Tag Archives: Pride

Be Reconciled

Matthew 5:23-26

23 Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee;
24 Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.
25 Agree with thine adversary quickly, whiles thou art in the way with him; lest at any time the adversary deliver thee to the judge, and the judge deliver thee to the officer, and thou be cast into prison.
26 Verily I say unto thee, Thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou hast paid the uttermost farthing.

Here is the heart of the matter, and I think one of the biggest problems in our churches today. We do not handle offenses well. Many times we do not handle them at all. We keep them inside and let them fester, like an infected wound. If some of us could see what these offenses held have done to our soul, we would be terrified. They would look putrid, oozing with infectious puss, swollen beyond recognition, almost to the point of gangrene. They invoke stress into our lives and cause us to alter our daily course many times. They are deadly beyond our ability to recognize the enemy at work within us.

Why do we hold on to offenses so easily? Pride mostly. We are either too proud to admit we were offended or we are too proud to ask for forgiveness. We feel like we can handle it on our own and that the other person should be the one coming to us. We deserve an apology, don’t we? After all, they offended us! Why should we have to take any steps toward reconciliation with them? We are not going to admit they hurt us by what they said or did. That would play right into their hands. Nope, we are going to just hold onto it and eventually we will forget it and leave it in the past.

This is how we often handle offenses. There is nothing in the Bible that sanctions this type of neglect. There is a verse that many use to justify holding onto an offense, and it is found in Proverbs 19:11 (KJV)

The discretion of a man deferreth his anger; and it is his glory to pass over a transgression.

The NIV translates this verse quite different:

A person’s wisdom yields patience;
it is to one’s glory to overlook an offense.

Looking at these verses closely, the word “overlook” is the Hebrew word abar, which is a primary root and is used many times in the bible. It almost always refers to passing over, crossing over, or going through. It is used to describe the people passing through both the Red Sea and Jordan River. Many internet searches will tell us that this word means we can overlook an offense made towards us. But personally I see it different. I believe this passages says we must go through that offense and get to the other side of it. It does not sanction just outing it in my back pocket. I wanted to bring that to your attention before going on in case you take the viewpoint that you can just forget an offense because this verse says so. Study it out and see what you think.

We should be in a position in Christ where we do not get offended. Did Jesus get offended in any way? Do we read anywhere that He was offended by something said or done to Him?. No! You will not see Jesus getting offended, and we are supposed to be like Him. Jesus did not get offended because He walked in humility and meekness while on this earth. We walk in pride most of the time, and it is our pride that gets offended. If we can learn to put that aside we will also learn to not be offended. This flesh is what gets offended, and our task is to put away the flesh.

Gal 2:20

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Gal 5:24

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Colossians 3:5

Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:

These three verses all tell us that we are to die to the fleshly desires and sins we once had. We are now supposed to live in the Spirit and not fulfill the lust of the flesh (Galatians 5:16). Being offended is one of those things that our flesh just revels in. Our flesh loves to be able to take sides and judge and demean other people. It loves to hold a grudge and complain and murmur against someone else. These are fleshly qualities, not Spir1tual qualities. When you get offended, you should ask yourself this question;

“When I am offended, what miserable piece of flesh is still alive in me that can get offended?”

The problem is that we do get offended, and Jesus addresses this issue several times during the Sermon on the Mount. In this instance, He is talking about the fact that we know of an offense we did to someone else that has not been cleared up yet. He says “if your brother has ought against thee”, not that you have anything against your brother. Maybe you have heard through someone else that a certain person is angry with you. Or maybe you know all about it and just decided to let it slide. Maybe it’s an old friend that lately has been ignoring you and you are not sure why. Whatever the case, you have been made aware that they have something against you – that they have been offended.

Many of us would say that it is up to them to come to us if they have a problem with us. Why should we go to them? It’s their problem, not mine! They are the ones holding the grudge, and it will hurt their soul, not mine. But Jesus says it is up to us to do something about it. In fact, He says it is more important for us to take care of this than it is to be in church and offer our praise, or our offering, or anything else. We are to take care of it quickly and not let it fester any longer. He says to go and first be reconciled to our brother and then come and offer our gift. This is Jesus talking, the one we worship! He is basically saying that we should not worship if we know our brother is offended by something we did and we do nothing about it. Those are powerful words that are way too often ignored by the church.

The clear truth here is that any offense hurts both parties. Offenses cause division in the church, and God hates anyone who sows discord among the brethren (Proverbs 6:16-19). Offenses cause people to move from one church to another, or even worse, they cause churches to split. Offenses become gossip and spread to the secular world as well, giving Christians a bad name and making us look like hypocrites. Offenses linger until they are cleared up, get bigger as time goes on, and eventually are forgotten but the hurt remains. Have you ever been mad at someone for a long time and eventually forgotten what you were originally mad about but you still decided to stay mad? That is an offense that has gotten out of hand.

