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Breaking the spirit of Comparison

John 21:18- verily I tell you, when you were younger you dresed yourself and went where you wanted, but when you are old, someone will dress you and lead you where you don’t want to go. Jesus said thia to indicate the kind of death by which Peter glorify God. Then he said to him “Follow Me”. Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved was following him. When Peter saw him, he asked, “Lord what about him?” Jesus answered, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you? You must follow me.” Because of this, the rumor spread among the believers that this disciple would not die. But Jesus did not say that he would not die. He only said, “If I want him to remain alive until I return, whats it to you?”

Peter was comparing his death to John’s. 
1. The Curse of Comparison
A. Produces inferiority or superiority.
B. Produces anger toward God
C. Opens the door to Satan

James 3:14-16- but if you have bitter envy and self seeking in your hearts, do not boast and lie against the truth. This wisdom does not descend from above, but is earthly, sensual, and demonic.

Comparing yourself opens the door for Satan to take away the joy of God, which is our strength.

2. The Causes of Comparisons
A. Lack of acceptance of who God made me to be.
1 Cor. 12:24-25- while our presentable parts need no specjal treatment. But God has put the bidy together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

Stop wanting everyone else’s gift. Seek God for your own gift and allow God to impact the Kingdom by you being you.

B. We don’t understand who God has called us to be.
2 Cor.10:12- we don’t dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure thenselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.

Those who compare themselves to others are not wise.

C. Covetousness-this was the original sin.  It shows ingratitude for what God has given you.
Colossians 3:15- therefore put to death the members which are on the earth: fornication,  uncleanness, passion, evil desire, and covetousness,  which is idolatry.

*Could it be that you being upset when God blesses someone else,  is stopping God from blessing you?

*The MATURE Christian ahould be the first one excited when God blesses someone else.

3. The Cure for Comparison- Romans 1:21
A. Glorify God- quit magnifying the blessing and GLORIFY the BLESSOR
B. Be Thankful-walk in an attitude of grace
C. Renew my mind

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Change Your Sound pt 7 : what sound does Jesus want you to hear?

1. Jesus meets you where you are

John 20:19- on the evening of that first day of the week, when the discuss were together,with the doors locked for fear of the Jewish leaders, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “peace be with you”

Many of us find ourselves in this situation, closed off an locked away from the world. Maybe not for any other reason of that we have been hurt and betrayed. So we find ourselves locked away with our fear. Then Jesus shows up in the midst of the disciples’ fear. Jesus always shows up in the middle, and He releases their fear .

2. He gives us encouragement

John 20:19-“peace be with you”

Jesus says nothing more than peace. He didn’t address anything other than their storm and speaks peace into their lives. The doors were locked, but they could not lock Jesus out. By the same token, no matter how much we lock ourselves away, Jesus still can come through with his peace.

The last thing they were expecting was Jesus to come in and say what he said. He had just been beaten and crucified. Why would he show up? Besides, they had all left him alone. They had betrayed him. If anything, they expected him to chastise them for abandoning him in his darkest hour. When God shows up, he doesn’t bring condemnation. He brings peace. We often wonder what God thinks about what we do and who we are, but God comes in love to bring us peace. He can relate to our fears. He understands.

Philipians 4:6-7- be anxious for nothing, but in everything make your requests known to God;and the peace of God…..will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

3. He shows us his love.

John 20:20- after he said this, he showed them his hands and side. The disciples were overjoyed when they saw The Lord.

Instead of condemning then, he showed them what he gave up for them. He gave them undeniable proof of his love. It is love in action. His love for us is not performance based. We don’t have to earn it, because we can’t earn it. He gives it freely through grace. He comes into our hearts and addresses our guilt and resentment. He covers them in his great mercy. He models this for us so that we can learn to let go of guilt and resentment. We can be free of them; no longer a slave to them in our lives. Because of this, Peter goes from wanting to give up to preaching a historic sermon that adds 3000 people to the new church.

Psalms 32:1-2- blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven,whose sins are covered. Blessed is the one whose sin The Lord does not count against them

4. He wants to fill us

John 20:21- and with that he breathed on then and said, ” receive the Holy Spirit”

He comes to us, meets us, loves us, and then he fill us anew. We need a continuous, constant, daily filling of the Holy Spirit.

An Awkward Duck

One thing that I tend to struggle with more than other things is the fact of leadership. Not that I don’t want to be lead, I enjoy following sound, Godly leadership. My issues stem more from the kind of leader that I am, or even accepting and embracing the fact that I do lead. I’ve always been hard on myself when it comes to what I do with groups. I’ve always felt like I don’t say the right thing, or ask the right question to stimulate group discussion or encourage the group that I’m facilitating at the moment. Furthermore, I tend to compare myself to others’ results, wondering if I were more like them, if I could see the same results.

I had a moment tonight during our life group where I was talking about comparisons. More specifically, I was referring to how we compare ourselves, and are conditioned to compare ourselves in every instance of our lives. When the group was over, those thoughts were still staying with me. I could feel myself begin to ask if I was truly a good leader, or a leader at all.

