Humility in Humanity


Humility is often a misunderstood word.

Although humility can be defined as the absence of pride, there is more involved. Doug Britton writes, “God says when you are humble, you are free from pride and arrogance. You know that in your flesh you are inadequate, yet you also know who you are in Christ.We walk humbly in the power of the Holy Spirit, not in our own strength.

Rick Warren has said, “Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.” God created us for a purpose. He believes that we are able to fulfill His plans.  We must not humiliate ourselves by lowering God’s expectations of us.

Proverbs 29:23 says, “Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.” Humility is a virtue. Pride is not so virtuous.

I like the promise of Psalm 149:4, “the Lord takes pleasure in His people; He will beautify the humble with salvation.”

Mary, the mother Jesus, and Jesus are two examples of strong, yet humble, individuals.

MARY
46And Mary said: “My soul exalts the Lord,
47And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48“For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.

52“He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
Luke 1:46-
48, 52

Mary was a humble young woman. She humbly responded to the angel’s message when she was told that she would become the Messiah’s mother. She exalts the Lord rather than herself in verse 46. In verse 48, she describes herself as God’s bondslave. Verse 52 notes a contrast between humility and pride. God chose Mary to be the mother of His Son because He knew she would responsibly fulfill this role. A woman full of pride would not have had room for Jesus in her heart.

Look again at the second part of verse 48. When Mary proclaimed she would be considered blessed, some might think she was being prideful. However, I like a comment made in the Life Application Bible. “If Mary had refused her incredible position, she would have been throwing God’s blessing back at Him. Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done. Don’t deny, belittle, or ignore your gifts.This is a good admonition for us today.

Proverbs 3:34 GNT says, He (God) has no use for conceited people, but shows favor to those who are humble.” Mary found favor with God. Humility is the antithesis of pride. James 4:6 says, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.”

JESUS
6who, being in very nature God, did not consider
equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;
7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature
of a servant, being made in human likeness.
8And being found in the appearance of a man, he humbled
himself by becoming obedient to death—
even death on a cross!
Philippians 2:6-8

These verses describe Jesus’ mindset while living on earth. He could have been prideful as the son of God. However, according to verse 6, He put aside His nature as God when He came in human likeness. Mary described herself as a bondslave. Jesus took on the nature of a bondslave in verse 7. In verse 8, He was humble and obedient when dying on the cross. Through His attitude and actions, He fulfilled God’s purpose. Mary was humbled to give birth. Jesus was humbled to die.

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus tells us, “…learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart.” We learn humility when we follow Jesus’ example.

In Philippians 2:3-4, Paul states, Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” If we are humble, we will not be selfish. We will compassionately care about others. Romans 12:3 says, Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought.”

Proverbs 11:2 says, “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.” Another scripture to consider is Luke 14:11, “For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Godly humility is being comfortable with who we are in Christ. When we are humble, we realize we need God’s help. I Peter 5:5 exhorts us, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but shows favor to the humble.” Humility is a valuable virtue.

Advertisements

A Treasure Hunt


Please join me on a treasure hunt. The Bible will be our map. We are going to look for meaningful and valuable spiritual treasures hidden in the scriptures.

for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Matthew 6:21

As we begin our hunt for treasure, we must look into our hearts. The kind of treasure we will seek is determined by our heart’s condition. Romans 10:10 says, “for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.”

In the account of Jesus birth, Luke 2:19 says, “Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.” Giving birth to God’s son, being in a stable surrounded by animals, having shepherds come visit – so many things for a new mom to think about! Yet, Mary treasured all these things because they were part of God’s plan. She placed a high value upon these experiences. Her heart was full of love. Jesus was her treasure.

The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field.
Matt 13:44

Let’s dig for a hidden treasure in the first gospel of our Biblical map. Matthew says God’s kingdom is like a treasure hidden in a field. Paul alludes to hidden treasure when he writes about a hidden message. He says in
Colossians 1:26 NLT, This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people.” Paul is referring to the glory of Christ as a once hidden treasure that we can now find. Matthew 6:33  says, “But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. I think we have found a piece of our treasure. 

