Seeing Broken Bits Multiplied into Blessings

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is the continuation of an earlier post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating.


Andrew spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small
barley loaves and two small fish,
but how far will they go among so many?”
Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.”
There was plenty of grass in that place, and they
sat down (about five thousand men were there).
Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks,
and distributed to those who were seated
as much as they wanted.
He did the same with the fish.
When they had all had enough to eat,
he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are
left over. Let nothing be wasted.”
So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets
with the pieces of the five barley loaves
left over by those who had eaten.
~ John 6:8-13

The Comparison Trap:  Week Three, Day Three… Some of my reminders and my takeaways from the daily devotional include:

For me, this is one of the most powerful devotions in the Comparison Trap study, so far.

I’ve been going through some things in my life… things that are uncomfortable, and circumstances which have pushed me to limits I didn’t know I had. I find hope in the Scripture above, even though the expectant hope and personal application I’ve found in it is somewhat outside the context of the verses.

Here are the three things which stand out the most to me:

  1. “Here is a boy…”  He’s a boy. Not a pastor, teacher, business man, or anyone who might stand out to others. He’s a boy.
  2. “Let nothing be wasted…,” said Jesus. I’ve always known He told the disciples to gather what remained, but I’ve never consciously read those words to the point that they’d stand out, even though my study Bible is an older New International Version (the same as the Scripture above).
  3. God provides, and He turns what we have to offer Him into blessings.

So here are my main takeaways from the three aspects which stand out to me:

  1. I am the boy. You are the boy. Whatever we have to offer Him, he can use. Am I willing to recognize that even a small offering can be a blessing? That He can use it for the good of others? That my faith can grow when I am willing to share the gifts He’s given me?
  2. God wastes nothing.  I’ve said this so many times to myself, and I’ve written about it, too. Yesterday, in a weepy breakdown, I just kept repeating this over and over to myself, and here it is in the Scripture today. He’s going to create a way for the broken bits and pieces of my life to be multiplied, shared, and gathered, because He is the One who commands that nothing be wasted.
  3. He’s ready to multiply my faith and turn it into blessings for me and for others. We don’t know the attitude of the boy who offered up his lunch, but we do know what was done with it. I need to keep reminding myself that this life isn’t just about me and my weepy circumstances; it’s about how He can and will use those circumstances for His good if I’m willing to lay them at His feet.

Sandra Stanley asks, “What did it do to the boy’s faith to watch Jesus turn his small offering into a blessing for so many others? What could it do to your faith to watch God do the same with what you can offer?”

She goes on to encourage us to fight the feelings that our little bits could never go far enough, and to instead, trust God to make our bits astoundingly more—immeasurably more, even.

In my weepy moments and in my joyous ones, it’s important for me to remember that He commands nothing be wasted, and that what I have IS less important than what I do with what I have. The impact is made when I’m willing to offer up what I have for Him to use.


 

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Whatever Should We Think About?

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Photo and artwork belong to ComparisonTrap.org

This is a continuation of a previous post about a Bible study in which I’m facilitating and participating. 


Whatever is true,
whatever is noble,
whatever is right,
whatever is pure,
whatever is lovely,
whatever is admirable—
if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—
think about such things.
~ Philippians 4:8

The Comparison Trap:  Week One, Day Two… My reminders and my takeaways for today include:

Oh, yes! I agree with you, Sandra Stanley! Sandra starts off Day Two by saying she’d like to anchor this verse deeply in her heart. Wouldn’t that change so many things if this were an anchor in our hearts?

Maybe.
Maybe, yes.
Maybe, no.
We’re human, you know.
The object on the opposite end of an anchor can break loose and be lost on the water, or it can be held firm and in place by an unmovable and unshakeable strength.

I don’t want to be lost on the water, and I do want to be anchored in the Word.

Sandra goes on to say that “what we allow to linger in our minds will influence our words and actions. This is true for the good stuff and for the bad stuff.”  

Yes, I agree with her. I need to be conscientious of where I’m lingering.

My choices,
words,
actions,
deeds and
thoughts…

They influence me and will determine what I choose to do with the free will I’ve been given. I’ve written about this before.

When I compare my circumstances and my life to others, I do find discontentment. I find it in myself, and I find it in the others around me. And, yes, the discontentment that is tossed on the waters of life will leak out to others, and it will also leak into the ship of Self. I’m responsible for that ship.

I can choose what I think about, and I can choose to think about the excellent and praiseworthy things in my life. They are there. All the time. No matter how rough the waters get, things that are true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable exist all around me and within me. And those same things exist all around you and within you, too.

So whatever should we think about? We should think on these things.


 

 

 

 

Finding Hope in Honor

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He’s given us free will. Volition. Life’s choices are up to us.

Why do we struggle with them so much? Why do the choices seem so hard?

The world often comes at us with a set of choices different from where He might lead us in His Word. In reading His Word, we can be assured that it has always been this way. Despite our desire to imagine that life was easier in the “good old days,” those days — even back to Biblical civilizations — were full of struggles with life’s choices.

A few decades ago, the “What Would Jesus Do?” movement began. Bracelets and messages imprinted with “WWJD?” were everywhere and gave some of us pause before proceeding in our free will.

So how do we, as Believers, walk through our days today making the “right” choices? Everyone has a method. I’m not an expert on this subject, as I still struggle with it myself (what Believer doesn’t?), but I have my own WWJD method.

The last few years of my life have been rough ones. I’ve faced adversity, circumstances and choices I never could have imagined I’d have to face. My challenges are probably different from yours, but they are no more or less difficult in my life’s context as your challenges are in your life’s context. My journey of surrendering my hopes to the Lord has brought some of you into my life — some of you struggling with divorce, abuse, infertility, cancer, the death of a child or spouse, infidelity, depression, traumatic brain injury, miscarriage, rape, loss of purpose, bankruptcy, military injury and so much more.

Your struggle is valid. My struggle is valid. It is in our struggles that we can be defined, or we can be refined.

Psalm 66:10 says, “For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver.”

I am one who believes that the possibility of refinement exists in the trials and tests we are allowed to experience. The positive or negative outcome from these tests is often determined by our perspective.

I don’t ask “WWJD?,” but I do challenge myself and hold myself to a standard that I try to meet in my free-will choices.

As I walk through my days, my struggles, my hopes, my sadness and my joys, I strive to be God-honoring in my choices, words, actions, and deeds. These four words…

      • choices
      • words
      • actions
      • deeds

…have been an instrumental part of the hope which has gotten me through the thousands of decisions I’ve had to wade through over my struggles of the last few years.

A few months ago, a mentor of mine challenged me to take it one more step. He suggested that I add “thoughts.”

Profound.

Very profound.

I added it.

So today, my list, my method, my goal, my lifestyle attempt is:

To prayerfully be God-honoring in my choices, words, actions, deeds and thoughts.

Oh, what a blessing has been produced by being refined on His terms and in His timing!