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

 

FRUSTRATED? MISSING THIS?

nisi dominus frustra web print“Nisi Dominus Frustra”–three forgotten words that were brought back to memory after a recent cleaning of my art room. The small canvas that I had painted of this saying had fallen off a wall & was wedged in between cabinets. I picked it up & looked at it—remembering the Latin words meaning immediately: “Without the Lord—Frustration”. This forgotten truth had also fallen away from me–lost in certain areas of my life.

 The reality is that there is nothing (not one thing) that is good that dwells in any of us apart from God in Christ. Our fallen, fleshly nature is corrupt & should not be trusted (Rom. 7:18, 3:23). Truly, “To err is human”. We mere mortals are so easily deceived (as our earliest ancestors were in Gen. 3:5) in believing that we are God and so we go about our day in our own self-sufficiency (thinking we have it all figured out) as we make our plans excluding God from our thoughts and conversations (prayers). For those of us who have chosen to believe and receive the gracious gift of God in Christ we have another Divine option available that doesn’t have to rely on fallible wisdom (Rom. 8:9, 26, 15:13; Eph. 1:13, 3:16, 4:23).

 Without God one only has to look at Romans 1:18-32 & Eph. 2:12 (or at much of our world today).

We’ve seen how our country has deteriorated in the areas where God has been removed. When I catch myself striving in my flesh during projects, errands, household tasks—life’s circumstances, I know that I’ve forgotten to make God first, consulting Him through His Word and prayer.

 Frustration sets in

as a man sets his own course

without thoughts from God

 God seems to have an interesting way of upsetting the plans we’ve made when we don’t bring Him in on the initial stages of things. We may find ourselves in circumstances that weren’t chosen by Him and suddenly realize that we’ve been “leaning on our own understanding”, not trusting in Him with all our heart. Proverb 3:5-6 says, “In ALL your ways acknowledge Him (not just in what we consider the more important things) and He will direct your paths.”  The following verses show the benefits of including the Lord in every area of life—besides a lack of frustration, there will be direction, established plans, and a renewal that brings strength and health to our lives.

  •  “Commit your works to the Lord and your plans will be established” -Proverb 16:3-
  • “Commit your way to the Lord; trust also in Him; and He will bring it to pass.” -Psalm 37:5-
  • “Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain.” –Psalm 127:1-
  • “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.” -Proverb 16:9-
  • “…those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength…they shall run & not be weary, they shall walk & not faint.” –Isaiah 40:31-
  • “Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths. Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil. It will be health to your flesh, and strength to your bones.”  -Proverb 3:5-7-

With God all things are possible—we have purpose, love, mercy, forgiveness of sins, hope, peace, protection, & escape from temptation (Matt. 19:26; Eph. 2:10, 2; Rom. 15:13, 5:1; Phil. 4:9; Eph. 6:10-17; 1 Cor. 10:13)…and a lack of frustration!

 

Laura