Entitlement

by Julie Zine Coleman @JulieZColeman

The other day, my friend and I were comparing notes on grandparenting. We agreed that being grandmothers can be a journey through uncharted waters. My friend’s adolescent grandson was driving her a little crazy with his attitude that day. Any time she would refuse him what we wanted, he would respond in anger. “The entitlement!” she wrote me. She then assured me: “We don’t respond well to entitlement.”

That got me thinking. Is a child’s entitlement a result of bad parenting or grandparenting? Are we causing this obnoxious trait in our children by giving them too much? Or is there something deeper happening?

To answer that question, we have to go all the way back to the Garden of Eden. When Adam and Eve were approached by the serpent, encouraging entitlement was in his plan. Both humans knew that God had made it clear that they could eat from any tree in the garden but one: “For in the day that you eat from it you will surely die” (Genesis 2:17 NASB).

Notice Satan’s tactics: he first cast doubt on the truth of God’s words. “You will not surely die!” he assured them. Then he went after the goodness of God. “For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil,” he said. (Genesis 3:5 NASB) He’s keeping you back because He wants to remain superior to you. His motives are vain and selfish. He’s not for you. He’s for Himself.

Eve “saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise…” and took the bait. So did Adam. And the sinful nature of future humankind was determined.

Why did Eve do it? Every other tree had been generously provided. Why did she have to have the one thing that was denied her? I think it goes back to Satan’s challenge; his suggestion that God was not truthful or truly good. She should have more. She deserved more.

Entitlement.

Of course, they didn’t consider the other side of the coin before taking that plunge: that maybe God was protecting them from something, like a life of toil and pain. That their denial of the goodness of God would taint everything, from the physical world to their relationships with God and with each other. That in His prohibition, He truly was being good.

Entitlement is a dangerous thing. One of the ten commandments is “you shall not covet.” I’ve heard people say that the last five commandments (Exodus 20:12-17) are horizontal, governing human to human interaction. They do, but this one is more than that. To covet is to want what you do not have. Who provides what we have? God. Feeling entitled is a statement to God: I deserve more. You have refused me what I need. You are lacking in your goodness.

The opposite of entitlement is contentment. Contentment does not depend on circumstances, material possessions, or successes in life. Contentment is a by-product of something bigger: trust in the God who provides every good thing. Trust in a God who is absolutely good.

Paul wrote, “Not that I speak from want, but I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am…” What was Paul’s secret to living in contentment?  “Whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely…dwell on these things” (Philippians 4:8 NASB).  If there was a list of what Paul felt would fit that bill, God would have been right at the top.

When entitlement poisons our heart and mind, we already have the antidote. We need to dwell on God’s goodness. Had Adam and Eve taken a minute to think about how good God had already been to them, how every good thing had come from His abundant generosity and grace, I’m pretty sure they would have doubted that conniving snake. What Satan was saying was in direct conflict with anything they already knew about God. It would have been a no-brainer to walk away.

Let’s make sure our children and grandchildren understand that everything they have has come from God, including parents who say no for a reason. Let’s help them to understand there are bigger, more important things in life than getting to play video games all day or freedom to roam at will. Encourage them about His goodness, which He limits only to grow us in our trust in Him.

Because God is good…all the time.

But godliness actually is a means of great gain when accompanied by contentment, for we have brought nothing into the world, so we cannot take anything out of it either.  1 Timothy 6:6-7 NASB

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Thoughts on Entitlement from @JulieZColeman on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

Julie-Coleman-headshot-295x300

About the authorJulie Coleman helps others to understand and know an unexpected God. A popular conference and retreat speaker, she holds an M.A. in biblical studies. Julie is the managing editor for Arise Daily. When she is not glaring at her computer, she spends time with her grandchildren, gardening, or walking her neurotic dog. More on Julie can be found at unexpectedgod.com and Facebook.

Does the Bible depict women as second-class citizens of the Kingdom? Jesus didn’t think so. Unexpected Love takes a revealing look at the encounters that Jesus had with women in the gospels. You will fall in love with the dynamic, beautiful, and unexpectedly personal Jesus.

Join the conversation: Do you ever struggle with entitlement?