The second thing that happens is that bitterness sets in. Bitterness will eat away at your soul. It’s like an infection in the body, as we described earlier. Once bitterness sets in, it is very hard to get rid of and it shows up everywhere we turn. Our attitude is affected, our health is affected and those around us are affected. It’s like a cancer that spreads to anything it touches. Hebrews 12:14-15 says”:

Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord:
15 Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Just a root of bitterness will trouble many. This verse says it is a failure of grace in our lives! It will bring a lack of peace and joy, quenching these fruit of the Spirit. Offenses not taken care of will lead to stress in every area of our lives. Why don’t we just take care of them as soon as we are aware of them? Why can’t we follow this teaching of Christ like we do others? The truth is, we must. We must do everything we can to take care of offenses. We will be talking more in a future lesson about those who have offended us, but for now it is time to take stock for each of us. Have you offended someone and just let it lie? Have you decided to just forget about it and not make it right? I urge you today to go to that person and be reconciled. Christ taught us to do so, and we should follow what He has said, especially when it comes to interpersonal relationships. Why?

In another portion of scripture, Jesus says He was naked and we clothed Him, sick and we visited Him, hungry and we fed Him, thirsty and we gave Him to drink. He also says that those who did so would be welcome into the Kingdom of Heaven. But those who did not do these things would not be welcome. Why? Because, Jesus said, when we do it to the least of His brethren, we do it to Him. An offense is the same thing. If we do not seek reconciliation from our brother, it’s the same as telling Jesus “Hey, your friendship is not worth it to me. I’m not going to try to make it right!” I’m sure none of us would say this to Jesus, but aren’t we in affect doing that?

Blessed are the peacemakers is the next to last of the beatitudes. This admonition in verses 23-26 is to be peacemakers. It is up to each one of us to do this, one step at a time. We have no excuse except our silly pride. When will you finally humble yourself and approach that brother or sister who is offended with meekness and love? When will we decide it’s finally time to listen to what Jesus is telling us here? There are hurting people out there, just waiting for each of us to make things right. Will you do so today?

Blessed Are the Pure in Heart

Matthew 5:8

Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.

 

Whenever I see this verse, I have to ask myself “How will I ever achieve this?”  A pure heart is a rare thing, and when I consider the heart I once had, full of ornery, deceitful, sinful, vile things I have to wonder how I can ever get all of that out of there.  I quickly realize I cannot, but God can.  I just have to figure out how to let Him.  He will not come in and just do it.  I have to ask step by step, and as He shows me the deceitful, wretched ways that are still in there, I can tackle them one by one.

What are some of those things that hide in my heart that make it impure?  The first one that comes to my mind is pride.  Pride hides from one’s heart like a cockroach hides from the light.  If you see one, you know there are probably hundreds.  If you uncover a drop of pride, most likely there is a river of pride just waiting to be discovered.  I can see pride in a person but if I tell them, it is unlikely they will believe it.  Only God and His Holy Spirit can reveal pride to a person, and only the Holy Spirit can help us rid ourselves of that pride by bringing it under control.  It is the most deceitful of all the vices, and the hardest to overcome.  But we must!  God requires humility (Micah 6:8), as we discussed in the last post.  He loves a contrite spirit and a broken heart (Psalm 51:17).  When was the last time your heart was broken before God?  When was the last time you were at an altar, broken and on your knees before Him?  This is how I finally tackled my pride and have some control now.  It is not an easy road.

The next one I think of is prejudice or biases we have.  I know this is true of me.  When I see some people groups I always wonder if they can be as smart or as successful as I am.  I admit this.  If they are not fluent in English, I wonder.  If they are of a different cultural group, I wonder.  If they are foreigners, I wonder.  I know in my head this is really stupid thinking, but my heart is deceitful and always poses this question to me.  It makes me think myself better (pride setting in) and I have a long way to go to overcome this one, but God is working on me in this area, and I am thankful.

Another area, especially for men, is lust.  Men are more susceptible to this and have a harder time getting the images out of their heads.  And the images are everywhere.  TV ads and shows, movies, billboards, magazines, and the like pose women as sexual objects all the time.  I have been caught up in this area most of my life, as I can remember sexual things that happened all the way back to childhood.  They still come back into my mind.  I urge parents to keep their young children, especially boys, away from any material sexual in nature.  It will stay with them for a lifetime, and their lust will grow to deeper and deeper depths as the satisfaction level must be met.  These pictures infect the heart and become as addictive as meth or cocaine.  Avoid it with all you can muster.

The last I will discuss, and there are many more, is covetousness.  It creeps into our lives so easily.  We want a better car, a bigger camper, a different house, keep up with the latest styles or have that new gadget.  It’s not because we need it, but because others are doing the same thing and we want to keep up, or look nice or be cool.  The worst part is we can’t afford it so we take out a loan, or do it on credit.  Believe me, I know all about this one.  It catches me all the time, and it is nothing but envy, lust and pride all rolled into one.  It is an endless cycle that will rob us of our freedom if we allow it to.  Watch out for this trap.

