Peter Tan-Chi - First Things First
We are starting a new series. Our topic today is: First Things First. It's about priorities. Why are priorities important? Does anyone have an answer? Ask yourself, why is prioritization important? Second question, what are your top five priorities? Do you understand your priorities? What do you want to achieve in your life? Have you ever thought about this? Let me tell you why priorities matter. You only have so much time, you can't do everything. Your time is limited, your resources are limited, and your energy is limited, so you can't do everything. In fact, many years ago, someone came to me and asked: How do you decide what is important and what is not? He came up with this amazing chart called the Eisenhower Chart. What is General Eisenhower's chart? When he became president of the United States, he had this idea: How do you decide what's important?
So you have important things, but also urgent things, this is the first quadrant; you have important but not urgent things, you have things that are neither important but urgent, and there are things that are neither important nor urgent, right?? So, for example, let's look at quadrant one, which is things that are both important and urgent, like: crises, deadline-driven projects, commitments. Your house is on fire... and you'd better not ask at this point: What are my priorities? Priorities? Your house is on fire. Come out of the house and do your best to save as many people as possible. This is both urgent and important.
What about the second quadrant? The second quadrant is what most people ignore because it is important, but it is not urgent. For example: planning, guidance, family, rest... As far as I am concerned, prayer, Bible reading, self-growth, it is important but Not urgent.
The third quadrant, it's not important but urgent, people interrupt you, they visit your office, they want to have coffee, have a meeting, they want you to come to that meeting, invite... Now, the most dangerous quadrant is neither important nor urgent. This is how you waste your time on things that are not urgent. Social media, gaming, TV/Netflix.
Most of us spend a lot of time in Quadrant Four. What you need to do is learn to remove these. What you need to learn to do is focus on Quadrant 2, because Quadrant 2 will affect your future, and you have to decide what is important. So, how do I make the decision? For example, in my case, many of you have heard about priorities in reality. Folks, let me share with you, the order of priority. Do it with me, extend your five fingers, thumb up. Number one, God, say it with me, God. Second, spouse, third, children, fourth, ministry, job, fifth, friends. If you are not a Christian, this is your priority: First priority: friends, good times, second priority: your job, third priority: your children, fourth priority: you Spouse, fifth priority: God.
Now, let me ask you, are you a follower of Jesus? Or are you like this, you decide what your priorities are? So, many of you have heard this analogy, a jar, it's like your life, you only have so much time, so much energy, big rocks, these are the important things in life, your relationship with God, my Family, my children, evangelism, these are the big rocks. What are the less important things? They are represented by small stones and pebbles, and other less important things are represented by sand. Nowadays, most people fill their lives with unimportant things, things from the fourth and third quadrants. So you just fill it up, and when you fill it up with the little things, you don't have room for these big rocks. So, if you were planning your life, I suggest you start by planning these big rocks, my time with God, my devotional time, my prayer, my small group, my discipleship group, those are the big rocks.
In my life, I first enlarge the stone. The Book of Haggai is all about priorities. If you don't understand priorities, you will make a mess in your life. For example, many years ago, there was a man named Bob Pierce. How many of you have heard of Bob Pierce? Please raise your hand. Well, you don't know, you haven't heard of Bob Pierce. Have you heard of World Vision? OK. Have you ever heard of the Good Samaritan's Purse? World Vision is a foundation that takes in orphans. Today they take in children and are one of the most successful foundations that help children in the world. Samaritan's Purse is a foundation that helps people in distress and disaster. Bob Pierce, believe it or not, is the founder. He loved the Lord, but he didn't understand God's priorities. He misunderstood what it meant to put God first.
Putting God first in his mind meant putting ministry before family. He failed to realize that putting God first does not equal ministry. God comes first. Putting God first means you have to take care of your family. You have to take care of your wife. Do you understand? Putting God first does not mean you can neglect your responsibilities as a father or your responsibilities as a husband. It just means you do what God wants you to do—according to your calling. I am called to be a father, I am called to be a husband. I can delegate 90% of the things in my life to others, but there are a few things that I cannot delegate to others. I can delegate preaching, I can delegate attending certain meetings, but there are a few things I cannot delegate. I can't entrust someone else to be a father, I can't entrust someone else to be a husband.
