What have I observed about chosenness?

I learned that being chosen for relationship is superior to being chosen for a task. You see, when I sit down at the table Jesus set for me and I spend time with my Father, his Son and the Holy Spirit – I don’t bring anything. I just bring me.

A couple of weeks ago we had some friends for dinner. On the way to our house, the dessert ended up on my friend’s lap rather than on our table. She came empty-handed. But you see, I didn’t care. I invited them because they are friends and we wanted to spend time together. I didn’t invite her because she had something to offer.

Read: Psalm 23

This psalm is so familiar and yet so powerful. As I read it again, I am struck that there is nothing to do on my part. All of the blessings mentioned here are at the Father’s initiative and his choosing. I show up.

Walking with a chosen mentality requires a mental shift for most of us. It isn’t easy to change our thinking and remember the way he sees us. But it’s worth the effort knowing that relationship is his heart.

Why not take a few minutes and read Psalm 23 again. This time, picture yourself in this scene of tranquility and provision. Sit with the Father and listen for his words for you.

Read: Ephesians 1:3-14

It’s impossible to live beyond what we believe about ourselves.

Dr. Jay Shetler

The words we say to ourselves are extremely powerful. If I believe myself to be broken beyond repair, worthless to society and a waste of time, that is what I will experience in life.

We all have descriptive words running through our minds. Dirty, dumb, clumsy, trouble, loud, worthless, stupid, ugly, never amount to anything. These identifiers came to us early in our lives sometimes innocently, sometimes in mean-spirited ways.

Today I challenge you to sit and hear the words that run through your mind. What do you believe about yourself? If they aren’t backed by the truth of God’s love for you, then ask Jesus what he thinks about you. Ask him for a new identifier. Here is the catch in this assignment: the word(s) you hear from Jesus might sound very different from what you expect. It will take you off guard. It will be filled with love, adventure and delight. Write it down. Now bask in the light of this new reality.

Chosen.

What does it mean to be chosen?

Chosen for promotion means expectations and standards to meet.

Chosen for a production means memorizing and practicing and performing.

Chosen by God means relationship!

Last night Dave and I sat down to a simple dinner of shrimp gumbo and rice. It was a bowl and a spoon. And as I sat across from him, I was overwhelmed with LIKE. I know. You thought I was going to say love. But it was more than that. It was this deep well of really enjoying this person I am sitting across from in the simplest of circumstances with no expectation, no performing, no standards. Just relationship.

Your Creator chose you for relationship. He wants to sit with you and enjoy the humblest of fare. He doesn’t need a big party or fine food or fancy clothes. He doesn’t need you to perform for him or put on a show. He chose you because he loves you. Not because you have a skill, talent, degree, income – there is nothing he is looking for from you except your devotion.

Read: Ephesians 1:3-14

In these verses, Paul explains how God identifies us. We are chosen, holy, blameless, forgiven, redeemed, part of the family, set apart for him, lavished with love, grace and mercy. These are the words he sees when he thinks about you.

When you think about being chosen, what comes to your mind? What words do you use to identify yourself? Are you living in the truth of God’s thoughts towards you?

When I was a child, before there were mega stores, internet shopping, Prime delivery and Instacart, there was Fred Meyer – B & B – as we so fondly called it. This store was a precursor, I suppose, to mega stores. One end of the store was anchored by the clothing and shoe department. Next was the grocery store, then a restaurant and the other anchor was the drug store. It was a one stop shopping experience for sure.

In the grocery section, you filled your cart with necessary food items, took them to the cashier and paid. The bagger then inserted a brightly colored number tag into the front of the cart and gave you the same number to take with you. This allowed a person to continue shopping, if needed, in the other departments, or drive to the pick up door to retrieve the groceries. Drive up service wasn’t invented this year, folks!

I really believe Mom tried NOT to take us shopping with her. With seven children, she usually opted to leave the younger children home with the older kids. But once in a while when the older kids were at school, the three little kids (as we were lovingly called) got to tag along. This was a great day indeed, especially if it included lunch at the restaurant. I loved B & B!

