Priorities—Got Yours Straight?

David Brandt Berg

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When we face any kind of crisis or dilemma, test, trial, tribulation, privation, persecution, whatever the trouble or problem may be for which we don’t yet have the answer or all the answers, what is the first thing we should do? Pray. And what’s the first question you should ask yourself and the Lord?

Most people say, “What’s the matter, Lord?” And when some people say that, they mean, “What’s the matter with You, God? How come You failed me?” Whereas most of us should sit down or kneel down or stand up or stand on our heads or whatever we’re doing, lie down and ask God: “What’s the matter with me, Lord? Is there something wrong with what I’m doing? Am I displeasing You in any way? Am I failing or disobeying You in any way? Am I out of Your will in any way?”

Contrary to what a lot of people seem to think, there’s nothing wrong with God! There’s nothing the matter with Him or His love, or His ability to supply. “Our God shall supply all your need according to His riches in glory”—which are absolutely unlimited (Philippians 4:19). So why is our supply limited? Why is what He’s giving us seemingly limited when His source is unlimited? Why are we short if God is not short and His ear is not deafened, neither is His arm shortened that it cannot save? (Isaiah 59:1). In one place in the Bible, it says: “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid His face from you, that He will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

He says, “I’m not deaf, that I can’t hear your prayers. I’m listening! And My arm isn’t short or weak, that it can’t answer. The trouble is not up here, it’s down there with you.” With us, not God. Don’t blame God for your troubles and your problems and your crises and your shortages and your difficulties—financial, physical, spiritual, workwise or whatever. It’s not God’s fault.

There’s nothing wrong with God. “Let every man be found a liar, but God be found true” (Romans 3:4). “Why callest thou Me good? There is none good but God” (Matthew 19:17).

There’s nothing wrong with God. There’s nothing the matter with Him or His hearing or His ability to save. So if something is wrong, where is it? It’s with us somehow, somewhere. So when we face such a situation, what’s the first thing we need to do? Ask the Lord what’s wrong on our end. And one of the ways of finding out is to simply sit down like any businessman would, any soldier, anybody in any kind of business or work. In building a house, if things don’t come out the right measurement, the builders have to find out where they made a mistake. In weaving a tapestry, if things don’t come out right, the weavers have to ask where it started. Where did the problem begin?

So the most important thing you have to do in a crisis is not complain and murmur and gripe at God for His failures and His mistreatment and His neglect and His cruelty and His deafness and His unconcern, because none of those things are true. You need to sit down and think the situation over and ask yourself: “God, is there something wrong with me? Is there something wrong with what I’m doing or the way I’m doing it? Am I doing something that’s displeasing You? Are You withholding Your blessings? Am I disobeying You, either deliberately or unknowingly, or simply falling short, maybe just not doing enough? Or maybe I’m not listening enough. Maybe I’m not following Your voice and guidance enough.”

The sheep need to follow the Shepherd—but if they’re so busy bleating “Baaaad times! Baaaaad situation! Baaaaad everybody else! Baaaaad God, everything’s wrong,” then they can’t even hear God tell them what’s wrong. They need to shut up and listen and hear the voice of the Shepherd. They may discover that He’s gone on someplace else, and they may so busy with their own problems and troubles and going their own way that they even lost track of Him or where He’s headed! They’ve let Him get so far away that they can’t even hear His voice anymore. Or they have strayed so far away from Him, they can’t even hear Him anymore.

If we are having a tough time, we need to get desperate in prayer and lean more desperately on the Lord and ask God for help, and the more we depend on Him, the more we will have in every way. We may lack in some areas of physical strength or even financial strength, but the weaker we are in both respects, the stronger God can manifest His power and show what He can do, and do miracles!

The more dependent we are on Him, the more He can do for us and help us. Then He will get the glory and not us. We will thank Him and not ourselves. I’m convinced that if we obey the Lord and do His will and obey His commandments, He will supply! I’m firmly convinced of that saying: “Where God guides, He provides.”

So the first thing we need to do in any crisis or problem situation is get down to business with the Lord and seek the Lord. Where is He going? Where am I? We know that nothing can separate us from the Lord except our sins, mistakes, failures, disobedience, or straying. God doesn’t leave us; we leave Him! He never leaves us behind unless we don’t follow, it’s just that simple.

Even a little child can understand that illustration about shepherd and sheep. That’s why the Lord used such a simple illustration of His relationship with us, as His sheep. Of course, this is not quite as obvious nowadays, except by stories and hearsay, because most children today don’t live in an agrarian, pastoral economy and society in which this sort of thing is all around them and they can see how dumb sheep are and what troubles they get into if they don’t follow the shepherd.

