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Ruthless Priorities

Sep 24, 2018

PROGRAM D-8191

A friend gave me a book by a business woman named Patty Azzarello. The book is called Rise, and she says it gives three practical steps for advancing your career, standing out as a leader, and liking your life. That’s a pretty tall order for a book to deliver, but even though it’s not written from a biblical perspective, some of her thoughts are helpful. So, I want to explore with you the idea of ruthless priorities, which she defines as “overachieving where it counts.”

Years ago, God taught me that I can’t do everything—I can’t even do everything I could do or would like to do. I have to make choices and those choices determine whether what I do counts in the Kingdom or not. Truly, in order to do God’s will, we need ruthless priorities—priorities that are clearly established in our minds and to which we ruthlessly hold. Otherwise, we will be pulled in a hundred different directions, and accomplish very little that truly counts for eternity.

One of the chapters in this book is entitled “Be Less Busy,” which doesn’t sound like the way to advance your career, does it? But truthfully, we have to begin by getting rid of our preconceived idea that busyness means productivity. When I first began my career years ago, I noticed that many people in the company worked very long hours and took great pride in it. They seemed to think that putting in lots of extra hours meant they were demonstrating a higher commitment to the job, and they were doing a better job than the rest of us. Patty says in her book, “Many people feel that if they are not fully consumed with work and always appearing to be super busy, people will question their commitment and their value.” (p. 15)

I truly believe in working hard, but equally important is working smart. Getting great results with less work is the sign of a very smart person. As Patty puts it, “Just because you can work tirelessly doesn’t mean you should.” (p. 17)

Do you have a ruthless priority for your life that you will slow down, that you will truly “be still and know that God is God”? There’s an African proverb that says, “Hurry, hurry has no blessing”—and truly it doesn’t. Slowing down so we have time to know God has to be our highest priority. When it is, you’ll get more done in less time, and you won’t be so frayed around the edges.

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Five Important “One Anothers”

Sep 21, 2018

PROGRAM D-8190

The final “one another” I want to share is this one—and it’s so critical! Encourage one another.

Hebrews 3:13 says we are to “encourage one another daily, as long as it is called ‘Today,’ so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.”

In Hebrews 10:24-25, we read this:

And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

It’s impossible to overstate the importance of encouragement, and how desperately we all need to be intentionally and daily encouraging other people. These passages teach us that encouragement is important to help our fellow believers avoid sin—and we are to do this daily, because time is short.

Imagine if every Christ-follower started every day with the intention of encouraging other people. They could be family members, like your children or your mate. They could be co-workers. They could be strangers you interact with as you shop.

We encourage others with words of sincere praise, compliments on work well done, and words that help others see and reach their potential. There are so many ways to encourage someone—it’s absolutely amazing how powerful encouragement is!

My friend was a teacher in Chicago public schools, and she tells of one student who was simply a trouble-maker and no amount of discipline was helping. Finally, one day she asked him to do a simple thing for her and, when he did it, she poured the praise and thanks on him. She said he was a different boy from that day onward, always looking for things he could do for her in order to please her. One simple act of intentional encouragement was life-changing for this one boy.

Whose life could you touch today with some encouragement? Look for that person. Ask God to show you that person, and then become God’s instrument of love and peace as you offer sincere encouragement.

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Five Important “One Anothers”

Sep 20, 2018

PROGRAM D-8189

If you study the times in the Bible that “one another” is used, it gives you a rich picture of how we, as followers of Jesus Christ, are to treat each other. I’m looking at five of these “one anothers,” of which the first was love one another, the second was accept one another, and the third was that we are to clothe ourselves in humility toward one another.

Here’s the fourth one I’ve chosen: Teach and admonish one another.

This comes from Colossians 3:16, where Paul writes, “Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts.”

We are to teach and admonish each other with all wisdom. This is much more than just telling others what we think—giving our opinions. Another translation puts it this way: “Remember what Christ taught, and let his words enrich your lives and make you wise; teach them to each other…” (Colossians 3:16, TLB).

Teaching with all wisdom means we teach what Christ taught, with wisdom that comes from his words.

Admonish means to warn or reprimand someone firmly and it is a strong confrontation, sometimes a strong reprimand. Does that mean we have the green light to tell others what we think or what they should do?

Well, we know from Scripture that we should always speak the truth in love. So, our motivation in admonishing or teaching someone has to come from a heart of love.

Any time you teach or admonish another person, it should come from your knowledge of what Jesus taught you, and it should come from a wise and loving heart.

I remember a good friend some years ago who knew that God wanted her to admonish another believer about his unethical practices. It was the last thing she wanted to do, but knowing God put it on her heart, she went to this person and “admonished him”—in a loving but direct way.

