Summer of Psalms | Psalm 143

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 143

Psalm 143 "My Soul Thirsts for You" A Psalm of David

1 Hear my prayer, O Lord; give ear to my pleas for mercy! In your faithfulness answer me, in your righteousness! 2 Enter not into judgment with your servant, for no one living is righteous before you. 3 For the enemy has pursued my soul; he has crushed my life to the ground; he has made me sit in darkness like those long dead. 4 Therefore my spirit faints within me; my heart within me is appalled. 5 I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. 6 I stretch out my hands to you; my soul thirsts for you like a parched land. 7 Answer me quickly, O Lord! My spirit fails! Hide not your face from me, lest I be like those who go down to the pit. 8 Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. 9 Deliver me from my enemies, O Lord! I have fled to you for refuge. 10 Teach me to do your will, for you are my God! Let your good Spirit lead me on level ground! 11 For your name's sake, O Lord, preserve my life! In your righteousness bring my soul out of trouble! 12 And in your steadfast love you will cut off my enemies, and you will destroy all the adversaries of my soul, for I am your servant.

As you read through this blog post, I suggest listening to this song (copy and paste the link below if you can listen and read at the same time; if that's too distracting, save it for afterwards)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UXD5YR-d1fY

There are so many gold nuggets in this Psalm I could hone in on, but there a few key themes from this Psalm which I particularly relate to, and wiser people have told me to play towards my strengths. Let's first focus in on the tone of this Psalm: David is desperate. David is tired of running from his enemies. He is weary of facing all of these challenges, and he doesn't know if he can do it anymore. Does that hit home with anyone else? Who besides me has looked at the mountain ahead of them and wondered if they could metaphorically climb it? Have you also sat in the middle of the night worn out from the struggles that just wouldn't leave you alone? Did anyone out there also plead with God to take something away or at least give them the strength to face what was coming the next day? I hope you can relate (or picture what this felt like). So where does David go with this desperation? What does he do? David knows the one Place that can sustain him, the very Source of strength. David was smart enough to be an undignified child in the arms of his Father, completely depending on Him for all his needs. (Maybe the more we mature as Christians, the more we look like kids). Out of this posture of desperation, he does something I am learning to do:

I remember the days of old; I meditate on all that you have done; I ponder the work of your hands. Psalm 143:5

David remembered. He looked back at all the other times God had come through for Him, and we can do the same. We can look back at our history with God and declare over ourselves, "He is faithful!" The truth is that God does not change; He stays the same. Steadfastness and faithfulness are aspects of God- He literally cannot not be Himself. (side note: if you feel unsure about times in your history with God that it seems like He let you down or that He wasn't faithful, I suggest taking that to Him in prayer. Ask Him, in a way to understand, not to accuse, "God, where were You when that happened? Can You help me to understand how You were showing up or who/what You sent to help me?") He has always been there with you, and He won't stop now. So pull up from your memory the times you absolutely knew God showed up for you. Dwell on the fact that He is still that same God. Take a minute to walk through the monumental experiences and the small, quiet moments with Him together. I love to imagine walking hand-in-hand with God down a long hallway with our relationship in picture frames on the walls, but it can be in whatever manner you want your reflection to be. But we don't just stay stuck on memory lane; we let it propel us forward:

Let me hear in the morning of your steadfast love, for in you I trust. Make me know the way I should go, for to you I lift up my soul. Psalm 143:8

It's like we're looking back to go forwards. When we have turned around to stare down the timeline of our history for the foundational understanding of how God has sustained us up until this point, we can pivot. We can grab God's faithful hand, and gaze into the unknown. I liked this quote I read recently, which actually helped inspire me to write about this Psalm:

"Grant us peace as we make important decisions. Some of us are facing career changes, church choices, economic challenges, and health issues. Free us from the foolish notion that there is only one right choice to make. Actually, there is only one right God to trust, and that is you. Lead us, as we lean on you, Father." -Scotty Smith

The future isn't quite as daunting when we both look at God's steadiness AND we know that His desires for our lives could not be "messed up" by the "wrong choice".

We are not that powerful. Take that pressure off to make the "right choice" about the future, because God will be with you wherever you go.

Prayer

Grant me peace as I make important decisions. When I am facing a hard choice, free me from the foolish notion that there is only one right choice to make. Actually, there is only one right God to trust, and that is You. Lead me, as I lean on You, Father.

Author | Rachel Dow

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 25

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 25

“Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in the way. He leads the humble in what is right, and teaches the humble his way. All the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness, for those who keep his covenant and his testimonies.” (verses 8-10)

The title of this Psalm in my Bible is “Teach me Your Paths”. That’s what I have been diving into further this summer. If I am candid, my quiet times before the summer started were a little lackluster. They lacked a depth that I so desperately needed. I began to believe this foolish lie that there was not more for me to go for intimacy-wise with the Lord, but this thought began to be broken as I ventured on a Wesley mission trip to Cortez, Colorado. In one of the devotionals I read on the trip, the author spoke about treating God like a gas station to be filled up for the day to do his work or ministry, but in the end, the author missed the point. The main point is always be in love with Him over doing only work for Him. He desires such a close relationship with us that when we make our whole relationship with Him about the work we do for Him, then He has to take you back to basics which is exactly what He had to do for me this summer. He taught me to learn how to receive His love again and how to love Him afresh in myself. He had to teach me that when I began my quiet time, it wasn’t to be filled with requests (for He was already aware what I needed way better than I did), but instead with simply telling Him that I loved Him over and over and over again until my soul was quiet and at rest with Him. It was from this place, that I was finally able to reach the depth I knew I wanted from my quiet times with Him.

The purpose of David writing this Psalm was to connect with God on that deeper level. In verse 1, David says, “To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul.” In that simple verse, I believe that David was settling his soul to a posture of receiving more from God. He understood that loving God was the first step to ever connect with Him in the secret place and to move forward in learning His ways.

As I have learned that I must keep intimacy with the Lord first, I have had to keep my heart open to His leadings. Lately, I have been reading The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis for the first time. In it, I have found wonder in the description of the Lion who is the Savior of the realm and how in each of the books, a character is either brought low or is left to carry on their miserable way. And a quote sticks out to me from The Magician’s Nephew where Aslan is speaking about freeing someone from their folly’s and he says, “But I cannot tell that to this old sinner, and I cannot comfort him either; he has made himself unable to hear my voice. If I spoke to him, he would hear only growlings and roarings. Oh, Adam's son, how cleverly you defend yourself against all that might do you good!”

