Ever wondered why you aren’t making much progress? Ever wondered why things seem out of alignment? Ever wondered why challenges are coming up? I remember many years ago when my diabetes went out of control and I was faced with the question “what’s most important to you?” At the time I had a full time job and working crazy hours, was volunteering with a Homeowners association, was volunteering at church, I was married with 1 child. As I considered the question and needed to realize that whatever the order, I needed to start living my life out in the right order, putting first things first! And what a difference it made in my life to my health, my marriage, my family, and my job.
- Marriage (my primary calling)
- Job (my primary ministry)
When I was going through this I remembered an audio book I had listened to carpooling back and forth to work many years earlier called “First Things First“. So coming to that realization, I had to make some changes in how I worked, in how I served, in how I spent my time to align with these priorities! When asked how can you … the big answer is by setting your priorities right and then by living by them!
So if we want to make sure things go well, we need to make sure we have our priorities in place and in the right order and then that we live them out that way! If you check someone’s calendar/schedule or someone’s checkbook/bank account, you can tell what their priorities really are! Where are they spending their time and their money? Point pretty closely to what is most important to them!
Day 47: Bible In One Year 2017 Devotional, Psalm 22:12-21, Mark 1:29-45, Mark 2:1-17, Exodus 19, Exodus 20
1. Priority of relationship
12Many bulls surround me;strong bulls of Bashan encircle me. 13Roaring lions that tear their prey open their mouths wide against me. 14I am poured out like water,and all my bones are out of joint.My heart has turned to wax;it has melted within me. 15My mouth is dried up like a potsherd,and my tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth;you lay me in the dust of death. 16Dogs surround me,a pack of villains encircles me;they pierce my hands and my feet. 17All my bones are on display;people stare and gloat over me. 18They divide my clothes among them and cast lots for my garment. 19But you, Lord, do not be far from me.You are my strength; come quickly to help me. 20Deliver me from the sword,my precious life from the power of the dogs. 21Rescue me from the mouth of the lions;save me from the horns of the wild oxen. –from Psalm 22
Our first priority needs to be God! We are to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness! By putting God first, we are setting things in motion for Him to be able to use our lives for the glory of His kingdom! We are giving Him the opportunity to take the little we have, multiply it, and use it so that He is glorified! We are giving Him priority to make sure we do what is important, so we can love, we can share joy, we can live in peace, we can have patience, we can show kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control! He can help prioritize the events of our day! (our schedule) He can help us hear what is really going on! (our wisdom) He can help us know what to speak! (our discernment) So that in all thing and through all things that we do, we can exalt Him giving Him the praise, the honor, and the glory in accomplishing His purpose and His plans for our life!
It is as though this psalm is written in the first-person singular by someone hanging on a cross, hundreds of years before the Romans even invented crucifixion. It is an extraordinarily accurate prophecy about the suffering of Jesus – describing the cruelty of crucifixion.
- ‘All my bones are out of joint… My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth’ (vv.14a,15b; John 19:28).
- ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’ (Psalm 22:16c; John 19:37).
- ‘A band of evil people has encircled me. I can count all my bones, the people stare and gloat over me’ (Psalm 22:16b–17b; Luke 23:17,35).
- ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing’ (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23–24).
As we saw yesterday, the suffering of Jesus on the cross was far greater than even the horror of crucifixion. He bore our guilt and was God-forsaken on our behalf (Psalm 22:1). Jesus died for you so that you could be restored to a relationship with God.
2. Priorities of Jesus
29As soon as they left the synagogue, they went with James and John to the home of Simon and Andrew. 30Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her. 31So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them. 32That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed. 33The whole town gathered at the door, 34and Jesus healed many who had various diseases. He also drove out many demons, but he would not let the demons speak because they knew who he was. 35Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!” 38Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.” 39So he traveled throughout Galilee, preaching in their synagogues and driving out demons. 40A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.” 41Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!” 42Immediately the leprosy left him and he was cleansed. 43Jesus sent him away at once with a strong warning: 44“See that you don’t tell this to anyone. But go, show yourself to the priest and offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded for your cleansing, as a testimony to them.” 45Instead he went out and began to talk freely, spreading the news. As a result, Jesus could no longer enter a town openly but stayed outside in lonely places. Yet the people still came to him from everywhere. –from Mark 1
We need to make time to spend with God and hearing from Him! We need to make time to communicate with God, praying! Prayer is the key! Worry changes nothing, but prayer changes everything! Do you make time to spend with God? Do you give Him priority and spend time praying and reading His Word? Do you allow Him to speak with you throughout the day? Do you get away from the hustle and bustle of life so that you can be alone with God? Is God important enough to you that you are putting Him on your calendar in a prime spot? Do prioritize Him to the point where it is impacting your day? When you get up? When you go to bed? Where you go? How you get there? What you do and say? Who you speak to? How you speak it? Why you do what you do?
