Wednesday, March 20, 2019

The Green-Eyed Monster

James 4:2-3 "2 You desire but do not have, so you kill. You covet but you cannot get what you want, so you quarrel and fight. You do not have because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures".
We have all experienced the "Green eyed monster" that is jealousy.
We can become jealous of another person's job, money, house, car, friendships or talents...the list is literally endless! 
It's hard to remember that what WE have is what God gave US for US, He knows what we need and He provides.
I recently became quite jealous of my friend and spent a whole afternoon seething that she was given an opportunity that I wasn't. It didn't seem fair, and even though it wasn't her fault and I knew that I was being childish, I became so angry with her...I started thinking of all of the other things that she had that I didn't and became more and more bitter until I even started becoming angry at the person who gave her the opportunity instead of me! It's a vicious cycle and you can become buried in the bitterness if you let yourself.
I realised that Jealousy was consuming me and so I sat down and prayed. I asked God to shield my heart from those feelings and to help me to remember that He has already blessed me in so many ways, I should be happy for my friend, not feeling sorry for myself!
An image came to my mind...of me in the middle of the sea in a tiny wooden rowing boat. I was surrounded by fancy yachts and big cruise ships and I felt so ashamed of my little rickety boat. I wanted a bigger boat like everyone else!
Then I realised the purpose of the keep me floating on the water. If I were in the middle of the sea with no boat I would most definitely drown!
I was safe in my boat, just like the other people in their bigger fancier boats.
I realised that I was lucky to even have a boat at all! 
God sure does has a way of humbling us and bringing us back down to earth, doesn't he?! 
Philippians 2:3 says "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves".
Jealousy stems from is our pride and self-interest that makes us want better things than other people. We feel like we deserve it more than they do and so we envy them and become resentful. 
So conceit leads to jealousy and jealousy to resentment and resentment to all kinds of other negative things. To overcome jealousy we first have to humble ourselves and knock ourselves down a few pegs! 
We need to value others above ourselves and love our neighbour instead of feeling like the grass is greener on his side of the fence! For every person you are jealous of there are bound to be just as many who are jealous of you too. We need to narrow our vision and see what God is doing and providing for us in our own lives and be thankful for our blessings, instead of looking at other people's blessings and wishing they were our own. God has different plans for each of us, and so he provides for us according to what we need to reach His goal. There's no use praying for a voice like Mariah Carey if God is planning for you to be an Author. HIS Will Be Done, not yours! 
Next time you feel the familiar pangs of jealousy, remember the things that YOU have, the gifts that God has given YOU and then remember that actually we deserve none of it anyway and it's only by God's grace that we have a home, health and happiness.
None of us are perfect...we are ALL sinful. Only Jesus was perfect and he didn't even need a boat at all, he simply walked across the water.

