Learn how to attain the peace God wants for you!
Chose peace with the proper order
New Year’s Day receives all the fanfare. It gets the parade, the displays, the ball drop and the television specials. Everyone seems to focus on significant life transformation at the beginning of the year, but the real change happens in the fall. Fall is the ideal time for reengagement. It is time to re-up on commitments made. It’s the testing line to see if what you committed to in January held true.
When the summer is over and vacations have passed, fall welcomes us back to reality. New school years begin; holiday preparations are made and the weather changes. The bright green leaves that once swayed in the summer breeze turn colors as their life cycle ends.
God allows beauty to be the trademark of seasonal death. Amateur and professional photographers break out their cameras, hoping to capture the colorful foliage as the season falls.
Spiritually, fall signifies awareness. It asks the question, “What do I need to allow to die in my life?” More often than not, it’s the habits and hang-ups that have dislodged our sense of proper priority.
What should my priorities be? you may ask. This is the wrong question. If you ask one hundred different people this question, you may find one hundred different answers. Each life is unique, crafted by God for a specific purpose, but this does not give us liberty to shrewdly sculpt our lives however we choose.
Choose Peace with Proper Alignment
1 Corinthians 14:33 gives us some insight into God’s character regarding proper spiritual priority, “God is not a God of disorder, but of peace” (NKJV).
One of the challenges we face in life is discerning how to achieve the peace God so frequently mentions. Peace is the result of order, not disorder. Clarity, not confusion.
God so kindly crafted proper spiritual alignment.
Chances are, if you are feeling discombobulated, it’s because your life is no longer aligned with His best intentions.
Proper spiritual alignment is separated into five areas, and these areas apply to everyone. They are not flexible. They do not care about your opinion. For proper spiritual alignment to occur in your life they must be cemented into their respective positions.
So how should your life be aligned? Let’s start with an easy one. The answer is easy, but the application of this priority is far from simple. You may be tempted to glance at the second priority and skip the first, thinking it’s too elementary to read, but I encourage you to slow down. Understanding is paramount if these priorities are to take root in your life.
Ok, here is the gimme. The first piece of the puzzle is God.
- God should be priority over everything and everyone.
All that is good flows out of your intimacy with Him. If this river gets dammed, you’ll find famine and parchedness in every other area of your life. Yes, you know this.
You’ve heard this before, yet, as of 2021 only 11% of Christians read their bible daily. For all our blustering knowledge, we lack very little understanding and even less execution. Thankfully, we did a little better on the prayer front. 68% of Christians pray daily.
What do those statistics mean? At first glance it would seem to imply we talk more than we listen. We pray, but we spend little time reading His letter to humanity. We have more access to the Bible today than any other time in history, yet they remain closed on our bookshelves or as an artistic centerpiece on the dining room coffee table. It may not even hold a prominent position among apps on your smartphone.
What does it mean for God to be the priority? Preeminence. He gets your first and your best. He should be your first thought in the morning. He should receive the first of your finances, and He should have the best of your focus.
Everything flows from our relationship with our Heavenly Father.
It is the lens with which you should filter every decision. Your relationships and purpose should all reflect Him. If He is not first, the foundation begins to crack. Sure, the house may not fall immediately, but left unattended and uncorrected, a faulty foundation will result in catastrophic destruction.
On June 24, 2001, Champlain Towers South, a 12-story beachfront condo in Miami, collapsed. At the time such a disaster seemed unheard of. With all our modern building codes and technology, how could a condo simply collapse? A few potential reasons existed, like location, subsidence and time, but many people chose to focus on human error in the inadequate construction.
This is a “duh” moment for anyone who has read Matthew 7:24-27. “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash” (NIV).
If you want a healthy, properly aligned spiritual life, start by examining the foundation. Can you honestly say God is the priority in your life, and no others before Him? (See Exodus 20:3-5.) God is first, and it will make even more sense when you see the subsequent priorities and how dysfunctional things could become if it is any other way.
