First Things: Setting Our Priorities Right

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Have you ever had something in your life not turn out the way you had hoped or anticipated? These dreams come crashing down on the hard rocks of reality. God knows how we should correctly order our lives and tells us what our priorities should be. He does this not to limit us, but to set us free to obtain the best outcomes. This message will teach us how to order our lives around His priorities by putting “first things first.”

 

First Things

Setting Our Priorities Right

Mosaic Rockford – Dave Spooner – Nov. 26th, 2017

 

Intro:

  • Having the right order makes a huge difference in the outcome
    • Entertainment before education
    • Buying before funding
    • Sex before marriage
  • The right thing in the wrong order is the wrong thing and getting our lives out of order can cause damage, limit potential, and create chaos.
  • God knows how we should correctly order our lives and tells us what our priorities should be. He does this not to limit us, but to set us free.
  • Jesus had a lot to say about what should be first in our lives. He tells us these things because he loves us, and truly did come to give us life, and life to the full.  For this message, I just pulled 3 “first” statements of Jesus from the Gospel of Matthew for us to consider, contemplate and apply to our lives as we are finishing out this year and looking to start a new year.  I really want you to put these thing into practice now, and watch what God will do when we align our lives with His priorities.

Seek the kingdom first

 

Matt 6:25 ESV

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 

 

  • Any time in scripture you see the word “Therefore” you must ask, “what is it there for”? It is a connecting word, saying “based upon what I just stated, therefore I tell you . . .”
  • So, we need to look at what Jesus just talked about and connect that statement to this one. Here is what Jesus said in the previous verse:

 

Matt 6:24 ESV

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. 

 

  • There are only two primary things you can serve, God OR money (not God AND money). You serve either one or the other, but you cannot serve them both, so you need to choose what you will serve.
  • Then Jesus tells us to not be anxious about our lives. Why?  Because being anxious about our lives and the future is the primary motivation for people to serve money.
  • Because we don’t trust God to take care of us we turn to money to take care of us. (and it is interesting that we have “In God we Trust” printed on our money).  We look to money as the source of our security, the source of our comfort, the source of our power, the source of our freedom and it becomes the source of life and what we live for.  When we choose to serve money, we will do whatever money tells us to do, because we have devoted ourselves to serve it over anything else . . .   (and then there are those who use God to get the money . . .)
  • So, having this in mind, let’s reread the passage

Matt 6:25 ESV

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 

 

  • Life is more than what we physically consume, life is more than what we physically look like, life is more than what we physically put on our bodies. Food, physique and fashion is not a life, but this however, is what so many people are focused on and arrange their lives around, but life is way more than these things.
  • Don’t be anxious about your life (which we all tend to do) Why? – because “life” is way more than food, physique and fashion.
  • Here are some more reasons Jesus gives us for not being “anxious” about our lives.

 

Matt 6:26 ESV

Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?

 

  • Don’t be anxious about your life because you are very valuable to God.

 

Matt 6:27 ESV

And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 

 

  • Don’t be anxious about your life because it does not benefit you at all.

 

Matt 6:28-30 ESV

And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.  30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 

 

  • Don’t be anxious about your life because God’s clothing is way better than our best.

 

Matt 6:31-32 ESV

Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 

 

  • Don’t be anxious about your life because you can trust the God who already knows your needs.
  • God tells us what not to do and then He tells us what we are to do instead.

 

Matt 6:33 ESV

But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

 

  • Seek first the kingdom of God
    • The kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. (Rom 14:17)
    • For the kingdom of God does not consist in talk but in power. (1 Cor 4:20-21)
    • The kingdom of God is where the will of the Lord is done (Lord’s prayer Luke 11:2)
    • The kingdom of God is present tense – among (within) us. (Luke 17:21)
    • The kingdom of God is future tense – something we see from afar, something we will enter into, receive and inherit in the future.
  • Seek first His righteousness
    • His righteousness – This is about His righteousness (not ours)– Jesus is the righteousness of God – this is about salvation
  • Putting the kingdom of God and His righteousness as our first priority then all the things we need for life will be additionally added to us as well. (Ill. of leaving Rock and starting Mosaic)

 

Heb 13:5-6 ESV

Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” 6 So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

 

  • If we have things in the right order, they will turn out the right way and the best way. It will not be easy, but it will be worth it.

Be the servant first

 

Matt 20:25-28 ESV

Jesus called them to him and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  26 It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, 27 and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, 28 even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”

 

  • Jesus did not rebuke them for the desire to be great, but taught them what true greatness in the kingdom really is. In His kingdom, the greatest is the one who serves the most people, not the one who has the most people serving them.
  • Jesus then used His life as the example for us to follow (the greatest becoming the least).
  • This is the same foundation that John F. Kennedy used in his famous 1961 inauguration speech: “Ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country”
  • Ask not what your family can do for you, ask what you can do for your family
  • Ask not what your church can do for you, ask what you can do for your church
  • Ask not what your work can do for you, ask what you can do for your work
  • Ask not what Rockford can do for you, ask what you can do for Rockford
  • Ask not what this world can do for you, ask what you can do for the world

 

Mark 9:33-35b ESV

“If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.

 

Clean the inside first  

 

Matt 23:25-26 ESV

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you clean the outside of the cup and the plate, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.  26 You blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and the plate, that the outside also may be clean.

  • These people committed themselves to clean living, but they did not have clean motives – the outward expression was good, the inward motivation was bad – greed and self-indulgence – their motivation was all about them and not about loving others.

 

1 Cor 13:1-3 ESV

If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. 3 If I give away all I have, and if I deliver up my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.

 

  • How do you know what your motives are? – ask God to show you the truth
  • Ask yourself these questions:
    • Do you get angry or upset if you don’t get noticed or don’t get something from your participation or “service”?
    • Are you doing good because you noticed something that needed to be done, or are you doing good to have someone notice you?
    • Are you coming to serve and participate because you love others or are you coming to serve and participate to get others to love you?
    • Are you doing good because you have something to give or are you doing good because you want to get something?
  • A pure heart produces pure actions which God rewards

 

Conclusion

  • Order your life around God’s priorities keeping the first things first. By doing so you will live a truly abundant life.
  • Having the right master, the right method and the right motive will produce the very best results with your one and only life.

 

Questions for the week ahead:

  • What are you truly seeking first?
  • Are you seeking to be great in the kingdom of God or just the kingdom of this world?
  • What are the true motives of your heart?