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Prioritize To Jesus
It’s on this day, January 1st, the start of the New Year that we take stock of the prior year and make resolutions for the upcoming year usually centering upon the steps we need to take to undo some bad habits along with not repeating the mistakes from the past. It’s where we vow to make a better version of ourselves, like some computer program, where we’ll become the 2.0 upgrade.
The only problem is that these resolutions rarely if ever stick and soon we find ourselves slipping back to our old 1.0 programing or life. This is seen in how many of these resolutions aren’t new at all. They’re just rehashed from past years. They are the same old resolutions dressed up in a new set of clothes.
As a result depression sets in and we resolve ourselves that such changes are more of a result of wishful thinking than reality. Our problem is our inability to turn these resolves into committed actions, and the reason is because they’re directed towards the symptoms of what’s wrong, and not towards getting our lives right with the Lord, which should resolve most if not all of these resolutions.
Instead of trying to juggle these different resolutions year after year, what we should be doing is prioritizing our lives to Jesus.
To make Jesus our priority means that we’re putting Him first on our list. The reason our resolutions don’t last is because there are too many of them. But when we make something a priority it becomes first and foremost and it will sway our decisions in its favor.
If our priority then is Jesus, and we are going to prioritize our lives to Jesus, then we need to look to Jesus’ life and see what He prioritized. In other words, what were Jesus’ priorities and how can we make them our priorities.
Now this is not easy, because far too often we think about what’s important to us, our priorities not God’s.
We see this in a young man who had the right intentions, but the wrong priorities. The young man had all the things of the world, but he wanted the assurance of knowing he had eternal life.
And so he asked Jesus what he must do to inherit eternal life, and Jesus said, “If you want to enter life, keep the commandments” (Matthew 19:17).
And while this young man thought his priorities were where they needed to be, in other words, he thought he was in line with God saying that all of these he’s kept since his youth. Jesus then told him to sell his possessions and give it to the poor and come and follow Him. It says the young man left sorrowful.
His number one priority was his wealth. His wealth seemed to get between him and God and he was not about to give up his riches. The young man didn’t realize it, but he had broken the first commandment that says, “You shall have no other gods before me.” (Exodus 20:3 NKJV)
So what were Jesus’ priorities so we can align ourselves to them?
Jesus lived a kingdom life. His priority was to further God’s kingdom. We see this in the prayer He taught His disciples.
“Thy Kingdom come…on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)
He also taught about God’s kingdom, or kingdom living through what are referred to as the kingdom parables found in Matthew 13, saying, “The kingdom of heaven is like…”
By living our lives for God’s Kingdom we’re asking Him to exert His authority in our world so His kingdom purposes can be achieved, hence His prayer, “on earth as it is in heaven.”
In his letter to the Colossian church the Apostle Paul teaches that our redemption amounts to an exchange of rulership.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love.” (Colossians 1:13 NKJV)
But the number one way Jesus prioritized the kingdom of God was telling us of our need to repent because God’s kingdom is at hand. In fact, the Kingdom of God was Jesus’ central message.
“Jesus came to Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand. Repent, and believe in the gospel.’” (Mark 1:14-15 NKJV)
The word for kingdom means “rule” or “reign.” Its secondary meaning is that of a realm or territory in which that rule or reign is exercised. Therefore God’s Kingdom refers to the exercise of His power and dominion. And so God’s Kingdom is wherever He rules and reigns.
God’s Kingdom rule here on earth was established at creation; Satan, however, attacked it at the fall; but by His death and resurrection Jesus is now restoring it in our lives.
No wonder He taught us to pray: “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven!” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)
Being questioned by the Pharisees as to when the kingdom of God was coming, Jesus answered saying,
“The coming of the kingdom of God is not something that can be observed, nor will people say, ‘Here it is,’ or ‘There it is,’ because the kingdom of God is in your midst.” (Luke 17:20-21 NIV)
Jesus was referring to Himself as the embodiment of God’s Kingdom and through His sacrifice, through His death and resurrection He will destroy the rule and kingdom of Satan within the lives of all those who believe in Him.
What we learn then from these teachings on God’s kingdom is that that not only has it come, but it’s here and it’s coming again.
In other words, the kingdom is where Jesus is.
And so Jesus sets us straight about seeking first and foremost God’s kingdom.
“But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33 NKJV)
To seek the kingdom of God is to seek Jesus, to make Him our priority. So our first priority from which all else flows is seeking the Kingdom of God. The second is
Jesus in His prayer continued to prioritize for us saying,
“Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.” (Matthew 6:10 KJV)
Jesus lived to fulfill God’s will.
