Day 47

Put First Things First

Wisdom Psalm 22:16-19
New Testament Mark 1:30-41,2:1-12
Old Testament Exodus 19:3-5,20:1-6


Shortly after we were married, Pippa and I went to a conference about marriage. One of the sessions I will never forget was about priorities. We were given five cards – each with a word on it: 'work', 'God', 'ministry', 'husband/wife' and 'children'. We were asked to rank these in order of priority. With hindsight, I can see I got them in completely the wrong order.

I put 'God' first (at least I got that one right – but it was fairly obvious!), followed by ministry, wife, work, and, finally, children (we didn't have any children at that stage so they didn't seem very important!).

As the leaders of the conference took us through these priorities, it became clear to me that my order should be: first of all God, then my wife (my primary calling), our children, my job (my primary ministry), and finally my ministry – which, though obviously very important, should not be allowed to displace the primary responsibilities of my life. As the philosopher Goethe put it, 'Things which matter most must never be at the mercy of things which matter least.'

Put first things first. The things that matter most to God should take first place in our lives.


Psalm 22:16-19

16 … they pierce my hands and my feet.
17 All my bones are on display;
  people stare and gloat over me.
18 They divide my clothes among them
  and cast lots for my garment.
19 But you, LORD, do not be far from me.
  You are my strength; come quickly to help me.


Priority of relationship

Your relationship with God should be your number one priority. In this psalm we see that the psalmist’s first priority (and prophetically Jesus’ first priority) was his relationship with God.

The gateway through which we pass into a restored relationship with God is the cross. As with the first part of the psalm, we see a continuation of the prophecies about Jesus’ death that are fulfilled in the New Testament.

It is as though this psalm is written in the first-person singular by someone hanging on a cross, hundreds of years before the Romans even invented crucifixion. It is an extraordinarily accurate prophecy about the suffering of Jesus – describing the cruelty of crucifixion.

  1. ‘All my bones are out of joint… My tongue sticks to the roof of my mouth’ (vv.14a,15b; John 19:28).
  2. ‘They pierced my hands and my feet’ (Psalm 22:16c; John 19:37).
  3. ‘A band of evil people has encircled me. I can count all my bones, the people stare and gloat over me’ (Psalm 22:16b–17b; Luke 23:17,35).
  4. ‘They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing’ (Psalm 22:18; John 19:23–24).

As we saw yesterday, the suffering of Jesus on the cross was far greater than even the horror of crucifixion. He bore our guilt and was God-forsaken on our behalf (Psalm 22:1). Jesus died for you so that you could be restored to a relationship with God.


Thank you, Jesus, that you went through the agony of crucifixion for me in order that my relationship with God could be restored and become the number one priority in my life.

New Testament

Mark 1:30-41,2:1-12

30 Simon’s mother-in-law was in bed with a fever, and they immediately told Jesus about her.
31 So he went to her, took her hand and helped her up. The fever left her and she began to wait on them.

32 That evening after sunset the people brought to Jesus all the sick and demon-possessed.

35 Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed. 36 Simon and his companions went to look for him, 37 and when they found him, they exclaimed: “Everyone is looking for you!”

38 Jesus replied, “Let us go somewhere else—to the nearby villages—so I can preach there also. That is why I have come.”

40 A man with leprosy came to him and begged him on his knees, “If you are willing, you can make me clean.”

41 Jesus was indignant. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing,” he said. “Be clean!”

2 A few days later, when Jesus again entered Capernaum, the people heard that he had come home. 2 They gathered in such large numbers that there was no room left, not even outside the door, and he preached the word to them. 3 Some men came, bringing to him a paralyzed man, carried by four of them. 4 Since they could not get him to Jesus because of the crowd, they made an opening in the roof above Jesus by digging through it and then lowered the mat the man was lying on. 5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralyzed man, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”

9 Which is easier: to say to this paralyzed man, ‘Your sins are forgiven,’ or to say, ‘Get up, take your mat and walk’? 10 But I want you to know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins.” So he said to the man, 11 “I tell you, get up, take your mat and go home.” 12 He got up, took his mat and walked out in full view of them all. ...


Priorities of Jesus

I love Jesus. He is absolutely amazing and wonderfully attractive. He loved the people: he was filled with ‘compassion’ for them (1:41). The people loved him: ‘The people... came to him from everywhere’ (v.45). Everyone wanted to see Jesus: ‘Everyone is looking for you!’ (v.37).

They would do anything to get other people to see Jesus (2:4). The crowds came to him (v.13). When he said to people, ‘Follow me’, they followed him (v.14). They brought all the sick to Jesus and he healed them (1:32–34), including Simon’s mother-in-law (vv.30–31). He loved tax collectors and sinners and was quite happy to go and have dinner with them (2:15). He came for us ‘sinners’ (v.17).

You can tell people’s priorities by how they spend their time. In this passage we see how Jesus spent his time.

  1. Praying to God

Most people do not get up very early unless they have something important to do. Jesus’ first priority was his relationship with God the Father: ‘Very early in the morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house and went off to a solitary place, where he prayed’ (v.35). This challenges us all to get up early, find ‘a secluded spot’ (MSG) and pray.

Personally, I have found the only way to get up early on a regular basis is to go to bed early on a regular basis!