Now, I fell God telling me that I was uniquely created for the work that He has for me. Sure, I may be awkward. I may not ask the right questions. I may not keep the conversations going. I may not be dynamic. Then again, maybe I AM all of those things, but I think God is showing me through what I think are my shortcomings, that because I see my failing, I should also see His strength working through my human condition. It sounds weird, I know, but the thing is, we spend so much time focusing on what everybody else is doing. We focus on what other churches are doing, wondering why God is not doing the same thing through us and our church, or group. Family, God is too big to do everything the same way. When we allow our minds to focus on what God is doing for others, we limit His power and the way that it wants to work uniquely through our unique circumstances. God is so creative that even where we see personal failings or weaknesses, God sees opportunity to change the world. He created every awkward nuance in our lives to be a mirror and reflect His glory.

So just as God is dealing with me about being so hard on myself, I think there are areas in your own life where you are the same as me. I would like to encourage you, as God encourages me, that you are a masterpiece of God’s creative design. You are the apple of His eye, and everything that He has placed in you, whether you understand it or not, has been placed within you to show forth His glory to the world around you. I can’t be TD Jakes, or my pastor, or even my friends who show such dynamic gifts, but neither can they be me, and what God has placed in me is going to be enough to bring others to Him. So, I suppose I am a leader, learning to lead in my own awkward fashion…more ugly duckling than graceful swan, but to God be the glory!

Until next time, be blessed.

Band of Brothers

When I get the inspiration to blog, sometimes I resist it because the topic is too personal, or I feel like it points back to me instead of pointing back to God. I realized something this morning though, and I just briefly want to share it.

 

Psalm 133 talks about how good it is for brothers to dwell together in harmony. Also, the Bible talks about how Jesus sticks closer than a brother, and also how iron sharpens iron. It occurred to me that there is something really, inherently Godly about a brotherhood. Men need brotherhood. So, here is the back story.

 

My family is going through a tough time at the moment. Thinking about it woke me from my sleep before the alarm clock. Now, I’m not one to talk to other people very often about what ails me. I just try and deal with is like a man, which is to say I don’t deal with it. Usually that ends up allowing it to eat me alive. There have been instances in the past, with more frequency since we moved, that I feel comfortable enough to share with brothers in my church, men who share the same faith and passion for God that I do. And even while it’s embarrassing to have to admit failure and weakness, struggle and heartache, it is also cleansing to know that I can share with these men of God, and trust that they will be praying with and for me. So, I get up this morning and grab my phone. I type out a facebook message to these men, and hit send. Now, while I’m washing dishes this morning, I’m still worrying about our situation, but I begin thinking about a Band of Brothers. That was a series on HBO that I never watched, but God really showed me the strength of a brotherhood in just that statement. The bond that brothers share was designed to be stronger than the strongest steel. And when I think about the friends I have had in my life, we could go without talking for years, and then strike up a convo like it was just a day in the recent past. There is a love in a brotherhood that is enduring and refreshing. In a true brotherhood, we should be able to unveil ourselves without fear of guilt or condemnation from our peers. Yes, it’s hard for a man to be transparent, but there is a blessing in being able to just lay it bare before your brothers and let your needs be known. That’s what I did this morning. My wife probably won’t like it, (lol), but I needed my brothers, and I know that they are there for me.  They won’t leave me behind.

 

Men, we need each other. And women, you should strive for brotherhood in your sisterhood, and I hope you know what I mean when I say that. Lol. I just don’t see the need to suffer in silence, praying to God every night, when He has also given us people to hold us up when we feel weak. Cause sometimes, and we may not admit it to ourselves, we feel lonely even after we pray. Our faith is too beaten down, and our spirit is too weak. I don’t think it’s sin to admit that. It’s the truth. It’s not ungodly to confide in those of the faith. The Bible urges it, and we as a church are commanded to bear one another’s burdens. There is blessing and edification in that. And the strength that I feel, even having not heard from anyone that I messaged, is the strength that comes from God through them to me. God blesses us with strength not just for ourselves, but so that we can share with others. There is a verse in the bible that references how the in the new testament church, everyone had just what they needed, and nobody had more than they needed. This doesn’t just go for finances. It goes for the full gamut of the human experience.

 

So, thank you brothers in Christ. Thank you sisters in Christ. Those of you who willingly show Jesus in your relationships and uphold your fellow brother and sister in prayer and support. God bless you. I pray that we all may become that Christ-like in our dealings with one another.

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Until next time, be blessed.

A Letter from the Desert

My mind is still stuck on the message from a couple of weeks ago in which our Pastor talked about how God will take us out of the way in order to get us on THE way. The thing that struck me to my core is how God uses the barren, wastelands of the desert to grow rich, enduring fruit in us.

