MISSION OF THE LOVING SHEPHERD

"We Dare To Believe"


 


Daily Bible Verse



Devotionals
7 Day Devotional for Matthew 6:33

Contents:

Day 1: God Isn't Playing Games With Your Life
Day 2: What To Worry About
Day 3: What To Expect If First Isn't First
Day 4: Three Big Items Gained By Getting Your Priorities Right
Day 5: The Lifetime Advantages of Being #2
Day 6: Hug Happiness: Stop Naivety and Practice What Works
Day 7: Growing Up Is Hard To Do

Introduction:

You've been meaning to do things better. You've been meaning to get started. You've been meaning to organize your priorities. This week's devotionals are going to help you set your main priority, so that your remaining priorities will be arranged correctly.

When you finish you'll know exactly what you need to do first, second, and so forth. Scott Caan offered what doesn't seem like an earthshaking insight, but still it's potent, "Good things happen when you get your priorities straight."

What will getting your priorities straight do for you? It will give direction and purpose to your ambitions. It will because these devotionals will give you a fresh look at how to add what's necessary to propel your life story forward.

Each devotional thought is intended to touch and rework your life spiritually, and also to make an impact on you mentally and physically. Happy reading. God bless your day. (Lee)


Day 1: God Isn't Playing Games With Your Life

What's your preference?

For me, I dislike being bullied. I dislike being bad-mouthed. I dislike being fooled.

I prefer being unstressed. I prefer being praised. I prefer being informed.

As you can see, I have a list of things I prefer and a list of things I dislike. We all do, don't we?

I'm always searching for creditable insight on how I can make my life smooth and sweet smelling a bathed baby. I believe it's possible to be child-like.

Here's how. Here's a tip that will shine light into your darkness. This tip saves you loads of time and gives you what you're looking for and need.

Not wasting time and giving us what we need to prosper, is God's plan and purpose for us. To illustrate, recall the first commandment. The first commandment?You shall have no other gods before me is an illustration of God not playing games with your life. How so?

In the initial commandment (of the ten commandments) God gives us a rich principle for prosperity. One that if practiced, will exchange sand for gold. Of course we have a choice. We can ignore God's wisdom. But this isn't smart. Choosing to ignore God's advice doesn't make sense. What would be the result? For one thing it would waste time and deny pleasure, right?

Truthfully, God's opening commandment is the set up for our protection and safety.

Why? Think it through. Ignoring God's commandment is riding a motorcycle without a helmet. When this decision is made a person puts their life at risk. Certainly some like living on the edge, but that isn't necessarily intelligent, either. Whether you agree, there are good reasons to wear a helmet. Most of the reasons for helmet laws are meant for protection and safety. And so it is with God first commandment. "You shall have no other gods before me."

How is this safety and protection? Simple, by observing this commandment, if you crash, your life has a better chance of surviving the topsy-turvyness of life. What's that worth to you? I'm sure you can see, to do anything less would be undermining your existence.

The consequences of doing that are too great. Being defiant and ignoring God's first commandment won't win you freedom. Just as idolatry won't protect you or keep you safe. It's a thorough waste of time and leads to your ruin. Consequently, putting anything or anyone before God is an invitation to pain and misery. If you dislike being bullied. If you dislike being bad-mouthed. If you dislike being fooled. If you prefer being unstressed. If you prefer being praised. If you prefer being informed. Then, God's first commandment is for your own good and will save you a lot of mistakes and wasted time.

So then, here is today's worth-your-time advise: Live today practicing the first commandment and discover what it does for you. Write down the positive results of this action in your journal. Write about the negative results of this action (if you come up with any).

When you do the math, this lifestyle tip has only positives and no negatives. God isn't playing a game with your life. You can find this out for yourself.

Day 2: What To Worry About

I knew a guy that was chicken little. Remember Chicken Little? Chicken Little is the ultimate promoter of conspiracy. Chicken Little's message was: "The sky is falling! The sky is falling!"

All conspiracy, I've observed, can be made believable. Hollywood and TV do it all the time. Consider classics like: 007, Star Wars, and X-Files.

A teacher stands in front of the class and holds up a glass of water. The students expect to be asked, "Is the glass half full or half empty?" But instead the teacher inquires, "How heavy is this glass of water?" The students guess.