I will give you the treasures of darkness
And hidden wealth of secret places
Isaiah 45:3

Treasures of darkness do not sound like the kind of treasures we want to find. However, we must not be too quick to discard dark times.

In Jesus Always, Sarah Young writes about treasures of darkness. Hear Jesus speak the following words through her writings. “Look for Me in the hard places of your life…. I am tenderly present in the difficulties,… your problems are fertile soil for growing in grace and encountering My loving Presence in greater depth and breadth. Watch for Me in dark times – both past and present. Invite Me into those broken places, and cooperate with Me in putting the fragments back together in new ways…. Against the backdrop of adversity, the Light of My Presence shines in transcendent radiance.”

The last part of Isaiah 45:3 promises hidden wealth in secret places. Even in dark places we can find treasures. Jesus, who is the light of the world, shines His light into our dark experiences helping us find unseen riches.

Discovering Jesus’ presence is a valuable treasure. Sometimes it is easier to find Jesus in the dark places than in the light. Daniel 2:22 says, “He (God) reveals deep and hidden things; he knows what lies in darkness, and light dwells with him.”

He (the Lord) will be the sure foundation for your times,
a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge;
the fear of the LORD is the key to this treasure.
Isaiah 33:6

I Corinthians 3:11 confirms the words of Isaiah, For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ.” While digging deeply to lay the foundation of our lives, we find treasure. Our treasure hunt reveals riches of salvation, wisdom and knowledge – not riches of gold and silver. We discover a reverential fear and awe of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is our treasure!

On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary,
and they bowed down and worshiped him.
Then they opened their treasures and presented him
with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh.
Matthew 2:11

While on their treasure hunt, the Magi followed a star. When they found Jesus, they found the perfect treasure. Jesus was more precious than the treasures they brought with them. Like the Magi, we may be required to lay down our earthly treasures to find Jesus, our eternal treasure.

I Peter 1:7 NKJV says, “that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Eternal treasure has a higher value than earthly treasure.

But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show
that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.
II Corinthians 4:7

While on our treasure hunt, we have taken various routes shown on our Biblical map.

We discovered the treasure of the kingdom of heaven in a hidden field. We found wealth hidden in treasures of darkness. We uncovered treasure in salvation, wisdom, knowledge and the fear of the Lord. We found treasure more costly than any precious metal or jewel. All of these treasures are part of the greatest treasure – Jesus. Jesus is the hidden treasure of the Old Testament revealed in the New Testament.

Jesus is the treasure for which we have searched. We want to keep Him in our jars of clay. We want to keep Him in our hearts. Ephesians 3:17 says, “Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.”

Our treasure hunt is complete. We found the treasure. Jesus!

The Arms of a Father


A man
understands the meaning of being a father when he holds his first newborn baby. His arms will never be the same. His arms are filled with a new responsibility. He embraces a role that can only be filled by a man. Dad is his new name.

How does a man learn to become a father? By following the example of his Heavenly Father.

The eternal God is your refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you, saying, ‘Destroy them!’”
Deuteronomy 33:27

I remember my husband holding our first-born child. Our baby looked so small in the arms of his father. Gary lovingly supported this little eight pound bundle of boy. I saw both gentleness and strength in this new dad’s arms. Daddy was not going to drop his son. He would take care of him. He would protect him. This new father desired to follow the example of God, his Heavenly Father.

The years advanced. My husband was still Dad but his hands and arms had a new purpose. Our baby boy no longer depended upon his father’s arms to be held. However, the growing boy still needed guidance. A helping hand was required – and often requested by our son.

For I am the LORD your God who takes hold of your right hand
and says to you, Do not fear; I will help you.
Isaiah 41:13

A father holds his child’s hand so he/she will not run away. Otherwise, he or she might get lost in the crowd. I can still see Gary extending his arm down toward Greg’s little upheld arm. They clasped their hands together. Greg held tightly to his dad’s hand as the three of us maneuvered our way through a crowd of people at a local parade. Many things can crowd into the life of a growing child.

There are times when a helping hand is advantageous. Our kitchen table was the scene of various school projects for father and son. Dad’s wisdom was appreciated. A father helps, but does not do everything for the youngster. A good father relies on the Holy Spirit to be his Helper as he helps his family.

