The Most Important Thing

I think God’s trying to give me a gentle reminder about what’s most important. This past Sabbath, the minister spoke about developing a Biblical worldview that begins with recognizing God is the highest authority in your life. Then the very next morning, the devotional I’m reading this year focused on making God “our primary passion” (Daily Moments of Peace: Inspiration for Women, p. 36). Together, those also make me think back to a video I watched on modern idolatry not that long ago. And thinking about this prompted a question.

What’s the most important thing in your life? And does what you just answered line up with how you prioritize your time?

I would answer God, of course. We know that’s what we’re supposed to say. And I could pat myself on the back if I liked since I read a devotional page and a few scriptures every morning, a chapter of the Bible every night, and I spend time studying and working on these blog posts almost every day. But right now, I’m spending more time thinking about and planning my upcoming wedding or fretting about trying to teach math to high schoolers.

Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean my priorities are out of whack. Pretty much all of us have to spend more time at work, for example, than in the Bible each day. Spending a quality half-hour in Bible study and eight hours on your workday doesn’t mean you don’t put God first; it’s just a necessity of how modern life is structured. But if you’re trying to Bible study or pray and you want to think about your to-do list, or your wedding, or whatever else (good or bad, happy or stressful) that you have going on instead, then maybe you’re not really putting God first.

Part of this I think just has to do with modern attention spans. We have more trouble focusing on one thing than we used to. It takes discipline and help from God’s holy spirit to focus and spend quality time with Him. But I think we’re also way too easily distracted from that one thing which is most important. And it’s a struggle people in the Bible had as well, even without smartphones to get in the way.

Image of a woman looking up at the sky overlaid with text from Psalm 63:1-3, WEB version:   “God, you are my God. I will earnestly seek you. My soul thirsts for you. My flesh longs for you, in a dry and weary land, where there is no water. So I have seen you in the sanctuary, watching your power and your glory. Because your loving kindness is better than life, my lips shall praise you.”
Image by Brightside Creative from Lightstock

Choose the Best Part

Now as they went on their way, Jesus entered a certain village where a woman named Martha welcomed him as a guest. She had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet and listened to what he said. But Martha was distracted with all the preparations she had to make, so she came up to him and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do all the work alone? Tell her to help me.” But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things, but one thing is needed. Mary has chosen the best part; it will not be taken away from her.

Luke 10:38-42, NET

This is probably the best known example of someone in the Bible being distracted from spending time with God. I never actually read Joanna Weaver’s book Having a Mary Heart in a Martha World, but I remember it coming up at young adult retreats I went to years ago. Women broke down crying, torn by desires and pressures to stay busy serving and the call to spend time with Jesus. No one wanted to be like Martha, who was so gently rebuked by Jesus, but someone has to make sure the food’s made and served, and the church hall is clean, and the kids aren’t getting into too much mischief.

Notice, though, that Jesus didn’t say it was wrong to do the work Martha was doing. It was wrong to be worried and troubled about things, resent that her sister chose to focus on something else, and let her work become a source of bitterness and a distraction. Serving is a good thing; “service” is itself a spiritual gift and even if our gift is something else we’re supposed to use it in serving others (Rom. 12:6-8; 1 Pet. 4:9-10). But unless we have the right priorities and keep our service in perspective, we can start to resent the time we’re spending on it.

This can extend to other situations too. For example, someone came to Jesus and said, “Teacher, tell my brother to divide the inheritance with me.” If you had one question you could ask Jesus in person, I dare say you wouldn’t pick that, but we can see where this man’s focus and priorities were. Jesus told him arbitrating disputes like that isn’t His job, then said, “Watch out and guard yourself from all types of greed, because one’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” It’s far better to focus on being “rich toward God” than on anything we could own in this human life (Luke 12:13-21, NET). In other words, focus on the more important things. When we remember what’s most important, then the rest of it will fall into its proper place.

Image of a man reading a Bible overlaid with text from Luke 12:32-34, NET version:  " “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father is well pleased to give you the kingdom. Sell your possessions and give to the poor. Provide yourselves purses that do not wear out—a treasure in heaven that never decreases, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Image by Anggie from Lightstock

The Danger of Forgetting

It might seem well-nigh impossible to forget about God, but we know from the Bible (and sometimes from personal experience) that people have done that many times. In 1 Corinthians, Paul says that Israel’s history is recorded in the Bible “as examples and were written for our instruction” (1 Cor. 10:11, NET). One of the things we can learn from is how quickly they forgot about God’s importance. Even the ones who literally saw the plagues of Egypt and the parting of the Red Sea were worshipping a golden calf only a couple months later. If they could do that having seen so much evidence of God’s involvement and reality, then we’re in danger of doing the same and the warnings to Israel’s descendants apply to us as well (Deut. 4:8-10; 23-24; 6:10-13; 8:10-20; 9:6-8).

