Priorities and preparation sets us up for our future.
In Isaiah 40:3, the ancient prophet Isaiah spoke of the coming of John the Baptist, that his purpose was to ensure the people were ready for their future.
The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
“Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God.
Every valley shall be exalted
And every mountain and hill brought low;
The crooked places shall be made straight
And the rough places smooth;
The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
This scripture tells us to:
- Prepare the road
- Make a highway
- Bring down the high places
- Lift up the low places
- Make straight the crooked
- Make wide the narrow
Many times in the Word, God calls us to prepare for our tomorrow, so that when it comes, we are ready.
GIVE YOURSELF TO GOD
The first step of preparation is to give yourself - your time, energy, thoughts and priorities - to God.
'And not only as we had hoped, but they first gave themselves to the Lord, and then to us by the will of God.'
2 Corinthians 8:5
There are times when we need to come back to the reason why we do all that we do. It is because we have ‘given ourselves clean away’ to Christ. (John Wesley)
The first step in any walk is to revisit our priorities in life. This in turn establishes our purpose.
Once we have the right things at the top of the list then everything else clicks easily into place. It’s easy to become distracted and let ourselves drift from that first purpose.
'But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.'
The word ‘But’ begins this statement from Jesus because it is contrasting what others have made their first pursuit - houses, money, clothes, food, possessions.
When these are what we value then we will pursue them first and sacrifice anything else to get them.
Whatever we pursue will require sacrifices to achieve them. If we put God first we will make whatever sacrifices to ensure that we have a relationship with Him and that we live to please Him. We aim to fulfil the purpose He has for us.
Paul says he would sacrifice anything so that he would keep that relationship with Christ. He wasn’t prepared to do anything that would jeopardise that relationship priority.
'But what things were gain to me, these I have counted loss for Christ. Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ
Jesus then makes an amazing promise. He declares that if we first pursue Him and His purposes, His righteousness, then we will find that all those things we could have pursued will be added to us.
Paul says that the Macedonians first gave themselves to God and then to us. He recognised that they had all been brought together by the Lord to achieve a divine purpose.
Sometimes we think that our purpose is only individual, however, most of the time our purpose is the purpose that God has called to fulfil together. In fact there is no purpose God calls us to that is not something we are called to do together.
Once we have established that His purpose is our purpose, we find the meaning of our lives individually and together.
Every single person has an incredibly important part to play in fulfilling divine purpose.
Three very big questions are answered;
- What I am to apply my resources to, my time, my abilities, my experience, my relationships, my possessions and my finances.
- What I am to go to work on.
- What I am not to do.
Rather than waste my life away on something I’m not meant to do, I am able to devote myself to my life’s purpose.
We are called to build the church, the community of Christ in the Earth.
We are called to train and equip ministers to be effective in building the church.
We are called to preach the Gospel throughout the Earth.
We are called to reach out and care for the community in which we live.
I want to encourage you today to re-establish God as your first priority.