Bob Pierce didn't understand this. Her daughter wrote about his life. According to his daughter, he was away from home ten months out of the year and his own children couldn't even recognize him. One day when his daughter called him long distance, his daughter told him: I need you, Dad. The father said: I'm sorry, I'm very busy. He doesn't understand priorities. In the process, his own daughter committed suicide. When he finally returned home, his wife divorced him. His relationships become sour because you don't understand priorities. Friends, you can never do everything you want to do if you don't understand priorities. But you have enough time and energy to do what God wants you to do.
Let me repeat, you never have enough time to do everything you want to do. But you will have enough time to do all that God wants you to do. That's why it's relevant to our definition of success. What is success? Be everything God wants you to be. That's God's priorities, your character, do whatever God wants you to do. Do what is a priority in God's eyes, not what is a priority in your eyes, what is a priority in God's eyes, and hear God say: Well done! A good and faithful servant. This is why priorities matter. God is very clear, the Bible tells us, let's read together: Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. All these things will be added to you. God commands us to put Him first, to seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and then He gives you a wonderful promise: This is the promise: And all these things will be added to you.
What are all these things? To show you the importance of priorities, here are the scriptures: Everyone read: Matthew 6:31-33: Therefore do not be anxious, saying, What shall you eat? What to drink? what to wear? Now let us ask you a question, is eating important? Is drinking important? Does what you wear matter? But God commands us to stop worrying. Don't worry, grammatically speaking, it says: Stop worrying! Don't worry about these things. He tells you why: these are what the Gentiles ask for. Your heavenly Father knows all the things you need. The reason why you should stop worrying, He tells you why, He says: Your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things. Because you have a Heavenly Father who is giving you this command now. Everyone read: Matthew 6:33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness. In other words, God is saying, you have to put Him first. When you put Him first, He says, I will take care of you.
Now ask: Do you put Him first? How do you know you're putting Him first? His kingdom and His righteousness, these two things. You will learn, first, what do you spend the most time on? Where do you spend your energy? Second, where do you spend your money? That tells God, that tells me, your priorities. Okay, let's present today's information in a clear form. Prioritize first things first. What do we mean by "prioritizing first things first"? Simply put, it means putting God first. When you put God first, that means God's plan, you prioritize His will for your life, God's plan for your life. What does it mean to put God first? Well, that means you put His opinion first. You look at things, and when you have a problem, you go ask Him, What's wrong? God's view. Your priority is to do God's will, not talk about it, not hear about it, but do it. You have to put God's presence first. That's the most important thing, you put God first.
So, if there's one thing you want to remember about today's message, in a nutshell, it's this, people tell me: Prioritize first things first. First is God. OK? Again, prioritize first things first. What comes first? God. Put God first. Do you understand His plan for your life, His will for your life, and His views? You put God first and do His will. Okay, let's look at the Book of Haggai, Chapter 1, Verse 1. Are you ready? Haggai, some of you don't know how to pronounce this word, OK, so I'm going to teach you now, say it with me, Haggai. The book of Haggai has two chapters, and it's easy to read. It has to do with priorities, so let's start with the first chapter of Haggai and read it together.
The first day of the sixth month in the second year of King Darius, so historically speaking, that's why the Bible is accurate, it tells you the date, it tells you who the king was, and you can verify it with world history, so I believe the Bible Accuracy. No other religious book contains all of these dates. Do you know why? Because many of those books are legends, many of these books are inaccurate, except the Bible. Continue reading: The word of the LORD (read together) came through the prophet Haggai to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and to Dakar son of Jehozadak. Joshua the Priest said... So here are the following important names, I've already mentioned Darius, who was the king at that time, and then the next important name is Haggai, say it with me, Haggai, who is Haggai? Should? prophet. He was going to speak to Zerubbabel, the word of the LORD through Haggai the prophet, to Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah.
Who was Zerubbabel? It was the governor, the governor of Judah. Who is Zerubbabel? He was the grandson of David. Darius promoted Zerubbabel to be governor. Who was Darius? Darius was the king of Persia. Who is Joshua? Joshua was the priest, the high priest. So here you have the local leaders, and God has a message for the leaders of Judah, for the governor Zerubbabel, for the high priest, what is his name? Joshua. Who did God use? Haggai. What went wrong? The question is this: Thus says the LORD of hosts: This people says, The time has not yet come for the building of the house of the LORD. What is the Bible really about? The Bible tells us that there was once a beautiful temple built by Solomon, but the temple was destroyed by King Nebuchadnezzar, the temple was burned, and the people were taken captive to various parts of the Middle East.
