Letting the World Define You?

Psalm 139 artFeeling like you don’t have it all together—-like you don’t measure up?
According to whom?
Sadly most of us continue to measure and compare ourselves by the world’s standard and other people (and most of the time merely by the outward appearance of things).
No matter the outer façade of ‘perfection’ (via social media posts or otherwise), the reality is that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23, Ps. 14:3, 53:2-3). We live in a world that’s becoming increasingly filled with the hypocrisy of the Pharisees of Jesus’ time (those quick to point out the flaws of others while harboring hatred in their own hearts) (Matt. 23:27-28).
It’s actually wise (and freeing) when one realizes that their own fallen heart (inborn sinful nature) is deceitful (crooked) above all things and desperately wicked (naturally bent on deception) (Jer. 17:9). It’s incurable and can’t just be made ‘better’ through good works and deeds (Rom. 8:7).

Thankfully God, our Creator, knows our substance, thoughts… ‘warts and all’ and still chose to die for us (while we were still sinners) (Psalm 139, Rom. 5:8). Ephesians 2:4-5 says this, “But God, who is rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in trespasses, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).”  Salvation is a gift received through faith. It’s not based on anything we can do or work for. We are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:8-10). These good works are not from our own ideas generated from a mind that’s bent on doing things to glorify oneself in front of man. Rather these works have already been prepared by God beforehand and are only able to emanate from a mind that’s been transformed and renewed in knowledge according to the image of the Creator (Rom. 12:2, 1 Cor. 2:9-16, Eph. 4:23-24, Col 3:10). God’s in the business of substituting something new rather than mending what man has messed up. Some examples of this from God’s Word are: a new man/creation (2 Cor. 5:17-18, Eph. 4:24, Col. 3:10); a new heart & covenant for Israel (Ezek. 36:24-29); a new spiritual body (John 3:6-8, 1 Cor. 15:45-49); and a new heaven & earth (2 Pet. 3:13, Rev. 21:1,5).

What’s unseen is essential. God looks beyond appearances in His all-knowing, wise-beyond-our-comprehension, infinite-in-all-capacities nature (2 Cor. 4:18, 1 Sam. 16:7). He’s not looking for flawless robots but rather those with broken, contrite and obedient hearts (1 Sam. 16:7, Psalm 51:17, Phil. 2:3-8, Eph. 4:1-2). His light truly does shine brightest through this type of humble vessel, where the power is clearly of Him, not of man (2 Corinthians 4:6-7). Such examples from the Bible are: Rahab (Josh. 6:25, Matt. 11:5); Gideon (Judges 6:15); David (1 Sam. 16:7, 11-12); the disciples (Matt. 18-22); Paul (1 Tim. 1:15), as well as the list in Hebrews 11.

IT’S A GRAVE MISTAKE TO LET THE WORLD DEFINE US. Competing and comparing ourselves with others is a great distraction from the devil to divert us away from God’s divine purpose.
I’m amazed at how many deceptive thoughts continue to circulate around in my own mind—trying to trick me into believing things contrary to God’s truth (Eph. 4:22). I find when I allow God to search my heart & try me (because He knows all my anxieties & dark thoughts), I’m able to bring them into captivity where they can be cast down and put to death (Psalm 139:23-24, 2 Cor. 10:3-5).

It’s a waste of time and energy to keep striving to conform to the world’s deceptive way of thinking. Rather than trying to gauge our status and performance to fallen man’s vain, hollow and finite measuring stick, our thoughts should turn toward the One Who created us uniquely for His purposes (Col. 2:8, 3:1-3). His ways are perfect and it’s not in His nature to lie (Deut. 32:4, Ps. 18:30, Titus 1:2). It’s key for one to grasp how much God loves them apart from anything they can do and understand that they’re “complete in Him” through Christ’s great sacrifice and finished work on the cross (Col. 2:9-14, 1:10-12). To know that nothing can separate a believer from Christ’s love is the needed catalyst to compel him or her to walk in a worthy manner (2 Cor. 5:14-15, Eph. 3:18-19, 4:1-3, Rom. 8:35-39, 11:33-36, 2 Tim. 1:9).

Sara Groves in her song, “The Journey is My Own”, with verses like: “When I stand before the Lord, I’ll be standing alone, this journey is my own”, and “Now I live and I breathe for an audience of one”, encourages us to look to the One we live and move and have our being in (Acts 17:28).

Allow God to be your director, audience and gentle critic. Trust in the role He’s uniquely cast you in, along with the script that He’s written for you alone. As you do you’ll find your time spent focusing on His cues and direction rather than being misdirected by the world (Phil. 2:12-13, 3:20). So press on—you’re a work in progress! (Phil. 1:6, 3:12-14)
Laura

 

CONTENT OR CONTENTIOUS?

Content Heart
Content Heart by Laura Kestly

More, newer, bigger, faster, younger—now—’on demand’! Need a quick fix? There’s a pill for that and another pill for the side effects. We’ve gotten to a point in society where even the Joneses can’t keep up.
It’s not God who causes discontentment. God has made man upright (Eccl. 7:29). The fall of man is entirely due to disobedience to the will and word of God. James 1:13-16 states that the cause of man’s temptation with evil is within himself and his own lust that entices him to err, setting up the never ending cycle of satisfying the insatiable lusts of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). It’s envy that makes the bones rot and a desire to be rich that snare many into traps of temptation and foolish and harmful lusts that drown them in destruction and perdition (Prov. 14:30, 1 Tim. 6:9-10).
God’s words and ways direct man’s path in righteousness and bring health to his bones (Prov. 3:5-8). A wholesome fear of God compensates and calms one in the midst of the fallen inequities and strife of this life. Godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it’s certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content (1 Tim. 6:6-8).
The new man looks beyond the present life that’s filled with inequalities and is wise to remember that this world is out of joint by reason of sin, and any attempt to straighten crooked things apart from Redemption is the worst vexation of all (Eccl. 1:14-15, 7:13).
It’s a challenge to be content when one suffers evil and experiences illness, loss, loneliness, etc. Just listening to the news and state of affairs in this world gives cause for discontentment.
Instead of allowing the limited horizon of this life to dictate one’s actions, arouse one’s anger and lead one in the vain pursuit of improving the old nature– how much better to remember that life in Christ is enough. For a believer it’s more than enough—they are complete in Him, where all the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwells, the head of all principality and power (Col. 2:9-10)! All things through Him & His strength can be done, including the ability to be patient in spirit, be even tempered and content in whatever condition one is presently in. As the mind meditates on the praiseworthy & virtuous–whatever is true, noble, just, pure, lovely, of good report, there is always a cause to rejoice in the Lord (Phil. 4:4-8, 11-13).
Contentment can be found with a view that is occupied with life beyond the grave even though presently wickedness is sitting in the place of judgment (Eccl. 3:16). All have to deal with time and chance as the race is not to the swift, nor the battle to the strong (Eccl. 9:11). Life can still be unfair with mysteries of providence that are perplexing (Eccl. 6:12, 8:14, 17). God alone holds all things in His hands and works all things according to His purposes. The day will come when all will be set straight/right (Eccl. 3:17). Until then trust in Him, abound in thanksgiving and hold fast to hope without wavering for He who promised is faithful (Col. 2:6-7, Heb. 10:23). In this crazy fallen world filled with random terror attacks, greed, corruption and misplaced power, true peace and contentment can only be found from above.
“I will both lay me down in peace, and sleep: for you Lord only, make me dwell in safety”

Laura