Monday, March 11, 2019

A Christian Society

"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" Philippians 2:3-4.
This quote f"Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others" Philippians 2:3-4.
This quote from Philippians, in my opinion, sums up what it means to be a Christian.
Jesus tells us that the two most important commandments are "Love God" and "Love your neighbour". Love is the running theme throughout the whole of the Bible...Christianity itself is purely based on the fact that God loves us so much that he sent his only son to die for us on the cross so that we can be saved from our sins.
The love that God has for us is so inconceivable that we cannot even hope to understand it...we don't deserve his love, yet he loves us unconditionally and completely.
The first of those two commandments is could we not love someone who is willing to give us everything He has to save us? How could we not have the utmost respect for a God so great, so powerful and so awesome and yet who brings himself down to our level to live life as a mere man, through all of the difficulties and temptations that life throws at us, to willingly and knowingly walk to his own horrendous death so that we may live...even though we didn't and don't deserve it? God Himself created love, and didn't Jesus say "give back to Cesar what is Cesar's, and God what is God's"?
The second most important commandment is the tricky one...we live in a time where self-love is seen as important. We are told to look after number one...which just shows the point doesn't it? We shouldn't BE number one! 
The thing that I find most amazing about an atheist view is that if Christianity is false, and if the bible was a bunch of lies...what would be the point of making up such an elaborate and crazy story for the only purpose of telling people to love one another? 
God's ideal world, the one that he wanted to create, is one where there is no poverty, not one person in need, pain or danger. Everybody sharing and only taking for themselves what they need. Unfortunately mankind think that they know better, and sin is marketed to seem "fun".
Everybody strives for luxury. If you ask people what they would wish for if they could have one wish, it would probably mostly be a lottery win, a great high paying job, something to make them better than others. I wonder if anyone would use their one wish for the sake of another person? I will be honest here and say that I probably wouldn't either!
Just imagine a world where everyone loved one another. A world where people help others without question. A world where no-one needs to feel anxious about their finances, where no-one needs to worry about what others think of them, where no-one needs to worry about other people stealing from them or hurting them. Just imagine a world where no-one is starving, no-one is homeless and no-one is lonely. 
Right at the beginning of time (and you see this in remote communities now too) everyone in the community had a part to play in farming, cleaning, raising children etc. Everything was shared equally among the people. The people worked together. Then communities would trade with other communities...milk for bread, bread for meat, meat for clothing...and eventually you would be given tokens, instead of goods in return for your own goods or services. This would in time become what we know today as is just tokens that we earn from trading our goods or services in order to trade for other goods or services that we need, or mostly, want. Somewhere along the line we stopped sharing these tokens and goods that we earned with our communities and we separated and became selfish. The people in our communities with less skills or with illness had less to trade, and therefore earned less money and became poor without the security of the community. This is where poverty stems from, from the separation of our communities. I suppose this separation became necessary somewhere...I won't pretend to understand economics. What I do understand however, is that this is not how we are supposed to be living. 
Whilst we can't go back to those simpler times, what we can do is remember that we are supposed to love our Neighbours. We should be supporting and looking out for each other. Each and every person has a part to play in our communities and it is our duty to look out for the more vulnerable people. 
Whenever I see a news story online about a person on benefits, I know without even looking that the comments section will be full of gems like "get a job", "scrounger" or "this person is what is wrong with our country". It actually makes me quite angry to see so many people ripping apart these vulnerable people and losing sight of what is most important. Usually these stories are about how hard the persons life much they are struggling. But some people see the words "benefit claimant" and instantly brand them as "lazy" and "scrounging". These people deserve our help, compassion and our love...not our judgement and disdain. It's become the norm to look down our noses at the poor and the homeless...we are quick to judge and blame them as if it must be their own fault. The media almost encourages this.
The media also encourages us to want the best of everything. New technologies are coming out every year, with everyone "needing" the most up to date phone, this season's fashion, the newest games console, a fancy coffee maker...
It's a hard fact that for some people, a hot cup of tea, a proper meal and a warm bed are a luxury that they just cannot afford, let alone a new iPhone. The basic needs that we take for granted are something that some people just do not have.
What is your favourite chocolate bar? Mine is a Double Decker, I always slip some chocolate into my shopping basket...well, we all deserve a treat now and then, don't we?
Some people starve to death. 
Some people...and it's actually whole communities, whole towns in this world, in this time, right now, starve to death. 
Children starve to death. Their parents cannot afford to feed them, let alone themselves. 
That's a very real fact, and it is happening right now.
Forget about our luxuries, forget about our basic comforts. Some people cannot afford to eat. They cannot afford to eat anything at all. These people aren't scroungers, they aren't lazy, their communities are just so poor that there just is no food.
Even in our own towns and communities there are people who can't afford to eat enough to stay healthy. Children in our own towns are turning up to school without having had any breakfast, and after a free school meal, some return home to no dinner. This IS happening in OUR communities.
 Next time you are shopping, have a look around at all of the options and luxuries we have available to us...all of the "little treats" that we mindlessly drop into our trollies...and remember that there are people who live in our towns who can't afford a basic meal. 
Our world wasn't supposed to be like this. The message of Christianity is love; love for God and love for other people. The point of Christianity is to share the Good News of Jesus dying on the cross to save us from our Sins so that we may ALL enter Heaven. The point of Christianity is to bring people to Jesus so that they will be saved. 
What an amazing world we would live in if everyone were saved, if everyone knew Jesus and followed his command to "love our neighbour". What an amazing world it would be if we all shared what we had with others who needed it more than we do.
All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need… No one claimed that any of their possessions was their own, but they shared everything they had… there were no needy persons among them. For from time to time those who owned land or houses sold them, brought the money from the sales and put it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to anyone who had need. (Acts 2:44-45; 4:32, 34-35)