Thursday, June 22, 2023

thoughts from my journal

 


Happy Thursday, friends! I thought I'd share something I thought about during my quiet time on Monday morning. I came across this verse from 2 Timothy in one of the devotionals I'm reading right now, and it got me to thinking something I sometimes do in life—I get caught up in the comparison trap. I'll explain. 


I mentioned on this past Sunday at church, how it was a day when I didn't serve anywhere, that I got to sit in the congregation and just enjoy being a member. Please don't read that as me complaining; it's a joy and a privilege to be able to serve within the body of Christ. I love being able to do that! But it's nice on my one Sunday a year to just sit. Anyway, I had asked my best friend to sit with me, so I went early and got us some seats. Her husband came in first, then before I knew it, a little girl had squeezed into the seat I'd saved for Jesus to sit between Missy and me. 😉 Yes, I do always leave a seat for Him in the middle of us, because we both like our space. It turns out she wasn't the only one who joined us—not only were we joined by her young friend, but also one of the girls she taught in high school and her mom. I found myself feeling aggravated that I didn't even get to sit by her and ended up with no time for talking before or after. (I've said it before—isn't life and the way we feel a lot of time such a conundrum?) Also, how ridiculous am I? But, this is just a way that I can be sometimes.


Anyway, I was thinking about all of this on Monday as I read this verse, then in the second devotional I read, the author talked about how our lives should be poured out for Jesus, and how He should be what people see in us in all circumstances of life. I immediately went to the Lord in prayer about this, because for one thing, how silly was I being? And secondly, what the Lord has given to my friend to do with her life, He has given me something equally as wonderful, yet also entirely different to do with mine. I confessed and repented of being stuck in the comparison trap, and I asked Him to show me when the enemy is trying to get a foothold in my life, like he was doing on Sunday during church and on Monday morning. 


My friend has the gift of teaching, and because of that gift, she has many younger women who she is still close to. She is a friend and mentor to so many, and she is great at doing that. I was comparing that to my own life—though I also taught younger girls, I'm close to none of them now. I've tried time and time again to have a mentor type relationship with different ladies who are younger than me, and it's just never worked out. I could have stayed right there in those feelings on Monday, if I'd wanted to, but almost immediately the Lord led me to pray and I saw that our very real enemy was trying to mess with me. One thing I pray often is that the Lord would show me when he (the enemy) is trying to work. I do believe that was the case that morning, and right after I spent some time praying for that and all the other things I pray for on a daily basis, I read this verse above. 


God used this to show me that as believers, we all have different and varying roles in life. Yes, we should always be on the lookout for opportunities to share the love of Jesus, and we should be seeking out times when we can pour into someone younger than years and in the faith than us—but that looks very different for each and every one of us. What Missy can do, I cannot. What I can do, she cannot. The Lord has given us very different circumstances in life, and He's given us different gifts and talents. While teaching is not up high in the list of my spiritual gifts, my life should always be teaching someone who may be watching. Someone else may not have the gift of encouraging (exhortation), but she (or he) should always be looking for opportunities to encourage. While we don't all have the same spiritual gifts, we all have a responsibility to all of them! I include talents in this, because I do believe the Lord has gifted me with a love and talent for writing, and I know for a fact that He uses my words to encourage and uplift others. You know that I am not being boastful here, I'm just relaying what people have said to me, and I don't want applause for this—I only want for the Lord to be glorified and honored.


I find it funny that all of this came on the heels of a fantastic sermon my pastor preached the day before, on being an influential believer. We all influence others—for good and for the opposite—so we should always be careful in what our lives are "saying". I'll give an example of this. As a believer you all know that I claim to have a close relationship with Jesus. That means I should want to spend time with Him everyday by reading His word, and by praying. Well, what if one time when I was out, you were to overhear me taking His name in vain? (This is one of my number one pet peeves!) Or what if you saw me drunk in a restaurant? What would that say to you about who and what I claim to be? It would make me out to be a liar and it would ruin my testimony. 


*Read this: I am not talking about saying a curse word or having a drink at a Mexican restaurant. The Bible doesn't say that those things are sins. What the Bible does call sin is taking the Lord's name in vain (saying, "Oh my G_d" or "Jesus" or "Jesus Christ" in a negative connotation), and being drunk with wine. Drinking is something that many believers very adamantly disagree with, but that's not what I'm saying here. It's a personal choice for everyone, so long as you don't get drunk with your drink of choice. 


