Whenever I am anxious and worried, you comfort me and make me glad.
- Psalm 94:19 AMP
I am the type of person who always jumps to the worst possible conclusion. Having that type of disposition turns everyday occurrences into cataclysmic events. If I am having a stomachache, I ask myself, what if it is cancer? If I call someone and they do not answer, I wonder, what if something is wrong? Every time I am paying for something at a store or restaurant, I am like, what if my card is declined (don’t act like you never had that fear)? To put it simply, I worry entirely too much.
Are you a worrier too? Do you often find yourself playing the what if game, asking yourself: “What if I fail?”, “What if I do not get married?”, “What if I do not get the job?”, “What if I do not come up with the money”, or “what if I am sick?”. Worrying is dangerous because it affects us both physically and spiritually. If we worry too much, we risk suppressing our immune system which opens us up to sickness, disease, and possible heart failure. Worrying also affects us spiritually because when we are worrying, what we are really doing is doubting God’s ability to comfort us in times of mourning, provide for us in times of need, and do exceedingly above and beyond what we can ask of Him.
And He did not do many miracles there [in Nazareth] because of their unbelief. - Matthew 13:58 AMP
When Jesus returned to his hometown of Nazareth, He received a less than stellar reception. Many who heard Him, were offended by the things He was saying and authority He claimed. Because of this, He did not perform many miracles there. The people’s unbelief put a limit on what God could do in their lives.
The only limits to God’s power are the ones we place on Him through our unbelief. When our worry leads to doubt, we like the people in Nazareth, place limits on a limitless God. This scripture does not say He did not perform any miracles, it says “He did not do many miracles,” which lets us know that there were some there who had the faith to believe that God can and will do what He said, and they were the ones who received the healings, breakthroughs, and blessings. Instead of worrying about the wrong things, they put their faith in the right thing.
Those who were blessed in Nazareth asked a different “what if” question. They asked, “What if God is who He said He is?” And then they lived like they believed it. You are going to have to do the same thing too. Ask “What if I get the job?”, “What if my business succeeds?”, “What if I am healed?”, “What if I find the love of my life?” and “What if it all works out for my good?” Then live like you believe it. Live like something good is going to happen to and for you.
Jesus tells us not to worry because our Father in Heaven knows exactly what we need (Matthew 6:32). The unbelievers in Nazareth did not have their needs met because of their unbelief - so they went on living a life of apprehension, worry, and doubt when God wanted to give them peace. Do not let unbelief keep you from getting your needs met. Eliminate worry and doubt from your life and by doing so, you will be removing the limits to what God can and will do for you.
Do not desire to possess anything that belongs to another person - not a house, a wife, a husband, or anything else. - Exodus 20:17 CEV
A few weeks ago, I was scrolling on social media and came across a post by Sarah Jakes Roberts that was celebrating her recent achievement of selling 100,000 copies of her latest book. Upon seeing that post I immediately started to feel bad because my book hadn’t sold 100,000 copies. Forget the fact that my goal for this year was to have 1,000 sales/downloads and to date I have nearly tripled that goal. Comparison causes us to diminish our own accomplishments.
Now, you are probably thinking that it is silly of me to be comparing myself to a world-renowned minister and best-selling author and you would be correct. However, it is no sillier than when we compare ourselves to our relatives, friends, co-workers, or random people we meet and see.
It has been said that comparison is the thief of joy, and when comparison leads to feelings of envy, resentment, anger, or causes you to devalue yourself then it becomes easy to see how it can rob you of your happiness, purpose, and wellbeing.
What Others Have
Then all the leaders of Israel met together, went to Samuel in Ramah, and said to him… “… appoint a king to rule over us, so that we will have a king, as other countries have.” - 1 Samuel 8:4-5 GNT
The Israelites were God’s chosen people and yet, they were comparing themselves to others and willing to relinquish God’s protection and provision to pursue what others had. That is what comparison does to us - it makes us envy other people and things at the expense of our own peace and happiness.
Even when God, through Samuel, warned them of everything they would lose by having a king they ignored him and responded by saying:
“No! We want a king, so that we will be like other nations…”
- 1 Samuel 8:19-20 GNT
Do not ask for another person’s blessings if you don’t want their burdens. Do not ask for another person’s relationship or marriage, family, job, success, or influence because you don’t know what they had to endure to obtain those things. You were made by God, and when He made you, He put within you everything you would need to survive the trials you would face, but when you covet and pursue what someone else has you are opening yourself up to an attack that you were not made to handle.
As they danced, they sang: “Saul has slain his thousands,
and David his tens of thousands. “Saul was very angry; this refrain displeased him greatly. “They have credited David with tens of thousands,” he thought, “but me with only thousands. What more can he get but the kingdom?” And from that time on Saul kept a close eye on David. - 1 Samuel 18:7-9 NIV
God chose Saul to be the King of Israel until his direct disobedience led him to fall out of favor with God. Following Saul’s defiance, God then anoints David king. Saul became upset and began to compare himself with David. He grew angry because David was being credited with killing tens of thousands and him, “only thousands.”