The Bible says that there was a prophecy that the temple Will be rebuilt, why the temple is important, because to the Jews, the temple is a symbol of God's presence. The temple symbolizes the spiritual life of the Jews, so the temple is so important. And the question is this: Thus saith the LORD of hosts: This people say, The time has not yet come to build the house of the LORD. Do you know why? Something happened and they didn't want to rebuild the temple. There is a Tagalog saying: If you don't want to do something, there are many reasons; if you want to do it, there are many ways! In English, if you don't want to do something, you have countless excuses. If you want to do something, you will always find a way, you will always find a reason to do it. Do you understand? Your priorities determine whether you will do something or not. They put God's work second. God is not important.
I was speaking to a group of leaders this week, and I told them: No time? This is a myth! Let me repeat, no time? This is a myth! This is a very poor excuse. From now on, I will not allow such excuses. What do I mean? For example, I know a president of a multinational company, and we spent a lot of time trying to invite him to join a Bible study group and take responsibility. Do you know what his excuse was? The excuse, you know, is reasonable, I'm busy, I have meetings, I'm running a big business. One day, during his regular physical exam, the doctor said, I see something in your lungs and I think you have cancer. The moment he heard the word cancer, suddenly, he had time. What to do when you have time? Go to the doctor, check-up, Bible study, prayer time, why?
Let me tell you why. I remember this quote, death, facing death, has an uncanny power to change your priorities. The myth of no time is a lie. If a father does not give his children enough time, it is simply because: to the father, his children are not that important. If you don't have time to worship God regularly, that means you don't make it a priority. If you don't have time to study the Bible and pray, that tells me one thing, it's not important, so don't kid yourself that you don't have time. You'll make time for the important things, and you won't have time for the unimportant things. So don't use this as an excuse. So let me share this timeline with you very quickly. The timeline is as follows: 586 BC, the southern kingdom of Judah was defeated, and the temple was destroyed.
So please remember this year, 586 BC, the southern kingdom of Judah was defeated. The entire nation of Israel was wiped off the map. They were driven away. At the same time they were taken into captivity, the temple was burned down by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon. The Bible tells us that many years later, there was a prophecy that they would return to the Promised Land, so they came back, the Jews came back, and the Bible tells us that they began to rebuild the temple in 536 BC, you know? So they started rebuilding the temple, but something happened, a few years after rebuilding the temple, four or five years after rebuilding the temple, in 530 BC, the rebuilding stopped. Why? There was a problem, there was a conspiracy, and because there was a problem, the people became discouraged, and the government issued an order that no more temples were allowed to be built. So they were discouraged, but then the Bible tells us something.
Ten years later, God raised up Haggai, and God told Haggai to go and tell the people, in Tagalog, 29:05, Hey! Wake up! Complete the temple! Understand? The people are greatly oppressed and we have so many troubles. Forget about the temple! Haggai was used by God to complete the temple! The Bible tells us that after Haggai delivered this message, five years later, the temple was completed. Do you understand this whole process? Now we come to the book of Haggai, when God tells Haggai to deliver this message, but you have to understand, Haggai tells us how important God's plan, God's will is. But what you might not realize is that many years before Haggai, many years before King Cyrus, God gave a prophecy.
This prophecy is found in Isaiah Chapter 44 Verse 28, which says about Cyrus, "He is my shepherd, and he will do all my pleasure. He will give orders to build Jerusalem and give orders to lay the foundations of the temple". This prophecy is amazing. Before the temple was destroyed, God had already prophesied that the temple would be rebuilt. How could God predict such a thing when the First Temple had not yet been destroyed? Because God knows everything, and then God said Cyrus, who was Cyrus? Cyrus was a foreign king, but God said, I will use Cyrus. This reminds me that God can use anyone, even if they are not a Christian. Do you know what happened? In Ezra Chapter 1 Verse 1, in the first year of Cyrus king of Persia, in order to fulfill the word spoken by Jeremiah, the Lord stirred up the heart of Cyrus king of Persia and caused him to issue an edict to the whole nation, saying... You know What is the announcement? Here it is, read it: Thus saith Cyrus king of Persia: The LORD, the God of heaven, has given me all the kingdoms of the earth. And he commanded me to build him a house in Jerusalem of Judah.
