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.


 

 

 

 

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Love Does Not Envy

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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. 


 

Love is patient,
love is kind.
It does not envy,
it does not boast,
it is not proud.
~ 1 Corinthians 13:4

The Comparison Trap: Week One, Day One…

…”does not,” “does not,” “is not”…

I read it again, this time emphasizing the “is” and “is” before following it up with an emphasis on the educationally-effective, negative commands.

In the devotional book, Sandra Stanley writes:

“When I compare myself to someone who seems to have more, I lean into envy. When I compare myself to someone who has less, I open myself to the temptation of boastfulness and pride.”

My reminders and my takeaways for today include:

…I can be patient
…I can be kind
…I do not need to envy others
…nor, do I need to boast to them
…I do not have to allow pride to puff me up
…stop comparing my perceptions of having more or having less
…I need to focus more on genuinely loving others as He desires me to do so
…real love = real growth in me through Him.

In the Challenge for today, Sandra reminds me that it’s easy to allow thoughts to drift in the direction of envy and pride. She also says that “it’s so much more difficult to intentionally speak words of kindness and patience.”

Intentionally speak…

Not only do I want to intentionally speak words in this way, I want to be able to naturally think this way. Wow, I have a lot of work to do on the inside, so that what flows outward is true and genuine.

The Challenge helped me to take the words from the verse, and it made them real and action-oriented in relation to getting me to think about how I will embrace them as I grow my walk with God and with others.

I want to move toward being more of who it is He is calling me to be.


 

 

Finding Hope in Knowing God Wastes Nothing

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I wish you could experience the richness, perfection of timing and incredible way in which the Lord pours out His love very personally to each of us. If you aren’t experiencing this in your life, please… get to know Him, as He desires to know you and walk with you in this way.

This past week marked the start of a “new” study for me. It’s a new study with a group of 23 women, but I did this study over a decade ago, shortly after I entered into a personal walk with Christ. I don’t remember much from it, except that it left me with a few incredible impressions about how God’s Word was completely woven together, and that His love and His message to us is poured out very intentionally in Scripture.

This morning, as I was working on Day 3 of the study, this sentence was on the page about Saul (who was later known as Paul):  “NOTHING in Saul’s life would be a waste unless he refused to let God use it.” …and, yes, that word is in all caps in the workbook.

Those in my closest circles have heard me say, “God wastes nothing.” They’ve also heard me say something along the lines of “…anything He allows, He intends to use for our good and for His glory, IF we will only let Him.”

I SAY this a lot, but I needed to HEAR it this morning.

Once again, the Lord showed up to give me a loving encouragement. He did it by using Beth Moore’s words on a page, right after I read Paul’s words from His Word in Galatians.

What she said in this sentence… this concept… these words… somehow, has infiltrated my life (maybe it started when I did this study years ago…I don’t know…), and it is now a part of who I am. But it doesn’t stop there… Because of His amazing presence in my life, I’ve incorporated those words and woven them into His words and His promises for all of those who love Him (Romans 8:28).

The Lord truly does waste nothing. Every single thing we experience in life is something He has the capability to use for our good and for His glory, if we will only submit to Him and allow Him to do so.

There’s an action step here. I see it. Do you?

 


Monday’s Musings — At a Loss for Words

Just re-posting an older writing from 2013. I’m going through some things, and I truly cherish those who have taken a moment to reach out to me to offer me their gentle kindness… and their hope.

Hope Surrendered

This has happened to me more times than I care to remember, and I know it has also happened to you:

Someone is hurting through their circumstances. You know it, and you have no idea what to say to them. So, you don’t really say much of anything.

When we’re at a loss for words because of the hurt another is experiencing and we choose to say nothing, we fall short of providing hope to them. The simplicity of a few words to tell your friend or acquaintance they are being thought of can lift them up. Saying nothing does nothing.

After going through my own devastating hurts in the last few years, I’ve experienced this from the other side, also. There were many times I’d run into someone who knew bits of what I was going through, but they’d skirt the topic, avoid me completely, or just stand there acting…

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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!