by: Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer Columnist Barb Lissow
New Year Priorities
This is love; not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. Dear friends, since so God loved us, we also ought to love one another. 1 John 4:10-11
My precious husband often recounts to our children a poignant memory of his last Christmas holidays with his ailing father. As an eleven-year-old boy, Alex and his dad shared what little the two of them had in the way of worldly goods that Christmas. Gifts included oranges, home-made candy, and some new socks, but the smiles of this memory come to my husband’s face when he tells his family of how many priceless Christmas blessings were shared in love and devotion to each other that year.
Unlike my husband whose parents left him at such an early age, I was very fortunate to have my father and mother throughout most of my lifetime. I remember the many times my husband tells me how his father would have loved me…and then when we had our children, how his father would have doted on and adored his grandchildren. My children will someday get to meet their grandmother and grandfather Lissow, and I will get to meet my sorely missed in-laws—what a joyful reunion that will be!
Christmas 2019 has drawn to a close, and January 2020 is upon us! What better time to reflect and rethink our priorities in this crazy old world. Jesus showed us how the priority of love is so very important. We are blessed with families in our earthly lives to give us the experience of God’s love. True, not all of our family experiences are ones of happiness; but neither were Jesus’. He faced ridicule, rejection, betrayal, physical pain, and emotional trauma. He endured it all to show God’s desire to repair the gaping chasm between sinful human-kind and an eternity of righteousness in Heaven with Him. Knowing in our hearts the love and sacrifice of Jesus, how hard can it be to change the focus of our priorities in this life? 36 “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37 And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38 This is the great and first commandment. 39 And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40 On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.”” (Matthew 22:36-40).
The Apostle John is a wonderful example of a change of priorities! Do you recall that his nickname was “Son of Thunder” (Mark 3:17)? This name reflected his stormy personality – jealously resenting competition from rival miracle workers (Mark 9:38); insisting on the best seat in the kingdom of Heaven (Mark 10:35-45); wanting to call fire down from Heaven to destroy a hostile town (Luke 9:54). But somewhere in his life, the thunderclouds broke apart resulting in a new nickname for John: “The Apostle of love.” All of John’s books (his Gospel and epistles) show this change in priorities; they are mightily marked by a recurring emphasis on love! It was Jesus’ ultimate sacrifice that changed this disciple’s way of thinking, living and devotion to his Savior’s commandment.
As we consider this new year, setting personal goals, reflecting on our hopes for a better future, may we ask God to guide us into priorities that lovingly put Him first on our lists! My continuous prayer for you is: “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart.” Proverbs 3:3
Happy New Year!!
Faith Lutheran Church, Pocatello, Idaho