How could a man like Cyrus, who did not really know the Lord, issue an edict to fulfill God's prophecies? For God is in control, even among the kings of the nations.. So, don't worry about the Philippines, OK? Because God is in control, amen? So I tell Christians, your job is to pray. Now how exactly was King Cyrus influenced by the Lord? Don't forget the gentleman named Daniel. Daniel was still alive during the time of King Cyrus, and I believe Daniel played a role in that, telling King Cyrus, the best thing you can do is allow the Israelites to return to their country, let They rebuilt the temple because that was the policy of the Persians. Persia was different from Babylon. The Babylonians would take everyone captive. Imagine that the Japanese conquered the Philippines and they took us captive to Japan.
I know some of you are very happy. I wish they could kidnap us to Japan. But the policy in Persia was different. You go back to your homeland, go back to the Philippines, and that's what happened. So are you ready? Let's look at Haggai chapter 1, verse 2: This is what the LORD Almighty says: This people says, The time has not yet come for the building of the house of the LORD. You see, the people are making excuses, why don't they rebuild the temple? Can I tell you what God has done? Well, the reason why the people were discouraged was because something went wrong in Ezra chapter 4, where the people of the land weakened the hands of the people of Judah and disturbed them while they were building. The people of the land opposed the rebuilding of the temple. From the reign of Cyrus, king of Persia, until Darius, king of Persia, came to the throne, he bribed counselors to foil their plans.
In other words, they were not carrying out God's will. God allows opposition to exist, so just because you have opposition today, look at me now, how many of you have problems today? You have a trial, look at me now, just because you have a trial, that doesn't mean God is against you. But the Bible is very clear that people got discouraged and they stopped building. What I care about is when you have a problem, will you be dejected? do not do that. Just because someone disagrees doesn't mean you are fighting God's will. Many times having opposition can also mean that you are doing what God wants you to do. For example, in 1 Peter, let's read together: 1 Peter 1:6 Therefore you have great joy, but now for a little while you will have to suffer sorrow amid various trials. Will you be in trouble? Yes, but just because you are in trouble doesn't mean God is against you.
If you don't understand theology, you will become discouraged. I met someone recently and I heard his story. He had worshiped the Lord faithfully in the past, he had loved the Lord, but he was not from this church. One day his son was sick, and they asked me to pray, and I prayed for his son. But I have discovered that not all of our prayers are answered the way He wants. The son is dead. When the son died, the father became discouraged. The father stopped coming and attending worship services. You pray for me as I try to serve this man. I want him to know that just because you are disappointed, it doesn't mean God is angry with you. Many times, disappointment, according to the Bible, is because you need it. Do you know why you need it?
I don't understand, please look at the next verse: 1 Peter 1:7 Everyone read: So that your faith may be tested, God wants you to understand for yourselves whether your faith is true. It is more precious than gold which is perishable even though it is tested by fire. You can receive praise, glory, and honor when Jesus Christ appears. There's a lot of things I don't understand, why do people suffer? To be honest, I don't always understand. But one thing I know, just because you have a problem, doesn't mean God is against you. Are we clear? Sometimes God uses problems and troubles to speak to us. In this particular case, the book of Haggai, God was using questions and trouble to wake them up.
Haggai 1:3-4 Then the word of the LORD came to Haggai the prophet, saying, (Read everyone) Do you yourselves still live in houses with ceilings while this temple is desolate? Do you know what God is saying? You guys spend money on yourselves, you live in nice apartments, nice houses, houses with ceilings (wooden walls) connote luxury. Now God is not against luxury, God is not against enjoying life, but God is saying, don't put these things before His priorities. You must always put God first. So God is saying, what are you guys doing? You don't care about my construction work, you only care about yourselves. Now, God says, Hag 1:5 Examine your ways. God is saying to them: Wake up! Look at your life! Reflection is a wonderful word. It means you have to examine your own life.