So how do we get to the point of a pure heart.  First, it takes the previous steps in the beatitudes to get to this point.  Be humble, mournful, meek, righteous, and merciful.  Those are the steps to obtain a pure heart.  Wow!  What a journey that is for us.  But we must take it in order to purify the depths of our heart.  It is not possible without these things being active in our lives at all times.  I think by now you can look at this list and see why they are all necessary for the purification of the heart.

Next, we must ask the Lord to show us our own heart.  Remember Jeremiah 17:9 says

The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?

The Bible teaches us that God knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.  Psalm 94:11 says

The Lord knoweth the thoughts of man, that they are vanity.

Hebrews 4:12 tells us that God’s Word knows the thoughts and intents of the heart.  We have to go to God to find out what is truly in our heart, because our heart will deceive us all the time.  How do we do that?  Psalm 139:23-24 says it best:

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

When we ask God to do this, He will tell us what we should next tackle.  He will show us what is going on our hearts and lead us to His way.  But we must listen carefully to His voice.  It may come from another person, from a sermon we hear, from our daily devotion or from something we read online or see on a YouTube,  Maybe even a song will speak to us.  Many times, these things will come from two or three different sources on this list.  If we are open to hearing God’s voice, we will know He is dealing with us in an area of our lives.  We must pay attention when we pray this prayer or we will miss a golden opportunity to move toward a pure heart.

The advice to listen to your heart can drive you the wrong direction very easily.  Listen to God would be much better advice.  Many people do not really understand how to listen to God’s voice.  It really is not hard.  What is hard is doing what is required and that is the advice Psalm 46:19 gives us:

Be still and know that I am God

It is when we still ourselves, our thoughts, and our minds and allow God to breath His still small voice into our spirits that we hear His voice.  Silencing those areas of our lives is very difficult for most.  It takes time to develop this practice, but it is well worth it.  They say it takes 20 minutes to close off the mind to outside thoughts.  20 minutes of just waiting on God to speak to us with no other thoughts or cares of this world creeping in.  This is not a time to be meditating on your favorite verse or portion of scripture or the latest message you heard.  It is a time to just meditate on God and yearn to hear his voice.  Not asking in your head but sitting quietly and stilling yourself before Him.  I remember the first time my counselor at Pure Life Ministries asked me to do this.  I could not figure out how in the world I could accomplish it.  But I learned and now it is priceless to spend that time with God.  Do all you can to get to the place you hear His voice clearly.  The benefit of a pure heart can be yours.

The result of having a pure heart is also priceless.  We shall see God!  What a remarkable statement.  We shall see who God really is and what He wants for our lives.  We shall see His purpose and the way to achieve it.  We shall see His image, the one that we are made after, and we shall know how to walk out our day to day lives.  We will see God starting to be formed in us.  We will be transformed by the renewing of our minds and we will prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.  I want to walk there and live there.  How about you!

Be blessed!

What do you Hunger and Thirst for?

Matthew 5:6

Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.

I have never really known hunger and thirst. I have many times said I was hungry or starving, but I was far from it. In third world countries, they go days without food and when they finally have a meal it is much smaller than I would eat. In many places water is sparse or contaminated, so they don’t drink the 64 ounces I drink a day. Many meals consist of beans and rice with very little meat. High on carbs, low on protein. The Food Aid Foundation estimates 795 million people do not get enough food to live a healthy life. It is estimated that a person dies of hunger every 10 seconds.

Compared to third world countries, I have never even been close to hungry or thirsty. I say I am hungry a lot. My wife ways I’m always hungry.  Once in a while I say I’m starving. What nonsense! I eat meals about every 5 hours and snack in between. I have it made, yet I still find time to complain. We’ve had our grand kids here quite a bit this summer, and they would always tell us when they were full from supper. But you can bet if we offered ice cream, they would not be full any more. Then they would be hungry an hour later. They don’t know what hunger is!

Hunger and thirst on this earth is a tough thing. I think the longest I’ve ever gone without food is probably about 36 hours. And I’ve never gone more than 16 hours without drinking water or something. I have fasted a few times for a day without food, but that is the longest. Moses went 40 days without water or food when he was on the mountain. I can’t begin to imagine going that long and seeking God. God must have given him supernatural strength to make it through that. Jesus also went 40 days in the wilderness. They say the physical body can’t go 40 days without liquids but it can go 40 days without food. That just shows that God gave these two men supernatural strength to get through those 40 days.

But here we are not talking about hungering and thirsting for earthly things. We’re not talking about food for our body so that we can walk from one day to the next. We are not talking about the cares of this world like what shall we eat. Jesus is talking about the things of God, and that we should have a hunger deep inside us to do the right and say the right thing at all times. We should have a thirst to be filled with the Living water that Jesus gives so that we can be a faucet for others to draw from. If we are not full of these things, how will they bubble out of us for others to see? That’s why we should always be hungry and thirsty.

