Revive Our Hearts Podcast

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Review God's Priorities

Leslie Basham: Are you doing the tasks God has given you today? Here’s Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Nancy Leigh DeMoss: Freedom in life comes from fulfilling the job description that has been assigned to me. Frustration comes from trying to fulfill someone else’s job description.

Leslie: It’s Tuesday, December 28, and this is Revive Our Hearts with Nancy Leigh DeMoss.

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could set up an appointment with God and ask Him for a lifelong job description? God may not communicate exactly that way, but He does want you to know the purpose of your life, as Nancy will explain in a series called, First Things First.

Nancy: We’re talking this week about the matter of priorities—something that every woman is interested in knowing more about because most of us feel much of the time as if we’re missing it somehow in our priorities. How do I juggle all the demands that come into my life day after day and not always end up feeling winded and breathless in the process?

We’re tackling this subject of priorities by looking at the word priorities. We started yesterday with the letter “P,” which stands for “Pray.” Seek the Lord. Ask Him for wisdom. Ask Him to direct your steps.

Today we’re looking at the letter “R.” P-R-I-O-R-I-T-I-E-S. “R” Next to this letter, I would say we need to review and receive God’s priorities for our lives. Now, there’s one place you can find out what those priorities are, and that’s in the Scripture. It’s so important that we go to the “Manual for Life” to find out our job description.

As we have 24 hours in each day, we will never know what we’re supposed to do with those hours if we don’t go to the place where God has given us our job description—in His Word—and find out what is the purpose of my life. What am I supposed to be doing with my life?

Now, we’ve been talking about priorities—plural; but in a sense, there is really only one priority in life. In fact, I learned recently that until a hundred years ago, there was no such word as priorities—plural. There was only the word priority. By definition, only one thing can be first. There can only be one person who’s first in line. There can only be one first thing on the list. The word priority means "what’s first."

It’s our hassled, harried last generation that has made priorities out of many things, but truly there is only one priority in a sense. One of the legacies of the last century is that now we have multiple priorities—competing alternatives—all vying for our attention. But the number one priority—the priority of God for our lives—is the same for every child of God, whether you’re married or single, whether you’re younger or older, whether you’re male or female (well, we’re all female, but whether we’re talking to males or females). Through every season of life, our priority as children of God—our number one priority—is the same.

That’s where we have to start in this matter of reviewing God’s priorities for our lives. That’s the number one priority, which is our relationship, our walk with God. That’s the number one thing on our job description as children of God. It’s important to get that in place because everything else in my life flows out of that number one priority. When my relationship with God is in order, other things will be in order. And when my relationship with God is out of order, everything else in my life is going to be out of order sooner or later.

When I talk about having a relationship with God, let me start by saying that we’re not talking about adding one more thing to an already overcrowded life. We’re not talking about something on our “to do” list. We’re talking about the core focus of our whole life. We’re talking about life is a relationship with God. It’s not something on my “to do” list. He is my life.

I was thinking through different passages in the Scripture that talk about what is first or what is principle or what is the one thing. Some of these verses came to mind. Jesus said the first and the greatest commandment—what is it? “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind” (Matthew 22:37). The first commandment.

If I haven’t kept that commandment, then I’m not going to be able to keep all the other commandments. That’s first. The most important thing in my life is to love God. That’s not just a spiritual platitude. That’s not just a pious phrase. That’s life—to love God with all my heart.

Jesus said in Matthew chapter 6, verse 33, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”

  • Seek His ways.
  • Seek His pathway.
  • Seek His kingdom.
  • Seek what matters to Him.

And all these other things in life that are not the priority—the ones that you need will be added unto you.

Proverbs chapter 4, verse 7: “Wisdom is the principle thing; therefore get wisdom.” Where does wisdom come from? What is wisdom? Wisdom is looking at all of life from God’s point of view. Proverbs says that wisdom is the principle thing. Get God. Get a relationship with God. Get His perspective on life.

Colossians chapter 1, verse 18: “The goal,” Paul says, “is that in all things Christ might have the pre-eminence” (paraphrased). Pre-eminence. What does that word mean? I looked it up this morning. It means to be first—that Christ might be first. The head of all things. The spring of all things. The fountain of all of life. The supremacy of Christ. This is my priority.