Have you, like Saul, ever undervalued your own accomplishments with an “only?” Maybe you have said things like I am only a mother, I am only an assistant, I am only part-time, I only had 10 sales, or I only have a high school education. It says, [Saul] thought, meaning - comparison caused him to create a false narrative in his head that what he had accomplished was insignificant, and an “only” led him to grow spiteful, depressed, and fearful.
In the end, Saul commits suicide and that is ultimately the cost of comparison - the death of your future. Instead of comparing yourself to the image that others want you to see and creating a false narrative in your head - learn to be your authentic self and live the best life God has blessed you with to the fullest.
You should each give, then, as you have decided, not with regret or out of a sense of duty; for God loves the one who gives gladly. And God is able to give you more than you need, so that you will always have all you need for yourselves and more than enough for every good cause.
– 2 Corinthians 9:7-8 GNT
There are few things more important in life than giving. Those who are generous, have been found to live happier and healthier lives than those who are not. Also, generous individuals are more socially connected to their communities and inspire others to give. Giving is also biblical; God provided us with life and hope by giving us Jesus, who reminded us that, “it is better to give than receive” (Acts 20:35). Our problem is, we often conflate giving with money, but there are things (time, love, compassion, etc.) more valuable than money that you can give.
One of the greatest givers I had the pleasure of knowing was my Uncle Anthony. He was not a man of great means, but that never stopped him from giving. He didn’t just give money, he gave his time, counsel, empathy, and kindness to others. When giving, he liked to say, “I know it’s not much, but it’s something.” If what you are giving comes from a place of love, then it does not matter how much it is. What you give is not as important as where you are giving it from.
The Widow’s Offering
As Jesus sat near the Temple treasury, he watched the people as they dropped in their money. Many rich men dropped in a lot of money; then a poor widow came along and dropped in two little copper coins, worth about a penny. He called his disciples together and said to them, “I tell you that this poor widow put more in the offering box than all the others. For the others put in what they had to spare of their riches; but she, poor as she is, put in all she had—she gave all she had to live on.” – Mark 12:41-44 GNT
God is more concerned with the quality, rather than the quantity of a thing. Jesus proves this by not being moved by what the rich men were giving but instead was moved by the widow’s offering. This widow gave from the bottom – she did not have much to give but it was something and it was done with the right motives. The others gave from their wealth, but she gave from her commitment and faith.
When giving, always do it with the right motives. Do not give money hoping to get it back. Do not help others just to make yourself look good. Do not give your time just because you have nothing else to do. Your kind words, deeds, and gestures should come from your heart not from your ego.
Commitment and Faith
Giving was not unfamiliar to this woman. The fact that she was at the temple to give proves her commitment because typically when we feel like we do not have much to give, we refrain from giving. Society honors those who selfishly hold onto what they have, but God honors those who selflessly gives from the treasures that He has placed within them. That is why He tells us that if we are giving gladly, from a place of commitment and faith that what we give will be given back to us in full - pressed down, shaken together to make room for more, running over, and poured into our lap. The amount we give will determine the amount we get back (Luke 6:38).
Therefore, give away what you want more of in your life. What you give should always be connected to a sacrifice. To give us life, Jesus had to sacrifice His life. So, if you want money, give money. If you want inspiration, inspire and uplift someone else. If you want love, give love. Learn to give not just what you have an abundance of, but what you want more of, and trust that God will provide for you and give you; in-return, everything you need.
"The Lord's Spirit has come to me, because he has chosen me to tell the good news to the poor. The Lord has sent me to announce freedom for prisoners, to give sight to the blind, to free everyone who suffers…” - Luke 4:18 CEV
As a believer, it is important to understand that freedom is more than deliverance from physical captivity or a repressive regime - it is liberty from destructive mindsets, negative words, and poor decisions. Christ’s proclamation to free the prisoners is not a promise to free you from imprisonment, (just ask John the Baptist) it is a promise to free you from yourself.
Are you free or has the things of this world imprisoned you? Has the separation left you a prisoner to loneliness? Has the unemployment left you a prisoner to depression? Has the debt left you a prisoner to thievery? Has the death left you a prisoner to grief? Your prison may be emotional, mental, or physical but there is something holding you captive, something that is preventing you from reaching your full potential in Christ Jesus.
During times of trouble I called on the LORD. The LORD answered me [and] set me free [from all of them]. - Psalm 118:5 GWT
When Christ died, He guaranteed your freedom from shame, sin, desperation, depression, and anxiety. If you want to live free, you are going to have to declare your independence, fight for it, and constitute a new way of life.