2. The second priority is yourself.
This may come across as narcissistic, egotistical hogwash, but before you jump into the deep end of the resistance pool, consider this single statement.
You cannot give what you do not have.
When God is first, His plans for your life flow out of that relationship. He begins to shape you before He shapes others through you. He has work to do in you, so you can be the best possible witness for Him.
Anyone who has ever flown has heard these words over the intercom, “In the unlikely event of a sudden loss of cabin pressure, oxygen masks will drop down from the panel above your head … secure your own mask before helping others.” It sounds great when we are flying, but we give little credence to this advice in any other area of our lives.
Listen, your family, friends, children and community need the best version of you.
- How is your health? Are you eating properly and getting enough sleep? Are you taking care of your body so you can take care of the bodies around you?
- How is your mental health? Are you taking breaks, getting away and allowing yourself time to mentally heal? Are you going to a counselor or receiving biblical counsel?
- Are you financially free, so you can give generously to God and to others?
At first, the notion of focusing on yourself may seem anti-Jesus, but never forget that He died so that YOU can have life more abundantly too (John 10:10).
Don’t believe the lie that everyone else can walk in the fullness of God but you need to be the martyr.
The Apostle Paul exclaimed, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 11:1 NKJV). Paul lived a life worth imitating and so should you. Don’t talk the talk but not walk the walk. Prioritize what God is doing in you.
3. Prioritize your family.
You may not have family around you, and in this case, you could substitute for your friends. In fact, for many their friends are closer to them than their immediate family.
This is where you follow the Apostle Paul’s admonition, “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 NIV).
Your greatest legacy will be the generation that follows you.
It’s not your money, not your stuff, not your degrees nor your individual accomplishments. It will be the letter you have written on the hearts of your loved ones. We will come back to this one after you read the next two priorities.
The Bible has many strong statements about work, but 1 Thessalonians 3:10 stands out, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat’” (NKJV).
God created us to work. Yes, because of our sin in the garden, we have made to work harder than God intended, but work is part of our DNA. Society has never been kind to those who refuse to work. For some, it carries a great deal of shame.
Before we get to the last of our list of priorities, take a moment and review the order of the priorities we should have as Christians so far:
Hopefully, you can see how any of these out of alignment will create undue stress on the other areas. If you value yourself above God, you’ll give way to selfish desires built on satisfying your flesh. That will then take precedence over your family, as their needs will become secondary to your wants.
If you put your family over God, then you’ll idolize the temporal. You’ll skip church for soccer practice. You’ll not raise your children in the way they should go, and you shouldn’t be surprised when in their adolescence and adulthood they vacate the faith altogether. If it wasn’t a priority for you, it’ll be less so for them. As the saying goes, what we do in moderation, our children will do in excess.
If you put your work above God or above your family, you’ll breed dysfunction at home. Your spouse and kids will have a fractured relationship with you, and they will have to struggle with unforgiveness, and father or mother wounds into their adulthood. Left unhealed, they’ll pass that on to their children. What you saw as a “provision” will breed dysfunction.
There are no scenarios where this list of priorities can be in any order other than it is. But there is one more priority that must be kept in its place. Church. That’s right. Should you place serving above your spouse? Your kids? Your work? Of course not! What benefit is it to serve excessively but lose your job, your health or your family?
Your service to the Lord will be an overflow of healthy priorities.
When God is first in your life, you’ll not force your family, you’ll feed them. You’ll not lose them, you’ll lead them. They’ll serve with you out of a generous, thankful spirit, not a reluctant one.
Take some time this fall and evaluate your priorities. You may say, “My priorities are a little out of alignment, but we’re doing ok.” Let this be a warning to you. A little out of alignment for a long period of time will eventually lead to pain. Deal with it now.
It seems so elementary, but if you “seek first the kingdom of God” (Matthew 6:33), everything else will align healthily, and the fall won’t be a season of death and grieving but a season of hope. What has been dormant in you will soon emerge and the life you’ll experience will be better than you ever thought possible.