The Comparison Trap, Hides Your Blessing

Comparing There is a line in the Desiderata (Latin: ‘Desired Things’), a prose poem by Max Ehrmann, that has shaped my view on  comparing myself with others, since my childhood. It simply says “ If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain or bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself.” One of my sisters calls it my motto and I wish I could say that I’ve always adhered to this wise counsel, but there were those times I strayed and was brought face to face with the harsh reality of the comparison trap.

It is good to learn from others and therefore observing other people is a necessity at times. However, when we start examining others to see if they measure up to ourselves in what they have or have achieved, we are setting ourselves up for loss. Most types of comparison result in either of the responses outlined in the Desiderata. Either you become vain, because you estimate that since the person you compare yourself with is of less worth than you, that you must be all that and then some, or you become bitter. The bitterness can creep in when you fail to see the blessings that you do have because you are busy desiring what others have and you can’t seem to attain. That bitterness is an open door to jealousy and is rooted in covetousness.

Both responses can leave you missing out on the many blessings that comes our way throughout life. Now when I consider the issue of being vain, I don’t think of it in terms of wanting to look your best and be the best you can be. I’m talking about becoming obsessed with yourself and looking down on or despising anyone who you assume don’t measure up to you. Sadly, this even happens with some who believe their “humble” look or words makes them closer to God than others who may not look as wretched as themselves. I’m about to get sidetracked…Remember that scripture that records the prayer of the Pharisee and the Publican in Luke 18:10-14? Be warned that there are many Pharisee-like Church folks, that have mastered the art of appearing to be more like the Publican in the story. False humility is also vanity.

However, no matter what form vanity takes, when we become self consumed, we are likely to overlook people and circumstances that are blessings. The same goes for bitterness that comes from feeling you don’t measure up to someone. Many times people in this situation waste time trying to either out do, or destroy the person they are comparing themselves with. They fail to see their own unique value that God has given to them, so that they can accomplish their purpose on earth. they fail to appreciate the many blessings that they already have and may even grow to despise some of those blessings. There enters an unthankful spirit. If you know someone like that feel free to point them to my post on ‘Thanksgiving Brings Increase.’

For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise. 2 Corinthians 10:12

When the thought about comparison came into my mind, I started thinking about the story of Saul and David. I was wondering if there was any indication in the early story of Saul, that proved he had shown a tendency to compare himself to others or of being jealous of others. At first I could find none. Saul appeared to be a humble man, he wouldn’t even put to death the men of Israel who were originally against him. As his life progressed however, he gives us a full demonstration of 1 Corinthians 10:12 (NIV) So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!’ A word of caution to help us avoid being said of us, what David said in his lament after Saul’s death in 2 Samuel 1:19 ‘how are the mighty fallen!’

Where did Saul’s fall begin? If we leaf through his story in 2 Samuel, we will note that it began with fear, people pleasing, other acts that could all be lumped under pride and blatant disobedience to God. In summary, he became more concerned about His image before other people, than pleasing God. So when the people started praising David’s accomplishments, he compared himself to David and ignored some important facts. He forgot about his higher position and forgot to be thankful that David was working under him and that God had not yet totally destroyed him, in spite of rejecting him as king. Instead of humbling himself and enjoy what he had left, while someone else fought the battles, he wasted many miserable years trying to destroy David. Saul started well, but his end was a tragedy.

It reminds us of the importance of being careful to examine ourselves according to God’s word. Check up on yourself every now and then. Honestly seek to discern if you have allowed any person, position or thing, to become so important in your life, that you are willing to disobey God to attain or keep them. If we are honest, that suggestion is easier said than done. It’s so easy to lie to ourselves about ourselves, in an effort to commend ourselves, but we have help. Ask God to reveal the truth about you, to you and listen for His answer. It may come in many ways. Sometimes the Holy Spirit will speak in your mind, sometimes it may come through listening to a sermon. It may come through something you read or pop in during a conversation with another person, even a child (guess how I Know). It may be a reassuring message that you are doing well. However, if you feel the blessing of conviction, confront it and let God help you deal with whatever might have gone amiss in your life.