The teacher responds, "The weight doesn't matter. What matters is how long I hold it up. If I hold it up for a minute it's not a problem. If I hold it up an hour, my arm will ache. If I hold it up for a day, my arm will feel numb and paralyzed.

The worries of life are like this glass of water. Think about them for a while and nothing happens. Think about them a while longer and they begin to hurt. Think about them all day and you'll feel numb, paralyzed, and incapable of doing anything."

We worry about things, don't we? We compile our list. We may occasionally remember to turn our worries into prayer requests. Here's the thing though (new thought?), when we fret, holding up a glass of water, it's an opportunity to trust God. Let's find out why.

Jesus knows we have worries. Jesus knows are list better than we do. In reality there are things that we're not aware of that should be on our list, but we haven't thought of them yet, because we're clueless about what is going on in our little world. But let's stick to what we know is on our list.

The truth, of course, is that Jesus could have used a spread sheet with three columns to illustrate things we worry about. Jesus could have labeled the first column: Food. We have a stomach grumbling worry about food, though many of us aren't really wondering where our next meal is coming from.

Jesus might have labeled the second column: Clothing. We fret about what we're going to wear. In extreme moments of anxiety we cry out, "I have nothing to wear!' Which is rarely true.

Jesus would label the third column: Shelter. We worry about where we're going to hang out, feel snug, and sleep peacefully. Guys say they can sleep anywhere. But if a guy has been married more than three months he has learned this isn't true for the Mrs.

Jesus did, actually, put together a spread sheet for food, clothing, and shelter. Then he did something outrageous, he tore the spreadsheet into tiny pieces and threw it up in the air, and scattered the bits of paper into the wind.

Everyone was mystified. Jesus explained his point, "Your father in heaven knows you need food, clothing, and shelter. But here's the priority, this is what you ought to be worrying about, 'But, more than anything else, put God first and do what He wants. Then these other things will be yours as well.'"

The lesson is quit being chicken little, forget conspiracy theories, and put down the glass of water, get your priorities right. God first, everything else second. This is what to worry about. See, you have an opportunity presented to you. Take a risk and put God first today.

Day 3: What To Expect If First Isn't First

Do you pay attention to warnings?

Mom says, "Don't touch that hot pudding pan or you'll get burned!"

When mom says this, at first, we don't wonder why, argue, or throw a fit, we simply believe that Mom has good reasons why she's said what she said and knows what she's talking about. We accept her warning and we're carefully obedient not to touch the hot pudding pan. We leave the kitchen with our halo shiny and in its proper place.

But then (what is it about us?) after a few minutes we sneak back into the kitchen and we analyze, "What if I touch that hot pan, will I really get burned, or is Mom just trying to keep me from sampling the pudding?"

So we touch the hot pudding pan and because a little time has past the pudding pan is warm, but not hot. The sweet smell and the smooth brown texture appear too delicious to resist. We decide to taste it.

We poke our finger into the saucepan. It doesn't burn us. We scoop some pudding out with two fingers, pop the delightful looking confection into our mouth, and lick our fingers clean. Oooooh, wow!

Maybe just one more taste. So pretty soon we're sitting at the kitchen table with evidence of chocolate pudding on the corners of our mouth and Mom walks in. (I hate it when this happens, don't you?). We're caught doing something totally unauthorized.

Pause for a moment, consider unauthorized. Unauthorized is a I'm-in-trouble word. Unauthorized in the dictionary means not having official permission. A few synonyms of unauthorized are: illegal, unapproved, and improper.

When we take the above example into the spiritual realm we have to (or should) ask ourselves if what we're planning to do is authorized. Because, it's embarrassing, if not shameful, to get caught doing things unauthorized.

Unauthorized has the connotation that we knew it wasn't right to do, but we thought we might get away with it, so we did it anyway. Dipping our fingers into the yummy chocolate pudding is one kind of unauthorized act. But get this, unauthorized spiritual action adds up to religion. Religion doesn't put God first. Religion puts me first.

Jesus isn't interested in our religion. Jesus wants our heart. Because if Jesus has our heart we have intimacy with the Lord. "Put God's work first and do what He wants ..."

[Perhaps another verse you can read will give you a better sense of what kind of trouble unauthorized brings us. Read Matthew 7:21-23, "Not all people who sound religious are really godly. They may refer to me as 'Lord,' but they still won't enter the Kingdom of Heaven. The decisive issue is whether they obey my Father in heaven. 22 On judgment day many will tell me, 'Lord, Lord, we prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.' 23 But I will reply, 'I never knew you. Go away; the things you did were unauthorized." (NLT)].