We always ordered the same thing – cheeseburger, french fries and a milkshake. It was so good! Probably why I still love it today! The french fries were crinkle cut, the burger was 1/4# on a freshly grilled bun, the milkshake was thick and chocolatey!

At the end of the meal, the same thing happened every time. Mom dipped her napkin into her water glass and washed our faces. I can still feel the icy cold water on the paper thin napkin scrubbing away any remnants of ketchup. It makes me smile! Once in a while, if Mom’s water was gone, she used her saliva to wet the napkin. That wasn’t as pleasant.

There is another memory I have of those lunches. My sister always had more fries on her plate than I got on mine. I don’t know how in the world the cook always knew which plate was mine, but it never failed. She had more.

There were other areas where I perceived I was shorted; I had less. Less attention, less friends, less liked, less invited, less chosen. Somehow the areas where I excelled didn’t seem to matter so much because I didn’t feel chosen.

In sixth grade, one of the popular girls (so you know she knew what she was talking about) asked me, “Who would ever marry you anyway?” It confirmed that my unchosenness would continue into adulthood.

I remember looking forward to the celebration immediately following high school graduation. You know, when everyone goes outside and throws their caps and hugs their friends, laughing and crying all at the same time. That wasn’t my experience. It was lonely and I wanted to leave. I didn’t feel chosen.

I believe this is the experience of many. It might not have been at high school graduation. It might have been last week at church. Or at the work party. Or at the neighborhood cookout. Or at the family reunion, wedding, baby shower or middle school football game. We don’t feel chosen.

For so many years, I heard the voice of the younger me pointing out when she didn’t feel chosen. And I listened. As an adult, I continued to struggle. I still didn’t feel chosen.

In the years since B & B, I’ve made some observations regarding chosenness. And I’ve had experiences of being chosen. Chosen by my husband (yes, someone chose me), my friends, my community. But more importantly, chosen by my Creator, my Father! Scripture tells me that God chose me before he created anything (Ephesians 1:4). That means before I had the opportunity to do anything – good or bad – I was already chosen. And he chose me to be holy and without blame in his eyes.

He didn’t create me and then choose me to do dirty work. He didn’t have in mind that I would be his robot or his slave. He didn’t create me and then leave me to my own devices to watch me struggle. He chose me because he loves me and he wants me to succeed, to be the best version of me. And because he created me, he knows what that best version looks like.

This week we will take a look at what it means to be chosen. What are some of the strategies I learned? How did I come to live from a place of chosenness? I look forward to spending time together every day!

Until next time…

May the Lord bless you and protect you.
May the Lord smile on you and be gracious to you.
May the Lord show you his favor and give you his peace.

Numbers 6:24-26

Listening to songs for our daughter’s wedding and painting my son-in-law’s (to be) house to my daughter’s playlist, one song kept popping up. “More Like Love” by Ben Rector is a story of moving from the desire to be famous to the desire to be loving. I relate.

This song highlights my desires of the past and my desires for the futue. I want to live with a Romans 5:5 mentality. Knowing that I am lavishly loved by my Father and that he gives me the resources to do the same, I want to be generously, lavishly, ridiculously loving.

How about you? Want to join?

Read: Philippians 1:9-10

Paul says it very plainly here. As we grow in love (for one another), understanding (of God’s mysterious plan) and knowledge (of God and his ways), we will know what really matters. All of this results in pure and blameless living – a better way to live!

And that’s my prayer for you. That you know what really matters and have courage to discard the things that don’t.

It matters how we treat others.

It is so easy to forget about others when our own toes have been stepped on. And in the process of taking care of our toes, we jump and stomp all over others.

Maybe you don’t, but I know I do. There is a short phrase from 1 Corinthians 13 that rings through my ears on daily basis. Verse 5 says, “…(love)…it is not irritable, it keeps no record of wrongs.” That’s the part that keeps coming back to me. I am tempted to keep a record. You know – small slights, charged responses, ambigious phrases. And then I remember the short phrase above and I pause.