Psalm chapter 27, verse 4, the Psalmist said,

One thing I have desired [one thing] of the LORD, that will I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in His temple.

The Psalmist said, “My number one priority in life is to live in the presence of God, to learn from Him, to love Him with all my heart.”

Jesus said to the harried Martha, busy doing something very important, but missing out on the priority. He said, “Martha, only one thing is needful in life. One thing is absolutely necessary and that is your relationship with Me” (Luke 10:22, paraphrased). That’s what supremely matters.

Now, if we’re going to have first things first, if we’re going to prioritize God’s priorities for our lives (and the first one of those for every believer being a relationship with God), we’ve got to remember the necessity of the Word of God and spending time with God in His Word. Jesus said, “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4, NIV).

Job chapter 23, verse 12, Job said, “I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food.” You want to fulfill that number one priority in life? It’s impossible apart from spiritual food, and we get that spiritual food in the Word of God. That means there has to be time in my day to be in the Word, to be in the presence of God, to be listening to God, to be responding to God.

This was an unbendable, nonnegotiable priority for my dad. The 28 years from the time he met Christ until the day he went to be with the Lord, he started his day every single day by spending time in the Word and on his knees. In fact, he had a little motto, “No Bible reading, no breakfast.” That’s the way he lived. And furthermore, he would not read any other reading material until he had been in the Word.

I was talking with a wife and mom last night on the phone and she said, “There were days as I was raising my children that I just could not get that time first thing in the morning.” She said, “God used my husband to help me see that if I couldn’t get it in the morning, get it in the evening, get it in the afternoon, but get some time.”

She said, “When I couldn’t do it in the morning, I would just not get the time and then I really was going on my own steam, on my own fuel.” But she said, “I realized it was better to get some time with the Lord sometime in the day than to say because I couldn’t do it in the morning, therefore, I wasn’t going to have that time.”

Relationship with God means that I need to make time in His Word, time in prayer, time in meditation, and time with God’s people. Using the means of grace, I need to make these things a priority in my schedule.

Now, here’s the concept that has challenged me over the years, and I have to go back to this every day of my life. If I’m too busy to cultivate my relationship with God by the means of grace God has provided for me, then I’m too busy. Then something is wrong and something has to change.

Now that sounds very elementary, but I think it really is profound. If I don’t have time to get to know God, then something needs to change. That change may be some of the “carburetor adjustments” we’re going to talk about over the next several days. It may be minor changes in our schedule that will make a big difference, or we may need to make a major paradigm change in the way that we view all of our schedule—a drastic reordering of our priorities.

As you review God’s priorities for your life, the first one being the same for all of us—our relationship with God:

  • What would you say is the number one priority in your life?
  • What would others say is the number one priority in your life?
  • Based on what you love to talk about, on the way you spend your time, what you do when you have free time, what is the number one priority in your life?

Is it your relationship with the Lord? And what’s the evidence? How is that demonstrated?

I want to encourage you to think through your current schedule, this current season of life, and to identify any activities that may be hindering you from adequately prioritizing your relationship with the Lord. There may be some obvious clutter in your life that you just need to purpose—look, we’re clearing that out. There’s not time for that right now.

We’ll talk more about clutter in the days ahead, but just start by saying are there some things in my life that clearly are hindering me from having a meaningful relationship with the Lord? Now, that doesn’t mean you go home and get rid of your children. That would not be the kind of clutter we’re talking about. But there may be some things in your life that aren’t quite so necessary.

Leslie: Nancy Leigh DeMoss has been offering some good advice that you won’t find in most time management books. I hope you'll spend some time evaluating the priorities God already given you. Nancy will be right back with the second half of the program.

If you’ve only caught part of the message, you’re listening to a series called First Things First. You can hear the entire series at ReviveOurHearts.com. There, you can stream the audio. You can order the CD, or subscribe to the podcast. When you do, all the programs will come straight to your computer and you can listen back at your own schedule. Find out more about these options at ReviveOurHearts.com.

Now let’s get back to Nancy’s series called, First Things First.

Nancy: Time does not permit us to talk about every person and every season of life, so I want to start by saying if you want to know God’s job description for your life, you’ve got to get into this Book. I’m holding up the Scripture—the Word of God. You’ve got to become a student of this Book.