Prayer

I pray that we never get so caught up in the busyness and rush of the world that we miss knowing God as He wants to be known. I ask that we would know deeply that God desires to meet with us, and He will meet us in that place. I ask that we would have a renewed sense of trust in His leading, and that we would know truth as it is meant to be known. Lord, show us who you are...who you truly are. Take courage dear hearts, He’s closer and better than any of us even know.

Author | Aubrey Gold

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 39

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 39

 

“Show me, Lord, my life’s end and the number of my days; let me know how fleeting my life is.” (Verse 4)

You won’t live forever. Whether we’re aware of it on a daily basis or not, our lives will come to an end. This isn’t the most uplifting realization, but it’s one that I don’t want to take for granted. If we only have a limited time in this life to do the things God put us here to do, the things God put desires in our heart to seek and experience, then why do we spend our time pursuing anything else? That’s the question I found myself asking at 4 AM in Verona, Italy…

I spent most of my life chasing after the approval of others - making decisions based on who it would satisfy, planning my career for the future so that it would impress people, and pretending to be someone else so that I had the most friends. It was exhausting. But at 4 AM in Verona, Italy, two weeks into my three-month study abroad trip, I heard the disappointment in my dad’s voice through the phone after he heard just how off-track I had gotten. My lifestyle had taken me from a rule-following highschooler trying to please her parents to a people-pleasing college student doing anything to gain the approval of strangers. I had tried so hard to impress everyone else that I had lost sight of what mattered. It was like I was holding my breath, scared to exhale for fear that everything would come crashing down. But that night, I realized I couldn’t keep up the charade any longer, and had to let go of everything I’d been trying to hold onto. It was then that I understood - sometimes you have to lay it all down in order to pick up what God’s telling you to carry.

“Everyone is but a breath, even those who seem secure. Surely everyone goes around like a mere phantom: in vain they rush about, heaping up wealth without knowing whose it will finally be.” (Verses 5-6)

We become consumed with school, relationships, money, diets, and career paths, desperately trying to control these areas to make ourselves feel secure. However, even the most careful planning can’t protect us from the fact that we only have so much time here. For some people, that might sound scary. But I think the message of this Psalm is meant to be more of a warning. I think this Psalm is saying “Wake up”. Don’t go through your life half asleep. You only get one life (yes, YOLO lol), and it’s too precious of a gift to spend it worrying about things that you can’t take with you to heaven.

There’s a song by Sleeping at Last called Saturn, and it ends by saying, “How rare and beautiful it truly is that we exist.” My prayer is that you will understand that you are a one of a kind gift to this world. That you realize your thoughts are like no one else’s and that people need to hear them. No one else can think, say, or do the things that you can. I pray that you don’t take this life for granted, and that you use your days here to advance the kingdom in a way that only you can do.

Author | Maddie Marsh

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 40

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 40

It's summer!!! I don't know what that means for you: whether you love summer, love your alone time, love the extra time you get to spend with friends or you are super busy and away from community and summer is kind of hard for you. I've had both, and I can tell you from experience, wherever you find yourself on the spectrum, there is a psalm for you, and it may just be Psalm 40. I love reading Psalms because I feel like they give me permission to be real with God no matter how I'm feeling. You see, psalmists write about how they are mad, joyful, lonely, etc. Basically, any emotion you can imagine can be found in a psalm.

At the beginning of Psalm 40 we see David reflecting on God's past faithfulness to him which turns into a powerful prayer of protection at the end of the psalm.

"He turned to me and heard my cry." (Verse 2)

"Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us." (Verse 5)

Just taking a little bit of time to remember what God has done for you, how faithful He is, is so powerful. And it enables the faith-filled prayer we see later in this Psalm. In Luke 18:1-6, Jesus tells his disciples how they should always pray and not give up. Remembering how God has been faithful in the past is the easiest way to sustain this kind of prayer life. It's really hard to continue asking God for things when you've forgotten all that He has already done.

I'm working at a summer camp right now, and I'm about to start my 5th week here. It can be so easy to get complacent as the weeks go by. I get into my routine and start losing some of the enjoyment and excitement I had. Something our bosses tell us every Sunday that I love is that this is every kids' Week 1, so we have to bring just as much excitement and energy. That can be really difficult after several weeks of minimal sleep, being out in the hot sun every day, and dealing with 250 kids of all ages and backgrounds. So, every Sunday I try to remember the excitement and energy I felt that very first week I was ever at FlipFest and it helps so much. The same can be true when you get in the day to day of life and you feel stuck like on a merry go round. Remember the faithfulness of God and remember that He's always there to help you through it, to pull you out of the pit. He gives us a firm place to stand: on His faithfulness.

I'm obsessed right now with the song Do It Again by Elevation Worship. I could listen to it on repeat all day, and I was just reminded of it as I was reading through Psalm 40. He never fails us. His promises are good. And He is so faithful. Take some time to reflect on His faithfulness today and remember that whatever He's done for you in the past, He can do it again.

Prayer

Jesus, give us the grace to remember Your faithfulness in every season. Let our hearts be filled with thankfulness for the things You've done, but may we also be filled with boldness to continue asking and praying for the things You've put on our hearts. As we patiently wait on You to move, may we never give You rest but always be thankful and remember Your faithfulness.

Author | Abigail Bradley

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 51

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 51

This is one of the most impactful sections of scripture that I have ever read through in my whole life. It honestly changed my life about 4 years ago on a Friday night when my discipler and I read through it. I had been struggling with guilt and shame for various sins that I felt in bondage to. I felt unworthy to be God’s servant because of a pornography addiction and I had no idea how to move on from this sense of guilt and shame. I honestly felt like I didn’t deserve to be with God until I could get it fixed. That’s when my discipler lead me to this passage.

To give context, this passage was probably written by David after he had committed adultery with Bathsheba and murdered her husband. The prophet Nathan had just been used by God to convict David for what he had done was wrong. This passage is probably his response to God.

Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love; according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me. Against you, and you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight, so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge. Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me. Surely you desire truth in the inner parts; you teach me wisdom in the inmost place. Verses 1-6

I have to hit stop really quick because as I read those first six verses my thoughts were “ yeah that’s the kind of stuff that I keep saying to God and it isn’t getting me anywhere". I keep telling God how sinful I am and how I keep screwing up, but thankfully David doesn’t stop at admitting he’s sinful. The majority of this passage is David proclaiming all the ways God is going to restore him through their relationship. I’ll let the passage speak for itself first.

Cleanse me with hyssop, and I will be clean; wash me, and I will be whiter than snow. Let me hear joy and gladness; let the bones you have crushed rejoice. Hide your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquity. Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, so that sinners will turn back to you. Deliver me from the guilt of bloodshed, O God, you who are God my Savior, and my tongue will sing of your righteousness. Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise. You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it; you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings. My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise. May it please you to prosper Zion, to build up the walls of Jerusalem. Then you will delight in the sacrifices of the righteous, in burnt offerings offered whole; then bulls will be offered on your altar. Verses 7-19

The verse that really drove it home for me was number 17. It really lays out the simple truth that God doesn’t need us to be this super-Christian in order to have a relationship with him. This verse states that all he asks for is our broken selves. It’s important to acknowledge that we are broken at first sure, but David only spends six verses acknowledging that to God. The rest is David acknowledging all the goodness that God can replace that brokenness with and how God only requests that we give our broken selves to him.

When I read this passage the first time, I finally realized that I can’t fix my brokenness to be with God, instead I have to surrender my brokenness for him to fix while I am with him. My addiction didn’t go away immediately but for the first time, it was hope and love that drove me forward in my walk with God. Not guilt or shame. It was through hope and love that I was slowly released from the addiction over a two year process with God. Not guilt or shame.

My prayer is that anybody who reads this passage would experience a similar freedom or reminder to what I experienced in understanding that guilt and shame get you nowhere in the struggles that you individually face. Instead it is Christ’s love and compassion that frees us from them. If you give your broken self to God in true humility and surrender, he will lead you to victory. With him we can be more than conquerors as it says in Romans. I pray that confidence in our relationship with Christ sinks in to anyone who reads Psalm 51.

Author | Dutch Williams

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 139

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 139

In the summer, we get out of our normal routine. This can lead to a dry season spiritually, a lonely season, or a season even busier than school was. On the flip side, you may find you have more time on your hands than you know what to do with. No matter what the summer brings, the truths in Psalm 139 can shape you and grow you no matter what type of season you are in this summer.

He knows you and is with you

1You have searched me, Lord,
    and you know me.
2 You know when I sit and when I rise;
    you perceive my thoughts from afar.
3 You discern my going out and my lying down;
    you are familiar with all my ways.
4 Before a word is on my tongue
    you, Lord, know it completely. (139:1-5) 

Psalm 139 is a magnificent Psalm that depicts how a big, almighty, powerful God is also intensely personal. There are 8 billion people on this earth and God deeply knows and deeply loves every single one. Yes, he created everything, but He specifically created you! He is everywhere, but also everywhere with you. He knows everything, yet cares specifically about your everyday life, your thoughts, and your desires. He knows every hair on your head (Luke 12:7). That fact is mind blowing. We can’t comprehend it. How can the Creator of the universe know my name specifically?

It also shows how much He loves and values you! He sees you – your deep thoughts, your insecurities, your sins, your pain – He is with you through the mountains and the valleys. He knows everything about you and still loves you the same. Nothing you can say or do will separate you from His love. He will never leave you or forsake you!

For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39)

He created you to be you

There is no other Kyle Lawrence Pickett on the planet who has the same personality traits, characteristics, passions, dreams, interests, and desires as me. The same is true for you! Knowing this truth, will give us more confidence in who we are because the God of the universe made us this way!

God didn’t make you to be someone else. He made you to be you! When God sees you being you, He looks at you with a proud smile. Psalm 139 beautifully explains that you were an intentional creation. Everything about you was by design. He carefully crafted each and every one of us. We can find peace, joy, and comfort in knowing we were intentionally designed. You were not an accident. You were not a mistake!

13For you created my inmost being;
    you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14 I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
    your works are wonderful,
    I know that full well.
(Psalm 139:13-14)

Comparison is such a dangerous road to go down.  When we compare ourselves to others, we focus on other people rather than ourselves – what internship or job they have, what friends they have, what fun things they are doing, looks, education, wealth, personalities, we even compare our faiths. You can’t control other people, you can only control yourself. So, do not waste your time on where other people are at, instead focus on where you want to be and the gifts, talents, and passions God has specifically given you!

Run your own race. It is the only race you know how to run. It is the only race you were created to run. In a track race, if a runner leaves his lane, he is disqualified! When you compare yourself to others, you run out of your lane. It hinders you from running your own race. God has given us each unique talents and abilities that prepares us for our own unique race. Comparison will rob us of the joy we take in each day and take away our hope for a better future.

Whenever you find yourself struggling with comparison, remember you are fearfully and wonderfully made!

I am who you say I am

In this Psalm, David can praise God for the way God created him because God makes no mistakes. God knows us deeply, more than we know ourselves. It doesn’t matter what other people say about you. What matters is what your heavenly Father, your author, your creator, your savior says about you! 

15My frame was not hidden from you
    when I was made in the secret place,
    when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
16 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
    all the days ordained for me were written in your book
    before one of them came to be.
17 How precious to me are your thoughts, God!
    How vast is the sum of them! (Psalm 139:15-17)

You are who God says you are! Why? Cause He knows you! He knit you together in your mother’s womb.  He created you to be you!

In Isaiah 55:8-9, we learn that God’s thoughts are higher than our thoughts and His ways better than ours. So, even when we are struggling with purpose or identity, we know what God says about us. What He says who you are is more important than what you think you are or what you think you aren’t.

Therefore, we can walk confidently everyday knowing the God of this universe knows me, created me, loves me, is with me, and has a specific plan and purpose for my life.

There is a great worship song out there right now by Hillsong called “I Am Who You Say I Am.” The song starts off by asking “Who am I that the highest King would welcome me?”

Then later in the song it says;

I am chosen
Not forsaken
I am who You say I am
You are for me
Not against me
I am who You say I am

God is for you, not against you! He loves you for who you are! You are a child of God. You are chosen, not forsaken. This is who you are because that is who He says you are. You know something is valuable by what someone is willing to pay for it. God loves and values you so much, He sent Jesus to die for you!

