Focusing on God’s Purpose Leaves Little Time for Envy

“Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us.(Hebrews 12:1)

When you start to get concerned about something God is doing in another person’s life and envy starts to build, focus on the plan God has for you. Don’t get distracted — center in on God’s will for your life.

There’s a simple phrase in the story of the vineyard workers that the owner says to those who were grumbling about not getting what they deserved: “Take your money and go!” (Matthew 20:14). He’s basically saying to those who can’t get past their envy, “It’s time to move on now. Quit having a pity party. Just get over it!”

Sometimes we get stuck in the past. Maybe you still envy the person who got to be prom king or queen. But why should you let what someone else got keep you from God’s plan for your life right now?

Hebrews 12:1 says, “Let us run with patience the particular race that God has set before us”. The “particular” race means your unique race — the race that is only for you. God has a plan that he wants you to pursue that is unlike anyone else’s. He planned it for you before you were even born, and it includes better things than you could ever dream for yourself.

Once you begin to discover and pursue the unique purpose that God has for your life, you won’t envy anyone anymore. You’re released from the tyranny of having to be best all the time. You just have to be the best you can be, the person God made you to be.

When you get focused like this on God’s particular race for you, you’ll be so caught up in what he wants you to do that you won’t have time for envy. You’ll be living your life for an audience of one.

When You Envy, You’re In A Battle With God

“Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on. . . . What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?”

(Matthew 20:13-15)

When it looks like God’s blessing somebody in a way that he’s not blessing you, relax and trust God. Believe that he knows what’s best for you, and trust him when life seems unfair.

One of the ways you can tell envy is creeping into your life is the language you use. If you find yourself using the phrase “It’s not fair,” you’ve already fallen into the trap of envy. You say, “It’s not fair! Why them? Why not me? I’ve worked as hard as they do.”

In Jesus’ parable of the vineyard workers, the workers felt that they were being treated unfairly, not because they weren’t paid what they were promised but because other people who worked less were paid the same amount.

Matthew 20:12 says, “These last workers put in only one easy hour, and you just made them equal to us” (The Message). You can hear the envy: “We slaved all day under a scorching sun. We’re better than them!”

Notice in the next verses the reply of the owner, who represents God: “Friend, I didn’t cheat you. I paid you exactly what we agreed on . . . What business is it of yours if I want to pay them the same that I paid you? Don’t I have the right to do what I want with my own money?” (Matthew 20:13-15).

The bottom line on envy is this: When you’re envious, you’re in a battle with God. You doubt God’s goodness in your life. You resent his decision to bless somebody else. You accuse him of being unfair or of playing favorites. You don’t believe he has your best interest at heart.

On the contrary, God’s extravagant, unconditional, unending love is the same for everyone. But he’s not a vending machine — you can’t put in a prayer and get whatever you want. God has a good reason why you don’t have what you want. He knows you better than you know yourself. Practice praying, “God, I’m going to trust that you have a unique plan for my life and that you know better than me what I need right now.”

Envy is the fever. Doubting God is the infection. Any time you start envying, it’s because you doubt God. The medicine you need is to start trusting again in God and his love for you.

Love And Trust Go Together

“We must always aim at those things that bring peace and that help strengthen one another” (Romans 14:19).

Love is built on trust. When you really love people, you believe in them. You trust them. You build their confidence. You relieve their fears. And then your trust causes them to blossom.

If you can’t learn to trust people, you’ll never learn to love or learn to be loved. A lot of people who think they have a love problem really have a trust problem, because love and trust go together.

When Jesus went to his hometown of Nazareth, the people who heard him teach did not believe him and were even offended by him. As a result, Jesus “could not do any miracles there, except lay his hands on a few sick people and heal them. He was amazed at their lack of faith” (Mark 6:5-6).

It wasn’t Jesus’ lack of faith that prevented the miracles. He could not do a good work in his hometown because of the people’s lack of faith and trust in him.

