Matthew 5:6 “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.”
What is it that is important to you? What is it that consumes your thinking, keeps you up at night, or is the focus of the coming day?
The things we dwell upon are the things we esteem. If my life focus is on something as simple as a game, everything else in my life must diminish. If my goal is to glorify God in my life, then my priorities shift from pleasing myself to honoring God’s will. I can honor the Lord in the midst of having fun, the key is where my heart is found.
What about health? Does my body take priority over my spiritual welfare?
“I cannot miss it for the world” is a phrase often said nonchalantly among those who are excited about a coming concert or event. If my priorities in life are all about fulfilling my pleasure, I might have missed the things that were really important.
If we can’t recognize patterns of idolatry for what they’ve become in our lives then we risk being lulled into thinking life is no deeper than our last source of entertainment. If our thoughts are more on how we look or feel we can get lost in this world and leave God’s plans on the periphery.
The result of misplaced priorities can lead to anger, resentment, and fear.
Stress and anxiety are exploding in our cultures. The stress that some people experience affects them both physically and mentally. We allow stress causing situations by trying to maintain lifestyles that might be misaligned with God’s intended purpose. When everything doesn’t go as planned, it’s easy to overreact to situations that under normal conditions wouldn’t be a problem. When filtered through the lens of anxiety, normal situations appear out of control.
2 Timothy 1:7 “For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control.”
If we gain comfort in food, overeating can cause major troubles in our lives. Obesity has side effects such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease, joint pain and many other health effects that threaten our lives. According to the World Health Organization, the worldwide prevalence of obesity nearly tripled between 1975 and 2016.
If our bodies can’t respond to what God has called us to, then maybe we should reevaluate our lifestyles.
Mark 6:31 “And he said to them, “Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.” For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure even to eat.”
Jesus recognized the importance of the hour and that there was a time to forsake comfort for the work that God had given. There was also a time to rest and recover from our labor, maintaining proper balance is important.
Lust for Money
What about wealth? Do we invest in stuff that squanders our wealth and only for our entertainment, pleasure, or status, or do we invest in people and items that lead others to Christ? Are we investing in that which is eternal or only those things that are temporal?
The things we pursue are reflective of that which we adore. When we place high esteem on an item that we probably don’t need, we seek pleasure in acquiring stuff and this never satisfies.
True Honor lies in what God values.
Where is honor derived from? Who determines if someone is deserving of honor?
We have a bad habit in America of labeling people hero’s for almost everything. The things the world deems as ‘extraordinary’ are the acts that at one time were common among people of faith. Would finding someone’s purse and returning it unopened to a local police precinct be considered hero worthy? How about helping a little old lady across the street, or assisting a widow with changing the oil in her car, would those be considered hero worthy? These incidents were all considered normal when I was a kid. Helping people, acting honestly, or going out of your way for a friend who was in trouble was the decent thing to do. The world doesn’t know what heroism looks like anymore because character and principles have no foundation.
Proverbs 21:21 “He who pursues righteousness and loving devotion finds life, righteousness, and honor.”
The people God has placed in my life, such as my wife, children, relationships, or ministry are priorities that I had to learn how to prioritize.
We can make something that looks good an idol as well. If I am so caught up in doing ministry for the poor and neglect my family, I have forgotten my first responsibility as a husband and father. I can be so determined to start a church or begin a ministry in a particular country that I forget to pray and seek God’s timing and approval for that endeavor. What looks good from everyone else’s point of view may be contrary to what God had planned all along.
Well Placed Priorities
Psalm 46:10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!”
The things we hunger for are derived from the priorities we place in our lives. If we exalt the Lord first, everything else falls into line.
If I desire the Lord, my life, priorities, relationships, goals, ambitions, time spent, and even my future are directed toward honoring Jesus first. If a game conflicts with taking my family to church, the game is forfeited. If my time in the morning with the Lord in devotion is compromised because I want to go to the gym, I’ll need to find some other time to work out. If I run to food when my life seems empty, I must learn to run to the Lord for my strength and my comfort.
All that is ‘good’ in life comes from God. All that He wants to give us is free. Jesus already paid the price, the tab has been covered, now all he says is “come to the table.” The great thing is, you will not be dining alone!
Revelation 3:20-21 “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne.”
Overcoming addictions to food, money, prestige, health, and all the other things we make priorities in our lives is not easy. To have a mindset that is on the things above and not on this world can be difficult. The world is always pulling us toward seeking after the things of the world.
What is it we are trying to fill up in our lives?
When we seek after the things of the flesh to fill up what we lack in the spirit, we will be left in a continual state of need. The food, entertainment, money, power, prestige, they all are attempts to bring joy, fulfillment, and peace into our lives. Jesus likened these attempts at fulfilment to drinking water. As Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at the well, He brought understanding to her darkened heart.
John 4:13-14 Jesus answered and said to her, “Whoever drinks of this water will thirst again, but whoever drinks of the water that I shall give him will never thirst. But the water that I shall give him will become in him a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”
The water of the world is like the bitter waters of Marah in Exodus 15. The Israelites were journeying from Egypt to the promised land in the wilderness of Shur and came upon water in a region called Marah. Once they tasted the water and realized it was bitter, they began to complain, what they thought would bring relief only brought death. Moses was instructed by the Lord to throw a tree into the waters and the water became sweet. This testing that the Lord brought upon His people was a sign of things to come.
Proverbs 11:30 “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.”
* That tree thrown into the waters of Marah represented the same water that Jesus gives to His people. He fills His people with the Spirit of life, that life giving water then spills over to others and becomes like a tree of life to them. The bitterness of the world, the result of seeking fulfillment in a system that cannot fulfill is made sweet by the presence of the Lord, to those who receive Him.
Proverbs 3:13-18 “Happy is the man who finds wisdom,
And the man who gains understanding;
For her proceeds are better than the profits of silver,
And her gain than fine gold.
She is more precious than rubies,
And all the things you may desire cannot compare with her.
Length of days is in her right hand,
In her left hand riches and honor.
Her ways are ways of pleasantness,
And all her paths are peace.
She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her,
And happy are all who retain her.”
Godly Wisdom is found in His model for living.
Water feeds the Tree, the tree bears Fruit, the fruit is Wisdom and Understanding, which leads to length of days, riches, honor, pleasantness, peace, and happiness.
Let me show you one other thing here…..
Water===>comes from Jesus (Revelation 21:6)(John 4:14)
Tree of Life====>is given by Jesus (Revelation 2:7)
Fruit======>Jesus is the vine that bears fruit through us.(John 15:4)
Wisdom=====>Jesus is the wisdom of God(1 Corinthians 1:24)
Understanding====>Jesus reveals understanding(Job 28:20-28)
Everything good in life comes from God.
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”
For those who dwell among the world, who seek fulfillment in the world…you’ll never find it, many have tried and many have failed. To those who seek fulfillment in Christ alone, you will find all that your heart desires. Jesus holds the key to life and if you submit to His work, if you die to your old life and let Him make you anew, you will find life both now and in the age to come.