What is Your True Priority?

Examining The Question, "Are You Making God Your Priority?".

Dan Franklin
Jan 30, 2022    39m
Post-Covid is a time when many of us are rebuilding our lives, which makes it an ideal time to take stock of your life and evaluate, are making God your priority? When we de-prioritize God, we invite disaster and chaos into our lives. But when he is the center of our life, he will provide all that we truly need. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Dan Franklin: [00:00:19] All right, so I want you to raise your hand if you consider yourself to be somebody who's handy. All right, come on, don't be modest. I know there's a bunch of you out there, you're handy, you're good at building things, you're good at crafting things. I am not good at crafting things. I'm not good at any of that stuff, but I have in our home put together several pieces of IKEA furniture, it's all IKEA in our house, we're up to our noses in those Allen wrenches. And my joke is that when I put together a piece of furniture, I always do it twice. All right, some of you get it, I put it together twice because I put it almost all the way together and then I realize I've done something wrong and I have to completely disassemble it and start over because there's some piece in it, there's some foundational piece that I've put him backward or upside down, so I have to disassemble the whole thing and then put it back together by scratch. If you've ever done that, is that a lot of fun? That's no fun, it's no fun to get almost to the end, or to the very end, and realize that you've built something wrong, and so you have to go back and start over. It's much wiser to be careful and thoughtful at the beginning of the building process so that you build the right way.

Dan Franklin: [00:01:43] Now, here's the deal, we're at a point in our culture right now where there is a lot of talk on the subject of rebuilding. I don't know when there will ever be a pronouncement that we're out of the season of COVID, I don't know if that's ever coming, but we're still talking about this. As a culture, as a nation, we're talking about it at the national level, that this is a season of rebuilding and we're thinking about what that means for our economics and for our businesses. Some of you own businesses, or you are part of a business, where there's this sense of rebuilding because you've been part of the season of time where things have been different or things have been down because of the different lockdowns and shutdowns.

Dan Franklin: [00:02:20] For some of us, the rebuilding is on a more personal level. And frankly, there might be rebuilding in your life that needs to happen. That has nothing to do at all with the pandemic, but it just has to do with you looking at your life and saying my life isn't what it's supposed to be right now. And maybe it was the pandemic, maybe the pandemic affected your health regime and you used to have a really good thing going with going to the gym and eating well, and then when you were home all the time, that just went out the window. Maybe during this time you've developed some habits that are not good, as we know many people have as we've been at home more, how different addiction level things have gone up. There's some rebuilding that needs to happen on all kinds of different levels. And as we think about the subject of rebuilding, it would be wise for all of us to make sure we're starting in the right way so that we don't get to a point where we pause and realize that we've got to disassemble and start all over again.

Dan Franklin: [00:03:23] Now, talking about rebuilding led us, as a church staff, to the Book of Haggai, which is a story in a season of time for Israel, where there was rebuilding that needed to happen. Now, just real quick, we've already heard the first six verses of the Book of Haggai, if you're not super familiar with Haggai, you're not alone. If you're looking in your Bible right now and you're trying to figure out where it is, it's one of the minor prophets, so it's kind of towards the end of the New Testament, if you're flipping through the Old Testament and you find a book that starts with Z, you're close because it's Zephaniah, Haggai, Zechariah. So if you see a Z book, you're close to Haggai. Haggai is a short book, it's just two chapters, but it's about a season of time for the Nation of Israel, where rebuilding needed to happen. And the chaos that had led them to need to rebuild was not a virus, and not a government shutdown, but it was a time of exile that they experienced as a nation.

Dan Franklin: [00:04:21] Just last week, we were going through a passage that went through Abraham's life in Genesis Chapter 13. Was that just last week? It seems like a long time ago, anyway, internal monologue. Abraham was the father of the Jewish people, and long after Abraham, after Moses brought the Israelites out of Egypt, and Joshua brought them into the Promised Land, the Israelites were in a land that God had promised to them, and they experienced some peace and prosperity, and God was making them fruitful in that land. But then they ended up rebelling against God and being disobedient, and God disciplined them by sending them off into exile, by sending foreign nations to defeat them and take them off to a foreign land. And there were different regime changes because they were under Babylon, and then eventually under Persia.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:06] And then a Persian king named Cyrus decided that he was going to allow the Israelites to return to the Land of Israel. So they came back to the land, and the land was not the way that they left it. It was a time where rebuilding needed to take place, and that's where we find ourselves in the book of Haggai, in a season of time where Israel needed to rebuild. And there's a parallel to how we think of our lives right now, just as with us, they needed to rebuild in a way that made sense and that placed God at the center.

