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Humility Much?

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“For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted” – Luke 14:11

These words of Jesus are very convicting, aren’t they?  It’s easy to say to yourself, “I’ve never pushed my way to the best seat at the banquet,” and feel as though Jesus is talking to someone else.  But just think of all the ways we try to puff ourselves up.  Often by our words or actions we posture ourselves over others.  Sometimes we even directly put them down to make ourselves look good.  We have any number of status symbols: cars, houses, clothes, jewelry, tech-gadgets, job titles, and so on.  We don’t just want to keep up with the Jones’s … we want to out-do the Jones’s!  But beware. Jesus’ warning is similar to that in Proverbs 16:18 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.”  We may gain status, recognition or possessions in this life-time, but those will be of no value to us before the Lord.  What does the Lord value, if not the status symbols of the world?

“These are the ones I look on with favor:
those who are humble and contrite in spirit,
and who tremble at my word.” – Isaiah 66:2

May we be humble and contrite in our heart, and allow the Lord to exalt us – in His time, and in His way!

Humbly Yours,

PA

Angry? … or Ignorant?

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Scripture: Then David was angry because the LORD’s wrath had broken out against Uzzah 2 Samuel 6:8a

Observation: Earlier in 2 Samuel 6, we see that David chose special men from all of Israel to go and bring up the ark of God.  The ark was special.  David knew this.  That’s why he chose select men!  That’s why he lamented that the ark had not been inquired of during the reign of Saul (1 Chr. 13). That’s why we are reminded in 2 Sam 6:2 that the Ark is called by “THE NAME!” The Bible makes clear that where the Name of the Lord is – there He dwells.  The Ark of the Covenant was nothing less than the throne of the living God!  All was well … except for a major fault … The ark was never to be carried except by the priests using special poles in the rings on the ark (Exodus 25:13-15)! And yet, David carelessly instructed the men of God to put the ark of God on a cart to bring it home to Jerusalem. That was the mistake.  Being on a cart, the ark was less stable, and when a man reached out to hold the ark so it would not fall off the cart – he died.  For no one could touch the ark of God. Period.

Application: Why was David angry at God?  God was only doing what He had promised to do.  No one could touch the ark of God and live.  Is it perhaps that David was angry at himself for allowing such a careless mistake to happen?  Don’t we often do that?  We get angry at God for things that we have no right to be angry for. God only acts in Holy and Righteous ways – according to His good and perfect will. This we know.  But when God seems to act in a way that we would not, or in a way with which we disapprove, we get angry at God.  Perhaps at those times we need to examine ourselves instead?  What is our motive?  Is it pure and  holy?  Does it seek God’s glory?  What is our knowledge?  Do we see all things as God does?  Are we not limited in both ability and information?  Isn’t it possible that something God does that we are unhappy with is actually something good that brings God glory? The truth is, often we are angry at God, simply because we are ignorant.  And we are selfish enough to blame God for our ignorance.

Prayer: Lord, help me today to recognize that you always act in holy and righteous ways.  Help me to examine my heart rather than be angry at you.  In your holy Name.  Amen!

Your King Comes to You

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As we are in the midst of Holy Week, preparing to witness our Lord being sent to the Cross, we hearken back to Palm Sunday’s verse:

Zechariah 9:9 “Rejoice greatly, Daughter Zion! Shout, Daughter Jerusalem! See, your king comes to you, righteous and victorious, lowly and riding on a donkey, on a colt, the foal of a donkey.”

And we realize that whether it is a colt that carries the Lord … or the Lord that carries a Cross – He is still our RIGHTEOUS and VICTORIOUS KING!  Righteous, as he bears the burden of our sin before the Judgment of the Father, and Victorious as the cross and the grave could not contain Him!  Soon we will shout with joy, the phrase, “Alleluia, He is Risen – He is Risen indeed!”

Thank you Father, that our Righteous and Victorious King Jesus is reigning with you forever!  Amen.

Christ’s Humiliation

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“And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross!”  (Philippians 2:8)

there are two words in that brief sentence that we are not really fond of, actually three.  The first two are:

1.) HUMBLED
2.) OBEDIENT

We don’t like to be humbled, and we don’t particularly like obedience.  Don’t feel too bad about it, you’re not alone.  In fact, it goes all the way back to Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden!  It’s part of our human condition!  We don’t like someone else telling us what to do!

And what about the third word … do you think I’m going to say “Death?” … that’s a possibility.  But actually the third word that I think we aren’t fond of is:

3.) MAN

We don’t like our human limitations at all!  In fact, “Death” is part of that human condition.  No, we would rather be God.  In fact, this is the root of our dislike of the other words in the sentence.  As man (human), we would rather be God and be in control of the things of our lives, and even the whole world.

No, we don’t like being Man, Humbled or Obedient one bit. And that’s what makes Jesus’ venture to take on our human flesh, humble himself, and be obedient even to death on a cross all that much more amazing!  The all powerful creator God of the universe … the one who makes all the rules!! … subjected Himself to humility and obedience and death … FOR … US!

We pray: Thank you Jesus that you were willing to endure our human condition so that we would one day be able to stand in the presence of God!  Amen.

Honor God With Your Wealth

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We often imagine that we’ll be called to show our dedication and trust to the Lord under some pagan or terrorist threat where someone tries to get us to renounce our faith in Jesus or die.  Most likely (and God willing) that won’t ever happen to us.  What DOES happen, however, is a daily opportunity to demonstrate our trust in the Lord by honoring Him with our finances and physical possessions.

Did you notice that this week’s memory verse (Proverbs 3:9-10)
9 Honor the Lord with your wealth,
with the firstfruits of all your crops;
10 then your barns will be filled to overflowing,
and your vats will brim over with new wine.

comes right after the famous (Proverbs 3:5-6):
5 Trust in the Lord with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways acknowledge him,
and he will make your paths straight.

Is it possible that a very significant way that we can trust in the Lord and acknowledge Him … is to honor him with the firstfruits of our wealth?

It is Better to Give…

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Scripture: “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’ ” (Acts 20:35)

Observation: Paul is in Ephesus, on his way to Jerusalem. He has reminded the Ephesians that he has worked hard with his own hands in order not to be a burden on them.  Why did Paul do this? He certainly believed that a worker deserved his wages (1 Tim. 5:18).  Paul did this to model generosity and also to free up their resources to be generous to others.  Paul’s sacrificial gift to them allowed them to experience the blessing of giving to others.

Application:  We’ve heard this saying, “it’s more blessed to give than to receive.” But it’s not just a saying.  I know it to be true in my life.  I’ve experienced first hand the joy of giving to people – to my kids, to the needy, to homeless people, and to the church.  It’s difficult to describe the feeling that you get when you realize you’ve made a difference in someone’s life!  So this causes me to wonder.  Why don’t I do it more?  Is it fear? Is it selfishness?  Probably both.  But today’s reading is simply a reminder to me that neither is a good motivation.  First Fear – God promises to provide everything I need… so what do I have to fear?  And Second Selfishness – Jesus says it’s more blessed to give than to receive. I actually rob myself of the blessed joy of giving when I hoard things for myself.

Prayer:  Lord, help me to truly take to heart this message of Christ that it’s more blessed to give than to receive.  Thank you that Christ gave all He had for me – His very life.  May I be more like Christ in my generosity.  Amen.

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