To hunger and thirst for righteousness means to have a deep desire to do what is right. It should be all consuming, setting our hearts on fire to do more, to know more, to be more effective for God. All of this starts with our thought life. If our thought life is lined up with things that are good, our actions will show it. Philippians 4:8 teaches us the things that we should have our minds set on. If I am to hunger and thirst after righteousness, I should be lined up with that verse. My mind should be set on the things of God, things that are lovely, pure, honest, just, and true. I should think on those things that are virtuous and praiseworthy. I should think only on the good reports and not on all the negative and the gossip that comes into our lives. With righteous thoughts will come righteous actions. My hunger and my thirst must center on the ideals listed in this verse.

Unfortunately my thought life goes off into places that it should not be way too often. I have to admit that there are times when I hunger and thirst after the thought life of this world instead of the thought life that God would have me participate in. I need to guard against those earthly thoughts of lust, pride, greed, jealousy and revenge. Those thoughts will not produce righteousness.

Another verse that I turn to quite often is Ephesians 4:29. This tells us how to speak with righteousness. I yearn to have this verse alive in my life. It tells me that hurtful communication should not come out of my mouth but only things that are good to edify the other person. No put-downs, no judgment, and no condemnation. Only good things will come out of my mouth, only things that would build up the person that’s listening. I need to hunger and thirst after that kind of righteousness.

Jesus said He is the bread of life. This is what we should hunger for and long after. Our mind should be stayed on Christ and His word a majority of the time. He will sustain us and our spirit will be strengthened when we dwell on Him. I was listening to an old message from an evangelist friend the other day. It was a message about keeping my ministry strong. The first thing he listed was spending more time with God than the things of this world. I need to partake of that bread of life continually throughout the day, not just at my morning devotions. Every day of the week should be a day of time in His word and in fellowship with Christ, not just Sunday. Bread sustains us. I am hungry for physical bread every day. My hunger for the spiritual bread Jesus represents should be greater.

Jesus also said He is the Living Water. If we partake of Him, we will never thirst again. This water cleanses us from impurities and brings a flow of heavenly attributes into our life. Joy, peace and hope are all a product of the flow of Living Water that comes into our life. The Fruit of the Spirit are nurtured by this water from above. How thirsty am I? In my body, I need 64 ounces of water a day. That takes a consistent effort throughout the day to maintain. I don’t just drink it all at once and call it good. I spread those portions out throughout the day, sipping at that water when I feel thirst. May I always thirst in the same way for the Living Water. May I look to Him to quench my thirst throughout the day with His word.

Hungering and thirsting after the bread of life and the living water that is found in Jesus represents seeking His righteousness. These two things will bring righteousness into our lives because Christ only taught those things that are right and just. He taught us and showed us the way we should walk on this earth. As we develop our appetite for the things of God, He will come and fill us more and more.

The beauty of all of this is that God says when we hunger and thirst after righteousness we will be filled. I take this as a promise. If I would just set my mind to do those things that I’ve mentioned above righteousness becomes a byproduct. I hear a lot of people try to think their way out of sinful ways in their life.  They vow to overcome it, yet they dwell on those things more and more. This is the wrong strategy to overcome sin. The right way is to turn our eyes upon Jesus. The right way to overcome is to seek after Jesus. When we hunger and thirst for righteousness, we will be filled with the right things to do, replacing the wrong desires of our heart. I struggled with lust in many areas of my life for a long time. I tried to overcome it with prayer, worship, devotions and other ways. It was not until I started really hungering and thirsting for righteousness that I was able to overcome. I started thinking of the good things instead of the bad. If we will follow this path and do these things then God will fill us with what we are seeking. He will fill us with righteous thoughts and righteous deeds so we might go out and touch the world.

Blessed are the Meek

Matthew 5:5

Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.

Meek is a word that I think is sorely misunderstood. Many people see it as weak and condescending. They think of a meek man as somebody who will not fight back and is very quiet and shy. And it would be easy to get this impression of somebody that’s very meek because a meek man is not outspoken and boastful. Meek men sit back and take offenses.  They take the high road when there’s a disagreement. They will often submit their own will to someone who has greater authority. I like to call meek “quiet strength.” We can find meek people everywhere in the Bible.

Abraham was a meek man. One day God came to him and told him to leave his people and head out on a journey to someplace unknown. He had no idea where he was going to end up but he trusted God to bring him to his destination. He submitted himself to God’s higher authority without question. When God asked Abraham to offer up his son Isaac he went up to the mountain without hesitation, knowing that whatever happened God had the power to fulfill the promise that he gave Abraham.  He knew his offspring would be as the sand of the sea. Abraham submitted his will over and over again to God.  This is a sign of meekness.