 

 

 

Drowning in Stress?

by Ginny Dent Brant @GinnyBrant

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things.  Philippians 4:8 (NKJ)

Hearing the words “you have cancer” just four months after my mother had died from cancer was a jolt to my entire body. The next week, the news got worse: “It’s aggressive.” But strike three came when my surgeon flashed my MRI up on the wall and said, “It appears your cancer has spread to other parts of your body.” It looked like a tornado had invaded my body. Was this really my MRI? Was this my ticket to Heaven?

The way we handle stress and emotions in the trials of our lives can determine our health and well-being. Stress releases a cocktail of hormones that can suppress or temporarily shut down our immune response. It’s normal to experience stress from time to time. However, when stress is constant, our body shifts from defense and repair to an inability to defend against disease. Where we focus our attention in the trials of our lives makes a difference.

God knew that stress would wreak havoc on our bodies, but in His wisdom He has given us remedies—things we can do to help our bodies to restore during troubling times. In the book of Philippians, Paul instructs us on dealing with difficult times that cause stress to rear its ugly head. He first points us to prayer and gratitude (in the preceding verses). Then he challenges us to refocus our mind and attention.

While writing Philippians, Paul was under house arrest and chained to a Praetorian Guard, awaiting to go on trial for his life. Yet his mind is not focused on his negative circumstances. He instructs us to meditate on the things that are true, noble, just, pure, lovely, good reports, and those things that are worthy of praise. I call these “the good things.” Paul is admonishing us to refocus on “the good things” rather than the adverse circumstances around us.

Paul’s advice is well-taken. Drowning in the negative circumstances of our lives provides no benefit. Meditating on the truth of God’s Word, laying our concerns at His feet in prayer, praising Him for the blessings in our lives, and refocusing on “the good things” are all productive actions that give us hope. We know that God will use all things for our good and for His eternal purposes.

Paul’s imprisonment meant sharing the Gospel in ways he could not anticipate. Living under arrest gave him opportunities to witness, time away from the world to refocus, and solitude to write God’s Word.

Trials don’t last forever, but they do make us stronger. Research shows that people who practice a lifestyle of prayer, gratitude, and refocusing their thoughts on the “good things” daily are healthier and heal better.

So what did I do in the middle of a deadly and aggressive cancer journey?  I prayed more, I meditated on the truth in His Word, I sang His praises, I thanked Him for all the blessings, and I refocused on “the good things” along the way. I found that my cancer journey gave me time to refocus my life and eventually use my journey as a gift to help others. What’s good for the cancer patient is good for everyone. Where we focus our attention matters.

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Drowning in Stress? – encouragement from @GinnyBrant on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

About the author: Ginny Dent Brant is a speaker and writer who grew up in the halls of power in Washington, DC. She has battled cancer, ministered around the world, and served on the front lines of American culture as a counselor, educator, wellness advocate, and adjunct professor. Brant’s award-winning book, Finding True Freedom: From the White House to the World, was endorsed by Chuck Colson and featured in many TV and media interviews. Her recent book, Unleash Your God-given Healing: Eight Steps to Prevent and Survive Cancer, was written with an oncologist after her cancer journey. Cancer prevention blog and more info at http://www.ginnybrant.com.

Join the conversation: On what do you focus when stress threatens to overtake you?

Got Stress?

by Cindi McMenamin @CindiMcMenamin

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.”  (Philippians 4:8).

What stresses you out?

Knowing there’s a misunderstanding that you’re not able to clear up?

Wondering about something that hasn’t yet happened?

Hearing a half-truth that was said about you and not being able to defend yourself?

Looking at your finances and trying to figure out how to make it all work?

Stress is clearly a result of worrying about what might be, dwelling on something that isn’t true, or being anxious about something we can’t change. And God doesn’t want you to stress. Stress and anxiety sends a message to Him and everyone else that He is not capable.

You and I don’t consciously think that, nor would we actually say that to others, but our actions display it every time we wring our hands, pull out our hair, or need to leave the room to let off steam.

In Philippians 4:8, we are told to dwell on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, and commendable. That means we are not to dwell on what hasn’t yet happened, the worst of what might happen, or what we’ll do if something doesn’t happen.

We are to live in the here and now and experience Christ’s peace in it. Not in the what ifs of tomorrow and worry about what we can’t control.

In Philippians 1:27, followers of Christ are instructed to “conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ” regardless of your circumstances. In fact, in the New International Version that verse is preceded by the words “whatever happens.”

