faith works by love #3 :)

Y’all know I’m the pastor’s wife – and I’m blessed to have many talented people in my life. They are gracious, gifted, successful and anointed – and when they operate in their gifts, they are doing it as unto the Lord and I benefit. When I operate in my gifts, I am doing as unto the Lord and they benefit. We celebrate each other because we’re on the same team! (insert BIG sigh of relief here – I don’t have to do everything because all of us can do something!)

However, there’s the scarcity mentality that we’ve talked about the past few weeks together. The scarcity mentality makes us wary of the team. The scarcity mentality can make us self centered.  The scarcity mentality can make us think, “If she is successful, then I won’t be successful” or “if people appreciate him, they won’t appreciate me”.  It’s just not true, my friend!  My associate pastor’s wife is a gracious hostess and a wonderful teacher – our congregation loves her!  Want a prayer warrior on your side?  Well, then you want my worship leader’s wife!  Do you want a sweet friend and trusted confidant?  I can point you to that precious young lady, she’s in my circle too! Every single one of these dear friends are “working heartily unto the Lord” (Col. 3:23), and as they share their gifts, they are thinking about being a blessing.


An attitude of abundance, of understanding that there’s enough to go around – and even more – makes me a part of a team. No room for competition in the body of Christ.  If my congregation loves someone else or appreciates someone else’s gift, it does not mean that they love or appreciate me any less. I like having a team – especially one as gifted as mine! 🙂

Here’s the original verse we started with a few weeks ago, and it seems like we’ve strayed – but thanks for staying with me!

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,  not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:10-12 NKJV)

Friend, if we are to be successful in love and righteousness and works and enjoy all the benefits that the Lord means for us to enjoy in this life with Him, we must eliminate the scarcity mentality.  We must practice righteousness and we must practice love: this is the message you have heard from the beginning. Cain murdered his brother because Cain’s works were evil and Abel’s works were righteous – he murdered his brother because he was afraid of the comparison.  I know the example is extreme, but the emotions that can rise in us as a result of the scarcity mentality can also be extreme.

Take time today to thank God the gifts He has given you – and take time to today to thank God for the gifts He has given to the people within your sphere of influence.  No room to be jealous, no room for competition: if someone on your team is successful, you are successful too! Rejoice and rest in that – the pressure is off now!  You don’t have to do everything (insert big sigh of relief here!). The gifted people in my life do not represent competition or take anything away from me – they give me space and Sabbath. I don’t have to be jealous, I don’t have to feel threatened. How about this for a perspective: the Lord loves me so much that He puts these amazing people in my life and surrounds me with people who make me look good! 😉

The gifted and talented people in your life?  They are treasures from the Lord to you!  Pray for opportunities to bless them and be blessed by them in return. We should love one another fully, without reservation, without competition, without fear.

It’s a big idea, So I’ll keep the blog short.  I want to take a little selah myself right here – a moment to pause and reflect.  Want to pause and reflect with me?  Let’s visit next Monday!

Jennifer 🙂

faith works by love #2 :)

When we left Cain last week (check it out here if you need to catch up!), he was angry, but his anger was displaced.  He was hurt, and probably embarrassed – his brother’s offering was accepted and his was not.  Rather than taking a moment to be teachable or reflect personally, Cain directed his offense and rash judgement at God and at Abel.  Rather than living out of love, Cain had a scarcity mentality that led him to the comparison trap. 


This “scarcity mentality” led Cain to think that there wasn’t enough. There wasn’t enough love, there wasn’t enough success, there wasn’t enough favor, there wasn’t enough fill-in-the-blank-here to go around.  He mistakenly thought that if his brother was accepted, then Cain would not be accepted.  He didn’t know there was room in God’s heart for them both.  In God’s economy, there’s always enough.

