Jealousy

Have you ever been jealous? I have.  My friend just lost 10 lbs and can fit in her high school jeans, yup, I am jealous.  The neighbors got a new car and I have to walk outside each day and see how pretty it looks compared to my 12 year old beast. Yep, I want a new car too! My friend on FB went on this amazing vacation and the pictures are surreal. I am so tired... I could use an amazing vacation. The list goes on right? There are so many things daily that I could be jealous of. Do you relate? I can't be the only one? 

It's sad to me that even in doing good things, I can get jealous.  Another woman teaches an amazing Bible study and I find myself sitting there wishing I had said those things.  The church across town has 5000 people when it simply opens it's doors and I struggle to find 50 people who want to read the Bible together and I get jealous. A stranger shares her thoughts on a Bible verse and it goes viral and people around the world want to hear her speak. I get jealous. I want those things too.  Then I read God's word.  He has this amazing way of quieting my heart.  Of dealing with really ugly sins and pointing me in the direction He has for me. 

“Thieves are jealous of each other’s loot, but the godly are well rooted and bear their own fruit.” Proverbs 12:12 NLT

When I am jealous of what others have, or are doing, even if it is godly things.  I am being like a thief.  Trying to steal what isn't mine.  Thieves are paranoid.  Thieves are always wondering if they are going to get caught.  Thieves aren't genuine and have no lasting impact other than the destruction they cause the ones they steal from.  

If I am being godly, listening to His voice, obeying what He has told me to do, then my life will bear fruit.  It will be nutritious.  It will taste great.  It will be a source of refreshment to others.  It doesn't have to feed the world, it simply has to do the purpose God has for it.  Just because my fruit doesn't look or seem as grand as someone else's fruit, doesn't mean it is any less valuable.  

 

I don't want to be jealous of others blessings.  I don't want to be the one sitting back and deciding if they deserve it or not.  I want to be godly.  I want to be so focused on God and what He is daily telling me to do, and bear my own fruit.  

God has great things for each of us.  It's a foreign concept, but instead of being jealous, really try to celebrate others blessings.  Celebrate their victories.  Celebrate the lives and souls that get to be saved through the larger church, the international ministries, the viral videos.  Be excited that the Gospel is going out and not worried that you weren't the one who got to say it. Be truly happy when you see your friends grow spiritually and be able to communicate it in ways that bless and encourage others around them.   

The Bible is very clear that who we think is great here on earth isn't necessarily going to be who is great in heaven.  Jesus, our greatest example of who we are to be, teaches us to be a servant.  A servant isn't focused on what others have or others are doing.  A servant is focused on what they can do for others.  Don't be a thief, be a servant.  It helps so much with that sin of jealousy.  Because once jealousy sneaks in, you start to be discontent with every area of your life and you lose your joy in all that you do have and you miss out! 

Dear God, Help me to be so focused on you and what you have for me that I stop inspecting or wanting what everyone else has.  Help me to be genuine and content to simply obey you in what you have for me.  The fruit you give me in my life is wonderful and I am so thankful for it.  Keep me focused on Jesus.  Help me to be a servant just like Him. Keep me focused on what you have for me and not everyone else.  I love you God, thank you for taking the time to show me the ugly sin of jealousy, pointing it out to me in my heart, letting me confess it, and then removing it from me.  You are amazing!  I pray all of this in Jesus name. Amen.

“But Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers in this world lord it over their people, and officials flaunt their authority over those under them. But among you it will be different. Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must become your slave. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give his life as a ransom for many.””

Matthew 20:25-28 NLT

Grace

I remember being around age 6 or 7 playing tag with friends and never being able to run as long or as hard as all of them.  I remember running was fun for them, but it would make my chest burn.  I would wheeze and then my mom would have to give me this awful cough syrup. (Albuterol) 

When we were 11, we moved to San Diego and my attacks would get more frequent.  The Dr. told me I had asthma.  Not having Google, I turned to the giant medical books from Hospitals and Good Housekeeping we had and I read everything I could find on it.  "I could die from this!" That thought filled my head a lot. Middle of the night steamy showers, inhalers from Mexico, whatever home treatments we could do, was what I had. We didn't have any kind of health insurance and so seeing a Dr. was something my parents had to save money for, or make payments on. My Dr. signed me out of PE because I couldn't do any intense exercise or I would have an asthma attack.  I got sick more easily, everything went to my chest.  Late night asthma attacks meant early morning school days were exhausting. That was my life, but it wasn't a big deal or too overwhelming.  I ended up finishing high school early because I was taking an extra class every year since I had no PE class to fill.  

