A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honor shall uphold the humble in spirit (Prov 29:23)~~ Pride doesn’t like to lose arguments, winning is more important than being right and it’s most dangerous especially when we’re right. Pride doesn’t want to apologize, It is justified in itself. Pride doesn’t want to serve, but demands respect to itself. Pride sets itself up as the most important thing and seeks self preservation at all costs. We are all prideful at times in our ways. When we get too prideful, Compromise becomes like nails on a chalkboard. We hear the WORDS people speak, but we don’t hear their heart – there is a perpetual misunderstanding because while we “listen” to them, what they say is masked by our own thoughts and interpretation. Pride can create walls in relationships. Pride is a wicked poison. It’s both subtle and blatant – settling quietly into the cracks and flaring up when challenged. Pride is all about “self”. Humility on the other hand disarms tension and deflates the self – it removes the unhealthy sense of self importance, and places our primary concern on the other person. Humility reminds us that we desperately need grace, mercy, and forgiveness, so how can we possibly not give them freely? Pride is about having control. Humility relinquishes control. Pride is defensive. Humility removes defenses. Pride is a sign of weakness. Humility is a sign of strength. Prideful people are resistant to God and view others as the problem. Humble people respond to God and others. Therefore, God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5). I’ll take Grace for a Lifetime Lord! Let’s be humble before we are humbled!
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. (2 Tim 2:15)~ As the efficient military soldier is one with his weapons, so we must be with the Word of God. As we war with principalities, powers, the rulers of the darkness of this world, and spiritual wickedness in high places, we must ALWAYS have on the whole armor of God. In these days, this is more and more important! A soldier in God’s Army can’t just have the Word for Sunday morning and Wednesday night, But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in His law doth he meditate day and night (Ps 1:2). To meditate in God’s word, is to deeply focus within ourselves concerning the great things contained in it, with close application of mind and fixedness of thought. The devil doesn’t just tempt us or attack us on Sunday morning or Wednesday night.. or just before we eat or go to bed! Therefore must have CONSTANT regard to the Word of God, as the rule of our actions, and the source of our comforts; and have it in our thoughts night and day. For this purpose no time is amiss. And what is the benefit to being so intertwined in the Word of God? That this person may KNOW the Lord and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being made conformable unto His death; If by any means he might attain unto the resurrection of the dead (Phi 3:10-11); And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper (Ps 1:3).
Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? (Gal 3:3); But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me. (1 Cor 15:10) ~ Independence; Self-sufficiency; that popular idea that implies we can become whatever we want to become—without help from anyone. Unfortunately these days that means even without God. This speaks to the essence of what we long for: to be a self-made people. But this desire for self-sufficiency isn’t all it’s cracked up to be. In fact it helped pave the way for sin to enter the world. The lure of knowing all God knows drew Eve into wrong thinking. Dependence on her Creator seemed limiting, not freeing. We all follow in her footsteps when we seek knowledge that will empower and give us ‘independence’ apart from God. We like to relegate Him to certain times and spaces in our lives, insisting on handling the rest by ourselves. We fail to realize that building a life apart from God would mean, well, an eternity apart from God. There is a common saying that “God helps those who help themselves”. It sounds rational and seems like it would even be a good stance that God would take; After all: if we demonstrate some effort to improve, God will surely get behind us in our attempts to change. When we’re feeling motivated to make something happen, we assume God will help us because we’re putting forth the energy to make a change. Besides, He’s not going to waste his time putting more effort into us than we are putting into ourselves. Right? So we qualify ourselves based on the hard work we do. We evaluate our character based on how often we go to church, attend Bible studies, volunteer, or check other items off the standard religious resumé. We regulate ourselves by making things laws that we believe in our eyes as a people… are for the good of the people. We like to do it ourselves and we make the decision of how it gets done! We are the ultimate factor in our destiny. But when you do all these things and yet little transformation takes place, what then? Work harder? Do better? Make another law? Promise to do this or swear not to do that? We “up” our effort and willpower – we impart more discipline. Discipline is a great word. But it’s all too easy to assume discipline is the sole solution to our problems. Here’s the thing… If we could be so sufficient on our own, why did Jesus have to die? We couldn’t save ourselves from the consequences of our sins. God did that FOR us. Do we think we can now live without sin without His help? Are we trying to finish what He started? Do we think we can perfect ourselves BY ourselves? Will more effort and more willpower to make ourselves do more works and obey more rules more consistently actually make us better? It is God that has given us His Spirit and this—combined with our faith, not our strenuous moral striving—is what will perfect us! God doesn’t help those who help themselves. God helps those who walk with Him in faith! Our efforts were never the impetus for God’s transforming grace. They won’t be the impetus for our changed hearts either. We don’t need will power or self-effort or another rule or regulation. We need faith that God will accomplish in us and for us what we can’t do for ourselves. It’s not about self-sufficiency and independence; contrary to what you start to believe when you rely on your own efforts. God is the only one that can exist independent of any external efforts and sustain Himself BY Himself. We actually DO need Him! He is the source of what we long for and need. Don’t let the pride of independence and free will fool you! Although we are created in His image, God does not give us the power to imitate Him; He gives us Himself! And contrary to popularity, we can’t do it without Him!