Let’s keep going:

“Now Cain talked with Abel his brother; and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother and killed him.” (Genesis 4:8)

I wonder what that last conversation was, between the brothers. Cain felt unloved and unaccepted, and sadly he thought that the only way to make himself look better was to knock other people down.  He felt he had to get rid of the comparison. Rather than doing his own best and bringing his own gift (how do you compare a fruit and an animal? How could anyone?), he eliminated what he viewed as competition and killed his brother. How heartbreaking. Beyond heartbreaking.

God wasn’t comparing the brothers.  God wasn’t even comparing the gifts they brought. God was looking at their hearts, considering the level of sacrifice that those specific gifts represented.  Abel brought his best, and God accepted. Cain brought a leftover, and God rejected.

The scarcity mentality is a dangerous trap for anyone.  Friend, you need to be so rooted in the love of Christ that you realize there’s enough love for everyone. ALL of His children are precious – just because one is loved it does not follow that another is unloved.  Just because one has a talent, it does not follow that another does not have a talent.  Just because one receives a gift, it does not follow that another goes without.

Do you understand that another person’s gifts don’t take anything away from you? There ought to be no competition in the body of Christ. What cause did Cain have to be angry at Abel?  What did Abel do to Cain? Abel’s offering had nothing to do with Cain, it wasn’t a reflection of Cain, he didn’t make an offering for the purpose of showing anyone else up.  Abel was making an offering to the Lord, bringing his gift. Let’s not create some dialogue that isn’t here.

Saul did the same thing with David – remember when the people cheered “Saul slayed his thousands, David his tens of thousands” (1 Samuel 18:7). Saul received these words as a personal attack. It wasn’t. David was on Saul’s team then – Saul could have looked at David’s victories as his own.  There was room for more than one person to be successful. Cain could have taken an example from his brother, made an acceptable offering to the Lord. Both of their gifts would have been accepted. Cain thought it was an either/or, when it could have easily been both.

In his scarcity mentality, Cain felt as if the only way to make himself look better/feel better was to knock down anyone around him, even his own brother.  You know, we behave differently when we think we are unloved.

I was watching a movie the other day, and these two academics were walking outside on a beautiful sunny day.  One had an umbrella, and the other asked why. He answered, “I’m going to a cricket match, and I think if I’m prepared for rain, God won’t allow rain.  Watch this” (as he shouts at the sky) ” ‘God, I’m going to spend the afternoon in the library!’ See, that’s almost a guarantee that it won’t rain.  If I’m not prepared, that’s when God will send the rain and ruin my day. You see, I’m an atheist.”  His companion said, “You are not an atheist.  You believe in God, you just think that He doesn’t like you.

If we could really get ahold of that, of how much the Father loves us and values us and treasures us, we would be at peace and confident and abundant and safe in a way that would completely change our us.  If we were changed that dramatically, the people within our sphere of influence would be changed as well.

Next week, let’s circle back to our original verse, 1 John 3:13-18 and tie this up.  This is the longest rabbit trail y’all have ever had to follow me on – thanks for staying with me!

Today’s treasure?  God’s love can transform us from the inside out. When we know He loves us and we know that He has our very best in His heart, we aren’t threatened when we see that He loves the people around us too. I’m praying that you don’t fall victim to some sort of scarcity mentality: in God’s economy, there is enough (enough love, success, peace, provision, enough fill-in-the-blank-here) for ALL of us.  God does bless us, every one. ❤

Jennifer 🙂

faith works by love #1 :)

I want to spend a couple of weeks on this verse.  It’s all about love – being able to give it, and being able to receive it. Operating in the love of God, resting in His love, sharing His love with the people in your sphere of influence…. Our faith works by love (Galatians 5:6), so let’s explore a little about love!

“In this the children of God and the children of the devil are manifest: Whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is he who does not love his brother. For this is the message that you heard from the beginning, that we should love one another,  not as Cain who was of the wicked one and murdered his brother. And why did he murder him? Because his works were evil and his brother’s righteous.” (1 John 3:10-12 NKJV)

Let’s just take a quick look at Cain and Abel – y’all know I can’t resist a history lesson 🙂  We’ll circle back!