 

As you read through it, look for commands, look for instruction, look for direction that applies to you. Ask God to show you through His Word what is His job description for your life at this season of your life. We do live in different seasons.

We have, as we’ve already said, different marital status. Some of you are mothers of preschoolers, but you will not always be mothers of preschoolers. This is the season for preschoolers for some of you. Some of you are empty nesters. Some of you have grown children and grandchildren. You’re at a different season of life.

So as we look into the Word of God, there is instruction for older women. There is instruction for those who are single, and we need to consult the Lord about what those priorities are for each season of life.

Now, in the time we have today, I want to focus on one particular season of life because so many women are in this season of life. That is for those who are wives and mothers. A few of you I realize are not in that season, but you still need to be aware of what the job description, biblically, is for wives and mothers because some of you have daughters who are wives and mothers.

Some of you have friends who are wives and mothers, and they’re coming to you as an older woman, and they’re saying, “I can’t juggle everything in my life. How do I do this?” You need to be able to point to the Scripture and show them from the Word of God what is their job description. So I want to focus on that season of life. It will apply more to some than to others, but we all need to be aware of it.

As I look at the Scripture, there are three key Scriptures, one in the Old Testament and two in the New, that give very clear and specific instruction about God’s job description for those who are wives and mothers. We’re not going to be able to go into any of these passages in depth, but I want to give us just a broad overview so you can see that they really say about the same thing.

The first passage is that very familiar one in Proverbs chapter 31. The last part of that chapter gives a whole list of things that the virtuous woman does. I always get a little nervous when I read this chapter because I begin immediately to feel like I could never be such a woman. Yet when you boil it all down, you take that passage and you kind of put it into categories, it’s really not quite as complex as it sounds.

It’s very clear that the priorities in that woman’s life are in this order. First of all, her character—her character and her relationship with God. She’s a virtuous woman. She’s a woman who fears the Lord. She has a relationship with God. That’s the number one priority, the controlling, core focus of her life.

Number two is a relationship with her husband. That’s the first relationship mentioned in that passage—the heart of her husband to safely trust in her. Her third priority is her household. That’s her children and her home. All that list of things she does—they’re all really just fulfilling these priorities.

As those priorities are in place, then she has time for outreach, for ministry. It’s interesting that her ministry is in relation to acts of mercy toward the poor and the needy, a distinctively God-given calling to us as women. Acts of mercy toward those who are poor and needy. So it’s her heart, her walk with God, her husband, her household, which includes her children and her home, and then her outreach to those who are poor and needy.

You say, “Well, that’s just one passage.” Let me show you the same sequence in two other passages. Titus chapter 2, verses 4 and 5. This is actually a curriculum for young women. It’s a curriculum that’s supposed to be taught by older women. Paul says the priorities here are clear.

First of all, the young women are to love their husbands, then they are to love their children. They are to be discreet and chaste. That speaks of their character or their heart. Then they are to be homemakers—good, obedient to their husbands that the Word of God may not be blasphemed.

Now, rather than go into all of that in detail, just look at the set of priorities there. Who is the woman’s first responsibility to as it relates to other people? It’s to her husband. Her husband comes before her children. Some of you who are rearing children right now, if your children take priority over your husband, the day will come when your children will be grown and gone and you’ll discover you have no relationship with your husband.

The next thing on her job description after her relationship with her husband is her children. Then he talks about her character, her heart. She is to be discreet and chaste. Then this matter of the home. She is to be a homemaker, a worker at home, a keeper at home. Husbands, children, and then the household.

Look at 1 Timothy chapter 5, verses 9 and 10. Now, specifically, this is talking here about widows, but Paul is saying here’s how you can know if a church should take care of a widow. They have to meet some qualifications. The qualifications are that when they were not a widow, when they were younger, they had to fulfill God’s job description for their lives.

Here’s where he gives that job description: 1 Timothy 5: 9 and 10. He says,

No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty, has been faithful to her husband [first relationship: her husband], and is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble, and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds (NIV). 

He goes on to say in verse 14,

So I counsel younger widows to marry [husband], to have children [children], to manage their homes [their household] and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander (NIV).