You matter! You matter so much to God!

Author | Kyle Pickett

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 42

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 42

In our walks with Jesus, there are times when it’s easy to feel His presence. During these seasons, there’s a greater sense of closeness. Maybe it even seems like He’s hearing and answering prayers on our schedules. Then, there are other times when it feels like we are in the wilderness, and God is nowhere to be found. Maybe you feel like He isn’t hearing your cries or it seems hard to hear His voice. Each one of us has or will experience these different seasons.

For you, summer might be a season in which you feel distant from God. You might be living in a place where worship is not a regular part of your routine or the change in community makes you feel vulnerable to temptation or just very alone. The best way to describe this season is exactly how David does in Psalm 42—like a dryness. And God’s presence is what we pant for, like a deer for flowing water.

When he wrote Psalm 42, David, like a lot of us right now, was physically removed from the place where he routinely felt the presence of God. According to the ESV Study Bible, he was in exile somewhere north of the sea of Galilee, far from the sanctuary in Jerusalem where he felt most connected to God in worship.

In the psalm, David describes the extent to which he not only was exiled, but felt exiled. He wrote about his lack of appetite because of his grief, about how his enemies taunted him and asked him where his God was, and about how he even at times questioned where God was.

“Why have you forgotten me?” David asked God in the psalm. (Verse 9)

But for every time David cried out in fear, doubt or sadness, there was one more verse in which David encouraged his soul and reminded himself of the nearness of God. A lot of us have been there. We know what feeling far from God feels like. But, David’s psalm tells us two things: one, that feeling far from God is exactly that—a feeling. It’s our perception, not our reality. And two, it tells us that we can change our perception.

Through the example David sets in Psalm 42, God invites us to do the same and to encourage our souls when we feel like He is far from us. There are a few ways David did this.

First, in verse 4, David reminded himself of the times he had already experienced closeness with God, when he led praise and worship and felt full of God’s joy.

"These things I remember, as I pour out my soul: how I would go with the throng and lead them in procession to the house of God with glad shouts and songs of praise, a multitude keeping festival. " (verse 4)

Second, starting in verse 5 as part of the chorus, David told his soul to look to the future when he knew he would not feel as downcast and would once more praise God joyfully and feel His presence.

"Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise him, my salvation." (verse 5)

Third, David reminded himself of the truth about where God was.

“By day the Lord commands his steadfast love, and at night his song is with me” (verse 8).

God promises us all throughout scripture that His presence will always be close to us. We can see and hold onto these truths when He feels distant. Here are a few verses, for example:  

“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deuteronomy 31:6

“Surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." Matthew 28:20

“The Lord is near to the brokenhearted and saves the crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18

“Am I only a God nearby,” declares the Lord, “and not a God far away? Who can hide in secret places so that I cannot see them?” declares the Lord. “Do not I fill heaven and earth?” declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24

When we feel dry and distant from God, we can do the same things David displayed in Psalm 42—treasure past experiences with God, look to future senses of closeness with Him and remind ourselves of the truth. We must remember that God is always close to us, no matter what we feel.

If you are experiencing some kind of affliction, realize if you feel God is far away, He is actually winning the battle for you. And if you feel like God just isn’t close to you, He’s probably trying to get your attention in a new way or just wants you to enjoy a quiet moment of relationship with Him. He hasn’t abandoned you. He’s actually way closer than you think.

Author | Lindsey Conway

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 18

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 18

This extensive, rich Psalm is David’s response to God sparing him from Saul’s wrath. In 2 Samuel 22, we see the real-time response - a song almost identical to Psalm 18. I love this Psalm because it lifts my heart and sets new heights of hope around every corner. This is my redemption song, my salvation song, my hope in the darkness and my reminder in the light.

David mentions his near-death experience several times through the Psalm, beginning in verse 4 with, “The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me, the cords of Sheol entangled me, the snares of death confronted me.”

When I read this visceral language, I remember times when I felt this hopeless - when anxiety had won for months, when sin seemed to rule my soul, when loneliness nibbled away at my self-worth. We have all had our sit-ins with the cords of death. And so, we do what David did - pray in desperation.

“In my distress, I called upon the Lord; To my God, I cried for help. From His temple, He heard my voice, And my cry to him reached his ears.” (verse 6)

Now comes the fun part. The following 12 verses depict God’s wrath against anyone or anything who would dare mess with His children.

“... the earth reeled and rocked; the foundations also of the mountains trembled and quaked because He was angry…” (verse 7)

David paints a picture of God coming down in a billowing cloud of darkness to overtake the enemy and rescue His child.

“He sent from on high, He took me; He drew me out of many waters. He rescued me from my strong enemy and from those who hated me, for they were too mighty for me." (verses 16-17) 

These words always make my heart soar with love and thankfulness. And where does He bring the one He rescues?

“He brought me out into a broad place; He rescued me because He delighted in me." (verse 19) 

This - the broad place - resonates with me so much. After a trying season or dark time, I feel like God brings me to a spacious place - either physically or spiritually - a field of restoration and new breath. Here he seals the lessons and love that came from the wilderness. He sews up the loose threads and patches the piercing holes that left me floundering. Most importantly - He reminds me that it is He who saves. It is He who redeems my life from the pit.

This is a Psalm for every season. Read it over yourself as a beacon of hope in dark times. Cling to this image of God radically saving His child, filled with anger at the enemy. Rejoice with David in your spacious seasons. Skip and dance with God in the tall grass that soothes your wounds. For your story screams redemption no matter what. Your song is restoration in the end. Praise God for His mighty hand never ceases to rescue those He has made righteous.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for redeeming my life, my choices, my circumstances time and time again. Help me to praise you in the trials and the spacious places. I pray that your promise of redemption would rule and reign in my heart as I go through this day, this year, this life. I love you and everything I am is yours. Amen.

Author | Claire Jordan

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 18

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 18

When I read about God being furious, angry, and powerful, I often feel really intimidated. It can be scary to think about how awesome and intense our God is. I prefer to think of Him as gentle and kind. But when I ignore the righteous anger and power of God, I miss out on a huge part of His love, the part of His love that is angry for us. Psalm 18 paints a beautiful picture of God’s furious love.

