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The Peace And Power Of A Prioritized Life, Part 2

From the series Balancing Life's Demands

Feeling overwhelmed? Need a dose of peace and a renewed sense of God’s power? Join Chip and discover how you can experience God’s peace and power like never before.

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Message Transcript

Let me give you two tools. There are two things we have to do to get a hold of our priorities. Two ways. They hold the key to enjoying the peace and power of a prioritized life. And by the way, I think that’s – when your priorities are in line, those are the two big characteristics: personal peace and you experience God’s power.

Number one: In order to get a hold of your priorities, you must start with your time. T-I-M-E. I’ll give you an Old and New Testament passage. First, it’s the only psalm that Moses wrote. Toward the end, he says, “The length of days is seventy years – or eighty, if we have the strength; yet their span is but trouble and sorrow, for they quickly pass, and we fly away. Who knows the power of Your anger? For Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due You.” Application: “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.”

If we were doing some quick Bible study, verse 10, he says, basically, life’s brevity – it’s going to be short. Verse 11: There’s coming judgment. You’re going to give an account for what you do in this life. Verse 12: Therefore, pray, “God, give me wisdom. Show me how to live this life.”

God wants us to make a difference. But He wants us to make a difference according to His calling. He wants us to use our time wisely. He wants us to discern and to number our days. And you know, Moses is a guy, too, that, for – at about forty, with a lot of zeal, said, “You know what? I think I know God’s will. He wants me to deliver.” And Moses, in his great strength and his flesh, killed one Egyptian and didn’t have the wherewithal to even bury him well. Really?

And so, he went on – you know, sometimes we think, Well, life’s passing by. I’ll never accomplish what God wants me to. Forty years of training about learning how to trust God and discover who He was, and then out of trust, God says, “Moses, watch this. I can bury them all, the entire army, and no one comes up afterwards.”

And a lot of us have to discover, are you going to live your life and seek to do – and by the way, with people like us, it’s not like we’re usually out doing all these bad things. It’s all these good things that are killing you, that you’re doing good things for the wrong reasons that aren’t God’s unique calling for you.

Notice what the apostle Paul would say. He says, “Therefore” – he’s talked about who we are in Christ. He’s talked about being different from the world. Verse 15 of Ephesians 5, “Therefore be careful how you walk.” It’s that metaphor for the way you live, or your whole life.

Negatively, “Not as an unwise man but as wise.” Do you get that idea? Wisdom. Discerning God’s will and doing it God’s way. “Making the most of your time” – circle the word time in your notes. Why? “Because the days are evil.” And he thought it was evil then, what do you think about now? “So then do not be foolish.”

When you have misplaced priorities and you’re spending your life, instead of investing it, it’s foolish. “Don’t be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.”

And that word, time – in the New Testament, there’s a couple of different words for it. One is – we get our word chronology – chronos. You know, it’s time, like, ten minutes, fifteen minutes, eleven minutes. The other is a different word called kairos, and it has the idea of a window of opportunity.

There are certain things that happen in this season – some that are in the twenties, some in the thirties, some in the forties, some in the fifties, some in the sixties, some in the seventies, and beyond. But there’s a window. There’s a window for activity; there’s a window for mentoring. There’s a window for risk. There’s a window of time. Buy up the opportunity. And what we tend to do is have some success in the last window and hang on to it, and God is always asking us, “Take risks. Trust Me.” So, you’ve got to get your time under control.

I’m going to give you a very brief – and this may be elementary. The greatest single gift God gave me, as an early Christian, was a bricklayer with a high school education. And he knocked on my door, and he taught me how to have what he called a “quiet time.” It sounded kind of weird to me, but nobody else was up at seven in my dorm, so I guess it was quiet.

And I struggled, and I couldn’t get up, and finally, my roommate set an alarm and finally I got to where I could get up in the morning. And, unlike many people, I like breakfast. And so, I just made a rule, not legalistically, but just because I wanted to, but I was so undisciplined – I just said, “No Bible, no breakfast.” And I developed the habit – and it was only, like, ten, fifteen minutes, early on.

And then, after a year or so, it was fun. And God was speaking to me. And all of a sudden, I thought, He knows everything, and I could ask Him about that test at one o’clock, and I could ask Him about, you know, this relationship’s not going so well. I think I’ll check in with Him on that. And pretty soon, I started talking to Him, and no one told me, but I went and got, at the bookstore, one of those little simple, spiral notebook things – eighty-nine cents – and then I started just writing stuff down. I’d never read the Bible before. “Hey, God, this is Chip. What do You think about…?” And I would write these things down, and, “Would You help me with this?” And then I would go back and read it. I started checking them off.

I started doing that about thirty years ago, and it was hard, at first, and then, probably fifteen, maybe eighteen years ago or so, I just remember saying, “God, I don’t know how much time we need. I just love being with You now.” It was diligence, diligence, duty, duty, “I’m going to meet with You when I don’t feel like it; I’ll meet You when I do, and sometimes it’s really good, and sometimes okay…”

And here’s all I want to say: If you will give the first portion of your time to God, He will clear away and show you what to do and what not to do, where to go and where not to go, what to say “yes” to and what to say “no” to, and give you the courage to say “no” to it.

