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Desire. We all have it at different levels. It’s desire that drives us to work every day. It’s desire that fuels our relationships. It is desire that drives us to fulfill, or attempt to fulfill our dreams.

Desire in and of itself isn’t a bad thing. It’s an emotion God has created and placed within each of us. Desire can be destroyed by constant criticism. Desire can be wounded by our tendency to focus on failure and our past. Desire can be crippled by outside forces beyond our control or choices in our past that disqualify us.

On the other hand, the psalmist frequently tells of his desire for a closer relationship with his God. The Apostles tell us in the New Testament writings to ‘earnestly desire’ the things of heaven.

Society tells us to desire those things our eyes can see, our hands can touch, our pride can rest in. If you gain all those things, we are told, you will find fulfillment, contentment and happiness.

But those things will never give us the peace and satisfaction we seek because they are temporal. The secret to contentment is a close walk with Jesus Christ Don’t be sucked in by the things of the world, bask in the fulfillment of eternal things: love, grace, mercy, goodness, kindness, gentleness, peace, joy. These things can’t be bought or stolen, and they last for eternity.

He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done. 2 Chronicles 29:2

I shouldn’t have done it. I knew better. But…I did.

EgoMaybe you know what it’s like. If there are 100 people listening to you speak and 99 tell you have well you did, but one was critical, you feel defeated. Never mind the fact that 99% of the people liked what you had to say. The fact that one…just 1% of the people were negative sticks to your ego like glue.

I keep telling myself it’s not about me, it’s about God working through me. The truth is, when I can’t please people I feel defeated. One time I was at a speaking engagement and a gentleman came up to me after one of my presentations and proceeded to tell me all the reasons I was wrong. Even though I had many accolades, his words stuck with me.

A few months, after another engagement in a nearby town, I saw this man moving through the crowd towards me. I braced myself for another negative onslaught. This time, however, he was full of praise for me and all I had to say.

I walked away from our conversation with two thoughts running through my mind. One was, “I feel so good about me.” The second one was, “Wait a minute! Why am I letting him dictate my self-esteem?”

Maybe you are like me. It’s easy to let the opinions of others affect how you feel about yourself, about your God and about others. On the one hand we profess the belief that how God feels about us, and how we feel about ourselves is all that really matters. On the other hand, during those quiet, honest times of our lives, we admit that the view others have of us holds great power.

Hezekiah was a 20-something when he became King of Judah. His dad, Ahaz, was one of the most godless kings of Judah. Hezekiah saw the harm his father caused. He looked back further to see how God had blessed Judah during David’s reign. With his dependence on God, he brought the nation back to dependence on God. While Scripture doesn’t say it, there must have been some who questioned this young man’s decisions. He didn’t relent. He didn’t allow the opinions of others distract him. Instead, he focused on God and his word.

Hezekiah wasn’t perfect. He made some mistakes later in life. Still, my prayer for myself is that my legacy would be the same legacy that 2 Chronicles spells out. “He did what was pleasing in the Lord’s sight, just as his ancestor David had done.”

PRAYER: Father God. There are so many times I measure my success by how others react to me. There are so many times my self-worth and confidence is based on how others feel about me, rather than how I follow you. Forgive me for seeing others above you. May I do right in your eyes more so than in the eyes of those around me. Amen.

“For the Lord your God is the God of gods and Lord of lords. He is the great God, the mighty and awesome God, who shows no partiality and cannot be bribed. Deuteronomy 10:17 (NLT)

We’ve been doing it since pre-school. Maybe even earlier. It’s one of the most destructive games we’ve ever learned and, perhaps, holds us captive more than any other single activity in our lives. So what is this enemy of our hearts? It’s the Comparison Game.

Come on now, admit it. You play it. You may be playing it now.

As a blogger it’s looking at how many followers you have compared to me, or anyone else for that matter.

If you are in ministry it’s the size of your church, the number of mission’s trips you’ve taken or the number of converts you have tallied up in the flyleaf of your Bible.

If you are a public speaker you may measure it by the number of speaking engagements you’ve had this year, the size the honorarium you get or the largest crowds you’ve spoken to.

If you are a writer it’s the number of published works you have in your arsenal.

The Comparison Game (or whatever you call it) is deadly for our hearts on two fronts. On the one hand, if we are on the upper rungs of the ladder we can tend to look at ourselves more highly than we ought. We’ve never been divorced, we have no debt, we have good kids and are well respected by the community and we get thousands of ‘likes’ on the social media site we belong to. We can get feeling pretty good about ourselves, especially when we see our names in print.

On the other hand, the Comparison Game can make us see ourselves as less than what we are as well. If only I didn’t have debt. If only I had been able to make the marriage work. If only I had the education and opportunities he/she had. If only…if only…if only.

The cure for the Comparison Game is to look at ourselves and at others the way God does. The Apostle Paul was labeled by some as being an ‘also-ran’ in apostolic circles. After all, Peter, James, John and the other apostles had actually walked with Jesus. They saw his miracles and heard his teachings first hand. Paul, on the other hand had spent a good part of his life trying to stomp out this new ‘WAY’. But he walks into Jerusalem with his head held high. Why? Because he didn’t see others the way man saw others. He saw others as God saw others…as being people saved by grace.