Take heed today if you have fallen into the  comparison trap. Grab hold of the mirror of God’s word and let it pull you out.

Be blessed!

Heavenly Father, how great and might You are, full of compassion and plenteous in mercy. Today I ask You to search us and reveal to us any tendency to unfruitful or destructive comparisons. Help us to appreciate and be thankful for what You have given us and to work diligently for good desires You have placed in us and rejoice with others when they are blessed. Thank You for everything my Lord and God. In Jesus name. Amen.

Thanksgiving Brings Increase

Thankful Today as America celebrates Thanksgiving I find myself having my own overflow of being grateful and thankful to God for all He has done for me. I believe God is delighted when His people takes time to be thankful for the things in their life. The scripture is filled with many references to being thankful to God. I just have to drop a few in here…

In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ; Ephesians 5:20

Being enriched in every thing to all bountifulness, which causeth through us thanksgiving to God. 2 Corinthians 9:11

For the administration of this service not only supplieth the want of the saints, but is abundant also by many thanksgivings unto God; 2 Corinthians 9:12

Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift. 2 Corinthians 9:15

Give thanks unto the LORD, call upon his name, make known his deeds among the people. 1 Chronicles 16:8

O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good; for his mercy endureth for ever. 1 Chronicles 16:34

Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving. Colossians 4:2

Thankfulness should be the norm for followers of Christ, but if most of us stop and listen to ourselves on a daily basis, we may realize that we do the opposite through the way we speak. What we may not realise is just how much it affects our life.

47 Because you did not serve the Lord your God joyfully and gladly in the time of prosperity, 48 therefore in hunger and thirst, in nakedness and dire poverty, you will serve the enemies the Lord sends against you. He will put an iron yoke on your neck until he has destroyed you. Deuteronomy 28:47-48 (NIV)

The verse above was a message to the Israelites, in the same chapter where all the blessings that comes through obedience were written. When we find ourselves focusing discontentedly on what we don’t have or what isn’t going right, we take our focus off God who can make things right. We also open the door for more negativity to creep in. I like how Jesus puts it…

Whoever has will be given more, and they will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what they have will be taken from them. Matthew 13:12 (NIV)

Have you been focusing on what you don’t have more than being thankful to God about what you do have? In life things do go wrong and we will have needs, but never forget that our attitude and the words of our mouth play a big role in how things work out. When our speech is more peppered with murmuring and complaining, that we are warned not to do, then we need to check ourselves for what idols have crept in our heart and stifle our thanksgiving to God.

We are even privileged to be able to pray to God for anything and in every situation. However, as the scripture instructs we need to come before him with thanksgiving. That is not just inserting the phrase “Lord we ask with thanksgiving, amen,” at the end of our prayers, but it is vocally thanking God for things He has given or already done in your life.

Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. Philippians 4:6

Enter into his gates with thanksgiving, and into his courts with praise: be thankful unto him, and bless his name. Psalms 100:4

So lets take some time out today and everyday to give God thanks for big things, small things, in between things, in all things. He is our help, our shield, our provider, our Father.

All this is for your benefit, so that the grace that is reaching more and more people may cause thanksgiving to overflow to the glory of God. 2 Corinthians 4:15

Heavenly Father, thank You for everything You have given to us. For everything You have been to us. For everything You brought us through. For everything we have been given through faith in Jesus Christ. Thank You for Jesus and His salvation. In Jesus name, amen.

The Blessing of Perseverance

blesspers As you know, we count as blessed those who have persevered. You have heard of Job’s perseverance and have seen what the Lord finally brought about. The Lord is full of compassion and mercy. James 5:11

Perseverance, a steady persistence in a course of action, a purpose, a state, etc., especially in spite of difficulties, obstacles, or discouragement. Keeping at it and keep moving forward to no matter what. The book of Job in the Bible, has always been a tough one for me. But it gives us such insight into things in another realm. As much as we know what was going on behind the scenes from the beginning, Job had no idea why he was going through one devastating loss after another. Yet when the news came of all of his wealth stolen and all his children dead, the first thing he did was worship God. Then from him came the statement that is so well known, “The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD.” (Job 1:22)