1A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6Now some teachers of the law were sitting there, thinking to themselves, 7“Why does this fellow talk like that? He’s blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?” 8Immediately Jesus knew in his spirit that this was what they were thinking in their hearts, and he said to them, “Why are you thinking these things? 9Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11“I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. This amazed everyone and they praised God, saying, “We have never seen anything like this!” 13Once again Jesus went out beside the lake. A large crowd came to him, and he began to teach them. 14As he walked along, he saw Levi son of Alphaeus sitting at the tax collector’s booth. “Follow me,” Jesus told him, and Levi got up and followed him. 15While Jesus was having dinner at Levi’s house, many tax collectors and sinners were eating with him and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16When the teachers of the law who were Pharisees saw him eating with the sinners and tax collectors, they asked his disciples: “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17On hearing this, Jesus said to them, “It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.” –from Mark 2
Jesus priorities were clear – God first and people second! Jesus went about proclaiming the kingdom of God and He wanted to make sure as many people as possible would get to hear the Good News! Jesus wanted people to see where they were at and turn back to God and believe the Good News of God! As I have learned in my life and as Jesus was trying to teach them, it is all about the power of forgiveness! Forgiveness saved me! Forgiveness rescued me! Forgiveness freed me! Forgiveness taught me that not only could I be saved from my sins, but also that me forgiving others could save me from bitterness, sadness, anger, and depression!
I was asked to do a short talk to help people get to know me better, but it couldn’t have something to do with work but it had to have the flow of this is where I was, this happened, and this is how my life is changed.
It may not be easy but it is definitely worth it! God’s Word tells us that we need to be prepared to give an answer for the hope that is within it! God’s Word tells that we are to go out and proclaim the good news! We will be given favor and brought before kings! We will be put in situations where we can share the hope that is within us! We need to help them see the reality of Jesus so that they can be set free too!
3. Priority of love
At Mount Sinai
1On the first day of the third month after the Israelites left Egypt—on that very day—they came to the Desert of Sinai. 2After they set out from Rephidim, they entered the Desert of Sinai, and Israel camped there in the desert in front of the mountain.
3Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, “This is what you are to say to the descendants of Jacob and what you are to tell the people of Israel: 4‘You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession. Although the whole earth is mine, 6you will be for me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words you are to speak to the Israelites.”
7So Moses went back and summoned the elders of the people and set before them all the words the Lord had commanded him to speak. 8The people all responded together, “We will do everything the Lord has said.” So Moses brought their answer back to the Lord.
9The Lord said to Moses, “I am going to come to you in a dense cloud, so that the people will hear me speaking with you and will always put their trust in you.” Then Moses told the Lord what the people had said.
10And the Lord said to Moses, “Go to the people and consecrate them today and tomorrow. Have them wash their clothes 11and be ready by the third day, because on that day the Lord will come down on Mount Sinai in the sight of all the people. 12Put limits for the people around the mountain and tell them, ‘Be careful that you do not approach the mountain or touch the foot of it. Whoever touches the mountain is to be put to death. 13They are to be stoned or shot with arrows; not a hand is to be laid on them. No person or animal shall be permitted to live.’ Only when the ram’s horn sounds a long blast may they approach the mountain.”
14After Moses had gone down the mountain to the people, he consecrated them, and they washed their clothes. 15Then he said to the people, “Prepare yourselves for the third day. Abstain from sexual relations.”
16On the morning of the third day there was thunder and lightning, with a thick cloud over the mountain, and a very loud trumpet blast. Everyone in the camp trembled. 17Then Moses led the people out of the camp to meet with God, and they stood at the foot of the mountain. 18Mount Sinai was covered with smoke, because the Lord descended on it in fire. The smoke billowed up from it like smoke from a furnace, and the whole mountaintrembled violently. 19As the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke and the voice of God answered him.
