How to Know What Matters Most

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If you have ever read all these self help books or listened to the self help speakers… they tell you that you can be and do anything that you put your mind to.
If that were true, I would have been a major league baseball player… The problem is that I am not gifted nor am I talented enough to do that.
I never developed the right skills to play baseball at that level.
We do this all the time in other areas of life. I once thought bed and breakfast places would be fun to own… until I saw how hard the owners haver to work. I like pie and cake, but that doesn’t mean I can open a bakery.
You have to have the right skills.
LW we started the series, Toolbox for Life… our theme verse is...
Ecclesiastes 10:10 NIV
10 If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.
One of the keys to succeeding in anything in life is to have the right skills for the undertaking. If you don’t have the right work skills, you will fail at work. If you don’t have the right relationship skills, you will fail in relationships.
Our verse says skill will bring success.
Skill#2: Recognizing what is important
Knowing how to recognize what’s important and what’s not important. Good leaders learn to look at a situation and determine what’s important and what’s not important. Successful people learn to focus on what’s important and not think so much about what’s not important.
Have you ever noticed that you do not have the time to do everything? Sure you have, but that’s ok. God didn’t call you nor does he want you to do everything. He has called you to do what he has called you to do.
1 Corinthians 6:12 NIV84
12 “Everything is permissible for me”—but not everything is beneficial. “Everything is permissible for me”—but I will not be mastered by anything.
Paul says you are free to do anything you want. He’s not talking about horrible sin. I think he is talking about stuff that might not be bad… it may even be good, but it’s not what he wanted you to do, so Paul says it’s not beneficial. There are a lot of things you can do that are not beneficial for you because God hasn’t called you to do those things.
Not everything is worth YOU doing, so it’s a good thing to learn the skill of determining what really matters. Learning to choose is the key and it’s a skill you can learn.
Every time you make a decision, you are basing it on unspoken or spoken values. The problem is that most people have not clarified what their values are. So one of the secrets of success is clarifying your values.
My values affect my stress, my success & my salvation.
Unclear values cause confusion which causes stress. Conflicting values cause tension. Wrong values create dysfunction. So it’s very important to develop the skill of knowing what’s really important.
Lasting success is built on godly values that last.

Four Questions that will determine your values & your destiny.

1. Who’s going to be my authority?

Where are your values coming from? there are many. Right now, the media is shaping values. Do you want your values to come from the media? Look at the issues NBC has had lately...
So the first step if you want to succeed in life, if you want to know what’s important you have to decide where you’re going to get your values
There are several options or sources from where your values come from.
3 options


People say, I’ll depend on my gut… I’ll follow my heart…
The problem is our gut and our heart are fickle. As a matter of fact, the Bible says…
Jeremiah 17:9 NLT
9 “The human heart is the most deceitful of all things, and desperately wicked. Who really knows how bad it is?
Deceitful - mislead in the wrong direction.
Your heart will take you in the wrong direction and you will think that you are going in the right direction until you mess up.
Study after study has proven that your perceptions are wrong more than they’re right in life. Every single brain study is proving this. That your brain lies to you. You get it wrong more often than you get it right. The way you perceive yourself; the way you perceive others; the way you perceive your relationships; the way you perceive your problems; the way you perceive the world. Study after study shows our brain isn’t that good at getting it accurate. That just because you tell yourself something about a problem, about a person, about a relationship, about money, about anything doesn’t mean it’s true, doesn’t mean it’s correct. You lie to yourself all the time. In fact you lie to yourself more than you lie to anybody else.
Just reinforces what Jeremiah said…
Your mind can be misled… Attorney’s do this with witnesses. Say there is an accident and you have four witnesses… four different stories about what happened.
We all misjudge events, people, motives, pain…
The problem is that you need an authority bigger than yourself.
Proverbs 16:25 NIV
25 There is a way that appears to be right, but in the end it leads to death.
How many times have you been on a path that seemed right only to realize that it was a dead end? Many…
What we need is the truth from someone bigger than us...
Proverbs 3:5–6 NLT
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. 6 Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.

The World

Most of the time we get our values from the world. What does everyone else think?
There is a verse that tells us what the world values…
1 John 2:15–16 NLT
15 Do not love this world nor the things it offers you, for when you love the world, you do not have the love of the Father in you. 16 For the world offers only a craving for physical pleasure, a craving for everything we see, and pride in our achievements and possessions. These are not from the Father, but are from this world.
The World’s Values
Prideful self centered lifestyles...
Billions are spent on beauty aids, surgical procedures, clothes and make up … then the pictures yo compare yourselves to is doctored… so it’s not even real.
Truth is most of us don’t look like the people on the big screen or the covers of magazines… they are doctored anyway.
The world says you don’t measure up.
Our lives are dominated by the pursuit of pleasure. Sex dominates our culture. It is used to sell everything from news to sports to anything…
It’s no accident that the largest industry in our culture today in the eEntertainment Industry … because it makes us feel good.
Money… wealth … prosperity...
We are conspicuous about our consumption… clothes… cars… boats…houses...
Too many people base their self-worth on their net-worth.
Problem - we are constantly bombarded with these three values, even Christians become seduced by them. We begin to think that we have to feel good, look good and have the goods. That’s not why God put you here.

God’s Word

God’s word is objective and truthful.
John 8:31–32 NLT
31 Jesus said to the people who believed in him, “You are truly my disciples if you remain faithful to my teachings. 32 And you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

What God says about the world’s values?