And if it seem evil unto you to serve the Lord, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve The Lord (Josh 24:15)~~ Those that are bound for heaven, must be willing to swim against the stream. They must not do as the most do, but as the best do. We must choose popularity or divine purpose. We must come off from all confidence in our own sufficiency, else our purposes will be in vain; His will or our own. The service of God being made our deliberate choice; We cannot be indifferent as to whether we serve God or not. Choose you whom ye will serve, now the matter is laid plainly before you. Whoso despiseth the Word shall be destroyed (Prov 13:13), He that stands in awe of God, and reverences his Word, shall escape destruction, and be rewarded for his Godly fear. Will you serve the convenience of man’s ways, habits and traditions or the precepts of God’s will? Will you run with the crowd, honoring the created or will you stand against the popular to honor Him that created and sits above all things? Who is on the Lord’s side?
Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed. Then when lust hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin: and sin, when it is finished, bringeth forth death. (James 1:13-15)~~ We all have facets of our lifestyle and habits that deep in our hearts we know are opposition to God’s way. To justify ourselves and lighten our own guilty weight we are now putting it out there that we were simply born this way or that way. That this is just ‘how we are’. If we were born naturally in that state, that would be like saying God created us faulty and flawed. Yep, that’s it; it’s not us, it’s God’s fault! But nothing sinful in the heart or conduct can be ascribed to God. He is not the author of the confusion, worthlessness and rubbish, though His fiery trial exposes it. Those who lay the blame of sin, either upon their being born that way, or upon their condition in the world, or those who pretend they cannot keep from sinning, incorrectly point at God as if He were the author of sin; as if He made them genetically this way; as if He got it wrong; because we really want it different that how He did it! Afflictions, as sent by God, are designed to draw out our graces, but not our corruptions. The origin of evil and temptation is built up in our own hearts but we were not created that way. The Bible says the wages of sin is death. It also says that God looked at His creation and saw that it was good. That means He took pleasure in it. So if we were born this way (in the state of our sinful ways) we would reason that God takes pleasure in our eradication as punishment for our sins! But God has no pleasure in the death of men, as He has no hand in their sin; both sin and misery are owing to themselves. If we were born naturally evil, we would be saying that God created us with intention of killing us. To Stop the beginnings of sin, or all the evils that follow must be wholly charged upon us. However, here my friend is the fullness of His grace toward us: God, knowing we could not in our own power be completely sinless as He requires, He sent His Son who WAS sinless…and while we were yet sinners, Christ died on our behalf, satisfying God’s wages of sin…a debt we surely could not pay! No, we weren’t created or born with our sinful habits, ways and practices, we learned every single one of them and we take pride and pleasure in many of them; so much so that we determine even in our own hearts, our own brand of righteousness so that it fits ’the way we are’! So to say we were made ‘like this’… that God got it wrong and we’re just fixing it… that our Lord and the Creator of all that is good and perfect… made a mistake??? Let us not dare charge The Him with such shabbiness of workmanship and error! But let us be ever grateful for His grace and mercy!
We love Him because He first loved us (1 John 4:19); Nevertheless I have this against you, that you have left your first love. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent and do the first works, or else I will come to you quickly and remove your lampstand from its place—unless you repent (Rev 2:4-5)~~ In today’s world people have become “tolerant” rather than standing up for right vs. wrong! We find ways to accept and make appropriate the worst of shortcomings and claim it in the name of “loving” our fellow man. In turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to the intentional disregard for the statute of God’s Word, we turn the truth of God into a lie and manipulate it with man-made laws to fit our own agendas. We decide that rather than following the Way of the Lord as good, that as we indeed make a “law” of it, we define and determine our own good! We don’t deny God, in fact, we do love Him but that love has become lukewarm! We have lost the fervent degree of love that at first appeared. As time progresses, we continue to grow remiss and cold toward Him. The world is becoming overrun with Christians forsaking their first love – the Lord, while overly accommodating lawlessness and carelessness, and excusing indifference and sloth in themselves and others; our Savior considers this indifference as sinful.
