Jesus

Meekness Not En Vogue 

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In a world that understands power, influence and material wealth, self-assertion is king. Jesus’ words were completely counter cultural to the crowds around Him. But it’s even more so in our society today. 

 

“Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.” Matthew 5: 5

 

It takes no great cognition to understand that meekness requires humility, but some may not yet understand the distinction between these two virtues. 

Essentially, humility is an inward virtue or characteristic, while meekness is an outward demonstration of the humility one possesses within. We are meek toward others. While, humility is more in keeping with our personal view of self. Romans 12; 2b ‘’Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you. In other words, be humble. BTW, to God, the measure of your greatness is the size of your faith.

Note how this verse confirms (along with other passages) that faith comes from God. Salvation is of the Lord, even the part about us having faith. It too, is a gift from God. And yet, we are responsible to nurture the faith He’s given us that it may grow. But back to meekness. 

A meek soul will lift up and edify others. Meekness, restrains one’s own power, in order to make room for others, so that they can use their gifts, talents and abilities too. For example, I’m good at cooking, but that doesn’t mean I have to be the one to cook every time we have a church dinner. Others know how to cook too. 

It often helps to understand a concept by looking at its opposite. The opposite of showing meekness can be perceived in people who must always control others, and constantly be the one in charge, vaunting themselves over others, demanding that others capitulate to their way of thinking and their self-perceived superiority, which is usually quite false. Itthe assertion of one’s will over others, or being demanding. Basically, these are narcissists. The outworking of narcissism is antithetical to the actions of meekness. 

 

The Promised Reward for Meekness 

When eternity is ushered in, there will be new heavens and a new earth. It is this new eternal earth which the meek shall inherit as a reward that will last forever. The entire earth will be ours. There will be no narcissistic behavior, nor greed in eternity. All may own the same thing and be perfectly at peace with being a co-owner of all things along with Christ and all of the redeemed. No competition, no disputes, and no pride or arrogance. Everyone there will be both humble and meek. What a wonderfully awesome existence we will have in eternity! 

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Hard to be Humble

The stuff God teaches delivers the most enduring wealth of spirit.

Continuing the subject of humilty, there’s a few statements that need to be made. So I’m taking this opportunity to fill in some gaps on the topic, and this will come with greater detail and explanation in later posts as well.

Kevin Rudd

It’s in the deep recesses of a man’s convoluted thoughts where his hubris often takes up secret residence. Behind a façade comprised of false humilities, where he’s convinced Himself the projection of meekness casts its glow, he seeks the final jewel in his crown of grandiosity.

There’s not a single soul among us who’s not been influenced by the sin of pride. Developing an enduring humility, the antithesis and nemesis of pride, is a lifelong pursuit. It took tremendous tragedy, conjoined with the devastation of my reputation, before I could even perceive the pride that resided in my own heart.

So elusive is this virtue of godliness, that one’s life must often be reduced to rubble before the genuine attributes of humility can shine forth as diamonds peeking out from a mud pie. For me, it took an unfaithful spouse, divorce, and finally a term in prison to prep the soil of my heart for God’s loving humility to merely begin sprouting. When a man’s life turns to poo, he finally finds the handle, but even then, its residence is often as momentary as the proverbial travelling salesman’s night with the farmer’s daughter. Perhaps humility’s a bit like unto Bigfoot, never being captured with any certainty, so we may begin to doubt its very existence.

But we have a paragon of humble servitude, a perfect role-model in Christ Jesus. Isn’t it a fantastically ironic thing that only God Himself can perfectly model humility?

As Christians, it’s a trust issue. Can we trust our Lord to hold and mold our character, to provide our satisfactions, and bank our accolades, and finally our rewards? There are scads of attributes and accomplishments for which we hunger to be recognized.

After all, what’s wrong with the tasting of notoriety in the here and now? Am I supposed to be poor, unknown and miserable all my days? Will we really find contentment without being known as the great mind behind this or that? How do we appease this longing to be recognized, lauded and celebrated?

Like many youngsters, I endured the chicken pox as a toddler. I can still recall the incessant itchiness, and mom refusing to allow me to scratch it. That’s what this feels like, doesn’t it? We want to be awarded, noted, or at least afforded the credit we’re due, yet the Lord calls us to patiently endure the itch without scratching?

Better yet, what has the Lord promised in return? Do we know the secret that’s not so secret? That He offers complete and total satiation while still in this life below? The Lord desires us to discover the absence of want—to know the “I shall not want” of David’s 23rd Psalm, and how it’s realized both exclusively and comprehensively through total dependence upon our Lord.

 

Apostle Paul was used by God to convey the means of applying the truths expounded in Christ’s doctrines, that we may grow thereby and emulate His glorious attributes and virtues, including humility. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:11
It is solely through Christ Jesus that we are made alive unto God. When we are dead to sin, it loses the power it once had over us. On the other side of that coin, being alive to God, love now compels us to obedience to His word and to the Spirit of Christ within.

I believe the key to humility lies in accepting our complete and total inadequacies to develop humility on our own. We must sacrifice our pride, including how proud we are of our education and intellect, to Jesus.