There are times when God directs us to teach and admonish one another, but if it’s from God, it will always be done in love and humility.

Is there someone in your life now that you should speak truth into their life? It’s one of the things we are to do for each other—to teach and admonish.

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Five Important “One Anothers”

Sep 19, 2018

PROGRAM D-8188

I believe there are five “one anothers” which are crucial for us to implement if we desire good relationships with others and desire to reflect Jesus well. The first was to love one another, and the second was to accept one another.

Here’s number three: Clothe yourself with humility toward one another.

This “one another” comes from 1 Peter 5:5, which says this:

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

We are to clothe ourselves with humility toward the people in our lives. It’s interesting that the Apostle Peter used a familiar illustration—something we do every day: We are to clothe ourselves with humility, and to put it on intentionally.

In order to clothe yourself, you must choose what to put on, and then you have to do it. Likewise, clothing yourself in humility is a choice you make. Just as you choose the clothes you wear each day, you can choose to put on humility each day.

I find that I have to be intentional about this, because being humble is not my natural state. It’s not where my old nature takes me. It’s only through Christ that I can even want to do this, and certainly it is his empowerment that makes it possible.

What does it look like to put on humility? It doesn’t mean you run yourself down or try to act humble. It means you consider others as important as you are, and you listen to them and give them respect. It means you don’t talk about yourself so much, but rather you let others talk about themselves—and you genuinely listen because you value them.

The Bible says that if we will humble ourselves, God won’t have to humble us. James wrote, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). Pray this verse into your life. Ask God to show you each day what you can do to humble yourself—how you can clothe yourself in humility. Believe me, he will answer that prayer. When I first started praying that, God made it clear to me that I was too eager to tell people all about me, and I needed to humble myself and ask others about themselves with genuine interest.

Remember number three of our “one anothers”—clothe yourself with humility toward one another.

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Five Important “One Anothers”

Sep 18, 2018

PROGRAM D-8187

We’ve examined Jesus’ new command to love one another—it’s the foundation we need for the other four “one anothers” I wish to highlight.

The second one is this: Accept one another, just as Christ accepted you.

This one comes from Romans 15:5-7, which says the following:

May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you the same attitude of mind toward each other that Christ Jesus had, so that with one mind and one voice you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

I think you will agree with me that we are living in a very contentious time—when there is much division among us, much disagreement, and normal civility seems to be a thing of the past. As those who have been born again through faith in Jesus Christ, our lives should stand in clear contrast to this. We are to accept one another—to hold no prejudices against anyone, and to treat everyone with respect, even when we disagree.

Notice this passage says that God gives us endurance and encouragement, and we should have that same attitude toward one another. You don’t have to agree with everyone in your life in order to accept them. I think of how Jesus accepted me with all my shortcomings, my sin, my failures. He never beats us over the head with our past. He forgives us and remembers our sin no more. Then he empowers us to put the past behind us and move on to do what he wants us to do. That’s how you and I should accept other people.

Is there someone in your life right now that you have rejected for some reason? Someone to whom you’re not willing to give another chance? Maybe your reasons for rejecting them are true; maybe the harm they’ve done is real. But can you—in order to bring praise to God—accept them and allow them to be a part of your life?

Pray it into your life. Ask God to enable you to accept them—because he has accepted you.

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Five Important “One Anothers”

Sep 17, 2018

PROGRAM D-8186

Among many others, there are five super important “one anothers” in scripture which will help our relationships thrive, and help us be more like Jesus. These “one anothers” are specifically directed to those who have been born from above—those of us who are Christ-followers.

Here is the first “one another”: Love one another.

Jesus said, “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another” (John 13:34). Notice, this was a new command—you must love one another. You won’t find “Love one another” in the Ten Commandments. Jesus’ new command goes much deeper: we are to love one another, just like Jesus loves us.

Here’s my question: Can you force yourself to love someone? Not everyone is lovable, are they? So, how do we fulfill Jesus’ command to love one another—no exceptions? It begins with an understanding of the kind of love Jesus has, which is not based on feelings. Loving like Jesus means you make a decision to love the people in your life even if you don’t necessarily like them. We determine to do this because loving like Jesus loves is an action, not necessarily a feeling. These actions are clearly defined in 1 Corinthians 13:4-7:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.

You can choose to be patient and kind. You can decide not to dishonor someone, not to be easily angered. You can determine not to hold grudges or keep remembering wrongs done to you. Jesus’ love is an action you decide to take—a new path to walk—and we can love one another as Jesus loves us because we have His Spirit to empower us to do that.

Who is it in your life right now that you find troubling—not easy to like? Remember this: You don’t have to like them, but you are commanded—by Jesus—to love them with his kind of love. The good news is that through Christ, you can do this. As Christ-followers, let’s determine to love one another.

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