When I got married at 18 my husband and I signed up for life insurance.  First thing we did was see a regular Dr. who got me on preventative asthma medication.  My asthma stayed great and controlled for many years after that.  

A few flare ups through the years, but nothing that I couldn't recover in a few days.  I could even do some exercise if I medicated prior to it. (Don't feel bad for me... I hate exercise and have never experienced that endorphin, amazing feeling people talk about getting from exercise.)

Sometime last year I got a cough (August 2016). No matter what I did, it wouldn't go away.  Then in late November I got a sinus infection.  Nothing new, I have had many of those throughout the years, except this one wouldn't leave. 2, 3 day long hospital visits, more than 23 different Dr.s (we stopped counting at 23), 12 antibiotics, countless breathing treatments, steroids, inhalers, cough syrups, cough pills, 2 months straight of absolutely 0 voice, weight gain (gotta be my favorite part!!! NOT!) days and days and days in bed, sinus surgery, discovery of a lump (not cancerous) in my chest, discovery of gallstones and enlarged liver, fibromyalgia, low iron, and so on.  I was finally starting to be well again.  Starting to be able to do more (I love to do) housecleaning, cooking, caring for those I love, organizing, whatever, I was finally able to do something!!!  Then bam, I got sick again.  I tried to just power through the way I had before all of this, but my asthma said nope. My asthma said we are going to flare up so bad you feel like you are back to square 1. I met with my dr and I am coming to the conclusion, I have a new normal. My many years of quick recovery seem to be over. I am back on all the steroids, breathing treatments, cough suppressants, inhalers, etc.  just to be able to slightly do things. 

It is easy to get discouraged.  It is easy to think look at other people who don't want to serve God and they have amazing health and can do all their heart desire physically.  It is easy to look at what I don't have. It is easy to want to quit.  It is easy to want to say ok give all this work to someone else. (I homeschool my kids, serve at my church, help my husband, run the women's ministry at my church, help my dad, do my parents finances, and then some...)

In 2 Corinthians it tells us that Paul had some kind of "thorn in his flesh" something keeping him from being strong and doing all he wanted to do.  He begged God, 3 times.  I can hear those pleas.  I know what they sound like.  Sitting in the bottom of my shower weeping, laying in my bed as the tears flow down my face, crumpled on the floor after blacking out from severe coughing again... I just want to be able to breathe normal.  I am not asking to run a marathon, or hike a mountain, or swim the ocean.  I just want to walk to my bathroom and not get short of breath and start wheezing.  I just want to be able to teach a bible study and not have to stop for a breathing treatment.  I just want to be able to laugh with my family and not cause a coughing fit that sends me into a choking fit or a blackout.  

Each time I have cried out to God for healing, I hear the same thing He told Paul... “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.”  His grace is all I need?  Really?  Are we looking at the same thing here God?  It can be hard and confusing when we don't understand what He is doing.  “My grace is all you need..."  

I have my list of needs...  Right now one of them is that I need to be healthy. He has said no, you don't get health, you get my grace. His grace for me.  His favor.  He says I don't need to be healthy, He says I simply need Him.   It will be enough.  It will be more than enough.  There will be no way anyone can look at my life and say, "Wow, isn't she an amazing, super, woman!"  No, they will look at my life and say "Wow, God is amazing!  God is gracious! God is worthy to be praised."  Alright God, I get it.  That is what I want to, you to receive the glory, not me.  What you do, is way more lasting and powerful than anything I could do with healthy lungs.  

So my new normal is to be like Paul and boast in my weaknesses, but I am not sure I am there yet. Somedays yes, other days, I just want to be strong. I know His grace will get me there.

“...I was given a thorn in my flesh, a messenger from Satan to torment me and keep me from becoming proud. Three different times I begged the Lord to take it away. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

2 Corinthians 12:7b-10 NLT

The Bible tells us that if you lose your life for His sake, you will find it.  Sometimes being a wife, a mom, a daughter, a sister, a friend, I feel there aren't enough hours in the day.  How can I be a Pastor's wife too?  How can I run a women's ministry for my church?  How can I find time to serve anyone else?

I have been struggling with illness this year.  My asthma has flared up worse than it has since I was in Jr high and high school. I have been on countless breathing treatments.  A few hospital visits.  Lots of antibiotics and other medications.  It hasn't been fun.  It has been hard to find time to care for my family.  It has been so limiting. 

