Too Busy for Jesus, Part 2

busy (1)Jesus First

Jesus clearly states what our priorities as Christians should look like in Matthew 6:31-33:

“Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’  For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.

God knows we need to get things done, need to make money, and need to take care of our commitments.  However, seeking His kingdom, not ours, is what He requires to be “first.”  This is what sets us apart from the world.  While the world maximizes their time on the “cares of life,” we are to focus on the eternal priority of God’s kingdom.  His kingdom is not made up of things or possessions, but on an eternal relationship with Jesus.

Where our love lies is found in what we seek the most.  When we “seek first” our productivity and financial increase above God’s kingdom, it is proof that we love these things greater than we love Jesus.  Our “treasure” is forever connected to our heart . .  . and where heart is, there will be our love.

For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. (Matthew 6:21)

And you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ This is the first commandment. (Mark 12:30)

Seeking Jesus first – making Him the highest priority – is an indication of our love for Him.  In fact, we are commanded to love Him with all we are, not just some of it.  However, when our time and physical efforts are solely focused on our agenda and our needs, the proof of our love is weak.  We may say that we love Jesus, but consistently, our actions speak louder than words.

Prioritize Like Jesus

If there was anyone who could make the excuse by saying “I’m too busy,” it was Jesus.  People were constantly drawing on His time and attention.  The religious leaders often sought for His death.  Even His disciples were needy.  But despite all His needs, He was the perfect example of godly prioritization.  He wouldn’t ask us to do something He wasn’t willing to do or hadn’t done Himself.  We will never find an example of Him worrying about tomorrow, or seeking His agenda first.  He was consistently getting away from the crowds to spend time with the Father, and He obeyed God in every area (John 5:19, John 6:38).

As His disciples, we are to do the same:

For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps . . . (Peter 2:21)

Therefore be imitators of God as dear children. And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma. (Ephesians 5: 1-2)

So practically, how would we live a life where Jesus is first?  How would we prioritize so we’re never too busy for Him? Here are a few areas we can daily subject to Jesus for His review:

Commit to Jesus – Every day we should be saying, “Not My will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).  God is looking for a life of surrender.  He is, after all, our Lord.  His commitment to our salvation meant we have eternal life.  This should be enough for us to completely give all of ourselves – including our work and schedules – to Him.

Consult Jesus – Jesus should always have a say in every decision we make.  We are to “acknowledge Him” so He can make our paths straight (Proverbs 3:5-6).  This includes the use of our time and money, as well as the relationships we make and the towns we live in.  Nothing is left untouched by His directive.

Live for Jesus – We can commit and consult all day, but unless we act on what He tells us, our words are meaningless.  Our lives should reflect His Word and nature living on the inside of us.  Our daily walk should be marked with holiness, obedience, and selfless living for Him and no one else.

Trust Jesus – We are not only called to love Him with all our heart, but also to trust Him with all our heart.  When we trust Him, we are confident that when He tells us to give up a habit, adjust our schedule, or serve the Body of Christ, He will do what He promised. We know He is doing it for our good as well as His, and will make sure all our need are met.  We can rest assured that it will be “more than we could ask or think” (Ephesians 3:20)!

Faithful Servant

Busyness, and other misplaced priorities, can be a great weight in our lives.  In fact, it can even be a sin if it excludes Jesus as Lord, or goes against something God has specifically told us to do.  The point of losing the “weight” of busyness is so we can run free and easy in our relationship with God and His call on our lives.  It enables us to hear His voice when He gives us guidance and encouragement.  It keeps us ready to get up and go the moment He tells us to.  It keeps our focus on what it most important – Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith.

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. (Hebrews 12:1-2)

God is looking for those who will be faithful, or trustworthy.  Our lives are not just about us trusting Him, but also Him trusting us.  Will we honor His commitment to us by making Him number one in our lives?  Will we put aside our own plans to join His?  Will we give our time, money, possessions, and skills to His use? If we do, it is proof that He has our hearts. He then knows that possessions, busy schedules, and the lure of money does not possess us.  He now possesses our hearts.

“Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.” Matthew 25:23

The result of that faithfulness is being trusted with more – but more of what He says is important!  It won’t be a burden, for His “yoke is easy and His burden is light” (Matthew 1:30).  Spending time with Him and putting Him first is far easier and less stressful than slaving away in the kitchen!

(If you want to catch up and read part 2, go the the September archives at the bottom of this page!)

 

A Willing Heart

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Everyone tends to think a little bit more about the Christmas account the closer they get to December. However, there is so much to learn from the story any time of the year. The entire story is incredible.  We see angels heralding heavenly messages to men below.  We read of wealthy wise men and their elaborate gifts as they “follow yonder star.” Humble shepherds appear, excited to behold the promised Child.  All these events are marvelous to read about, but how often do we consider Mary?

 At such a time, girls were married very young – around 14 or 15 years old. They were considered women by that age, and held far more responsibilities than the young females of today.  They washed clothes by hand, mended garments, watched the younger siblings, and assisted with the livestock and gardens.  She was a busy young Jewish woman, faithfully serving God and preparing for marriage. With all these tasks already on her plate, Mary had her hands full without a supernatural pregnancy to think about.