Dan Franklin: [00:05:40] Now, we're going to go through this Book of the Bible for five weeks, starting today. And I just want to kind of give you a preview of what this is going to be like, we're not only going to get to read through this story about the process that Israel went through when they rebuilt, but what we're going to see is in each week a different phase of what the rebuilding process looked like, a different phase of the way that God led them through the rebuilding phase as a country.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:08] And the first phase that we're going to talk about today is a phase that I'm calling, take stock. It's the idea, if you know the phrase take stock, it's the idea of saying it's time to pause, to look at yourself, to look at the situation, and before moving forward, to make sure everything is set right. We're going to be invited today to take stock, and better to do that now than to do that when we're far into the process and realize we need to disassemble and start all over.

Dan Franklin: [00:06:43] Now, here's what I want to do, I'm going to bring the first verse of Haggai up here on the screen, and we'll talk about that, and then I'll give you a sense of where this passage is going to go. So verse 1 gives us our bearings, it says, "In the second year of King Darius, on the first day of the sixth month, the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Joshua son of Jozadak, the high priest." So this is our setting, they are back in the Land of Israel after their time in exile, and we're told it's the second year of King Darius, and we're even told that the day in the month. Now we don't normally get this in the Bible, but historians are actually able to narrow down the exact day in history when this prophecy took place August 29th, 520 B.C. Isn't that kind of cool? It's kind of cool to be like, oh my gosh, we're able to figure this out, he's that specific with when this happened. That's the date when all of this takes place, and what we're told is that through Haggai, a prophecy came to two men. To Zerubbabel who was the governor, and so he was in charge of the civil life of Israel. It wasn't a time yet that a kingdom had been reestablished and that they had a king on the throne, so they had a governor in charge of the civic part of life. And Joshua, the high priest, who was in charge of the religious part of life. But what we're going to see is that it wasn't just written to two men, and it wasn't just given to two men, they are representatives of the nation as a whole. This prophecy came to the whole nation of Israel, in fact, when it says that it took place on the first day of the sixth month. We know that on the first day of every month, the Israelites gathered for what they called a new Moon festival, so probably this was a public prophecy, it's like he's zeroing in and talking to Zerubbabel and Joshua in front of the whole nation.

Dan Franklin: [00:08:31] What we get here is an initial prophecy about how Israel is meant to handle this situation. And here's what we're going to get in the rest of this passage, we're going to get a problem, and then we're going to get instructions on how to handle that problem. And so we start verses 2-4 with the problem that existed for the Israelites. All right, there we go, verse 2 says, "This is what the Lord Almighty says: “These people say, ‘The time has not yet come to rebuild the Lord’s house.’ ”3Then the word of the Lord came through the prophet Haggai: 4“Is it a time for you yourselves to be living in your paneled houses, while this house remains a ruin?” And you can sort of sense a little bit of the sarcastic, biting question right there. There's a problem for the nation of Israel, and the big problem is that the House of the Lord, the Temple is lying in ruins. And this is a big problem because the Temple is not just one part of the life of Israel, it's a major part of the life of Israel because it’s the center of worship. And despite the fact that the house is lying and ruins, Haggai says that the people have declared, the nation has declared, it's not time to rebuild right now. Now, we might wonder if the Israelites are coming back from exile, they're back in the land, why in the world was rebuilding the temple not one of the first things that they did?