When they sought to kill Him Jesus said,
“Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner.” (John 5:19 NKJV)
Knowing He was about to die one of the most agonizing deaths along with for the first time before time began He and the Father would be separated as He would take upon Himself our sins, Jesus prayed that it might not happen. But He resolved Himself and prioritized His Father’s will above His own.
“Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.” (Luke 22:42 NKJV)
Jesus was all about prioritizing God’s will. And so the question becomes: “What is God’s will for my life? What has God called for me to do?”
Fulfilling God’s purpose according to His will is extremely important. God wants us to be everything He has created us to be, so we can reach our God-given potential and destiny.
God wants us to know His will. He wants us to discover and understand it. His goal is to lead and keep us in the center of His will.
“Be very careful, then, how you live; not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15-17 NIV)
Now, while there are many aspects and parts when it comes to God’s will, there are two overarching ones that I’d like to talk about.
Loving God is the heart of what it means to be a believer. It’s our statement of faith and what Jesus identified as the Great Commandment.
“You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your strength.” (Matthew 22:37 NKJV)
Now if this is God’s will, how do we accomplish it? It’s easy to say we love God, but how do we show it? We can’t throw your arms around God and give Him and great big hug. But Jesus knew this, so He issued a second commandment, which He said is like unto the first as a way of showing our love for Him.
“You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” (Matthew 22:39 NKJV)
The way we show God how much we love Him is to love those He’s placed in our path.
when we get this down, then the rest will come a little easier like our need to worship the Lord in Spirit and in truth, to grow spiritually, and serving God.
This is referred to as the Great Commission. Jesus said,
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations.” (Matthew 28:19 NKJV)
After His death, burial, and resurrection Jesus said to his disciples:
“Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you.” (John 20:21 NKJV)
God the Father sent Jesus to bear witness of Him in everything He said and did. In the same way, Jesus is sending us to bear witness of His saving grace in everything we say and do.
The second priority, therefore, is to seek out and align ourselves with God’s will by loving Him above everyone and everything else, and by going out and spreading this great and wonderful news of God’s love to others.
And finally, the third priority in Jesus’ life that needs to be in our own is that of sacrifice
Jesus is that sacrifice for sin so that all who believe in Him can have eternal life.
On seeing Jesus, John the Baptist said,
“Behold! The Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29 NKJV)
Of His own death Jesus said,
“The Son of Man must suffer many things, and be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised the third day.” (Luke 9:22 NKJV))
This was His purpose, His priority, to be that perfect sinless sacrifice to take our place and die the death we all deserve so we can have eternal life in Him.
But we also need to make ourselves a sacrifice, much like Jesus.
In John 15:13 Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.”
And then He said that we were His friends.
The Apostle John explained that we ought to lay down our lives for others just as Jesus laid down His life for us.
“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.” (1 John 3:16 NKJV)
Paul said it like this,
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service.” (Romans 12:1 NKJV)
How can we be those living sacrifices? Let me give you the simple answer, and it’s to have that same attitude as John the Baptist who said, “He must increase but I must decrease.” (John 3:30 NKJV)
And so this third priority is to be those living sacrifices, laying down our lives for God’s kingdom to come, and laying down our will so that God’s will can be done on earth as it is in heaven.
As I was concluding this message it seemed to me that there is a whole lot more to this than merely resolutions and starting the New Year off right. What I began to realize is that this has to do with just about every thing and every area of our lives.
Take a moment and listen to this Scripture, and maybe you can get a glimpse of just how important this whole concept of prioritizing to Jesus really is.
The Apostle James said,
“What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don’t they come from your desires that battle within you? You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” (James 4:1-3 NIV)
When we look at this passage of Scripture our first response, and let’s be honest, it’s about us, and so we wonder why we don’t receive what we ask for, and it’s because we’re not asking with the right motives. Where it’s about us and our wants and needs, and by the process of elimination we’ve deduced that we’re not centering upon God and what He wants. And so fights and quarrels break out.
But notice that these fights and quarrels happen not due to outside sources, but rather they happen based upon what’s going on inside of us, and I believe it’s because we’re not prioritizing to Jesus.
The point is that where a problem or difficulty exists its very well may be because we’re not prioritizing to Jesus.
And so this New Year let’s make Jesus and His priorities our number one goal, and then, I believe, we’ll see many of these problems that cause us to make these resolutions every year being taken care of.
Just a thought!
Wednesday Evening Bible Study