We know that 4 of the biggest fears shared by many are poverty, loss of close relationships, loss of health and death. Job experienced the first 3 in extreme measure. His humanity cried out in Job 3:25 “For the thing I greatly feared is come upon me, and that which I was afraid of is come to me”. I have heard many Ministers of great renown claim that it was Job’s fear that gave Satan access to his stuff, but as much as I believe that unchecked fear can wreak havoc in our lives, I hold a different opinion in the case of Job. You see when God was yet again boasting about His servant, at the end of Job 2:3, His words indicated that Job’s destruction was without any reason.

Then the Lord said to Satan, “Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil. And he still maintains his integrity, though you incited me against him to ruin him without any reason.” Job 2:3 (NIV)

Seems to me the whole thing had little to do with anything Job had done. It was simply Satan’s hatred of him being considered by God as blameless, upright, God fearing and a man of integrity. For us who have received Jesus Christ as our Saviour, God’s words should bring us comfort since we can tell that God was looking beyond Job’s short comings. Job’s own words throughout that book proves he wasn’t perfect, but obviously God knew this man’s heart and saw beyond his imperfection. In Christ we are made God’s righteousness (2 Corinthians 5:21). You could rest assured that even as we grow in the things of God, we will make mistakes along the way, but we should always be thankful that through Christ we can receive the forgiveness and covering we need.

However, we should never forget that we have a true enemy who vehemently hates God’s creation and especially those who are His children. Jesus tells us in John 10:10 that the thief comes only to steal, Kill and destroy. That thief is Satan and just as he did with Job, he does in the lives of others today, given the chance.

8 Be alert and of sober mind. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 9 Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that the family of believers throughout the world is undergoing the same kind of sufferings. 1 Peter 5:8-9 (NIV)

Yes, the devil is busy looking for prey and we as Christians, the family of believers, are prime targets. The verses above sounds a warning to us and then says a word that most of us don’t want to hear,  suffering. I can’t honestly say I know of anyone who likes the thought of suffering. We hope we can just revel in the blessings and never feel any pain. I admit, I certainly would like that kind of pain free, have all I want to be happy life, but I accept that in this world we will go through seasons of pain. Sometimes our suffering may come as a result of the consequences of our own actions or the natural progression of life. However, sometimes the reason is simply because we are children of God. My word for you today is, ‘remember the end of Job’.

Job persevered, he refused to curse God, he kept on believing in God and our God came through with compassion and mercy and blessed Job at the end of the story, with twice as much of what he had in the beginning. He persevered in spite of the painful circumstances and God finally brought an end to his suffering and comforted him with a double blessing. God has not changed, he may not move according to our timing, we may never be given the reasons behind our troubles, but God still watches over us and will bring it to an end. He also has a blessing in store for us, which we will receive in time, either on earth or in heaven. Continue to trust in Him, continue to call on Him for help, and continue to do good. The season will change, just hold on, your blessing is on the way.

So then, those who suffer according to God’s will should commit themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good. 1 Peter 4:19

Be Blessed!

Heavenly Father, I pray today for all of your children who have been going through trials, tests and any form of suffering or painful circumstances. Have mercy on them Lord and pour out Your compassion in their lives. Give them the assurance that You are with them and will help them and bless them in the end, whether here on earth or in heaven. Thank You for your goodness towards us. In Jesus name. Amen.

Anointed but Unknown

There are many Christians who are anointed and filled with the Holy Spirit, and it is evident in the everyday things of life that there is something special, excellent or exceptional about them. Anointing oilUnfortunately, too many are often overlooked or held back by the human powers that are in the position to point them to their destiny.

You love righteousness and hate wickedness; Therefore God, Your God, has anointed You with the oil of gladness more than Your companions. Psalm 45:7 (NKJV)

Today I have a burning desire to reach someone who is anointed, know that they have a divine destiny in Christ but is beginning to feel discouraged, even imprisoned by the circumstances or people in their life. Now if you have been reading my other posts, you may assume I’m going to refer to my favourite Bible character, Joseph. Honestly I’m tempted, but the inspiration for this post came when I was flipping through a very old note-book of mine. I’m about to pull some of the words off of one of the yellowed, pages, add some more to them and stick them up here for you.

