Train to Live on Mission- Week 18

Battle Drill #18:

Protect Your Priorities!

Proverbs 11:1-5 (NAS95)


Today, we are going to walk through the four action steps of a soldier’s training routine to learn the next battle drill – ProtectYour Priorities!


As a good soldier, you need to know the mission of your commander, but you also need to know the commander’s priorities for the mission. When I was an AT (anti-tank) platoon leader in the Army, we would have high value targets that we were to engage first with our TOW missile systems. Every round mattered and we trained hard to not only get a solid hit with every missile, but to also be able to identify targets and make critical decisions, under stress, on which target to engage first based on mission priorities, to accomplish the commander’s intent. In the same way, I believe there are mission priorities that every good soldier of Jesus Christ must know and train themselves to identify and engage successfully, first, regardless of the stressful conditions.


Action Step #1) Know the Field Manual. The battle drill we are going to learn and apply this week is from Proverbs11:1-5:


A false balance is an abomination to the Lord, but a just weight is His delight. When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. The integrity of the upright will guide them, but the crookedness of the treacherous will destroy them. Riches do not profit in the day of wrath, but righteousness delivers from death. The righteousness of the blameless will smooth his way, but the wicked will fall by his own wickedness.


To better understand how I am applying this Scripture, you need to hear the rest of Proverbs 11, so let’s continue with verses 6-31. Read from the Bible. This is what the Field Manual says, let’s now take the second action step to learn how to apply today’s battle drill to our everyday lives as good soldiers of Jesus Christ.


Action Step #2) Train together as one unit. Priorities reveal our hearts! What we devote our lives to is ultimately what we serve and what we serve is where we put our time, money, and energy. Where you put your time, money, and energy focuses your loyalty and grips your heart.


As a friend recently reminded me, “This is also true of our conversations. If we are into politics, that’s where our conversations will frequently focus on. If we are into New Castle HS Baseball and their recent run to Semi-State, our conversations will be peppered with baseball, or New Castle sports. This is what Jesus was teaching us in Luke 6:45, “The good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth what is good; and the evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth what is evil; for his mouth speaks from that which fills his heart.”


You are defined by that which you prioritize so be wise and discerning in what you put first in your heart. As you meditate upon it, it molds you into its image! This happens because God designed you this way, on purpose – we are designed by God to worship and that which we worship, we become like because we become enmeshed, or entangled, with it, for life or death.


A biblical illustration of this is found in Jesus’ confrontation of the rich young ruler in Matthew 19:16-26:


And someone came to Him and said, “Teacher, what good thing shall I do that I may obtain eternal life?” And He said to him, “Why are you asking Me about what is good? There is only One who is good; but if you wish to enter into life, keep the commandments.” Then he said to Him, “Which ones?” And Jesus said, “You shall not commit murder; You shall not commit adultery; You shall not steal; You shall not bear false witness; Honor your father and mother; and You shall love your neighbor as yourself.” The young man said to Him, “All these things I have kept; what am I still lacking?” Jesus said to him, “If you wish to be complete, go and sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.” But when the young man heard this statement, he went away grieving; for he was one who owned much property. And Jesus said to His disciples, “Truly I say to you, it is hard for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven. “Again I say to you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” When the disciples heard this, they were very astonished and said, “Then who can be saved?” And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”


The rich young ruler was enmeshed with his possessions. He couldn’t imagine his life and well-being without them, no matter what Jesus promised him. He, like each of us, is called to open his hands and pray the ancient prayer of Job, “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away, blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21). The point isn’t that we need to sell everything to follow Jesus, but that nothing we have should grip us so tightly that we can’t surrender it to follow the Lord. In other words, you must be very careful what you consider precious because it will take hold of your heart. We are all unique and can become uniquely enmeshed with different priorities that are not inherently sinful, but become sinful because of our devotion to them. Who or what is “your precious”? Who or what is on the throne of your heart?