And so, I put in here, actually, a little simple, simple way. I don’t believe you need to meet with God in the morning, first. I know some of you are night owls, and you just really turn it on at midnight, when I’ve been in bed for a while. So, I don’t mean this legalistically.

But I will say, if you have a hard time, and you’re really inconsistent, my theory was: do what matters most, first. Do what matters most, first. No matter what happens in the day, if I meet with the God of the universe, I’ve had a pretty good day. Get hit by a car later? Okay, you know, I’ve had a good day.

To me, when I stop, when I pray, when I discipline myself and say, “God, I’m going to be here, and I want to be with You first,” what I’m saying is, “I’m humble. I can’t do it. I can’t make the decisions.”

And so, this little 2PROAPT. You know, I put it here, if you’re a newer Christian, I encourage you to start in the book of Mark, and if you’re an older Christian – just because it’s so application oriented – James.

So here, here, are you ready? I’ll just go through it real quickly. You start, and you [P]pray, “Dear God, will You speak to me today?” And then [Preview] I don’t want you to read a whole lot, maybe a couple of paragraphs, at the most, and then you [R]read it slowly, and preferably out loud. It’s amazing what happens the second time.

And then the next, the “O” is for observation. You read it a third time. See, you don’t take so much. You slow it down, and you dig into it. And this time, if there’s a word that’s repeated, you underline it, or if something sticks out to you, you might circle it.

And so, you’ve previewed it, then you’ve read it slowly out loud, and then you read it real slowly, making some observations, and then the “A” is for application. And it’s only a couple of paragraphs, but you say, “God, speak to me.” And then, just think, Well, let’s see, this is a letter of encouragement. Nothing really stuck out, but it was encouraging... This guy, hold it, do I know anybody that needs encouragement? Before I go, I tell you what – I’m going to jot a note to Bob. I haven’t seen him and… And do something. Spiritual growth is not about getting more Bible knowledge in your head; it’s about responding to the truth and the light that He gives you.

Isn’t that what Jesus said at the parable of the seed and the sowers? Here’s how life works. You respond to the truth God gives you, He gives you more truth. You don’t respond to the truth and the light that He gives you, then even what you have will be taken away. We’ve got a generation of people that know so much about God but don’t have an epiginosko – an intense, personal, relational knowledge of Him, because that doesn’t come through the head. That comes through application and the heart. At the end of the day, you want to hear God. You want to hear His voice. What’s He want to say to you from the Word?

And then the “T” is, you tell somebody. because there’s just something – and you don’t have to go, “Hey, everybody, I want you to know I spent fifteen minutes in God’s Word today. I did the 2PROAPT method – dut, dut, dut. Now, I want you to know, here’s what I want to tell you.” You know, they’ll just run you off the job.

But you know, in a casual way, to people that you know – and it might be – you know, there’s a guy lives in Texas; he’s a good buddy, we speak couple of times a week.

And we’ll just say, “Hey, what’d you read? Where’s God speaking to you?” And he’ll share, and I’ll share. Or, often, in the car, I’ll say, “Honey, where’d you read this morning?” And she’ll tell me, and I’ll tell her. And it’s not like I’m checking up on her. You kidding? She’s way further down the road than me. But it’s just, when you tell, it kind of seals it. So that’s a little method that’s been very helpful for me.

So, tool number one – and this is just to get you started. Tool number one: If you’re going to get a hold of your time, I believe you’ve got to start by saying, “God, I got all these pulls, all these demands. I’m going to give the first block, or the best block, of my time” – whenever that is, for me it’s the morning – “to You, and I’m going to ask You to start sorting out my life.” And I will tell you, it’ll be dramatic.

The second tool that will help you get a hold of your priorities is your money. Jesus spoke more about money than heaven and hell, combined, and I think He could actually care less about your money. He needs none of it. But your money reflects your values. Your money reflects your heart. Wherever your money goes – imagine, just every time you put that credit card down, every time you write a check, every time you spend money, every time you invest money, what you’re saying is – here’s your heart. There’s a little chain connected to it. And wherever your money goes – your treasure – that’s where your heart goes. Your heart always follows the money.

And that’s why, sometimes, when I’ve wanted God to change my heart – I’ve actually had a problem with someone, you know, they kind of did something bad to me, and I didn’t like them very well, and I’m having trouble forgiving them, and they were involved in ministry, I started giving a little to their ministry. I’ll tell you what, your heart always has to follow your money!

And so, what He wants is, He wants your heart. “Honor the LORD with your wealth, with the firstfruits of all your crops. Then” – notice, this isn’t a prohibitive – “then your barns will be filled with overflowing, and your vats will brim over with new wine.” Proverbs 3:9 and 10. You all know, probably, many, many verses, and by the way, the giving is not about just giving. God owns it all, correct? The earth and all thereof is the Lord’s.