Yet my life is not my own.  I live it for God.  I live it for my family. I live it for my church. I don't know how to live life any other way.  I wouldn't want to live it any other way.   

It is retreat season and that means a bunch of little jobs that often keep me up late at night. Doing things here and there as my health allows.  As I have been sick and needing to hear extra from God.  Needing love and encouragement, yes even Pastor's wives need that too.  I took on a project to hand write out 150 bible verses for the women at this years retreat.  So I have been pouring through the Psalms and picking verses that I hope will encourage and bless the women and speak to them individually.  The really awesome part is that although it takes up my personal time, although it cramps my wrist from writing, and it makes my neck hurt from bending over the Bible, each verse I feel so spoken to by God. With each verse I write out, I feel so connected to Him.  In that I also feel connected to the women that will be receiving these verses. I am praying for them that they would hear God's love for them and His words direct to their hearts.  

Sometimes it's just in the simple things, sometimes it's in the huge sacrifices, but it is always true.  If you give your life away for Jesus, you always get back so much more than you could ever give.

Matthew 16:25 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will find it.

What If

Do you ever play the what if game? What if I am never healed. What if I never write the book I have dreamt of my whole life. What if my husband cheats on me. What if my child dies. What if I lose my home. What if there is a terrorist attack in my city.  What if I never lose this extra weight. What if I can't afford to send my kids to college. What if they don't stay pure. What if they get stuck in a life of drugs or alcohol.  What if they get molested or raped. What if I can't pay next months bills. What if everyone leaves the church. What if my mom gets dementia. What if my dog gets hit by a car. What if my car gets totaled with no insurance to pay for it. What if, what if, what if...  The list of what if's can be endless. 

I know some of these are dramatic, some are more serious than others, but in reality they could happen. All of the above things I have seen happen up close and personally to people I know and love.  They are all real and heart breaking things.  Yet I know God doesn't want me to live in fear of the unknown.  He doesn't want me to worry about what hasn't yet happened. What does He want me to do with these thoughts and fears?  Take them to Him.  Sit quietly, (did you notice I say that a lot?) read your Bible, and pray. Pray about all these fears and then some.  God isn't stressed out to hear our crazy, panicky, fearful thoughts.  In fact it tells us in Psalm 139 that he knows our thoughts while they are still far off, meaning we haven't even thought them yet.  

Take the time to sit quietly, because it's hard to hear his voice in the loud, busy, distracting day that most of us have.  Sit quietly and pray. Ask God all your questions, tell Him all your fears. Read His Words (The Bible).  Meditate on His Words. (Not the yoga, ohm type of meditation.) Sit and think about what you read, and I know 2 things are going to happen. 1. He is going to answer you.  2. He is going to deliver you from your fears.  He may not make things perfect, or even stop any of those awful things from happening in your life.  He will make it so you aren't afraid of the What If's, and that if any of them do ever come to your life, you will be secure in the Love of Christ. You will be secure and can know He will walk you through anything and use it for your good and His glory.  

“I sought the Lord, and He answered me and delivered me from all my fears.” Psalms 34:4 HCSB

“Lord, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I stand up; You understand my thoughts from far away.” Psalms 139:1-2 HCSB

“You will keep the mind that is dependent on You in perfect peace, for it is trusting in You.” Isaiah 26:3 HCSB

“We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God: those who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28 HCSB

Dear God,  Thank you that I can come to you with all my worries, fears, what ifs, and I don't scare you off at all.  Thank you that even if these things happen, you will be with me, helping me, teaching me, growing me, through it all.  I love you God and I don't ever want to live a moment of my life without you in control, guiding me, comforting me, helping me through it all.  In Jesus Name, Amen

Everywhere I Look

Do you ever have that happen?  That thing where you see the same thing everywhere you look.  You buy a new car, then that is the car you see all over the road.  You get a new shirt and you see 5 other people at the store wearing the same shirt.  Lately God has been speaking the same thing to my heart over and over.  

My church is having VBS this week and I am helping to lead a group of kids all week long.  The first night the leaders would say "Jesus gives us hope!" Then the kids would shout "Follow Him!" Last night we chanted "Jesus gives us courage!" Then the kids would shout "Follow Him!"  In my daily reading I am in Matthew again, reading through how Jesus called his disciples.  "Follow Me." He would say.  Such a simple statement.  No clear direction.  No clear plan. No clear list of what they would be doing, what would their new titles be, who would be second in command, where would they be going...  Just a simple "Follow me." What amazes me, is that in my Bible it says that they IMMEDIATELY left whatever they were doing and followed Him.  

