How Jesus Determined His Priorities

And what we can do when choices toss us a live grenade.

Scripture has always taught God’s people to pursue God’s priorities. But over time, opinions differed on those priorities. No one’s opinion was conclusive. There were no guardrails on truth.

How Jesus Determined His Priorities

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Religious leaders in Jesus’ day debated on the separation of the important commandments from the less-important ones. One day when Jesus was teaching in the temple, a scribe tossed this live grenade in front of Jesus to see where He stood in the debate:

What commandment is the foremost of all? —Mark 12:28

Jesus’ answer did more than weigh in on the longstanding disagreement.

It helped us understand how to balance our priorities.

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Geographic Ironies of Jesus and Herod the Great

The Places Associated with Herod's Death Speak with a Twist

The Bible loves poetic irony. Think of Joseph’s brothers, hat in hand before the brother they betrayed. Or Haman—hanged on his own gallows. But one of my favorites has to do with the geographic ironies surrounding the death of Herod the Great.

Geographic Ironies of Jesus and Herod the Great

(Photo: The Herodium where Herod the Great was buried. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

Like an ugly cover on a great book, the places of Herod’s death bookend the life of Jesus.

They give lasting lessons to us who walk through them.

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What to Do When God’s Will is the Other Way

Following God’s will is a wonderful thing. That is, when God leads us the same direction we’re already going. The hard part comes when the Lord changes our course.

What to Do When God’s Will is the Other Way

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When God leads in a direction that seems exactly the opposite of the way He should lead, we’ll get logical in a hurry.

  • We find statistics to explain why it won’t work.
  • We’ll even quote Scriptures to support our bents.

For example, in an attempt to discredit Jesus, the Pharisees claimed, “no prophet arises out of Galilee” (John 7:52). Oh really? The prophet Jonah came from Gath-hepher, located right beside Jesus’ hometown of Nazareth!

It’s easy to forget about this minor prophet who ran from God. It’s easy because we often do the same.

Here’s how to avoid that.

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2 Reasons Why Serving God Isn’t Fulfilling

Many Christians feel like oddballs in their local churches, confused why serving God holds such little joy or passion. Not fulfilling. Just frustrating. I get it. Let me explain.

2 Reasons Why Serving God Isn't Fulfilling

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I hold as my single claim to fame the day I danced for the judges at the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. But I’ll be honest: I never intended to dance. I auditioned as a guitar player, yet when the judges called me back the next day, they asked me to dance as well! Bad idea.

End of audition. I immediately lost the job. Why? They misplaced me. 

You know where else I see dancing guitarists? The church.

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Twas the Night AFTER Christmas Poem

I’ve decided that during the holiday season we should change the mall’s name to “maul.” I’ve never seen such mayhem—kids running, parents screaming, angry people in long lines—all to the music of “Joy to the World” in the background. Good grief!

Twas the Night AFTER Christmas

(Photo by Stephane Bidouze, via Vivozoom)

If you decide to head to the “maul” the night after Christmas, you’ll see more of the same chaos—a rush of returns in exchange for . . . even more . . . stuff.

So in honor of these days after Christmas, I’ve decided to try my hand at rewriting Clement Clarke Moore’s Christmas classic.

Here she goes. (Ahem.)

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Tel Dan—Worshipping at the Altar of Convenience

Shady walkways. Cool breezes. Abundant streams. Luxuriant foliage. The Tel Dan Nature Preserve draws the locals as well as the travelers. It always has.

The high place and altar at Tel Dan.

(Photo: The high place and altar at Tel Dan. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands.)

In natural beauty, Tel Dan has few rivals in Israel. For the ancients, it had everything necessary for abundant living.

While the Hebrews in the south worshipped in Jerusalem, the natural beauty of Tel Dan in northern Israel offered an irresistible alternative. It was picturesque. It was convenient. It was invigorating.

And it was a complete compromise of God’s will.

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Keeping First Things First-Thing [Podcast]

Mark 1:14-39

Feeling distracted these days? Even Christ didn’t do everything but He did do what He was called to do. Jesus’ top priority was preaching. Many distractions—which God also uses for His plans—but you can spend a whole ministry on physical needs.

Through time with the Father focus is realigned and legitimate needs are left undone.

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First Things First [Podcast]

Haggai 1

It happens often. God’s people focus on their own needs to the neglect of the God’s commands. The wake-up call from God took place in Haggai’s day when God withheld His blessings. When the people repented and begin to obey, God immediately encouraged them with His presence and blessed them at the point of their obedience.

Renew your commitment to God’s priorities as your priorities. Put first things first.

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What Will Heaven Be Like? [Podcast]

Revelation 21-22

Jesus promised to prepare a real place for believers in His Father’s house. The new heaven, new earth and New Jerusalem are described in Scripture as indescribable! Heaven’s occupants will both worship and serve forever and ever in the presence of the Lord who died for them.

In the meantime, believers should keep an eternal perspective and unbelievers should trust Christ without hesitation.

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God’s Next Big Event – The Rapture [Podcast]

1 Corinthians 3:10-15; 15:50-53; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Contrary to Hollywood, the next prophetic event isn’t the Antichrist or Armageddon. Believers are not due to experience wrath, but instead, Rapture from wrath! The Rapture of the church is imminent, instantaneous, and immortal.

Having this certain hope, believers should serve diligently while waiting . . . for we know that such service will be evaluated at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

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