You Are Beloved and Chosen

 

Thank you Holley Gerth for today’s message.

I step into a Junior High lunch room that smells like old fries and sticky plastic trays. I scan the scene—the popular kids at one table, bookworms at another, the theater crowd and the athletes and the rebels. Who will look up and invite me over?

Tell me who I am.

My friends and I have crushes and dates and boyfriends. We fix our hair a hundred different ways. Crowd into dressing rooms to try a thousand different outfits. Loop silver and gold through our ears. The doorbell rings and he is holding roses.

Tell me who I am.

I am typing into a small screen and pressing “publish.” Sending my heart in black and white into the internet. There will be comments and likes, criticisms and compliments. I watch the cursor blink.

Tell me who I am.

Isn’t this the whisper of our hearts as women? The friends, the men, the crowd. They will tell us if we are okay. If we are worthy. If we are enough. Isn’t that their job?

But then I bump into this verse, “But Jesus would not entrust Himself to them, for He knew all people” (John 2:24). All people. The popular kids and the bookworms, the theater crowd and the athletes and the rebels. This verse has been there all along and it’s been a head-scratcher for me. He didn’t entrust Himself to them?

Then suddenly it occurs to me this might the answer: Jesus is the only human to walk this spinning planet and not say Tell me who I am. He didn’t look to others to definite His identity, to determine His worth. “Instead He entrusted himself to Him who judges justly” (1 Peter 2:23). “Judge” has a reputation of being a harsh word but I don’t think that’s the meaning here. I think it’s saying that God alone knows the truest-truth and that’s why His opinion is the only one that really matters.

Of course, we are going to care what others think. We’re going to desire acceptance and want to fit in. This is the way we’re created to connect. The only folks who don’t are sociopaths. So, no guilt about this, no shame or hardening our hearts. Instead we can simply say, “But God gets the final word.”

Tell me who I am.

And God says we are beloved and chosen, cherished and gifted, wanted and a divinely-shaped wonder.

When someone says, “You’ll never amount to anything,” He says, “You can do all things because I strengthen you” (Philippians 4:13).

When someone tells us, “You don’t look the right way,” He whispers, “You are fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).

When someone implies, “You aren’t wanted,” He declares, “I have called you by name, you are mine” (Isaiah 43:1b).

God is the One who gives us our identities. He is the One who sets us free from condemnation and comparison, hustling to be liked and trying to be perfect. He is the One right there with us every time we feel tempted to listen to the lies. May His love always be louder than any other voice.

Tell us who we are.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Comparison Highjacks Contentment

Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message…

We live in a culture of constant comparison. Someone tweets that they just had lunch at a fab restaurant; you had canned tuna and raw carrots. Not even baby carrots but a big ole carrot out of the bag.

Someone posts an Instagram of a gaggle of friends dressed in Lilly Pulitzer pink lunching by the lake, and you’re reading about it dressed in sweats, trudging down the grocery aisle with a snotty-nosed kid pawing at the cereal displays.

You pull up Facebook and read about Barb’s vacation in Paris, and you’re happy for her . . . sorta.

A woman looks at Pinterest boards, and comes away with her greatest fears confirmed: her kids look shabby, her house looks dumpy, and her clothes look frumpy.

Social media accentuates the culture of comparison by sending the false message that your monotonous tedious boring existence is a poor excuse for living compared to others whose lives are awesomely exciting all the time. Secretly you hope your husband never stumbles across Pinterest to realize what a loser of a wife he really has. Mercy!

Social media breeds instant comparison at the click of a button. Comparing who has more “Facebook friends,” “re-tweets,” “followers” and “re-pins” is maddening. The age-old comparisons of appearance, accomplishments, possessions, and position are still around. Technology has simply magnified the access to other people’s lives, even though you’re only seeing what others want you to see.
Then there’s Christmas letters. Photo cards of friends and family with letters detailing every wonderful milestone of the previous year. We read them and think, “My life stinks!” That letter doesn’t tell about Brian getting suspended from school for cussing in the classroom, Megan getting caught lying about studying at a friend’s house, Brie’s on-going battle with depression, Dad’s loss of a major account, or Mom’s twenty-pound weight gain. Just the highlights. Only the good stuff. We read it and say, “good for them.” All the while thinking, “what’s wrong with me?”