The first thing we need to do is seek the Lord. Get down to business with God! Sit down, lie down, kneel down, whatever! We need to seek the Lord and ask God: What’s the matter with me? What’s the matter with my situation? What’s wrong that I have done or not done?” You need to sit down, as Jesus said, and count the cost (Luke 14:28). You need to take stock, take inventory, have an audit of the books to find out the assets and the liabilities and face the problem. You need to assay the values.

One of the first things you have to ask yourselves is: “Have we got our priorities straight? Are we doing what we’re supposed to do? Are we doing our best to do the most we possibly can of the biggest job we have to do, the most important job?” We need to sit down and confer and counsel together with other godly counselors. “In the multitude of counselors there lacketh not wisdom. Let it be established in the mouth of two or three witnesses” (Proverbs 11:14, 24:6; Matthew 18:16). Counsel together; counsel mostly together with the Lord.

You’re never going to get any answers unless you ask yourself some questions. You can ask God the questions, but the first thing He’ll probably tell you to do is ask yourself the questions. Sit down, count the cost, take stock. Check the books, check the pattern, check the Word. It’s all right there already and the answer’s already there. If something is haywire, it’s usually because we have neglected the Word, neglected the Lord, ignored His voice, just been too busy to listen or got too interested in something else. We went up some side path picking daisies, and no matter how pretty the daisies and how plentiful, if it’s not the path the Shepherd is walking, you’d better watch out. There may be vipers in the daisies or wolves in the woods.

What’s our main job? What does the Bible say? What is the whole duty of man? “Fear God and keep His commandments: for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Since Jesus came along, God has boiled it down to “love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and thy neighbor as thyself” (Matthew 22:37–39). It was there in the “fear God,” but the Lord made it a more personal loving relationship between Him and you and me, and instead of fear God, He said love the Lord. And instead of just “keep the commandments,” He said, “love thy neighbor as thyself. On these commandments hang all the law and all the prophets” (Matthew 22:40). Everything in the Bible! To love the Lord and to love others.

Of course, first of all we have to love God in order to have love for our neighbor. You can’t love the lost or the foreigners or the unsaved or your enemies or anybody else unless you’ve got the supernatural, miraculous, miracle-working power of the love of God in your heart. “We love Him because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). We love others because He first loved them and us.

If anything, the baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of love. What is the power we have? The power of love. The baptism of the Holy Spirit is a baptism of love, most of all, for God and also for others.

You have to love the Lord to love your neighbor, so maybe that’s the first thing you ought to ask yourself: “Do I love the Lord enough? Do I love You enough, Lord, that I’m really sticking close to You, the Shepherd, in Your will, right at Your heels, on the right path, just the way You know is best to go? Am I following right in Your path, right in Your footsteps?”

If you stay close to the Shepherd, He has promised to lead you into green pastures and beside the still waters, to restore your soul. He takes care of you. Even in the valley of the shadow of death, you will fear no evil. He’ll even prepare a table before you in the presence of your enemies, and anoint your head with oil. Even His rod and staff will comfort you with a few whacks now and then if you get out of line. It doesn’t sound very comfortable, but sometimes the rod is a comfort (Psalm 23).

If you stick close to the Shepherd, you’re bound to be well fed, well cared for, and well protected. But what do shepherds have sheep for? Increase. Bearing fruit! “Herein is God glorified, that ye bear much fruit” (John 15:8). So how are we going to bear fruit? First of all, we love God. The question is, how much do we love God? Are we obeying Him? Are we following Him closely? Are we loving our neighbor enough to bear much fruit?

Those are the questions you need to ask yourself first of all if something goes wrong: “Do I love the Lord enough? Am I close enough to the Lord? Am I following Him, obeying Him, following right in His footsteps, right on His heels, right by His side and not straying off on the fringes someplace or clear out in the woods?”

We need to get our priorities straight. We need to sit down and count the cost, even count the figures. That’s why I like to keep statistics and keep books, so I’ll know where we’re at. Any merchant that doesn’t take an inventory every once in a while to see where he’s at is apt to go out of business. He could be losing and going bankrupt and not even know it. You need to keep books to see if you’re ahead or behind or where you’re at.

And lastly, and most important of all, let’s not forget that “one thing is needful, and Mary hath chosen that good part, which shall never be taken away from her” (Luke 10:42). She sat at Jesus’ feet and listened to the Lord. That’s the only thing that’s really necessary: listening to the Lord, sitting at His feet and hearing Him and hearing His Word.

Help us to remember, Lord, that Your Word comes first, that Your love comes first, and Your love is manifested in Your Word, Your loving Word on which our lives and work for You stands. This is our whole duty and our whole obligation and our whole job: to love You and to love others, to love Your Word and love others with Your Word.

 
 

Copyright © The Family International

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Author: Frederick Olson

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me.

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