To further emphasize the point of Jesus’ encounter with the young ruler, and encourage us to train this into our lives, listen to Jesus’ parable from Luke 14:16-24:


But He said to him, “A man was giving a big dinner, and he invited many; and at the dinner hour he sent his slave to say to those who had been invited, ‘Come; for everything is ready now.’ “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first one said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of land and I need to go out and look at it; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to try them out; please consider me excused.’ “Another one said, ‘I have married a wife, and for that reason I cannot come.’ “And the slave came back and reported this to his master. Then the head of the household became angry and said to his slave, ‘Go out at once into the streets and lanes of the city and bring in here the poor and crippled and blind and lame.’ “And the slave said, ‘Master, what you commanded has been done, and still there is room.’ “And the master said to the slave, ‘Go out into the highways and along the hedges, and compel them to come in, so that my house may be filled. ‘For I tell you, none of those men who were invited shall taste of my dinner.’ ”


Jesus was intense in His teaching – don’t miss the eternal wedding feast because you have become distracted by the things of this life! He was making it clear that when we don’t protect our priorities, we become derailed from God’s purposes for our lives. This is why Paul said to his protégé in 2 Timothy 2:3-4, “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier.” As good soldiers of Jesus Christ, we are commanded to protect our priorities – to not become entangled in the affairs of everyday life. Why? Because there is an eternal feast waiting us and we never know when He is going to call us to it.


Bob Sheffer to share his testimony.


Action Step #3) Seek the Commander’s approval. It is easy to be distracted in today’s world. There is a constant feed of information and entertainment available at your fingertips. Beyond those distractions, there are also a multitude of good causes and charity organizations to focus your time, money, and energy. These are good things, but are they God things? Jesus modeled for us how we are to protect our priorities in Mark 1:32-38:


When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was. In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there. Simon and his companions searched for Him; they found Him, and said to Him, “Everyone is looking for You.” He said to them, “Let us go somewhere else to the towns nearby, so that I may preach there also; for that is what I came for.”


The amazing testimony of Jesus Christ is from John 17:4, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” Jesus was focused on the Commander’s intent for His life and prioritized high value targets with His words and deeds. Jesus did this by first taking time to be with His Father. Jesus knew God’s Word and Jesus spent time with His Father in prayer. He sought the pleasure of His Father above all; this is how He protected His priorities – He accomplished the work which God gave Him to do! Mission first!


There are so many things you can be a champion for in today’s world, but are you doing the work that God gave you to do? Paul stated in Ephesians 2:10, “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” You can only walk in these good works when you are first prioritizing time with God, in His Word and in prayer, like Jesus modeled for us. Jesus emphasized today’s battle drill of protect your priorities with this command from Matthew 16:24-27:

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it; but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it. For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and WILL THEN REPAY EVERY MAN ACCORDING TO HIS DEEDS. 
Never put down your cross to carry a cause! The mission is not a cause, rather it is the Cross being carried into every cause – to transform it and those involved in it for the glory of God. Very interestingly, it’s the context of this passage which takes us to our fourth action step.

Action Step #4) Live on mission. Jesus lived on mission and did not allow anything to distract him from setting His face like flint to Jerusalem and the fulfillment of His mission. Even when people had the best of intent in their desires for him, Jesus protected His priorities – the mission of God. We see this in the context to the passage I just read, from Matthew 16:21-23:

From that time Jesus began to show His disciples that He must go to Jerusalem, and suffer many things from the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised up on the third day. Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “God forbid it, Lord! This shall never happen to You.” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”

Jesus said to Peter, one of his closest friends, “Get behind me Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me!” Wow, those are strong words that must have hit Peter like a ton of bricks, but when we think about what was at stake, we can see that Jesus was actively fighting to live his priorities by resisting the temptation to compromise the mission for His own comfort. Jesus did not let good things or good people distract Him from protecting His missional priority – the Cross! Paul modeled this missional focus when, he, like Jesus, set his face like flint to Jerusalem in Acts 21:10-14:

As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’ ” When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem. Then Paul answered, “What are you doing, weeping and breaking my heart? For I am ready not only to be bound, but even to die at Jerusalem for the name of the Lord Jesus.” And since he would not be persuaded, we fell silent, remarking, “The will of the Lord be done!”

This is your mission: “Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done on Earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10)! We fulfill the Lord’s Prayer when we remain focused on the mission of God and live according to the priorities modeled for us by Jesus. Paul understood this and followed Jesus’ example, no matter the cost. We must remember that not every distraction will present itself as a distraction on the face of things. Some things, many things, will present as “opportunities.” This is why discernment is so important – pray and seek His will.

Jesus asks you today, “For what will it profit [you] if [you] gain the whole world and forfeit [your] soul?” Live your priorities and may your priorities be to the glory of God as you do His will on Earth as it is in Heaven. Make this battle drill a reflexive, instinctive, and habitual part of your Christian life so that you can CM – Continue the Mission! Therefore, live on mission today and train the battle drill of the week for the glory of God. Let us pray.