Look in the mirror and examine your life against reality. What is happening in your life and what are you doing? Examine your own behavior and He will give you an example. Examine your own behavior. What do you mean by this? Because God wants you to prioritize God's plans, God's things. But God is saying: Wake up! What do you mean? Examine your own behavior. Read together, Haggai 1:6. Examine your deeds: You have sown much, but reaped little. You eat, but are not satisfied. He drank, but was not satisfied. Wear clothes, but not warm. He who receives wages puts his wages into a leaky bag. Do you know what God is saying? Examine what happens to you. Why are you not blessed? Modern translation: You have money, but you feel empty. You go to a restaurant, but after eating, you come home and you are not satisfied.
You see, folks, God wants you to examine. What's going on in your life? The Bible repeats: Hag 1:7 Thus says the Lord of hosts: Examine your ways. Look at your life. You will see that many times you do not examine your life. If God gives you financial problems, relationship problems, a feeling of emptiness, don't blame others, the first thing you have to do is: examine yourself, and after examining yourself, do you feel that you are If you obey God in all things, then don't worry. God is saying, I want to build your character. But before you blame God, before you blame anyone else, God is saying, look at yourself, are you putting yourself before me? Do you live in a boarded house? You are ignoring my work. Friends, God wants you to focus on the root of the problem and examine your actions. What does this mean? What is the root problem?
For example, gentlemen, all husbands, please stand up, all husbands, examine your lives, examine your ways, what is God telling us today? All husbands, please read: 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands also, live wisely with your wives. Because she is weaker than you and inherits the grace of life with you, you must respect her. This way your prayers will not be hindered. Gentlemen, do you have any financial problems? You are struggling... Is it possible that, according to God, you are not treating your wife appropriately? Is this possible? You see, when something goes wrong, most of us blame our wives. But God is saying, husbands! I want you to wake up! How are you treating your wife? So, let's treat our wives appropriately, and I always tell husbands, the best thing you can do for your children is to love your wife. Honor them. If there's a problem in your life, in your family, you need to examine, examine your ways, and ask God: Lord, am I treating my wife appropriately? What if you have health problems? If you've always been sick, and now because you're sick, that doesn't mean you're outside of God's will, okay?
But the Bible tells us that your spiritual life affects other areas of your life. Notice how God wants you to act like a man? Married gentlemen, please read this scripture again. Husbands also, live with your wives in a reasonable manner. According to reason, I don't mean to be groveling. According to reason, it means that you should respect her and treat a weaker vessel. A weaker vessel does not mean that she is inferior, it just means that she is more sensitive. She is like a porcelain vase, a very valuable porcelain vase. Gentlemen, you are like a big bucket. Totally insensitive, but our wives are like porcelain bottles and should be handled with care. Be sensitive, that's your homework today. What is God's priority in your life today? Be nice to your wife, be nice to the mother of your children, got it?
OK, please take a seat. Praise God! What's the solution now? God is telling them, you have to prioritize my priorities, prioritize my plans, you have to see things from my perspective, and that's why you have a problem now, to do my will, what is God's will? Very simple, the will of God, everyone reads: Go up to the mountain and get wood, (third,) to build this temple. This makes me happy and honored. So, God is saying, make me your priority, make me happy and do my will. What is God's will? Rebuild the temple. How do you rebuild the temple? First, go up the mountain. How do you rebuild the temple? Second, go chop down trees so you have wood. Third, build.
Now, listen, why is God showing you step four, step five, if you haven't done step one, step two, step three? You see, what does priority mean? What does it mean to put God first? You have to follow what you know. God is saying, Rebuild my temple! So what do you need to do? Go to work! Go up to the mountains and get wood to build my temple. You see, there are a lot of Christians who think like this, and they come to me: Pastor Peter, I want deeper truth. I said: I don't understand, the deeper truth? You know, I wanted to study the Bible, it was deep. I said, I'm sorry, what do you mean by deep? Why do you need to study the Bible more deeply? Why not follow what you learn in a simple Bible study, such as God tells us to love one another and God tells us to forgive one another. God tells you to love your husband. God tells you to submit to your husband. You don't even follow these, and then you want to come to me and tell me: Pastor, let's look deeper into the Bible. I don't know what the deeper truth is. What kind of Bible study is this?
Let me tell you the deepest truth, didn't you ask me? I don't understand how God could love a sinner like me, how God could use someone like me. God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, so that whoever believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. What do you mean by deeper truth? You haven't even followed the simplest one, two, and three. What else do you want? the fourth step? the fifth step? Friends, don't fall into this trap. So, what's the priority? Do God's will. Why does God want to show you step five and step six, when you haven't done step one, step two, and step three yet? Do you understand? If you are not obeying God to share the gospel and love your neighbor, why would God show you anything else? Bible study can get boring—when God stops speaking to you.
