Tag Archives: humble yourselves

May 24; If God’s Answers Prayer

2 Chronicles 6:1-7:3; I Kings 8:22-61

When I read Solomon’s prayer for the dedication of the Temple, I can’t help but think of our world, the Church in 2019, and the USA. Solomon prays believing God answers prayer, and knows he is speaking to a forgiving God.

Solomon says, “when,” not “if” we sin. Everyone sins. And God punishes sin. Solomon is asking God to forgive sinners when they repent, something we know God loves to do.

Solomon is praying on behalf of the nation. It’s something we should be doing, too. “God, forgive us. Send revival to  your Church. Return this nation to one truly ‘under God.'”

We pray for us, for them. But do we pray for “me?” It’s easy to pray for the big picture. Sometimes not so easy to make it personal. We can pray all day long that this nation will humble itself and seek God. But you and I are not responsible for this nation.

We are, however, responsible for our own hearts’ condition before a very Holy God. Do you pray, “Humble me, Lord?” That’s actually kind of a scary prayer when you think about it.

Do you pray that God will deal with sin in your own heart, or just the sin of abortion in the land? Do you pray God will convict those caught up in the sin of homosexuality, and ignore His convicting hand on some sin in your own life?

Oh, I believe with Solomon, that God can hear from heaven and forgive… and return us to the land. God can turn things around in this nation, in His Church, and in the world.  But it has to start with you. With me.

If God is going to answer prayers for this world, it will be because you and I have humbled ourselves first. I believe God can turn things around, one repentant soul at a time.

Might as well start with you and me, right?

 

I Chronicles 10-13; Every Good And Perfect Gift

I have always had a problem with the way David treated the water three of his men risked their lives to bring him. David said he was thirsty – maybe he said he was dying of thirst – and three soldiers sneaked into the Philistine camp to draw water from a Philistine well for their king.

You’d think David would be grateful. You’d think, if he couldn’t bring himself to drink it, he’d at least offer it to the men who had just risked their lives to get it. They were probably thirsty, too.

But, no. David pours the water on the ground. I always saw that as disrespectful toward those soldiers… until today when I read Matthew Henry who called it a “drink offering.”

Hello, Connie. Read what’s there in God’s Word. David didn’t simply pour the water out, he poured it out “before the Lord.” He gave the precious gift, that gift obtained at great risk, to God!

So often I find myself thinking I deserve someone’s kindness. I’m a Baby Boomer, after all, and we were raised to believe we deserve the best. We raised our children to believe in the “Me First” philosophy of life, and they raised their children to believe no one else matters, except “Me.” It’s ingrained in us to believe we deserve only good things.

Why didn’t David drink his fill, and reward the men who gave it to him? He was King. Who deserved it more than he? And didn’t the men deserve a little recognition for their sacrifice?

The reason David did what he did is because he was humbled at the gesture. It caused the king to take a closer look at himself. David realized that even he did not deserve it. So he turned around and offered that life-giving gift to God, with thankfulness and praise.

I have a friend who loves to bake. She is also one of the most giving people I know. And occasionally she shows up at my door with a warm loaf of homemade bread. Let me tell you, there is nothing better.

I thank her. I give her a hug. I praise her baking skills, and recognize her generosity. I hope she knows how much her gesture (and the delicious bread) means to me.

But I never considered thanking God for it. James 1:17 tells us “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father…” Now I know this is talking about sin, and salvation, and God’s unchanging nature. But I wonder if it doesn’t speak to what David did here in I Chronicles, too.

Because the reality is everything good in my life is a direct gift from God. And I don’t deserve any of it. Not even that delicious bread. So shouldn’t I, like David, turn around and give God the praise for it all? Shouldn’t I be aware of the many ways God blesses me through the kindness of people around me?

If King David, a man after God’s own heart, was humbled at the kindness of his men, how much more should I be humbled when good things happen to me? I don’t deserve God’s blessings, but I am blessed.

I don’t believe God would have me toss that warm bread into the trash can as an offering to Him. But I wonder if cutting a slice or two and taking it to my neighbor, or giving the whole loaf to someone who is ill, or inviting someone who needs Jesus into my home to share the bread, wouldn’t be a better way of giving it back to God than enjoying the whole thing myself.

I want to pour myself out before the Lord, empty myself of self, and acknowledge that God is the giver of every good and perfect gift, even those that come out of my friend’s oven.

