Tag Archives: Comparison

1 Samuel 26-27; 1 Chronicles 8; Acts 18

Battlefields take surprising shapes.

18 Why are you chasing me? What have I done? What is my crime? 19 But now let my lord the king listen to his servant. If the Lord has stirred you up against me, then let him accept my offering. But if this is simply a human scheme, then may those involved be cursed by the Lord. For they have driven me from my home, so I can no longer live among the Lord’s people, and they have said, ‘Go, worship pagan gods.’ 20 Must I die on foreign soil, far from the presence of the Lord? Why has the king of Israel come out to search for a single flea? Why does he hunt me down like a partridge on the mountains?”

21 Then Saul confessed, “I have sinned. Come back home, my son, and I will no longer try to harm you, for you valued my life today. I have been a fool and very, very wrong.”

22 “Here is your spear, O king,” David replied. “Let one of your young men come over and get it. 23 The Lord gives his own reward for doing good and for being loyal, and I refused to kill you even when the Lord placed you in my power, for you are the Lord’s anointed one. 24 Now may the Lord value my life, even as I have valued yours today. May he rescue me from all my troubles.”

25 And Saul said to David, “Blessings on you, my son David. You will do many heroic deeds, and you will surely succeed.” Then David went away, and Saul returned home. 1 Samuel 26:18-25, NLT.

David was far from a flea–though in light of a king and 3,000 elite troops he probably felt pretty small and insignificant. But to Saul, David was a large threat: popular, successful in all he did, dwarfing Saul in victory and song. With thousands at his command, compared to David’s six hundred, who felt like the flea?

David was a warrior fighting for territory. Saul was a king fighting for his image. How did a mission get so far off track? God had given Saul authority, and Saul felt threatened by what God had given David–that David would take what Saul had as well. Suddenly, a battlefield isn’t the size of a kingdom; it’s the size of a heart.

Lord, I want to keep my eyes on you, like David did. Help me to lift up my brothers and sisters in Christ and rejoice for the gifts you’ve given them. Help me to also recognize the strengths you’ve given me, and not hide them, but use them for your glory and delight.

Courtney (66books365)

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Exodus 39-40; Matthew 24:1-22

A few years ago, there was something going around about what would you say to your seventeen-year-old-self if you could go back. I had a lot of things I’d want to tell myself. But one thing is this: Be you. Be everything God made you to be; delight in him and serve him wholeheartedly. I’d say it in all seriousness, despite sounding cliche.

Today I’m standing on the sidelines and watching Bezalel weave worship into garments. His care and attention are poetic, like a song, and I feel joy. He is beautiful, even if I don’t know what he looks like.

A repeating refrain reminds at least eight times in Exodus 39: just as the Lord commanded. (Be you. Be everything God made you to be; delight in him and serve him wholeheartedly.)

A tabernacle is built, and this is a holy dwelling place, where fire lights the night for all to see.

***

I listened to a sermon by Andy Stanley on comparison this past week–and it sticks with me, even as I read today’s passages. I read of excellence in preparing a place for the Lord in Exodus–doing a God-wired job. And in Matthew’s pages, I read of persecution and hatred for being Jesus followers. That we would be hated for following Jesus, and perhaps for following his command on our lives–being whoever it is he has wired us to be. This is where jealousy and comparison come in and kill relationships. Is this such a stretch: the placement of excellence in the Old Testament, jealousy/comparison, and the reality of hatred in the New Testament? Maybe it is, but it’s what I’m trying to work out.

“Then you will be arrested, persecuted, and killed. You will be hated all over the world because you are my followers. 10 And many will turn away from me and betray and hate each other. 11 And many false prophets will appear and will deceive many people. 12 Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold. 13 But the one who endures to the end will be saved. 14 And the Good News about the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world, so that all nations will hear it; and then the end will come. Matthew 24:9-14 NLT.

Jesus is talking about end times and physical death. Hatred is a precursor to death. I have witnessed among believers and unbelievers, the relational ruin of comparison and jealousy. One either hates another, or hates himself.

I can’t go back in time to that girl of seventeen, but I remind myself still and today, “Be you. Be everything God made you to be; delight in him and serve him wholeheartedly.” Hatred and dislike are stumbling blocks thrown on a path–why would we do this to each other? This is not love.

