GET YOUR PRIORITIES STRAIGHT!
INTRO: People have always had trouble deciding what is most important. And if they have finally been able to decide that issue, they have had trouble putting the important things in the proper order of their priorities. We have a way of majoring in minors! The wisdom of the scriptures - in both Testaments - addresses this matter in several ways. Most would remember this; Seek ye first the kingdom of God and his righteousness (Mt 6:33). And our lesson text certainly speaks of this.
I. PRIORITIES: A LONG STANDING PROBLEM FOR ME ...
A. The choice between ...
1. mowing the grass or playing with friends
2. doing theme research or going out with the group
3. waiting on a customer or chatting with friends
4. it is not hard to magnify into all realms
B. And I dont know that I have been the exception
1. playing, going out, visiting are fun things - work is work
2. doing what I want to do is always better than doing what I ought to do
3. dealing with the immediate is more urgent than thinking about an order of priorities
C. Still ...
1. Mk 8:36,37 should not our souls have priority?
2. Eph 5:25 and Ps 127:3 should not our families have priority?
3. Col 3:22-24 should not our work have priority?
4. 1 Tim 6:17-19 should not good works have priority?
5. fact: there are those things which ought to have priority but which can be neglected, lost by other things demanding immediate attention
II. HOW DO WE GET A HANDLE ON THIS?
A. First, see how the Lord fits into your life
1. each of the priority areas mentioned above notes the place of the Lord in them (so, Ps 127:1)
2. perhaps priorities would not be so difficult if we kept our eye on Jesus and permitted the power of His word to work its will in our lives
3. I am recalling Phil 2:13 and 1 Thes 2:13 - would not this make a difference? (may not be so much 1,2,3" as who is in charge)
B. Decide what really is important
1. I would hope the things mentioned above would be very important to you ...
2. but to get priorities straight requires that we make some evaluations, some decisions
3. Phil 3:13 this one thing I do - a decision was made
C. Think of ways to enhance such things in thought and action
1. if my soul should be a priority what can I do in practice to accentuate this priority? etc.
2. priorities must become more real than a list
3. to have and live by good priorities will not just happen ... can not permit ourselves to be carried about with every wind ... but must give ourselves to those important things
D. Do not be afraid to seek advice, counsel
1. I think of Ex 18:13,14,17,18 Jethro gave good advice
2. he notes that Moses could not keep priorities in proper order for becoming bogged down in lesser matters
3. often, by the real life experiences others might share with us, we can come to better decisions about our priorities and the keeping of them
E. Make lists of action items
1. Ps 119:59 I thought on my ways, and turned ...
2. what action items are necessary for you to get your priorities on track?
3. remember, thought, these sorts of lists require action
CLOSE: The earlier in life we establish our priorities, the richer and more satisfying our lives can and will be. To close I return to Col 3:1,2.
Cecil A. Hutson
24 January 1999
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)