Between errands, appointments, and other tasks, you’ve got a lot on your plate each day! Of course, it’s all important—but what’s the MOST important thing? In this 5-day reading plan, Pete Briscoe encourages you to consider what matters most… the Gospel of Grace!
The Most Important Thing
Nobody gets everything in this life. You decide your priorities and you make your choices. I’d decided long ago that any cake I had would be eaten. —Donald E. Westlake, Two Much
When my daughter went to study abroad, I found that connecting across time zones was a serious challenge. I was constantly missing her calls. One day I decided no more. Day or night, I was answering that phone.
The next time my daughter called, I was in the middle of a meeting. As soon as I saw it was her, I excused myself. That meeting was important, but the phone call from my daughter was MOST important.
It’s important to live life with your priorities straight. Some things are important, others are more important, but only a handful are most important. And the most important things are worth dropping everything for.
I love Moses’ reflection on a life surrendered to God:
Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom. (Psalm 90:12)
Nothing encourages prioritization like the reality of limited time.
This was true for Jesus, too. Though everything He did was important, some things He considered more important. And every once in a while, we see Him drop everything for what He considered most important.
Examining Jesus’ priorities is important because:
If Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever…
And He indwells believers by His Spirit…
And He expresses Himself through moment by moment…
His life in us today will look like His life among us 2,000 years ago.
His priorities will become our priorities. The things most important to Him will become most important to us.
Jesus, I ask for Your wisdom to guide me as I learn to discern between good and best. I’m eager to know what You consider most important. It excites me to learn something new about You. To discover Your priorities is to discover Your heart. Amen.
This Better Be Good…
I have been seized by the power of a great affection. —Brennan Manning, The Ragamuffin Gospel
Imagine for a moment: You live 2,000 years ago in a village near the Sea of Galilee. One of your kids can’t walk because when he was little a street cart ran over both of his legs. It’s 1,700 years before the invention of surgery, and he’s crippled for life. When you’re gone, he’ll beg and rely on the mercy of others for survival.
One day, your blind neighbor peers over the fence and says, “Hi.”
Confused, you wave your hand in front of his face. He waves back.
He proceeds to tell you about this Jesus guy who’s been healing the blind and lame. For the first time since your son’s accident, you feel hope! You drop everything, bundle up your son, and make for the hills in search of Jesus. The 10-mile journey leaves you wiped; and when you arrive, there are masses of people looking for Jesus. Determined, you comb the hills until someone calls out, “He’s over here!”
Everyone rushes to get in line and wait. As the sun rises, you’re a dozen people back and hope is overflowing. Every person Jesus touches is healed.
You’re now second in line… then first. You rearrange your son so Jesus can reach him, but just then He looks up and says, “I’m sorry. I have to go.”
Back to the present. I’ve embellished the story, but it really happened.
At sunset, the people brought to Jesus all who had various kinds of sickness, and laying His hands on each one, He healed them.… At daybreak, Jesus went to a solitary place. The people were looking for Him and when they came to where He was, they tried to keep Him from leaving them. But he said, “I must…” (Luke 4:40, 42-43)
How could He do this? Jesus understood that sometimes you drop everything—even healing precious people—in order to do the most important thing.
If you’re like me, you’re thinking Jesus’ most important thing better have been good. Really good.
And it was.
Compassionate Savior, sometimes it’s hard to say no when people are involved. Most of the time it’s hard to hear no when my people are involved. I can’t imagine how hard it was for You to be limited by time while overflowing with love. I’m ready to discover what compelled You to leave; I’m ready to be compelled. Amen.
Love & Leaving
The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. —Mark Twain
Those next in line when Jesus announced He had to go were likely the ones who tried to keep Him from leaving. Luke tells us the people physically detained Jesus, holding Him down so He couldn’t leave. They were desperate for Him to stay.
It must have been difficult for them to see that they were important to Him, but something most important was calling His name.
What was it?
He said, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to other towns also, because that is why I was sent.” And He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea. (Luke 4:43-44)
“I must preach the Gospel…”
Luke uses the word must to show us the essence of Jesus’ ministry—what He found to be most important. So, what was the essence of Jesus’ ministry?
Proclaiming the Gospel of God’s Kingdom to those who hadn’t heard it yet.