What does God say about appearance and beauty?
1 Samuel 16:7 NLT
7 But the Lord said to Samuel, “Don’t judge by his appearance or height, for I have rejected him. The Lord doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.”
God doesn’t care about your appearance… he cares about your character.
What does God say about about pleasure?
Hebrews 11:25 TEV
25 He preferred to suffer with God’s people rather than to enjoy sin for a little while.
Listen… sin is fun. If it wasn’t we would not do it. But the pleasure only last for a minute.
What does God say about about wealth and materialism?
Luke 12:15 NLT
15 Then he said, “Beware! Guard against every kind of greed. Life is not measured by how much you own.”
The greatest things in life are not things…
So the first question you have to ask is, who is going to be your authority? (myself? the world? or God?)

2. What’s going to last the longest?

This is an important question if you are trying to decide what you are going to base your life on. If you want to know what is most important and least important… ask what’s going to last...
The greatest weakness of our modern culture is short term thinking. We place importance on things that will not last.
We don’t take care of our health until we have a health crisis.
We don’t take care of relationships… until there is a breakup.
We don’t do our best at work until we get fired...
These are wake up calls to get us to focus on the things that matter.
1 John 2:17 NLT
17 And this world is fading away, along with everything that people crave. But anyone who does what pleases God will live forever.
To focus on here and now is to focus on stuff that is going to go away.
When you are tempted it’s not just about choosing right & wrong… good or bad… its about choosing now or later. Do I fall for short term pleasure or obey God for long term reward?
2 Corinthians 4:18 NLT
18 So we don’t look at the troubles we can see now; rather, we fix our gaze on things that cannot be seen. For the things we see now will soon be gone, but the things we cannot see will last forever.
Everything we have or can see is temporary. Paul is saying we need to focus on things that last...
First Q, Who is going to be my authority? What’s going t last the longest?

3. Will I choose what’s easy or what’s best?

Will I live what I claim to believe?
Living by your values is called alignment… congruence… integrity!
It’s easier to do what’s easier rather than doing what’s right.
Gallup Poll - #1 source of stress is incongruent values. We believe one thing, but we live another way. We are not living out beliefs. This will kill you because you are not wired for that.
Question is, will we live what we believe?
Choosing what’s best may require changing what I watch and read
If you eat nothing but junk food for a month, you will be sick. Some of you wonder why you struggle in your relationship with Jesus, but you are eating spiritual junk food.
Today, more people get their values form media in some form than anywhere else.
Avg person will watch 9 years of TV in a lifetime… more than 5 years on social media.
Psalm 119:37 NLT
37 Turn my eyes from worthless things, and give me life through your word.
God wants you to focus on things that are important.
Question: Do your media habits match what you say is important to you?
Choosing what’s best may require changing some friends
Do you have any values that you hold that your friends would laugh at or not understand? Your friends will either help you grow closer to Jesus or draw you away. It’s important for us to have friends that we are trying to influence for Jesus, but we cannot surround ourselves with those friends as our core group.
Exodus 23:2 NIV
2 “Do not follow the crowd in doing wrong. When you give testimony in a lawsuit, do not pervert justice by siding with the crowd,
That’s not always easy to do.
Law of Gravity: It’s always easier to pull someone down than lift them up.
1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT
33 Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.”
Choosing what’s best may require changing the way I spend my money
Do y9ou spend most of your money on selfish things or are you generous where you can be?
Matthew 6:19–20 NLT
19 “Don’t store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them, and where thieves break in and steal. 20 Store your treasures in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and thieves do not break in and steal.
The only way to secure your money is by actually being generous with it and storing up treasures in heaven.
Choosing what’s best may require changing how I treat other people
We are to use things and love people… not love things and use people.
Our culture: people are only as valuable to you as they are useful to you.
ILL - UPS would use up guys then hire a new young one until his back broke.
God says all lives are valuable.
2 Corinthians 5:16 NLT
16 So we have stopped evaluating others from a human point of view. At one time we thought of Christ merely from a human point of view. How differently we know him now!
The worlds point of view is use people… God’s view is to love people.
Changing these 4 things is not easy… it’s difficult. Where can we get the power to change these things? We don’t have to do this alone.
Philippians 4:13 NLT
13 For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.
You are not alone… you have the power of the HS in you to help you keep running your race.

4. Is it worth the price?

Everything in life has a price tag on it. when you say yes to one thing, you are saying no to something else. You do this… you don’t do that.
Matthew 16:26 NLT
26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?
That’s a value statement.
Matthew 16:26 The Message
26 What kind of deal is it to get everything you want but lose yourself? What could you ever trade your soul for?
People trade their souls for all types of things. sex… drugs… self-centeredness… materialism… is it worth it? No it’s a bad choice.
Luke 16:15 TEV
15 Jesus said to them, “You are the ones who make yourselves look right in other people’s sight, but God knows your hearts. For the things that are considered of great value by human beings are worth nothing in God’s sight.
Do you live your lives to please people… or God? When you face eternity… which one will be important? Of course what God thinks… make that important now.
Mark 10:31 The Living Bible
31 But many people who seem to be important now will be the least important then; and many who are considered least here shall be greatest there.”
Don’t think that you are all that… Don’t waste time trying to be a celebrity here. Why? because everyone will forget you any way. Many people who think they are important now will not be in eternity.
Remember, every temptation is a choice between short term pleasure and long term reward.
But every temptation is also a choice between God and me. Every temptation is a choice between what God wants me to do and what I want to do.
You may be here today and you you haven’t stepped across that line and asked Jesus to be your Savior and lord. You need to do that today.
Philippians 3:7–8 NLT
7 I once thought these things were valuable, but now I consider them worthless because of what Christ has done. 8 Yes, everything else is worthless when compared with the infinite value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have discarded everything else, counting it all as garbage, so that I could gain Christ
Success is living by the values that God will reward someday.
Possessions… popularity… prestige… will not last
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