Comparison is the devil’s tool that he uses to undermine your confidence and kills contentment like nothing ever will. It magnifies insecurities and fosters a self-absorbed pre-occupation of your inadequacies. As one pastor said, “One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity is that we’re comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else’s highlight reel.”

Comparison sullies the canvas upon which God longs to display His greatest work. Nothing will rob you of your confidence in Christ like comparison. The measuring stick will get you stuck every time.

I love what Jesus said when Peter asked about John’s future. (Yes, he was comparing his future with John’s) “If I want him to remain alive until I return, what is that to you?” (John 21:22) In other words, “It’s none of your business! Stop comparing!”

Have you ever wondered why Jesus picked such a ragtag bunch of blundering blubbering misfits to be his disciples? Even though they stumbled their way through much of the gospels, once they were filled with the Holy Spirit, this uneducated, unrefined, untrained bunch of unruly fishermen changed the world. A few days after Pentecost, the Jewish Supreme Court questioned Peter and John about their persistence in preaching the gospel and their audacity to heal a beggar lame from birth.

The dynamic duo preached a mini-sermon that struck the religious rulers to the core. But here’s my favorite part of the entire scenario: “When they saw the courage of Peter and John and realized that they were unschooled, ordinary men, they were astonished and they took note that these men had been with Jesus” (Acts 4:13).

The Sanhedrin leaders were mystified at how this bunch of scrappy saw-toothed misfits could wax so eloquently. Then they had an ah-ha moment. They realized the men had been with Jesus. That explained everything.

That’s what I want people to say about me! She’s an unschooled ordinary girl. How does she do what she does? Oh, I get it. She’s been with Jesus! Can you think of any better accolade? I sure can’t.

Let go of the tendency to compare and take hold of your uniquely fashioned, pre-ordained, God-given talents and abilities. You are specifically equipped by God to do everything He has called you to do and to go through. Including being the mom your kids need.

Then when the world questions how you do what you do, they’ll say, “Oh I get it…she’s been with Jesus.”

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

Seeing Yourself as God Sees You

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Thank you Sharon Jaynes for today’s message:

For many years after I became a Christian, I operated under a false sense of who I really was. I had no idea the change that occurred in me the moment I accepted Christ. I did not see myself as God saw me. I had a grid system or a sieve of inferiority, insecurity, and inadequacy over my mind. When I processed information about my world and about myself, it had to first filter through that negative grid system.

If someone canceled a lunch date, I interpreted that as “she doesn’t like me.” If I didn’t get invited to an event, I interpreted that as “I’m not worthy.” If my husband didn’t give me enough attention, I interpreted that as “he doesn’t really care about me.” If someone asked me to take on a project, I immediately thought, “I’m not capable.” My interpretation of events and other’s actions were distorted by the devil’s lies.

It was not until my thirties that I began to realize that how God saw me and how I saw myself were very different. Like a hungry child, I began to research and write down verses about who I really was in Christ–my true identity as a child of God. I learned that I was a child of God (John 1:12), chosen and dearly loved (John 15:16), a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17), a joint heir with Jesus (Romans 8:14), a saint (Ephesians 1:1), righteous and holy (Ephesians 4:24), dearly loved (Colossians 3:12), completely forgiven (1 John 1:9), totally free (John 8:36), and uniquely designed (Psalm 139:14).

I also learned that it was Satan who held that negative grid system in place, and it was up to me to demolish his stronghold by the power of the Holy Spirit.

I came to a crossroads in my spiritual journey. I could continue believing the lies or I could begin believing the truth. Jesus said, “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (John 8:32). I decided to believe the truth. It was difficult and didn’t feel comfortable at first. Like the lame man who regained the movement of his legs, or the blind man who received his sight, I had to adjust to my new belief system.

