Express His Glory in Your Life

Posts tagged ‘pride’

Let’s Look Like Jesus: Humility

The perpetual prayer list to aid us in transformation begins with a character quality that is treasured by God but rare in humanity:  HUMILITY.  Let’s look at Christ and gaze on the beauty of humility He exhibits.

Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.  Philippians 2:5-8

Throughout Christ’s life, He evidenced humble surrender to the will of the Father.  Jesus told the disciples that the meat He ate was obedience to the Father!  His very sustenance came from doing what God desired.

The essence of humility is surrender to the Heavenly Father. 

Faith and humble obedience look an awful lot alike.  Any time spent looking at how Christ lived will reveal new aspects of humility:  his entrance to Jerusalem was on a donkey; He lived as a homeless servant; His own will was never His driving force.

The opposite of Christ’s humility is humanity’s self-serving, self-centered demands for consideration.  A focus on ‘my rights’ draws me from His humble presence.  Pride rears its head in subtle, diverse ways. We are often unaware of pride’s presence in our hearts until we fall flat on our face. Anytime we trust in ourselves–our strength, our knowledge, our experience, our efforts–instead of God, lethal pride is lurking. Humble awareness of the need for divine intervention ushers in victory. Prideful perseverance in the face of need guarantees a fall.

Humility matters so much to God, that all of life

functions as a classroom for pride and humility lessons.

Consider the ‘classrooms’ discussed below and ask the Spirit to reveal areas in your life where pride is lurking and threatening a fall.  Seek to see where foolish pride is obscuring the glory of God.  Rejoice at the victory of humility!

• Relationships are a priority to God.  Perhaps that is why relationships offer university-level instruction on humility. Without Christ, meeting our own needs and securing our ‘rights’ drives every relationship. Unity demands humility; without it, marriages disintegrate, parents and children fight, churches split and friendships end. Humility trusts God to meet our needs and direct our interactions.

• The workplace, too, teaches humility. As employees become sacrifices on the altar of greed, profit-driven administrations shred pride in preparation and performance. Humility trusts that God orchestrates both the present and the future. Humility gives victory over unpleasant working conditions and even unemployment.

• Working for the Lord is especially fraught with pitfalls of pride. God calls us only to the work of faith. The service we do is simply scaffolding on which to observe the work of God. Pride confuses our efforts with His work and interferes with eternal fruit. Humility rejoices at God’s handiwork and the immense privilege of working for the King of Kings!

• Trust in our physical bodies begins in childhood but wanes in aging. The human body is a marvelous machine; yet its design includes wearing out! Even those who exercise and eat right experience illness, disease and ultimately death. Humble acceptance of the aging process exhibits trust in God to work within our limits; prideful resistance hampers His work and dampens our spirit.

Personal tragedies and natural disasters provide brutal lessons in humility. Mistakes, carelessness, the unavoidable presence of evil in the world and even accidents devastate our prideful assumption of control. Humility frees us from the need to be perfect. It acknowledges that God is greater than our mistakes and greater than the evil that is in the world. God trusts God can and will bring good from the most horrid events. Humility accepts a loss of control to receive total security from Christ.

Recognizing need is the key that opens the door to humility and its faithful companions: joy and contentment. When needs confront us, let us reject our natural, prideful responses of whining demands or childish independence and humbly, jubilantly praise God for His powerful promises of provision! In fact, let’s learn to look at needs as invitations to know God more and humbly accept the invitation.

Can ‘good’ Christians get depressed?

The account of Elijah in I Kings 19 encourages anyone who has ever suffered with discouragement, despair and despondency.  The great prophet reveals to us that no one is exempt from depression. Followers of God—sincere followers of God—still err and still suffer.  Wrong attitudes, misplaced focus and mis-understandings deluge all of us!  May God give us insights as we examine some of this great man’s life. (Please note:  This is one story of depression.  While some work of the enemy is involved in every dis-ease, every story is unique.  This is not a pointing fingers, diagnosis piece on depression.  There is help; there is hope but there is no short-cut.)

His name is a great starting point:  Yahweh is my God.  Elijah lived at the time of history when Baal worship entered into the Nation of Israel.  Often pictured with a belt around his waist, the Truth of the identity of God (Ephesians 6) defines Elijah.  He courageously proclaimed the greatness of God with his words and way of life.  Fed by ravens during a prophesied drought, sustained by miraculous provision to a widow in Zarephath and confirmed by God with fire that devoured a water-logged sacrifice, Elijah knew the power of God.