Dan Franklin: [00:10:12] And we actually get some insight on this through the Book of Ezra, which parallels the story of Haggai and even mentions Haggai as a prophet, which we'll see in a minute. So in the Book of Ezra, what we see happening is that the people of Israel come back, and they immediately begin rebuilding, and they do start to rebuild the Temple. They build the foundation, and they build the altar, and then after they've done that, they begin to face opposition. So some people antagonize them from the local community who don't want Israel to prosper, and then they start bribing officials to try to get the Israelites to not be able to build the Temple. And they even come to the point that they send a letter to the, at the time, the Persian king Artaxerxe, and tell them, hey, these Israelites, they're kind of a problem, they're going to rise up if you let them get powerful, if you let them get reestablished, they might end up being a problem. And King Artaxerxe gets this letter, and he says, you know, you're right, we're going to tell them to stop building.

Dan Franklin: [00:11:08] And so let me show you a couple of verses in Ezra Chapter 4, verses 23 and 24 tell us what happens here. It says, "As soon as the copy of the letter of King Artaxerxes was read to Rehum and Shimshai the secretary and their associates, they went immediately to the Jews in Jerusalem and compelled them by force to stop. 24Thus the work on the house of God in Jerusalem came to a standstill until the second year of the reign of Darius king of Persia." That parallels where we are, the second year of King Darius, six-month, first day. Now that's the last verse, right, what I have up on the screen is the last verses of Ezra four, let me show you the first verse of Ezra Chapter five. All right, we're having a little bit of trouble, it'll get there. There we go, Ezra 5:1 says this, "Now Haggai the prophet and Zechariah the prophet, a descendant of Iddo, prophesied to the Jews in Judah and Jerusalem in the name of the God of Israel, who was over them." Now, here's what we don't see, what we don't see is between the last verse in Ezra 4 and the first verse in Ezra 5, 16 years elapsed. So for 16 years, the just begun temple in Jerusalem lay with nothing being done to it. In the words of Haggai in our passage, "It lay in ruins."

Dan Franklin: [00:12:41] Now, here in the United States in 2022, we might look at this and we might say, all right, what's the big deal? We know that God is bigger than any temple. We know you don't need a building to worship God. We know God doesn't dwell in the temple. So what is the big deal with them not building the temple? Well, I want to read you a quote that I got from a commentary on this from Alec Motyer, he has some insight into why this was so significant. And so you guys might need to just do the slides, it doesn't seem to be working. So here's what Alec Motyer writes, he says the building of the house is not a cultic technique whereby humans’ pressure or even seek to please God, it is an act of obedience performed in the faith that God will keep his promises. The Lord's case against Haggai's people was simple, you did not want me. The temple is in ruins, and it was almost a parable for the priorities of the people of Israel, they said, we don't want you."

Dan Franklin: [00:13:44] Now let's look back at the verses, let's look back at verses 2-4 because the really biting thing that we see in these verses is that even though the House of the Lord lay in ruins, the people of Israel were living in their paneled houses. And the paneled houses, at the very least, meant that their houses were finished. And some people even think they weren't just finished, they were well decorated, they were all decked out. The people were living full, nice, comfortable lives while the House of the Lord, the temple, was a ruin. And once again, this is just a parable about priorities, they had absolutely deprioritized God, making sure they were well taken care of in their own homes, while the House of the Lord was a ruin.

Dan Franklin: [00:14:35] Now, let's take a pause, and let's try to bring this into the 21st century. The main calling for God in our lives is not to build him a temple, so we're not in exactly the same situation as the Israelites were. Well, let's just ask the question, in 2022, in the United States, in our lives, what does it look like for us to de-prioritize God, to just decide that we're going to take care of other things without God being terribly important to us? And let me give you some examples, let me give you some signs that would indicate that you have deprioritized God.

Dan Franklin: [00:15:12] Obviously, we've been in this time of COVID for a while, so let me start there. If you have been vigilant about protecting yourself against COVID, I mean really vigilant, like a mask or two every time you go out, you were first in line to get the vaccine, you were first in line with the boosters, you're staying away from people. You're very, very, very vigilant about making sure you protect yourself against the danger of the virus, but you are not spending any time thinking about how you protect yourself from the lies of Satan, who is the true enemy, your priorities are out of order. And here's what I'm not saying, I'm not saying that you were even necessarily wrong to take all those steps to vigilance against the virus, what I'm saying is if you're doing that, you have deprioritized God, and it is much more important to prioritize him.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:06] If you are spending anxious time with your words in person, and with your words online, making sure that you're fighting for the kids in school, and making sure that you're fighting against critical race theory, and making sure you're fighting against mask mandates and vaccine mandates, but you are not taking that much time to fight against sin in your personal life, your priorities are out of order.

