First things first
Speaker: Rev. Shine Thomas
Everyone wants to lead a good and a better life. For the cause of a better life many people make resolutions in the New Year. Also when we hear the Word of God many of us end up taking decisions to change. But the fact of the matter is that we are not able to live up to all the resolutions that we make. Our resolutions and decisions just fade away after a week or two because of misplaced priorities.
This morning we are going to evaluate our life and see how we can bring about a permanent change in our life for the better. We are also going to see how to prioritize our life so that we can be successful.
Every person has his own values in life. We pick up our values basically from what we are constantly exposed to – like our childhood experiences, our family upbringing, our education, our friends, our neighborhood, our workplace environment etc. So at the end of the day it is we who chose and decide the source of our values.
Illustration: The children of Israel had been taken captive into Babylon. Daniel, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were chosen among the captives to stand before the king. The king had appointed them a daily portion of his meat and wine for them to drink. However, Daniel did not defile himself with the portion of the king's meat. He knew he was a Hebrew, he knew his values. So Daniel chose to stand by his values.
1. Choose the source of your values
What is the source of your values? Where are you getting them from?
Have you made values and principles in your life based on the world outside or have you made values and principles of your life based on the Word of God? It is important where I get my values from, because my values determine how successful I am.
Illustration: Some people get their values out of television. They spent hours and hours in front of that box and eventually their life gets molded by what they see in the TV. This influences their behaviour, choices, hairstyle, clothing, dialogues etc.
If you spend on average 2 hours everyday in front of the TV and 2 hours on internet in a year you would have spent 1500 hours seeing TV and internet. It means by the time you are 70 years old you spend 16 years watching television and internet. On the other hand if you are a Sunday believer you come to church for 1-1/2 hours a week. So in one year you are 78 hours in the church if you come all Sundays. By the time you are 70 years you spend only 8 months in church.
Therefore as people of God we are largely exposed more to the world outside than with God and the presence of God. So there is a great chance that we will be moulded and exposed as to what morality is, what decency is, what integrity is and what our values are by what we see on the TV rather than by the Bible.
Listen, if you want success, if you want God to use you we need to differentiate between the worldly values and the biblical values.
Values of the World
1 John 2:15-17 TLB "Stop loving this evil world and all that it offers you, for when you love these things you show that you do not really love God; for all these worldly things, these evil desires—the lust for physical pleasure, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance—these are not from God. They are from this evil world itself. And this world is fading away, and these evil, forbidden things will go with it, but whoever keeps doing the will of God will live forever."
If we love the values of the world we can never love God.
Here are the values of the world:
1. Pleasure or flesh’s desire.
John calls the value of the world "the lust for physical pleasure." In the NT flesh is mentioned as a part of our nature and when flesh is without the grace of God it leads a person to sin. Therefore physical pleasure can be physical sins in the body like adultery and it also includes worldly ambitions or selfish gains. To be subjected to physical pleasure means to lead a life than can satisfy our carnal or sinful nature.
The people of the world are craving for such pleasure and everything in this world is made to satisfy people’s physical pleasure. If you see every TV program, every product, every film, every event in the secular world is tailor-made to satisfy man’s pleasure.
Illustration: Do you know the number one industry of the world? It is the entertainment industry. This is because the industry knows people are craving for pleasure and people are willing to spend their money and time for getting pleasure.
Now if you do not have the money you need not go far to feed your pleasure. These come knocking free at our doors through cable television and internet for just 200 Rupees a month. The devil knows that he cannot get every one out to the shows but he brings it cheaper for you right in your bedroom.
Now, I am not against watching TV. What I am telling is that we are God’s children and we can never afford to imbibe the values that we see from the TV.
2. Here’s the second worldly value - possessions.
1 John 2:16
We are a culture obsessed with buying things, never satisfied with what we have but we crave for more and more and more.
What are the possessions the world is craving for – Money, gold and silver, jewelry, women, men, education, clothing, cars, property, homes, gadgets - mobile phones, laptops; etc. Everyone has some liking or the other to these material possessions.
People find great satisfaction in materialistic possessions. It is because that is what gives them value in life. I am not telling that we do not need these things. I believe we Christians must have the best of the things out there. But if you place your values and joy in all that then we cannot be a true disciple of Christ.
3. Here’s the third worldly value - it’s prestige, pride.
AMP 16For all that is in the world--the lust of the flesh craving for sensual gratification? and the lust of the eyes greedy longings of the mind? and the pride of life assurance in one's own resources or in the stability of earthly things? -
TLB for all these worldly things, these evil desires—the lust for physical pleasure, the ambition to buy everything that appeals to you, and the pride that comes from wealth and importance —
Once people achieve their materialistic goals then automatically pride gets into them. All of a sudden they start to feel they are important and such people think other people are all dirt and invaluable. They always demand respect and expect other to carry them around in their head.
