Finding Hope in Surprising Places around You

The Judean Wilderness illustrates the greener grass we envy.

Why does the grass often look greener in the lawn of those who don’t walk with God? Finding hope to look away from envy’s pull on our emotions requires help. Thankfully, God gives it in surprising places.

Finding Hope in Surprising Places around You

(Photo: Grass in the Judean Wilderness. Courtesy of the Pictorial Library of Bible Lands)

By pointing to the land around him, David offers us the secret of finding hope for those seasons when we envy the wicked. The Judean Wilderness sprouts a beautiful green carpet in later winter, but its grass vanishes with the heat of the sun.

David draws from his days as a shepherd in this wilderness and offers an essential lesson in finding hope:

Do not fret because of evildoers,
Be not envious toward wrongdoers.
For they will wither quickly like the grass
And fade like the green herb.
Trust in the LORD and do good;
Dwell in the land and cultivate faithfulness.
Delight yourself in the LORD;
And He will give you the desires of your heart. —Psalm 37:1–4

In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus likely referred to David’s confidence that “the humble will inherit the land” (v. 11; Matthew 5:5)—a reminder that the Kingdom of God holds for us all that we desire. Finding hope in our certain future keeps us focused when envy knocks.

How essential we take the long view of life and refuse to take shortcuts that deliver longterm regrets.

Tell me what you think: What helps you find hope with the long view in mind during moments of envy? To leave a comment, just click here.

One Question from Jesus Can Help You Not Compare Yourself with Others

What to do when other lives seem better than yours.

Someone else’s stuff always seems better than ours. Have you noticed? Even their struggles seem better. The temptation to compare yourself with somebody else can be devastating in the Christian life.

What Helps You Not Compare Yourself with Others

(Photo: By Michael Johnson, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

When Peter first met Jesus, the fisherman followed the Master out of a motive for glory and a prime seat in the kingdom of God. Peter wanted to be the “greatest” in comparison to others. But after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, a single conversation along the shores of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha changed Peter’s whole frame of reference.

That conversation can also help you not compare yourself with the lives of others.

It can free you to follow Jesus as an individual.

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Envy Grabbing You? Here are 4 Tips for Freedom

And why getting what we want doesn't fix us.

For some reason, we tend to envy others. Big time. Be it a car, a position, a house, or a spouse, we want it. There just seems to be part of our nature that sees what we don’t have as what we need.

Envy Grabbing You

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

No matter what season of life we’re in, we tend to feel dissatisfied with who we are, or what we have, compared to someone else.

  • The teenager wants to be an adult.
  • The single wants to be married.
  • Those with no kids want kids.
  • Those with kids look forward to the empty nest.
  • The retired person longs for the seasons past.

If you’re not enjoying where you are today—and always looking for something better, something new, something else—then you’ll never have freedom in life.

Never.

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What to Do When Unscrupulous Opportunists Cut You Off

And the one question we should ask ourselves when we get sideswiped.

Last week a pickup almost ran me off the highway. The driver sped past until his truck bed paralleled my hood. Then with no pause, he lurched into my lane! I’ll call him Mr. Chevy.

What to Do When Unscrupulous Opportunists Cut You Off

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash)

No blinker. No wave. No kidding. Just here I come to squash the little Prius! Mr. Chevy came close to doing it.

If fact, if I hadn’t slammed my brakes, the monster truck would have sideswiped me at 65 M.P.H. and sent me careening off a bridge like Evel Knievel vaulting over Snake River.

Okay, sure, rather than call Mr. Chevy a “narcissist” (that’s one way to paraphrase what I screamed—a mere ten minutes after my quiet time), I guess I should have given him the benefit of the doubt. After all, he may have been racing to the hospital or the grocery store or something.

It’s one thing to deal with unscrupulous drivers on the highway. They surprise us yet seldom shock us. But dealing with this behavior from someone on our own team, where we all should look out for the benefit of others, can do more than anger us.

It should force us to ask ourselves a question.

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Stuck on Fantasy Island? Here’s How to Escape

What to do when you feel marooned in life.