Endure. The Spirit of God is a light that lives inside the heart of believers. Shine in the darkest places, so that the Good News of the Kingdom will be preached throughout the whole world. Whatever the gift, may it be used to glorify God.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

1 Samuel 3; Romans 3; Jeremiah 41; Luke 10

While Jesus and his followers were traveling, Jesus went into a town. A woman named Martha let Jesus stay at her house. Martha had a sister named Mary, who was sitting at Jesus’ feet and listening to him teach. But Martha was busy with all the work to be done. She went in and said, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me alone to do all the work? Tell her to help me.”

But the Lord answered her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and upset about many things. Only one thing is important. Mary has chosen the better thing, and it will never be taken away from her.” Luke 10:38-42 (NCV)

I’ve always been like Martha, responsible, given to hospitality, with an understanding that life happens and certain duties need to be done. But, I’ve always wanted to be more like Mary, one who sits at Jesus’ feet, focused only on Him, blinded to the ‘things’ of life.

When I went to ministry school, it was one of the hardest struggles I had to work through, especially since, as a student, I was part of the team that cleaned up after church and after conferences. More often than not, my responsible side took over and while many of the other students were still spending time with God, I was cleaning up urine off of the toilets in the bathrooms, seething with jealousy.

When I came to India as a long-term missionary, it was still a problem I struggled with. My (now) husband worshipped the Lord all the time, serving the people by bringing the Word to them, introducing them to Jesus or presenting them with a new teaching, all in Tamil, a foreign language I still don’t fully understand. Meanwhile, I was ‘stuck’ doing house work, administration for his ministry outreaches, and sitting for 3-4 hours on Sunday not being able to understand anything that was being said during the church service, not being able to experience corporate prayer or worship in a way that moved my heart.

As a mother, I am experiencing this issue yet again. When all I want to be doing is entering into His presence, praying, worshipping, reading the Word, there are so many duties to be done. And this time, there are two little lives that are depending on my actions for their survival, two little beings who don’t understand Mommy’s need to get away with the Lord, to drink Living Water to quench my thirst.

Obviously still in process with this whole Martha/Mary battle waging war within me, I have come to some realizations that have helped me relax in the midst of my progression:

1)      Sometimes listening to God is more about learning to recognize His voice calling me in the midst. More often than not, His voice is the still, small voice I am not quite sure I even heard (1 Kings 19:11-13). Samuel didn’t even understand that it was God speaking to him. Only when Eli explained who was calling him in the night, did he know how to respond. Only when he identified God’s voice was he able to listen to what God had to say to him.

So Samuel went and lay down in bed. The Lord came and stood there and called as he had before, “Samuel, Samuel!” Samuel said, “Speak, Lord. I am your servant and I am listening.” 1 Samuel 3:10 (NCV)

2)       In life there are certain things that have to be done – even the Bible says there is a time for everything (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8) The key is remembering that everything I do, whether it be feeding my family or washing mountains of laundry, even changing diapers and cleaning the bathroom, is able to be done as if I am doing it for the Lord Himself, doing those things as an act of worship to Him (Colossians 3:23-24; 1 Corinthians 10:31).

3)      There are only so many hours in a day, days in a year, years in a life. When it comes down to it, evaluating my priorities every day, accomplishing what really needs to be done and releasing the unrealistic pressures of trying to be a Wonder Woman, is crucial. Letting go of the ‘to do’ list allows me to be free from the burden and the worry. Seeking God’s Kingdom and His Righteousness enables me to achieve more in the day than I thought was even possible (Matthew 6:25-34).

I’ve come to the conclusion that really it boils down to my attitude. I can choose to be like Martha, a woman who has a chip on her shoulder, only seeing the overwhelming amount of work she ‘has’ to do all by herself; a woman who writes things on her list just so she can cross them off. I can choose to be like Mary, a woman who spends all of her time in front of the Lord, basking in His Glory and His Love, but accomplishing nothing of the tasks required for life, oblivious to everything and everyone else around her. Or, I can choose to be myself, a woman who has a full duty roster and yet seeks to offer my whole life as a living sacrifice that is pleasing to the Lord (Romans12:1-2), not looking to the right or to the left in comparison or in envy.

It is this new way of thinking that I strive for…even more than a cleaned kitchen or ironed clothes or bathed, fully dressed children.

Blessings – Julie (writing from Sholavandan, India)

Scripture taken from the New Century Version®. Copyright © 2005 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 1 Samuel, 66 Books, Jeremiah, Luke, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Romans