If that’s true of Jesus, then it’s definitely true of you. When people don’t trust you, you are not empowered to reach your potential. And when you don’t trust other people, you limit them. If people don’t believe in you, trust you, or show confidence in you, then it holds you back. But when the people who love you show faith in you, it brings out the best in you. It gives you faith in yourself. It helps you fulfill your purpose.

Do you want a love that lasts forever? Then show someone that they have your trust. When you do, you’ll build their confidence, and you’ll be amazed at what they will set out to do with God’s help and your faith.

“We must always aim at those things that bring peace and that help strengthen one another” (Romans 14:19).

They’ll Know Us By Our Love

“Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:35).

The distinguishing mark of a Christian is not a cross, a crucifix, a dove, or a fish on a bumper sticker. The sign of a Christian is love. How many people know you’re a Christian because of your loving lifestyle?

We sing about love, talk about love, pray about love, and study love. But do we do it? To develop love as your life principle and make it your greatest aim, you have to take some action as soon as you finish reading this devotional. You’re going to have to take the initiative. Love acts!

First, start acting loving in your current relationships. Have you acted unlovingly toward someone, and it’s time to seek reconciliation? Make things right with your kids, your spouse, your boyfriend or girlfriend, your parents, or someone at school or work.

Then, start increasing the number of relationships you have. If the most important aim in life is to love, we need to build as many relationships as possible. Why? Because the world will know about God’s love by the way we love each other—and especially by the way they are loved by Christians.

You cannot live a loving lifestyle as a hermit. You spell love T-I-M-E. It takes time to love other people. If you love your friends, you’ve got to spend time with them. If you love your kids, you’ve got to spend time with them. If you love Jesus, you’ve got to spend time with him. Love always costs time and energy. But it’s always worth it.

Can you imagine what would happen if everyone in the church loved like this—if we all committed ourselves to acting in love and giving our time unselfishly so that people could experience a taste of how much God loves them? It would change the world. It would grow God’s Kingdom. It would make God so happy.

People are attracted to Christ more than they are persuaded to him. They’re attracted by the love of God shown through the people who claim to follow him. And they won’t care what we know until they first know that we care.

Love Is A Choice

“If I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:2).

Love is not a feeling. Love is a choice. Even when you don’t feel like it, you can choose to do it anyway.

Once a young mother who felt overwhelmed and was battling depression. It seemed like her schedule and the demands on her life were too much to handle. She felt like all she did was nag her kids and scold them incessantly. When she looked at herself, she saw a failure. In her despair, she cried out to the Lord.

As she spent more time reading the Bible, she found the answer in 1 Corinthians 13. Five words in particular leaped out at her: “Without love, I am nothing.” So she wrote out these words and placed the notes all over her house—on her refrigerator door, on the dashboard of her SUV, at the top of her calendar.

“I realized the single most important thing I could do was love my family,” she said. “So I began to live my life by love. I began to run my home on love. It was as transforming as when I accepted Christ into my life. It brought the happiness back into my life and my home.”

What made the difference for this young mom? She made a choice. It wasn’t always the easy choice, but it changed the whole dynamic of her home and the way she saw herself as a mother and as God’s child.

Acting in love when you don’t feel like it is actually a greater expression of love than when you do feel like it. Love is getting up in the middle of the night to help a sick kid after you’ve already had a long day and went to bed late. Love is being patient with your spouse when they’re irritable. Love is giving a person what they need, not what they deserve.

It’s easier to act your way into a feeling than feel your way into an action. If you act in a loving way, eventually the feelings will follow. That’s important to remember when you are trying to love people who seem unlovable.

When you love in spite of your feelings, that’s called loving by faith. And it doesn’t just change the other person. It changes you, too, and makes you more like Jesus.

Love Looks And Love Listens

“Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God” (Romans 15:7).

What God does for you, he wants you to do for other people.

God accepts you unconditionally. That doesn’t mean he approves of everything you do, but he accepts you, no matter what you’ve done. And God says he wants you to act similarly toward everybody in your life.