When expectations about what life “ought to be” go unmet for extended periods of time, our hearts will want to drift into fantasy. It can happen for several reasons.

Stuck on Fantasy Island

(Photo courtesy of Unsplash.com)

Longstanding bouts with tough circumstances occur, such as:

  • a debilitating illness
  • family issues
  • sexual frustration
  • money problems
  • marital struggles
  • general discontent

We’ll see some other person’s life and imagine that if we had what they have, then we wouldn’t feel the way we do. If we only lived there, not here, then we would be a different person. If my father would only . . . if my spouse would finally . . . if God would simply . . . then all would be well.

This thinking is bunk. Here’s why.

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One Question from Jesus Can Help You Not Compare Yourself with Others

What to do when other lives seem better than yours.

Someone else’s stuff always seems better than ours. Have you noticed? Even their struggles seem better. The temptation to compare yourself with somebody else can be devastating in the Christian life.

What Helps You Not Compare Yourself with Others

(Photo: By Michael Johnson, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons)

When Peter first met Jesus, the fisherman followed the Master out of a motive for glory and a prime seat in the kingdom of God. Peter wanted to be the “greatest” in comparison to others. But after Jesus’ crucifixion and resurrection, a single conversation along the shores of the Sea of Galilee at Tabgha changed Peter’s whole frame of reference.

That conversation can also help you not compare yourself with the lives of others.

It can free you to follow Jesus as an individual.

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How to Sidestep Your Daily Ego

Don’t you just love it when God drags His rake across the soil of your heart and unearths all kinds of junk below the surface? Well it happened to me recently. Just like it happened last year.

Michael W. Smith at NRB 2014

(Photo: Michael W. Smith at the National Religious Broadcasters 2014)

I just returned from the National Religious Broadcasters annual convention in Nashville. This conference is a yearly microcosm of the most gifted communicators, broadcasters, and creatives in the kingdom of God.

Some of the rest of us showed up too.

I’m going to be honest and a bit vulnerable in this post and share how I blew it last year and how this year started off headed the same direction.

Last year I was caught flatfooted. But this year I approached it differently.

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You are Unique to God—Like Everybody Else

The winter blast that blanketed America still managed to leave us Texans without much snow. Conditions rarely allow for it. A snowflake forms by a sudden freezing of water vapor in the air that turns from gas to solid so quickly it doesn’t have time to turn to liquid first.

The result is awesome!

You are Unique to God—Like Everybody Else

(Photo by Photodune)

A tiny six-rayed crystal displays the order, beauty, and uniqueness of God’s creative power. Even in a light snowfall (which is all that occurs in Texas), millions upon millions of delicate and unique snowflakes float down.

The snowflake illustrates how God created different things in the same way but still allows them to be completely unique.

That’s a lot like you, by the way.

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5 Good Lessons from a Bad Example

Sometimes the best lessons come from the worst examples. Maybe you had a parent who disciplined out of anger. Or a pastor who wielded his Bible like a billy club. Or a boss who abused his or her authority.

5 Good Lessons from a Bad Example

(Photo by Photodune)

It’s easy to dismiss lousy leaders as incompetent, arrogant, or uncaring—and unworthy of our attention. But it’s hard to examine their flaws and failures so as to apply their bad example to our own lives.

The Bible often makes good use of a bad example. Scripture records the failings of many—not like some grocery tabloid would—but to show us why we should make good choices (1 Cor. 10:6).

The Apostle John took up his pen and wrote for us 5 good lessons from a bad example.

Thankfully, these are 5 lessons we don’t have to learn the hard way.

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Jealousy Made Our “Companion” Go “Evil”

Our Labrador’s name, Rayah, in Hebrew means, “companion.” (Pronounced “ray-uh.”) But a slight alteration of the Hebrew vowels renders her name, Ro-ah, meaning “evil.”

Our “Companion” Gone “Evil”—How Jealousy Works

(Rayah and Carly)

As it turned out, all it took to alter the vowels was to bring home a puppy to keep Rayah company.

Bad idea.

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