The arrival of the angel must have been one of the most earth-shattering moments of Mary’s life.  I could imagine her dutifully making her bed, expecting nothing out of the ordinary, when suddenly: “And having come in, the angel said to her, ‘Rejoice, highly favored one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!’” (Luke 1:28) Her response to such an announcement was probably much like ours would have been: “But when she saw him, she was troubled at his saying, and considered what manner of greeting this was.” (verse 29)

As if that wasn’t enough, the angel continued: “Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You will conceive in your womb and bring forth a Son, and shall call His name Jesus.” (verse 30-31) I could imagine her brain working overtime after such an announcement. Why would He choose me? How on earth does someone conceive by the Holy Spirit? What am I going to tell Joseph . . . and my parents . . . and my friends? How do you take care of the Son of God . . .? What came from her mouth was logical: “Then Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I do not know a man?’” (verse 35)

The angel, of course, had a ready answer: “‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God. Now indeed, Elizabeth your relative has also conceived a son in her old age; and this is now the sixth month for her who was called barren.  For with God nothing will be impossible.’” (verses 35-37)

Despite all the questions her finite mind might have come up with, her response came from a heart dedicated to God: “Then Mary said, ‘Behold the maidservant of the Lord! Let it be to me according to your word.’” (verse 38).  By her reply, we know God has chosen accurately. He knew her heart and the willingness in it to do whatever He asked her to do. She, in turn, knew His heart, His ways, and His love – so faith and obedience was a natural response.

We’re grateful that Mary’s response was so faith-filled, but consider what might have happened if Mary had said, “There’s no way a woman could get pregnant like that – with the Son of God or otherwise! I just can’t believe it!”  Would God’s plan to bring the Savior into the world be suddenly shut down? No, God’s plans don’t end because of someone’s unbelief. He’ll find someone else! Consider, though, how sad to it would be to forego being used in a supernatural event just because it seems so unthinkable.

Mary was an “average” girl in the world’s point of view. What set her apart from the rest in God’s eyes was her virtuous, God-seeking heart. We don’t have to be born into a high-status family to be chosen by God. We don’t have to be famous, known by more than just the handful of people in our tiny town. There’s no rule that says we have to be multi-talented and witty. The only ingredient needed is faith and willingness. Together, they open the door to the supernatural working of God – an incredible plan that only He can design.

“Blessed is she who believed, for there will be a fulfillment of those things which were told her from the Lord.” Luke 1:45

 

An Eternal Lineage

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My husband is a history buff.  He could be perfectly happy to spend all day watching documentaries and reading about every kind of historical event imaginable.  If you sit down and discuss periods of history with him, you are sure to get an earful of facts.  I have never been able to fathom how a person’s mind could retain so much detail.  While I am doing good to remember a person’s birthday and last name, Michael can rattle of specific dates and historical figures like he was there and knew the people personally.  He’s an electrician, but I often think he missed his calling as historian.

While my husband claims that the Madrids date back to 1603 in Spain, one branch of my family dates back to the reign of Queen Elizabeth of England in the 1500s.  A very distant relative, the knight Sir Richard Lowther, held Queen Mary of Scotland in custody when she claimed England belonged to Scotland.  There is a castle in England under renovation that bears his last name.  Perhaps I’ll one day be able to visit Lowther Castle and imagine myself during the reign of noble kings and queens.

Though history dating back into to the era of lords, knights, and noblemen is interesting and inspiring, our heritage as Christians goes back even further.  As we read Hebrews 11, we have reason to stand in awe of our lineage of faith.    These patriarchs did not fight simply for the freedom of their homeland, but for a greater cause – the cause of Christ.

Over and over again, we see examples of people who obeyed God, even when they could not see the end result with their physical eyes.   Abel, despite his brother’s rebellion, gave his best sacrifice.  Known for pleasing a God he could not see, Enoch was taken from this earth without dying.  Noah built an ark having never seen rain before.  Wealthy Abraham packed his bags and moved his household without knowing where he was going.

The list goes on to include many familiar characters.  Hebrews 11:33 – 34 says they did mighty acts and miracles as God was with them.  Some include defeating kingdoms, stopping mouths of lions, quenching fire, and raising people from the dead.

But then as we read through verse 38, we see another set of people whom God honored.  These people, faced with persecution for their faith, did not accept deliverance because they wanted to “obtain a greater resurrection” (v. 35). They went through everything from verbal mocking to being sawn in half for what they believed.  They wandered in the wilderness, poor and destitute, living in caves and dens.

If this isn’t inspiring enough, verse 39 says that they “did not receive the promise.”  What?  How could they, after going through such hardship, not receive the full reward of what God had promised?  The answer is in verse 40: “God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.”

This is what true faith looks like – standing for something that we cannot see.  These heroes of the faith had their sights set on the promise of God, a redemption that they would not see in their lifetime.  Jesus would not die on the cross until thousands of years later, yet they believed in His righteous cause.  And though they did not receive redemption through the blood of Jesus at that time, that new covenant will be enjoyed by us from now on.

In a culture filled with freedoms and conveniences, it’s often easy to forget where we came from.  We forget about our forefathers and what they did to give us what we have now.  But beyond our national heritage, we even forget about our spiritual forefathers and mothers who set such an honorable example of endurance and patience, faith and dedication – at all costs.  Greater than a knight in a queen’s court, or a European countryman fighting for his freedom, we have a lineage based on the eternal.  Like castle ruins, what we see around us will soon decay and disappear.  But our spiritual patriarchs and all they believed in will last forever.  It should be enough to inspire us to rise up and be like them.  We may never have to go to war, face the fierce jaw of a lion, or feel the heat of a fiery furnace; but we can continue that eternal lineage by giving all we have for our King.

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith who, for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1,2

 

 

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