The highest form of love is focused attention. One of the ways you demonstrate acceptance to other people is to look at them and listen to them. When you look someone in the eye, you’re declaring that they matter to you.

Love looks, and love listens. When somebody comes in and drops something off at your desk, do you say anything to them? When somebody serves you something at a restaurant or a clerk helps you in a grocery store, do you look them in the eye and say, “Thank you”? It may seem like a small thing. But when you give someone your attention, even for just a moment, you are affirming their value as a person and showing that you accept them.

The Bible says in Romans 15:1, “We must bear the ‘burden’ of being considerate of the doubts and fears of others”.

Acceptance means you listen to others’ fears and doubts. We all have them! When people have doubts about God, you need to first listen and show that it doesn’t change your love or acceptance. Why? Because this is how God loves us. When we doubt, God’s love does not change. When we are fearful and unwilling to trust, God still accepts us. This is how he wants us to love people.

Loving like Jesus means you accept other people the way Jesus accepts you. And when his love flows through you, it’s possible for you to love others unconditionally.

Lasting Love Extends Grace

“Always be humble and gentle. Be patient with each other, making allowance for each other’s faults because of your love” (Ephesians 4:2).

No relationship will survive without grace. You’ve got to cut people some slack! You’ve got to let things go.

The Bible says, “Love patiently accepts all things” (1 Corinthians 13:7). In the original Greek, this literally means “covered with a roof.” Would you buy a house without a roof? Of course not. You’d have no protection from wind and rain. A roof covers and protects your home.

In the same way, biblical love covers a relationship and lets some things slide. It doesn’t haul people into account for every mistake they make. You need a roof on your relationship because people damage pretty easily, and we need the kind of love that extends grace.

Why is grace essential to relationships?

The Bible says in Romans 3:10 that no one always does what is right. Nobody gets it right 100 percent of the time. It’s never just one person’s fault. There’s always a responsibility on both sides. It takes two people to disagree!

We have to learn to extend grace to each other, because forgiveness is a two-way street. We cannot receive what we’re unwilling to give to other people.

You build strong relationships by treating other people the way God treats you. Romans 15:7 says, “Accept each other just as Christ has accepted you”. When you accept others as they are, looking past their faults for the sake of love, that’s extending grace.

Jabez- Conceived In Pain Delivered In Victory

Who was Jabez? He is only mentioned 3 times in the Bible. The first is in 1 Chronicles 2:55 where Jabez is the name of a town: “And the clans of scribes who lived at Jabez…” This town in Judah was apparently located near Bethlehem.
Then Jabez is mentioned again in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, ‘I gave birth to him in pain.’ Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.’ And God granted his request.”

The name Jabez means “he causes pain,” so we can assume that something about his birth was exceptionally more painful than the usual birth – either physically or emotionally. In Bible times, a name was very important. A name often defined a person’s future – what they would become. So perhaps Jabez’s mother was predicting her baby’s future.

It seems as if Jabez defied his hopeless name and dysfunctional beginning to become a man who believed fervently in the power of God. He prayed with urgency and vulnerability. He cried out to the Lord with boldness!

Jabez was honored because of his relationship with God. In fact, 1 Chronicles 4:9 says, “Jabez was more honorable than his brothers…” The record of the genealogy of Judah was interrupted to bring us these details about Jabez. His relationship with God must have been exceptionally noteworthy to cause the author of Chronicles to stop and elaborate on this one man’s life.

Who was Jabez? By putting ourselves in the place of the original readers, we can learn a lot from genealogies like the one in which Jabez is mentioned. “The writer of Chronicles used this list of names to show how God has chosen Israel for a prominent role in history. He wanted to encourage those who had just returned from exile and were struggling to rebuild their ruined nation. These names showed that God accomplished his purposes through their ancestors-before David, Moses or even Abraham. In fact, God’s plan began with Adam.”1The genealogy showed that God’s purpose was still in effect! The nation of Israel was His chosen people and they had been given the promised land for a reason.

