Text: 3 so I sent messengers to them with this reply: “I am carrying on a great project and cannot go down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and go down to you?” (Nehemiah 6:3, NIV)
Teach: Can you distinguish between what is important and what is urgent? Often the urgent things of life present as important to get us off track. Nehemiah was able to identify the ploy of Sandballat and his cronies as deception and he reaffirmed his commitment to getting the work done.
Take: Jesus encouraged his followers to keep their priorities straight. He told them to seek the Kingdom of God (the things of and about God) first, make those things their priority, then everything needed for life and living will follow (see Matthew 6:33)
Task: In your quiet moments with God, consider what your top five priorities are. What are the things in the list that you, like Nehemiah, wouldn’t leave or couldn’t be drawn away from? Seal your commitment in prayer.
33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. (Matthew 6:33)
There’s a line from a child’s poem that rumbles through my brain when I read this part of the Sermon on the Mount: :…why the people rush and worry so..” Jesus was aware of the people’s preoccupation with what they would eat and what they would wear and wear they would lay their head at night.
His solution: seek 1st things 1st.
Determining our priorities pose problems for us. The struggle often comes from our inability to distinguish between what is urgent and what is important.
What are we chasing after and why?
Jesus is pretty clear. Seek first God’s Kingdom–his way of doing things. This thought was already given prominence in his answer to the disciples request for his teaching on prayer: pray this way, “Your Kingdom come.” Which in a nutshell means: I am willing Lord to live by your principles.
And your righteousness. Big theological word. What does it mean? To be in right relationship with God.
And if we do these things? Then all these things…the stuff the world chases after…worries about…labels as urgent and important….will be given to us.
A Psalm that most of us know much of by heart was also familiar to those who listened to Jesus that day. The Lord is my Shepherd. I have everything I need.
Those two lines are what Jesus was…is referring to. By acknowledging his Lordship, we declare whose Kingdom we are a part of. Identifying him as our Shepherd clearly defines our proper relationship. And the outcome: we won’t be rushing or worrying after things…for we will have everything we need.
PRAYER: Dearest Shepherd, you know what we need before we ask for it. You love us enough to provide. Teach us what it means to live citizens of your Kingdom, in right relationship with you. And thank you.