Pause to remember that it matters how we treat others. In this short letter to the Philippians, Paul reminded them over and over again that it matters. He encouraged them to take the high road.

Read: Philippians 2:1-4; 14-15

I know it’s difficult, but it’s the only way that leads to joy and peace. Paul provides a key tactic in chapter four. Here it is:

And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. 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

You are what you think. Fixing your thoughts on what is honorable and true, produces positive fruit in your life. Fixing your thoughts on failures and slights produces negative fruit. Again, it’s your choice. Choose well.

Besides that our character development is God’s idea and his work, what else really matters?

It matters where your faith is placed.

Do you trust yourself or do you trust God? Where is your faith based?

Read: Philippians 3:3-9

Relying on myself generally involves what I can do to make myself acceptable to the world, and ultimately to a higher power. And, generally speaking, I fail at it most of the time. I will never be good enough all the time. It’s like buying a new electronic device. As soon as I walk out of the store, it’s obsolete. New capabilities are being discovered all the time.

When we rely on ourselves, our efforts are obsolete before we get started.

God invites us to place our trust in Jesus, to rely on what he has done. When we do that, everything else is worthless simply because God’s way of making us righteous depends on faith in Jesus. There is nothing we can do that will make us righteous.

Not only do I love that character development is God’s idea and he makes it happen, I love that my righteousness is dependent on Jesus, not on me.

What do you think?

Today’s post is not spiritual or theological. It’s just downright practical. We face the question every day, “What really matters?”

Read: Philippians 4:6-13

I came home from an all day event to find that my freezer was not working. The contents were still cold, but thawed. That’s not a great way to start an evening. All my plans were immediately squashed by the emergency in front of me.

I evaluated the damage and then did the only thing I knew to do. I dropped to my knees in front of my kitchen sink and confessed that I didn’t know what to do. I asked my Father, “What in my freezer really matters?”

I moved from there to action. I cooked shrimp, grilled chicken, and fried beef into taco meat. I called my daughter and son-in-law to assist me and he arrived shortly. I took some of the freezer contents to my neighbor.

As I reflect on what really matters, I know that tonight I lost most of the contents of my freezer. But I haven’t lost my faith in the God who provides for me. I know that He is watching and this is not a problem to him.

This event changed the trajectory of my next few days as I continue to clean up the mess. I also know that he will help me accomplish all that needs to be done.

What really matters? What has happened in your day? How can you invite the presence of God into the events and allow him to provide creative solutions?

Read: Philippians 1:6, 2:12-13

It matters that the work God is doing in you is his initiative, his project. Let’s read that verse again:

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.

Philippians 1:6

Notice who began the work and whose work he is continuing to do. This verse, in the original language, is written in active passive voice. I am not a language scholar, but it means that someone (God) is actively working while someone (you) is passively receiving the benefits of the work. It’s like being at the dentist. The dentist actively fills your cavity while you passively receive the work being done.

So what is our part? The dentist can’t do his part if you don’t come to his office and sit in his chair. It’s kind of like that. Check out the verses in chapter two.

Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.

Philippians 2:12-13

Our part is to obey! Even the desire, no matter how small, is from him. And then he goes above and beyond and also endows us with the power to do what pleases him.

Maybe you’re thinking, “I don’t have the desire so I don’t think there’s any power there!” Well, it might be that you have shut off the voice inside that talks to you about godly things. And the desire is so hidden behind boxes and rubbish that it’s hard to find.

The starting place may be developing reverence and fear (awe and respect, not terror) for God again so that the desires he places within you can come to the surface.

So what matters? It matters that the work of salvation is God’s work and he will do it until it’s done. I need to show up, willing to obey. Then he equips me by giving me not only the desire to do what he asks, but the power to do it as well.

And that seems like a pretty good deal!