Dan Franklin: [00:16:30] If you're somebody that's all about health, and some of you are, some of you are all about health, your organic, vegan, you're mortified that we have donuts down there, you're like, what are they even doing? You're hitting the gym five times a week, 6.4 percent body fat, you're on it with all of that stuff. If you are all about your health, and you are not regularly reading God's word for your spiritual health, your priorities are out of order.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:02] And if you are working the plan for your life, whether that comes to finances, retirement, college, academics, and you are just all about working that plan, but you are not spending time seeking the Lord in prayer to see how he's leading you, then your priorities are out of order.

Dan Franklin: [00:17:20] The problem for the Israelites was not that they were living in paneled houses, that was fine, the problem was that they were living in paneled houses while the House of the Lord was in ruins. And part of what we all need to ask ourselves right now is we think about rebuilding, is what part of our lives is in ruins right now while we're distracted with things that are much less important? He says there's a problem, and the problem is that you've cast God to the side and made him much less important than he should be. That's the problem, now let's look at the solution. Because what we're going to find out about prioritizing God, is that when we deprioritize God, we invite disaster.

Dan Franklin: [00:18:07] Let's look at the instructions that God gives and verses 5 and 6, starting with verse 5, it says, "Now this is what the Lord Almighty says." And by the way, this is meant to be a contrast. You all say it's not yet time to rebuild, "Here's what the Lord Almighty says, “Give careful thought to your ways." I'm not going to lie to you, I am going to steal this phrase and use it all the time now. I love this phrase, kids get ready, it's going to come all the time in our household now. Just every time something's out of order, somebody's not behaving right, somebody says something, give careful thought to your ways. This is God getting attention, he wants us to zero in and give careful thought to your ways. This is another way of saying what we've been saying that this first week is all about, and that is, take stock, think about the way that you're living, think about how you got to where you are right now.

Dan Franklin: [00:19:05] Let me just ask you a quick question, have you ever had a point in your life where you actually did take the time to pause and you said, how did I get to this point in my life? Not like how did I get right here to this seat, you probably knew that, but how did I get to the point that my life is this way? There have been different times that I've had that experience. The first time I remember it, I was a senior in high school, I was 17 years old. I was sitting in a church service, half-listening to the sermon, because it had finally come to my attention that if I was honest before God, I was completely living a double life. I was one way around my church friends, I was totally another way around the other friends that I had at school. In many ways, the way that I was living my life would not have marked me out as any different than the non-Christians around me. And I just remember thinking, I did not plan on getting here. Like, I have this plan to be this very devoted Christian, this person that puts Jesus in first place in his life. And I had to pause and say, how did I get here?

Dan Franklin: [00:20:10] And let's be honest, it's kind of scary to do that, this whole give careful thought to your ways, the whole idea of pausing to take stock, there's probably a lot of us that don't really want to do this because we're not sure what we're going to find. Just in the same way that if I'm building a piece of IKEA furniture, I might not want to pause and figure out if I'm doing it right, I just want to set it up and hope that it works because if I pause and look at it carefully, I may realize I have to go back and start all over. Some of us don't want to do this, we don't want to give careful thought to our ways, because we think if I give careful thought to my ways, I may find out some ugly things. I may find out that sin is running rampant in my life much more than I'd like to admit. I might find out that the last time I prayed any time other than thank you, God, right before a meal was months ago. I might find out that I'm not cracking open a Bible at any time other than church. I might find out that the way that I'm treating other people is not a light to anyone else. And I might find out that while I would say, yeah, I'm very, very devoted to my church, I attend services about once a month, and that's only when I don't have something else going on. It can be scary to do what God is calling them to do right now, to give careful thought to your ways.

Dan Franklin: [00:21:34] But as he says, give careful thought to your ways, he's going to give some insight to the Israelites on what's been going on during this season of time. So look at verse 6, verse 6 says, "You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” So let me just try to sum up very briefly what God is saying to the Israelites, he's saying, have you guys noticed things aren't going real well? Have you guys noticed that your daily life isn't going the way that you would have expected it to go?

