, Jesus wants us to make room for Him – He doesn’t want our leftover lifestyle, or the crumbs. When we get the order right, as the Bible instructs us, everything else fits and we find we have enough room yes, but also that we have enough peace, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, joy, self-control and every other good thing that comes from God above.

Godly Priorities

If we want to know the priorities for our life, we should look to the Bible. Not just because I say it is so, but because we need to filter everything in our life through the Word of God. Pilate asked the question when Jesus was bought to him “What is truth?” And, as Pastor Eric preached last week, in a world that is changing as rapidly as our is, now more than ever, we need to ask the question – and be able to answer it – What is truth?

The Bible mentions the Berean Jews, only once that I have found reference to, and I often mention them when I am teaching, because I think they are such a good example to us. The reference is found in Acts 17:11 which reads: “Now the Berean Jews were of more noble character than those in Thessalonica, for they received the message with great eagerness and examined the Scriptures every day to see if what Paul had said was true.”

Here is a group of people being taught by Paul – you know, previously Saul who had murder in his eyes, was murdering and imprisoning Christians, and, on the road to Damascus has an encounter with Jesus – goes blind for three days and dedicates his whole life from that point, no matter what happens to him, to spreading the gospel as far and wide as he could. This Paul, the writer of so much of the New Testament, was their teacher, but they didn’t assume everything he taught them was right. They weren’t willing to take his word for it, but instead, and the Bible says – with great eagerness – maybe it’s time for us to come back to the Bible with great eagerness – they examined his message through the lens of the Scriptures. And they did this how often? Every day.

Are we doing this? Do we know what we believe, what we stand for, and even more importantly, what God’s Word says about it? Don’t take my word for it, don’t listen to sermons, podcasts and devotionals and assume they must be right – check it out against God’s Word.

Priority Number One – God God is not just top of our list, He touches every area of our life, if we allow Him to, and He wants us to make our relationship with Him our priority.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.”

Exodus 20:3 “You shall have no other gods before me.”

Matthew 22:37-38 “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.”

Matthew 6:24 “No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other.”

When we put God first, He filters through everything else in our life. He gives us everything we need for every other area – peace, love, joy, kindness, gentleness, goodness, faith, self-control – He gives us vision, passion, and practical and creative strategies for the many things we face each day. He develops our character, warns us of things to come and strengthens and comforts us when the road gets difficult. It’s not “this little light of mine” as we sung in Sunday school – but Jesus Christ, the hope of glory – the fullness of the deity in Christ, and the fullness of Christ in me – it’s the creative power of God the Father; the authority and finished work of the Cross of Jesus, the Son and the dynamic and miraculous power of the Holy Spirit. When we come in under God, when we make it a priority to submit our lives (and surrender everything) to Him – then this flows into our marriage, our children, our workplaces, our community and beyond. God is not satisfied with our leftovers, He is not happy with our crumbs – because He wants our whole hearts – He knows what is best for us, He knows the plans He has for us, He knows the road ahead of us – and He yearns for us to make Him our greatest priority. And there is no condemnation in Him, only the opportunity to ask ourselves – do I put God first? Do I put God first in my life, in my marriage, in my parenting, at work? Do I put God first in my finances, in the decisions I make, in my future hopes and dreams? Is God Lord of my life, or God of my leftovers? Can I encourage you – this is a study in itself. And one that is worth spending time with. If you need to recalibrate – ask Him to help you. You might only be a few degrees off – but your final destination requires you to alter course now if you are. Seek Him First! Draw near to Him and He will draw near to you.