May God be praised.

 

 

2 Kings 9-10; Pride Isn’t Pretty

It is believed Jezebel was a very beautiful woman in her youth. In fact, one source I read said she may have been the most beautiful woman in the world at the time. But let’s face it. Age does something to beauty. Some women age better than others, but we all age; wrinkles appear, skin thins, dark spots pop up, and our hair grays. Not too many of us like what we see. The cosmetic world thanks us for that.

Jezebel may have been beautiful on the outside, but she was a very wicked woman, too. She was a murder, a persecutor of God’s people, and an idolator. You did not want to be her enemy. I’m not so sure you’d want to be her friend.

In the chapters we read today, Jezebel is no longer young. She is a grandmother, a widow, a former queen, living off her son. Kinda a has-been, so to speak. Jezebel knew that Jehu was coming to town, and he wasn’t on a social call. He was coming to make her pay.

So Jezebel “painted her eyes, arranged her hair, and looked out a window,” positioning herself to be seen when Jehu walked through the gate. “Have you come in peace, Zimri, you murderer of your master?”

We, of course, cannot hear the inflection in Jezebel’s voice. One source said the poor old woman thought she could flirt with Jehu, and win him to her side that way. (Norma Desmond comes to mind, and if she came to your mind, too, I know something about your age! or at least your taste in classic films 😉 ) Another said she was playing the innocent, sweetly teasing Jehu out of rendering judgment.

But it does appear the delusional former queen was still thinking she’s got it, made up to look like a clown, and not even realizing it.

I’m not going to pretend I know what Jezebel was thinking. Scripture doesn’t tell us. But it does tell us her tactic: Deflection. She, whether using her feminine wiles, or feigning innocence, in reality attacks Jehu by calling HIM the murderer. It’s a passive aggressive technique intended to remind Jehu that he’s no better than she.

A dear friend of mine shared with me a conversation she had with a co-worker this week. Both profess to be Christians, so very often their conversations center around spiritual things. The co-worker shared a problem he and his family are having, and he showed my friend a text he had sent to his daughter-in-law, telling her how he felt about the conflict. My friend was shocked to read her co-worker used vulgar language toward his daughter-in-law in that text, and she called him out on it. “Do those words represent Jesus?” she asked him.

His response was to attack my friend, and question her faith. Deflection. Later, he texted her and continued to point out every flaw he could think of in her walk with the Lord. He never addressed the real issue, which is his own sin.

When a brother or sister in Christ lays a finger on a sin in our own lives, what is our reaction? Jesus Himself said we are to address the speck in our brother’s eye, once we have addressed sin in our own lives. So, when that person is obedient and holds us accountable, what do we do? Do we humble ourselves, take the correction, and confess our sin to God? Or do we play the deflecting game, and refuse to face the evil in us?

Jezebel never humbled herself. She held on to her pride right to the very end. And she died a horrible death. It was not pretty.

My friend’s co-worker will one day be held accountable for his actions. I pray he will humble himself and ask God to forgive him before He stands before Jesus on that day.

Just like no one really likes looking in the mirror and watching the effects of aging staring back at them, no one enjoys having a sin revealed, either. We can justify, rationalize, make excuses for our sin, or compare ourselves to that sinner sitting in the pew behind us. But until we humble ourselves before our Holy God, and accept forgiveness that is our through the blood of Jesus, we are guilty. No amount of “makeup” is going to fool God, no pointing out the sins of someone else is going to make you innocent.

Has a fellow believer pointed out a sin in your life? Instead of being angry with them, or trying to make them look guilty, I pray you will humble yourself, confess your sin, then go and hug that person.

Because pride just isn’t pretty. And it certainly doesn’t represent Jesus. Isn’t representing Jesus the goal for all of us who wear His Name?

Exodus 14&15; A Lesson From The Bottom

We’ve all heard about the Israelites and the parting of the Red Sea. They escaped their enemy on dry ground when God parted the waters. They had but to step down, and walk through on the sea’s floor.

John Wesley said something in his Bible Commentary that has me thinking. He suggests it was no accident God provided salvation for His people in such a way. We don’t read that God fashioned a boardwalk so the people could walk over the water. We know Jesus walked on water, so He could have given the same ability to the Jews. And we don’t read that God picked up the whole gang and placed them on the other side, like Philip’s experience after meeting with the eunuch.

