Do I Trust in the Plans for My Life?

CT.3-5
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.


All the days ordained for me
were written in your book
before one of them came to be.
~ Psalm 139:16

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

Sandra starts today’s devotional with her favorite verse from the 139th Psalm (above), as she encourages each of us to think, individually, in the context of:

“God isn’t just aware of me.
He created me thoughtfully
and laid out a plan for my life.”

Can you just breathe that in for a moment? A couple of times… because it’s just too important to miss!

I don’t really understand all the “why” behind the things He’s chosen for my life and “why” He’s allowed me to experience certain joys and certain heartaches.

What I am understanding as my relationship with Him grows, is that it all has a plan and a purpose. It’s His plan and purpose (which I don’t understand much of the time), but within the glimpses of His plan (where He allows me to see some of the beginning and end happenings), I’m pretty awed at how He works His supernatural wonders in my life.

I want to believe that His blessings for me are unlimited, but that the agonizing moments do have their limits. I want to believe that His plan for me is unique and one of a kind. I want to believe that when He doesn’t answer my prayers, that the reason He doesn’t is because He actually has something better in mind for me.

I want to believe.
I want to have faith.

God’s plans for me are different from His plans for you. Envy, jealousy, and an inability to celebrate another’s blessings happen because we find it difficult to trust in the individual plans He has for us. Culture doesn’t help matters, either. Culture demands we keep up with the “Jones” family, and that our fast-food, just-google-it, prime-delivery society give us what we want, now.

Sandra encourages that “today’s verse reminds you that if you’re busy glancing to the left and right, jealous of someone else’s plan, you’ll miss the perfect one He’s written just for you.”

Look up, and allow Him to lead you toward your unique plan.

And while you’re at it, breathe in the rest of this beautiful Psalm, truly knowing He does have a plan for each of us:

O Lord, you have examined my heart
    and know everything about me.
You know when I sit down or stand up.
    You know my thoughts even when I’m far away.
You see me when I travel
    and when I rest at home.
    You know everything I do.
You know what I am going to say
    even before I say it, Lord.
You go before me and follow me.
    You place your hand of blessing on my head.
Such knowledge is too wonderful for me,
    too great for me to understand!
I can never escape from your Spirit!
    I can never get away from your presence!
If I go up to heaven, you are there;
    if I go down to the grave, you are there.
If I ride the wings of the morning,
    if I dwell by the farthest oceans,
10 even there your hand will guide me,
    and your strength will support me.
11 I could ask the darkness to hide me
    and the light around me to become night—
12 but even in darkness I cannot hide from you.
To you the night shines as bright as day.
    Darkness and light are the same to you.
13 You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body
    and knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex!
    Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it.
15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion,
    as I was woven together in the dark of the womb.
16 You saw me before I was born.
    Every day of my life was recorded in your book.
    Every moment was laid out
    before a single day had passed.
17 How precious are your thoughts about me, O God.
    They cannot be numbered!
18 I can’t even count them;
    they outnumber the grains of sand!
    And when I wake up,
    you are still with me!
19 O God, if only you would destroy the wicked!
    Get out of my life, you murderers!
20 They blaspheme you;
    your enemies misuse your name.
21 O Lord, shouldn’t I hate those who hate you?
    Shouldn’t I despise those who oppose you?
22 Yes, I hate them with total hatred,
    for your enemies are my enemies.
23 Search me, O God, and know my heart;
    test me and know my anxious thoughts.
24 Point out anything in me that offends you,
    and lead me along the path of everlasting life.

 

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Coming Out on Top in One-upmanship

CT.3-2
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.


Let us not become conceited,
or provoke one another,
or be jealous of one another.
~ Galatians 5:26

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

We just finished talking about the fruit of the spirit in Galatians 5, and here, just a few verses later, we’re cautioned in reference to one-upmanship.

This is the really ugly part of the comparison trap.

“Well, at least my marriage isn’t like that…”
“I’m SO grateful my child didn’t turn out like hers.”
“My husband might have issues, but at least he didn’t do that.”
“I deserve the promotion over her, because I work harder.”

