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Prioritize Your Investments

PRIORITIZE YOUR INVESTMENTS

There is a saying, “If you want to make God laugh, tell Him your plans.” All of us make plans. We plan vacations, retirement, careers, our dream home, the number of children we want, etc. We invest time and money to make our plans possible. Planning is not evil, but God wants us to have the proper perspective about planning, because He will determine what happens.

James 4:13-17 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money." Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes. Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that." As it is, you boast and brag. All such boasting is evil. Anyone, then, who knows the good he ought to do and doesn't do it, sins.

What is your biggest plan, your top priority? Where do you invest your time and money?

How did you answer? Was it stocks, bonds, house, car, business; or retirement? Jesus said in Luke 12:15  "Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man's life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions."

As James reminds us, our life is a short matter of time. Since our time is limited, we must prioritize and spend it wisely. God gives us His apps for investing wisely in His Word.

1 Tim 5:8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

The family is the most important human relationship. God established it in the Garden of Eden when He created Adam and Eve and told them to multiply. Adam tilled the fields, hunted, and tended the animals. Eve took care of the children, clothing, food, and home. The children learned to work and had responsibilities to contribute to the family’s welfare. Faith and family were the bedrock of civilization for 6000 years.

As recent as 50 years ago, most mothers considered their husband and their children their most important investment. It was their priority to stay home to care for the family as women had done for thousands of years. Today, this kind of family life is under attack.

Prov 14:1 The wise woman builds her house, but with her own hands the foolish one tears hers down.

Mothers are no longer encouraged to care for their home, husband, or children. Today, homemakers are ridiculed. The role of mother is being rewritten, and that of father as well. Children have lost status in the world. They are considered a burden instead of a blessing.

Consequently, an epidemic of child abuse and neglect is on the increase. Children are the focus of more violence than any group. The womb, designed by God to shelter the unborn, has become the most dangerous place on earth for children. Children are also among those most likely to suffer from poverty. Children are left alone while mothers pursue careers outside the home, causing the children to raise themselves. After mother gets home, she is too tired to spend quality time with her children. She tries to make up for this by giving them things. The children become spoiled and rebellious.

An astute philosopher once complained, “Our youth now love luxury. They have bad manners, contempt for authority, they show disrespect for their elders. They love to chatter in place of exercise. They no longer rise when elders enter the room. They contradict their parents, babble before company, gobble up their food, and tyrannize their teachers.” Socrates made that comment more than twenty-five hundred years ago when the world was without Christ. Now much of our society is again without Christ and Socrates’ complaint sounds very current.

God established the family to be the primary child-rearing and nurturing institution, not daycare centers, nor government schools. However, family life has entered an era of enormous instability, resulting in the deterioration of morality in our civilization. In my lifetime, I have seen the institution of the family subjected to a number of bad ideas, including the sexual revolution, open marriage, no-fault divorce laws, welfare that encourages fatherless homes, abortion on demand, ridicule of homemakers, same-sex marriage, and the plague of obscenity. People propose “alternate life-styles” but God established the family. Chaos results when we abandon His plan and His priorities.
 

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. These commandments that I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

 Christian homes are founded on the commitment to love and obey God. Parents should model their love for God by being a living sacrifice to Him with a commitment that is absolute, not careless or casual. The children should see love modeled in the husband and wife relationship, and towards them.

You cannot transfer to your children principles you do not personally embrace. For example, you can’t convince them of the value of honesty if you are dishonest. You can’t teach morality if you are immoral, nor can you offer advice on clean speech if yours is filled with profanity. Deut. 6:7 says that parents are to “impress” these commandments on the hearts of children. Children need direction, teaching, an example, and discipline.

Ps 127:3-4 Sons are a heritage from the LORD, children a reward from him. Like arrows in the hands of a warrior are sons born in one's youth.

I want to focus here on the word “arrows.” Arrows are directed toward a target. Parents must direct their children. An arrow cannot guide itself, nor can a child. All humans are sinful and wayward from birth. Therefore, children need parental authority and guidance.
 

Ps 51:5 Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.

Ps 58:3 Even from birth the wicked go astray; from the womb they are wayward and speak lies.

To correct and train the sinful nature in children, God gives us His apps.

Prov 13:24 He who spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is careful to discipline him.

Prov 22:15 Folly is bound up in the heart of a child, but the rod of discipline will drive it far from him.

Prov 23:13-14 Do not withhold discipline from a child; if you punish him with the rod, he will not die. Punish him with the rod and save his soul from death.

Today, many people criticize God’s plan for disciplining and training children, but if the rod is used consistently with love instead of anger, it is still the most effective training tool. Don’t withhold the rod as a last resort and don’t wait until the child is 2 or 3 years old to apply it. By then battle lines have been drawn between the parent and child. Use it early and apply it only hard enough to get the right response to your commands. Follow correction with love, prayer, and encouragement. Then praise the child when he does it correctly. If large horses and dogs can be trained with light switches and one word commands, God knows small children can be well trained the same way. If used correctly and consistently, soon the rod will rarely be needed, for the well trained child will respond immediately to the softly spoken commands of the parent. As God says, it is the most effective, loving way to train and discipline a child, but parents must make discipline a priority investment.

