God as priority #1

I have written before about my lack of discipline when it comes to priorities. It seems like I have to keep learning the importance of priorities, especially when it comes to putting God first in my day. I don’t completely understand why I have such a problem in this area.

When I don’t put God first and start my day doing trivial things I feel off the rest of the day. Yet, I still go through short seasons of being distracted and putting spending time with God almost as an afterthought. My heart and mind are so easily distracted from the things that are the most important in life. I believe that the heart and mind work hand in hand when it comes to this.

In Matthew 6:19-21 Jesus says:

Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal.  But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal.  For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.

Verse 21 shows how our hearts will follow what we treasure or consider important or valuable. If I consider something or someone important then I will think about and spend time on them, this includes my thoughts. When I decide to spend more time and energy on hobbies, games and entertainment than I do on God then I’m basically saying those things are more important to me then God.

If I continually look to the things of this world for validation then my heart will actually long for more of those things. But, if I look to God for validation and purpose, by spending time with him, my heart will long for more of him.

Last week I got an early birthday gift, a Blu-ray player. I spent at least three days watching movies and shows on streaming services and Blu-ray disks. Between that and an online game, which was having a competition, I didn’t spend any time with God except for church.

Because of this I started to struggle with focusing. My brain wanted to go a thousand miles a minute in twelve different directions. For me this can be dangerous. If I don’t control where my thoughts go it becomes very easy to relapse.

Luckily, I realized I was getting into dangerous territory before my brain went too far down that road. I was able to correct my behavior by making sure to meditate and spend time with God before doing anything else for the day. It may not sound like it but this is a big improvement for me compared to a year ago. Before, my media binges might last for three weeks instead of three days. Getting back on track is much easier after three days than three weeks.

I read a devotional a week or two ago that suggested that our hearts don’t long for God because we haven’t spent time truly getting to know him. If we knew him intimately and more fully our hearts would naturally long for him. I tend to agree with this. But it isn’t as if we can gain a certain amount of knowledge and then stop. It’s something we have to continually do.

In Romans 12:2 Paul tells us :

Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

The word translated as transformed means to be transformed after being with or literally transfigured. The same word used to describe Jesus’ change in appearance on the mountain top.

As he was praying, the appearance of his face changed, and his clothes became as bright as a flash of lightning.  Two men, Moses and Elijah, appeared in glorious splendor, talking with Jesus.   They spoke about his departure, which he was about to bring to fulfillment at Jerusalem. Peter and his companions were very sleepy, but when they became fully awake, they saw his glory and the two men standing with him.  As the men were leaving Jesus, Peter said to him, “Master, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what he was saying.)
 While he was speaking, a cloud appeared and covered them, and they were afraid as they entered the cloud.  A voice came from the cloud, saying, “This is my Son, whom I have chosen; listen to him.” When the voice had spoken, they found that Jesus was alone. The disciples kept this to themselves and did not tell anyone at that time what they had seen. – Luke 9:29-36

Notice that this happened when Jesus was praying. If Jesus was praying in order to fully see heaven and audibly hear his Father’s voice what makes me think I can go days or weeks without spending time with God and still hear his voice. If I want to know his will I have to spend time with him.

Moses was completely human and he was physically transformed by being in God’s presence.

When Moses came down from Mount Sinai with the two tablets of the covenant law in his hands, he was not aware that his face was radiant because he had spoken with the Lord. – Exodus 33:29

Moses was chosen to lead the Israelites out of Egypt and into the promised land. This was at a time when only a few chosen people were allowed to be in the presence of God. But because of the death and resurrection of Jesus we believers can come into his transforming presence any time.

Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess.  For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. 16 Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. – Hebrews 4:14-16

Each and every one of us has so much available to us from God if we would just take the time to experience it. This is something we have to repeatedly and consistently make time for. In my experience, the more time I spend with God the easier it becomes to make him a priority. It takes time to develop the habit of spending time with God but it is worth it.

I don’t always do it perfectly but God knows I’m trying and knows how easily we humans get distracted. If you don’t spend time with God on a regular basis I encourage you to start. As for me, I plan on continuing to grow into a fuller relationship with God.

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