Iron sharpeneth iron; so a man sharpeneth the countenance of his friend (Prov 27:17)~~ A knife that is not sharp isn’t productive, useful, helpful or ready. So to be sharpened as a man is to be ready for life, useful, helpful and productive in life and society. It reflects the fullness of life: physical, emotional, social as well as spiritual. He is in the way of life that keepeth instruction: but he that refuseth reproof erreth (Prov 10:17). There are times for us to sharpen and times for us to be sharpened. Unfortunately many of us become agitated when we are on the receiving end of direction and correction… We often don’t like being told what to do, or that we should change some aspect of our lives. We get offended and bitter when we are “sharpened” and we even criticize and question the right of someone else to exercise ‘sharpening’ over us. To protect our ‘ego’ we go into defense mode and deflect that correction back at that person or we justify our shortcomings in analogous parables. Truth is, each of us has a unique abundance of wisdom to share; BUT each of us can also stand to do better in life. None of us are perfect, BUT each of us has much to offer to one another. Our responsibility though is to keep ‘our ways’ from letting us be too self righteous and always wanting to speak correction; or too stubborn in ‘our ways’ to hear correction. We must always be open, in every circumstance to take heed of wise counsel with caution in whom we converse with; and we are called to have intent, in activity and conversation, to make one another wiser and better. No matter what our status, stature or demographic, we are all created in God’s image and under His wisdom, subject to guidance. No matter how great our morals, we have all erred in life and fallen short of God’s glory. Don’t be so proud that you elevate yourself above reproof. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble (1 Pet 5:5).
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith (Rom 12:3); For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23)~ They don’t look like ‘us’ or act like ‘us’ or have the same stuff as ‘us’; they are from here or there; grew up on that side of the tracks; they make choices that are ‘bad’…they are different than ‘we’ are, so they’re … “Broken”! There’s an interesting translation that comes to mind with this thought: “It’s easy to see a smudge on your neighbor’s face and be oblivious to the ugly sneer on your own.” (Matthew 7:3, The Message). We all can agree that times are more ‘crazy’ than ever. With that, the responsibility we have as the family of God only gets more important! We need to change the way we think about and approach the “different” factor… that brokenness in people; we must recalibrate our approach to it with an absence of judging. If we don’t, we are creating second-class citizens in the society of Jesus’ followers. The shaming of ‘broken’ people is so prevalent in society that those of us who are guilty of having struggles with our own brokenness feel we don’t really belong. Is this really what Jesus wants? It’s the rest of us who feel we are not ‘broken’ who are in the biggest spiritual trouble though. We see ourselves as more “moral,” and that’s dangerous, because wherever human beings have a personal sense of being moral, pride takes over! It’s said that the ground at the foot of the cross is level. That means all of us are on the same footing; all of us are in need of grace, in need of pity. All of us need to be loved. We try to find those things in various ways, but shame and “moral” [self-righteous] living are two ways that don’t work. We can’t be so angry – so self-righteous that we cannot change or make others to be as we wish them to be, especially since we cannot even make ourselves as WE wish to be. “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone.” (John 8:7)
I would have lost heart, unless I had believed That I would see the goodness of the Lord In the land of the living – (Psalms 27:13)~ We are witnessing the greatest power in the world displayed in Charleston, South Carolina these days. Journalists are dumbstruck. The family members of those slain in the church are suddenly international voices. The gospel of Jesus Christ is drowning out all other messages. Love is stronger than hate. Someone wanting to start a race war will not get his way. It could be confusing to some that the family members of the nine people killed in a Bible study would talk about forgiveness at a time like this. But forgiveness does not mean calling an evil thing good. It does not subvert justice. Forgiveness is not hiding from reality. It holds no moral ambiguity. Forgiveness in the New Testament simply means “to release.” This is what the family members are doing. They are refusing to hold the perpetrator of the evil act accountable to them personally. The killer will be subject to the judgment of the court, and the judgment of God. But for now the local victims are rising above vindictiveness. Their character is holding strong. Evil is being put in its place: its pitiful, pathetic, weak place. Glory to God!