First Things, First

Priorities. We all have them, even if we do not think about them. There are those things that come first in our lives, things we treasure, people we prioritize. If our priorities are in order, we will live better lives. If we are putting our efforts into secondary issues which do not merit the place in our life that we assign them, it will show in a mismanaged and disappointing existence.  Stephen Covey, author of Seven Habits of Highly Successful People, includes this as Habit 3 – Put first things, first. Do the most important things first. Shape your daily life around priorities that reveal your true values.

The ancient book of Haggai was written after the return of the exiles to Judah to rebuild their nation. The city of Jerusalem was in ruins, the Temple of God sacked and destroyed some 70 years prior. In the beginning, there was great enthusiasm for the effort, but when the neighboring kings threatened, the work on the city walls and the Temple stopped.

14 years came and went as the people carried on life and the people became complacent, self-satisfied. Their priorities were wrong, God said! “The people procrastinate. They say this isn’t the right time to rebuild my Temple, the Temple of God.” Shortly after that, God said more and Haggai spoke it: “How is it that it’s the ‘right time’ for you to live in your fine new homes while the Home, God’s Temple, is in ruins?”  (Haggai 1:2-4, The Message)

Haggai went on to challenge the people of Judah to consider the consequences of misplaced priorities. “You have planted much, but have 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.” (Haggai 1:6-7, NIV)  Their refusal to put God first led to chasing a mirage of happiness, a life that was ultimately empty of meaning and reward.

My friend, what are your priorities? 
Let your choices answer, not just your words.
By the measure of your investment of time and money, who or what is the highest priority?
I hope that the things of God – worship, service, generosity of spirit – are in evidence.

Though 3 millennia have passed since God spoke through Haggai, the principle of priorities of godly things remains important.  Our Lord Jesus restated the principle. “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. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.” (Matthew 6:31-33, NIV) 

The real substance of a rich life is found in loving God and loving others. A shelf of awards, or a house full of beautiful things, or even a fat bankroll cannot provide the same joy or the eternal riches of Heaven. If you find yourself feeling lack, unsatisfied by your life when the music fades and the night closes in, spend some time with God alone, asking Him – Are You first in my heart?

Haggai’s challenge to those ancient people of Judah found a good response.  They got to work. “The whole remnant of the people obeyed the voice of the LORD their God and the message of the prophet Haggai, because the LORD their God had sent him. And the people feared the LORD. Then Haggai, the LORD’s messenger, gave this message of the LORD to the people: “I am with you,” declares the LORD. … They came and began to work on the house of the LORD Almighty, their God,” (Haggai 1:12-14, NIV) And this was God’s promise  – “‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.” (Haggai 2:9 NIV)

Say a ready “yes” to the Spirit of God, not just in the BIG things, but in the daily priorities of life. Make the will of the Father your highest pursuit. Take time for prayer, first; not last. Worship first, then play.  “We worship our work, work at our play, and play at our worship.” –Gordon Dahl  What misplaced priorities. God give us insight and wisdom to make wise choices.

The word from the Word is a profound statement of life’s best choices.  Jesus says, “And you must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’ The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ No other commandment is greater than these.”” (Mark 12:30-31, NLT)

(Video of this blog at this link)

_______________

Passion For Jesus

I’m calling out to You
There must be something more
Some deeper place to find
Some secret place to hide
Where I’ve not gone before

Where my soul is satisfied
And my sin is put to death
And I can hear Your voice
Your purpose is my choice
As natural as a breath

The love I knew before
When You first touched my life
I need You to restore
I want You to revive

Oh place in my heart
A passion for Jesus
A hunger that seizes
My passion for You
My one desire
My greatest possession
My only confession
My passion for You


Brian Houston

© 1999 Thankyou Music (Admin. by Capitol CMG Publishing)

CCLI License # 810055

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