 

I have to be honest. I hate the desert. It feels liker I’ve been in one for years, when in actuality, it’s probably only been 2-3 years. In that time, I’ve felt God strip me down. He has torn away every preconceived notion that I had about myself, and shown me my own reflection in the mirror. It’s not been a pretty time. A lot of the past year and a half has been spent at home. There are parts about that that I have not handled well. I didn’t realize how much I subscribed to the “man must bring home the bacon” philosophy until I no longer had any significant bacon to bring home. In fact, probably for the rest of my life, my wife will be the primary provider of the big bacon. And while I can say that it doesn’t bother me now, there were times that I was really resentful of how things were going in my life, almost to just being downright bitter with God. And while I understand now that the desert is a purifying process, and something that we have to go through in order to be prepared, standing the midst of the hot sun, with a hot wind blowing sand in your face from all angles, it just doesn’t feel good. There have been times when I’ve opened my Bible to try and hear from God, but the voices in my head of shame and condemnation were speaking so loudly that I would just set the Bible back down. There have been times where I’ve not even picked my Bible up for days and weeks at a time.

 

And I say all of this, not to give any glory to my weakness. My point is that even in all of this, God was still, and is still, working a plan. I honestly have no idea when I will come out. But, I am more confident that ever before that what I have been going through is carrying an even greater weight of God’s’ glory on it. The things that have seated off, and been cut away from me, are being replaced by a greater sense of purpose. I’m more aware now. I can discern things a little better. My vision is becoming accustomed to seeing God in the hardest times, and because of this, I am able to trust Him more. And while God has not, and continues to not, remove the hard times, the back breaking, spirit-crushing, hard times that we continue to endure, I’m so certain that God is renewing me with every defeat, and encouraging me to continue onward with every victory. See, It’s not always the big victories that make the difference. For me, I just realized last night that somehow, God continues to wake me in the morning, even when I’m so tired the night before that my wife and I barely saw 5 words to each other. Even when the days are so full of work and children and school, that I can barely muster a thought for myself, God’s strength carries me. And for that I can only say ,”Thank You, Yahweh”. For the ways that He has provided when we have had, and still have, nothing, I can only say, “Thank You, Yahweh”. For the opportunities to speak words of encouragement and love to someone who is hurting, I can only say, “Thank You, Yahweh”.

 

And even as I hate the desert, I realize that it is good for me. It’s in the desert where our focus is narrowed. We begin to see the desert not as a huge expanse. We begin to notice each grain of sand. We pay attention to the fact that vegetation does grow in the desert, the kind that can withstand any element thrown at it. We see life in the desert, so we know that unless we just completely give up, we will not die. Sere, God does not bring us to the desert just to kill things off of us. He takes us there to grow tough stuff in us. Everyday we fight for the Gospel of the Kingdom. We contend earnestly. We fight against principalities and powers of the air. Where do we get this grit? The desert. Where do we get this will to keep going? The desert. It changes us. It refines us. It readies us to fulfill the calling of God on our lives in Christ Jesus.

 

And I’m not even close to perfection, but am being perfected. There’s a difference.

 

I’m so consumed by this thinking about the desert, and how God uses it to bring new life. That God cares enough to send us into a void, so that He can intimately shape and form us is a blessing that we should never take for granted.  He never said that we had to enjoy it. But we need to respect the fact that Yahweh cares enough to not entrust us with His mission until we can handle it. There is a world at stake. There are lives hanging in the balance.

 

So, maybe this is more of a testimony. I don’t know. I just know that I should have blogged this a week ago, but I held on to it. There’s some purpose in that as well. Only God knows.

 

Until next time, be blessed.

 

Getting Out of Your Comfort Zone

Giving God Your Awl (all) Ex 21: 2-7 – v7 Master shall pierce his servants ear with an awl; and the servant stays forever. This is the pattern for our lives as Christians. A transition. God is calling us to love Jesus so much that we never want to leave Him. Jesus should be at the center and the top of our love. If you don’t love Christ will all of our hearts, eve rules thing else will get out of whack. We MUST fall in love with Christ! This requires a heart transformation. We naturally get our priorities 1. When we love our master, he has our ear. The awl went through the ear of the servant who didn’t want to leave. The servant freely gave his ear. For us, this shows that we value His voice above anything else. No matter what anybody else says, our Master has our ear and we follow His voice. Its not what everybody says. Its what His WORD says. If i will open up the word and read it, God will open up His word and speak to us. Deut. 6: 4-5 love God with all your heart, soul, and strength. Make no mistake about it, if we don’t serve God, we WILL serve something. We always have a master, even if it’s not THE MASTER! 2. When you give God your all, you gain your freedom. When we give all to God, He gives all to us that we need. Some of us love hearing about the things of God, but we let it go from our minds to our hands, thus bypassing our hearts. We need heart transplant. Ez. 36: 23- I will give you a new heart. I will take out your stony heart, and replace it with a tender, responsive heart. Allow yourself to fall in love with God everyday. We can learn something new about Him everyday.