One of things that grieves me the most is seeing people who are not passionate about Jesus. I remember a time when I neglected to live for Jesus, when I was neglecting the Word, neglecting a lot of things. One day priorities changed. I had a thirst for Christ Jesus. I wanted nothing more. If I didn’t get to read my Bible, I felt starved. If I hadn’t taken the time to pray, I felt lacking.
Paul wrote about everything being worthless when in comparison to knowing Jesus. Paul noted how he discarded everything so he could gain Christ. The person who sold everything to buy a field with hidden treasure had the same desire Paul had for Jesus (Matthew 13:44). Nothing else mattered.
Today, look at your priorities. Is everything worthless compared to Jesus Christ? How do you value your relationship with Jesus? Are you putting things before God? What matters most to you?
“Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ” – Philippians 3:8 [NLT]
I am not much of a runner; however, I have been blessed over the past few years to watch my daughter run for Cross Country. She loves running Cross Country. Running the race, is not simply about being the winner—as there can only be one—but also about beating a personal record or P.R., as the experienced runners know it to be called. My daughter was always about beating her P.R., but recently she has been held back. The thing she loved most about running, that time alone to clear her mind and reconnect, was not happening because she couldn’t focus.
My daughter’s friend wanted to move up and join the high school practices due to transportation issues. The friend is a bit slower and loves to talk more than my daughter (I didn’t think that was possible). The practices no longer were about body conditioning, preparing for the season. The runs were no longer a time of peace and enjoyment. My daughter found herself being held back, running at a slower pace. With her friend’s gift of gab, they also were missing some instructions for some of the practice runs. This caused them to get lost a few times, run shorter or longer courses, and my daughter unnecessary stress. My daughter and I had a long talk about boundaries and goals.
Friends are great. Relationships are important. In life, we have a choice who we invest our lives in. We also have a choice of who we surround ourselves with and we have a choice of priorities. Jesus should have first place in our lives. The Bible tells us to love God and love others, to go and make disciples, to serve—we have choices to make to see these things through. Paul wrote that we should give everything our best as if for the Lord. All is for His glory. When we allow ourselves to be held back, for our focus to drift, if we surround ourselves with people who will constantly keep us from being where God wants us, we are not properly aligned. Today, reflect on God’s will for your life. Consider your relationships. Look at the boundaries you have in your life so that you are able to pursuit the goals God placed before you. Above all, make sure you connect with Him today—in His Word and in prayer.
“And whatever you do or say, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father.” – Colossians 3:17 [NLT]
This lesson is on the Parable of the Foolish Rich Man. The passage to read is Luke 12:13-21. The key verse is Luke 16:13. The front page of the activity sheet is divided into two sides. The object is to have the children list what they think both types of people would look like in their opinion. The one side would be those who are rich toward God and the other side would be those who are like the foolish rich man. On the second side, there is an activity to look through the passage and notice all of the key words that focus on the self. There are a few verses included with the lesson for the kids to reflect upon further with parents at home.
To open the class, I am going to ask some questions that would give the children options of seeing how people could put God first or put money or themselves first. From there, I am going to tell the parable and have a few students read some verses. I got some granola (honey and oats) to share with the children as I discuss this abundance of crops. Then we will discuss further using the activity sheet I created (front and back). Our craft will be something I’ve seen around in the past. We will make silos using toilet paper rolls. I am going to get the tubes of toilet paper covered with white paper before class and glued at the bottom to save time. They will decorate the silos and then instead of filling them with crops, fill them with blessings from God. Then every night they can pull out a blessing and thank God. When the blessings run out, they are encouraged to fill the silos up (or even fill up as they see more blessings).
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“This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.’” – Haggai 1:7 [NIV]
Haggai is a very short book but in two chapters we read four times that we should “give careful thought” (1:5, 1:7, 2:15, 2:18). Something repeated that often certainly cannot go overlooked. It is such a simple command, but one that we cannot hear enough. At that time, the people had no argument with rebuilding the Temple, but they had chosen to do other things before undertaking the task of rebuilding the Lord’s house. They had skewed priorities.
We also need to give careful thought to our ways. We need to constantly be evaluating our own lives to make sure that we do not have our priorities skewed. It is so easy to be turned toward worldly items like the people of this time period. It is easy to allow our focus to shift gears.
The Lord declared that he was with the people (1:13, 2:4). The Lord is also with us. We do not do life alone. Today be sure to give careful thought to your ways, but don’t forget this promise—that he is with us. May that promise bring you peace.
Times can get very hectic. We often try to take the 24 hours we get in a day and shove as much as we can into that time frame so it feels like we accomplished something. I know too well what happens. A few years ago I was working three jobs plus managing the household. I was tired, overwhelmed, and way off course. I think this is why in Psalm 90, Moses sees that it’s important to number our days. He recognizes the need to have priorities and to use our time wisely. That was something I couldn’t understand when I was so busy.
Sometimes when things come in the between our relationship with God, they get removed. That happened in this situation and I was able to then realize that I didn’t need to work three jobs; I could get by fine with one job if I changed a few things. This solution didn’t solve everything though, because time management is a constant battle we face. I had the same type of situation arise when I was in one of my theology classes and we had long winded discussions.
The point is that God wants to have a relationship with us. That relationship requires two parties. In Isaiah, God says that if we call out to Him, He will answer. He will say, “Here I Am.” At the same time, we need to do the same thing. The only way for us to say that is to be able to listen and spend time with God.
While working three jobs, I wasn’t able to spend much time with God in prayer and in His Word. I can tell you that you can feel the difference when you add more time with God to your schedule. As you start giving yourself more time for silent time, for prayer, for Bible reading, it ends up you want more. You have this thirst that can only be quenched by Him. You want to make more time with Him. You look for ways to spend more time with Him.
When we find more time to say “Here I Am” we get this thirst.
I think that Psalm 63:1-5 says it best (taken from the NASB translation):
“O God, You are my God; I shall seek You earnestly;
My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for You,
In a dry and weary land where there is no water.
Thus I have seen You in the sanctuary,
To see Your power and Your glory.
Because Your lovingkindness is better than life,
My lips will praise You.
So I will bless You as long as I live;
I will life up my hands in Your name.
My soul is satisfied as with marrow and fatness,
And my mouth offers praises with joyful lips.”