Posts Tagged ‘priorities’

Luke 23:50-56 — Joseph places Jesus’ body in his brand new tomb that he had built as his family’s burial . Nicodemus brings 75 lbs of perfumed ointments and aloes (John 19:39) used first century Palestine for burial preparation. The ladies who were disciples of Jesus not only helped finance his earthly ministry (Luke 8:1-3) but they saw where they had laid their Master and went home to prepare burial spices from their own resources. These people really loved Jesus a great deal. They went out of their way, some risking political disaster, to ensure that Jesus was honored properly in death. The didn’t care that it was going to cost them their own resources. They wanted to use their own resources to give glory to their Lord.

I guess that would be difference between these two men and these women and how most of us view giving of our resources to Jesus’ church. We see it as giving from what we have left over rather than giving what is from our best or from our best efforts. The people in this scene put all cares of the day aside and focus on giving Jesus their best. They focus on giving Jesus the best of their time, the best of their talents, and the best of their resources. Nothing else is more important to them than that. How many of us give the one who gave us life the leftovers of each of those things, time, talents, resources.

Many of us, myself included, struggle to find time to do the work of Jesus Christ. We say we do not have time. We say that we would love to share the gospel with others but we do not have time. We say we would love to help others who are need but we do not have time. We say would love to show others the love of Jesus Christ but we just do not have enough time. We prioritize time for the things that are important to us. I may be able to work it out where I can go to several games of my beloved Clemson Tigers this fall (football season starts in 14 weeks, woot! woot!, but I digress), but yet I may not be able to work it to work with the child of a single mom that needs male leadership. I may be able set aside time to watch a Clemson game on television but not have time to share the good news of Jesus Christ with my co-worker over a meal after work. I may have time to go to the beach for vacation but not have time to go on a mission trip to share the gospel in Japan. I may have time watch Monday night football but not have time to go a Monday night meeting of the Ironmen men’s ministry at church that same night. You get the point. We spend time. We prioritize time. We use time, the precious and limited commodity that it is, where place the greatest importance on its use. Let us analyze our time. Where are we wasting our time on things that do not matter in eternity. What is the legacy that we want to leave behind? Let us invest our time in those things that bring glory to Jesus Christ.

Many of us decide that we have other priorities for our talents as well. These ladies in this passage use their talents to create the spices necessary for a fitting burial for Jesus Christ. They gladly directed their talents toward that which would honor Jesus. They wanted to honor Him with the talents that they had. Why is it that most of us are not willing to be like these female disciples of our Lord. It is easier to simply be a consumer at church rather than one who serves. It is easier not to get to the church at 7:00am like the leader of our parking team does and make sure that parking lot is free of debris and that the sidewalks are clean. It is easier to sleep in and go to only the 11:00am service that it is to be there like the manager of all the Sunday ministry teams at 7:00 to make sure that each team leader has everything that they need for a successful Sunday morning worship service. It is easier to just sit in the crowd rather than be there for both services and run a camera, or work the sound board, or the light board, or the video switcher. It is easier to use my talents for personal pursuits rather lead a ministry team. Isn’t easier to ignore God’s call to a ministry. Isn’t easier to wear a red X on my hand or shirt to protest sex trafficking than it is to go to India and actually work with the victims of this horrible industry. It is easier to give to a church planting initiative rather than move your family to Connecticut and develop a church from scratch. It is easier to talk about how fatherless children lack direction than it is to use your talents at mentoring by being a Big Brother or a Big Sister. It is easier to complain about the destruction of our cities when riots occur than it is to use our talents to solve the problems of social injustice and lack of quality education. It is easier to not use my talents to give Jesus glory than it is to use them. It is easier not to serve that it is to serve. We prioritize the use of our talents in ways that are most important to us. Let us examine how we are using our talents to give our Lord glory. Are we pursuing the calling He has given us through the talents He has given us to make this world a better place. Are we walking by a hungry man and saying that we will pray for Him or are we stopping to feed and clothe Him as we tell Him about Jesus Christ?

