Posts Tagged 'humility'

A True Servant

JESUS SPEAKING

          But Jesus called them to himself and said to them, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the gentile’s exercise lordship over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  Yet it shall not be so among you; instead whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever of you wants to become first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

          Every society (from the fall of creation, until the present day) has been fueled by the pursuit of power and authority.  All social structures are shaped like a staircase that narrows near the top.  The climb begins in early childhood.  With age, those who secure positions of influence are treated with great respect.  Those who do not rise to the top, settle near the bottom; the strong rule, and the weak become servants.  Yet Jesus Christ, the King of Kings was not born in a palace; he was born on the dirty floor of a manger.  A life begun in humility, was lived in like manner; the prince of peace served the poor, and embraced the unworthy.  He turned an ‘upside down world’, ‘right side up.’  To pursue Christ is to forsake the pursuit of power and authority.  Those who desire to follow the Son of God must move down the social ladder in search of the lowest position.  A disciple is greatest when he is the least; he is the most alive when he is dead; he only rules when he truly serves.

          India (one of the largest nations in the world) is founded on the teachings of Hinduism.  Social order is a centralized feature of the Hindu Religion (as is the belief in reincarnation.)  They believe in a divine hierarchy; a caste system in which a person’s position is the result of their prior life.  When an individual dies they are immediately reborn; the deeds of their past life dictate their present social standing.  Those who were good are born into one of the four respectable classes (the top class being comprised of kings, warriors, and rulers.)  However, those who were evil in a previous life are born into a class known as the ‘untouchables.’  This group is poor, plagued with sickness, and most have historically only been able to hold menial jobs (such as the removal of dead bodies.)  [Note: Some recognize more than just five classes.]  This principle of Karma, is well known by every Hindu; bad Karma needs to be worked off; by suffering miserably in this life, one can pay for the sins of their past life; through anguish, every ‘untouchable’ can hope for a better life when they die.  Therefore, in India, helping the needy and the poor is often seen as interfering with their karma (to help relieve suffering, can actually prolong it.)  Therefore there is a permanent underclass; a group of people the world has forsaken.  Although most of mankind has forgotten about these people, God has not.  In the 1950’s, a Catholic Nun named Mother Theresa was led by the Lord to begin caring for lepers in India; she established a colony, and made a place for them to call home.  She also reached out to the abandoned orphans, the disabled, and the sick.  From that time until her death in 1997, she served the poorest, weakest, and most insignificant people, the world around.  When she received the Nobel Peace prize, she said, “I am grateful to receive (the Nobel) in the name of the hungry, the naked, the homeless…the crippled… the blind…the lepers, (and) all those people who feel unwanted, unloved, uncared-for throughout society; people that have become a burden to the society and are shunned by everyone.”

          Mother Theresa followed Christ, and it led her into the slums of Calcutta.  Jesus has asked nothing less of every believer.  Service is a requirement.  Whether at work, school, the coffee shop, the grocery store, or even at home, disciples are servants.  A true servant seeks opportunities to help others.  The way up is down.  Humble yourself, and allow God to use you; lowliness leads to honor, and humility is the path to everlasting life.  Those who serve others, serve the true and living God.  Deny yourself; give to the needy; embrace the outcast; love those who have been abandoned; prefer others, and God will one day raise you up to a place of eternal honor.

          “Lord Heavenly Father we desperately desire to be lowly.  Help us to serve others with zeal.  Please provide us with opportunities to give of our time, resources, and knowledge.  Grant us humility, that we may give to those in need; may we love those who feel unloved.  We aspire to be great servants; may we deny ourselves to honor and prefer others; and may our hearts be filled with joy as we serve You and our fellows.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.”  God bless all of you.

Advertisements

Gratitude and Humility

JESUS SPEAKING:

               “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Mathew 5: 3.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS:

                In this scripture, the phrase “poor in spirit” refers to the attribute of humility (a precious treasure that creates joy in the hearts of all those who possess it.)  Practicing humility means acknowledging that God is the giver of all good things.  The Lord provides us with our food, shelter, clothing, careers, relationships, and all of the other necessities of daily living.  He has complete power over all of creation; the very air we breathe is a gift from Him.  Although the humble offer God many praises, the prideful acknowledge only themselves; they mistakenly believe that everything they possess is the product of their own intelligence and hard work.