But in my distress I cried out to the Lord; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry to him reached his ears. Then the earth quaked and trembled. The foundations of the mountains shook; they quaked because of his anger. (verses 6-7)

Throughout the Psalms, David (the author of most of them) is on the run from His enemies and cries out to God to rescue him. Psalm 18 is David’s response to God delivering him from his enemies. When God responds to David’s predicament, He doesn’t just feel bad for David, He is angry for him. He essentially moves heaven and earth to get to him and leads him to a place of safety. I love how David describes God as having smoke pouring from His nostrils and shaking the earth because it shows just how passionate God is about us. Only a furious love would respond like that.

He led me to a place of safety; he rescued me because he delights in me. (verse 19)

God’s love for us is so powerful that He will do whatever it takes to get to us, even sacrificing His own son! It’s really easy to lean into the warm, fuzzy feeling that comes with God’s love, but that’s only the surface. When we understand that God is for us in every way, we get to lean into the passionate side of His love. God doesn’t just rescue David. He gives him a shield of victory and strength to keep going. That means that God doesn’t just pick us up, dust us off, and send us on our way. Rather, He equips us for every battle and promises us eternal victory.

God arms me with strength, and he makes my way perfect. He makes me as surefooted as a deer, enabling me to stand on mountain heights. (verses 32-33).

Spend time reflecting on the furious love of God, a love that will move heaven and earth to show you that you are loved and delighted in. Invite Him into your struggles because He sees your pain and wants to respond to it. Let the hope of eternal victory encourage you to keep pressing on as a beloved child of God.

Author | Emily Baker

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 27

Summer of Psalms | Psalm 27

I love the Psalms because they’re not always straightforward and concise. On the contrary, they’re messy and passionate and confusing at times. Psalms invite me to take off my analyzing glasses and just rest in God’s word in a way lends itself to repetition and meditation. 

I started reading Psalm 27 sometime in 2016 and I haven’t been able to stop. Something about it drew me in and kept me there. It became a secret place for me to be with God where I could find rest in Him. 

I want to share with you a glimpse of my journey with God as it was enabled by meditating on Psalm 27. I hope that it will inspire you to rest in the Psalms and listen to the Lord in a powerful way. 

"The Lord is my Light and my Salvation - whom shall I fear?"

I’ve been thinking a lot about Light for a while now. I think it started when I reread Genesis 1 with fresh eyes. I was trying out the practice of reading a verse and asking “what do I know about God from this?” I was impressed with the idea that God creates and God brings order. In Genesis He’s constantly creating things and separating good from not good. Light from dark, day from night. In a word: redemption. God is a redeemer of goodness and order from the darkness and chaos of disordered creation. Ok: God is a redeemer and light is the first thing He redeemed as good. 

Last year I read a book about perception and misperception* and it got me thinking about light as our medium for visual perception. It’s so significant - without light the world would totally suck. I thought about this and let it churn in my mind for a while. I grew to love the time of early morning when the sun is almost up and everything is still black and white; when you can see, but you obviously have limited sight. It’s my favorite time of day because it invites me to accept my limited sight and embrace my need for understanding that goes beyond myself. Morning light lets us appreciate the noonday sun just as the light of the horizon is evidence of more to come. Praise the Lord for separating light from dark! 

So in being my light, the Lord is the origin and continual source of goodness and peace in my life. The Lord redeems me out of chaos and darkness, out of confusion and disorder. In being my light, the Lord is my salvation; my redeemer. 

This brings me to the age old question “what is the meaning of life?” 

One thing I ask of the Lord, this only do I seek: that I may dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life, to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple. 

The Lord is not only my light and my salvation from the cosmic chaos of eternal damnation; no He’s much more than that. When Jesus began his ministry he proclaimed “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”** The power of salvation is not only limited to our eternal dwelling place, but it is here and now. 

The Lord saves us from lives of darkness, confusion, and insignificance. The meaning of life is to gaze on the beauty of the Lord and seek Him in His temple and bring others into that kind of connection with Him. Its simple, really. We complicate ministry and church and quiet time; we try to quantify our progress an develop accurate metrics for growth. But we tend to forget our first purpose: to dwell in the house of the Lord. When we can find peace in the presence of the Lord we will find fulfillment in our work for Him. Without that peace our work for Him is like working in the dark; you can’t really see what you’re doing. 

The Lord is my Light and my Salvation - whom shall I fear? 

The Lord redeems us from the chaos of our world. With God as my light and my salvation I am delivered from the burden of finding meaning in what I do. Meaning is found in Him and in Him my work finds its meaning. 

The Lord has used Psalm 27 to teach me the peace that is found in Him: today and in eternity. He has taught me to first rest in Him and then work on redeeming the world. I no longer fear insignificance. I no long fear the darkness of not knowing the future. In Him I have my light and my salvation. 

So I encourage you to read the Psalms. But don’t just read them - sit in them. Find a quiet place and repeat them, pray them, meditate on them and ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Holy Word. Take time to celebrate and cultivate the beauty of the psalms and always remember -  He is your light and your salvation. 

 

Author | Benji Johnston

Romans | How to Wait for Christ Well

Romans | How to Wait for Christ Well

You know how a lot of people say that they perform best under pressure? Its the same people who routinely wait until the very last minute to begin a homework assignment - the habitual procrastinators. In college, I was often paired with these procrastinators on group projects and it absolutely drove me crazy. I couldn’t understand why they would wait until the last minute to start working on something when they had known about the assignment for weeks!

However, despite our productivity differences, I was always intrigued by the habitual procrastinator…. how they could all of the sudden switch gears and become incredibly productive and diligent at the very last minute. Somehow they always managed to get the assignment done. The urgency of the approaching deadline brought out a new side of them.

What is it about urgency that whips us into gear? It happens all the time. We never really care about flossing our teeth until the week before the dentist appointment… we leave the house a wreck until we get a text that friends are coming over…. we put off that oil change for months until that check engine light blinks on and then we scurry to the nearest Jiffy Lube praying that our engine is okay.

Urgency changes our priorities. And I think thats why Paul wrote this passage; to remind us of the approaching day of Jesus’s return.

"The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here.”

What if we truly lived each day with that perspective? What if Paul is right and the day is almost here!? How different would your schedule look? What would change? What would take priority and what would take a back seat? What sins in your life would all of the sudden seem so empty and powerless? What wrongs would you seek to make right with others?

