Pride

Judges 9:53
“But a certain woman dropped an upper millstone on Abimelech’s head and crushed his skull.”

Not every story recorded in Scripture is a positive one. In this case, we find a self-centered man with a drive for power and a taste for blood, fight his way to the top, where he can rule over the people of God. Abimelech was a strong man with many gifts, but he was also an ungodly man who took things by force, and was responsible for the death of many innocent men and women. His ungodly passions and unrighteous principles got him what he wanted, but only for a very short season. He found that no matter who you are, your sins will surely find you out, and you will give an account before God.

Perhaps there are many lessons we could derive from his life, but one that seems to stand out, is the fact that it was pride that drove Abimelech, and ultimately pride that stopped him. He led an army to put down an uprising and his thirst for blood caused him to ignore a basic principle of warfare. His troops drove the enemy back into a city stronghold, where they huddled together in a tower. It would only be a matter of time before they were defeated, but pride drove Abimelech to come too close to the tower, where a woman saw him standing below, picked up a large stone and dropped it on his head. The great and mighty Abimelech was defeated, not by a giant, a mighty army, or a brilliant military strategist, but by a woman who happened upon a heavy stone, at just the right time.

Pride is like that, it will always lead us to think we can do more than we actually can. It will take our eyes of the Biblical principles of spiritual warfare that keep us from falling, and will cause us to compromise. Pride has been the downfall of some of the greatest men who ever lived. Pride led Samson to toy with Delilah, pride led David to let his guard down with Bathsheba, pride led Peter to ignore the warnings from Jesus, and deny him three times. We all need to realize, that apart from the Lord we have very little strength. We need to learn to look to Him, array ourselves in the armor of God, and trust in His ability not our own.

Proverbs 16:18
“Pride goes before destruction,
And a haughty spirit before a fall.”

Pastor Jim

 

Meekness 

Zephaniah 2:3
Seek the Lord, all you meek of the earth, who have upheld His justice. Seek righteousness, seek humility. It may be that you will be hidden In the day of the Lord’s anger.”

Many things that are highly esteemed in our world have little value in the kingdom of God. We put such a high price tag on appearance, when God tells us that He looks past our temporal frame and into the heart. It use to be, countries were assessed financially by the amount of gold they had in reserve, but God uses that for asphalt in the new Jerusalem. Conversely, much of what is lightly esteemed by man is of the highest value to God. Here we are told of the great emphasis He places upon meekness and humility, two character traits that are not highly valued in our world today.

Meekness is often defined today as a form of weakness. In fact, one dictionary defined it as “spineless”, while another referred to the meek as “lacking strength or courage.” Biblical meekness is not a character flaw, but a strength exemplified in the life of Christ, and developed in the believer, as a fruit of the Spirit. It is perhaps best defined as strength under control. A few years ago I heard a friend of mine illustrate meekness this way. He described a time when he was sitting on a ferry, and across from him sat a man with a Great Dane. This massive creature was sitting quietly at his masters feet, watching him eat an ice cream cone. The man offered it to the dog and its massive tongue consumed the entire thing with one lick. A few moments later a woman approached carrying a little dog in her purse. No sooner had she sat down when the dog jumped out, ran toward the larger dog, and began to yip incessantly. Without a sound the Great Dane, whose head alone was larger than the other dog, leaned forward and blew in the face of the intruder, who turned, ran and hid under the safety of its owners purse. Certainly, in that case, strength was kept under control. We exercise meekness when we do not let our emotions control our lives, but keep them in check by doing the right thing.

Humility comes from a word that means low. It is choosing to take the low place by exalting others above ourselves. It is thinking of the needs of another, above our own. In our world we are told to follow our dreams and not to let anyone stand in our way. I recently saw a post that read “19 reasons to follow your dreams and ignore everyone else.” In the economy of God we are encouraged to do the exact opposite and look out for the interest of others by exalting them above ourselves. This is one of the chief traits seen in the life of Jesus. The Son of God was ever the servant of man. Whenever we see Jesus in the gospels, He is lowering Himself for the sake of others. It is not even surprising that He gets down on the ground and washes the feet of the twelve. By the time we read that story, it is almost expected.

Let’s seek to follow the pattern of Christ and have lives marked by meekness and humility. Certainly those traits will make us stand out in a culture which glorifies self above all else.

Pastor Jim

 

Where Credit Is Due

Isaiah 39:1-2
“At that time Merodach-Baladan the son of Baladan, king of Babylon, sent letters and a present to Hezekiah, for he heard that he had been sick and had recovered. And Hezekiah was pleased with them, and showed them the house of his treasures—the silver and gold, the spices and precious ointment, and all his armory—all that was found among his treasures. There was nothing in his house or in all his dominion that Hezekiah did not show them.”

Imagine the scene in the ancient world where nation after nation had been defeated by the Assyrian army. No matter how strong their defenses were or who they allied themselves with, no one was a match for the that ruthless nation, who not only defeated their enemies, but humiliated, tortured, and displaced them as prisoners of war. Then suddenly a tiny little country not much bigger than a large U.S. county, struck Assyria with such a devastating blow that they retreated to their homeland, and their king was assassinated for his failure. This would certainly get the attention of the nations around Judah. It did not take long before word spread to Babylon and delegates were sent to king Hezekiah to see how they had accomplished such a feet. It is interesting that he takes them to the storehouses and shows off his treasures, instead of taking them to the temple and showing off his God.