Priority Number Two – Our Spouse

Ephesians 5:21-33 “Instructions for Christian Households

21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.22 Wives, submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord. 23 For the husband is the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the church, his body, of which he is the Savior. 24 Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit to their husbands in everything. 25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery— but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.” In the order of Godly priorities, our spouse comes only after God. Marriages struggle when this order is not kept. Why? Because if I am making God my priority and daily being refuelled with love, patience, peace, faith, strength – and every other good thing He provides – when I am seeking Him for wisdom, vision, purpose and strategies for my daily circumstances – then, I am in the best position I can be for everything else in my life. If I then, take that and share it with my spouse – prioritising our marriage, our decision making, our love tank – putting my spouse above all others – then my marriage will be strong – and together we can face everything else we need to. There is no room for selfishness in this Scripture – it is commanding us to come together as one flesh, to love each other with the proper love of marriage – to model this for our children, our families, in our workplace and our community. If Christians would work to have this kind of marriage, it would be an amazing testimony for so many people. I know the season of having children can be demanding, and often children are placed at a higher priority order than our spouse simply because it is easier, or we are tired. But the best gift we can give our children is a strong marriage. We need to get on the same page together as children, honour each other in front of them and show them what marriage should look like. They need to see us praying together, reading our word together, speaking well of each other and standing in unity as parents. This is how God intended families to work. We can’t leave it to the opinions of others, to the media, to other family members to tell us how to run our marriage and our homes – the two become one flesh – this means working together, making decisions together, walking together – and with God, the third strand in our cord – strength for the journey. Did you know that the three stranded rope is the strongest rope there is? They use it to tie up the biggest ships, it has the highest tensile strength of any rope – and adding a fourth strand doesn’t actually make it stronger, it makes it more likely to break. Again, no condemnation, only an opportunity to sit with your spouse and ask yourself the question – are we putting each other second (only to God) in our marriage? Are we walking out our marriage in unity, submitting to one another in reverence to Christ, respecting each other, loving each other as Christ commanded us to do? And for those who do not currently have a spouse. Unless God has spoken to you specifically about remaining single, you were created for marriage. And whilst you are waiting, and wait with expectation – prepare your heart for marriage. Pray for your spouse, prioritise God in your own life and ask Him what areas He would like you to strengthen so when you get married you are already prepared for your new husband or wife. Do not settle for less than God’s best, do not look to the world for your Godly partner – fix your eyes on Him, stay in His presence, do not sit by the pool of disappointment but pray, live and love with faith in your heart – and see what the Lord can do.

Priority Number Three – Our Children

1 Timothy 3:5 “ 5 (If anyone does not know how to manage his own family, how can he take care of God’s church?)”

Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it.”

God will call us into account as to how we parented our children. It is not the job of the children’s church ministry, the school, media, other family members or friends to raise your children in the things of the Lord. You have been given these children, into your care, for you to raise – together as husband and wife, and ensuring they know who God is, how to pray, how to believe God for their needs, how to read His Word every day – it is a big responsibility. What we can see however, if we have God as our main priority, we are coming together with our spouse as a priority and getting onto the same page – then we are in the best position to raise our children. And there are a lot of good resources available to help us parent well. But it is our responsibility, and it is our priority. Nothing should get in the way of us fulfilling this role – not our work, not other family members or friends, not our hobbies and not our ministry – however good those things are, and there is certainly place for them all in our lives, but they shouldn’t take our children’s place. Our children need us, to be present and active in their lives. We should know who their friends are, we should be talking to them, at length, about their lives. We should be speaking into their lives, correcting them in love, disciplining them as we need to and making sure that God has their hearts, that they are making Him a priority as they ought to. It is a big job, and a critical one. It takes both parents, committed to parenting, everyday. I wish I could have given my children two parents in their lives, but I raised them on my own for 15 years. Can I say, it is possible to single parent well, but where two parents live in the household, they have the privilege to parent their children together – and this is God’s ultimate plan for family.

Priority Number Four – Extended Family

Family is important to God. And as such, we play many roles in our lives. Son or daughter; sister or brother; grandchild; uncle or aunt; stepparent etc – the list goes on. With our three main priorities in order, we give out of that place of connectedness. And although we might not face the demands of extended family everyday, we need to make room for those God has placed us in family with.

1 Timothy 5:8 “ Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”

Priority Number Five – Our Work or Ministry

Colossians 3:23-24 “ 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Our work or ministry should reflect who we are in Christ. Our integrity, our commitment and our work ethic should reflect Him and should show evidence of a life that prioritises God first, family as a priority and our work as an important part of who we are. We should be known in our workplaces, as a Christian, and this should be a good testimony. Our speech, conduct, compassion and kindness should reflect Biblical principles. Our work colleagues should not have to guess if we are Christians. If we are in Ministry we should be demonstrating the love of God in every area of our ministry. It is easy to see that if we haven’t prioritised God first – our work and ministry will be poor reflections of His love and glory. If we haven’t given our families their proper place, it is easy for them to resent our work or ministry as they may feel that it is more important to us. But, in the right order, with our priorities in place – we will represent well all that we live. And it will be easier to manage all of our priorities, when we have them in the right order. So today, has God been gently prompting you about your priorities? You don’t need to wait until you have it all together to come to Him. Simply come, come to the altar – seek Him for where He wants to work with you. Get things in place today that will set you up for tomorrow and the years to come. If there is any area where you have been lacking, or where you have not had your priorities in order – come, repent and change the way you do life. If you are tired and weary – let Him give you rest, strength and the ability to keep going. He loves you – His priorities are all about having His love infiltrate every part of your life. He wants to do life with you – all of your life, not just the left over parts, or the crumbs. Give Him your whole heart, mind and soul and see what He can do with your life.

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