How does God look at us? We ALL are made in his image. All of us. We may take pride in our accomplishments. He doesn’t. We may beat ourselves up for our failures. He doesn’t. Today, take some time to look at what God has accomplished for you rather than focusing on your accomplishments/failures. It’s a great way to keep from looking at yourself too highly, or too lowly. The Comparison Game cripples us no matter if we come out on top or on the bottom.

PRAYER: Father God, as the Psalmist says, I am in awe of how you think of me. Forgive me for comparing myself to others. Empower me by your Spirit to see me as you see me. Amen

For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.” Luke 19:10

You are being followed. Don’t be alarmed. It’s not as if you were being stalked by some dark threatening figure lurking in the shadows. He means no harm to you, in fact he follows you to protect you.

You are being followed. Relax. He’s not some ‘helicopter dad’ who hovers over you and watches your every step in order to protect you from every bump and bruise. In fact, he’s been known to keep his distance from time to time in order for you to test your freedom.

You are being followed. Celebrate! You are being followed by a King! You are being followed by the Creator of the universe. By the wisest and richest and most powerful being around.

He’s not following you to try to catch you at some evil deed. He’s not following you to gather evidence of your shortcomings so that he can bring you to trial and convict you. He’s not following you because he thinks you are going to show him anything new either. In fact, his decision to follow you has absolutely nothing to do with who you are, what you look like or what has happened in your past (good or bad).

He’s following you for one reason and one reason only. He loves you. Not only does he love you but he loves you enough to follow you wherever you go. When you take him to good places where he hears and sees good things, he loves you and celebrates with you. When you take him to places that are dark and threatening, he loves you and protects you.

He’ll never leave you. He’ll never let you out of his sight. Like a protective Father he’ll let you wander a bit, let you feel like you are in control and like you are on your own. But you will never be more than an arms reach away from his protective grasp.

His decision to seek you out and follow you is in no way affected by what other people think about you or say about you, or by anything you have done. The accusations of those who like rules, and those who flaunt freedom fall on his deaf ears. He doesn’t care what others think about you. He loves you. They won’t stop him from that!

To think that God, Creator God, the God of the universe loves you so much that he seeks you out. He follows you on the crowded streets. He watches over you when you go through the dark valleys of life. Always there. Always watching. Always loving. That’s your Heavenly Father. Your sin doesn’t surprise him. Your actions won’t bring revenge. When you stumble he is there to pick you up. He loves you and nothing will ever change that.

PRAYER: Father God, I’m in awe of the fact that you would love me so much that you would seek me out and follow me. I see myself as so weak, so unworthy of your love, so incapable of living the life I know you’d like me to live. I think of the things I’ve let you see and hear. I’m embarrassed by the places I’ve taken you. Thank you for being patient. Thank you for loving me and protecting me in every circumstance. In Jesus name, Amen.

But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. 1 Peter 2:9

In the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve are described as being naked and yet feeling no shame. There is much more to that line than two nude people walking around in a perfect world. Their nakedness was much more than skin deep. They were naked in an emotional, intellectual and spiritual sense as well. Nothing was hidden from each other and there was no shame.

Then that dreaded piece of fruit appeared and nothing has been the same. Ever since that time we have struggled with acceptance. We struggle to feel accepted by others. We struggle to find acceptance with God in the midst of our weakness. Most importantly, we struggle to find acceptance according to the standards we set for ourselves.

We do all sorts of things to feel comfortable with ourselves. Some of us make a conscious or unconscious decision to remove ourselves from circles where we feel badly about us. We find that it works and remove ourselves more and more until we avoid people at all costs.

Others of us use external things to make us feel good. Some of these are harmful to our bodies like drugs, smoking, sex or extreme behaviors. Sometimes we can use ‘good things’ like religion, social action, philanthropy or volunteering to make us feel better. Whatever we choose to soothe our feelings of inferiority is short-lived and requires a ‘bigger dose’ to accomplish the task.

God suggests we use a different approach. The next time the voices in your head remind you of your inadequacy, tell yourself the truth. Do it out loud if necessary.

You were chosen by God to be his special possession. He chose you knowing all about your weakness, your rebellion, your poor choices, your hate and your anger. He saw every flaw in your physical, emotional and spiritual life. Still, in spite of all that, He loved you enough to purchase you with his most cherished possession, His Son, Jesus Christ.

Don’t listen to the voices that tell say you don’t measure up. That is a lie of the enemy. You are special. You are chosen. God loves you above all things. That’s grace!

PRAYER: Father, thank you for loving me. Like Adam and Eve I’ve spent most of my life trying to cover up the things I’m ashamed of about me. I’ve tried to use so many good and bad things to make me feel better about myself. Empower me by your Holy Spirit to live with the realization of how special I am to you. Help me to live free of the emptiness shame puts on me. In Jesus name, Amen.

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