Grab your Bible, and let’s go deeper into Matthew 8.
Matthew 8:18-22 Now when Jesus saw a crowd around him, he gave orders to go over to the other side. And a scribe came up and said to him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever you go.” And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head.” Another of the disciples said to him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” And Jesus said to him, “Follow me, and leave the dead to bury their own dead.”
Jesus is challenging this disciple’s priorities! Notice He doesn't make any apologies for the loss of the man’s father, who was evidently spiritually dead. Jesus is saying, “Check yourself!”
As disciples of Jesus Christ, we have been called to a new priority. He is asking, “Are you first about the things of this world and the temporary? Or are you first about following Me and building My kingdom?” Too often, Christians make little of passages like this because they seem to make Jesus look insensitive! This is the problem; we don’t see with the right clarity how serious it is to be a follower of Jesus. It’s an eternal identity that should absolutely be our number one priority! But, is it?
Are your top priorities spiritual/kingdom oriented, or are they physical/world oriented?
-We are redeemed by the blood of the Lamb!
-We are set free to live in His presence with His Holy Spirit living inside of us!
-We are citizens of the Kingdom of God!
-We are a holy nation of worshipers of the great “I AM”!
So, what could be so important that it would make me say, “No, Jesus, I can’t follow you right now. I am too busy with this or that!”
The problem is too often we say what the religious teacher said to Jesus: "Teacher, I will follow you no matter where you go!" but we end up doing what the disciple says next: "Lord, first let me return home and bury my father."
Many in frustration will say, “I want to be devoted to Jesus! But, for some reason, I keep drifting away from KINGDOM living and back into temporary things.”
Your intentions are right! I believe you legitimately want to follow Jesus, but the problem is you keep making decisions on a daily basis that show your priorities are really about temporary world things instead of eternal things of God.
I love how this is illustrated through Haggai in the Bible! Haggai encouraged the people to finish rebuilding the temple of God.
But opposition from hostile neighbors had caused them to feel discouraged, to neglect the temple, and thus neglect God.
Sometimes we feel the same kind of resistance from people or simply from life. Too often, hardships keep us focused on US when they should really cause us to focus on the LORD, who is able to help!
Haggai 1:1-6 In the second year of Darius the king, in the sixth month, on the first day of the month, the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet to Zerubbabel the son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua the son of Jehozadak, the high priest: “Thus says the Lord of hosts: These people say the time has not yet come to rebuild the house of the Lord.” Then the word of the Lord came by the hand of Haggai the prophet, “Is it a time for you yourselves to dwell in your paneled houses, while this house lies in ruins? Now, therefore, thus says the Lord of hosts: Consider your ways. You have sown much, and harvested little. You eat, but you never have enough; you drink, but you never have your fill. You clothe yourselves, but no one is warm. And he who earns wages does so to put them into a bag with holes.”
God asked His people how they could live in luxury when His house was lying in ruins.
The same question applies to us: How can we choose to prioritize our lives with the things of the world when we have been welcomed to dine and live in the Kingdom of God?
The temple was the focal point of Judah’s relationship with God, but it was still demolished. Instead of rebuilding the temple, the people put their energies into beautifying their own homes. However, the harder the people worked for themselves, the less they had because they ignored their spiritual lives. The same happens to us. If we put God first, He will provide for our deepest needs. If we put Him in any other place, all our efforts will be futile. Because the people had not given God first place in their lives, their work was not fruitful or productive, and their material possessions did not satisfy.
*God did not breathe life into us and then send His Son to die for us so we could walk away from Him when we felt like it or claim to have a relationship with Him that is really casual or weak! Yet, most of the time, we prioritize Him in our life this way! Our number one priority must be Jesus.
Matthew 22:37-40 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”
-First and foremost, we are to love God more than anything or anyone else!
Love the Lord your God with “all”:
<>Does that mean sometimes? <>Does that mean part way?
<>Does that mean when you feel like it? <>Does that mean give Him some of your heart?
This is all about priority! Jesus says all of the Bible hangs on these two commandments.
When we commit our greatest love to God, He then reveals how best to love those around us! This is why each of us needs to pause and get our priorities with God straight. We need to begin to really consider what we are pouring ourselves into lately.
Today, you need to see that God is huge! That God is worthy! That God is and needs to be rightly placed at the top of everything we do!
My question for you is do you believe that He will give you all you need from day to day if you live for Him and “… seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33)?
What do you seek first in your days? If you died today, what would your neighbors, coworkers, and friends say was the most important thing in your life? What do your daily practices say about who is first in your life? Your calendar, your checkbook, your words, your affections? We have to make God the priority of our day today because there is no promise for tomorrow!
James 4:13-15 Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go into such and such a town and spend a year there and trade and make a profit”— yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that.”
Time is a precious gift from God! There is no contract that you or I will live 80 years or even through today. Our prayer needs to be, “Use me today, Lord,” and not, “Lord, give me 40 more years to get my stuff, my family, and my dreams together.”
May we be laser-focused on keeping the main thing the main thing and keeping Christ as number one! This means He gets the best of our daily schedule and not the leftovers. This means He gets the first of our finances and not the leftovers. This means Sunday worship gets the priority of our weekend schedule and not the leftovers. This means we talk and walk with Jesus throughout the day and not just when there is a crisis.
I am praying for you as you study God’s word and grow in Christ. I pray it is a true blessing to you and that it compels you to truly live for Him in all you do.