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Pastor Phil

No Matter What Your Eye Color Envy Dims Your Light…Giving up Envy for Lent

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“Envy – I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.” from “20 Things to Give Up for Lent”, Pastor Phil, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, March 4, 2014

When people are tempted, they should not say, “God is tempting me.” Evil cannot tempt God, and God himself does not tempt anyone. But people are tempted when their own evil desire leads them away and traps them. (James 1:13, 14 NCV)

The temptation to Envy finds its origins in ungratefulness and dissatisfaction. Writing those two words saddens me because I realize how pathetic they sound. They paint a picture of a “victim of her circumstances” rather than a “beloved child of God” and one who is “more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus” her Lord. Envy denies Christ’s Blessings. Envy says, “You have not given me as much as You have given her.”

Clearly there is a reason why God included “Do not Covet” in His ten basic steps to a full, happy, blessed life. The definition of covet: “to desire wrongfully, inordinately, or without due regard for the rights of others” expands the reasons God knew envy leads to the troubled, angry, resentful state of covetness…and the news is full of tragic outcomes.

Giving up Envy for Lent requires facing the fact that I do envy others. Duh! It also requires facing the fact that Envy isn’t about admiring what someone else has or has accomplished but shouts “WHY NOT ME?” or worse “THAT SHOULD BE MINE!”…Envy throws the blessings of life in Christ in the face of God, like a ungrateful child.

ENVY destroys Love.
ENVY destroys Self.
ENVY destroys Happiness….you name it…ENVY destroys.

Most of all as I continue on this inward journey this Lent, Envy separates me from Christ. image

Instead of Envy, I will practice gratefulness for all the many blessings God has provided and continues to provide as I live abundantly in Him. I want to be more like Paul as he wrote to the Church at Philippi:

I am not telling you this because I need anything. I have learned to be satisfied with the things I have and with everything that happens. I know how to live when I am poor, and I know how to live when I have plenty. I have learned the secret of being happy at any time in everything that happens, when I have enough to eat and when I go hungry, when I have more than I need and when I do not have enough. I can do all things through Christ, because he gives me strength. (Philippians 4:11-13 NCV)

All I have , all I need is in Christ Jesus, my Lord.

Please, Please…Giving up the NEED to Please Everyone for Lent

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The need to please everyone – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please. from “20 Things to Give Up for Lent”, Pastor Phil, Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd, March 4, 2014

Admittedly, I have lived my life trying to please everyone and sadly failing. So here I am on this third day of Lent 2014 giving up “the need to please everyone”. Even writing that causes a little quiver of anxiety…probably giving that up later…because I realize how great a grip “pleasing” has on my life. The roots are deep, so yanking them up is painful.

God reminds me as I write that I am not giving up being pleasing or even pleasing others I am giving up the NEED to please, because it is that need that separates me from Christ. That need implies I am responsible for a myriad of things, other people’s happiness, their attitudes, the flow of traffic, world peace…ok, I know I am exaggerating, but suffice it to say the NEED to please everyone undermines my Faith in God and pleasing Him.

And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him. (Hebrews 11:6 NIV)

My need to please people increases the possibility that I entertain popular cultural and societal shifts that move away from God’s precepts or simply strife to ignore them so as to not appear “intolerant” or a “religious nut.” Clearly, the evil that can permeate culture is not a 21st Century phenomena and giving up the NEED to please, humbling myself, seeking to please God will open up my prayer life and the forgiveness of Christ will wash over me and cannot help but splash on those around me.

if my people, who belong to me, humble themselves, pray, seek to please me, and repudiate their sinful practices, then I will respond from heaven, forgive their sin, and heal their land. (2 Chronicles 7:14 NET)

Giving up the Need to please people, requires that I turn my “pleasing” ways another direction toward the One who Died for me. Relying on Him, rather than relying on what I do or say to please people and maintain homeostasis…I admit my arms are tired of juggling, my heart is weary from failure to please, the weight on my mind over others’ attitude pounds…So Lord Jesus, I lay the NEED at your feet. I have sinned before you by trying to control my world through pleasing others. Work in me to rid the imbedded roots from my life so I can draw closer to you. Amen

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Fat Tuesday

Today marks the final hurrah for the self-indulgentimage gluttony of body, mind and spirit that can so easily imbed itself in our lives. And truly, I am feeling fat but not sassy. The following devotional from Lutheran Church of the Good Shepherd in Old Bridge, NJ really hit home. Tomorrow is Ash Wednesday. Tomorrow I am challenged by Pastor Phil’s list and I hope you are too to really draw closer to Christ by daily giving up that in my life that separates me from Him. Gotta expand it to 40 but I suspect that is possible.

20 Things to Give Up for Lent
FEBRUARY 27, 2014 BY PHIL

Last week we talked about all the wrong and right reasons to fast for Lent. We are less than a week away from Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent. Many Christians “give something up” for Lent, but it usually has very little of impact on their life and walk with Christ. The reason is that we usually give stuff up for all the wrong reasons.

With that said, I want to offer up 20 things you might consider giving up this Lent. And these are things to give up not just for Lent, but for the rest of your life.

Guilt – I am loved by Jesus and he has forgiven my sins. Today is a new day and the past is behind.
Fear – God is on my side. In him I am more than a conqueror. (see Romans 8)
The need to please everyone – I can’t please everyone anyways. There is only one I need to strive to please.
Envy – I am blessed. My value is not found in my possessions, but in my relationship with my Heavenly Father.
Impatience – God’s timing is the perfect timing.
Sense of entitlement – The world does not owe me anything. God does not owe me anything. I live in humility and grace.
Bitterness and Resentment – The only person I am hurting by holding on to these is myself.
Blame – I am not going to pass the buck. I will take responsibility for my actions.
Gossip and Negativity – I will put the best construction on everything when it comes to other people. I will also minimize my contact with people who are negative and toxic bringing other people down.
Comparison – I have my own unique contribution to make and there is no one else like me.
Fear of failure – You don’t succeed without experiencing failure. Just make sure you fail forward.
A spirit of poverty – Believe with God that there is always more than enough and never a lack
Feelings of unworthiness – You are fearfully and wonderfully made by your creator. (see Psalm 139)
Doubt – Believe God has a plan for you that is beyond anything you could imagine. The future is brighter than you could ever realize.
Self-pity – God comforts us in our sorrow so that we can comfort others with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
Retirement – As long as you are still breathing, you are here for a reason. You have a purpose to influence others for Christ. That does not come to an end until the day we die.
Excuses – A wise man once said, if you need an excuse, any excuse will do.
Lack of counsel – Wise decisions are rarely made in a vacuum.
Pride – Blessed are the humble.
Worry – God is in control and worrying will not help.
God has so much more in store for you. But so many of these things above are holding you back from walking in the full destiny he has laid out for you. Today is a new day.

So there you have it. What else might you add to the list? Please share in the comments below.

God’s blessings,
Pastor Phil

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