We’ve been sharing a series on how to reset your life. This current situation in which we live is the perfect time to hit the reset button, to clear the decks and start again and get back to basics. Sometimes we are forced to do this as a hard reset, where we face devastation and pain and loss to reset our lives, but right now we can do a soft reset, not back to factory default settings but by making a conscious choice to reset important values in our lives.
ACTIONS REFLECT PRIORITIES
Surprised to see an empty seat at the football grand final, a diehard fan remarked about it to a man sitting nearby. “It was my wife’s,” the man explained, “But she died.” “Oh! I’m very sorry to hear that,” said the man. “Yet I’m really surprised that another relative, or friend, didn’t jump at the chance to take the seat reserved for her.” “Beats me,” he said. “They all insisted on going to the funeral.”
One of the key things for me in this pandemic is resetting priorities. Our expose our, and our priorities expose our values. We might say something is important, but our priorities expose the truth as to whether it is truly that important to us.
Ephesians 5:15-16 (ESV Strong’s)
Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.
Truly we have seen that days are evil right now with this pandemic. We are not sailing along blissfully ignorant in our contented, brain numbed stupor, suddenly we have to reset what is truly important in our lives, and this reset must be reflected in our actions.
WHAT PRIORITIES WERE BEFORE
Just a few months ago, our priorities were so different. As Christians, we might claim to want to serve Jesus, but we spent much of our time living, working, investing, getting friends, getting things, getting money, getting ahead in life. We were comfortable, but we were complaining and confused about what really is important in life.
Then came the corona virus, and everything was turned in its head. Many of us lost jobs, incomes and businesses, we all lost freedom as we knew it before, can’t touch, can’t hug, can’t stand closer than 1.5 metres, and toilet paper suddenly became a precious commodity.
Our priorities, which reflect our values and what’s really important to us, have changed. This is our opportunity to reset them. Jesus spoke about this…
Luke 12:15-21 (ESV Strong’s)
And he said to them, “Take care, and be on your guard against all covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And he told them a parable, saying, “The land of a rich man produced plentifully, and he thought to himself, ‘What shall I do, for I have nowhere to store my crops?’ And he said, ‘I will do this: I will tear down my barns and build larger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. And I will say to my soul, “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years; relax, eat, drink, be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘Fool! This night your soul is required of you, and the things you have prepared, whose will they be?’ So is the one who lays up treasure for himself and is not rich toward God.”
WHAT PRIORITIES CAN BE
Priorities reflect values, and we have before us a golden opportunity to reset our values, to reset what is truly important in life.
I was in a store this week and lent on a counter top, and the sales assistant nearly had kittens! The climate of fear is alive and well for the general population out there. She wouldn’t even let me touch the eftpos machine to put my pin in for fear I might infect the keypad.
But our priorities can reflect something greater than this climate of fear.
Psalms 91:9-11 (ESV Strong’s)
Because you have made the LORD your dwelling place—
the Most High, who is my refuge— no evil shall be allowed to befall you,
no plague come near your tent. For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways.
We can have values and confidence that others don’t!
For years our priorities have been pushed and pulled and squeezed into the mould the world dictates to us, but today we have the chance to reset them.
WHAT FORMS YOUR PRIORITIES?
Every person has their own priorities and values in life. Our values set our priorities. It determines where you spend your effort and time. We pick up our values basically from what we are constantly exposed to – like our childhood experiences, our family upbringing, our education, our friends, our neighbourhood, our workplace environment, TV, the media, etc.
But at the end of the day it is we who choose and decide the source of our values.
Job 34:4 (ESV Strong’s)
Let us choose what is right; let us know among ourselves what is good.
Every one of us are at different stages of life, and accordingly our priorities and values are different. What was important at age 15 is not the same as age 40 or age 70. We have to sift through and decide what’s number 1 in importance, then number 2 and so on.
So how are you going to decide what is really important & what is not? Well, the key here is how long is this important thing going to last in your life? If your priority is going to last for eternity, then it is really important. If it is going to last 60 years, that’s still pretty important. If it is going to last a few minutes or days, that’s shouldn’t be prioritised in the s a me way.
WHAT ARE THE WORLD’S PRIORITIES?
The world is trying to influence your priorities, to squeeze you into its mould.