Noah was a meek man. If he had not been do you really think he would have submitted to building an ark when there had never been any rain? Would he have taken the ridicule of the people over and over again for building this huge boat on dry land? Would he have stuck it out for a hundred years doing something when he obviously could not see the result. Submitting to God in an area of our lives where we cannot see the end result is a sign of meekness.

Joseph was a meek man. Sold into slavery by his brothers, he eventually became one of the chief men in the whole nation of Egypt. In fact he was second in command and had the authority of Pharaoh. He was a man of great power and wealth in all the land and everybody listen to his decrees. So when his brothers came and sought him out he could have stomped them under his feet so easily. But he remembered God had shaped his life for this moment and his brothers contributed to that by selling him into slavery. After all that, he still loved his brothers and provided for them in the midst of a famine. Recognizing God’s workings in our lives even in the worst of situations is a sign of meekness

Moses is said to be the meekest man that ever lived. I can understand why that would be said. 40 years on the backside of the desert shaped and molded him into a man who trusted authority.  When the voice came out of the burning bush and told Moses to go, he went.  He tried to convince God he was not capable of this task, but he was still willing to submit to God’s authority. Over and over again he walked into Pharaohs high court and told him that something extraordinary and unbelievable was going to happen to his nation. Water turned to blood, swarms of locusts and flies, maggots all over the place, darkness in the middle of the day, fire and hail coming from heaven. He submitted to God’s authority and spoke God’s words before the most powerful man in the world at that time.  Doing what makes no sense because God told us to is a sign of meekness

Joshua, Ruth, Gideon, Samson, Esther, Nehemiah and so many others all displayed meekness by following God in ways that we would deem crazy. They went out of their way to do what God asks knowing that he had the power to work through them. They did not rise up in their own strength but in the strength and power of God.  This is meekness.

David had many opportunities to kill Saul. Saul was obviously trying to kill him by throwing a javelin at him twice across the dinner table. When David had his chances he did not kill Saul straight.  Instead he let Saul know that he could have killed him but then asked why Saul was trying to kill him. David knew that God would take care of things and he wasn’t about to take matters into his own hands. He would allow God to settle the battle. He would allow God to fulfill the anointing that was on his life. He was not going to use his own power but rely on the power of God. No offense or enemy would change that.  That’s a sign of meekness.

Elijah walked into the king’s court and declared the word of the Lord that it would not rain for 3 years. What boldness!  Elijah walked in the power and authority of God but he was still afraid and hid on the backside of the desert for fear of being killed by Jezebel. There God comforted him and many miracles came out of Elijah’s life during that three-year drought. At the end of that drought Elijah rose up and killed all the prophets of Baal that came to try and bring fire down on the altar. Elijah trusted in God alone. He knew God would do what He said He would do, and walked according to that truth. That’s a sign of meekness.

Jehoshaphat, Hezekiah, Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, Daniel, Hosea and many other men of the Old Testament show beautiful signs of meekness. Their submission to God and his power and authority is the best road to travel. When we get to the New Testament we have Jesus and Paul and all of the disciples is our examples. They walked the life of meekness, always submitting to God and giving their lives for God’s purpose. They did not cower when confronted, but stayed calm and in control as they answered questions.  They knew God would give them the needed answers.  They also knew they did not need to act on their own because God gave them the words and the power they needed.  That’s meekness.

It is hard for us to be meek.  We want to do our own thing, go our own way and speak our own words.  The last thing we want to do is submit ourselves to someone else’s authority.  Our pride argues against meekness at every turn. You see, to walk in meekness means to put aside our pride.   Meekness takes humility.  Humility allows us to submit to the authority of God.  When we walk in pride we want to be in control, not submitted to someone else.

Even when we do walk in the power and authority of the Lord, we must be careful.  Meekness does not boast about following God. It does not brag about accomplishments done for God.  Meekness never goes around making a big deal about what was given for the Lord’s work.  Meekness sits quietly and does what God asks it to do. Meekness goes about its task without bragging. Meekness is quiet strength.

Those who can walk a walk of meekness will inherit the earth.  What does that mean?  I am not fully sure what that means, to be honest.  In my mind, it means that we will walk in peace and joy, not worrying about what the next day will bring.  We will not take offense at the things this world may throw at us.  We will proceed through life at a calm pace, not getting overanxious or worked up.  We will see all things as the mercy of God at work in our lives and not as attacks of the enemy.  We will be comfortable in the Master’s hand, knowing He has our back.  That’s a wonderful world to inherit.

Blessed Are They Who Mourn

Matthew 5:4

Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.

Mourning is a natural occurrence in our lives.  It is a time of deep sorry that usually is associated with a death.  The Greek word used here is pentheo.  Properly, it means to grieve over a death.  Figuratively, according to the Bible lexicon, it can mean to grieve over a personal hope or relationship that dies.  This verse takes on deeper meaning than we see at face value, as it is with most things Jesus says.  there is always a deeper meaning behind His words, and we can always learn more about ourselves when we dig deeply.