                Nebuchadnezzar was one of the mightiest kings who has ever lived.  He became ruler of the Babylonian empire in 605 B.C.  Like most powerful men, humility was not one of his greatest attributes; he demanded that his subjects worship him in the manner of a God.  One day as he strolled leisurely through his palace, he spoke, saying, “Is not this great Babylon, that I have built for a royal dwelling by my mighty power and for the honor of my majesty?”  Before he was finished speaking, a voice came from heaven saying, “The kingdom has departed from you […] your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field.  They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven years shall pass over you, until you know that the most high rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses” (Daniel 4: 30 – 32.)  Indeed, because the Babylonian King had failed to give God the credit for his possessions, he slipped in to madness and began acting like an ox for seven years.

                As believers we must not make the same mistake as Nebuchadnezzar.  Instead, we must acknowledge that all good things come from God; that every possession is a blessing and a gift.  Those who desire to enter God’s kingdom would do well to continually honor Him.  Practically, Christian humility can be expressed through prayers of gratitude offered to God daily; we can also say grace before meals and praise the Lord in our private time and during worship services.  Tithing is another acknowledgement of God’s goodness.  Ultimately whatever form of thankfulness we choose to offer, it should come from the heart; and from a deep appreciation for everything that God has so graciously given us.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we thank You for Your many gifts and provisions; for our food, our clothes, and our homes (to name a few.)  We recognize that all good things come from You.  Help us to maintain a spirit of gratitude and humility.  Cleanse our hearts of pride, that in lowliness we might better serve You and our fellows.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

The Sin of Pride

JESUS SPEAKING

                Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:  “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.  The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, ‘God, I thank You that I am not like other men —extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.  I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.’  And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me a sinner!’  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted”(Luke 18: 9 – 14.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                In this parable, two men approached God to pray.  The religious man, believing he was righteous, lacked a fear of God.  In his self-centered address, he used the word “I” no less than five times.  He was proud of his own good works.  To maintain his inflated ego, he elevated himself above others; comparing himself to outright sinners ensured the preservation of his self-righteous status.  The tax-collector was a social outcast; yet he so greatly feared God that he couldn’t even look up toward heaven (in the ancient world, tax-collectors were hated and loathsome; they amassed wealth through extortion and dishonesty.)  This tax-collector despised himself for his many sins (beating his chest.)  In humility, God remained the focus of his prayer.  Recognizing his own filthiness he begged for God’s mercy.  He also refrained from comparing himself to others; instead, he compared himself to God; in so doing, he saw himself for who he really was; a sinner.  Most consider adultery, murder, rape, robbery, and torture to be the most serious sins.  Yet Pride can be more destructive than rape and more damaging than murder.  Pride immediately separates a person from God; pride must be disposed of before one can enter the Lord’s eternal Kingdom.  True believers should abandon prideful pursuits in favor of lowliness (Jesus said, “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.”)  Humility is the precious jewel of God’s treasure room; a treasure that the tax-collector possessed and Pharisee lacked.

                Satan was once an angel named Lucifer.  He occupied a very prominent role in heaven.  He was beautiful; one of the most eloquently decorated of all of God’s creations.  He was also infused with an abundance of divine knowledge and wisdom.  At some point, Lucifer became prideful.  Instead of worshiping God, he desired to be worshiped.  In his attempt to ascend above God, he convinced 1/3 of the angels to rebel.  Lucifer was cast out of heaven along with the rebellious angels (presently, these fallen angels are the demons who roam the earth seeking to corrupt the works of God.)  The first sin ever committed wasn’t murder, or adultery; it wasn’t rape or incest; instead, it was pride.  Even today, pride plays a role in nearly every act of spiritual disobedience.  Pride immediately separates the Father from his children; it prohibits entry into God’s kingdom.  Not surprisingly then, the Lord has revealed that extreme humility is the pathway to perfection; no one will enter the heavenly realm unless they lay down their pride and pick up their cross [In the Old Testament, Absalom (David’s son) was one of the most handsome men in antiquity; we read, “In all Israel there was not a man so highly praised for his handsome appearance as Absalom.”  He was rather proud of his long, thick, beautiful hair.  At some point, Absalom rebelled against his Father David and the kingdom was plunged in to a short civil war.  During a decisive battle, Absalom was riding a mule through the forest, when his head snagged in a tree (likely his long thick hair was the culprit.)  The mule continued walking, leaving him suspended, dangling in the air.  Unable to free himself, he was eventually stabbed to death.  (We may likely assume that) The very thing he was most prideful of led to his demise.  To avoid being snagged by the things of this world, a disciple must dispose of conceited pursuits.

