Prayer and Reflections

Priorities

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added to you.
- Matthew 6:33
Matthew 6:33 has been my life’s ‘theme verse’ for as long as I can remember, and it continues to surface as a reminder of where my priorities need to be. As a young Christian, I sought to achieve this through daily Bible reading, prayer, regular church attendance, and ministry efforts. The older I get, however, the more I realize seeking God first means so much more than performance. While I continue to read God’s word daily, pray, attend church regularly, and serve in ministry efforts, I was recently reminded of a deeper meaning to this scripture. God wants our hearts not just our actions. If our actions are not motivated by our love for and loyalty to Him then our efforts are futile. It is as Solomon wrote, like “chasing after the wind.” (Eccl. 2:11) 

The beginning of the New Year is traditionally a time to evaluate where we are in our journey and make resolutions for the coming year. (I prefer to make goals rather than resolutions. For me they are easier to redefine, expand, or alter and are more open-ended.) One of my goals for this year is to be more disciplined in this area of seeking and keeping God as priority over all else. Doing so helps me to stay balanced and not be overwhelmed by all the other demands of life. 

Many are familiar with the commandment to not have any idols before God, but who among us could say we have never allowed career, family, relationships, hobbies, possessions, or other pursuits to take priority over God in our lives? We need the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in our hearts to set our priorities right and avoid “idols.” Ask yourself what you spend the most time focusing on, the most money on, or where you exert the most energy and effort. This will help you determine what is priority in your life. In many instances, these priorities are sought to satisfy a void in our life for significance, value, belonging, or purpose, but they are only temporary substitutes for the real deal! God created us with a void that only He can fill, and it is often during our latter years that we look back and realize with regret how much time we spent “chasing the wind.” 

Most often it is not bad things that hinder our seeking and keeping God first but good things that keep us from His best. We get sidelined by distractions that fill our minds and hearts and cause us to relegate fellowship and time with God to a lesser place or no place at all. Busyness becomes a substitute for an intimate relationship with our Creator and Savior. It isn’t a matter of how much time as much as the quality of time spent with God and the motives of our hearts. Ask the Holy Spirit to help you to rearrange your priorities and keep time spent with God in Bible study and prayer at the top of your list!
“Now we have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.” 1 Cor. 2:12

How often we are tempted, 
And by yielding we do fail
When we put our trust in earthly things
And find them all to no avail. 

It is then that we’re reminded
By His Spirit’s quiet ways,
To put our hope in God, alone,
And to Him proclaim our praise. 

For He alone has power
To satisfy our every need,
Make us instruments of truth and love,
And then scatter us as seed. 

To bring through us a harvest,
Through those souls placed in our care,
Shedding light into our sin-filled world
Through His love and grace we share. 

From Reflections on His Spirit: Discovering His Power Within, © 2019, Doris Haver Rouse. Used with permission. 

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