Summary: The two greatest enemies of transformation are regrets for things we did in the past, & anxiety about what will happen to us in the future. Many of us are living either in the past or in the future.
Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
How are your priorities organized? Are you seeking love first? Money first? Kids first? Hobbies first?
Churches and preachers may have told you in the past that if you don't put God first you might be in sin. I want to tell you that nowhere in the Bible it says that if you don't put God first you are committing a sin...oh what a relief! The bad news is that a wrong set of priorities may put you under a curse. So when we look into our lives and think about who we are and what we are doing with our time we should consider that maybe we could correct a thing or two and start walking under God's blessing.
ILL. William H. Hinson tells us why animal trainers carry a stool when they go into a cage of lions. They have their whips, of course, and their pistols are at their sides. But invariably they also carry a stool. Hinson says it is the most important tool of the trainer. He holds the stool by the back and thrusts the legs toward the face of the wild animal. Those who know maintain that the animal tries to focus on all four legs at once. In the attempt to focus on all four, a kind of paralysis overwhelms the animal, and it becomes tame, weak, and disabled because its attention is fragmented. (quoted from Developing the Leader Within You, by John Maxwell)
Lack of priorities will always fragment our life and we may end up wasting time instead of enjoying the best that God has for us.
1. Understand that your time on earth is limited
We must be very careful how we live because our time on this earth is limited.
The Psalmist wrote, "Show me, O Lord, my life's end & the number of my days; let me know how fleeting is my life" (39:4). And again, "The length of our days is 70 years or 80, if we have the strength...they quickly pass, & we fly away" (90:10).
Now, I realize that for some of you younger folk, 70 or 80 years sounds like a long, long time. In fact, I can remember when I thought anyone over 40 was ancient. But no longer. It is all rather relative, isn't it?
ILL. For example, for teenagers in love talking together in the car, an hour or two seems like a blink of an eye. But for mom & dad worrying about what's going on out in that car, an hour or two seems like an eternity
2. Make the best use of your time
Ephesians 5:15-17 Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, 16 making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. 17 Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
I'm sure you've noticed that each year almost all the major news magazines put out an issue with special pictorial sections recalling people & events that made news during the previous year.
Many magazines also include articles by experts predicting what they expect to see happening in the years ahead. Some even go so far as to make predictions covering 10, 20, or more years in the future. In the past, a few of these predictions have proven amazingly accurate, while others couldn't have been more wrong.
ILL. For example, back in 1967, experts predicted that by the turn of the century technology would have taken over so much of the work we do that the average American work week would be only 22 hours long, & that we would work only 27 weeks a year. As a result, one of our biggest problems would be in deciding what to do with all our leisure time.
Well, I don't know about you, but that prediction certainly missed the mark as far as my life was concerned!
In fact, most of us seem to be very busy. We're always in a hurry. We walk fast, & talk fast, & eat fast. And after we eat, all too often, we stand up & say, "Excuse me. I've gotta run."
So here we are, at the first day of 2012. I wonder how we'll do this year? Will we be as busy? Will we make any better use of our time? In 365 days, when this year is over, will we be looking back with joy, or with regret? Will we be looking at the future with anticipation, or with dread?
3. Make effective transformations
$3.00 WORTH OF GOD, PLEASE
Tim Hansel in his book "When I Relax I feel Guilty," writes some insights of what most people want from God. "I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please. Not enough to explode my soul or disturb my sleep, but just enough to equal a cup of warm milk or a snooze in the sunshine. I don't want enough of Him to make me love a black man or pick beets with a migrant. I want ecstasy, not transformation; I want the warmth of the womb, not a new birth. I want a pound of the Eternal in a paper sack. I would like to buy $3.00 worth of God, please."