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In Philippians 3:14 Paul says, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus …” He introduced that statement in v.13 with “but this one thing I do.” Obviously Paul did more than one thing! He made tents … He preached sermons. He planted churches … He wrote books … Paul did a lot of things! But what he is telling us is that his top priority in life was to “press toward the mark of the upward call…”Paul is saying, “I run straight toward the goal to win the prize that God’s heavenly call offers in Christ Jesus.” In other words, Paul’s number one priority was the Kingdom of Heaven! He was running straight toward that goal; he wasn’t going to let anything distract him from it! What is your focus/priorities for the coming year? Let’s learn from a pickled egg jar! A while back an expert on the subject of time management was speaking to a group of business students! After speaking to them for a while, he said, “Okay, it’s time for a quiz.” He set a two-gallon, wide mouthed Mason jar on the table in front of him. Then he produced about a dozen tennis-ball-sized rocks and carefully placed them, one at a time, inside the jar. When the jar was filled to the top and no more rocks would fit inside, he asked, “Is this jar full?” Everyone in the class said, “Yes.” “Really?” he said. Then he reached under the table and pulled out a bucket of small gravel. He dumped some gravel into the jar and shook it , causing pieces of gravel to work themselves down into the spaces between the big rocks. Then he smiled and asked the group once more, “Is the jar full?” By this time the class was starting to catch on … “Probably not,” one of them said. “Good!” he replied. Then he reached under the table and brought out a bucket of sand. He started dumping the sand in and it filled all the spaces between the rocks and the gravel. Once more he asked, “Is this jar full?” “No!” the class shouted. Again he said, “Good!” Then he grabbed a pitcher of water and began to pour it in until the jar was filled to the brim. Then he looked back at the class and asked, “What is the point of this illustration?” One eager student raised his hand and said, “The point is, no matter how full your schedule is, if you try really heard, you can always fit something more in!” “No,” the speaker replied, “that’s not the point…The truth is illustration teaches us is this: IF YOU DON’T PUT THE BIG ROCKS IN FIRST, YOU’LL NEVER GET THEM IN AT ALL.” What are the big rocks in your life? As you look ahead over this year, what are your priorities? Jesus had a lot to say about our priorities. Jesus said in Matthew 6:33 33But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you. Matthew 22:37-39 – Great Commandment 37Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38This is the first and great commandment. 39And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Matthew 28:19-20 – Great Commission 19Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Are you living at the intersection of the Great Commission and the Great Commandment? Are your big rocks Christ centered and kingdom focused? Worship, prayer, Bible reading and study, family, fellowship, missions, ministry, evangelism. These should be among the big rocks in your jar. It’s heartbreaking, but a true fact, that many Christians do not make God’s Kingdom a priority in life! Where do you find yourself at the beginning of this New Year? Won’t you make this year a time for reigniting your walk with God and reaffirm or re-establish your priorities in a manner pleasing to God as Jesus commands – be Christ-centered and kingdom focused. Amen. Originally posted here: https://biblicalpatterns.wordpress.com/2012/01/16/walking-the-walk-what-are-the-big-rocks-in-your-life/

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1 Sarah R = "As far as we know Paul didn't write any books. What he did write were letters. We think of his letters as "books of the Bible," but the original intent of Paul's writings were personal letters to individual and groups of churches addressing particular issues. Paul served as a mentor to many of the early churches and letter writing was a main way of communication. God preserved those letters and brought them together with other sacred writings of Jesus' disciples to form our New Testament. The words of Paul can teach us a lot about our Christian faith."
2 Sarah R = "This is a classic response of someone who feels motivated by works. If you believe it is by doing enough good things that you will get into heaven, but if you're good doesn't outweigh your bad then you will go to hell, that puts a lot of pressure on a person to do as much as possible! Jesus taught though that to look at it that way was to look at it backwards. Rather than working so our "good works" will "earn" us our salvation, we believe that we are saved through faith alone, and that faith is a living, active faith, that produces good works."
3 Sarah R = "Sometimes we forget that Jesus told us to "go and make disciples." We get confused by this and think He meant to "go and make converts. There's a big difference. If we are thinking about converts, we will be concerned about numbers (how many people came forward this Sunday?). However, if we thinking about disciplehip, we are concerned about people, helping them to learn and grow in the faith and to produce good fruit."