Whatever arrives in the mail. Whatever is said to you at work, whether you deserved it or not. Whatever your bank account says. Whatever comes your way in any given day, you and I are to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.

The Gospel of Christ proclaims that Jesus is capable. Our stress says He’s not.

Whatever happens, whatever comes to your mind to cause you to worry, whatever stresses you out, live a life worthy of Christ by dwelling on whatever is true, honorable, just, pure, and lovely. As you do, you’ll experience God’s peace, not worry and stress.

Lord, when I begin to fear, worry or stress, help me to say aloud the word “whatever” – knowing that whatever happens, You are in absolute control.

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Got Stress? – Thoughts on God’s Peace from @CindiMcMenamin on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

View More: http://chelseamariephoto.pass.us/cindiAbout the author: Cindi McMenamin is an award-winning writer and national speaker who helps women and couples strengthen their relationship with God and others. She is the author of 17 books including Drama Free: Finding Peace When Emotions Overwhelm You. For more on her books and ministry, or to see if her coaching services can help you write your next book, see her website: www.StrengthForTheSoul.com.

Cindi’s book, Women on the Edge: Turning Desperate Times into Desire for God, (upon which this devotional is based), offers wonderful encouragement to women longing for a change, for a new direction, or ways to make a difference. Frustration can drive us away from God…or toward Him. Cindi helps women turn their negative longings into positive ones, as they pursue God in exciting new ways.

Join the conversation: What stresses you out the most?

 

 

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The Importance of Thinking Truth About Who God Is

by Grace Fox @gracelfox

Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.                                                                                                                                                               Philippians 4:8

Human artists can paint a canvas, but only God can sweep and blend colors across the heavens. Every time I see the sky ablaze with red, pink, orange, and yellow, my mind is filled with awe and wonder and my heart is moved to worship. If I’m feeling discouraged about something, my heaviness lifts at the thought of this amazing God cradling me and caring about every aspect of my life.

The thoughts we think about God are the most important thing about us. That’s because they shape our beliefs. Our beliefs then influence our behaviors, and our behaviors determine our destiny.

For example, imagine facing a tough situation. A cancer diagnosis, perhaps. Or an unexpected job layoff. If we think God is truly good, then we’ll believe He cares about every detail of our circumstances. Our beliefs cause us to turn to Him for help and to trust that He hears our cries. We pray in faith believing His answer is the best answer. Even though we might not understand why He allows these circumstances, we experience inner peace for which there’s no human explanation.

Now imagine facing the same situation thinking God doesn’t give a rip. Those beliefs result in our feeling anxious, angry, and abandoned. We make fear-based decisions believing the outcome rests solely on us because, after all, God doesn’t care. Or so we think.

The Bible story about the twelve spies demonstrates this principle (Numbers 13:25-14:25). Upon their return from scoping out the Promised Land, ten spies focused on the fortified cities and the powerful giants who occupied them. “We can’t go against them!” they cried. “They’re stronger than we are!” Their discouraging reports spread throughout the Israelites who, in turn, wept all night, spoke about returning to Egypt, and plotted to stone the other two spies, Joshua and Caleb.

These spies’ thoughts about God were small. This mindset led them to believe He would allow their enemies to crush them, so they refused to do battle. Their destiny? Death.

Joshua and Caleb demonstrated a different mentality. “We can conquer the land!” they said. They believed God would fight for them and give them victory. They were eager to obey and encouraged the Israelites to do likewise. Their destiny? They entered the Promised Land.

I can identify countless situations when my behaviors reflected inaccurate thoughts about God. Like when our family entered career missions and I stressed big-time over financial uncertainty. Or when He called me to write Moving from Fear to Freedom and I argued with Him for a year because I doubted His ability to equip me for the task. Or when I gossiped, ignoring the fact that He could hear every word and knew I was dishonoring Him. Goodness, my list could go on forever.

By human nature, our thoughts about God are often small and inaccurate. Those thoughts influence our beliefs and behaviors and ultimately determine our destiny. If we want God’s blessing, then we need to fill our minds with the truth about who He is and live from that truth.

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The Importance of Thinking Truth About Who God Is – insight from @GraceLFox on @AriseDailyDevo (click to Tweet)

Grace FoxAbout the author: Grace Fox is the author of nine books. She’s an annual contributor to Mornings With Jesus (Guideposts Books) and a member of the writing team for “First 5”—a Bible study app produced by Proverbs 31 Ministries.

