Posts Tagged 'humility'

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 every other necessity 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 prefer to acknowledge themselves; mistakenly believing that everything they possess is the product of their own intelligence and hard work.

      An ancient ruler known as Nebuchadnezzar was once the mightiest king who had ever lived.  His reign over the Babylonian empire began in 605 B.C.  Like most powerful men, humility wasn’t one of his greatest attributes; he demanded that his subjects worship him in the manner of a God.  One day as he leisurely strolled 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 into madness and began acting like an ox for seven years; eating grass in the fields.

      As believers, we must not make the same mistake.  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, according to Your will, in Jesus Christ’s name.  Amen.”  God bless all of you!

Giving God the Glory

JESUS SPEAKING

      ‘Now around the middle of the feast Jesus went up into the temple and began to teach. And the Jews marveled, saying, “How does this man know letters, having never studied?” Jesus answered them and said, “My doctrine is not my own, but His who sent me. If anyone wills to do His will, he shall know concerning the doctrine, whether it is from God or whether I speak on my own authority. He that speaks from himself seeks his own glory; but he who seeks the glory of the One who sent him is true, and no unrighteousness is in him” (John 7: 14-18.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

      The educated men who had heard Jesus speak were astonished at his perfect knowledge of scripture. Unlike them, he did not attend a notable Hebrew school; nor did he sit at the feet of some prominent rabbi; instead, his knowledge and wisdom came from God (not man.) For their extensive learning, the Jewish scholars demanded admiration and praise; whereas Jesus sought to honor God. To chase after our own glory is to embrace unrighteousness. To glorify God and his only Son is to live correctly.
      One man who thoroughly understood this principle, was John the Baptist. When Jesus began baptizing people in the Jordan river, John’s followers became concerned; they said, “Rabbi, he who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, he is baptizing, and all are coming to him.” John replied, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven […] he must increase, and I must decrease.” John was devoid of selfish pride. He chose to humble himself and glorify the Son of God (the Savior of the world.)
      Today, although Jesus Christ reigns in heaven, his deeds continue upon this Earth. He performs his miracles through his disciples. Some however, who desire glory, will take credit for God’s works. But a trustworthy servant renders to God the praise and honor He deserves. To glorify God, we must humble ourselves. He must increase and we must decrease. As followers, we forgo admiration so that God may receive what is His? We must speak the words of Jesus Christ; give in the name of Christ; and love in the name of Christ. We must die, so that He can live. Only then will we know immeasurable joy and everlasting peace.
      “Lord Heavenly Father, may You increase as we decrease. May we let go of our selfish need to be praised; that You may receive the credit for the good works that You are accomplishing in us, and through us. May we be vessels of Your love and mercy. Fill us with Your Holy Spirit Lord; that we might always be pleasing to You. 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.

A True Servant

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.

Being Teachable

JESUS SPEAKING

         [The Lord had just finished healing a blind man; but Jesus was gone by the time the man’s eyes had completely healed.  The Pharisees, seeking to expose Jesus as a fraud, brought the man in for questioning.  After a lengthy examination, the Pharisees banned the man from their synagogues because they hated their messiah.] […] ‘Jesus heard that they had cast him out (the blind man he had healed); and when he had found him, he said, “Do you believe in the Son of God?”  He answered and said, “Who is he Lord that I may believe in him?”  And Jesus said to him, “You have both seen him and it is he who is talking with you.”  Then he said, “Lord, I believe!”  And he worshiped him.  And Jesus said, “For judgment I have come into this world, that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may be made blind.”  Then some of the Pharisees who were with him heard these words, and said to him, “Are we blind also?”  Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but now you say, ‘we see.’  Therefore your sin remains”’ (John 9: 35 – 41.)

INSPIRED THOUGHTS

         There are two kinds of disciples; those who can be taught, and those who can’t.  Although there are many reasons why some students fail to learn, the most pervasive is pride; a student who already knows everything is no longer teachable (rigid intellectualism is stupidity impersonating true wisdom.)  Those who possess great knowledge are often the most misinformed.  For example, many religious leaders who interacted with Jesus were very well educated; they were proud of their intellectual superiority; they were blinded by pride and they rejected the Son of God.  In turn, when Jesus Christ chose his followers, he did not seek scribes or rabbi’s; nor did he approach priests and Holy men.  He did not scour the ancient centers of higher education; nor did he hunt for scholars at the great theological institutes of his day; instead, he lovingly embraced fishermen, prostitutes, and tax collectors; he selected them because they were eager to admit their ignorance (and to listen in humility); because they were willing to learn, societies outcasts became God’s first choice.

         Historically, surgeons have been society’s most well-educated professionals.  In the 1800’s most surgeons wore white butcher’s aprons; as they operated on different patients, more blood would accumulate on them.  Most Doctors refused to wash them, because a strange but powerful custom had arisen; a surgeon was considered accomplished based upon how bloody his apron was (the more blood, the better the surgeon.)  During this time, a young doctor named Joseph Lister was conducting medical research; he discovered that 40-50% of amputee victims died from secondary infections (infections that resulted from the procedures themselves).  He proved that cleanliness and disinfection of surgeons, instruments, and staff, would reduce the amputee mortality rate to 15%.  The results of his research however, brought him in to conflict with the majority of his colleagues.  Most surgeons scoffed at his suggestions because it meant they would have to give up their bloody aprons.  Many educated men became unwilling to learn.  Their delay in applying Dr. Lister’s suggestions caused the deaths of thousands of patients.  Although the changes were slow, they were eventually established.  By the time Joseph Lister retired in 1893, nearly every medical institution had implemented his sanitation procedures.

         Pride can blind even the most intelligent people; much learning often stands in the way of true comprehension.  Those who know everything are not teachable (and unable to follow God.)  Those who admit their ignorance and let go of any ideas that oppose the teachings of Jesus Christ, are wiser than all of the scholars, scientists, and doctors who have ever lived.  Disciples must become blind before they can see; they must be ignorant before they can attain true wisdom; they must be willing to lay down human understanding before they can pick up the cross.  Listen to the Lord and He will guide you; have faith in Him and you will know truth; follow Him, and you will enter in to everlasting peace [Note:  Not all educated people are ungodly; God has gifted many people with great minds; there are also many uneducated people who reject Jesus Christ.  Learning is very beneficial, but only if it does not oppose the teaching of the Lord.]

         “Lord Heavenly Father, may we be Your disciples; may we be blind to the wisdom of the world.  Help us to know the difference between prideful philosophies, and beneficial information; that we may always choose what is good and reject what is evil.  Teach us, instruct us, and make us willing to learn.  We admit that we are ignorant, and in humility we ask You to lead us.  We desire to have childlike faith; may we trust You completely, and may we know the blessings of Your eternal wisdom.  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!

 

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.

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.


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