Dan Franklin: [00:22:24] Has anybody here ever had a time that you began to realize that God was working hard to get your attention? God has many ways that he can get our attention, as I read the Bible, there are two that really stand out for when we're ignoring God, ways that God decides to get our attention. One way is that God decides he's going to thwart us in everything that we're doing. We're thinking that we can be fine without him, we're thinking that we can be successful without him, and so God decides he is just going to get in our way and thwart everything that we do. Ok, maybe you're coming out of college looking for a job, or you're just at a transition point and you're looking for a job, you're like, I know how to do this, and I know how to make a resume, and I interview real well, and I have good networking connections. And so you go out and you're doing everything that you should be doing, and you have all the qualifications and you're nailing all the interviews, but nothing is happening. And you're looking around and saying what is going on, and eventually, you may come to realize God is choosing to thwart you instead of allowing you to be successful without him. Because if you're successful without him, you'll begin to get more and more self-sufficient and arrogant. I'm not going to ask for a show of hands, can anybody think back at a time in your life and say, that was God thwarting me? He wasn't letting me be successful without him because he wanted to get my attention. That's one of the ways that God deals with us to get our attention, but there's a second way he does this, and the second way that he does it, is he allows us to be successful and then come to realize how empty that success is apart from him.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:02] Eventually, in the Bible reading plan that we're in right now, we're going to read through the Book of Ecclesiastes, the Old Testament Book of Ecclesiastes. And if you're familiar with this, here's what this book is about, it's about a guy that has it all, all of the possessions, all of the money, all of the accomplishments, and all of the fame, and all of the pleasure, and everything at his fingertips. And as he thinks about all of these things that he has, and all the things he's accomplished, what does he keep saying about them all? Meaningless, meaningless, empty. In fact, he says, trying to chase happiness through these things, it's like trying to grab a hold of the wind. He ends up finding his life meaningless, even though he was successful in getting everything that he wanted to get.

Dan Franklin: [00:24:52] Sometimes if you're trying to live without God as really a part of your life, God will thwart you until you're so humbled that he gets your attention. And sometimes what God will do, is he'll let you get everything that you're after, and then you'll come to realize that it didn't work. And I don't know, but maybe some of you are there right now? Maybe some of you are at the point that you're like, by all accounts, I should be really, really happy. By all accounts, my job is going fine, I was well provided for even during the pandemic, everything was fine with business and with finances, my kids are healthy, I'm healthy, school is going well, work is going well, all of this stuff. Our house is nice, our house is in order, everything seems to be the way that I wanted it to be, and yet inside, I just feel dead, I just feel empty.

Dan Franklin: [00:25:45] You know, with what's going on in Israel here, the interesting thing is that commentator’s debate between those two things. Is what he's saying here is that God is thwarting them, or is what he's saying is that God allowed them to be successful but unsatisfied? Because it might be that what's going on here is that he's saying, hey, have you noticed that you harvest, but I don't let you have a big harvest. Have you noticed that even when you eat, I don't allow you to have enough to be satisfied? It might be that, but also, when you look at this, what God is saying here is not that there's this extreme famine and they're coming back with no crops, they're coming back with crops, they have food to put in their mouth, they have something to drink, they have something to wear, they have houses to live in. I think what may be going on here is that their lives from an outer perspective, should be fine. but they're not filled, they're not satisfied, they're not warm, God has not allowed them to enjoy the things that they have because in the end they're trying to enjoy all that apart from God, and they've come to realize how empty that is.

Dan Franklin: [00:26:49] You know, when we think about that ruined temple, in some ways, we could look at the Israelites and we could say that should have been the first thing they did. The first thing that you did when you get back, regardless of the opposition, is you should have rebuilt that temple. And even if we don't get any further, we'd say, here's why you should have rebuilt this temple. Reason number one, you should have rebuilt that temple because God is the most important reality in life, and he deserves to be treated that way, so you should have rebuilt the temple just out of treating God as supreme. And that would be one hundred percent right, even if there was no other reason, the Israelites should have put God first because God is first.

