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Our Highest Priority

March 2014
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Psalm 46v10 banner“Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

~
Psalm 46:10

In our hustle and bustle, fast-paced society we hardly ever find a moment to “be still” except maybe when we are sleeping, and even then our dreams may be filled with anxieties about tomorrow. And I imagine that if we take time for a short devotion in the morning before running off into the day we feel rushed even then and push God to the sidelines until Sunday morning which is the time slot “reserved” for Him. And even in church we may fidget and look at our watches repeatedly waiting for the moment the sermon is over and the last song is sung before heading back home to enjoy the rest of the day before Monday morning hits us again and we rush out the door to earn a living (as in making more money) to start yet another week . . .

Or month . . .

Or year . . .

And before we even know it, time has passed by all too quickly.

And in our continuing quest for more money, I’ve often thought it was an oxymoron that the words “In God We Trust” are printed on our money. The irony is not lost on any of us if we just take a moment to think about it. We work harder to earn more money than just about anything else we do, yet we say we trust in God to provide for us. And we worry more about money and ways to get more of it than just about anything else. But, of course, Jesus clearly told us in 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. You cannot serve both God and money.” He also told us not to worry in the very next verses (Matthew 6:25-32):

Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes? Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?

And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field; which are here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you–you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, “What shall we eat?” or “What shall we drink?” or “What shall we wear?” For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.”

And then he states (Matthew 6:33-34):

But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Psalm 46v10“Seek first his [God’s] kingdom and his righteousness . . .” First . . . not second or third or last, but first. “And do not worry about your life (v. 25) or about tomorrow” (v. 34). I don’t know about you but I know from experience that worrying can consume us and make life far more difficult–especially when worrying about tomorrow. I am frequently thinking about “tomorrow” and it’s hard not to think about it. I’ve been unemployed for almost five years now and “tomorrow” is always out there somewhere with me trying to find a solution to my dilemma (actually at this point I’ve been known to plaster God with prayers to “please end this soon” . . . and the “soon” has recently been replaced with “now” after almost five years of living in limbo) since the answer has slipped by for yet another “today.”

And I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t always easy to “seek first God’s kingdom and God’s righteousness.” We sometimes have lofty notions about what God’s kingdom and righteousness are, but those lofty notions get us in trouble, for the most part, as they are not attainable (e.g., our lofty notions). I have discovered that seeking God’s kingdom is usually found in the “moment-by-moment” slices of our lives, in our everyday decisions and actions towards others, and in what occupies our thinking and attention. And I have also found that if I am not seeking wise counsel (from the Bible and through prayer) on a regular basis, my life can and will drift in ways that I don’t intend it to but that are sanctioned by the culture all around us. I was on that slow drift for a lot of years before I lost my job in Houston and became unemployed for this very long period of time. In fact, my spiritual “wake-up call” actually began a couple of days after I moved to Houston and right before I started that ill-fated job.

Our spiritual life is our own responsibility and nobody else can answer for it. At the end of our lives when it’s all said and done we can’t point to anybody else and say, “they made me do it.” No . . . the responsibility is ours to bear. In this life we will go after what we love, and if we aren’t careful about what it is that we love, it can destroy our lives and leave us spiritually bankrupt. The love of money comes to mind as one area (and a major one) where we can bankrupt ourselves. There are many other areas, too. Jesus Christ spent 33 years living in a human body and encountered many trials and temptations and is fully aware of every temptation we face. I Corinthians 10:13 clearly states, “No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” Unfortunately, we have become so used to giving in to temptation that we fail to see the way that God has provided for us to avoid it in the first place. And once it has taken hold, every time we give in to temptation it becomes harder and harder to resist, until it has taken over and devoured our lives. And that is one of the major pitfalls of living in a prosperous society that offers us just about anything we want 24 hours a day in vast amounts. To constantly give in to temptation is to be spiritually blind.

changed-prioritiesAs I look back on these past five years, I can honestly say that if I had not lost my job almost five years ago I’m not sure where I would be spiritually right now. I was going along much like everyone else consumed by the excesses in our society and not realizing how much they had affected my own life. My spiritual life was a mix of Christian “best sellers” and seeking “the good life” much like many others in the church here in America. For the most part, Christianity in America has become a subset of the culture, instead of salt and light in the very midst of that culture. And I’m not talking about a list of “do’s” and “don’ts” either. I’m talking about how we live our lives on a daily, “moment-by-moment” basis. And I’m talking about how we treat each other, including our enemies.

The Apostle Paul made the following statement in Romans 13:8-10:

Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law. The commandments, “You shall not commit adultery,” “You shall not murder,” “You shall not steal,” “You shall not covet,” and whatever other command there may be, are summed up in this one command, “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Love does no harm to a neighbor. Therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.

Our challenge, in our fast-paced society, is to find time (and don’t wait) to “Be still and know that I [God] am God.” We need to refocus our priorities, and make Him our highest priority. We need to seek His face and not our own wants and desires and we need to do “no harm to a neighbor.” We need to take our eyes off of everything in our culture that we want (often at the expense of others) and set them on Him. And we need to take His Word (the Bible) seriously (and ignorance is no excuse).

I’ll end this post with some words from the Apostle Paul found in Romans 14:10-12:

You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. It is written:

“As surely as I live,” says the Lord,
“Every knee will bow before me;
Every tongue will acknowledge God.”

So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.

Those verses ought to give us pause for thought regarding how we are living our lives–either for ourselves or for God. And in the verse following those verses above (Romans 14:13), Paul states, “Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another. Instead, make up your mind not to put any stumbling block or obstacle in the way of a brother or sister.”

So the question for us is this . . .

Will we be a stumbling block?

Or a stepping stone . . . .

“Be still and know that I am God;
I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth.”

~
Psalm 46:10

YouTube Video: “Revelation Song” by Phillips, Craig & Dean:

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