                Pride leads to death; humility leads to everlasting life.  Prideful endeavors must be abandoned if they cannot be endured with meekness.  Sit down and examine your life; is there vanity?  Are there portions of your heart that desire beauty, power, property or prestige?  If we discover pride and self-righteousness, then we have uncovered a horrible sin; a sin that needs to be dealt with swiftly and immediately.  Seek to be lowly and turn away from prideful pursuits; for “God resists the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  May God remove pride from your heart.  May you give God the glory, and may God continually bless you, as you serve others with lowliness and humility.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, we desire meekness.  Please cut the pride from our hearts and cleanse of all unrighteousness.  May we seek to serve rather than to be served.  May we desire lowliness, and may we embrace humility; may we never raise ourselves above others; rather, may we always see ourselves in the light of Your glory and grace.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

A Servant’s Heart

JESUS SPEAKING

            But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            As children we are often taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life.  Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority.  Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles.  Those who follow Jesus must deny what they’ve been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility.  Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can we completely and lovingly serve others.

            For years, young men from across the country have flocked to my home church; seeking to practice pastoral ministry.  Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain; who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified.  As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and instruct them to sweep a portion of the church. Although many were obedient, some, feeling insulted, became upset. One common response sounded something like this; “I came here to be a pastor, and to teach the bible; not to sweep floors.” Pastor Romain knew then that they lacked a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve in humility, but rather, to acquire power and authority.

            Those who follow the Son of God must abandon the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility.  By seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be.  We can serve in our church, at home, in the community, and at work.  We can serve our families, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Only through sacrifice and selflessness can we truly be molded in to the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to pursue and embrace humility.  May we strive to serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart.  Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of others ahead of our own; that in so doing, we might be living examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection. We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You; and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

God honors those who honor Him

JESUS SPEAKING

                Now as Jesus had entered Capernaum, a centurion came to Him, pleading with Him, saying, “Lord, my servant is lying at home paralyzed and is dreadfully tormented.”  And Jesus said to him, “I will come and heal him.”  The centurion answered saying, “Lord, I am not worthy that You should come under my roof.  But only speak a word, and my servant will be healed.  For I also am a man under authority, having soldiers under me.  And I say to this one, ‘Go,’ and he goes; and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes; and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.” When Jesus heard it, He marveled, and said to those who followed, “Assuredly, I say to you, I have not found such great faith, not even in Israel!  And I say to you that many will come from east and west, and sit down with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven.  But the sons of the kingdom will be cast out into outer darkness.  There will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Then Jesus said to the centurion, “Go your way; and as you have believed, so let it be done for you.”  And his servant was healed that same hour. (Mathew 8: 5-13.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

                The Roman Empire conquered the Holy Land in 63 B.C.; and due to the continued threat of rebellion, there were soldiers permanently stationed there in the first century.  A ‘centurion’ was an officer in charge of 100 soldiers; they were usually men of impeccable character.  This centurion came to Jesus and humbled himself; he publicly confessed his own unworthiness and praised him; in so doing he honored God’s Son.  Jesus then honored the centurion by publicly lifting up his faith above every Jew in Israel.  God continues to honor those who lower themselves and exalt Him.  Our savior has said that “all who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

                In 1924 a Scotsman named Eric Liddell was expected to win Olympic gold in the 100 meter dash.  Eric had grown up in a missionary family and was a committed Christian.  He had been raised to faithfully observe the Sunday Sabbath (a weekly day of rest commanded by the Lord in the Old Testament.)  When Eric found out that the 100 meter dash was scheduled for a Sunday, he made the decision to ‘sit it out.’  He was pressured to run by his countrymen and by many powerful people, but remained convinced that honoring God on His day was more important than winning a medal.  A few months before the Olympics, he decided to begin training for the 400 meter dash (an event that wasn’t on Sunday.)  No one expected him to do well.  On the day of the race, while approaching the starting blocks, an American trainer placed a piece of paper in Eric’s hand.  There was a bible verse written on it.  1 Samuel verse 2:30 read, “Those who honor me I will honor.”  Eric ran that race for God; not only did he win the gold medal, he also broke the world record.  He had pushed his own desire for glory aside; because he honored God, the Lord exalted Eric above his fellows.   

                Placing God in His proper position necessitates humility.  Honoring Him requires selflessness.  We become less important and He becomes more important.  He is righteous and we are unrighteous; He is worthy and we are unworthy.  We forgo glory so that God may have it.  Only those who raise Him up in this life will be raised up into everlasting life.  Here we die, so in the future we may live.  There are so many ways to glorify God.  We can make Him a continued topic of discussion in our personal relationships.  We can pray to Him, and seek His counsel daily. We can give credit to the Lord for the good works that we do.  When we do something for another person, we can say, “This is from the Lord.” When a person attempts to thank us, we can politely remind them that Jesus Christ is the one they should thank.  When other people call us good, we can inform them that our goodness comes from God.  May we continually place the focus on Him; may we give Him the glory; may we honor Him with our lives; so that one day we might receive the honor he has promised to all those who believe.