What are we mourning over here?  What should we mourn over?  The first thing we should mourn over is our own sin.  Remember what the first beatitude says?  Blessed are the poor in spirit.  The poor in spirit are the humble, the ones who have put their pride aside and have submitted to the Lord with all their heart.  When we are humble, we will feel a deep grief whenever we disobey the Lord.  We will be grieved by any sin that might enter our lives, even if it is unintentional.  We should mourn over any sin that may come.  We should mourn over pride when it rises up in our hearts again.  The big question is do we recognize the pride within us?

I went years wallowing in pride I did not see.  My wife told me over and over again that I was full of pride, but I did not listen.  This pride allowed me to think  I was above the law.  Not the law of this land, but the law of God.  I allowed sin in my life and refused to think that God would judge me for it.  After all, I loved Him.  I was worship leader and the Holy Spirit was evident as I led worship.  I occasionally filled in preaching, taught Sunday school, was an elder in my church.  All the while I was walking in deep sin.  Deceiving everyone around me.  Eventually it cost me my job and almost my marriage.  I was in deep trouble.  I went to Pure Life Ministries because of my wonderful Pastor whom I had betrayed and hurt.  That is where I came face to face with that pride for the first time and it tore me apart.

It was not until I mourned over that sin that I was comforted.  It was then that the Good Shepherd came to me and brought me out of that pride.  He led me ever so gently to a place where He was first again, and the thought of turning back to that sin was far from my mind.  I only wanted to please my Lord once again.  I only wanted to do what he asked me to do.  Never again did I want that pride to rise up. 

I gave my wife permission to let me know if she saw pride in me, and I promised I would listen, a promise I have kept for the last 10 years.  When I left PLM, I was told not to get back into any type of ministry or leadership role for at least 2 years.  I sat on the bench.  I worked some odd jobs, even landing at McDonald’s for 6 months (which I absolutely loved).  My new Pastor wanted me to get back involved and so did others, but I would not.  Not until my wife said it was OK. She would have the final say.

About  20 months after returning home, we were at a tent meeting that we regularly attended.  We loved to help out in the kitchen.  One morning, one of the ministers there came in and asked the leader of the meeting if he could start having a morning Bible study.  The leader said yes.  I went over to my wife and asked her if maybe we could help this man whom we loved by leading worship for him. She said OK, and the minister agreed.  We had several nice morning services and enjoyed  a time of worship.

Later that week during the meeting, I was under the tent when that same minister was giving an exhortation.  He had come to the point in the service when often a word of prophecy would come forth.  He walked back to me and said that God was going to do a new work in my life, one that I would never have suspected.  This work would come suddenly and would be pleasing to God and to many others.  He said it would be like nothing I had ever done before, and it would bring glory to God.

I wept as his words came forth.  I had no idea what this work would be, but the comfort that the word of prophecy gave me was incredible.  My time of mourning over my pride had finally come to an end.  We went back to our church and my wife told the Pastor I was ready to help with worship again if he so desired.  I had never led worship under this pastor, but had discussed my calling and my fallout with him so he knew.  He allowed us back right away.  He’s a wonderful man of God.

Then it happened.  I was driving on my job and all of a sudden I got words in my head and a melody along with them.  I had previously had many tunes go through my head, but never words.  I was flabbergasted, not knowing what to do.  I pulled over to the side of the road, wrote down the words and recorded them into my cell phone.  A few days later I visited my pastor and sang him the song, explaining the circumstances.  He loved it.  I asked him what I should do and he just said keep listening.  I did.

Since that day, God has poured more than 300 worship songs and choruses through me, and over 2,000 poems.  They just keep coming.  There is no explaining it except to say that the spirit of God just takes over for 15 to 20 minutes and there it is, the finished work.  I post whenever I get a new poem, or song, or psalm on my Psalmist blog, which many of you follow as well..  The new work that was prophesied under that tent is still flourishing, almost more now than it did at first.  I am in awe of God.

Have you gotten to the place where you mourn over your sin?  Do you have pride in your life that you are allowing to control you?  I am convinced that everyone should have someone else who can be their pride monitor.  Pride masks itself so the individual cannot see it, and it will lead you to places you should not go.  Until you mourn over your pride, you will never find comfort from it.

In Psalm 139, David begins by saying that God knows every thought he has and knows exactly where he is at all times.  But at the end of the Psalm, David gives God permission to do something that we also should daily ask God to do.

23 Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  24 And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

If God knew all Davids thought, why would this prayer be necessary?  Because only God can reveal to us our pride.  No one can ever tell us we are full of pride because we will not listen.  When God starts to deal with your pride, you will know it.  But God will not deal with it unless we ask Him to.  he does not intrude on our livers without being asked.  God is a gentleman, always acting in mercy and grace.  If we allow Him to search our hearts and reveal our wicked ways, He will.  When we see them and mourn over them we will be comforted.