Dan Franklin: [00:27:29] But there's a second reason why they should have passionately rebuilt that temple, and here's what it is. The second reason why they should have rebuilt that temple is because they should have done it out of desperation, they should have realized there is no life apart from God, there is no joy apart from God, we can try to fill ourselves up, but we'll always end up empty. We can try to be successful, but even if we succeed in that, we'll still be empty. So out of sheer desperation, we are going to build this temple because we want God at the center of our lives, because without him, we are dead.

Dan Franklin: [00:28:07] And in the same way we can look at our lives, and we can look at the words of the Lord Jesus Christ in Matthew chapter 6 verse 33 when he said, "Seek first the Kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you." By the way, if you're familiar with that passage, because most of us are familiar with that verse, that seek first the Kingdom of God. When he says all these things will be added to you, the things that he's talking about are what we wear and what we eat. What he's talking about is the things that we're normally transfixed by, the things that we normally prioritize over seeking first God and his kingdom. What he says is if you seek him first, God's going to lead you through taking care of all the rest. God's going to lead you to the wise decisions about your health, and about your finances, and about your social life, and about your friendships, and about college, and about the future. We seek God first, and here's the deal, as people, as human beings, whether you're a Christian or not, here's the deal you should seek God first because God is the most important reality in the universe. He deserves for you to seek him first, but you all should seek God first out of sheer desperation because there's no hope and there is no life apart from him.

Dan Franklin: [00:29:26] If you're here and you're not a Christian, here's what I want to make clear, if you begin to try to rebuild, or try to build with the morals and the ethics of Christianity and say, all right, I'm going to be honest, and I'm going to try to be nice to my neighbor, and I'm going to try to do these different things, you will be building without the foundation. The very first thing that you need to do is you need to humble yourself before God and realize that you need to be brought into the family by Jesus Christ. God did not just send us a bunch of rules to live by, God sent us his Son because without him, we are lost in our sins, but Jesus came to save us from our sins, and Jesus rose from the dead to give us new life. We start by humbling ourselves before God.

Dan Franklin: [00:30:13] And if you're a Christian, as many of us are, you've already done that, but that is still our calling in each thing that we do, to recognize that we are desperate without God, and so we start with him, we seek him first. We seek him first with our money, and instead of getting to the end of the month and saying, all right, how much is left over and is there anything that I might be able to give to what God is doing in the world? We seek first God and his kingdom. It means that with our time, we seek God first, instead of saying, well, at the end of the day, if I'm not too tired, I'll read my Bible. Or at the end of the month, if I have any time, I'll look to serve a little bit in church, but that we seek him first before anything else. It means that with obedience, it means that with repentance, it means that with our schedules, it means with our words, we are seeking God first and putting him as our first priority in everything that we do.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:13] And I don't want to assume that there's nobody here doing this, but here's what I do want to assume, it's an appropriate time for us to take stock, it's an appropriate time for us to give careful thought to our ways. Let me share something that at first might seem depressing, but hopefully, it won't in the end. Really any building that we do without God being first is going to be fruitless in the end, it's not that nothing good can come from it, but it's going to put us in a position where we need to start over.

Dan Franklin: [00:31:47] Now, our country is rebuilding right now. I'm not trying to make snap judgments on everything that our country is doing as far as rebuilding, but just follow me on this. As we rebuild, have we as a nation decided whatever we decide, we're putting God first? No, we definitely haven't decided that that's not the way our nation is going with this. This is a unique opportunity, by the way, God has humbled us just as he sent the Israelites into exile and got their attention, God's done some things to get our attention. But we as a nation have not said, hey, whatever we do, first thing's first, we're seeking God. We haven't done that, and here's what that means, that doesn't mean that nothing we do as a country is going to work. Some things will work, and some things will help as we look to rebuild, but what it means is we're not dealing with the core problems, so we're going to be right back here again, dealing with something else because we haven't dealt with the core of what it means to place God at the center.

Dan Franklin: [00:32:48] Now you may be sitting here in this room being, like, what can I do about that? I don't know how to get my voice in the ear of President Biden, or Governor Newsom, or whoever is going to be, I don't know how to influence them, I have very little control over what our country does with that. Fair enough, you do have control over how you are going to decide to rebuild during the season of time. And just as a reality check, how much time do we spend focused and frustrated with our leaders for not doing things right, when that focus and frustration is mostly fruitless and not helpful, and could instead be spent on us saying, how is God calling me to place him first as I look to rebuild in my own life?