Beware lest you forget Yahweh your God, in not keeping his commandments, his ordinances, and his statutes, which I command you today; lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built fine houses and lived in them; and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied; then your heart might be lifted up, and you forget Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage … and lest you say in your heart, “My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.” …

It shall be, if you shall forget Yahweh your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. As the nations that Yahweh makes to perish before you, so you shall perish, because you wouldn’t listen to Yahweh your God’s voice.

Deuteronomy 8:11-14, 17, 19-20, NET

I know this doesn’t describe all of us, but based on what I know about the countries where most of my readers live (U.S., U.K, and Canada, among others) I’m guessing most of you can eat enough to be full, live in some type of house, and have money enough at least for necessities. Many of us are in a position where we could say, “My power and the might of my hand has gotten me to the place where I am today.” But if we did say that, it wouldn’t be any more true than when ancient Israel said it. We’re where we are by the grace of God and every good thing in our lives comes from Him (James 1:17). We must guard ourselves against forgetting that.

“Can a virgin forget her ornaments,
    or a bride her attire?
    Yet my people have forgotten me for days without number.”

Jeremiah 2:32, WEB

Forgetting God is as insane as me forgetting to put on my pretty wedding dress when I get married in June. Yet people did forget Him and it broke God’s heart, as He said over and over to prophets like Jeremiah and Hosea. We also looked at this in our in-depth study of Isaiah 40-66 last year. In particular, I’m thinking of the first post, “God is Incomparable and Irreplaceable.” There, we studied passages where God addresses the insanity of Israel’s idolatry in the light of His incomparableness (Isaiah 40:12-31; 43:10-13; 44:6-20; 46:5-11; 57:3-11; 63:7-14; 64:4). The Creator of the Universe wanted to claim them as His people, yet they bowed down to carved wood or stone instead? It just doesn’t make sense.

For he said, “Surely, they are my people,
    children who will not deal falsely;”
    so he became their Savior. …
But they rebelled
    and grieved his Holy Spirit.

Isaiah 63:8, 10, WEB

Way Too Important To Forget

Image of two women reading a Bible with the blog's title text and the words  "With God as the true center of our lives, many of the things that could become distractions turn into reasons to remember His presence as we pray about the hard stuff and give thanks for the good things."
Image by Ryan Klintworth from Lightstock

We’re not likely to toss out our Bibles and pick up some statue to worship instead. But we might not spend as much time in God’s word as we ought. In the U.S., only about 50% of adults are “Bible Users—defined as individuals who read, listen to, or pray with the Bible on their own at least three or four times a year” (Barna, 2021). Three or four times a year isn’t that much–you’d lose your job real quick if that’s how often you bothered showing up for work, and we ought to honor God a lot more than we do our bosses (Mal. 1:6-8).

According to the same Barna report, the number of near-daily Bible readers is increasing–“one in six U.S. adults (16%) reads the Bible most days during the week, up from 12 percent in 2020.” That’s the group we ought to be in. You can’t have a close relationship with someone unless you spend time with them, and prayer and Bible study are two of the primary ways we can spend time with God. We also need to spend time in the Bible to understand how we ought to live and deepen our understanding of God’s way of life.

But be doers of the word, and not only hearers, deluding your own selves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man looking at his natural face in a mirror; for he sees himself, and goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of freedom and continues, not being a hearer who forgets, but a doer of the work, this man will be blessed in what he does.

James 1:22-25, WEB

We need to do something with the knowledge God gives us about Him and His way of life. We need to be actively involved in our relationship with Him. Forgetting to put our faith into action means we’re forgetting the whole basis of our faith.

For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith excellence, to excellence, knowledge; to knowledge, self-control; to self-control, perseverance; to perseverance, godliness; to godliness, brotherly affection; to brotherly affection, unselfish love. For if these things are really yours and are continually increasing, they will keep you from becoming ineffective and unproductive in your pursuit of knowing our Lord Jesus Christ more intimately. But concerning the one who lacks such things—he is blind. That is to say, he is nearsighted, since he has forgotten about the cleansing of his past sins. Therefore, brothers and sisters, make every effort to be sure of your calling and election. For by doing this you will never stumble into sin.