 

 

Give all the Glory to God

Galatians 6:11-14 (KJV)

11 Ye see how large a letter I have written unto you with mine own hand.
12 As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.
13 For neither they themselves who are circumcised keep the law; but desire to have you circumcised, that they may glory in your flesh.
14 But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.

The first thing He says was here and said that he wrote this letter by his own hand. Typically a scribe would take down word for word what Paul was saying in his letters. But for the Galatians he decided to write this letter himself and it seems like he must have had large handwriting. It’s not that this letter is very long because the letters to the Corinthians are much longer. I think he’s talking about his handwriting, that he writes in a large fashion. He wanted to make this point because he wanted them to know he was really emphatic about this point concerning the law and circumcision.

At the beginning of Paul’s letter to the Galatians he spent a lot of time talking about the fact that circumcision was of the law and he was trying to minister the grace of Christ. The people who are coming around telling them they need to be circumcised were telling them a lie. They wanted them back under the law. Now towards the end of his letter he brings up the subject again. This is how much emphasis Paul wants to put on the subject of the law versus Grace. This battle still rages in the church today. The law vs grace. Saved by grace or saved by works, which is it? To me, it’s saved by grace and kept by works. There can be no other price paid for our salvation – Jesus paid it all. Thus, we do not have to do anything to recieve that salvation except to exercise the faith that God gives to every man and place that faith in Jesus Christ. Once we have done that, works of mercy should result from our lives, and we have become new creatures in Christ..

It’s also interesting to me that this of the letter comes after he talked about walking in the spirit and not walking in the flesh. In verse 12 Paul says the only reason there is to be circumcised is so you can glory in the flesh. In other words he is equating circumcision with Walking In the Flesh here. If they were going to do that it would be because they wanted to be recognized for the fact that they had done this thing. He points that those people who were telling them they needed to be circumcised were not keeping the rest of the law. They were only concerned with people keeping that one point. But keeping one part of the law does a person no good! If you’re going to keep one part, you need to keep it all. If you’re living under grace, that is not a concern.

We see this in churches today as well. There are all kinds of rules that govern this church or that church. Having Biblical doctrine has become “uncool”. So we have decided to follow our own gospel and made our own rules to be a Christian. Some might say you must receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit, others will say you must be baptized to be saved. Some say you must tithe, others will say you must do work for the church to be saved. In any case, they are trying to put you under the law, not under grace.

Grace is all about God, not all about you. Grace is what called you out of darkness into an understanding of what the gospel means. Grace is what drew you to admit you were a sinner and needed a redeemer. Grace is what helped you recognize that Jesus was the only Savior. Grace was what reached into your heart and turned that stony ground to a soft clay. Grace is what began to mold and shape your heart and mind into the new creation Christ wants you to be. And grace still works today inside you to help you work out your salvation with fear and trembling. It’s all about grace, not about works.

They wanted to glory in their flesh, to be able to say the did something to be saved. But heaven forbid did any of us should ever try to glory in our flesh, or preach a message that might change their lives and then we take the glory for it. It is God that does all of it not us. He may give us a dynamic message. God will move in a mighty way and heal people and deliver people and people might get saved. We all would love to see that kind of a service in our church. But heaven forbid when that happens I should think something of myself. Let me never glory in the flesh but always turn all the glory to God and all the things that He does for us. That’s what Paul is saying in verse 14 God forbid that I should Glory.

There is no place for Glory in my life. I am a sinner and it’s only by the precious blood of Jesus Christ that I can even live a good life. He gives me strength. He gives me hope. He gives me love and joy and peace. He gives me these things so that I can give them to others. And above all things He gives me mercy and Grace. When I see His mercy and Grace alive and active in my life, I often start to weep and say Lord why me. Why do you care so much about me. Why do you lavish your mercy and grace on me. I am undeserving of any of it. Yet you shower me with blessings every single day. I cannot count the mercy that you have in my life. I cannot count the times that your grace has caught me off guard. Precious savior may I always only glory in you. May I always give you the praise for what you have done in my life May I always make sure that everybody else knows that it’s you who’s working in my life. It’s you that’s healing me from this cancer. It’s you that is giving me the strength in my legs to go on. It’s Only You Lord.

If you are getting the glory, STOP IT! Give all the glory to God. He deserves it!

Be blessed.

 

Guard Against Pride

Galatians 6:3-5 (KJV)

For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another.

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Am I deceiving myself? When anyone thinks that they am something special or that they have accomplished mighty things by themselves they are deceiving themselves. Others may think they are a special person, or have special gifts and talents, and that is fine.  They might see gifts flowing through that person and realize God has blessed them in certain ways, and in their eyes that person is special.  But when they start believing that in their special-ness, and start to verbalize that belief, they are in trouble. Everything good that we do and everything we have comes from God. When we start to take credit for it then pride is rising up within us.  Pride will always deceive us. We must guard against the appearance of pride in our lives.

