Dear Friends,

This past New Year’s Eve Kathy and I brought in the New Year the way we like best: with a bunch of our grandkids.  It was great fun and chaos as we ushered in the New Year with a grandkids sleepover.  At one point in the festivities I sat back and looked at all those beautiful, vibrant, joyful children and thought how incredibly blessed I am.  And because these kids are growing up with parents who love and serve the Lord, there has never been one day in their lives when they have not heard the truths of Jesus Christ!  Wow!

Don’t we all want to have a wonderful New Year filled with blessings of peace and abundant joy?  Below I would like to provide a grid that you can use to make sure 2019 is filled with God’s best blessings.

When I was a brand new Christian men who were discipling me taught me about God’s priorities as listed in Scripture.  I determined to apply these priorities consistently to my life and God has blessed me beyond anything I could ask or imagine!

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” (Ephesians 3:20–21).

So here are 5 PRIORITIES FOR 2019:

#1:  YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD—This doesn’t mean that God has some part of your life, but that your relationship with God IS your life!  As Paul said, “In Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).  You must include nurturing your relationship with the Lord in your daily routine.  You must schedule time to spend with Him in prayer and Bible reading, memorizing and meditating on His word, and gathering to worship Him with His people. 

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things” (Colossians 3:1–2).

#2:  YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR SPOUSE—After our relationship with God, our next more important priority is our spouse (if married).  I would say that one of the most important gifts you can give your children is the security that comes from a “rock solid” marriage—a marriage that is grounded on the Rock, Jesus Christ.  The husband is to unconditionally love His wife the way Jesus loved His bride, the church.  The wife is to honor and respect her husband as if she were honoring and respecting Jesus.  Doing this will fulfill two critical emotional needs:  a man’s need to feel significant; and a woman’s need to feel safe. 

However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband” (Ephesians 5:33).

#3:  YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR KIDS—The next priority is your relationship with your kids.  This means that you give your children the approval, affection, attention and comfort that they need.  You center your relationship with your children on God’s love and truth.  You provide them with the discipline (shaping their will) and instruction (shaping their mind) that comes from the Lord.  You keep the children in this proper priority and do not let them slip up to #1 priority or even #2 priority! 

Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger by the way you treat them. Rather, bring them up with the discipline and instruction that comes from the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).

#4:  YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR JOB—This must be kept in its proper place.  It is so easy for your job to take first place in your life.  Of course you spend the most time at work, even more than you spend with your spouse or children, but this time requirement cannot be allowed to be the center of your existence.  Your relationship with the Lord, your spouse and your children must be higher in your priorities than your job.  Jobs and careers tend to draw as much energy as you give it…and still not be satisfied.  You must place boundaries around your work even if that means you miss a promotion, or seek other employment.  I believe God will honor your commitment to His priorities.

Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will give you an inheritance as your reward, and that the Master you are serving is Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24).

#5:  YOUR RELATIONSHIP WITH YOUR MINISTRY—Yes, you must have a ministry for the Lord…that is if you’re a Christian.  This is not optional.  The Lord is coming to examine the fruit that our lives produce.  The Lord has provided us each with spiritual gifts to be used in service for His kingdom. 

You didn’t choose me. I chose you. I appointed you to go and produce lasting fruit” (John 15:16a).

What will do you need to change to get your priorities in order? 

What can you do to nurture these priority relationships in this New Year?  

Onward with the Lord into 2019,

Pastor Gary