Do I have that same heart of obedience?  All throughout the Bible there are many examples of  how important obedience is to God.  Adam and Eve were kicked out of the garden because of their lack of it.  King Saul had the anointing of God taken from him because of his lack of it.  David had God's blessing because he was obedient. Mary said one of my favorite things of all time in response to God's instructions. "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word."

What would my life look like if I was completely obedient to God. Could I do what the disciples did and simply drop all I am doing and Follow Him? I picked up a new to me book while I was at a leadership retreat and it has sat in my stack of "To Read" for months now. As I was sitting and contemplating how in the world could I live such a surrendered life of faith and obedience, I was prompted to pick it up and start reading. "The secret of true obedience is a close and unmistakeable personal relationship with God. All our attempts to be fully obedient will be failures until we gain access to His abiding fellowship. It is God's holy presence consciously abiding with us that keeps us from disobeying Him." Andrew Murray in The Blessings of Obedience. Wow, that ties in so much with what God has been saying about seeking Him first. What He has been saying to me through the kids VBS about simply following Him.  It doesn't have to be some difficult, complicated, detailed plan.  It can be simple, it can be easy.  Like my husband likes to say, "He does the heavy lifting, and He doesn't leave the hard stuff up to us."  

Praise God. Now I simply need to keep close to Him and when I hear his voice say "Follow Me." I just go, don't look back, and simply trust He knows all the details and I don't need to.  

Dear God, Please help me to daily seek You first.  Please help me to be completely obedient in all you tell me to do.  Sometimes I find it really hard to hear you.  I know that is because I have made things busier and harder than they need to be and life has gotten to noisy for me to hear the still small voice of your leading.  Please help me to quiet my heart, sit still, and wait to hear you say "Follow Me."  I love you God.  I desire to simply be your handmaiden all the days of my life.  I pray all of this in the name of Jesus, my Lord, my God, and my Savior.  Amen.  

  

 Matthew 4:18-20 As He was walking along the Sea of Galilee, He saw two brothers, Simon, who was called Peter, and his brother Andrew. They were casting a net into the sea, since they were fishermen. “Follow Me,” He told them, “and I will make you fish for people!” Immediately they left their nets and followed Him.

 Matthew 4:18-20 "...to obey is better than sacrifice..."  

Forgiven to Forgive

Resentment is a self-inflicted wound that allows people from your past to continue to hurt you today. You need to let it go, not because they deserve forgiveness but because you need to get on with your life. - Rick Warren

Resentment happens when either someone doesn't apologize and make things right when they have wronged you and because they haven't made things right you don't forgive them. Or it can also happen when they have apologized, made things right, but you don't want to forgive.  What happens with resentment is best described by a friend of mine.  She said it's like having an open wound and instead of leaving it alone to heal, you keep picking at it, getting germs in there and then it gets all infected.   It isn't the fault of the other person that it becomes infected; it is you fault, for continuing to pick at it and make it worse. Now I understand this doesn't apply to all situations, but I know that the cure for both situations is forgiveness.  Jesus tells us that if we don't forgive, we won't be forgiven.  Jesus tells us that even beyond forgiveness we are to bless and do good to those that are our enemies and have done us wrong.  Are those hard things for you to do?  I know they are hard for me. When I am ran into, I want justice.  When I am the one running into someone, I want mercy.  When I am done wrong, I want revenge and the other person to hurt as much or more than I do. When I do wrong, I want understanding and grace that it wasn't malicious and for them to forgive me.  It makes sense why Jesus doesn't tell us to simply do good, but He tells us to do unto others what we would want done for ourselves.  

Dear God,  Please help me to forgive others that have hurt me.  Please help me to truly let go of these hurts and not let them turn into resentment.  Please help me to grow and be more like Jesus every day.  Show me ways I can bless those that have hurt me.  Show me how I can not only desire these things, but take steps to make real changes in my life.  I love you God and I am so thankful for your Word that guides my every step. It is in Jesus Name that I pray and ask all of this.  Amen.