Freedom is what we have--Christ has set us free! Stand, then, as free people, and do not allow yourselves to become slaves again. - Galatians 5:1 GNT
There is a false quote attributed to Harriet Tubman in which she purportedly said, “I freed a thousand slaves I could have freed a thousand more if only they knew they were slaves.” While the quote is inauthentic, its sentiments are true. You cannot be set free from that which enslaves you, if you do not first acknowledge that you are being held captive. You must first admit and recognize that you have a problem before you can address it and be set free from it.
Now, once the issue is recognized you must declare and believe that you are indeed free from it. That is easier said then done, because the enemy convicts us in our thinking. He is going to tell you that because of your shortcomings that God will never forgive or love you. He does this to hold your mind captive, to keep you from seeking and receiving God’s truth. Remember, a big lie withers in the face of a small truth. So, declare your freedom even if you do not feel free because with God, we believe first then we see.
And who can win this battle against the world? Only those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. - 1 John 5:5 NLT
The enemy is not going to let you go without a fight. He will make that in which you know is wrong feel right. You are going to have to fight back against urges to return to those things that once held you captive. You are going to have to fight back against the urge to lie, cheat and steal. You are going to have to fight back against anger, jealousy, and doubt. You are going to have to fight back against deception and manipulation. Do not let the length of your captivity discourage you from fighting against it. If you want to win the battle, you are going to have to show up to the fight.
Then [the unclean spirit] says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’ And when it arrives, it finds the place unoccupied, swept, and put in order. Then it goes and brings with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and make their home there. And the last condition of that man becomes worse than the first. - Matthew 12:44-45 AMP
It is not enough to just declare and fight for your freedom - you are going to have to change your lifestyle and replace destructive behaviors with Christ centered ones, or you will find yourself back in bondage. You cannot say you are free from drugs, alcohol, or porn if you continue to consume it. You cannot say you are free from gossip if you continue to disparage others. You cannot say you are free from your negative thoughts if you continue to make decisions based off those thoughts. If you do not change the way you live, the unclean spirit you defeated will return to you and bring other spirits with him. It is not enough to declare your freedom, you must live like a free person, like a person who believes that those things that once had power over you no longer does.
Being free means you have been set free, and you are continuously being set free - meaning those things that once confined you no longer has power over you and the current attack of the enemy will not enslave you. So confidently declare your freedom, fight for, and preserve it.
Don't fool yourselves. Bad friends will destroy you. - 1 Corinthians 15:33 CEV
One of the most difficult things you will experience in this life, is the abandonment by people you once considered friends. When you are going through a hardship, not everyone who says they care about and support you will stand with you during your most trying times. People you laughed with, spent time with, worked with and cared about will disappear when you need them the most.
The quality of our relationships is determined by the character of the people we allow to have access to us. Keep an eye on the Judas Iscariot’s in your life. You can identify them through their actions because every Judas will steal from you, eat with you and intimately embrace you.
Judas did not really care about the poor. He asked this because he carried the moneybag and sometimes would steal from it. – John 12:6 CEV
Judas was the treasurer amongst the disciples, meaning he oversaw valuable things. Be mindful of those who want to oversee the valuable things in your life: your time, thoughts and love. You cannot trust and confide in everyone. Some people want to get close to you just to steal from you - they steal your joy, peace and happiness. See who is stealing your most valuable resources and ask yourself if they are there for you or if they are there for what they can take from you.
So [Peter] leaned back against Jesus and asked him, “Lord, who is it?”
Jesus replied, “He’s the one I give the piece of bread to after I have dipped it.” When he had dipped the bread, he gave it to Judas, Simon Iscariot’s son. After Judas ate the piece of bread, Satan entered him. So, Jesus told him, “What you’re doing, do quickly.” – John 13:25 - 27 CEV
Who have you invited into your life that eats your food but never brings a dish? Or to put it another way, who have you invested into who hasn’t given anything back to you? You can’t invite everyone to sit and enjoy the most intimate parts of your life, especially if they are not contributing to your life in a loving and meaningful way.
Dr. Dharius Daniels; in his book, Relational Intelligence, talks about the importance of reciprocity in relationships. He says that “we will never be able to give back to someone in a relationship exactly what they give to us. But we can give something. Reciprocation is a way to steward relationships. Reciprocation helps us minimize the likelihood of exploitation in relationships. It prevents us from using people and being used.”
Judas had told them ahead of time, "Arrest the man I greet with a kiss." – Matthew 26:48 CEV
Everyone who kisses you, hugs you and shares a bed with you does not love you. It is easy to confuse intimacy with feelings of love and support. Watch for those who view your vulnerability and weakness as a way to use and manipulate you. Your enemies will disguise themselves in empty words, fake smiles and heartless gestures in order to get close to you only to later abandon you after they have gotten what they want from you. Be watchful at all times, praying that you have the strength to identify all the works of those who want to harm you (Luke 21:36).
Most importantly, God will always show you the truth about yourself first, before He show you the truth about someone else. Make sure you are not the Judas in your relationships. Make sure you are not the one stealing, eating and kissing in order to get what you want instead of being a true and supportive friend.
New blog(s) posted every month.