You cannot get rid of this pride.  It is an element of our flesh.  You can only learn to control it, but first you must acknowledge it is there.  Until you do that, you have lost the battle.  Once you acknowledge it is there, then you can start to guard against it.  The best way to guard against pride is to have somebody who will help you watch for it. It must be somebody you can trust and that you allow yourself to be accountable to. It always comes down to your decision to listen or not to listen. In my case my accountability partner is my wife. She sees pride in me very quickly and very easily. She knows when it is rising up. When I went through my struggles years ago with pride I came home and I gave her permission to point out pride anytime it came up in my life and I promised her that I would listen. Through these last 10 years I can’t tell you how many times my pride has crept back up. And every time she has corrected me I have listened.

How can she tell that pride is creeping up? My pride will manifest in several   ways.  The first is know-it-all pride. I demand that I know better about something and I boast that I know the right way. I demand in my way be listened to despite her saying that it will hurt or it’ll do damage. Or I might diminish someone else’s ability.  These are all signs of know-t-all pride.  Plus there’s the most obvious one – the person who always says “I Know” when you are trying to help them correct something.   They think they know, but since they have not done anything about it yet, they really don’t know.  I was there and still find myself there a lot.  When I get in these situations, my wife is quick to point them out now.  When I listen to her I can look back and see how I was wrong and I go and ask her forgiveness. This is the one I struggle with the most.

Another area of pride is needing to be in control. I was always a very controlling person. I had to have my way, or I had to have my way followed.  I want to direct the choir, and I haven’t the foggiest idea what we are singing! But I’ve learned it it’s much better to roll with the punches so to say. It is easy for her to point out when I get controlling because once she says something I usually recognize it right away and I back off. In most cases I have not been given the authority to be in control. Turns out I’m robbing that authority from somebody else. I must guard against this all the time.

These are the two types of pride that I struggle with the most.  Some other types are vanity, a haughty spirit (arrogance),  unapproachable pride, spiritual pride, and so on.  I challenge you to ask God to show you the ways pride rises up in your life. I pray God will send an accountability partner to you that can help you with your pride so that you do not think you are something when you are nothing. The last thing we need to do is to be deceiving ourselves.  Because when we deceive ourselves, we certainly deceive others.  Deception is never God’s  way!

Proving your own work is not prideful. It is showing that we have done the research and done what God has asked us to do.  God desires to work through us to accomplish His means not our own. So when you are looking over the works of your hands, the words that come out of your mouth and the thoughts that are in your heart, who gets the glory for those? When you prove these things out, do they bring glory to you or to God? If they are bringing you glory then there is something amiss. But if they are bringing God glory then your work is proven and you can rejoice in it.

I often get many compliments on the beauty of the poems and songs that God gives me and I write down. It is imperative that I do not think these songs and poems come from me. I cannot start to think that I created them.  They are not the work of my mind and my words, they are God’s. When I start to think they are mine, I am in trouble.  It is then that I will start to accept the glory for myself. It is my obligation to deflect all the glory to God and let people know that these words were given by God and I am just a vessel. Even

Now we come to what seems like a contradicting from verse 2 where Paul writes that we should bear one another’s burden. He now says we should bear our own burdens. But both are true. We need to lift one another up with intercessory prayer and help others through the trials and tests that they face. That is one of our primary calls as Christians – top intercede.  Another is the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:11-21).  Both have to do with bearing the other persons burden.  At the same time we must make sure that we are walking on the straight and narrow. We must be doing what God is asking us to do and not becoming proud or boastful about it. Then we are putting the other person first and not ourselves.

If we are not bearing our own burden then we will find ourselves drifting away from God instead of drawing near to him. There is no middle ground. You’re always going one direction or the other and I have convinced that if you’re falling away from God you’re not bearing your own burden. You’re not studying the word as you should be or you’re not spending time with God In prayer. You’re not praising Him as you should be. You’re taking the glory for yourself instead of giving the glory to Him. That’s what happens when you don’t bear your own burden. These are all things that you should be doing on a regular basis. And you should be doing them with joy but God loves a cheerful Giver. He loves it when you give yourself to him wholeheartedly.

Through your day today remember to bear your burden and bear your brother’s burden. Imagine if you’re bearing his burden and he’s bearing yours on a daily basis!  When trouble comes, you are there to help each other through.  When the storms arise, you offer a safe haven to talk and weep about the pain and suffering that is going on.  When it’s time to rejoice, you rejoice together.  Neither of you think of himself as better or superior, and n either of you take credit for the success of the other.  That goes to God!  This is how it should be.  This is the love of Christ manifesting itself in our lives.

 That’s really all Paul is after here.  He wants us to follow Christ, and give of the love that He gave to us.  Let us all go and do so!