Romans 12:2 (ESV Strong’s)
Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
Here’s some things the world would tell you to prioritise…
The world tells us that our pleasure, doing what we want, is our divine right. The whole entertainment industry is build around our pleasures. Advertising is about stimulating and satisfying our pleasures. People often say, God wants us to have a happy life, so if sin makes me happy, if sex and drugs and booze and video games please me, then God must be ok with it.
That is simply not true. Last week we saw God is really ok with holiness, but not ok with your sin. So much so, He died to win you back from the consequences of your sin. Moses was described like this,
Hebrews 11:24-25 (ESV Strong’s)
By faith Moses, when he was grown up, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter, choosing rather to be mistreated with the people of God than to enjoy the fleeting pleasures of sin.
Sin is pleasurable, otherwise no one would do it! But we must not prioritise sin over holiness, our fleeting pleasure over standing for what is right.
There are consequences for everything we do and say.
Galatians 6:7-8 (ESV Strong’s)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap. For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life.
There are consequences for everything we do and say. Solomon observed this…
Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 (ESV Strong’s)
And whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them. I kept my heart from no pleasure, for my heart found pleasure in all my toil, and this was my reward for all my toil. Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had expended in doing it, and behold, all was vanity and a striving after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun.
The world says prioritise your own pleasure, but it is foolish vanity. It’s time to reset it.
Another thing the world says is a priority is possessions, getting stuff. We have to have the best, the latest, the coolest. We don’t repair things any more, we toss them and get the new model. Those darned socks never get darned any more!
1 Timothy 6:7-10 (ESV Strong’s)
for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world. But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content. But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evils.
Pursuing money and possessions might seem important in this life, and we all do it, but ultimately you are on a never stopping treadmill. Even if you win the rat race, you’re still a rat!
Ecclesiastes 5:10 (ESV Strong’s)
He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity.
2 boys watching a funeral procession, and one asks whose funeral it was. The other said, why it’s the local millionaire. Really, said the first bit, how much did he leave. The other boy replied, all of it. Shrouds don’t have pockets!
3. POWER AND PRESTIGE
We all want influence, we all want popularity, for people to love us, but again, this is a fleeting, vane pursuit.
Jesus tells the parable of the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16, showing us that the rich influential successful man finishes in hell for eternity. His wealth, power and influence meant nothing in eternity.
Mark 10:31 (ESV Strong’s)
But many who are first will be last, and the last first.
You can pursue and prioritise being popular, gaining influence and power here on earth, but ultimately in God’s economy it will be worthless!
Let’s talk about HOW TO RESET YOUR PRIORITIES
This Corona virus pandemic is our chance to soft reset our priorities in life. Remember, a soft reset is a choice to change with minimal pain, not a hard reset which results in devastating pain and loss. COVID 19 is a great time to reset our priorities… and our perspectives…
Charles Francis Adams, son of President John Quincy Adams and grandson of President John Adams, kept a diary. One day he entered: “Went fishing with my son today—a day wasted.”
His son, Brook Adams, also kept a diary, which is still in existence. On that same day, Brook Adams made this entry: “Went fishing with my father—the most wonderful day of my life!” The father thought he was wasting time while fishing with his son, but his son saw it as an investment of time. It was a difference in priorities and values.
The only way to tell the difference between wasting and investing is to know one’s ultimate purpose in life and to prioritise accordingly.
So here are some steps towards resetting your priorities in this moment…
1. CHOOSE THE SOURCE OF YOUR VALUES
Destiny is not something that randomly happens to you, it is a series of choices. Make bad choices, you mess up your destiny. Make wise choices, God unroll the most incredible destiny for your life. It’s all your choice!
So the first step is to decide to see life from God’s perspective, and make His Word the source of your values, and basis of your priorities. Your choice…
2 Corinthians 4:18 (ESV Strong’s)
as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
So decide first to choose life, choose God’s way, God’s perspective, God’s priorities.
2. TURN AWAY FROM THE WORLD’S VALUES
1 John 2:15-17 (ESV Strong’s)
Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
The world is constantly trying to conform you into its image, what it wants from you, and what it thinks you should want from life.
Psalms 119:37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
‘Turn my eyes away from worthless things’ would be a good verse to put on your TV set or computer screens.
3. WEIGH THE CONSEQUENCES
As you determine your priorities, a great thing to do is to step back and get a wide angle rather than a telescopic view. You can then clearly see and weigh the consequences of your priorities.