Grace’s book, Moving From Fear to Freedom: A Woman’s Guide to Peace in Every Situation, will not only show you how to face your fears but to actually let fear be a catalyst for change. Learn how to stop hiding from God develop a deeper relationship with Him by experiencing Him in new ways.

Join the conversation: What is the most meaningful thing about God that you know?

Password: Truth

by Rhonda Rhea @RhondaRhea

Password anxiety. I’m pretty sure that’s a thing. You’re compelled to choose seven un-guessable characters, throw in some capital letters, add the name of a dead pet, sprinkle in a few lower-case letters, include some numerals, and, on the whole, the password should eventually grow and evolve into an even better password. Essentially, it should ultimately be able to beat up all the other passwords—make them run crying from the yard.

Anytime I have to choose a new password, my fingers hover over the keys for a solid five minutes. My sweaty fingers. Though I do try to hide any fear. Because I’ve heard the most evolved passwords can sense it.

It’s not that I’m a fearful person. Okay, as a child I might’ve been the only kid whose blanket fort had a panic room. But as an adult, fear isn’t such an issue.

Maybe that’s because as a follower of Christ, I know the password for conquering fear. Truth. That’s it. It doesn’t matter what you capitalize or how many numbers you add. Anytime we’re afraid, we find strength as we remember what is true, and by faith we hold onto that truth.

Isaiah 41:10 holds the no-fear message: “Do not fear, for I am with you; do not be afraid, for I am your God. I will strengthen you; I will help you; I will hold on to you with My righteous right hand” (HCSB). The truth is, God gives us the strength for no-fear living as we remember and believe that He holds onto us. Combine the password of truth with faith and trust, and then fear? It runs crying from the yard.

David wrote, “When I am afraid, I will trust in You. In God, whose word I praise, in God I trust; I will not fear. What can man do to me?” (Psalm 56:3-4, HCSB).

Fear, worry, anxiety. They’re emotional responses. Our emotions can be sneaky. It often feels impossible to reason with the rascals. And they’re insistent. It’s not like we invite fear to take us over. It just does. But our emotions must be taught the truth. By faith, we must believe that despite what our emotions are telling us, the indisputable truth is that we don’t need to fear.

Think of the things that cause you anxiety. Is there anything you’ve thought of that’s too big for God? Anything that’s too hard for Him?

Financial stresses? He owns everything. Health issues? He knit your body together. Too much to do? He holds time in His hands. Whatever the source of your stress, the Father loves you and it’s His loving desire to shoulder your burden and squelch your fear. “Casting all your cares [all your anxieties, all your worries, and all your concerns, once and for all] on Him, for He cares about you [with deepest affection, and watches over you very carefully]” (1 Peter 5:7, AMP).

Our mighty God, the One who lovingly cares for you, is bigger than anything you could ever fear. He is the firewall of all firewalls, as it were, protecting your soul. Wrapping our minds around that truth in faith will delete fear every time. By faith, remember, understand, believe the password:  Truth.

As for your other passwords? You might as well also understand that when you finally choose one that’s remote enough to be secure, the chances of you remembering it are even more remote than that.

Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable—if there is any moral excellence and if there is any praise—dwell on these things.                                            Philippians 4:8 HCSB

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Password: Truth – insight on #followingGod from @RhondaRhea on @AriseDailyDevo (Click to Tweet)

rhonda rheaAbout the author: Rhonda Rhea is a TV personality for Christian Television Network and a humor columnist for great magazines such as HomeLife, Leading Hearts, The Pathway and many more. She is the author of 12 books, including Fix-Her-Upperco-authored with Beth Duewel, and a hilarious novel, Turtles in the Roadco-authored with her daughter, Kaley Rhea. Rhonda and Kaley are also excited to be teaming up with Bridges TV host, Monica Schmelter, for a new book and TV series titled, Messy to Meaningful—Lessons from the Junk Drawer. Rhonda enjoys speaking at conferences and events from coast to coast and serves as a consultant for Bold Vision Books. She lives near St. Louis with her pastor/hubs and has five grown, mostly-coffee-drinking children. You can read more from Rhonda on her website or Facebook page.

Join the conversation: With what fears do you struggle? What truth can help you overcome that fear?