New Beginnings For A New Year, 2011
What are your priorities in life? And what are your priorities for any given day? What’s your first order of business besides getting out of bed and cleaning up your body? Coffee? Breakfast? Read the paper? TV news? Or pray and read scripture or a devotional book? (I would suggest reading Max Lucado’s GRACE FOR THE MOMENT devotional books.)
Here was the priority of Jesus for morning time.
Mark 1:35) [CEV] Very early the next morning, long before daylight, Jesus got up and left the house. He went out of town to a lonely place, where he prayed.
If Jesus needed to pray the first thing in the morning, what about us?
Whatever you do in life, PLEASE DO THIS:
1Corinthians 10:31) [GW] So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything to the glory of God.
Matthew 6:33) [GW] But first, be concerned about his kingdom and what has his approval. Then all these things will be provided for you.
If you always seek first in life to glorify and honor God you won’t go very wrong in life.
Three basic priorities every Christian should have in life: 1- worship 2- work 3- witness.
Hebrews 10:22) [GNB] So let us come near to God with a sincere heart and a sure faith, with hearts that have been purified from a guilty conscience and with bodies washed with clean water.
Hebrews 10:25) [GNB] Let us not give up the habit of meeting together, as some are doing. Instead, let us encourage one another all the more, since you see that the Day of the Lord is coming nearer.
It should be obvious from scripture and common sense that we need to worship the Lord.
ILLUSTRATION: A church suddenly stopped buying pencils from a certain office supply. The manager called the preacher to ask what the problem was. The preacher, “We ordered some pencils from you to be used in the pews for visitors to sign their visitors’ card.” “Well,” the manager said, “Didn’t you receive them from us?” The preacher replied, “Oh, yes, we received them all right, BUT YOU SENT US SOME PENCILS STAMPED WITH THE WORDS, ‘PLAY GOLF NEXT SUNDAY’!”
The world calls to us all the time. The world calls us to worship it and we certainly don’t need to help it by advertising what it has to offer.
Worship of the living God MUST be a priority in our lives. God is our creator, sustainer and savior. WE OWE HIM BIG TIME. He deserves our attendance and attention. He deserves our best worship in church and outside the church.
ILLUSTRATION: When Billy Sunday (former baseball player) was converted to Christ, a Christian man put his arm around his shoulder and said, “Billy, there are three simple rules I can give you, and if you hold to them, no one will ever write BACKSLIDER after your name. Take 15 minutes a day to listen to God talking to you. Take 15 minutes each day to talk to God. And take 15 minutes each day to talk to others about God.”
Talking to God and letting Him talk to you is a matter of worship, which needs to happen at home and at church.
ILLUSTRATION: William Gladstone once said, “Tell me what the young men of England are doing on Sunday and I will tell you what the future of England will be.” I say, tell me what people are doing every day and every Sunday and I will tell what their future will be!
If daily worship is a part of our lives then Sunday worship will be a priority.
Hebrews 12:28) [GNB] Let us be thankful, then, because we receive a kingdom that cannot be shaken. Let us be grateful and worship God in a way that will please him, with reverence and awe;
ILLUSTRATION: The boss said to Jones, “How long have you been working here?” Jones replied, “EVER SINCE I HEARD YOU COMING DOWN THE HALL.”
Some people need motivation in order to work. It may be the boss keeping his eye on them, it may be money, it may be shelter, it may be children, etc. But everybody needs to work in some form. It’s a shame however, that it takes a lot to get some people moving in that direction.
Then on the other hand, I’ve seen people who worked hard at their jobs but when it came to the church it was a different matter. Someone said it this way: “The world is full of wiling people: some willing to work and the rest, willing to let them.”
Romans 16:12) [GNB] My greetings to Tryphaena and Tryphosa, who work in the Lord’s service, and to my dear friend Persis, who has done so much work for the Lord.
1Corinthians 15:58) [GNB] So then, my dear friends, stand firm and steady. Keep busy always in your work for the Lord, since you know that nothing you do in the Lord’s service is ever useless.
He couldn’t speak before a crowd, he couldn’t teach a class
But when he came to Sunday School he brought the folks “en masse.”
He couldn’t sing to save his life, in public couldn’t pray,
But always his jalopy was just crammed on each Lord’s Day.
And though he could not sing nor speak, nor teach, nor lead in prayer
He listened well, he had a smile and he was always there.
With all the others whom he brought, who lived both near and far-
And God’s work prospered, for he had a consecrated car!
No, he had a consecrated heart. And if the heart is right, the hands will work.
What kind of work can you do for the Lord in 2007? Let me give you a list of things from which to choose. There are things that can be done for Christ in the church and outside the church: prepare communion once a month, help serve the Lord’s Supper, give a communion meditation, serve the Lord’s Supper to shut-ins if needed, put up the church signs out front of the building, help clean the building once a month, teach Sunday School, work with the youth in SS, youth meetings, VBS, etc. Play the piano or organ or other musical instrument. Sing with a praise team, help with the handbells, or provide special music. Also, put up and take down Christmas decorations. Contact absentee people, etc.
Brothers and sisters, we don’t do these things to serve the Lord because we want to be saved, but because we are saved! Good service is evidence that something good has happened in our hearts and lives! And we all need to think about what we can do to serve the Lord in 2007.
Romans 12:11) [GNB] Work hard and do not be lazy. Serve the Lord with a heart full of devotion.
Matthew 28:19-20) [GNB] Go, then, to all peoples everywhere and make them my disciples: baptize them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit,
20) and teach them to obey everything I have commanded you. And I will be with you always, to the end of the age.”
1Peter 3:15) [GNB] But have reverence for Christ in your hearts, and honor him as Lord. Be ready at all times to answer anyone who asks you to explain the hope you have in you,
ILLUSTRATION: Verizon may be getting the job done. (Can you hear me now?) In FAIRFAX, Va. Verizon has flooded mailboxes, gone door to door and even handed out free ice cream as it seeks to sell its new FiOS (fiber optic) television, telephone and high-speed Internet service.
CAN YOU BELIEVE THAT? They’ve gone door to door, sent out mailers and gave out free ice cream in order to sell their product! It just makes me wonder what we should be doing to sell the greatest product/person of all time.
ILLUSTRATION: The preacher of a large church in MO went to see an advertising executive. He said his church had marketing dollars to spend and wondered which medium would be most cost effective for them. Television? Radio? Newspaper?
The executive paused, then said, “I recommend that you construct a single billboard.” The answer was surprising to the preacher to the point of being comical, but he listened patiently.
The executive said, “Build that billboard on your church property and face the message inward, toward your parking lot.” Huh? The confused preacher suspected his question had been misunderstood.
The executive went on to explain, “You don’t need advertising. In your church members you have what amounts to the largest sales force in town. Use the billboard to encourage your people to do what God has called them to do.”
ILLUSTRATION: As Robert Speer said, “Any man who has a religion is bound to do one of two things with it: change it or spread it. If it isn’t true, he must give it up. IF IT IS TRUE, HE MUST GIVE IT AWAY!”
More than ever before we need to witness for Christ. We need to give away our faith to others. We need to advertise, talk, invite, encourage, etc. in order to lead people to Christ and the church. If we’re sold, we should be selling.
Acts 8:4) The believers who were scattered went everywhere, preaching the message.
ILLUSTRATION: When Dr. W.A. Criswell, pastor of the largest Southern Baptist church in the world at one time, was preaching in the North Shore Baptist Church in Chicago, he was entertained at the home of deacon James L. Kraft, who was superintendent of the Sunday school and founder of Kraft Foods.
Kraft said that as a young man he had a desire to be the most famous manufacturer and salesman of cheese in the world. He planned on becoming rich and famous by making and selling cheese, and began as a young fellow with a little buggy pulled by a pony named Paddy.
After making his cheese, the youth would load his wagon, and he and Paddy would drive down the streets of Chicago to sell the cheese. As the months passed, young Kraft began to despair because he was not making any money, in spite of his long hours and hard work.
One day he pulled his pony to a stop and began to talk to him. He said, “Paddy, there is something wrong. We are not doing it right. I am afraid we have things turned around. Our priorities are not where they ought to be. Maybe we ought to serve God and place him first in our lives.”
Kraft then drove home and made a covenant that for the rest of his life he would first serve God and then would work as God directed.
Many years after this, Dr. Criswell heard James Kraft say, “I would rather be a layman in the North Shore Baptist Church than to head the greatest corporation in America. My first job is serving Jesus.”
Walk of Grace Chapel, Council Bluffs Church