Responding to the Priorities of Jesus (Week 1)

“First Things First”

Key Verses: Luke 2:41-52

 

 

I was blessed to have been raised in a loving Christian home, with parents who set the example of the importance of setting priorities. They taught me, my sisters and several others who were adopted into our family why we needed to love God, love others, have a good work ethic, but also have fun along the way. They showed us what it meant to put others ahead of their own wants and needs and how to serve others in love and to always give God the praise for all that He had provided. That is doing that which is most important before doing other things! First things first! All throughout the Bible we see God desiring to bring us back to the very reason we were created…to commune with Him, to be in relationship with Him, loving Him, and to share His love with each other. But the devil has worked hard to distract us from that, causing us to become selfish and self-centered, causing us to get out of sync with the pattern that God designed for us…keeping Him first in all areas of our lives!

 

That is why He sent us His one and only Son, to set the example for us to follow.
 

 

LUKE 2:41-52:

 

41 Every year Jesus’ parents went to Jerusalem for the Festival of the Passover. 42 When he was twelve years old, they went up to the festival, according to the custom. 43 After the festival was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it. 44 Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends. 45 When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him. 46 After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 47 Everyone who heard him was amazed at his understanding and his answers. 48 When his parents saw him, they were astonished. His mother said to him, “Son, why have you treated us like this? Your father and I have been anxiously searching for you.”

49 “Why were you searching for me?” he asked. “Didn’t you know I had to be in my Father’s house?”[a] 50 But they did not understand what he was saying to them.

51 Then he went down to Nazareth with them and was obedient to them. But his mother treasured all these things in her heart. 52 And Jesus grew in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.

 

 

This did not just ‘happen’ and he had all the wisdom of God in his heart and mind. Jesus had made it a priority to be about His Father’s business! Luke writes in verse 40 “There the child grew up healthy and strong. He was filled with wisdom beyond his years, and God placed his special favor upon him.” So, he had been preparing for this time in the temple. He was keeping God first in all that he was doing.

 

I can hear it now…”Great, Ken! How in the world am I going to be able to be like Jesus? I mean, come on! He was perfect! There is no way I can live up to that!”

 

To which I respond, Philippians 3:12:
 

“Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own.”

 

We have to press on and press into Jesus, learning from him and his life, and then applying those things to our lives. He is our example, so let’s follow it!

 

 

I. Time Alone With God: Matthew 6:33

 
A. When?
 
Psalms 63:1-8

 

“O God, you are my God; earnestly I seek you; my soul thirsts for you;
my flesh faints for you, as in a dry and weary land where there is no water.
So I have looked upon you in the sanctuary, beholding your power and glory.
Because your steadfast love is better than life, my lips will praise you.
So I will bless you as long as I live; in your name I will lift up my hands.

My soul will be satisfied as with fat and rich food, and my mouth will praise you with joyful lips,
when I remember you upon my bed, and meditate on you in the watches of the night;
for you have been my help, and in the shadow of your wings I will sing for joy.”

 

The KJV says “Early in the morning I will rise up and seek.” Take it from me! I am not a morning person. But I also know when I start my days off with giving God the first moments of my day, I seem to get more accomplished and when stress starts to rise, my mind is reminded of what His promises had told me earlier in the day! I challenge you…or how about triple dog dare you to try this for a week. Set your alarm earlier so you can spend that time with God.
 

 

Because Jesus did it! – Mark 1:35

 

“And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.”

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

 

 
B. Where? 
 
Matthew 6:6
 

“But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

 
There are so many things vying for your time, but you have the choice on what is going to be done first. Set aside those things that distract. Even if you use your phone as your alarm, it does not make you start looking at messages or Facebook/Twitter/Instagram, or playing Candy Crush or any other game on our device. Take your Bible with pen and paper, find a quiet place with no distractions, and soak in the goodness of God to start your day in this crazy world we live in.
 
“If a man wants to be used by God, he cannot spend all of his time with people.” – A. W. Tozer
 

 

C. Why?
 
James 4:7-8

 

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

 

We like to focus on the first part of verse 8, but we need to keep it in context. Only when we spend time alone with God are we submitting to Him, and that is when we can resist the devil. And as we draw near to God, the light of His love, grace and mercy shows us that our hands are unclean and our hearts need purified. It is so easy to think that we are clean, but by who’s comparison?
 