God had a purpose of Israel and He had a purpose for Jabez. This righteous man wanted God’s blessing to be fulfilled. What about you? Do you want God’s plan for your life? He has a distinct purpose for you. Why not pray that God will bless you indeed!

Prayer of Jabez: What is it?
The Prayer of Jabez comes from the Bible. In 1 Chronicles 4:10, we read: “And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that Thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that Thine hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.” The prayer is composed of four parts. First, Jabez asks God to bless him. Second, he asks God to enlarge his territory or increase his responsibility. Third, he prays that God will be with him and stay close. Lastly, Jabez asks that God keep him from harm so that he will be free from pain.

Prayer of Jabez: Why is it important?
The Prayer of Jabez reveals that Jabez understands what many people do not — there is only one God and He should be the center of our work God wants to bless every life. But, we must first make the choice to invite God into our life and ask for His blessings. Jabez wants to succeed and increase his sphere of influence for God. The specific sphere of influence is not important. What is important is that when we want to reach for goals and accomplishments that we have God on our side. Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” It is critical to understand and practice this in a close relationship with God. Further, it is equally important to stay close to God and rely on His continued support and guidance throughout life. Jabez clearly knows and prays specifically to the One who can protect him from evil and pain — God. At the end of the verse it is clear that God approved of this faithful prayer by granting it. It is also important to see that Jabez was passionate in his plea to God: “He cried out to the God of Israel.” God wants to hear that we need Him through passionate prayer.

Prayer of Jabez: What does it mean to you?
The Prayer of Jabez reminds us that everybody struggles with choosing to rely on himself or God. Whether you are a focused Christian
or just searching to find out more about God, life is a growing process. However, it is very clear in reviewing the Prayer of Jabez, as well as the rest of the Bible, that God is faithful in caring for those who seek Him. Jabez sets a great example of how God wants everyone to come to Him through constant and passionate prayer. If you are looking to start a relationship with God or improve your existing relationship with Him, start with prayer. God answers prayers when you trust Him (1 Chronicles 5:20). Prayers to God also please Him (Proverbs 15:8). We can all learn from Jabez and faithfully pray to God always in everything that we do.

Prayer of Jabez: The Book by Bruce Wilkinson
The Prayer of Jabez is covered in phenomenal detail by Bruce Wilkinson in his book of the same name. We highly encourage you to read this fantastic and inspiring resource, that challenges each of us to.

Serving God Or Money?

“No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve both God and money” (Luke 16:13).

If God told you to give something away right now and you said, “God, I could give anything else away, but not that,” then you don’t own that thing—it owns you. God will test what’s really first in your life by asking you to give away the very thing you’re holding most tightly.

Luke 16:13 says, “No one can serve two masters . . . You cannot serve both God and money”.

You’ve got to decide whom or what you’re going to serve, and your giving will reflect your decision. If God is Lord of your life, then he should be Lord of your wallet, too.

There once was a wealthy man who gave to Christian causes far above his tithe. He said he met with a financial planner years ago. After they had talked for a while, the financial planner took a sheet of paper and drew a box, and outside of it he put a dollar sign representing money and a cross representing Christ. He said, “I hear two things vying for your attention. I can’t help you plan your life until you tell me which of these things you want in the center of that box, which represents your life.” The wealthy man thought about it a moment and then said, “I want Christ at the center of my life.” That was a turning point—that was when he started investing in eternity.

If somebody drew a box and asked what’s in the center of your life, what would you say? Would you place a cross or dollar sign inside the box? Would your bank statement support your answer? You can say something holds first place in your life, but the way you spend your time and money reveals the truth.

There are two key choices in your life when it comes to your finances: who will be your master and where you will put your money—eternity or here and now.

“Store up riches for yourselves in heaven, where moths and rust cannot destroy, and robbers cannot break in and steal. For your heart will always be where your riches are” (Matthew 6:20-21).

God doesn’t need your money. He wants what it represents: your heart. You can show God that he has your whole heart by surrendering control of your money to him and committing to give what he tells you to give in service to him and others.

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