I found a book in the bargain section of a Christian bookstore and the title caught my attention. The price was right so I bought it without even reading the introduction. It was entitled Perilous Pursuits. Once I got home, I read it from start to finish without stopping and now I re-read it at least twice a year, but always at the beginning of a new year, since 1995.
Joe Stowell, the author, quotes the oft-referenced Westminster Shorter Catechism which concludes that “man’s chief end is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” He then raises the question, “Why are we so consumed with glorifying ourselves and seeking enjoyment in and for ourselves apart from Him?”
Perhaps this is the reason we often find life so disappointing, disruptive, dangerous and displeasing. So maybe the best thing to do is constantly review our journey and revamp and revise any actions or even thoughts that contradict what we know may not be important for our purpose for living.
A wonderful way to begin each year, and every new season, is by setting priorities.
In the Hebrew Scriptures, Moses is commanded by the Lord to consecrate the first-born, the first fruits and the first part of the day. Because there seems to be scriptural proof that when we devote our first things to the Lord, those things that come behind are blessed also because a pattern has been set.
Those who seek personal significance and do not make spiritual priorities important are typically unable to serve, unavailable to sacrifice, unwilling to suffer and unable to surrender. The self-significance addiction is aided and abetted by a phenomenally powerful trio of surging inner energies called pleasure, pride and passion. And the only medicine for such an addiction is for one to seek personal purity and a powerful partnership with Him. What a powerful corrective to a dangerous current cultural trend where finding oneself is applauded as the highest virtue.
Jesus leaves a wonderful lesson in his first public sermon, recorded in Matthew 6:33, when He says, "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Joy is possible, satisfaction is attainable, and prosperity is promised when we advance His kingdom.
To paraphrase Mother Theresa, “Let us more and more insist on raising funds of love, of kindness, of understanding, of peace…first. Money will come if we seek first the Kingdom of God; the rest will be given.” Mark Twain said, “The secret of getting ahead is getting started. The secret of getting started is breaking your complex, overwhelming tasks into small manageable tasks, and then starting on the first one.”
Pattern yourself after Him, pursue His kingdom, pace yourself and put “first things” first – and watch what happens in 2011.