So, He evaluates the ten or fifteen or twenty or eighty percent that I give away – wherever you’re at in your life – and all that I keep. I’m a steward of it. I’m just the manager. Your money will tell you – I will tell you this, if we didn’t know each other at all, you give me your PDA for a half hour, or your calendar, your canceled checks – however you work it – you let me see your time and see your money, and I will give you a diagnosis of where you’re at in your life, that, if you were honest, you’d say, “Oh, my lands, that is so true.”

You have to get a hold of your time; you have to get a hold of your money. And this is not a legalistic, “I’m now giving ‘X’ percent, and now…” No, I’m talking about your money, as it relates to your heart. You know, it’d be interesting – some of you, you know, have your nice, black American Express, or your Platinum Express, your Gold Express, your lead or your mileage or… and then, at the end of the year, they give you that list of, “Okay, here’s your end-of-the-year credit card statement,” unless you have sworn them off and are free and liberated and debt free and figured out other ways to do it, which is a good idea, too. But have you ever seen where they have the categories? So much in food, so much in travel, so much in… You know, if you just looked at that and said, “Wow! Exactly right! Can you eat that much in one year? I mean, can you shop that much? I mean, how much…?”

And all I’m saying is, let’s get off of being down on ourselves. Let’s try just getting real with ourselves, getting honest with God. He loves you so much that He wants you to learn to give, so that He can give, good measure, pressed down, shaken together, running over, back into your lap.

He wants you to learn to budget and say, “This is Yours, and I want to be a good steward.” He wants you not to fix your hope on the uncertainty of riches, but – are you ready? – He wants you to richly enjoy every good thing He gives you. He wants you to take a great vacation and have a great steak and have some real fun and have your priorities in order, so instead of going, “Oh, I feel guilty about this,” where you enjoy it. because, you know, it’s the blessed hand of God upon your life.

And you’re not making excuses. I’m just so tired of someone saying, “Oh, well, you know, I got it on sale.” Or, you know, “The only reason we got that swimming pool – that swimming pool is for baptisms. Baptisms… you know? And, you know, that house in the mountains – our pastor – our pastor’s really tired. The house in the mountain, it has nothing to do with, you know, it’s a good real estate investment and I like to get away, and God has blessed me. I’m giving a ton of money away, and I love the mountains, and my family’s there, and it’s really wonderful, and I just have a blast there. No, it’s uh, pastoral staff, we felt that they needed a place to get away a couple of times a year.”

By the way, let him go there, though, okay? I have benefited greatly from some of you doing that. God loves you guys. He wants you to look at those six areas and be honest. How you doing?

So, how do you get your money under control? Four steps. Number one, give the first portion of each paycheck to the Lord. And for some of you, you’ve got to have a really hard talk, and you’re going to say, “Oh, my, and how can we do it?” It’s a faith step. Give the first portion to the Lord.

Second, pay your bills next. Don’t take a vacation. Don’t spend your money. Don’t go to Costco. Don’t buy something on sale. Okay? Money comes in. Here are all your bills in one spot.

Give to God the first; pay all your bills next. Novel idea. Live on the rest. You don’t have it, don’t spend it.

Do you understand that the average person in America is spending about seventeen percent more than they bring in every month?

Do you understand, last year, more college students – I heard this on the radio, so don’t ask me to quote it, but, I mean, if it’s on the radio, you know it’s true. I mean, it’s almost as reliable as the Internet. I mean, if it’s on the Internet, it’s got to be true! You know. But seriously, it was one of those Dave Ramsey programs. More college students went bankrupt than graduated from college last year.

So, give to the Lord first, pay your bills, live on the rest, and then get out of debt.

The very busiest day of Jesus’ life is recorded in Mark 1:35, and He has healed, and there are demands and there are pressures, and you think you’ve got a tough life. He’s pulled on from everyone. And it says, “A great while before dawn, He went out and found a solitary place, and there He prayed.” I believe Jesus is modeling for us the demands to keep your life in focus.

I believe I think I know what He prayed. I think He prayed, “Lord, I’m being pulled, and everybody wants Me to do everything. They want Me to go to these towns, and everyone is sick, and they have these demands, and they’re pulling on Me. They want Me to heal them. They want Me to feed them. They want Me to do everything. Will You please remind Me while I’m here?”

You know how I know that? Because the disciples came and said, “Jesus, You were a hit last night. It was awesome! All those healings. It’s going crazy. There’s a big crowd. I mean, they are getting – we are big time, and we’re glad to be on Your team.”

And remember what He said to them? “I must” – and in the Greek, it’s a must of Dei, it’s a divine necessity – “I must preach the gospel, and we must go to other villages, for the Son of Man” – Luke will tell us later – “came to seek and to save that which is lost.” Jesus prayed to remember, “Why am I here? What am I supposed to do? I need to hear the Father’s voice in the midst of all the noise.”

That’s God’s will for you and me, and we’re on a journey and a process. It’s not going to happen all at once. Six symptoms, two tools – time, money – an open heart. Let’s go there together, okay?