When you stop following what He shows you, God stops speaking to you. I know God's purpose for my life, to share the gospel and love my neighbor. Many times God would tell me, are you willing to ask for forgiveness? God has asked some of you to ask for forgiveness. God wants you to forgive your neighbor, God wants you to forgive your loved ones. God wants you to live a holy life, and God wants you to break ungodly relationships. God wants you to reject pornography. God wants you singles to honor your parents. You haven't even done this, but you keep coming to Bible study. What makes you think Bible study is going to be interesting? It can get boring. The day you stop obeying God and doing what you know is the day God stops revealing Himself to you.
You know, for me, studying the Bible has always been exciting. God speaks to me during devotional time, every day, because deep down in my heart, I don't know that there's anything that God wants me to do that I'm not doing. Sometimes, God tells me, you call this person and have a lunch meeting, and I know this person doesn't want to see me. But God told me, you call him, you text him, so I will do that. Sometimes God tells me, you need to apologize to this person. I don't like apologies, but God tells me, you apologize. So I apologize, because what God values is your obedience to Him. have you understood? So let me ask you, the people in Haggai's day, what was their problem? They didn't comply.
Look at how repetitive the Bible is: Hag 1:9 You hoped for much, but received little. When you receive it in your home, I will blow it away. Why is this? For my house is desolate, says the LORD of hosts, but every one of you has run to his own house. Do you see the problem? God is saying, you are encountering financial problems, you are encountering various problems, why? Because you don't put me first. Be careful. You need to learn to relate every aspect of your life to your relationship with God. Because your relationship with God affects every aspect of your life. Look at what the Bible says, Haggai Chapter 1, verse 10, says, "Therefore for your sakes no dew will fall from heaven, nor will the earth produce its crops".
People don't realize that God's people influence the weather. Think about this. Look at the next verse: Because of you, says God, I will send drought on the land, on the mountains, on the grain, on the new wine, on the oil, on its crops, on the people, on the livestock, on all the work of man's hands. God is saying, wake up! The reason you are not blessed, the reason you encounter many problems, is because you do not put me first. The hope of this nation lies in the hands of God's people. The Bible says, if my people, who are called by my name, will humble themselves, pray, and repent, God says, I will bless you. I believe the reason this nation has not been blessed is because God's people are not doing what God wants us to do. Because God has all the power to change this country, right? But why isn't God doing this?
People of God, you need to wake up. Stop blaming others, stop blaming the government, let's look at ourselves. What is there that God wants you to do that you are not already doing? This is the book of Haggai. Why do droughts occur? Why are you not blessed? Because you don't put God first. Did you know that this same truth echoes throughout the Bible? Let me give you an example. In the book of Malachi, let's read: Malachi 3:11 I will rebuke the devourer for you, declares the LORD of hosts, and will not allow him to destroy your inheritance. The vines of your field will not drop their fruit before they are ripe. God is saying, I am going to do something about what the earth produces. I'm going to rebuke the devourer, there are all kinds of devourers, sometimes it's bad creditors, sometimes it's bad debtors, all kinds of problems, relationship problems, but God is saying, I'm going to rebuke it, based on what conditions?
What are the verses preceding Malachi 3:11? What is Section 10? Malachi 3:10 "Bring all the tithes into the storehouse, so that there may be food in my house," declares the LORD Almighty. The windows of heaven pour out blessings to you, and there is no room for them. I seldom preach about devotion. I rarely preach on tithing. Do you know why? This is my fault. But I discovered that by not teaching you the truth, I was depriving you of the blessings from God. Many of you are not tithing properly, so you are not experiencing God's blessings in reality. After walking with the Lord for 50 years, let me tell you my experience. In every instance, in my experience, in my counseling and teaching, and in my own life, I have never given more than God has given me. What do I mean? I give my tithes to my place of worship, which is God's storehouse.