Doing God's work and making sure we have God's authorization is serious business. Our Creator has redeeming reasons for saying what He said. Don't imagine you can get away with doing things because you feel it's Ok. This won't work. If you do things on your own, expect to hear the word unauthorized. God's first, everything else is unauthorized. Careful obedience is required.

Day 4: Three Big Items Gained By Getting Your Priorities Right

This business of putting God first comes with benefits. These benefits are, in part, known, but in another part the benefits are unknown. The reality is, I may not have even a hint as to what these mysterious benefits are until I experience them. However I do have more than a hint of where these benefits come from.

My benefits are daily rewards wrapped in my intimate relationship with God.

First, let me say something about the benefits I know about. These are: love, peace, and joyful satisfaction.

Let me explain, others say they love me, and I think they're sincere, but no one loves me like God loves me.

It's the same with peace. I have moments when I'm calm and they last until someone cuts me off in traffic or as long as I have money in my bank account. But lasting anchored peace is the result of my dependence upon God.

And third is joyful satisfaction. There are any number of things that I've tried and used for satisfaction. Most of them gave me a temporary gush of satisfaction. Smoking, drinking, sex. Winning a blue ribbon in Sunday school. Losing weight, getting in shape, and hiking the Grand Canyon. But nothing satisfies like the joyful satisfaction God offers. It's, oftentimes, inexplainable.

Consequently, beyond benefits known to me, are benefits unknown to me. It's here that the thrill of putting God first (serving him, and maturing in my relationship with him) is an everyday experience that provides benefits, that in this moment, I know nothing about.

Yet these benefits will be knowable, because God will be God. It's in the Lord's divine nature to fill my life with gifts and blessings (benefits). Certainly this has nothing to do with me deserving his benefits.

This is so much more than asking and receiving rent money or grocery money or "God make me rich!" money (but may include these). These benefits come my way because God is generous, loving, and kind. It's about God, not me.

When my thinking and priorities are right I automatically receive three breathtaking benefits: God's love, God's peace, and God's joyful satisfaction. These are blue-chip benefits.

Do everything you can to grab these benefits, because they're yours as a child of the King of kings and Lord of lords.

Putting God first and doing what he wants bring on a constant flow of invaluable benefits. Check it out. Receive God's best.

Day 5: The Lifetime Advantages of Being #2

For individuals and teams it's tough getting to No 1. Yet it's tougher staying No. 1. In my opinion, it's better to settle for No. 2. Why? Because there are a lifetime of advantages to acquire by accepting second place.

Plus, you learn a lot.

Like what? You can make your own list, but here are six items on my list which offer insider information to increase your net-worth. You can learn:

1. patience
2. endurance
3. dependence
4. diplomacy
5. kindness
6. humility

Let me explain each ROI (return on investment).

First, patience. Because you quit beating yourself up straining to become No. 1. You can relax, breathe normally, and reap the advantage of patience.

Second, endurance. Because you no longer have to scheme and manipulate about how to achieve or hold onto being No. 1. You are able to endure the ups and downs of the market without morally bankrupting yourself.

Third, dependence. Because you don't have to blaze trails. You are able to follow the leader and trust he knows what he's doing.

Fourth, diplomacy. Because you can quit negotiating unrealistic solutions to problems that resist being solved.

Fifth, kindness. Because you don't have to threaten anyone with angry or empty words you'll later regret.

Sixth, humility. Because you won't need to promote your sniffy arrogance. You can learn that humility isn't wimping-out, rather it's a virtue of being No. 2.

Finally, the lifetime advantage of being No. 2 is that all your relationships improve. This is because God is first. You are second or perhaps, third. No. 2 offers a priceless ROI. Give it a shot.

Day 6: Hug Happiness: Stop Naivety and Practice What Works

When you want to succeed at something you pay attention to systems, methods, laws, rules, etcetera.

These propel you toward excellence. You follow a system because you don't want to waste anymore time than you already have. When you do this and see positive results, you feel euphoric. Or, as Charles Schultz said, "Happiness is a warm puppy." Your followed method becomes a source of happiness.

So, if someone comes along and offers a suggestion that promises to make our life praiseworthy instead of pitiful, we listen. For example someone may advise, "Stop the nonsense of arguing God doesn't exist."