2 Peter 1:5-10, NET

The Christian life is a growth process. Without that growth, Peter says it’s like you forgot Jesus died for your sins. People who remember what is most important spend time cultivating their relationship with God and becoming more and more like Him. That’s not the only thing they do, but it is their top priority. When God is truly the most important thing in our lives, His supremacy contextualizes everything else. With this perspective, when I think about the difficult things, I also remember to pray about them. When I think about the good things, I thank God for them. Instead of distractions, they can become reasons to remember God’s presence.

God is way too important for us to forget. At the end of our lives, it’s not going to matter what color the tulle was at the wedding, whether Mary helped in the kitchen, if you get an A or a C on that test, that your brother divided the inheritance with you, how many followers you had online, or if your wealth multiplied. It matters far more that the marriage grows from your relationship with God, that you treated the people you interact with well, and that you used your possessions in a godly way. And all of those things happen when we properly prioritize God as the most important and respect Him as the one who’s in charge.

Featured image by Shaun Menary from Lightstock

Song Recommendation: “Lifesong” by Casting Crowns

7 Keys to Increase Productivity

This article first appeared on MadebyHemp. I’ve partnered with them to share and promote each other’s articles. Though I haven’t tried CBD oil myself yet, I did some research on it when writing for a client and it sounds like something that really could help a lot of people. Plus, these articles have some excellent content.


We’ve all had those days when we feel like we are not accomplishing anything no matter how hard we work. Looming deadlines, increasing workload, multitasking, and stress could all disrupt a person’s productivity. “Work smarter, not harder” has become a famous motto among the workforce. And this statement actually has merit. Sometimes, when we wear too many hats, take on too much work, instead of becoming more productive, our productivity actually decreases. So what can we do to increase our productivity?

1. Have a healthy breakfast… or skip it!

I don’t mean to confuse you, but there are studies showing that skipping the most important meal of the day can benefit various brain functions. Intermittent fasting has been gaining popularity lately, and there are scientific studies to back it up. However, if you want to give this a try, it is best to ask for a doctor or a nutritionist’s advice first. For anything to work, one has to have the know-how and the right motivation. On the other hand, if you are a huge fan of breakfast and could not possibly start a day without it, by all means, eat! Fuel your body with the right food. Make healthy choices.

2. Take that coffee break

Though it might be tempting to just keep plugging away at work and skip your breaks in order to meet your deadlines, it would not be a very good idea. You need to relax and take a breather. This will give your brain a much-needed break and you a chance to walk around and enjoy a nice cup of joe, maybe even socialize with your other harried co-workers.

3. CBD Oil

Adderall has been making the rounds around colleges and even workplaces. However, if you prefer a more natural approach to boost your concentration and productivity, why not give CBD oil a try. It has been known to increase alertness, help calm nerves, and boost your mood. So when you find yourself stressed with your head all over the place, why not try popping a CBD gummy, a flavored tincture, or even straight up CBD oil to help ease your stress and calm your nerves. Unlike its addictive cousin, THC, CBD will not get you high.

4. Don’t multitask

Multitasking is not something the human brain is built for. It has proven to cause loss of productivity. Doing too many things at once will take away your concentration from the crucial things that need doing. This will make your work prone to errors and cost you time that you were trying to save by multitasking in the first place. Do one thing at a time before moving on to the next task. This way you can ensure each task is accomplished properly. Try doing the tasks that take the least amount of time to accomplish first. This will get these tasks out of the way and allow you to focus on the more complicated ones.

5. Take exercise breaks

Isn’t it ironic that a post about being productive is talking about breaks a lot? That’s because taking breaks in between tasks is a good way resetting your brain and preparing it for the whole new task ahead. Exercising will send a rush of much-needed oxygen to your brain and will help loosen your muscles that might have bunched up from getting the previous task done. Taking a brief walk, or a short stretch will allow your brain to stop thinking about work and “breathe”. This will help bring your focus back to where it is supposed to be – your looming tasks.

6. Use tools

Using online tools or apps to track your work and tasks for the day is one easy way of getting your day organized. When you have your day organized, you won’t need to spend extra time trying to remember what to do next; you would already have it laid out for you. Most of these tools are free and can be linked to your personal or work email. Just make sure that the apps abide by your company rules and risk profile.

7. Say no to meetings

Meetings take time. And a lot of the time, these meetings are not even really necessary. If you have a lot of things to do, and someone schedules a meeting, try to find out if your presence is necessary for the meeting. Or if the items on the agenda could be discussed through email, that would be a better venue. You only get so many hours in a day, after all.


Featured image credit: via Pexels