But beyond my tithe, I give away to help the poor, I help other institutions, I help build funds, which is outside of my tithe. Do you know why we don't have an offering box at CCF? Where is our offering box? Do you know why we don't pass it on? Do you know why? Let me tell you why. Why don't we pass it on? Do you want to know why? Let us read you the New Testament version. Let us read this together: 2 Corinthians 9:6 He who sows sparingly will reap sparingly, but he who sows sparingly will reap bountifully. This is true. Remember, the test of putting God first is how you use your time, how you use your money, you know? Now look at the next verse: 2 Corinthians 9:7 Let each of you do what he has determined in his heart. Do not be embarrassed or forced, for God loves those who give cheerfully.
When you want to give to God, God is saying, how does He want you to give? Donate willingly. If we pass the offering box around... I remember years ago, some people were forced to give, I was forced, so what do we give? What do you give to the Lord? Change, right? God does not like this kind of devotion. Don't give it to God just because He needs your money. God doesn't need your money and God doesn't need my money. God is saying, you give, because I want to remind you that it's mine. You see, everything you have belongs to the Lord. How do you know you are putting God first? How do you use your money? Second, how do you use your time? So, as far as I am concerned, my life is very simple, I tell the people in my office, when I am very busy at work, I tell the people in my office that even today, 10% has been set aside and dedicated to CCF. How do I use my time?
Years ago, when I was very busy at work, every Wednesday was set aside. Bible study night was set aside, and no one could make an appointment with me. Friday night was the group meeting, and that was my priority. D12 Discipleship, you can't make an appointment with me for Friday night, no matter how important you are. No golfing on Saturday and Sunday. Why? Because I have to prepare a sermon. I have my own priorities. You get to decide what your priorities are. But in my case, I put God first. And in my experience, in the past 50 years, I have never given more than God has given me, I have never served Him more than He has served me. Why? Because God is faithful, is God faithful to you? OK, my friend, how do you put God first? How do you use your energy? How do you use your money? Look at this scripture, Haggai 1:12 Then Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, and Joshua son of Jehozadak the high priest, and the remnant of the people (read it all) obeyed the voice of the LORD their God, You see, when Haggai said, God said to rebuild the temple, all of them finally agreed to do it.
You see, when you put God first, you will do His will. When you put God first, you will experience His presence. What do I mean? You will experience His presence. Let's read this scripture: And the words of Haggai the prophet, whom the Lord their God sent. (Everyone read:) The people also had (what?) fear before the Lord. What does it mean? Have awe? When you worship God, you obey Him. Let me repeat. The expression of reverence and worship is obedience. Not partying, not in your head, doing something. Haggai 1:13 Haggai, the angel of the LORD, was sent by the LORD to the people, saying, I am with you, declares the LORD. You know, when God said, I am with you, it was after they obeyed it. What is the Bible saying now? The Bible is saying that although God is always with us, when you obey Him, you experience intimacy, you experience a manifestation of His presence. In my life, I always want to experience intimacy with God, so I make sure, in everything I do, that I'm not doing anything that would displease God.
One day... my wife is not here, so I can talk about her now, haha, she was here just now, and you know, even though we have been married for over 40 years, sometimes my wife says things that hurt me. Now she mentioned something that hurt me, and I was hurt, and I won't tell you what it was. But she mentioned something that hurt me and I didn't want to talk to her, but God spoke to my heart and the Lord said, you must love your wife unconditionally, even if she has soy sauce in her head, you must love her. So that's what I did. Then I asked my wife, honey, tell me, why did you just say that? And then she mentioned something that wasn't true, but the Lord told me again, the Lord said, you're going to forgive her even though she had soy sauce... So I went up to my wife and didn't tell her, but in my heart I forgave her.. In other words, you want God's blessing in your life, right? What is the book of Haggai about? You have to put God first.
What do you mean when you say you put God first? Prioritize His plan for your life, Prioritize His will. Whatever He wants you to do, do it. If you don't understand, you have to prioritize His perspective and look it up in the Bible. Why are we hurting? What's the problem? Don't blame God, check yourself. Then you prioritize doing His will. Don't keep asking: Lord, what do you want me to do? Very simple, today you honor your mother. Singles, you want to get married, right? Singles, louder, do you want to get married? What are your priorities? Not a boyfriend, not a girlfriend. Your priorities, listen, single people, your priorities are that you become the right person that God wants you to be. By being the right person, God will allow you to meet the right person. If you are the wrong person, you will not meet the right person. And the person you will meet may not be the best God has for you.