“For if you forgive people their wrongdoing, your heavenly Father will forgive you as well. But if you don’t forgive people, your Father will not forgive your wrongdoing." Matthew 6:14-15 HCSB

“You have heard that it was said, Love your neighbor and hate your enemy. But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. For He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." Matthew 5:43-45 HCSB

"Therefore, whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them—this is the Law and the Prophets." Matthew 7:12 HCSB

Day 1

I need Day 1's.  Is that even worded right?  (Oh great, don't start tripping on your grammar and wording on your first post) Yep. I talk to myself.  I think it's ok though because David talked to himself.  (Read Psalm 103 for a great example of self talk).  Anyways... back to my original thought.  

I need Day 1's.  I need new beginnings, fresh starts, new years, whatever you like to call them.  I need them.  I get sidetracked by life.  I get sidetracked by too busy of schedules, sick kids, drama in relationships, drama in church life, drama in our nation.  I get sidetracked by my emotions, by my up and down health.  I lose my motivation for things that are healthy to my mind, body, and soul.  So I need day 1's as a way to reset, start over, and get back on track with what I know God has shown me to do.  Today is a great day to be my Day 1.  God told me before this year (2016) even started that I was to simply SEEK HIM FIRST each day, but there have been too many days that I have missed that because I thought something else was more important.  

In Matthew 5-7 it is a beautiful sermon, by the greatest teacher, Jesus.  He is telling us, do this, do that, pray like this, deal with wrong like this, etc.  Then in the middle of it, it's as if He is speaking just to me, because He knows me so well.  By this time in His sermon, I have written out my plan of action, I have taken notes and set up schedules and I have got it all down... I am going to tackle this christian life and I am going to do it well.  Then the anxiety creeps in.  I know I can't do all this.  I know that I can't make these great things happen.  I know I can't really help and love others in  my life in my own strength.  I am selfish.  I want to sleep in.  I want to put my needs first.  I want to be 1000 pounds overweight and do whatever I like for me.  So He stops everything in His sermon and says, "Don't be anxious..."  Yeah... ok, God have you met me?  "What is your worry really going to add to your life?"  Nothing, I get it, but I have to worry about it, right? Otherwise I am just being irresponsible.  I have to know and have a plan and make this all work.  I hear myself saying the very things He says not to say... "What shall we eat?" God, where is our next meal coming from, don't you know how expensive groceries for a family this size is? "What shall we wear?" God, you know my kids need new shoes, not to mention Olivia has grown out of her pants! If I don't make a 5 year plan, or have that extra job, or do something, we will run out of what we need.  God if I don't make a schedule and keep us organized, plan every moment of our life, we won't have a good life.  If I don't do this... or do that.... You can see where this is going right?  Jesus says this "For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you."  To paraphrase it... Janet, you are a child of God, you don't need to be on the same treadmill everyone else is on.  God knows I have needs.  God knows I have to eat, I have to feed my family, to clothe my family.  God knows all I have need of.  He is going to take care of ALL those needs, He just wants me to seek Him first.  He wants me to have His kingdom in mind first.  He wants me to have His righteousness. He doesn't want me to worry, He wants me to be worry free, living my life for Him.  

How do I practically put this teaching into place in my life?  First, I prayed.  Second, I open my Bible and I read it.  I love 3x5 cards and so I use them to organize my time with God, making sure I have time for prayer, reading my bible, memorizing verses, sitting quietly and listening.  There are all kinds of systems and ways to spend time with God.  Mine changes throughout the years, and in different seasons of my life, however a few things remain constant.  God's Word.  I read the Bible daily.  Prayer.  I pray daily for people, my church, and all kinds of things daily.   

So all that to say... Each day is my Day 1.  I used to wait until the new year, or a new month, or a new week, but now, I just simply start each day as a Day 1.  This year has been filled with a lot of sickness for me and I have missed a lot of my SEEK FIRST days.  However, I don't want to dwell on how I could have been better, I just want to be better today, so today... I am SEEKING HIM FIRST!

Dear God, Today I want to spend time with you.  Today I want to SEEK YOU FIRST before I do anything else.  Teach me to number my days that I may gain a heart of wisdom. I want to know you more. I want to daily be about your business, not my personal agenda.  I want to live a life surrendered to you.  You are God Almighty.  You are Creator of all.  No one knows how to best live this life, like You do.  Help me to daily humble myself before You, seeking your guidance in my every moment.  I pray all of this in Jesus name, Amen.

2 Timothy 3:17-17 HCSB All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness, so that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.

1 Timothy 2:1-2 HCSB First of all, then, I urge that petitions, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for everyone, for kings and all those who are in authority, so that we may lead a tranquil and quiet life in all godliness and dignity.