Though it goes against the grain of the whole culture, including the evangelical culture today, if we want to succeed as women of God, we’ve got to embrace God’s priorities for our lives.

I spend countless hours listening to and counseling and responding to letters and emails and requests from women who are frustrated, who are beside themselves with anger and irritation, and they’re resentful. Their lives are not fitting together. Their lives are falling apart. Invariably it has something to do with the fact that they have not embraced God’s priorities for their lives.

The Scripture is clear that a married woman’s life and ministry is to be centered in her home. Now that raises this obvious question. Does that mean it’s wrong for me to have a job outside my home? Could I suggest that’s the wrong question? The question is not is it okay to have a job outside my home. The question is, will having a job outside my home in any way compete with or diminish my effectiveness in fulfilling my primary calling in my home?

If you can sustain your relationship with the Lord, cultivate it, be growing spiritually; if you can sustain your relationship with your husband, be meeting his needs, be serving as his helper, be meeting the needs of your children, be keeping your household in order and be ministering to the needs of the poor and needy around you and then have a job in addition to that, go ahead and do it.

But if you can’t, then put first things first. Say, “Lord, the priorities You have given me for my life are the priorities that I accept for this season of my life.” So I would say, "Have you surrendered to God’s priorities for your life for this season of your life?"

God did not call you to do and to be everything there is to do and to be. If you are married, if you have children, God’s priorities for you in terms of your work, your ministry, are your husband, your children, and your home. Then I believe out of that ministry, God will give you opportunity to touch the lives of others in ways that will minister grace to them.

Have you agreed to God’s priorities for your life?

Leslie: That’s an important question from Nancy Leigh DeMoss in the series First Things First. That question is crucial for each of us to ask, ncluding Nancy.

Nancy: Today’s reminder to review and embrace God’s priorities for our lives is so valuable for me. It’s so easy to let the pressures and busyness of life distract us from the things that are most important.

As Revive Our Hearts has faced the most challenging financial season in the nearly 10 years that we've been on the air, I confess that at times I’ve been tempted to worry and to try and fix things without consulting the Lord. But today’s program is a good reminder to follow God’s priorities. So related to year-end giving, what priorities should we follow?

First, before you give anything to this or any other ministry, make sure you've given yourself to the Lord. That's the offering God really wants. I'd go so far as to say that if you are holding back on God, if your heart is not saying, "Yes, Lord" to Him, please don't try and "tip" God by sending a donation to Revive Our Hearts. God wants your heart; He want your life, first of all.

If you’re married, let me encourage you to talk with your mate about your year–end giving. It would be a great idea to pray and seek the Lord together and just make sure that you are on the same page. 

Then be sure that you are giving to your local church. If you’re not doing that, that's the place to start. I hope you’ll still give to Revive our Hearts, but I just want to say that supporting the ministries and outreaches of your local church is even more important. If you can only give one place, that’s where your focus needs to be.

And then there's the priority of prayer? More that anything else, Revive Our Hearts needs your prayers as we face serious budget needs. We need the Lord to give us wisdom as we face tough decisions on whether and how to scale back certain ministry outreaches. And we need wisdom on how to prioritize the many opportunities facing us on a limited budget.

Finally, would you give to Revive Our Hearts? It’s an eternal investment that God is using to speak truths to women’s hearts across the United States around the world. As you consider your financial situation, I'd encourage you to ask yourself if you are using the resources God has entrusted to you to further His kingdom. It may be that He'll lead you to make Revive Our Hearts a higher priority over other spending choices that won’t make as big of a difference in eternity.

It all boils down to this. Would you ask God what part He wants you to play in helping to meet the needs that Revive Our Hearts is facing here at the end of 2010? Then simply respond to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Do whatever He puts on your heart to do. Thank you so much.

Leslie: You can make your donation by calling 1-800-569-5959, or donate at ReviveOurHearts.com.

What would you discover if you got a weekly printout on how you spend your time each day? Would you be pleasantly surprised, or shocked at how much time is eaten up by nonessential activities?

We’ll take on that question tomorrow, on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

All Scripture references are from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.

About the Speaker

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth has touched the lives of millions of women through Revive Our Hearts and the True Woman movement, calling them to heart revival and biblical womanhood. Her love …

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