Then Samuel took the horn of oil, and anointed him in the midst of his brethren: and the Spirit of the LORD came upon David from that day forward. So Samuel rose up, and went to Ramah. 1 Samuel 16:13

David, anointed by the prophet Samuel to be the king of Israel, but there is one problem, King Saul is still on the throne. Funny enough, the day he was to be anointed, his father didn’t think he was qualified to be anointed and therefore didn’t call him to the line up when the prophet arrived. God doesn’t make mistakes, nor judge according to man’s standards and the one He chose, got the anointing in spite of what others may have thought of him.

After David was anointed by God, there was no significant change in his life. God allowed Him to be anointed, the prophet Samuel anointed him, his family saw him being anointed. So what did David do? He went back joyfully to tend to his sheep. Business as usual. There he not only took care of the sheep well, but he played such good music that his first appearance before the throne was because of his music. You could check it for yourself in 1 Samuel 16:14-23. David’s diligence (Proverbs 22:29) got him noticed.

He didn’t sit around grumbling that he was too anointed to tend to stinky sheep. We didn’t hear him give a grand speech about his anointing experience, when he was first taken before the king. We do not hear of him going about bragging and boasting that he was too anointed to obey his father, when he was asked to carry food for his brothers in battle. He didn’t remind his oldest brother, Eliab, that he was the anointed one, when he was insulted by him in 1 Samuel 17:28.  He never bothered to mention to Goliath that he was anointed of God, before knocking his senses out of  him with a stone. Instead, whether in menial or great tasks, David did all he did in humble excellence and allowed God to be glorified through his life.

His ascent to the throne took time and much painful, dangerous and life threatening situations. How many persons or circumstances threatened to abort his mission? However, if we study the life of David we realise that there was only one person on earth that could have destroyed David’s destiny and that was David himself, based on the choices he made. He chose to trust and wait on God’s timing and when the time was right, God’s anointed ascended to the throne and fulfilled his God given destiny.

2 Corinthians 1:

20 For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us.21 Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; 22 Who hath also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.

We live in a time where it seems that the verses such as that above, which reminds God’s children that they are anointed and chosen by God in Christ Jesus for good works, are taken and reserved for few who have been blessed with lavish ordination ceremonies and position and accolades. Frankly I see nothing wrong with people being given positions they have worked for and deserve. However, I am very concerned that the ordinary persons who have accepted Christ as their Lord and Saviour and are humbly living and giving their best to bring Him glory, are often pushed down, discredited, overlooked and often times slandered and maligned by those in the Church, who should be recognising that they too are God’s anointed. They are being frustrated at every turn. Their works are being destroyed by jealous, overbearing, bitter, hypocrites just like what the apostles went through in the book of Acts. Today they may not necessarily use imprisonment and beatings in the Church setting, but all manner of deception and strange deeds they piously refer to as ‘spiritual warfare.’ They refuse to even acknowledge that God never asked His children to fight against one another. As a matter of fact James 4:1-2  points out clearly that their warring and fighting is because of their lust. They crave attention for themselves and their cohorts, not for the true body of Christ.

Child of God, anointed one, these type of people have existed since the days of Cain and Abel and they will always exist till Christ return. Often time they are people you trust and love and who you thought loved you. Note that in 1 Samuel 16:21 we are told that Saul loved David greatly, yet when he noticed David’s anointing, jealousy crept in, he tried to kill David. You have a responsibility to choose to trust God to preserve your destiny regardless of set backs, hold backs or whatever tactics our true enemy might use to destroy you.

The people who come against you are strategically assigned by the devil and his evil forces to stop the plans of God for your life (Ephesians 6:12). They may have chosen to open the door to him operating through them, by not guarding their hearts, not obeying God’s word and dealing with the cravings of the flesh. Pray for their deliverance from deception and never forget that if God is for you (Romans 8:31-32), who can really stop you if you keep your focus on Him, choose to trust Him and wait on His timing?

