First Things First
by David Goforth
January 18, 2024
Categories - Timeless Truths
Topics - priorities

This is the time of year when many people will have a list of new things they are going to try or new resolutions. However, before jumping into a new to-do list, let us take a step back and evaluate our lives and our priorities.

Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 3:13-14

Paul was committed to living a singular life with the right priorities. What about you? Are you doing the first things first? Are you taking care of what is needful because of who you are in Christ Jesus and because of the amazing grace God has shed upon you? Or have you allowed your culture to superimpose its values on you?

In Psalm 90, Moses calls us to number our days and consider our priorities. He wrote Psalm 90 while leading the children of Israel through the wilderness. During this time, as an entire generation passes away, Moses realizes that life is short. Remember, Moses was not a person who had a short life or who had accomplished little. Moses did more than most of us could even think of doing, yet Moses recognized the need to put first things first.

So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom.
Psalm 90:12

Before we set resolutions or fill our schedules for 2024, may we learn to number our days. Let us apply our hearts to wisdom and consider:

1. The Source of Wrong Priorities

The beginning verses of Psalm 90 speak of the short-sightedness that all humans struggle with. Even though we recognize that God is eternal and that we have eternal life, we get this idea that what we are doing right now is of utmost importance. We are too short-sighted! We don’t understand how uncertain and short life is. Moses reminds us that there is something more important than what we see right in front of us right now.

This short-sightedness combined with the sin that is in our hearts causes most of our problems. The reason for our struggles and problems in this world is that we are broken by sin. Yet we are comfortable in our sin, so much so that we readily accept the world’s values but must be convinced of the truths of God’s Word. This results in a self-centeredness that rejects trust in and obedience to God in favor of taking care of self in the immediate. This sin of prioritizing self before God resulted in the Israelites’ 40 years of wandering in the wilderness and continues to infiltrate our lives today. It is pervasive!

Nobody wakes up and decides in a moment to turn their back on God, their spouse, or their children; it is a day by day slipping back into the short-sighted, sin-soaked view of wrong priorities. What about you? Consider the following symptoms of wrong priorities—do these characterize your life?

a) Boredom (v14)—We have developed a culture of boredom that we try to fix by scrolling through our devices and screens. Boredom is the result of looking to our daily activities as our source of fulfillment. But we can be satisfied with the mercies of God and be fulfilled! God’s purpose for our lives does not include boredom.

b) Pressure (v 15)—Life is going to be challenging, but Jesus promised that we would not be overwhelmed because “greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world” (1 John 4:4) Yet too many people allow pressure and stress to be all-compassing, resulting in physical sickness and relational break-down. Stress and pressure are a self-inflicted result of failing to use time by God’s blueprint.

c) Frustration (v 16)—God’s goodness is communicated to our family and others by our use of time. When we get frustrated and overwhelmed, it is often because we are spending time on things that God never intended for us to do or spend time on. Then, we communicate in ways that are sinful and misrepresent Christ. Instead, we ought to pray for God’s help to only do what it is He has asked us to do.

2. The Solution to Wrong Priorities

Our days are small in number, vanish with rapidity and have a certain end. We have NOW to prove the worth of our Savior. This short time we have on earth is the one time we have to live by faith and not by sight. The goal that Moses had and that we should have, is in Psalm 90:17–

“And let the beauty of the LORD our God be upon us: And establish thou the work of our hands upon us; Yea, the work of our hands establish thou it.”

When we take God’s schedule and blueprint and surrender to do what it is that God designed us to do. We do not lose anything in this type of surrender. Rather, we gain results that are long-lasting and beautiful!

This year, build a schedule based on God’s purpose for your life. No longer allow your life to be dictated by what you want or think you should do. Rather, take a step back and ask what it is that God has ordained for you to do. This may not mean a change in what you do, but rather a change in Who you do it for.

a) Build your Personal Fellowship with God – Instead of just trying a new Bible reading schedule for a few days, schedule your life around your personal time with God! A thousand years from now, it will matter far more what your personal fellowship with God looked like rather than how your hair or Instagram page looked.

b) Build your Family around God’s Purpose – Build your family time around God. Look for opportunities to build your family around God’s purposes. This will change your church attendance, your family devotions and prayer time, why and how you raise your children! This is not just for families with small children; it is a need for all families.

c) Build your Vocation around God’s Purpose – Wherever God has placed you, you are there for a purpose. No longer do your job for accolades from others or to make money, but to glorify God and to serve and be salt and light in your community.

d) Build your Ministry around God’s Purpose – What will you pour your life into? One hundred years from now, you will not attend the same church or have the same job, but the work of your hands COULD be established by the beauty of the Lord to accomplish more than you could ever think, far beyond what you could ever dream, if you learn to number our days.

This year, I challenge you to learn to number your days and elevate the Father’s business over your to-do list. Begin to pray the prayer of Moses! Understand the wicked brevity of your life and live it based on God’s principles. You will find that it is a joy to center your life around His purposes instead of the whims that come along. Live with that single vision!

David Goforth

David Goforth

Senior Pastor of Grace Baptist Church, West Columbia, SC

David was reared in a Christian home in Michigan and was a member of Rochester Hills Baptist Church. His wife, Daye, was a “preacher’s kid” in Tennessee at Franklin Road Baptist. They met at Pensacola Christian College and were married in the summer of 1993. The Goforth’s traveled as college representatives and ensemble leaders for two years after graduation. In August 1995 they moved to West Columbia and began a more than fourteen-year ministry at Grace Baptist Church. The Lord grew their family (with five daughters!) and their ministry as David served as youth pastor, assistant to the pastor, and interim pastor and Daye taught at Grace Christian School. In 2010, they then served as senior pastor at Providence Baptist Church in Riverview, FL, where God grew their family again (a son-in-law). In August 2020, the Lord brought the Goforth’s back to West Columbia where they are now serving as the senior pastor here at Grace and loving the grandparent life!

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