Pretty ugly, isn’t it?

“Coming out on top in comparison’s game can lead you to conceit, arrogance and pride,” says Sandra. She then reminds us that “God’s blessings are not supposed to come with strings of arrogance or guilt attached.”

We did just get finished reading an impactful devotion about the fruit of the Spirit yesterday, didn’t we? It might be time for a brief review already, because if you are anything like me, you may not have said some of those phrases above, but you’ve probably thought them (are you willing to admit it?).

In his commentary on Galatians, Dr. Tom Constable makes a suggestion:

“Rather than trying to remove all of our former sinful practices ourselves, we should cultivate the spiritual life, and the Holy Spirit will deal with them.”

He goes on to categorize the fruit of the spirit, defining the characteristics based on their word origins in the original Greek language like this:

Mental or God-ward qualities
“Love” (Gr. agape, self-sacrificing affection for others)
“Joy” (Gr. chara, deep-seated gladness regardless of circumstances)
“Peace” (Gr. eirene, inner quietness and repose regardless of circumstances)

Interpersonal or other-ward qualities 
“Patience” (Gr. makrothymia, forbearance even under provocation)
“Kindness” (Gr. chrestotes, benevolence and graciousness)
“Goodness” (Gr. agathosyne, constructive action reaching out to others)

General or self-ward qualities 
“Faithfulness” (Gr. pistis, reliability, trustworthiness)
“Gentleness” (Gr. praytes, acquiescence to authority and consideration of others)
“Self-control” (Gr. enkrateia, ability to master oneself)

When we read through these definitions of what a Spirit-filled life can look like, we don’t associate “ugly” with these words. 

Sandra goes on to remind us that the fruit of the spirit sounds like the exact opposite of the conceit and jealousy we’re warned about in today’s Scripture verse—just a few verses afterward. She says, “To steward God’s blessings well, we just need to display outwardly the qualities of the Spirit that already live inside us.”  

If you are a Christian, then ALL of these qualities do live within you.

Conceit, arrogance and pride also live within us, but when we’re willing to yield to the Spirit, He will steward His blessings very faithfully.


 

It’s Worth the Effort to Pull the Weeds

CT.2-6
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.


We demolish arguments and every pretension
that sets itself up against the knowledge of God,
and we take captive every thought
to make it obedient to Christ.
~ 2 Corinthians 10:5

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

Sandra recaps the time when she first started a garden. It produced a great harvest, but she warns that “weeding was a constant part of the process.”

She reminds us that keeping our minds renewed is similar.

It is.

I’ve found great contentment in gardening over the years. When I did a search of my site for weeds, a few posts came up. One of my favorites, and the one I was looking for, was about learning to find patience through freshly picked greens. It reminded me of the Gardener. …the One who cares for us, lights our way, illuminates the path, is our living water, and is our source of growth.

We can plant great seeds into our heads and our hearts. We can produce a joy-filled outlook and make an impact on those around us. But if we’re serious about our walk with God, we will need to look closely for the weeds which have the potential to overtake and choke out His plans for our lives. The Gardener didn’t intend for these to be in the garden.

Sandra wrote in the book and excerpted in the photo above:

“When comparison, jealousy, and insecurity lodge thoughts in our minds, we can capture those thoughts.”

We can.

Sometimes we struggle, but we can.

These thoughts tie right into the Scripture for today because they are against the knowledge of God. We don’t have an oblivious God. We have the One who is all-knowing. These thoughts—comparison, jealousy, and insecurity—go against the very thing God has revealed as His truth, His will and His superior plan. They go against His intentions.

With Him, we can have confidence that we are capable of taking captive those thoughts and turning them around to make them obedient to Christ. Sandra’s encouragement closes out the day saying,

We can identify them as lies and replace them with scriptural truth. Just like gardening, the harvest of a healthy mind and heart will be worth all the effort.”

Amen.
Pull those weeds.
It WILL be worth all the effort.