  1. Proclaiming the kingdom

Jesus said, ‘Let us go somewhere else – to the nearby villages – so that I can preach there also. That is why I have come’ (v.38). The message he preached was good news about the kingdom and the need for people to ‘repent and believe the good news!’ (vv.14–15). It was a message all about forgiveness (2:5,10) and it was good news especially for ‘sinners’ (v.17), which everyone needed to hear. For Jesus, forgiveness was an even higher priority than healing.

  1. Power evangelism

Jesus was ‘filled with compassion’ (1:41). Out of love for the people he wanted to bring them first the good news of forgiveness. But it was not just words. He also acted to heal the sick (vv.40–42; 2:8–12) and to drive out demons (1:39). Through the healing of the paralytic, Jesus demonstrated that he is the one who has the authority and power to forgive sins (2:9–11).

Jesus’ priorities were clear. It was God first and then people second – and everything else was about acting out those two great priorities.


Lord, help me to prioritise my relationship with you. Thank you that I am able to proclaim the good news of forgiveness to others. May I be filled with compassion as I pray for the sick and seek to see people set free.

Old Testament

Exodus 19:3-5,20:1-6

3 Then Moses went up to God, and the Lord called to him from the mountain and said, 4 You yourselves have seen what I did to Egypt, and how I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself. 5 Now if you obey me fully and keep my covenant, then out of all nations you will be my treasured possession.

1 And God spoke all these words:

2 ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.

6 … showing love to a thousand generations of those who love me and keep my commandments.


Priority of love

Although God invites you into intimacy with him, never forget the wonder of his holiness and power. God has such a passion for you, and therefore he will not let you be less than you can be. He wants us to learn holiness from him.

From Exodus 19 to Numbers 10:10 the people of God stay in the same place learning how to be God’s people. They begin by learning the holiness and power of God. They cannot even touch the mountain on which his presence rests. Then he speaks to them about their priorities through the Ten Commandments.

  1. God loves you

The context is in 20:2: ‘I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.’ God is a God who shows ‘love to a thousand generations’ (v.6). We see pictures of his love earlier in the passage. God says, ‘I carried you on eagles’ wings and brought you to myself’ (19:4). He says, ‘You will be my treasured possession…’ (v.5). Our love is a response to God’s love.

The context of the Ten Commandments is God’s love for you. Some people miss this fact and see them merely as a set of rules. God gives the commandments as an act of love for you. Seek to obey them as an act of love for God.

  1. Love God

The first four commandments are about how we respond to God’s love by loving him: ‘We love because he first loved us’ (1 John 4:19). Our love is to be exclusive (Exodus 20:3–4), respectful (v.7) and is demonstrated by setting aside time to be with him (v.10).

  1. Love others

The last six commands are all about our love for others – our families (v.12), our husbands/wives (v.14) and our neighbours: ‘No murder. No adultery. No stealing. No lies about your neighbour. No lusting after your neighbour’s house – or wife or servant’ (vv.13–17, MSG).

Jesus summarised it like this, ‘“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.” This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: “Love your neighbour as yourself.” All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments’ (Matthew 22:37–40).

The Ten Commandments were not given as a ladder that people had to climb up to get into God’s presence. Rather they were a God-given pattern of life for those who had already known God’s grace and redemption. They are not given to restrict your freedom, but to safeguard it. They help you enjoy the freedom of living in a relationship with God, showing you how to live a holy life just as God is holy. Your love for God flows out from, and is a response to, God’s love for you.


Heavenly Father, I worship you today with reverence and awe. Thank you that you carry me on eagles’ wings and bring me to yourself. Thank you that you say that I am your treasured possession. Help me to make it my first priority to worship and to love you with all of my heart and with all my soul and with all my mind. Help me to love other people unconditionally in the way that you love me.

Pippa adds

In Mark 1:35, we see that Jesus got up early to pray. Now, I am challenged by the words ‘very early’. I am not very good in the morning and even worse while it is ‘still dark’. The temptation to stay in a warm bed just a little longer I find hard to resist. But, I realise that it probably is the best time to find uninterrupted peace. If Jesus got up early to pray, I should at least try to do the same.

Thought for the Day

Your relationship with God should be your number one priority.



Download The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel app for iOS or Android devices and read along each day.



Subscribe now to receive The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel in your inbox each morning. You’ll get one email each day.



Start reading today’s devotion right here on The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel website.

Read now


The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel Commentary is available as a book.


Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version Anglicised, Copyright © 1979, 1984, 2011 Biblica, formerly International Bible Society. Used by permission of Hodder & Stoughton Publishers, an Hachette UK company. All rights reserved. ‘NIV’ is a registered trademark of Biblica. UK trademark number 1448790.

Scripture marked (MSG) taken from The Message. Copyright © 1993, 1994, 1995, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2002. Used by permission of NavPress Publishing Group.

The Bible with Nicky and Pippa Gumbel

  • Host Intro
  • Introduction
  • Wisdom Bible
  • Wisdom Commentary
  • New Testament Bible
  • New Testament Commentary
  • Old Testament Bible
  • Old Testament Commentary
  • Pippa Adds
  • Host Outro

This website stores data such as cookies to enable necessary site functionality and analytics. Find out more