God's alive. Still it's natural, because we're human, to ask questions and have doubts about what others claim to be truth. We want to prove it to ourselves. Therefore we're apt to challenge any welcomed or unwelcomed wisdom from whatever authority.

Once more, it's that thing inside of us that is defiant, that thing that declares: "If you looked just like me I'd still find something wrong with you!" A drowning-man attitude which refuses to grab the life-saving buoy.

You undoubtedly recognize this as naivety. Naivety is a revealing word, because it implies gullible, inexperienced, and even ignorant. What we want to do is get past this word with its attitude. Enough is enough. We want better.

When Jesus spoke the teaching we've recorded in Matthew 6:33, he was instructing us in a concept that is much more than a theory. Jesus provided a proven system, method, rule, law, principle that works toward our welfare. He said in effect, "Check it out." God knows what you need and you can trust God to get you where you need and want to be.

Now Jesus didn't say, "Stop being naive." But he could have. Rather Jesus bottom lined what would serve us best: "Put God first and do what he wants ..." In other words, do this and that will happen. Or if you prefer, do that and this will happen.

In either case, enjoy happiness by hugging what works best for you and quit being naive. God first and everything else second is what works. Find this out for yourself.

Day 7: Growing Up Is Hard To Do

When we've been doing something one way for longer than we can remember it's more than a little difficult to switch and do something another way.

When I got married I anticipated there might be a few adjustments to make, but nothing major. However, my initial view was tested right away. Because it's major about which side of the bed you're going to sleep on. Major discovering what a clothes hamper is for. And major whether you're going to leave the toilet seat up or down.

Of course besides these major adjustments, there are minor adjusts to work out. Who's mainly responsible for straightening up the house, keeping the commode fresh smelling, feeding the pets, changing the oil in the car, paying the monthly bills, or planning a menu and doing the grocery shopping? Furthermore, is it my money, your money, or our money? Or is it: this is mine, that's yours, and there is no ours. Or what's mine is mine, what's yours is mine, and what you expect doesn't matter.

You may grin or grit your teeth, but I soon-enough figured that initial attitudes are potential stumbling blocks. Nonetheless, attitudes don't have to be hindrances, if a person is willing to grow up.

When I first married I assumed there was a wife things to do list and a husband things to do list. Guess what though? the longer I've stayed married, the lines between what you do and what I do have gotten blurry.

Marriage has changed me. I bear the marks of experience: some bruises, a few scars, no broken bones. And as a bonus, I've accumulated a lot of useful tips for newlyweds.

Growing together is at various times, hard to do.

But because I've learned some things, I'd like to add that marriage, for me, has been fun. Someone needs to say marriage can be fun.

I'm not going to make a long list of fun goodies, although I probably should. The point is growing up as a couple is sometimes painful, but worth every effort. Learning how to please each other and work together for the common good is a priceless treasure.

So, when Jesus says growing up is hard to do he isn't saying you shouldn't grow up. Arrogance, obstinance, manipulation, and, "Me first! You second!" has no place in a marriage relationship ... if you wanna of avoid separation.

It seems obvious then, as in marriage, the flow is top-down: love God first, love others, and don't forget to love you.

Grow up by putting God first. Hopefully, this isn't a new idea. Try putting God first for just today and see what happens.

Here's what I predict will happen. You'll grow and everything else you need to make it a smiley-face day will be taken care of ... although not necessarily how you have it figured out.

Summary:

Here is how Matthew 6:33 reads in the Contemporary English Version (CEV): "But more than anything else, put God's work first and do what he wants. Then the other things will be yours as well."

This verse is the key to your personal success. You can try many other things you consider to be true and absolutely essential for personal success.

After you've found out other systems cannot and will not provide the success you were promised, come back here and re-read Matthew 6:33.

The key to personal prosperity is putting God first and doing what he wants, then these other things, that make for a prosperous life, will be yours as well.

I'm not saying this, Jesus is saying this

About the author:

Lee Escobedo is retired from a 25+ year career in Christian radio at Family Life Radio in Tucson, Arizona.
Read his Blog @ Lee's Nite Radio
Get Lee's book Getting Unstuck: 7 Steps to Freedom @ Amazon
Contact me if you have questions or comments: service@missionofthelovingshepherd.org

God bless your day.

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