In this scene in this passage, we see people giving the best of their resources to give glory to Jesus Christ. Imagine if we were really like Joseph, Nicodemus, and the ladies. What if we gave the best of our resources to give glory to Jesus Christ? It is certainly far easier to give the leftover $5 or $20 bill that we happen to have in our wallets on Sunday and feel good about having given to the church. It is easier to think that the money I make is to glorify myself than it is to see that we are given talents by our Creator through which we earn our livings. All God asks is that we are obedient to His command. We are to give Him the first fruits of our labors not the leftovers. We are to give God the best of our resources not what we can squeeze in. Everyone of us who attends LifeSong Church is honored to be a part of this body and are often amazed at the impact that our church has on the community and the world around us. However, imagine if we were not a church of leftover $20 bills. What if we were a church of people who have learned to live off of 90% or less of what we make and give the first 10% or more to God through our local body. Imagine the impact then. Instead of 2 church plants, 20. Instead of 550+ Thanksgiving meals given away, 1000. Instead of 3 mission trips per year, 15. Imagine sending missionaries out to long-term missionary assignment to far away places like Kenya, long-term missionaries in Japan, in Haiti, in Iraq or Iran. Imagine what would happen to our local ongoing ministries like LifeSong Cares where we could help more people and have to turn less away. Imagine the ministries that we could create that are actually out in our communities making a difference in people’s lives by showing them the love of Christ through uncommon acts of love and kindness. Imagine if all churches, not just LifeSong, gave obediently to the Lord. Joseph and Nicodemus didn’t think twice about giving the best of what they had to honor Jesus. Let us examine what we place our priorities financially. Let us seek to move to that place where we honor Jesus with the first fruits of our finances rather than that leftover $5 bill that you didn’t use at the monster truck event on Saturday night. Let us be a church honors Christ and empowers the spread of his Word through the use of our resources.

Father in Heaven, help us to be a people like Joseph of Arimathea, like Nicodemus, like the female disciples who have no second thoughts ever about honor Jesus Christ with the best of our time, the best of our talents, and the best of our resources. May we honor Him with the best of who we are. May we honor Him with the excellence with which we represent Him in all things that we do in His name. May we honor Him with the love that we share with the world around us without expectation of being loved in return. May we honor Him by living lives that draw people unto Him. May we honor Him by living lives that demonstrate His love of others even in the face of hateful opposition or even deadly opposition. May we honor Him with everything about our lives! Amen.

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Luke 4:42-44 — CLEMSON CAROLINA GAME THIS SATURDAY! Now that I have your attention….This passage is about priorities. The worst thing that can happen to us in life is realize at our deathbed that we had wasted time, that we had not made use of the time that we had on this earth. It reminds us that we need to get our priorities straight.

In this week of the Clemson-Carolina rivalry game, this passage is a great reminder that we must keep things in the right perspective. I will tell you I am a passionate fan of the Clemson Tigers. My mood on Saturdays is affected by whether my Tigers win or lose. But we must remember to keep it in perspective. It’s just a game. At the end of the day, it is not the most important thing that will happen Saturday. For me, this year, God is teaching me just that, two of my dearest friends in the world watched their mother (and mother in law) pass into eternity on Wednesday evening. The funeral is on Saturday at 2pm, right in the middle of the Clemson-Carolina game. However, to me, there is no question that I am going to miss the game to be at this funeral of the mother/mother-in-law of two of the original charter members of my life group. They are more dear to me than Clemson football. These two people deserve my respect. They have served their mother who has been bedridden for two years. They have been there with almost round the clock these past two years. Outside of church, CR, work, and their son, their mother has been their vigil. I will not disrespect them over what ultimately is just a game. Clemson-Carolina does not feed people. Clemson-Carolina does not solve social injustice. Clemson-Carolina does not end sex slave trafficking in India. Clemson-Carolina does not solve immigration issues. It changes nothing. To make the game a priority in my life is just wrong when it is compared to the suffering and pain at losing a loved one and the end of a long road of suffering for their mother. Being there when friends need you matters. Honoring commitments matter. Setting an example matters. Setting an example to my wife and girls what my priorities are and should be are what matters. Fighting the fights that need fighting in life are what matters. We fight for things that matter in life not wasting time on things that don’t. Don’t get me wrong, I love my Tigers, but their priority in my life must, must be kept in proper perspective. My priorities in life should start with things of eternal value and go down in priority from there.

This idea is of priorities is exactly what this passage is about. Jesus had his priorities and he executed them in exactly the order that His priorities were throughout His ministry. The first thing that we notice in this passage is that Jesus departed from Peter’s house and went to a desolate place. This shows us the number one priority of Jesus in His function as the Son of God on earth. His first and foremost priority was not healing. It was not preaching. His first and foremost priority was his relationship with the Father. Jesus was constantly sneaking off to be alone with the Father in prayer. We see it throughout His ministry. We see it right up to the last minute of freedom in His life before He was arrested by the temple guards. Jesus constantly in prayer. Jesus was always seeking to do the Father’s will for Him. This should be our priority. Seeking things of eternal value. Seeking God’s will for our lives. Having a deep abiding relationship with the Father should be our top priority. When we are like David, after God’s own heart, we begin to focus on things that really matter. We begin to seek to do things that are in the Father’s will. Clemson-Carolina gets put in its proper place – entertainment. Having a proper relationship with God the Father is, should be, and always will be the most important priority in our lives. If we do not get that one thing right, everything else falls part. Think about it. Our lives were a mess before we met Jesus Christ. When we are not seeking God’s will for our lives first and foremost, everything else is all out of what. When we do not put God first, everything is a deck of cards that falls apart at the slightest breeze. Jesus had his priorities straight. So should we.