In reality, we know that this passage was written almost 2000 years ago, and its all too easy to become distracted by the day-to-day things of this world. Its easy to feel like the day of Jesus’s return is like that far away final exam. No need to prepare just yet, we have all semester. But the truth is that Jesus gave us an assignment the day that he ascended into heaven. He said “Go and make disciples of every nation" (John 28:18) and he said to “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Romans 13:9 and Mark 12:30). Therefore the choice is ours.

Will we choose to set aside this assignment in exchange for other things, or will we wake up from our slumber and step into the armor of light? Life is not guaranteed for any of us. Life is a gift - let’s make the most of it with the time we have left.

Prayer

Father we pray and ask that you would help us align our priorities. Teach us to follow your ways, to think as you think, and speak as you speak. Teach us to live life with an eternal perspective, believing that Jesus will return!! Teach us to number our days and give each one of them to you as an offering. Amen.

 

Author | Devon Radford

Romans | Love in Action

Romans | Love in Action


It is really easy to fake loving people in today’s culture. An instagram like, a “heart-eye emoji” comment on a facebook picture, and a quick text all make us seem genuinely interested in the people in our lives without actually having to put in effort. Words can be a great way to show someone you love them, but those words mean nothing if they are not followed by action. Faking it is an issue now and was clearly an issue when the Apostle Paul was alive. In Romans 12, Paul writes to the church telling them to “love from the center of who you are; don’t fake it” (Romans 12:9 MSG). Paul then gives the church clear examples of how to show love through action instead of simply faking it.

In verses 9-13, Paul encourages believers to honor each other. Honoring each other simply means affirming each other’s identity in Christ. You can do that by celebrating the good things you see in your friends. Hold them accountable to the life God has called them to live without judgement. Hating what is wrong doesn’t mean that you hate the person doing wrong. You can still honor your friends without supporting their bad decisions.

Holding people accountable requires humility. When we recognize the ways we fall short of God’s standard, it’s easier to show grace to our friends when they also fall short. Loving them well means praying for them and standing by them as they work through difficulties. In verse, 15, Paul says to “be happy with those who are happy and weep with those who weep.” Showing empathy to your friends is one of the greatest ways you can honor them. When you meet your friends in their hurt instead of condemning them for falling short, you are honoring them and loving them well.

Paul sums up what is looks like to love in action in verse 18 when he says “Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” When it comes down to it, loving others really looks like trying to bring unity into every situation because that’s what the Kingdom looks like, believers who are for each other and stand together for the name of Jesus. That’s what love is really about. It doesn’t matter if you get it wrong or mess up because the desire to love well is more important than the execution. Love without heart isn’t really love at all.

As you are going about your week, think of practical ways you can love your people well. Go through Romans 12:9-21, picking out the characteristics of love in action, and think of one way you can do those actions for the people in your life. Ask God to reveal in areas of your life where you are faking it, and then ask him to come and change your perspective.

Prayer

God, forgive me for the ways I haven’t loved you with my whole heart. Show me what it looks like to love in action instead of in empty words. Thank you for leading by example through sending Jesus to die for me. May your perfect love teach me to love others the way that you do.

 

Author | Emily Baker

Featured Article | LA Mission Trip Experience

Featured Article | LA Mission Trip Experience

When I traveled to Los Angeles with the UGA Wesley Foundation this spring break, I had an idea of what I would be doing with the Dream Center, a nonprofit in the area that works with the substantial population of people experiencing homelessness and living in poverty in L.A.  

I knew I would be sharing His love with the people I came into contact with — but I had no idea what I would learn from these people about what it looks like to love God, no matter your circumstance.

In Los Angeles County, California there are nearly 58,000 people who are on any given night sleeping on the streets.

The largest grouping of these people are found on Skid Row, an area of Los Angeles where thousands live in makeshift houses and tents on the side of the street.  

According to the experts at the Dream Center, housing costs are one of the largest barriers to housing for the people experiencing homelessness in L.A. County. Even in the cheapest areas in L.A. County, rents are more than $1,290 a month for two bedrooms, with the median rental price being nearly $3,000 and the median home purchase price being over $6,000.

Dream Center experts said homelessness often occurs when someone cannot continue to meet these housing costs.  

The day our team visited Skid Row on an outreach with the Dream Center, there were a lot of people we met who were living in the midst of very broken situations.

I noticed small children living in tents, playing with toys in the streets. We met a woman who had been in a car accident and who held open the door at a McDonald’s hoping someone would buy her some lunch. We even met a man wearing a nice formal black coat who looked put together on the outside but who felt so broken and unnoticed that he cried as we encouraged and prayed over him.      

But despite the overwhelming amounts of brokenness we encountered on Skid Row, God was present, and there were people praising Him and holding onto His truths.

I had a conversation with two men at a park near Skid Row who knew living on the streets was not a situation they would be in forever. They might be experiencing homelessness in this life but in eternity they would live with Jesus in the best home there could ever be.

Another man who moved around on crutches believed in God wholeheartedly for his healing. He believed he would walk again and allowed us to pray for his knee.

Whatever ways God used me to love on and encourage these people, a hundred times more God used them to teach me and to put a question on my heart—would I still love God the way I do now if I lost everything I had?

These people were like Job in the Bible. In many ways, every earthly possession they had was taken away from them, but they hung onto God as their sole reward.  

God showed me His perspective on this trip—which was much different than mine.

For example, if God and I were both looking at a thunderstorm, I see the cloud from this earth full of rain and thunder and terror. God sees the clouds shining with the sun from above and the ability of the rain to grow life in His creation below.  

My perspective on homelessness was on the brokenness, the hardship and the hurt these people were facing.   

God’s perspective is the room for love His love to spread, the space for His joy to come in and bring life to a dead situation.  

Our God works with paradoxes. He brings joy into hopeless situations. He brings life to broken things. He exalts the humble. And He invites us to change our perspective and to be a part of bringing His perspective, His heaven, to earth.

Isaiah 61 — The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners … to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

 

Author | Lindsey Conway

Romans | Present Suffering and Future Glory

Romans | Present Suffering and Future Glory

The book of Romans leads readers like a roadmap through faith in Jesus.