In that private time, He can speak to our hearts and bring us into alignment with His heart!
 

 

Romans 12:1
 

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

 

Again, this is not something that we can do on our own. It is only by us spending time with Him that we can be purified. Our time together as a church is important, but our alone time with God is even more important. It is in those times that He feeds and nourishes our souls, helping us to grow stronger in Him each and every day!

 

How is this accomplished then?
 
 
 

 

II. Being Laser Focused and Carrying Out God’s Plan

 
A. How?
 
Psalms 119:1-8

 

“Joyful are people of integrity, who follow the instructions of the Lord.
Joyful are those who obey his laws and search for him with all their hearts.
They do not compromise with evil, and they walk only in his paths.
You have charged us to keep your commandments carefully.
Oh, that my actions would consistently reflect your decrees!
Then I will not be ashamed when I compare my life with your commands.
As I learn your righteous regulations, I will thank you by living as I should!
I will obey your decrees. Please don’t give up on me!”

 

B. We make the choice!
 
Psalms 119:30
 
“I have chosen to be faithful; I have determined to live by your regulations.”

(*NIV says “set my heart on your laws”)

 
Joshua 24:14-16

 

“So fear the Lord and serve him wholeheartedly. Put away forever the idols your ancestors worshiped when they lived beyond the Euphrates River and in Egypt. Serve the Lord alone. 15 But if you refuse to serve the Lord, then choose today whom you will serve. Would you prefer the gods your ancestors served beyond the Euphrates? Or will it be the gods of the Amorites in whose land you now live? But as for me and my family, we will serve the Lord.”

 

They were given a choice. We have the same. It may not be serving another little g god, but it might be a choice to serve ourselves with our wants and desires, or some other loud voice in the world that catches our attention.

It is still our choice!

 

Jesus had a choice! His focus was on what God wanted Him to do. He knew what that was by spending time with alone with Him, and then staying laser focused, knowing all along that it would ultimately mean His death on the cross. But it was not just the end. It would bring about a new beginning for all who accepted Him as their Lord and Savior! And He knew the message must be carried out afterwards. That is why He trained up the disciples.

 
 

III.  Intentional Training

 
Luke 6:12-16
 

One day soon afterward Jesus went up on a mountain to pray, and he prayed to God all night. 13 At daybreak he called together all of his disciples and chose twelve of them to be apostles. Here are their names:

Simon (whom he named Peter), Andrew (Peter’s brother), James, John, Philip,
Bartholomew,Matthew ,Thomas, James (son of Alphaeus), Simon (who was called the zealot), Judas (son of James), Judas Iscariot (who later betrayed him).
 

 

He spent the night in prayer before calling together all his followers/disciples to call apart those who would become His apostles, which means ‘sent forth’ or ‘commissioned for a particular errand”.

 

He then spent the next three years investing in these men. He discipled these men by telling them what He wanted them to do; showing them what He wanted them to do; sending them out in groups to do what He had told them to do and then coming back to report what had happened; then, after His death and resurrection, sending them out into all the world. And gave them the Holy Spirit to empower them.

 

In the same way Paul was intentional as he wrote the letters to the believers and to his young protégé, Timothy. He reiterated the power of God’s Word and what it is to be used for in our lives.

 

2 Timothy 3:16-17

 

“All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.”

 

So what are we to do? Be like Jesus! He spent time alone with God, He was laser focused on doing what God wanted Him to do, and He intentionally trained others to do the same. He did not come in and find the most popular or influential people to carry out His plan. God had Him chose a ragamuffin group of people that most would have written off, and He trained them into a mighty group that was used by God to change the world!

 

Philippians 4:8-9

 

“And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise. Keep putting into practice all you learned and received from me—everything you heard from me and saw me doing. Then the God of peace will be with you.”

 
If we do this each and every day, we will see God use us in a mighty way to change the world!
 
 
 

 

You can listen to the message here (It is usually ready by late Sunday afternoon):

 
 

This Message Video can be viewed HERE.

 
 

Footnotes:

 
  1. Luke 2:49 Or be about my Father’s business
 
 
 

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