Hezekiah’s failure is a very common one. We often find ourselves aided by God, yet failing to give Him the credit or the glory. We don’t want others to see our weakness, and at times, desire to be held in high esteem. The reality is, we deserve no more credit for the successes in our lives, than Hezekiah did for the victory of Assyria. I am reminded of the words of the apostle Paul who wrote in 1 Corinthians 4:6-7,

“Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively transferred to myself and Apollos for your sakes, that you may learn in us not to think beyond what is written, that none of you may be puffed up on behalf of one against the other. For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive? Now if you did indeed receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?”

“What do you have that you have not received?”

A proper view of life is to see things through the filter of the grace of God. Instead of boasting or exalting ourselves above one another, we should humbly exalt God for His goodness, guidance, care and provision. Why not take a few minutes to thank God for all He has done for you?

Pastor Jim

 

The Edge 

Job 26:14
“Indeed these are the mere edges of His ways, And how small a whisper we hear of Him! But the thunder of His power who can understand?”

After describing the power of God in His acts of creation, Job concludes, everything he has ever known about God is but a glimpse of what He is truly like.

Psalms 19:1 “The heavens declare the glory of God; And the firmament shows His handiwork.”

The Palmist declared, God revealed Himself to man in creation. When we take the time to look at the marvels of the universe, we learn much of the nature of God. We are reminded of His power, majesty and even His creativity. Creation, however, is much too limited, it can only give us a glimpse into the character of God.

Psalms 19:7 “The law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul; The testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple.”

Because of the limits of creation, God chose to reveal Himself through His written Word. The more time we invest in getting to know our Bible, the more we will learn of the ways of God. Page after page reveals who He is and how He acts. However, even the Word is limited. The apostle John declared, all the books in the world would not be sufficient to tell the story of who Jesus is and what He has done (John 21:25).

Because of the limits of the written word, the Bible tells us God took on human form so we could see Him as He truly is. Jesus declared, to see Him was to see the Father (John 14:9). It is only by looking at Jesus that we can actually understand the way God feels about man. Story after story, and with each encounter, Jesus shows us something of the nature of God. When He drove men from the Temple, we realize He has a passion against any who would stand in the way of people coming to Christ. When He touched the leper, we learn He loves the unlovable. When He arrived at the funeral for His friend, we learn He has compassion in our times of need. When He multiplied bread and fish, we see He will do whatever is necessary to meet our needs. Each turn of the page, teaches us something else of who God is. Once again, this is but a glimpse into the Eternal One; a shadow of His glory, or the edge of His garment.

Paul declared, by taking on human form, Jesus was in fact setting aside much of His glory. That is one of the reasons behind the writing of the Book of Revelation. It is there, where Jesus clothes Himself again in the garments of glory, and reveals what His human flesh had obscured. Much of His majesty and power had been cloaked in human skin, only to be shed at the resurrection and revealed in Revelation. However, even the Revelation is somewhat limited. It is not until we step out of time and into eternity, that we will see Him as He truly is. At that time, the filter of this life will be removed, and we will know Him as we have been known.

What a glorious day awaits the child of God! A day when we no longer look at God as if looking at an image through a dirty window pane. At that time, all our questions will be answered and we will begin a whole new relationship with Him; where for all of eternity, He expresses the riches of His grace in His acts of kindness.

Until that day, let’s be sure we get to know the edges of His ways.

Pastor Jim

 

The Will Of God

Romans 12
Over the years, I have found most of us are trying to determine God’s will for our lives. We have come to understand, His ways are better than our ways and if we desire abundant life, we want to be in the center of His will. Most of us have heard the story of Jonah, a man who refused to go where God wanted him and was consequently swallowed by a large fish. I do not want to spend any time in the belly of the beast, and would much rather go where God wants, and do what God wants. Part of His will can be difficult to decipher and is only determined by following the example of Mary, sitting at His feet. If you are trying to decide what job to take, who to marry, or if you should have another child, the best thing to do is spend time with Jesus.

As you fast, pray and read His Word, you will find He gives direction to your life. But there is another side to the will of God, one that is of even greater importance, and is much easier to determine. It is His will for how we are to live. While at times it may be hard to obey, it it is never difficult to determine. Here in Romans 12, Paul gives 25 specific details as to how the Christian ought to behave.

1. Let love be without hypocrisy.
2. Abhor what is evil.
3. Cling to what is good.
4. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love.
5. In honor giving preference to one another.
6. Don’t lag in diligence.
7. Be fervent in spirit.
8. Serve the Lord.
9. Rejoice in hope.
10. Be patient in tribulation.
11. Continue steadfastly in prayer.
12. Distribute to the needs of the saints.
13. Be given to hospitality.
14. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.
15. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep.
16. Be of the same mind toward one another.
17. Do not set your mind on high things.
18. Associate with the humble.
19. Do not be wise in your own opinion.
20. Repay no one evil for evil.
21. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men.
22. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men.
23. Do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, “Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,” says the Lord.
24. Therefore “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; If he is thirsty, give him a drink; For in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head.”
25. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.

This list gives us plenty to focus upon as we seek to uncover what is next in the plan of God for our lives.

Pastor Jim