Paul starts at the beginning of the story--God's anger at sin--and takes us through the path of judgement, the law, faith in Jesus, and freedom from sin through adoption, justification, and sanctification-- phew! And that's just the first eight chapters! Paul takes us step by step-- he doesn't want us to miss a fragment of God's master plan, full of his love for us.

Directly before 8:18-30, in verses 12-17, Paul gives us the BEST NEWS.

He tells us that faith in Jesus means we are no longer slaves to sin, but adopted children of God! In verse 17 he tells us that since "we are his children, we are his heirs. In fact, together with Christ we are heirs of God's glory. But if we are to share in his glory, we must also share in his suffering." It's the perfect set-up for what he talks about in verses 18-30, which is the present suffering of our circumstances contrasted with the future glory of eternity in Heaven.

Glory is defined as honor, splendor, or magnificence, and Paul tells us that we are going to be glorified with Christ in eternity. But because Christ suffered on Earth, having his same inheritance means that we as believers are bound to suffer too.

However, Paul tells us that he believes "the present suffering is nothing compared to the glory that is to be revealed to us."

Paul's main point to the Roman church and to us today is that there is HOPE. We have hope in the glory of Christ, even if our current circumstances aren't perfect.

Hebrews 11:1 says that "faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen. It gives us assurance about the things we cannot see." As he talks about creation groaning for the revealing of the sons and daughters of God (v. 21-23), he tells us that our hope should be firmly established in Christ's death and resurrection. This is our confidence, that even if our circumstances don't appear to be glorious, "we hope for what we do not see... with perseverance we wait eagerly for it" (v. 25).

If we want to have a confidence in eternal glory that is rooted in truth, the first thing we have to do is get real with God about where we are.

We can take a look at our circumstances, and understand that Jesus never promised an easy life for believers--he actually assured us that there would be suffering. We are not entitled to ease, but we also are not victims. Speaking the truth of Romans 8:15 over ourselves, we can confidently say that "we have not received a spirit of slavery leading to fear, but a spirit of adoption as God's children." And God's children are not victims to our circumstances.

Further along in the passage, verses 26-27 remind us that the Holy Spirit is constantly interceding on our behalf, as it "helps us in our weakness." Two out of the three members of the Holy Trinity are constantly praying for us! That is powerful! We can partner with Jesus' and the Holy Spirit's intercession by speaking truth over ourselves and taking thoughts captive.

Verse 28 says "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose." Knowing who God is--that he is good, that he carried a promise to make the negative situations, the tragic situations, the seemingly hopeless situations, work for our good-- can continue to fill us with hope. Because it is truly glorious that we get to spend an eternity with a God who loves us enough to redeem us.

Prayer

My prayer for you is that you would believe in your identity as a son or a daughter of God. That any question marks about your worth, your adoption, your inheritance, and your future would fall away as you come to know the heart of the Father more and more. I pray that this identity would fill you with hope to believe in a good future and a glorious eternity, despite your present circumstances and sufferings. I pray that the sacrifice of Jesus would never become old news, and that you would know the width, length, height, and depth of the love Christ has for you.

 

Author | Erin Gilleland

Romans | Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

Romans | Dead to Sin, Alive in Christ

In this passage, Paul reminds us that because Christ died for us, we are no longer bound to live in our sin.

He emphasizes our unity with Christ in both his death and resurrection and calls us to count ourselves as dead to our sin and alive to God in Christ.

The knowledge of God's endless grace should push us to pursue righteousness rather than live as slaves to our earthly desires. His desire is that we may flee from sin and run into the fullness of life that only He can offer.

Let's take time today to meditate on the Lord's incredible love and grace, and to use that as a reminder to draw closer to God in our weakness rather than hiding from Him in our shame.

 

Author | Madelyn Livingston

Romans | Righteous Through Faith, Not Works

Romans | Righteous Through Faith, Not Works

In this passage, Paul specifically emphasizes the idea that the righteousness of God is for all people-- Jew or Gentile. Regardless of religious background, he drives home the fact that none of us are righteous on our own or capable of fulfilling the law.

During Paul's time, there was a bit of a divide between the Jews and the Gentiles. Nonetheless, Paul makes it clear that sin is sin and sin is ugly and separates us from God, no matter the person participating in it. The law reveals our sin to us and our desperate need for a Savior, which is where Jesus comes in.

God, in His infinite grace and mercy, sent His own Son to come to earth and walk among us, living the perfect life that we never could. Jesus submitted Himself to the Father's will, dying a brutal death on the cross, so that the law could be fulfilled for all, through His sacrifice. God poured out His wrath for our sins on the only person who was undeserving of His wrath. On the third day, Jesus rose again, conquering sin and death so that He could be righteousness for us.All that God requires of us is faith.

Through Christ's perfect work on the cross, we now stand justified and clothed in righteousness. This offer of redemption, mercy, and love is offered freely to any person, regardless of background, nationality, or past sins.

There is no difference among God's family.

He calls us sons and daughters, righteous, and beloved, and there is nothing we could ever do to deserve those titles. His love and mercy towards us motivates us to flee sin and temptation and to live our lives for Him.

 

Author | Olivia Beals

Romans | Judging Others

Romans | Judging Others

In this passage, Paul warns prominent Jewish religious leaders of the day against judging Gentiles. He gives a stern warning, that in judging others they only condemn themselves, but follows it up with an assurance. God is the ultimate judge and we must lay our piddly judging down.

In judging others we try to take the place of God, which can only end in failure and heartache, i.e. wrath.

Our judgments simply cannot be just. Only an all-knowing, all-good Being could make a truly righteous call.

Just like the Pharisees and other religious leaders, we all too often pass judgment on those we don’t understand. Jesus made it clear that Jew and Gentile are equal in His sight, but the religious leaders felt challenged, and therefore threatened by this idea. They could not be impartial in judgment toward the Gentiles.

History tells a thousand reiterations of this tale. We pass judgment on those who are different because we cannot understand them.

In addition to this, where we are hard on ourselves, we are hard on others.

Let’s say I hold the Sabbath really well. I sacrifice a lot for this day of rest. I take off work every Sunday. I make sure all my homework and assignments are done before Sunday. I never schedule a group project meeting or activity for Sunday afternoon. I would be so disappointed with myself if I did not set aside this day to rest and reflect. On Monday morning I hear about all of my friends’ adventures from the day before. Susie went kayaking with her boyfriend. Mark caught up on all his homework from the week. Jeff even took a day trip to Chattanooga. In this moment, it would be so much easier for me to pass judgment on my friends, not because of the choices I had made over them, but because of my judgement of my own choices.