The words of Jesus in Matthew 24, when He spoke about the signs of the end of time, are penetrating my mind at this time. As I read them in the Message  Bible, I felt like weeping, for I have seen these things happening.

Matthew 24:10-14 (MSG)

9-10 “They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry my name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other.11-12 “In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in—nothing left of their love but a mound of ashes.13-14 “Staying with it—that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved. All during this time, the good news—the Message of the kingdom—will be preached all over the world, a witness staked out in every country. And then the end will come.

I simply echo, “Stay with it to the end”. Hold fast to your faith in God, refuse to quench that Spirit in you. Whether your task is menial or great, keep doing it with humble excellence as unto God. Let your anointing be used to glorify God. You will be rewarded in His time.

Be blessed!

Heavenly Father, today I pray for Your anointed servants who are being persecuted, held back, slandered, hurt by other brothers and sisters in the faith, who are jealous or simply craving attention. Lord help them to endure and not be disheartened. Where they have become weary and discouraged, where the doubts are beginning to set in, send Your word and strengthen them today, remind them how much You love them. Lord I pray for those who have opened themselves to be used by the enemy, Father, in Your mercy deliver them from deception. Thank You for Your grace and mercy today Lord, in Jesus name. Amen.

My Miracle, God Still Moves

100_2480 Yesterday my precious daughter turned nine. Every time her birthday rolls around I remember the day I was told, I must have already lost the baby. It was exactly one week after I was given the good news that I was pregnant, but even that very day the doctor had raised some concerns. Well, I can testify that God still answers prayers and one day I think I will write the full account the events that preceded my miracle.

Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord: and the fruit of the womb is his reward. Psalms 127:3

I also remember the day of her delivery. Started oh so beautifully. Ended with me in emergency surgery. Despite all the drama and confusion of that day, my little girl made it into this world and is a delight to us. She is a reminder that God is still performing miracles, yet she also reminds me that though things may not go the way we want them to, it is still best to put your trust in God.

I woke up from the surgery and did pretty well until day 3. Call it baby blues or may be the adrenalin finally settled and reality crept in, but that day I suddenly realised what I went through and fear and anger started to rise. Why didn’t God answer my prayer for a smooth delivery? How could things go so terribly wrong? On and on I went with the questions until I was silently crying in my little corner, all depressed. I was screened so I was free to enjoy my little pity party. I knew the television was on in the room, but in my own little world I wasn’t hearing what was playing, until… Out of the blue these words invaded my space “I know that faith is easy when everything is going well, but can you still believe me, when your life’s a living hell?” Donnie McClurking was singing and it was the first time I had heard the song, but the words seemed to be directed at me. I paid attention as the verse rolled into the chorus, “What if it hurts? What if you cry? What if it doesn’t work the first time you try?”  By the end of the song, my tears were tears of repentance. My heart echoed the choir line “I trust You Lord. Yes, I will trust You Lord.” I had so much to be thankful for and yet instead of focusing on my blessings, I was weeping over problems God had already solved.

Who can understand the sudden shifts of life? Is there anyone who has managed to totally live pain-free in this world? No, not one of us. Some who are strong tend to say we should not question God when life throws us a curve ball and as much as I would like to encourage others to put their trust in God no matter what, I’m so glad that God was not disturbed at my questions. He knows our humanity. He is more loving than any earthly father who, entertain the questions that their little ones ask them over and over and over again, when they are confused. So today, my hope is that within this rambling post you will be encouraged to not be afraid to ask God for a miracle and expect it, yet trust Him when things go wrong and trust Him to understand and send you help, encouragement and strength when your faith is shaken and your weakness is evident. It is a blessing to trust in the Lord. It is a blessing to know that He is willing to comfort you, forgive you and help you.

Have a blessed day!

Heavenly Father, thank you for little children. I pray today that you help us as parents to live such lives that they would want to know you because of our example. Forgive us where we’ve failed and send us the correction, wisdom and strength we need to live as children of God in this world. In the Jesus name, Amen.