But he also knew despair that left him begging to die.  What happened?

His crash into despair came after a major battle (and victory) against the prophets of Baal.  Despite the clear testimony of Truth in that battle (1 Kings 18:20-40), Elijah ran for his life at the threatening words of Jezebel, the evil Queen.  Leaving his personal servant, Elijah chose to flee alone.  Both actions are common to those battling depression:  running away and isolating oneself.

What happened? Clearly, Elijah turned his eyes from God and opened his ears to the lies of the enemy.  Fear entered his heart.  Fear is a foe we must recognize—and fight.  

Running leads us to the pit of despair.  We are created for fellowship.  Self-doubt  and self-pity then crushed Elijah’s spirit.  He began to beg God to let him die.  Here we see another common error that darkens our lives:

We forget that it has never been about our power or ability!

Our great and gracious God then revealed his tender care by sending an angel to bake food for Elijah.  Nowhere do we read of God telling Elijah to set out on this headlong rush into the desert:  the plan was all Elijah’s but God did not leave him alone.  He cared for him and nurtured growth in this great prophet even as he failed to trust the One he served.  When Elijah arrives at his self-determined destination of Mount Sinai, God asks Elijah a very important question:

 “What are you doing here?”

It is a question God asks each of us when we wander from trusting Him. It’s not that God doesn’t know where we are; He wants us to recognize it.  Confident he is totally right and filled with faith (he just vanquished the false prophets, didn’t he?), Elijah speaks from the same place we often live:  blindness to his own self-centered perspective.

I worked hard for you.  They have been bad.  I fought for you.  I am alone and in danger.” 

God did not defend His own honor; He did not chastise Elijah. God simply told Elijah to go stand on the mountain.  

Waiting for God is part of the recovery process!  

Elijah obeyed and witnessed the battering wind, the shaking of an earthquake and the devastation of fire.  When all those passed, the presence of the LORD came in the quiet.  Elijah stepped out of his hiding place but not out of his stubbornness.  The holy presence of God left him unmoved from his place of self-pity and pride. Recovery (and repentance) take time.  God is merciful:  he gives us time to figure things out!

The life of faith is not without error and failings…nor is it without mercy & grace!

God did not demand an apology or upbraid Elijah for his struggle. It is in our weakness that God’s strength is perfected.  God is not surprised by our failures; He has us covered!  God simply gave Elijah the instruction, “Go.”  Just as ‘wait’ is part of the recovery process, so is ‘go.’  Pressing forward from the hard times helps us get back to seeing God with clearer focus.

God was not done with Elijah.  He is not done with us!  

Elijah still had work to do.  It was challenging work; work that would bring battering winds and earth-shaking events to the ones who were rebelling against God.  Work that would bring the still small voice of God to those who were listening.

“Go back the way you came,” he told Elijah.

As Elijah obeyed, he found Elisha, the one he was to mentor and guide to greatness.  Together, they nurtured many in the school of prophets.  At the end of his earthly walk, God whisked Elijah away in a chariot of fire.  Despair and failure are part of this life.  We don’t need to run in fear.  Walk back, face the things that blinded you to the Truth of God and then go on with life.  Ask God to lead you to the help you need in the process.  Don’t try to go it alone!  We are made for each other.  There is work to be done and glory to receive!

 

 

 

Chosen Parents

This is actually a piece I did some years ago for another venue.  Sharing today because parenting has been the topic in a number of interactions.  And sharing with thankfulness that God chose us to be the parents of our precious kids.  Sorry, guys…but trust God has a plan :)!  We love you!

You are the parent God chose for your child. Isn’t that a puzzling, sometimes overwhelming concept? As we begin walking the labyrinth of parenting, the paths ahead are blessedly shrouded. The parenting journey includes delights beyond imagination and thorny passages which instill fear and frustration. God’s Word tells us the Creator Himself shepherds those with young and guides them on the paths; yet, it doesn’t always feel that way. At times the complexities of parenthood give the illusion that God stepped off the throne as challenges were assigned or that perhaps He confused us with a wiser, more loving and experienced parent. The reality is more incredible than we can begin to grasp. In His infinite love and wisdom, God chose each parent and each child as unique, perfect gifts for one another. The blessings are mutual; the plan perfect.