The only one suffering here is me. Not only do I have a lack of mercy for myself, but now I feel alienated from my friends because I judged them.

Where we lack compassion with ourselves, we will lack compassion with others.

Paul emphasizes - none of us can live up to the law. All of our temptations our different. Some things are easier or harder for us to avoid than others. There is grace and mercy for all of it.

Give yourself mercy so you can give mercy to others.

What are some ways you relentlessly judge yourself? Are you using that measuring stick to pass judgment on others?

Prayer

Father, you are the only righteous Judge. Forgive me for striving to judge myself and others. Replace those thoughts and attitudes with peace and mercy for all. Let me act of out love and not judgment. Teach me what that looks like in a thousand little ways. Amen.

 

Author | Claire Jordan
 

Romans | Praying for the Church

Romans | Praying for the Church

In this passage Paul is writing to the Romans about how much he wants to come and see them, but he hasn't been able to yet. He is thankful to God that their faith is being proclaimed in all the world.

When thinking about how we can pray for the church, we can look at Paul’s example. It is important to first understand the attitude with which we have to approach the church.

I think one of the most important things about how Paul prays for the church is how he starts with thanking God for everyone in the church. When we pray for the church, we should position ourselves to be thankful for the people that are in it and what God is doing there. We want to partner with God to see that his people are supported and loved, because thats what He calls us to do and how we can serve Him.

There are people in the Church that may not be getting prayer, and you can be the person that is rallying with and for them.

How can you support and pray for those around you today? How can we work with God to fully partner with what he is doing in the church?

The easiest way to do that is to partner through prayer. He wants to hear what we have to say!

When we celebrate others and make a point to walk with them through life, we then help each other grow in faith and knowledge. Being a part of community is so essential and important to our walk with God, because we do get to help each other and learn through what others have experienced with Jesus.

How can you encourage someone today in their walk with Jesus? How can we walk through life with the people around us to help each other grow?

Prayer

Thank you Jesus for walking beside me and partnering with me in my life. Thank you for the people around me, for those who help me in my faith and who really fight for me. Father I ask that I can begin to support those around me just as you do, that I may be able to radiate who you are through my actions towards others. Show me people that I can partner with to get closer to you.

 

Author | Kourtney Axelberg

Love | Is Not Easily Angered

Love | Is Not Easily Angered

Paul tells us that love from the Holy Spirit is patient; it is not focused on being "right" or even "justified". 

Every person has been frustrated with someone else at some point in their lives. When we are faced with the temptation to sit in anger, It's important to know that these scenarios are actually opportunities for us to give more grace to others and give them the chance to discover the love of God on a more intimate level.

This passage helps us to realize we have the ability to give grace beyond our limited human capacity. 

If we refer to Galatians 5, we see that patience, kindness, peace, and self-control are some fruits of the Spirit. And those only come through dealing with difficult situations that show us God's grace.

In dating, you have grace to forgive and seek God to let you know what you need to do next. If anything, he'll probably give you the chance to use a lot of self-control if there are a bunch of triggers in our lives that bring up past wounds. 

Additionally, God tells us to process through how people have hurt us while preparing us for another situation in which we can practice patience, self-control, peace, and kindness so we can grow in one of those fruits of the Spirit. 

Lastly, God wants us to be in relationship with him so that the fruits of the Spirit are reachable with the strength of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit within us.

 

Author | Brad Schiebel

Love | Does Not Envy or Boast

Love | Does Not Envy or Boast

For a lot of my life, I have struggled with envy. And I can say from experience it is one of the most life taking and relationship killing things.

Growing up I always had a very specific idea of what I wanted my community to look like in my head. My experience for a long time did not match that though, so I felt rejected a lot and began to feel very envious watching other people’s friendships blossom.

What was hardest was watching people I thought I was close to choose other people to build deeper relationships with.

I was boastful, too. I thought very highly of myself and when I was chosen over it made the feelings of rejection even harder to get over. I would push people away when I felt chosen over.

I perceived myself as a victim when really I had a scarcity mindset and envy that was killing the relationships I could have had. I had to realize I could have relationships with people even if they had other deeper relationships.      

I can remember when God told me what I was doing was not loving people. It was OK to have relational needs that I needed to be met, but I had to let God fill those first with himself and then with a community he designed for me.

Instead of feeling rejected and envious when I was chosen over, I had to realize my worth was who God said I was — which was already chosen and loved.

In the Bible, the parable of the workers in the vineyard tells us a lot about what God says about envy. In the parable, several different workers come to a landowner at different times during the day.

At the first hour, the landowner promises the workers a certain wage, a denarius. As the day goes on, more and more workers come until the last hour of the work day.

At the end of the day, the landowner begins to distribute wages starting with the last workers to join first. He gives them exactly what he promised the workers who joined at the beginning of the day.

Those workers immediately believe that they will get even more money from the landowner, but when he gets to them, he gives the workers who started first the same amount of money as the workers who started last.

The workers who started first are furious. How unfair was it for people who worked only one hour to get the same as them, when they had worked so many hours.

But the landowner says this to them in return:

“I am not being unfair to you, friends. Didn’t you agree to work for a denarius? Take your pay and go. I want to give the one who was hired last the same as I gave you. Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money? Or are you envious because I am generous?”

For me, constantly wishing I had certain relationships was mistrusting my heavenly landowner and being envious of the other workers around me. God does not have to give you anything, but because He is a good father, He gives us way, way more than we ever deserve. There is no reason for us to envy other or want more than what we have because God gives us exactly what we need.    

Think about your relationships. Envy doesn’t just have to be coveting someone else’s possessions. Are there any ways you might be allowing envy to creep into them?

To stop envying others, there are a few things you can do:

  1. Realize God gives you value—He has called you valued, chosen, loved and cared and provided for.

  2. Don’t compare your situation to others.

  3. Be thankful for the things you already have.

  4. Genuinely celebrate the good things that happen to other people.

  5. Let go of your scarcity mindset. Realize life is not a competition. God has abundantly more than you realize and he is generous.

  6. Be generous yourself. Genuinely give of yourself to other people and you will find pleasure in giving rather than taking.

 

Author | Lindsey Conway