You know, listen to me, I see young people, they are so in love, they convince the whole world, I have to marry this person, because if I marry this person, I will be the happiest person in the world. That's what young people tell their parents all the time, Mom, I'm going to marry this guy because I can't live without him. The mother felt that this person was not good, but because the girl kept insisting: I can't live without him. Ladies, when you are in love, gentlemen, when you are in love, your thinking is not clear, do you understand? Your cerebral cortex is disturbed, so you need objective counseling and your parents' blessing, but you are afraid of getting their blessing, because what if they say no? ah! Prioritizing God's will requires faith. You see, God has brought me to a point where I'm afraid of my own will, really, to this day I'm afraid, like our construction project, I didn't want to do the construction project, but when I was sure it was God His will...
Do we need parking space? louder please! Our school, I will talk about this tomorrow, next Sunday. Meanwhile, singles, listen to me, singles, wave to me, singles, do you know I love you? Single people, do you know that I hope you are happily married? But if you don't do it God's way, I tell you what will happen. According to our experience, without the blessing of parents, usually there will be many problems after 1-2 years. After one or two years, the girl wrote to her mother, mother. What did she write in her letter before? I can't live without him.
Now just a year later, Mom, I can no longer live with him. Lots of questions. Friends, put God first. Do you understand? To put God first, what do you do with your money? You put Him first, so let's read it together: Hag 1:14 The LORD inspired Zerubbabel son of Shealtiel, governor of Judah, and Joshua son of Jehozadak the high priest, and the remnant of the people. And they came to work on the house of the LORD their God, the Lord of hosts. You see, if you put God first, Haggai put God first. He obeyed God and sent a message: Rebuild the temple! That's his job. My job is to do what God wants me to do. What is God's job? Do the impossible. What is impossible? To stir up the hearts of the governors, to stir up the hearts of the high priests, to stir up the hearts of the remnant of the people. In other words, I can't force you to do what God wants you to do, I can only tell you what God wants me to do.
So, parents, what is your job? Your job is to do what God wants you to do, and that is within your control. You can't change people, you can't change lives, let God do the impossible, amen? So what is our job today? Our job today is to keep God first. You keep God first. Whether your children give God first place or not, that is God's business. What should you do? You want God first. What is our message today? Prioritize first things first. What is your top priority in life? God, His will. Let Him be first. If I didn't tell you this true story, you wouldn't really put God first in your heart.
In 2007, at a garage sale, someone sold a plate like this, a little bigger than this, for three bucks. And the new buyer put the plate on the tarpaulin on the stove top, and then someone noticed the plate, and the person said, how much did you spend on this? Three dollars. The man said it was more than three dollars. The man said: I believe that plate is a real antique, so this man went to a very reputable auction house, Sotheby's? Is this pronunciation correct? OK. Whatever it's called, Sotheby's. The appraiser appraised the plate, sir, I believe it's worth at least $200,000, and the guy said, OK, let's sell it, so we auctioned it off.
In 2014, it sold for two million dollars. It was a plate from the Song Dynasty, the Northern Song Dynasty in China. Why did that person sell it for three dollars, the first person, the first owner, why? Why only $3? Let me tell you why. He doesn't know its value. Why do so many Christians sell their lives, sell their purity, sell it for three dollars, because you don't know the value of doing God's will. You have no idea how valuable it is to have God first in your life. You have no idea what God has in store for us as you do His will. You will never know the value of God's will until you do it.
I have seen many young people and many Christians selling themselves for three yuan, which is not worth it. Let God be first. Let His will be your most important priority. My most important priority, I will seek God's will and do God's will. Many of you are hurting today. You have money, but you feel empty. You have friends, but you still feel like something is missing. You don't know what you are missing. Because you keep selling your things in exchange for three dollars. We bow our heads, if God has spoken to you, and you want Him to be your number one priority, and you pray this prayer with me, please raise your hands, if you want me to pray for you, lift it up! You pray this prayer with me:
Lord Jesus, I have wasted a lot of time, my time, my energy, by not putting you first in my life. Today I commit my priorities to you. Lord, I pray, please help me to make you my number one priority. I want to do your will, I want to fulfill your plan for my life. Lord, please help me to put You first. Prioritize first things first. Lord, may you be number one, may you be number one in my life, do your will and enjoy your presence. We pray in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen! Amen!