Galatians 6:7 (ESV Strong’s)
Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.
Let’s look at a few examples of consequences. Having an affair for example. A few moments pleasure, a small amount of time sampling forbidden fruit. Weight that up against losing your wife, your children, your friends, your ministry, half of your fortune, most of your self respect.
Stopping coming to church. You get to sleep in. Maybe catch up with a friend. But you lose spiritual connection with God, the ministry He has for you, the destiny He has for you. Eternal consequences in exchange for a sleep in.
MAKE THE CHOICE TO RESET YOUR PRIORITIES
Having done this, all that remains is a simple choice… I choose to realign my priorities with God. I choose life, God’s life, God’s priorities!
Deuteronomy 30:19 (ESV Strong’s)
I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live,
Don’t walk away, don’t turn this recording off without making a decision. To delay, to think about it later, is a decision to choose your own way, not God’s.
WHERE IS YOUR TREASURE?
Our priorities reveal what we value or treasure. Much of what the world prioritises is really dross or rubbish in eternity.
Don’t tell me Jesus is most important if you spend your whole life pursuing money. Don’t tell me you love your family if you have affairs and destroy it. Don’t tell me God is number 1 in your life if you never open His Word or pray. Our actions reflect our priorities, and right now we have the chance to reset those priorities and get them right, for now, for the future even for eternity!
Matthew 6:19-21 (ESV Strong’s)
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
If you treasure something you will prioritise it. We concentrate on what we treasure.
IT’S TIME TO RESET YOUR PRIORITIES
Luke 16:15 (ESV Strong’s)
God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.
So what is really important to us? Let me list some priorities most if us would agree on.
My first priority is God, because God and God’s work will take me all the way into eternity. The second in my case is my family. The third in my case is church, and after that is work, finances, the home and so on. You can work your own priorities.
But right now is the opportunity it reset our priorities and get them right for the long run, for all of our lives and into eternity. And as we reset, we must ensure that our actions reflect what we say are our priorities, and we need to give more time to what is really important. This is not about asking you to make a mental ascent, we need a total change in lifestyle.
IT’S TIME TO RESET YOUR LIFESTYLE
This pandemic is your golden opportunity to reset your lifestyle. You can change your lifestyle according to your priorities, and what is the most important should get your maximum time while what is the least important should get your least time, otherwise you are going no where.
If I ask you is God important to you? Everyone will say yes to this. Then do you schedule time to be with God? Do you read his word? “Well, no pastor, I’m so busy, I can’t.” Do you give God’s work at least 10% of your income? “No, I need that for myself.” Do you spend time in the Word? Do you spend time praying, talking to God, developing a relationship with Him? “No, I am much to busy to do any of that.” You see, we say one thing but we do something else.
If your family is really important for you then you should think about spending more time with your spouse and children.
If your health is really important then how much time do you exercise, do you eat right?
Is financial security important for you? Everybody will say yes. Are you a materialistic person? Oh, no! I’m not a materialistic person at all.” Really? Is your debt load getting deeper & deeper? Are you buying things that you can’t afford? Do you have credit card charges that you can’t pay? Are you saving money? “No, I spend it all,” you say.
You see we all want a changed outcome but we do not want a changed lifestyle. As we reset priorities, we need to change our lifestyle! So as we finish, if you’re really serious about changing your lifestyle, here’s 3 areas that you are going to have to work on.
- Work on your schedule. Is your schedule consistent with what you say is important? Do you prioritise time for the things you say are really important, or are you spending time on things that you say aren’t important? You’re going to have to reevaluate your schedule.
- Work on your budget. “Am I spending the most money on the things that are really important, or am I spending the most money on things that I think are not important, on things that only last for a brief period of time? Are you tithing.
- Work on your Responsibilities. “Am I spending my time and effort with the responsibilities of my life or am I spending all my time being involved with things that aren’t that important to me?”
Ephesians 4:17-20 (ESV Strong’s)
Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—
This opportunity to reset our priorities means we must stop living like worldly people whose thinking is futile and values and priorities are misplaced. Understand what is important, put first things first, and change your lifestyle.
So, what is priority 1,2 and 3 in your life right now? I want you to pray with me and reset your priorities to a God’s priorities.
Matthew 6:33 (ESV Strong’s)
But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.