“Then Eve bore again, this time his brother Abel. Now Abel was a keeper of sheep, but Cain was a tiller of the ground. And in the process of time it came to pass that Cain brought an offering of the fruit of the ground to the Lord. Abel also brought of the firstborn of his flock and of their fat. And the Lord respected Abel and his offering,  but He did not respect Cain and his offering.” (Genesis 4:3-5 NKJV)

A few things to notice:

  • Cain made an offering of the fruit of the ground.  Abel made an offering of an animal. On the surface, that may not look like it was a lesser gift.  Cain was a farmer, and Abel was a herdsman – so one offered fruit and the other offered an animal – big deal?

  • The big deal is that the offerings were not equal.  The Bible says Cain offered “fruit of the ground”. The Bible could have said, “Abel offered an animal” – if he had only offered an animal. However, Abel’s offering was described as “of his flock”, but Cain’s offering did not say it came “of his harvest”.  This may have been a wild fruit that he didn’t even grow.

  • Moses specified that Abel’s offering was a firstborn.  Again, Cain’s offering isn’t specified as a firstfruit, and when you take a look at the rest of Moses’ writings, he does use a word in other places that is means firstfruit.  It’s a different word – when you translate it back, there’s a word for fruit and there’s a different word for firstfruit.  There was definite significance to the first in scripture.

  • Abel’s offering was a firstborn and all their fat – fat here signifies the best, the richest, the choicest.

Cain’s wasn’t a firstfruit offering.  To be honest, this fruit might not have even come from his own harvest.  Cain’s was an offering which cost him nothing. Abel brought the best he had to the Lord, and apparently Cain picked a few wild fruits and called it a day.

Their offerings were not the same – but the Lord wasn’t looking for the same in value (never that, even today).  He was (and still is) looking for the same level of sacrifice. When you read the Old Testament, take every opportunity to apply the character of the God you know today to the God of the Old Testament – He’s exactly the same, yesterday, today and forever.  When it seems harsh, take a deeper look.  Let’s move on, because we’re about to see a little more character revealed – both God’s and Cain’s.

“And Cain was very angry, and his countenance fell. So the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry? And why has your countenance fallen? If you do well, will you not be accepted? And if you do not do well, sin lies at the door. And its desire is for you, but you should rule over it.” (Genesis 4:5-7 NKJV)

When God called Cain out, Cain was angry, but his anger was displaced. Before he even spoke a word, the Lord read his heart: “Why are you angry?  If you do well, won’t you be accepted?”  I think God is saying to Cain, “Hey – you don’t have anything to be angry about, Abel’s offering didn’t have anything to do with you. I’m not comparing gifts – if you had done well, you would have been accepted too.”

Cain took Abel’s offering to a place it didn’t have to go.  I think that God is gracious enough here, and Cain could have said, “Lord, you’re right and I’m sorry.  Here’s a firstfruit from my harvest” and I think God would have accepted it.  He could have accepted God’s question in the way it was meant: as a correction and opportunity to get back on track. Cain didn’t go that way, though.

We can displace our emotions at times, too, can’t we?  Have you ever been angry at a person or a situation that really didn’t affect you?  We’ve all been there, but it isn’t necessary. Comparison is a trap, and everyone loses. Cain compared his gift to Abel’s gift (even though the gifts were not at all the same).  Cain also compared God’s response to him with God’s response to Abel (even though the response to the gifts were not at all the same). It was a moment for personal reflection, and Cain decided that there was only one way to bring himself higher, and that was to push his brother lower.

Have we had similar thoughts as well?  Lord, please help us. Let’s continue this next week, find out what Cain did do with his displaced emotion, and talk about how we can avoid the same trap.

What’s the treasure today?  It’s knowing that God loves you as you, and doesn’t compare you to anyone or expect you to be like anyone else.  Praying you can be confident in His incomparable love for you today! ❤

Jennifer 🙂