The second priority of Jesus’ life AFTER His relationship with the Father was preaching the Good News. He said I MUST preach the good news of the kingdom of God to the other towns as well for I was sent for this purpose. Jesus was sent to preach and teach and instruct people on the kingdom of God and about how seeking the Father’s will is what our life is supposed to be about. He came to tell us that ritual and legalism are not the way to the Father. He came to preach to the world that it was through Him that we have eternal life. Shouldn’t this be our priority as well? Shouldn’t our first priority be to share what God has done in our lives through Jesus Christ with others. Jesus came to proclaim to the world what it takes to enter the Kingdom. It is not Carolina-Clemson. I know that in the South, college football is like religion. Many people make it the most important thing in life. They end friendships over some disrespect that a fan of a rival school may have made to your school. We get fired up over this stuff at times. We sit and yell and scream to the top of our lungs for our favorite college team. We get to the point of wanting to fight others over our favorite college team. We don’t speak to family members for years over some disrespect they have shown to Clemson or Carolina. What if we had these same passions over eternal things? What if we expressed our praise in church in the same fashion as we do at Clemson or Carolina games? What if we invested in identifying ourselves as Christians as much as we spend on Clemson or Carolina attire? What if we shared the gospel with the same fashion as we have for Clemson or Carolina? Sharing the Good News was what Jesus said He MUST do. Other things in life are preferences. Sharing the gospel is a priority. It is a must do. May we have Clemson-Carolina passion for that! May we have Clemson-Carolina passion for seeing life change in others by telling them about what Jesus did in ours! Jesus had an intense laser focus on His ministry. He was solely focused on teaching people about what God expects of us, about how God loves each and every one of us, about how He was sent by the Father to make us right with God. Nothing was to deter Him from that. Everything else was secondary. If his was Jesus’ second priority, don’t you think it should be ours too?

Clemson-Carolina or being there for friends when they are in need, honoring a friendship, standing up for things that matter. Jesus had His priorities straight. Relationship with the Father in Heaven was His first priority. That should be our first priority too. Sharing the gospel with others, that was Jesus second priority. That should be our second priority too. Things of eternal value were of top priority to Jesus. Certainly, I am not downplaying sports and those who excel at them. I tell people kiddingly that football is life. Football teaches us many valuable, eternal lessons in life when participate in it. There are values that I learned playing football that are of great value to me today. These lessons though are not about temporary wins and losses. The lessons that I carry with me from football are the eternal ones. Being part of a team working toward a greater goal, understanding my role in achieving that greater team goal, picking yourself up from utter defeat and moving on, realizing that we are not all talented in the same way and being ok with that, developing relationships that last, forgiving others for their failures, having them forgive me for mine, and for fans it teaches us about loyalty through thick and thin and not abandoning ship when things get tough. All of these things have eternal value. Even if we are football players we can honor God by the way we play the game. As fans, we can take this loyalty thing into our lives and use it like in our marriages – being loyal through thick and thin even when times are hard and so on. We must though realize that regardless of what the game teaches us, the game is game meant to entertain. It is not religion. It is not reason to end relationships. It is not reason to fight with your neighbor. It is not reason to humiliate. The game itself though teaching eternal lessons to participants and fans alike has no eternal value. That prior to the current streak of five wins by Carolina, Clemson won 24 of 32 in the 32 years prior matters not in eternity. What matters in eternity is our relationship with our Father in Heaven through Jesus Christ. What matters in eternity is sharing the gospel with others. What matters in eternity is my soul, your soul and the souls of others. When we arrive in heaven, there will be Clemson and Carolina fans there from the centuries. It will matter not to us then, we will just be glad to be in heaven together, celebrating our Savior all the day long. This is what I want the story of my life to be. I want it to be said I was a Christian first. I want it to be said that I was a good husband. I want it to be said that I was good father. I want it to said that I was a good friend. Then way down the line after that, low on the scale, that I was a Clemson fan. I want it to be said that I had my priorities straight. That is one of the reasons that I will gladly be sitting a memorial service on Saturday afternoon right during the Clemson-Carolina game. Jesus set the example of having our eternal priorities first. Everything else is secondary.