Dan Franklin: [00:33:37] Here's what we're going to do, I know this is heavy, I know taking stock is heavy, this is not something that can just be accomplished in a minute or two, but we're going to start the process right here in the service. By the way, we created time, we're not over time, we planned for this. In case you're like, what are they doing? What we're going to do is, in a moment, we're going to take just a few quiet minutes here for all of us to bring ourselves before the Lord and ask him, show me my ways. I want to carefully consider my ways, show me where there's a part of my relationship with you that's in ruins while I'm focused elsewhere.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:16] Before we move to that, here is what I want to say, two minutes or five minutes of doing this is probably not sufficient to really hear from the Lord. It's a starting point, but what I want to encourage you to do is at some point this week, by the end of today, if at all possible, take some extended time, at least an hour just to prayerfully go before the Lord and ask where he wants you to focus your eyes.

Dan Franklin: [00:34:43] By the way on this, right now, this is the season of time where those of us who are in leadership here at this church, the elders, and the pastors, get ready to plan What are the goals for this next year, and what's God calling us to do, and what that's going to mean for budget and programs and all of that. And what we are doing, what we're in the middle of right now, is for two weeks before we even talk practically at all, before we even allow ourselves to plan and strategize, we're taking two weeks just to pray. Every pastor's meeting, all we do is just pray for an hour. We're taking time to fast during this time. We're taking time individually each day to pray.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:21] So what I want to say is this is a season of rebuilding; it's going to take more than just two minutes of prayer right now. And so once again, if you're like, I'm going to walk out of here and forget it, get your phone out, text yourself, write yourself an email, and say at some point this week, take the time that it will really take to come before the Lord and say, I don't want the most important thing to be in ruins, while I'm taking care of things that are much less important.

Dan Franklin: [00:35:50] And if you're not quite sure how to do this, you can look up here on the screen. In the whole area of taking stock, I just put five questions up here. There's a lot more that you can ask, but these are five questions that just sort of walkthrough of how can you figure out what God might be saying to you? What is the current state of your prayer life? What is your relationship with the church like right now? Where is sin ruling in your life? What do you spend your time and money on? And how regularly are you reading the Bible? I'm going to lead us, in just a moment, to have some quiet time of prayer. By the way, God can hear your prayers if your eyes are open, or your eyes are closed, so if you're like, I feel like I need to look up here and see these things as I'm praying, that is no problem at all. But let's take some time and do what we've been told to do in this passage, let's take careful thought of our ways. We'll set aside some time to do this, and after a couple of minutes, I'll bring us back together and close our time and prayer. But let's now go before the Lord and take stock.

Dan Franklin: [00:37:11] Father God, I thank you so much, for the amazing patience that you show us. Thank you, that as we look at the story of Israel, you were so patient with your people, and you're so patient with us. Father, we confess we are easily distracted, we're easily set off base, thank you that you stick with us, and they even show us the grace of looking to get our attention when we're not giving you the time of day. Father, I pray that you lead each one of us to take stock. I pray that you open our eyes. I pray that you speak to us through the power of your Spirit. I pray that you speak to us in ways that are bold and unmistakable, and also in ways that are gentle and that we can handle. And, Father, I pray that during this time where there is so much rebuilding happening, that instead of just seeking to go back to normal, that we would seek a new normal that you have for us. I pray that you do new and amazing things in our lives, in our prayer life, in our scripture life, and in the way that we share our faith, in the life of this church, and in a way that we shine the light of Jesus around us. Father, we pray that you'd lead us to a rebuild that will shine your glory far and wide. We pray this in the name of our Savior, Jesus. Amen.

Dan Franklin: [00:38:40] And let me just ask you to stand as I read a word of benediction over us, from that passage that I already mentioned from Matthew Chapter 6. And as I read this, you can already see some folks coming to both sides of the stage who are going to be happy to pray with you, or talk with you, if you have a point that you need to pray with after this.

Dan Franklin: [00:39:00] Let me read Matthew chapter 6, starting in verse 31, "So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. 33But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Amen. Amen. God bless you the rest of this Sunday.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848