Oh my friend, God has so much planned for you to do and to be, but if you are operating with a false sense of who you really are, you may be paralyzed.

On Jesus’ first day of public ministry, He walked down to the river and was baptized by His cousin John. As Jesus came out of the water, a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with You I am well pleased” (Luke 3:22). God says the same thing to you…and to me.

“You are my child…whom I love…with you I am well pleased.”

This devotion is very personal for me. I’ve told you some of my deepest struggles. But I want you to examine your own thought life. Do you believe lies about yourself or do you believe the truth?

Here’s my challenge to you at the start of this New Year: Start believing that you are who God says you are. That truth will set you free!

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!

You’re Enough as You Are

imagesThank you Holley Gerth for today’s message…

I praise You because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Your works are wonderful, I know that full well.  Psalm 139:14, NIV 

“I am enough because of God.” -Eve, before the fall
“I am not enough.” -Eve, when the serpent tempted her (read Genesis 3)

A cool breeze brushes Eve’s cheek as she walks through the Garden of Eden with her husband and her God. All around her, trees and flowers bloom in brilliant colors. Animals peacefully rest in the shade. She breathes in a deep sigh of contentment. Life is good. She feels no self-consciousness, worry, or fear. Everything is as it should be. She is loved. She is content. She is safe.

The next day she hears an unfamiliar voice as she picks fruit from a group of trees. “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” (Genesis 3:1). She furrows her brow and turns to reply. No one has ever questioned God before! She says to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die’” (Genesis 3:2–3).

Perhaps she expects this explanation to satisfy this snake in the grass. But he continues, “You will not certainly die . . . For God knows that when you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil” (Genesis 3:4–5). We know how the rest of the story goes. Eve eats and paradise is lost. But what lie entrapped her heart? What did she believe?

When I read this story, one phrase jumps out at me: You will be like God. In other words, you’re not enough as you are. And with that lie comes a sinister implication: God is holding out on you. Ironically, it’s the same reason the serpent fell. Not content with his identity or position in heaven, he grasped for all of God’s glory and lost everything. But even then he didn’t learn his lesson. He’s still trying to drag God’s daughters down with him.
When I talk with women as an author, counselor, life coach, and friend, I hear the lie Eve believed repeated so often. And I’ve heard it in my own heart as well. The enemy has not changed his tactics much since the beginning of time. That one lie has a variety of versions . . .

You’re not lovable enough.
You’re not good enough.
You’re not beautiful enough.
You’re not smart enough.
You’re not cool enough.
You’re not successful enough.

But all of those expressions have the same message. Somehow, in some way, we must be lacking. Who God has made us and what He has given us are not really adequate. That can seem true because we were once all sinners in need of a Savior. But once we give Jesus our lives, He restores all that was lost in the fall. We live in a post-paradise world, but our identities in God’s eyes are post-cross perfect. We are enough because Jesus is enough in us.

When the enemy tries to convince our hearts that’s not true, what can we say in response? He started his temptation of Eve with, “Did God really say . . . ” I believe we defeat him by answering with “Here’s what God really does say . . .” That’s the tactic Jesus used when the devil tempted Him.

“Then Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be temptedby the devil. After fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry. The tempter came to Him and said, ‘If You are the Son of God, tell these stones to become bread.’ Jesus answered, ‘It is written: ‘Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God’” (Mark 4:1–4).

The devil tempted Jesus two more times after that, and our Savior always responded with Scripture. We can follow His example when the enemy tries to ensnare us as well. For example, when we hear the lie, “You are not enough,” we can answer with what God says to us through Scriptures like these:

I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14)
His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life. (2 Peter 1:3)
I can do all this through Him who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

The only weapon that’s part of the armor of God is “the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God” (Ephesians 6:17). The enemy took advantage of Eve, and she acted as if she were defenseless. But we don’t have to do the same.

You are a woman.

You are a warrior.

You wield God’s truth, and it cannot be overcome.

Have a ThirtyOne-derful day!