Now our son is a man. He is a father. However, he still returns to spend time with his dad.

So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still
a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him,
and ran and embraced him and kissed him.
Luke 15:20

This scripture is part of the parable of the lost son. Our son is not, and never has been, a wayward son. However, this verse is another example of a father’s arms. When Greg comes to visit his dad, a hand shake is not an adequate greeting. Father and son’s arms become entwined in a hug. The strength of their arms draws them close. There is a bond between a father and his kids regardless of their ages. This embrace is an expression of affection. I think of an acronym for hug: Heartfelt Unconditional Gesture.

Even to your old age and gray hairs I am he,
I am he who will sustain you. I have made you and I will carry you;
I will sustain you and I will rescue you.
Isaiah 46:4

Through the prophet Isaiah, our Heavenly Father assures all earthly fathers that He extends His arms to them no matter their age. In addition to setting the example for earthly fathers, God desires to be the Heavenly Father of all dads. His everlasting arms offer affection, protection, guidance and strength to all His kids.

Happy Father’s Day!

ASK!


Ask, and it will be given to you;
seek, and you will find;
knock, and it will be opened to you.
For everyone who asks receives,
and he who seeks finds,
and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Matt 7:7-8

While “ask” is the first word this scripture, it is also the acronym for the three verbs:
Ask
Seek
K
nock

There is a corresponding promise for each action:
Ask and receive
Seek and find
Knock and be opened

ASK

When praying, can we ask for anything and get what we want? Can each of us be like a little child and say, “Give me, give me, give me!”? No, more is involved if we are to be confident that we will receive.

In Mark 11:24, Jesus says, “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.”
We must have faith in God’s ability to answer our request. We must have the kind of faith that trusts God to answer according to the way He sees best.

Jesus goes on to say in John 14:13, “And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.”
First, we must ask in the name of Jesus. This involves more than saying “in Jesus’ name.” Joseph Prince emphasizes that when we pray “in Jesus’ name,” we acknowledge that our prayers will be answered because of what Jesus Christ has done for us – not because of who we are or what we have done.
Secondly, our Heavenly Father must be glorified. Ultimately, prayer is about what gives God glory.

SEEK

Seeking is not simply a verbal request. It’s action time. We seek God’s will by searching the scriptures. This helps us find out how to pray.

Luke 8:17 says, “For there is nothing hidden that will not be disclosed, and nothing concealed that will not be known or brought out into the open.
There is something to seek. And, there is something to be found. God plays a game of spiritual hide and seek with us. Amazingly, He always lets us find Him.

Matthew 6:33 instructs us to “Seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Seeking is looking. Looking for God’s kingdom. We are not only to seek health or wealth. We are to seek God’s will. He has a unique plan for each of us. Unless we seek to know His kingdom plan, we may ask incorrectly.

David says in Psalm 27:8, “My heart says of you, “Seek his face!” Your face, LORD, I will seek.
To grow in our relationship with the Lord, we must seek Him rather than just what His hands can do for us.

KNOCK

Knocking is more than tapping on a door. It is a repeated pounding. When we are confident in what we ask and seek, we will knock tenaciously until the Lord answers. Knocking implies that we believe God has better and deeper things yet to be acquired.

In James 1:6 we are told, “But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt.”
I associate knocking with believing while tapping reflects doubting. Knocking is persistent.

Jesus says in Revelation 3:20, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.”
If we have answered Jesus’ knock at our heart’s door. If we have invited Him into our life. Then, He will answer our prayerful knock upon the door of His throne room. Our answer may be just behind a door.

ASK – SEEK – KNOCK

The parable of The Lost Coin in Luke 15:8-10 is a good example of asking, seeking and knocking. The woman knocked on her neighbors’ doors asking them to help her seek her lost coin. Her need, or her prayer, was answered – the lost was found.

Jeremiah 29:12-14 is another inclusive scripture. “Then you will call upon Me (ask) and come and pray to Me, and I will listen to you. You will seek Me and find Me when you search (knock) for Me with all your heart. I will be found by you,’ declares the LORD.”

Thank you, Lord, that we can ask and receive – seek and find – knock and have it opened!