In Roman times, the word gospel was used in the secular world, too. When a new emperor ascended the throne, heralds announced the “good news” all throughout the kingdom. Jesus borrowed this idea to explain His mission. There was good news of a new king on the scene—a King in the Kingdom of God!
So Jesus went and preached the Good News. And we know the content of His message: He was here to help the helpless and proclaim the arrival of God’s acceptance—the Gospel of grace.
Jesus left the sick and the lame to proclaim grace to those who hadn’t yet heard it. This was the most important thing to Jesus. And because He still lives through us by His indwelling Spirit, it should be the most important thing to us as well.
Jesus, You want me to preach the Gospel of grace? What if I use the wrong words or say the wrong thing? What if I’m rejected? Speak through me. Give me the words. Make it my most important thing, too. Amen.
Words of Grace
Preach the gospel at all times, and if necessary use words. —Misattributed to St. Francis of Assisi
We had a fire in our house some years ago. A halogen lamp fell onto our son’s bed. We were sleeping downstairs when the alarm sounded. I ran upstairs and saw flames up to the ceiling.
I threw open the windows and threw stuff outside. The smoke was brutal, the alarm deafening, and the house was freezing; but we finally got the fire out. Suddenly, it occurred to me to look for our son, Liam. He was nowhere to be found. Panicked, I rushed into his room, and there he was—sound asleep.
We had a family meeting later that day that went like this, “The next time there’s a fire, everyone is in charge of waking up Liam. That’s the most important thing—making sure Liam has heard the alarm.”
That’s what Jesus was saying to those He left unhealed. “I have to go. There are some who haven’t heard yet. They’re still sleeping. I must wake them with the Gospel of grace. It’s the reason I came.”
You’ve heard it said we should preach the Gospel at all times and, if necessary, use words. I’m telling you it’s necessary. Use. Words.
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. (Luke 4:22, emphasis mine)
If we’re surrendered to Jesus and He expresses Himself through us, then the words we use to preach the Gospel will sound like the words Jesus used—words of grace.
What do words of grace sound like? I think they sound like this, “Hey, Jesus loves you. He wants to save you and lead you into a life of fullness and meaning.”
Jesus’ most important thing was to preach the Good News of God’s grace. And if it was important to Jesus, it’ll be important to us.
Lord, I’m so grateful for Your love. Thank You for saving me and for bringing me into a life of fullness and meaning. Make me courageous in my conversations. Let there always be an invitation to grace upon my lips. I ask Your Spirit to live through me with tenderness and perseverance as we partner together to make sure everyone has heard the Good News. Amen!
How Will They Hear?
In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. —Martin Luther King Jr.
Yes, we should love as Jesus loves. But eventually we need to look people in the eye and say, “Hey, I’ve got some Good News: Jesus loves you! He wants to save you and lead you into a life of fullness and meaning.” We have to say it. Otherwise they’ll never hear it.
How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? (Romans 10:14)
If those who haven’t heard are going to hear, someone has to tell them.
I often pray: “Lord, show me people around me who haven’t heard.”
He’s shown me at Costco. He’s shown me people groups with whom we’ve lost our voice because we’ve been so busy preaching the bad news of sin rather than the Good News of grace. He’s shown me people who’ve been burdened by teachings of legalism rather than freed by the invitation of grace.
People who haven’t heard the Good News of grace are all around us.
So where do we start? We could always start where Jesus started. After He left the crowds, Scripture says He “kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea” (Luke 4:44).
Jesus didn’t head for the prisons or the brothels. He went to the synagogues to preach to those who had most of the Old Testament memorized. Why? Because the burden of the law had primed them for the Good News of grace.
Right now, all over the world people are hearing something other than grace. They are being told that God’s acceptance is based upon their performance.
But Jesus said, “No more. I have come with Good News! I have come with grace!” It was Jesus’ most important thing. And because He’s the same yesterday, today, and forever, it’s still most important—right here, right now, through you.
The Gospel of grace. People haven’t heard and someone has to preach. So let’s use words.
Lord, show me the people around me who haven’t heard the Gospel of grace. Make me brave as I speak of Your love and acceptance. Thank you for Your Spirit who works this all through me. Amen.
- What was the essence of Jesus’ earthly ministry?
- How do people come to know the Gospel? Are words necessary?
- Who in your life needs to hear the Good News of God’s acceptance in Christ?