I don't ever want to ruin the testimony of Jesus in my life. What that means is that in His infinite grace and mercy, He lets me have a personal relationship with Him. He has changed me completely and my new life in Him looks vastly different in the life I lived when I was apart from Him. I do believe that what Paul wrote in Romans 8:38-39 is true, and that once we are His we are forever His. Nothing will be able to separate us from Him ever again and His word also says that no one will be able to snatch us out of the Father's hand (John 10:29). My life should reveal to the world how different I am as a believer now. I could certainly stray from Him and pull away, but it would be moving away from Him, not the other way around. Because of other people in life, I do try to always consider how I act and what my actions and attitude says to people. I try, but I certainly don't always succeed, and I have bad days just like the rest of the world. But I try, and I try to remain humble and apologize when it's needed, which is way more often than you could guess.


All that being said, I want to be like Lois and Eunice. I want my sincere faith to speak for itself and I want to be known and remembered for that. Sure, I screw things up all the time with my high expectations and irritability, but I feel like the Lord keeps me humble in those things, and I usually have no problem owning up to being cranky and saying sorry. Hopefully I've conveyed this to my sons. I think they would say that they agree with me on this topic. I did once ask them if they thought I was close to the Lord, like I proclaim, and why or why not. (I got this idea from a friend of mine, because she did the same and did not have the answers she expected.) Also, if you want to know the truth of something about yourself, ask someone who lives in the house with you. They know you better than anyone! They all agreed they thought my relationship with Jesus was strong, because of how I spend time with Him, and because of how I treat others. (Trust me, I get this wrong so much of the time with my own family! I can get into such weird moods.) It was nice to hear each of their assessments, though, and it gave me hope that maybe I did do a few things right as their mom. Hopefully they won't need lifelong therapy over the way we parented. 😉


These were just my thoughts based on what I had read in my devotionals, and also in the message my pastor preached on Sunday about living an influential life as a believer. The devotionals that I do are fantastic, and I'll share pictures of them in case you're interested in something new and different for yourself. I'll link them in each picture, so you can click on each one to be redirected to Amazon.




Do you struggle in any of these same ways? I love hearing your story and I always appreciate you sharing here with me. I think it's good for us to do that, as women! Thanks for reading my blog, friends. Love to all. 

7 comments:

  1. Just yesterday, I finished a book by Phil Robertson (from Duck Dynasty). It was so good and it touched on a number of the exact topics that you brought up here. Anyway, one of the themes is being aware of the enemy and the lies he tells us. We know he does this but it's still so easy to caught up in his lies. Sin is pervasive and has gained such a foothold in this country as we've institutionally and personally turned away from God. I'm thankful and encouraged that there are many Godly women I've gotten to "know" online as well as in real life through church, None of us live life perfectly but God knows our heats and the desires of our hearts. You are doing a great service by proclaiming your faith so openly, including struggles when those occur.

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  2. Maria, I would love to read his book. I love their family, silly as they are. I love their message to the world, as well. You are so right! Priscilla Shirer said something once that I've never forgotten- we never want to give the enemy too much credit, but most of us don't give him enough. The Lord has been really sweet to show me when he (the enemy) is trying to weasel his way in. He's good at his job!

    Thanks for your sweet words, my friend.

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  3. You always nail it Jennifer. I wish we lived closer- you have a talent for great reminders and brightening up our days! :)

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  4. Holly, you're so sweet! I wish that too! Thank you for your sweet words.

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  5. Jennifer, thank you for sharing your heart in a very real way.

    I think comparison is one of the biggest ways Satan trips us up. It can be looks, talents, wealth or even ways people serve at church. You want to know an area that I deal with? Praying outloud. There are people who pray with such authority and confidence and I'm not one of them! In fact, I hate praying outloud, which isn't a requirement, so there's that :)

    But, it's definitely an area in my life where I have felt "less than" and that's a tactic of Satan.

    I do believe God will remove these areas of weakness from us, if we pray and ask with a sincere heart. I used to struggle with jealousy (another aspect of comparison) and I began to earnestly ask the Lord to remove that from me and he did...for years. Occasionally I battle with it, but nothing like I used to.

    God is good and he wants us to be whole, but we are all still a work in progress. As long as we're moving in the right direction, that's what matters. :)

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  6. Thanks for your encouraging words, Debbie, and for sharing something you struggle with as well. I know we all have our issues with this, even though we know better by now. The enemy is really good at his job, so I'm thankful when the Lord helps me to realize his tactics.

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