20The Lord descended to the top of Mount Sinai and called Moses to the top of the mountain. So Moses went up 21and the Lord said to him, “Go down and warn the people so they do not force their way through to see the Lord and many of them perish. 22Even the priests, who approach the Lord, must consecrate themselves, or the Lord will break out against them.”
23Moses said to the Lord, “The people cannot come up Mount Sinai, because you yourself warned us, ‘Put limits around the mountain and set it apart as holy.’ ”
24The Lord replied, “Go down and bring Aaron up with you. But the priests and the people must not force their way through to come up to the Lord, or he will break out against them.”
25So Moses went down to the people and told them. –from Exodus 19
The Ten Commandments
1And God spoke all these words:
2“I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
3“You shall have no other gods before me.
4“You shall not make for yourself an image in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. 5You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the Lord your God, am a jealous God, punishing the children for the sin of the parents to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, 6but showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.
7“You shall not misuse the name of the Lord your God, for the Lord will not hold anyone guiltless who misuses his name.
8“Remember the Sabbath day by keeping it holy. 9Six days you shall labor and do all your work, 10but the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your male or female servant, nor your animals, nor any foreigner residing in your towns. 11For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy.
12“Honor your father and your mother, so that you may live long in the land the Lord your God is giving you.
13“You shall not murder.
14“You shall not commit adultery.
15“You shall not steal.
16“You shall not give false testimony against your neighbor.
17“You shall not covet your neighbor’s house. You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male or female servant, his ox or donkey, or anything that belongs to your neighbor.”
18When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Idols and Altars
22Then the Lord said to Moses, “Tell the Israelites this: ‘You have seen for yourselves that I have spoken to you from heaven: 23Do not make any gods to be alongside me; do not make for yourselves gods of silver or gods of gold.
24“ ‘Make an altar of earth for me and sacrifice on it your burnt offerings and fellowship offerings, your sheep and goats and your cattle. Wherever I cause my name to be honored, I will come to you and bless you. 25If you make an altar of stones for me, do not build it with dressed stones, for you will defile it if you use a tool on it. 26And do not go up to my altar on steps, or your private parts may be exposed.’
–from Exodus 20
Today’s reading is filled with truth and power! Today’s reading is calling us to set our priorities straight! Today’s reading is to teach us how to live and help raise the bar bringing up the average so that there will be hope in their lives! Today’s reading is calling for us to consider our priorities and then consider it in response to how we are living it out! Put first things first! Don’t allow the important things to be at the mercy of the least! If we consider the prioritization squares and quadrants don’t allow the least urgent and the least important to steal from the other areas of your life!
So let’s close considering the final words from today’s devotional…
Although God invites you into intimacy with him, never forget the wonder of his holiness and power. God has such a passion for you, and therefore he will not let you be less than you can be. He wants us to learn holiness from him.
From Exodus 19 to Numbers 10:10 the Israelites stay in the same place learning how to be God’s people. They begin by learning the holiness and power of God. They cannot even touch the mountain on which his presence rests. Then he speaks to them about their priorities through the Ten Commandments.
- God loves you
The context is in 20:2: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’ God is a God who shows ‘love to a thousand generations’ (v.6). We see pictures of his love earlier in the passage. God says, ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself’ (19:4). He says, ‘You will be my treasured possession… you will be for me’ (vv.5–6). Our love is a response to God’s love.
The context of the Ten Commandments is God’s love for you. Some people miss this fact and see them merely as a set of rules. God gives the commandments as an act of love for us, and we are to obey them as an act of love for God.
- Love God
The first four commandments are about how we respond to God’s love by loving him: ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Our love is to be exclusive (Exodus 20:3–4), respectful (v.7) and is demonstrated by setting aside time to be with him (v.10).
- Love others
The last six commands are all about our love for others – our families (v.12), our husbands/wives (v.14) and our neighbours: ‘No murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbour. No lusting after your neighbour’s house – or wife or servant’ (vv.13–17, MSG). Jesus summarised it like this, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’ (Matthew 22:37–40).
The Ten Commandments were not given as a ladder that people had to climb up to get into God’s presence. Rather they were a God-given pattern of life for those who had already known God’s grace and redemption. They are not given to restrict your freedom, but to safeguard it. They help you enjoy the freedom of living in a relationship with God, showing you how to live a holy life just as God is holy. Your love for God flows out from, and is a response to, God’s love for you.