Many things, people, and events vie for our affections, begging us to make them number one. They want our sole affection and attention. They want us to make them our first priority above everything else we hold dear. They consistently throw us a shower of reasons why we should put them at the top of our list. Before long, they are the only voices we hear when setting our list of priorities.
With so many things calling our name, it’s often difficult to hear the one and only Voice we are called to follow and seek. That one Voice is none other than our Savior, Lover, and Lord. Unlike the many other demanding priorities in our lives, He will never twist our arm or make us feel guilty for not choosing Him. He simply speaks to us through His Word and His Spirit, urging us to taste and see that He is good (Psalm 34:8). If we’re listening, we will hear His voice distinctly through the noise of counterfeits that try to sway our loyalty.
With so many voices cluttering our ears, hearing His Voice may seem impossible, or at the very least, difficult. However, according to John 10:27, it is entirely possible: “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”
If this is true, why do we have such a difficult time distinguishing between all the voices in our every-day lives? Very simply, it’s because we haven’t spent time enough to get to know that Voice. We’ve so consistently made Him second place that His Voice has faded into a whisper. That’s when we have the challenge of making a choice: who is going to receive our seeking?
God has already made the decision for us by commanding us to “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33). The more we seek, the more we desire. The more we desire, the more we pursue. And the more we pursue, the more He becomes number one. Our hearts’ loyalty begins to shift from our earthly pursuits and to-do lists, to craving the person of Jesus. Our greatest treasure becomes Him: “For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew 6:21).
Making Jesus our number one is a daily choice that reflects what is in our hearts. It’s revealed in the way we live. If we are going to hear His Voice and make Him the top priority, we need to put to practice disciplines that we would give to any other relationship in order to see it thrive. Our flesh might cry as we wean it off of all the other tasks on our list of priorities. But the end result is a precious love relationship to which no other item on our to-do list could possible compare!
1. Spend time with Jesus.
All relationships are cultivated by that four-letter word: T-I-M-E. We all have it, but it’s our choice how to use it. If we want to have a strong, intimate relationship with Him, we must give Him our undivided attention. It involves speaking in prayer and worship, and listening with ears wide open.
“He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.” (Psalm 91:1)
“But you, when you pray, go into your room, and when you have shut your door, pray to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.” (Matthew 6:6)
“Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.” (Matthew 6:12) Even Jesus spent alone time with God!
2. Read His Word.
God has written a very long letter to us that include everything we need to know about His love, His will, and His nature. Without diving into its pages as if it were our lifeline, we are lost and powerless. But once we give it our attention and act on it, the power contained in it begins to change our lives from the inside out.
“This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate in it day and night, that you may observe to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.” (Joshua 1:8)
“My son, give attention to my words; incline your ear to my sayings. Do not let them depart from your eyes; keep them in the midst of your heart; for they are life to those who find them, and health to all their flesh.” (Proverbs 4:20-22)
3. Consult Him in every decision . . . and obey.
When we asked Jesus into our hearts, He became our Lord and Savior. “Lord” means owner and controller. In our vocabulary, it means “boss.” We don’t always like to be told what to do, but if Jesus is truly going to “the boss of us,” obeying Him is a requirement. The wonderful thing about Jesus’ lordship is that He never asks us to do something He’s not prepared to help us do. And He’ll never tell us to do something that will hurt us. Obedience only brings His goodness and His blessing. We will always be pleased with the results!
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5, 6)
“If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him.” (James 1:5)
4. Hang out with the Body of Christ.
We’re not alone in our quest to live a dedicated life. All around the world, there are Christians just like us. God knows we need their strength, and they need ours. When we gather together on a regular basis, we are able to encourage each other, meet each other’s needs, and grow together spiritually. God knew what He was doing when He said to stick together!
“And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:24-25)
“But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, ‘I have no need of you’; nor again the head to the feet, ‘I have no need of you.’ No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary.” (I Corinthians 12:20-21)
When we make Jesus number one, we are showing – proving even – our love for Him (John 14:15). He chose to come to us out of pure love, selfless love. Our truest form of dedication to Him is returning that love through a life of focus on Him. Our flesh may not always desire Him as it should, but our spirits are empty without His presence (Matthew 26:41) The key is to listen to our spirits rather than to our flesh, and make the decision to do whatever it takes to keep His “number one” status in our lives. He is worth, in every way, the effort of maintaining that love relationship!
“Draw near to God and He will draw near to you . . .” (James 4:8)