Salvation occurred when God’s people stepped down into the bottom of the sea. Wesley says it’s a picture of our own requirement for salvation. A stepping down from control, a humbling, a total submission to the will of God.

We might want to be elevated, or go to God on His level. In fact, there are some churches that preach that you can. But salvation comes when we humble ourselves and allow God to rescue us from the depths of our souls, from the bottom of the sea.

September 13 – It Depends

Joel

The question often asked these days is, “What is ahead for the US, and the world?” I guess the answer to that depends on us.

Joel reports that they were in deep trouble. Locusts had devoured the land, there was no rain, people were starving. God was exacting great punishment for a people who had rejected Him.

But then you get to Joel chapter 2:12-14

“Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “Return to Me with all your heart, and with fasting, weeping and mourning; and rend your heart and not your garments.” Now return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness and relenting of evil. Who knows whether He will not turn and relent and leave a blessing behind Him…”

Once again I am reminded that the future of this world does not depend on the defeat of ISIS or having the right person in the White House. Our future depends on God’s people – on Christians like you and me – rending our hearts, not just going to church.

It depends on us fasting, weeping and mourning over our sin. The world needs Christians to return to God, to sanctify the congregation by holding on to the Truth of Scripture, and praying from repentant hearts:

Spare Your people, O Lord, and do not make Your inheritance a reproach, a byword among the nations Why should they among the peoples say, “Where is their God?” THEN the Lord will be zealous for His land and will have pity on His people. (v17, emphasis mine)

So Christian, are you concerned that the world we are leaving our children will be one of corruption, of danger, of persecution? It will be unless you get on your knees and get right with God.

Father, too many of Your children are failing You. We have compromised Your Word, ignored Your warnings, blended in with the world to the point where You don’t have a choice but to punish us. I pray that You would hound us Christians, convict to the point of despair, drive us to our knees, so that we… Your children… might repent, turn from our wicked ways, and follow You in the Truth of Your Word. Then, Lord, have mercy on this land, restore us to a nation that proclaims our trust in You alone. And may You be glorified in the revival of Your Church. Let the world recognize that You bless those who honor You, for Jesus’ sake.

April 13 – BooYa!

I Samuel 18-20; Psalm 11&59

I don’t know what it is like in other parts of the world, but here in the States we have always prided ourselves in working hard and building this country by the sweat of our brows. (present history excluded) We’re the home of the brave, after all!

I’m pretty sure that attitude is not exclusive to the USA. It’s more of a mankind thing. People like to see the fruit of their efforts, and take great satisfaction in their accomplishments.

When King Saul offered his daughter to David to be his wife, David politely refused. Twice.

I Samuel 18:18 says, “Who am I, and what is my life or my father’s family in Israel, that I should be the king’s son-in-law?”

Then in verse 23: “Is it trivial in your eyes to become the king’s son-in-law since I am a poor man and lightly esteemed?”

David was a simple shepherd. He had no means of paying a dowery to the king! He was the youngest son from a simple tribe of Israel. All kinds of legitimate reasons why he didn’t deserve to marry the king’s daughter.

Now hear what happened when Saul told David how he could “earn” the right to marry his daughter by bringing him 100 Philistine foreskins:

“…it pleased David to become the king’s son-in-law.”

David would have to kill a bunch of men, cut off their foreskins, and present them to Saul. Do this, this, and this, then you earn the right to be a member of the king’s family. That made David happy.

THEN David when out, struck down 200 Philistines and presented 200 foreskins to Saul. BooYa!

This story helps me understand why grace is such a hard thing for some people to accept. They think their sin’s are too many, or too severe. They think they don’t deserve God’s love because of the awful things they’ve done. And they are right to think that.

But here’s God with outstretched arms saying, “‘Come unto Me’ anyway. Just come to Me and accept this free gift I am offering you. Ask me to forgive you and see what happens next!”

Somehow I think if God told us to bring him one hundred foreskins, or climb a mountain, or build a tower, or tap our heels three times, our churches would fill their pews.

BooYa!

But salvation has nothing to do with what we do. It has everything to do with what Jesus has already done.

Being a child of God doesn’t cost you a thing, other than a little humility, other than asking for forgiveness, other than trusting the One who loves you more than you can imagine. It’s really not that hard.

But the result is a blessed walk with the Lord! Victory over sin and death! Strength. Love. Protection. Eternal life.

BooYa, Lord!