God uses the tool of parenthood to craft His family likeness into earthly moms and dads. He longs for His glory to be revealed in the parenting privilege. Nearly a decade and a half 12657360_10207170306008051_3018063976232311083_oago, we brought our baby home from the N-ICU with overwhelming joy, awe, fear and a numbing sense of inadequacy. The ability of a five-pound baby to bring a prideful heart to its knees is powerful! God continues to use the University of Motherhood to draw me unto Himself, to unveil the reality that His strength is revealed in my weaknesses and what a superb reality!

My pride had rejoiced in meeting the challenges of life head-on. The magnitude of the responsibility for nurturing this precious life shattered every competency I had ever relied upon. Parenthood has taught me I do not need to be in control and managing every detail perfectly. It has taught me that struggling is okay! It is not a sign of defeat to be engaged in a battle. Struggles simply strip away the deceits which have hidden the doorway to God’s strength. The inequities and burdens of life create opportunities for God to transform parents and to begin drawing our beloved children to Him. Struggles are to help us embrace His presence in our lives with confident hopewith certaintythat His plans and purposes are perfect. As we hold fast to that hope, the very image of God begins to shine forth in our liveschanging us, lighting our children’s paths and touching all those around us!

Beyond the challenges of parenthood lie mountains which dot the landscape of our children’s future–mountains woven into the design of our children’s lives by their loving, heavenly Father. His love for our children is greater and more perfect than ours. 12657229_10207170304128004_2826006339242221287_oGod would never allow a mountain for which He has not provided provisions for conquering. Parents are a key part of those provisions. The parent God chooses for a child has the strengths and the weaknesses to guide their children to the Shepherd Himself. God longs to take the hands of our children and guide them in life. Leading our children to the One who provides abundantly is the key task of our parenting assignment. Treasure the challenges on your parenting journey as the doorways to Christ. There is a splendor possible through embracing God’s presence in the trials of life which will produce faith that perseveres and moves mountains aside.

Extra Insights
Being chosen as a parent is a life-transforming gift from a loving God. We have been chosen to receive another precious gift from God:  eternal life. God longs for each of us to embrace His plan for us to become His child–to be made perfect through faith in His son, Jesus Christ. Becoming His child is the key to becoming the parent your child needs. If you do not have a loving relationship with the heavenly Father, choose to change that today!
SCRIPTURES: Psalm 127:3; Jeremiah 29:11-14; 2 Corinthians 12:9; Hebrews 10:35; 2 Corinthians 3:18; James 1; Matthew 17:28

 

Originally written for Handivangelism, Heart-to-Heart Magazine

Whose fruit?

There is a silly picture that keeps popping up in my mind.  I see a young fruit tree curling its toes (I mean, roots) and pushing with all its might.  Its face is scrunched and holding its breath, the tree mutters, “COME ON, FRUIT!  POP already.  I’m trying as hard as I can.”

On either side of this striving little tree are giant trees, loaded with fruit.  They are quiet, faces (make that leaves) turned upward seeking the Son (err, sun).

Can you relate?  I sure can.  That picture comes straight from the Holy Spirit for me.  I am a doer…a toddler crying, “Me do it!”  And my Guide, my Comforter says, “That is my work, not yours.  Seek the Son.”

The Amplified version of Galatians 5:22-23a renders more clarity:

But the fruit of the [Holy] Spirit [the work which His presence within accomplishes] is love, joy (gladness), peace, patience (an even temper, forbearance), kindness, goodness (benevolence), faithfulness,  Gentleness (meekness, humility), self-control (self-restraint, continence)…

Spiritual success never flows from striving but only from surrender.  The fruit that I produce will have earthly impact, but only the work of the Spirit produces eternally good fruit.  I don’t want to waste my time striving anymore.  I want to soak in the sun and live with joy–that will produce the growth I long to see!

It is pride that pushes. Hope is found in humility.  Seeing our need, seeking the One who meets all needs and joyful receiving Him produces victory.  Putting our roots into the soil of God’s love while reaching up to the Light of His love is the key to beautiful fruit that blesses us and others.

What desire beats strong in your heart?  What blocks that desire from being fulfilled?  Ask the Spirit within…He knows and wants you to know as well.  Press in deeply and watch Him work!

Receive your free Spiritual Maturity Assessment tool by signing up for Glory Glimpse News.  Already a Subscriber…or don’t want to subscribe but want the PDF?  Email me at billiejoyoumans@gmail.com!  Be blessed and a blessing!

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