                “Lord Heavenly Father, give us opportunities to honor and glorify You.  May our hearts be humble, and our minds pure.  Give us the strength to lay down our lives in this place, so that we might better serve you.  May we, through humility receive the gift of eternal life.  We love You Lord, we thank You, and we praise You, and we ask and pray all of these things, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

A servant’s heart

JESUS SPEAKING

            But Jesus called them to himself and said, “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them.  However, it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant.  And whoever desires to be first shall be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life a ransom for many” (Mark 10: 42 – 45.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            As children we are taught that dominance is better than submission, and that a higher social status means a better life.  Many therefore seek to acquire positions of great power and authority.  Yet Christ’s teachings are in direct opposition to such worldly principles.  Those who follow Jesus must deny what they have been taught, in order to embrace the doctrines of genuine faith and divine humility.  Only by abandoning the desire for greatness, can one completely and lovingly serve others.

            For years young men from across the country have flocked to the church where I used to serve seeking to do pastoral ministry.  Many hopefuls were initially referred to a pastor named Romain who employed a special technique designed to separate the qualified from the unqualified.  As the prospects approached, he would hand them a broom and tell them to go sweep a portion of the church.  Although many were obedient, others felt insulted and became upset.  One common response sounded something like this, “I came here to be a pastor and to teach the bible, not to sweep floors.”  Pastor Romain knew then that they did not have a servant’s heart; they had not come to serve and to practice humility, but to acquire power and authority.

            Those who follow the Son of God must give-up the desire for worldly greatness in order to pursue lowliness and humility.  Seeking to serve others rather than to be served, we become the men and women God has called us to be.  We can serve at home, in the community, at work, and in our church.  We can serve our family members, coworkers, friends, neighbors, and even complete strangers.  Only through selflessness and sacrifice can we be transformed in to the image of our great Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.     

            “Lord Heavenly Father, inspire us to seek lowliness and humility.  May we hunger to love and serve others in sincerity and singleness of heart.  Provide us with opportunities to place the needs of our fellows ahead of our own, that we might be examples of Your great mercy and everlasting affection.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.

Going the second mile!

JESUS SPEAKING

                “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I tell you not to resist an evil person.  But whoever slaps you on your right cheek, turn the other to him also.  If anyone wants to sue you and take away your tunic, let him have your cloak also.  And whoever compels you to go one mile, go with him two.  Give to everyone who asks you, and from him who wants to borrow from you do not turn away” (Mathew 5: verse 38 – 42.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

            In the first century A.D. the Roman army occupied the Holy Land.  As conquerors they were afforded certain privileges.  One legal provision gave every Roman soldier the right to compel any Jewish citizen to carry their equipment for up too, but not in excess of, one mile.  Jesus used this commonly understood law to impress upon His followers the importance of serving others in abundance.  When a soldier asked them to carry a load one mile, they were instructed to carry it two miles.  Simply put, accomplishing the bare minimum proves nothing; instead, the true love of God is made manifest when we exceed the demands, requests, and expectations of others.

            Recently, a very influential Pastor named Chuck Smith went to be with the Lord.  He was 86 years old, and had been battling cancer for some time.  When initially diagnosed, he began a regimen of radiation and chemotherapy.  These treatments coupled with his age, made him unsteady on his feet.  I was asked to accompany him to and from his daily radio program to prevent him from falling. Once the program had ended, we would get in to his golf cart and head back to the church office.  On the way he would drive around the campus picking up garbage; he would also stop to talk to anyone in need.  One day a woman approached him in tears.  She explained that her marriage was suffering and that she had left messages with another pastor concerning counseling; however he had never returned her calls.  Pastor Chuck lovingly encouraged and comforted the woman; he then told her to speak to his secretary about setting up a counseling appointment with him later that week.  I was amazed that a man in his 80’s with lung cancer, undergoing radiation and chemotherapy was still out-serving many youthful, strong, and seemingly healthy on staff pastors.

            Like Pastor Chuck, Jesus has called all of his children to go the second mile; we must love others in abundance; we must give to one another more than is needed or required; we must serve our fellows with great intensity, sincerity, and passion.  Through our actions, others can and will come to know the mercy and love of God.  If we are obedient and continue to give glory and honor to the Lord, we will come to know the blessings of unending joy and everlasting peace.

            “Lord Heavenly Father, may we go the second mile.  May we serve and love others in abundance.  Use us to reveal Your love to the world.  Increase our faith and fill us with Your Holy Spirit, that we might accomplish Your will in this place, and bring honor to Your sacred name.  We love You Father, we praise You, and we thank You, and we ask and pray all of these things in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you.