It is so sad that the devil injects pride into the people who are successful. It gets into their head and then they change. Is anyone sitting here with a big head? Biblically speaking the more you are elevated, the more you are prosperous the humble and the servant you become.
We have only two sources of values. One is the Word of God and the other is the worldly or secular values. Listen, I am not telling all the worldly values are bad or corrupt. There are some good worldly values to be learned from our culture and secular world; and our life has to be molded with good balance of both spiritual and good worldly values.
2. Understand what is important.
Now when we have so many values to live for we must understand what is important and what is not.
Job 34:4 "You should choose to follow what is right, but first you must define what is good."
We need to determine what is important and right for us.
Every one of us here are at different stages of life and according our priorities and values are different. Now you need to know what’s the most important, what’s the second most important, what’s the third most important and so on? Make a list of your values in life.
Now how are you going to decide what is really important & what is not? The key here is how long is this important thing going to last in your life? If your priority is going to last for eternity, then it is really important. If it is going to last 60 years it is important. If it is going to last 30 years it’s a kind of important, but not as important as 20 years.
Coming back to the 3 valuable things according to the world:
1. Pleasure. Hebrews 11:24-25 KJV 24By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter; 25Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season.
The pleasures of sin last only a season or a short time. Sin is fun and pleasurable whatever form it is. If sin was not fun and pleasurable no one would do it. The pleasures of sin are real but it lasts only a very short time. The pain of sin lasts a long, long time. Therefore it is not very valuable. So when you consider the first worldly value, pleasure it is not very valuable or important for a child of God.
2. What about possessions? 1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it.
When a person dies he leaves behind everything he earned in this world. We cannot take any material possession because what we accumulate in life is only going to be ours for the span of your lifetime on earth.
3. What about prestige and pride? Mark 10:31 NLT But many who are the greatest now will be least important then, and those who seem least important now will be the greatest then. When? In eternity in heaven with God.
KJV "The first shall be last, & the last shall be first."
In other words, there is going to be a reversal in order in heaven. People who are in front of the line who really appear to be important now, who demand respect, people who think they are big and are proud, are not going to be very important at all in eternity. And the people who don’t appear to be very important at all, are going to be extremely important in heaven.
Application: So how important is power, position, & prestige in this life? Not very important because that is not going to last very long.
So what is really important to us? I will list some of my priorities so that you can evaluate your life and make your own priorities. My first priority is God, because God and God’s work will take me all the way into eternity. The second in my case is my family. The third in my case is church, and so on. You can work your own priorities. Therefore we need to more time or what is really important. We need a total change in lifestyle and do the will of God.
3. Change my lifestyle
Now here’s a third thing. I need to change my lifestyle according to my values. Now what is the most important should get your maximum time and what is the least important should get your least time otherwise you are going no where.
If I ask you is God important to you? Everyone will say yes to this. Then do you schedule time to be with God? Do you read his word? "Well, no pastor, I’m so busy, I can’t." Do you give God’s work at least 10% of your income? "No, I need that for myself." Do you spend time in the Word? Do you spend time praying, talking to God, developing a relationship with Him? "No, I am much to busy to do any of that." You see, we say one thing but we do something else.
If your family is really important for you then you should think about spending more time with your spouse and children.
If your health is really important then how much time do you exercise, do you eat right?
Is financial security important for you? Everybody will say yes. Are you a materialistic person? Oh, no! I’m not a materialistic person at all." Really? Is your debt load getting deeper & deeper? Are you buying things that you can’t afford? Do you have credit card charges that you can’t pay? Are you saving money? "No, I spend it all," you say.
You see we all want a changed outcome but we do not want a changed lifestyle.
How to change your lifestyle?
So if you’re really serious about changing your lifestyle there are 3 areas that you are going to have to work on.
1. Work on your schedule. Is your schedule consistent with what you say is important? Do you have the most time allotted for the things that you think are really important, or are you spending time on things that you say aren’t important? You’re going to have to reevaluate your schedule.
2. Work on your budget. "Am I spending the most money on the things that are really important, or am I spending the most money on things that I think are not important, on things that only last for a brief period of time?"
3. Work on your relationships. "Am I spending time with the people who are most important to me? Am I spending time with my family, my wife, my children, my grandchildren? Or am I spending all my time being involved with things that aren’t that important to me?"
Psalms 119:37 Turn my eyes away from worthless things; preserve my life according to your word.
‘Turn my eyes away from worthless things’ would be a good verse to put on your TV set.
Ephesians 4:17 So I tell you this, and insist on it in the Lord, that you must no longer live as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their thinking.
Do not live like the worldly people whose thinking is futile and values and priorities are misplaced. Understand what is important, put first things first, and change your lifestyle. I hope you will be able to keep up your resolutions to change and will be successful in life. Amen and God Bless.
This sermon belongs to the series Uncategorized. Other sermons in this series: