Grab your Bible and let’s go deeper into Matthew 8.
Matthew 8:18-22 “Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. 19 And a scribe came up and said to him, ‘Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.’ 20 And Jesus said to him, ‘Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.’ 21 Another of the disciples said to him, ‘Lord, let me first go and bury my father.’ 22 And Jesus said to him, ‘Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.’”
Jesus is challenging this disciples’ priorities!
Notice he doesn’t make any apologies for the loss of his father who was evidently spiritually dead. Jesus is saying, check yourself!
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have been called to a new priority.
He is saying, are you first about the things of this world- the temporary?
Or are you first about following me- my kingdom?
Too often, Christians poo-poo passages like this because they seem to make Jesus look insensitive!
This is the problem. We don’t see with the right clarity how serious it is to be a follower of Jesus.
It’s an eternal identity that should absolutely be our #1 priority! But, is it?
Are your top priorities spiritual/kingdom oriented or are they physical/world oriented?
() We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!
() We are set free to live in his presence with his Holy Spirit living inside of us!
() We are citizens of the Kingdom of God!
() We are a holy nation of worshipers of the great “I AM”!
So, what could be so important that it would make me say,
“No Jesus, I can’t follow you right now. I am too busy with this or that!”
Luke 12:42-47 “And the Lord replied, ‘I’m talking to any faithful, sensible servant to whom the master gives the responsibility of managing his household and feeding his family. 43If the master returns and finds that the servant has done a good job, there will be a reward. 44I assure you, the master will put that servant in charge of all he owns. 45But if the servant thinks, “My master won’t be back for a while,” and begins oppressing the other servants, partying, and getting drunk– 46well, the master will return unannounced and unexpected. He will tear the servant apart and banish him with the unfaithful. 47The servant will be severely punished, for though he knew his duty, he refused to do it.’”
The problem is: too often we say what the religious teacher said to Jesus.
“Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go!”
but we end up doing what the disciple says next…
“Lord, first let me return home and bury my father.”
Many in frustration will say, I want to be devoted to Jesus!
But, for some reason, I keep drifting away from KINGDOM living and back into temporary things.
Your intentions are right!
I believe you legitimately want to follow Jesus… but the problem is you keep making decisions on a daily basis that show your priorities are really about temporary world things instead of eternal things of God.
I love how this is illustrated through Haggai in the Bible!
Haggai encouraged the people to finish rebuilding the temple of God.
But, opposition from hostile neighbors had caused them to feel discouraged, to neglect the temple, and thus neglect God.
Sometimes we feel the same kind of resistance from people or simply from life.
Too often, hardships keep us focused on US when they should really cause us to focus on the LORD who is able to help!
Haggai 1:1-6 “1 In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai. 2 This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘These people say, “The time has not yet come for the Lord’s house to be built.” ‘ 3 Then the word of the LORD came through the prophet Haggai:
4 ‘Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?’
5 Now this is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘Give careful thought to your ways.
6 You have planted much, but have harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.’ “
God asked his people how they could live in luxury when his house was lying in ruins.
The same question applies to us: how can we choose to prioritize our lives with the things of the world when we have been welcomed to dine and live in the KINGDOM OF GOD?
The temple was the focal point of Judah’s relationship with God, but it was still demolished. Instead of rebuilding the temple, the people put their energies into beautifying their own homes.
However, the harder the people worked for themselves, the less they had because they ignored their spiritual lives.
The same happens to us. If we put God first, he will provide for our deepest needs.
If we put him in any other place, all our efforts will be futile.
Because the people had not given God first place in their lives, their work was not fruitful or productive and their material possessions did not satisfy.
*God did not breathe life into us and then send his Son to die for us so that we could walk away from Him when we feel like it or claim to have a relationship with him that is really casual or weak!
Yet, most of the time, we prioritize Him in our life this way!
Our #1 priority must be Jesus.
Matthew 22:37-40 “Jesus replied, ‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38This is the first and greatest commandment. 39A second is equally important: `Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40All the other commandments and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.”
-First & foremost we are to love God more than anything or anyone else!
Love the Lord your God with “all”:
<>Does that mean sometimes? <>Does that mean part way?
<>Does that mean when you feel like it? <>Does that mean give Him some of your heart?
This is all about priority! Jesus says all the Bible hangs on these two commandments.
-When we commit our greatest love to God,
He then reveals how best to love those around us!
This is why each of us needs to pause…
- Get your priorities with God straight.
- Begin to really consider what you are pouring yourself into lately.
Today, you need to see that God is huge! That God is worthy!
That God is and needs to be rightly placed at the top of everything we do!
My question for you is- do you believe that “he will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and make the kingdom of God your primary concern.” – Matthew 6:33
What do you seek first in your days?
If you died today, what would your neighbors, coworkers, friends say was the most important thing in your life?
What do your daily practices tell you who is first in your life?
Your calendar… your checkbook… your words… your affections…
We have to make God the priority of our day today because there is no promise for tomorrow!
James 4:13-15 13 “Come now, you who say, ‘Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit’— 14 yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. 15 Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.’ “
TIME is a precious gift from God!
There is no contract that you or I will live 80 years or even through today.
Our prayer needs to be: “Use me TODAY, Lord.”
And not, give me 40 more years to get my stuff, my family, and my dreams together.
May we be an army of the Lord that is laser focused on keeping the main thing the main thing and keeping Christ as number one!
This means he gets the best of our daily schedule and not the leftovers.
This means he gets the first of our finances and not the leftovers.
This means Sunday worship gets the priority of our weekend schedule and not the leftovers.
This means we talk and walk with Jesus throughout the day and not just when there is a crisis.
As Pablo likes to say, “We must be first and foremost about JC and not the MC.”
May it be so.
By His grace and for His glory,
Soldiers for Jesus MC