T – R – O – U – B – L – E

Billie Sue’s grandfather, Lex Smith, loved to do word puzzles in his retirement years. He would sit for hours filling in the squares with letters.

In the those last days, he would spell the same word out loud over and over again. I can still hear him saying the letters again and again.

“T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”  “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.” “T – R – O – U – B – L – E.”

I’m not sure why he got stuck on that one word. But he did.

Jesus talked about “trouble” too.

Therefore don’t worry about tomorrow, because tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own. Matthew 6:34 HCSB

We can get stuck on tomorrow’s trouble too.  Jesus knows our tendencies. How easy it is for us to get focused on something that might or might not happen tomorrow. In doing so, we miss living today to the fullest!

Yes, tomorrow will come with its trouble, but why live it today in our minds before it actually happens? Plus, we don’t know what will happen tomorrow. We could end up worrying about things that will never happen anyway!

I’m just as guilty as the rest of you. Worry sneaks into my thoughts when I don’t stay focused on the truth of God’s Word and His Son Jesus.

So, how do we do that?!

Remember the verse just before verse 34? Verse 34 begins with “Therefore.” So what is it “there for”? The solution and a very familiar verse:

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you. Matthew 6:33 HCSB

All those “things” we worry about God provides for us if we seek His kingdom and righteousness first.  First? Yes, instead of first worrying about things, we seek God’s kingship and righteousness first.

Someone observed, “Today is the Tomorrow you worried about Yesterday.”

Worry is all about putting “things” first instead of God’s will. Remember Jesus’ instructions on how to pray:

Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Matthew 6:10 HCSB

How do we “seek first the kingdom of God?” We seek to do His will on earth today! That’s an all-encompassing focus that takes up all our attention today. When we focus on doing His kingdom work today, we are not focused on the “things” that will “trouble” us tomorrow.

Jesus is in the life-changing business!

Our Father, we confess our sins of worry and ask your forgiveness. Thank-you that we don’t need to worry. The “things” of this world are temporary.  Your word and kingdom will last forever! We ask for your ever-present Spirit to teach to live by faith, not by worry.

Who Does God See & Hear?

“… the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request.” 1 Peter 3.11

Who are the “righteous” that the Lord sees them and opens His ears to their requests? Because I want US to be those people!

God has placed His Righteousness in us at salvation (Romans 1:17). So what is the evidence that we are living-out that righteousness within the body of Christ, our congregation? Who are these people?

In 1 Peter 3.8-11 the answer is:
1. “Like-minded” people — united in spirit & purpose, of the same disposition. I see our uniting purpose as “leading people to life-changing encounters with Jesus.”
2. “Sympathetic” people — sharing each others emotions, grieving together and rejoicing together. When someone prospers or succeeds, do you get jealous? Or rejoice with them?
3. Those who “love believers” — same word as “Philadelphia” or brotherly love.
4. “Compassionate” people — feel genuine pity and tenderness toward each other.
5. “Humble” people — are friendly, kind, courteous, and consider others before self.
6. People “not paying back evil for evil or insult for insult” — not retaliatory, “insult” is literally “spearing.”
7. People “giving a blessing, since you were called for this” — they encourage each other.
8.”Keep his tongue from evil and his lips from speaking deceit” kind of people — no fraud, exaggeration, gossip, dishonesty, or guile.
9. People who “turn away from evil and do what is good”
10. People who “seek peace and pursue it” — they are peacemakers and unifiers.

And the result for the congregation that lives out these “righteous” ways will be:
1. “You can inherit a blessing” (v.9)
2. You will “love life and see good days” (v.10)
3. AND BACK WHERE WE STARTED! “… the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and His ears are open to their request.” 1 Peter 3.11

Oh! How I want the Lord’s eyes upon us and His ears open to us!

Perhaps you have seen this quote floating around the Internet or have heard it said,

“Everyone you meet is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.”

Peter, inspired by the Holy Spirit, points out that the tell-tale sign that God’s righteousness is obviously present or absent is in HUMAN RELATIONSHIPS!

The most important command is to “Love God.” OK, that’s easy, He’s perfect and its easy to love a perfect, flawless person.

The second most important command is to “Love your neighbor.” OK, that’s not easy, neighbors are imperfect, dysfunctional, have problems, hang-on to their hang-ups, and are even sinners. But guess what?! It is in those relationships with those all around us, who have “battles” we know nothing about, that we are to demonstrate “righteousness.”

Oh our Father, everyone we meet today is fighting a battle about which we may or may not know. We earnestly desire for Your eyes to be upon us and Your ears open to us. Fill us with Your compassion to overflowing. May the overflow spill over into the lives of those we encounter today.

Now & Forever

But from eternity to eternity the Lord’s faithful love is toward those who fear Him, and His righteousness toward the grandchildren of those who keep His covenant, who remember to observe His precepts. (‭Psalms‬ ‭103‬:‭17-18‬ HCSB)

An eternal perspective is essential to a daily-living-breathing-walking-talking relationship with the Father through His Son Jesus!

WE MUST LIVE IN THE PRESENT WITH AN ETERNAL PERSPECTIVE.

A healthy fear needs to grip us as we live each day. We know every word spoken and deed done will be accountable before God one day soon. We must never deny Him in anything we say or do.

The birth of our children changed our perspective. I immediately began praying for their salvation and walk with the Lord. The birth of our grandchildren changed us again! The telescope view of life increased. Now I pray for their salvation and walk with the Father too.

What a wonderful promise to us when we live our lives for The Lord! Did you see it? God’s love and righteousness will extend to our grandchildren! My heart leaps knowing this! I will impact for eternity my grandchildren’s lives by the way I live now.

God limits the impact of the sins of the fathers on their descendants to three or four generations. This is heartbreaking when you see the pattern of sin carried on to multiple generations. BUT, our Father will extend the blessings of the righteous to a thousand generations!!! God is good, yet just! (Exodus 20:5-6)

God limits the effect of sin to only four generations, but extends the blessing to the righteous for a thousand generations. God is good. God is merciful.

Thank-you Lord for graciously extending my grandfathers’ prayers and righteous lives to me! Please walk with me today so that I impact future generations.