Furthermore, invest lots of time with your children and make it all quality time. Play with them, and when you have work to do, include your children in the work. Teach them the value of work by letting them help and reap its rewards. Some neighbors considered a farmer mean who made his boys work in the cornfields during the summer while their friends played at the swimming hole. One man scolded the father saying, “Why do you make those boys work so hard? You don’t need all that corn.” The wise father replied, “Sir, I’m not raising corn. I’m raising boys.”
 

Children must learn responsibility and to respect authority in the home, for no one can be emotionally healthy or mature until they take responsibility for their actions and relate properly to authority. As parents, our objective is to produce responsible adults who can function independently of us, and who submit wholly to God’s authority.

Therefore, invest time at home and make it a place of love. Discipline your children because you love them, not because you are angry with them and just can’t take it anymore (that leads to abuse). Admit your mistakes, be fair, and be consistent in your application of rules and discipline. Make obedience and discipline a priority, and invest time and love in training your children. In a world that has lost its way morally because of a lack of discipline, godly parents may be considered strict, but love will cause them to train and discipline their children God’s way and trust Him to bless with good results.

Now I want to ask another probing question, mothers. Are you cheating on your husband and children? I know that is a shocking question, but consider how it might be true.

Luke 2:41-46 Every year his parents went to Jerusalem for the Feast of the Passover.  When he was twelve years old, they went up to the Feast, according to the custom.  After the Feast was over, while his parents were returning home, the boy Jesus stayed behind in Jerusalem, but they were unaware of it.  Thinking he was in their company, they traveled on for a day. Then they began looking for him among their relatives and friends.  When they did not find him, they went back to Jerusalem to look for him.  After three days they found him in the temple courts, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions. 

 Joseph and Mary got so caught up with the feast, hanging out with family and friends that they left Jesus behind! In life, this happens all the time. People get so focused on the immediate: work, friends, hobbies, sports, and the busyness of life that they lose focus on the important and don’t realize they have left their spouse and kids behind.

Unavoidably, somebody or something is going to get cheated and left behind. That’s just the way life works. We can’t do everything. We have to prioritize and choose who we are going to cheat. If you don’t choose to cheat the immediate, you will end up cheating the important. The question is never is someone or something getting cheated? The question is always who am I cheating? Who am I leaving behind?

Mothers, you must realize that you’re not expendable at home. You’re the only mother your kids will ever have. Your mate only has one spouse to receive emotional and relational support from. What I’m simply saying is your family needs you. You can never make up for the lack of time you spend with your family. You can’t bring home enough money to replace your absence in the home. You can’t buy enough toys, gadgets, or cool clothes to replace your consistent presence in the life of your kids. Somebody or something is getting cheated! But don’t make it be your family!

Without clear priorities, we will get caught in the busyness of life and cheat the most important people, our family. A priority is something we put ahead of something else.

Establishing priorities means that we are going to cheat by design. Learn to prioritize around the important so that the immediate doesn’t take control of your schedule and life. Learn to say “no” to a lot of good things so you can say “yes” to the best things, which are God, your husband, and your kids! If you don’t make your family a priority, nobody else will!

Matt 21:28-31 "What do you think? There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, 'Son, go and work today in the vineyard.'  "'I will not,' he answered, but later he changed his mind and went. "Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, 'I will, sir,' but he did not go. "Which of the two did what his father wanted?"

When it comes to how we invest our time, actions speak louder than words! I feel sure every mother and father has good intentions, but your intentions don’t matter to your family, your actions do. Your family doesn’t see your good intentions, just your actions.

What your family wants from you is to feel like they are your priority, not hear you say they’re your priority. Your family can’t see your heart but they do see your schedule! To quit cheating your family is a spiritual decision. To your family, the clearest indication of God’s presence in your life could be the reordering of your schedule.

My wife does not assess my spirituality by my preaching, but by my love for God, for her, and for our kids. My wife and kids don’t want to hear me preach sermons as much as they want to see me live sermons. If I preached to thousands of people every Sunday but was cheating my marriage and my kids with work, friends, a hobby, or something else, I am failing to do God’s will.

And if you make a million dollars a year, drive nice cars, live in a nice house, become the best business woman or shopper in the world, have the best friends in the world, and lose your family, what have you accomplished?

Prov 11:29 He who brings trouble on his family will inherit only wind…

Furthermore, mothers are not the only ones responsible for the success of the home and raising children. Fathers have a greater responsibility. Fathers are the president, the provider, the priest, and the protector of the home. In addition, fathers are responsible to see that their wives have the opportunity to fulfill their priorities to the home and children. Too often, husbands want more money than they earn. So they force their wives to work outside of the home, sacrificing their children, creating stress for their wife and marriage, and missing the blessings of a simple home life in exchange for selfish pleasures and the world’s opinion of success.

Parents need to repent of their selfishness, and reprioritize their investments. The most important investment we can make is time spent loving God, our spouse, and our children. We can reprioritize and begin investing in the most important things right now by submitting our life and schedule to Jesus Christ.

Ultimately, our most important investment is neither the family into which we were born, nor the family we create by marrying and bearing children. The most important family is the one into which we are born again by the Holy Spirit.

 If you have never made Jesus your Lord and Savior, I invite you to come and make that good confession today. Repent and give Him your life in baptism to receive His Holy Spirit who will change your life and reorder your priorities and investments.