 

“Father in heaven, we ask for our eyes to be opened to pride in each of our lives. Pride that so often we’re not even aware is resident within us. Help us to die to self on a daily basis, that we may truly live in and for Christ. Teach us, Lord, to be humble. In Jesus’ mighty name, amen.” 

 

Next, we’ll look at “those who mourn” from Jesus’ sermon on the mount, and see how this too relates to humility.

Categories: Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Elusive humility, Hard to be Humble, Jesus, Stuff God Teaches, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Poor in Spirit

In the spring of 1980, the pop and country artist Mac Davis made a hit song titled “It’s Hard to be Humble.” By the fall, another artist named Stout recorded a version of the song in the U.K. that made the top 20 list there.

 

With a haunting mantra, the song becries “Oh Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way. I can’t wait to look in the mirror—I get better looking each day.”

 

A satirical relief about the laughable male ego, this musical hit touts an exaggerated hubris that we find easy to recognize in each other. The problem is, it’s more difficult to detect in ourselves. When it comes to godly virtues, humility is probably the toughest godly characteristic to achieve and it can be challenging to maintain.

 

As we wade into our continued study of “The Beatitudes with regard to Humility,” You may want to read the introductory post titled: “Humble Pie.”

We’re going to sit down to a big slice of that pie right now, because nearly every good action we take requires some degree of humility. If you’re reading this post with an open mind, you’re demonstrating humility.  Those who are growing in wisdom are keenly aware of the need to hear and assess information, where utilizing humility becomes requisite.

Whenever errors in our thinking are brought into the light, it takes humility to embrace the truth. This is the concept behind that word we’re all so familiar with: repentance. To repent is to undergo renovation in the mind—to change what we believe in a way that impacts a change in our desires. As a result, we turn away from sin and towards God. If we don’t humble ourselves before God, becoming poor in spirit, our minds cannot be changed; our spiritual eyesight will be incarcerated by darkness.

The bible teaches that every person is born under the deceptive powers of sin. But when we’re born of the Spirit, saved, we’re given new eyes and ears to perceive truth, and a new heart that will accept it. God has given us His word to correct our thinking, so that He may inculcate you and I with truth. He gave us His Son Jesus who is truth personified. In Matthew 5: 3, Jesus spoke these words:

 Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.

 Here, the word Blessed means happy and divinely favored. Sons and daughters of the King must become poor in spirit before being granted citizenship in the “kingdom of heaven.” We are need oriented creatures, dependent upon God. Being poor in spirit is indicative of heaven’s residents.

 What does Jesus mean by Poor in Spirit? 

 It means to humble ourselves, to acquiesce to the truth about mankind’s condition without Christ—the truth that the bible teaches concerning mankind in his unregenerate state.

 “As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God.” Romans 3:11-12

Here’s where our understanding of grace is so vital to our new lives in Christ, as well as our knowledge of what it is to be poor in spirit. Everything God does for mankind is a grace of God. He proffers many graces, which perform a plethora functions, gifting us in every aspect of life. Grace is technically defined as unmerited favor.

There’s nothing we can bring to God, nothing we can do for Him, and no good works that mankind could perform that would merit eternal life and curry His favor. We must humbly accept that fact.  Without God doing something for us simply out of His love, mercy and grace, we’re hopelessly lost. Isaiah informs us that to God “…all our righteous acts are like filthy rags.” What may appear as good to you and me in our finite thinking, is pitifully inadequate when contrasted against God’s true goodness.

God is holy, righteous and pure, and we are not. We must come to Him completely broken in spirit and aware of it. The sacrifice you desire is a broken spirit. You will not reject a broken and repentant heart, O God. Psalm 51:17
If you’ve ever been close to a herd of horses running wild, you may have noted how spirited they are, strong and proud. A wild horse is not at all useful for riding or working. Their spirit must be broken before they can be tamed, trained, and their strength put to good use. If we’re going to be of any usefulness to God, our spirit of pride must be broken too. We have to pull back on the reins of our hearts, and realize the truth.

We’re totally helpless to help ourselves become good and holy and righteous. Our self-sufficient thinking must change, be broken, our pride broken, and we come to God completely dependent upon His grace. This is being poor in spirit, cognizant of our complete helplessness. We cannot save ourselves.

 

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith–and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2:8-9a
For the sake of brevity, I’ll merely point you to a good passage of scripture to read as a follow up to this post. The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector in Luke 18: 9-14.

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Beatitudes & Humble Pie

A Series on Humility

(Lord willing)

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Coming to Christ first requires humility: we must acknowledge our need for someone else to save us. But then, each virtue of righteousness, all of the characteristics of a godly life require increasingly greater humility. A problem presents itself, however, for it seems the more we try to be humble, the more prideful we become. What we seek is a humble, servant mindset which Jesus demostrated so poignantly.

 

“The proud man can learn humility, but he will be proud of it.”

Mignon McLaughlin

 

My assertion is that absolute dependence on God is the only means to successfully obtain any degree of humility. Focusing on Christ: the paragon of all heavenly virtue, self is progressively swallowed up by His glory as we become one with Him. By comparing ourselves vertically to God, we depart from the horizontal and skewed comparison of ourselves to each other, opening a clear view to our personal inadequacies—our need for continuing grace.

 

I’ve discovered a hazardous pitfall in my own walk—one that’s difficult to detect. It’s called false humility. Something I’d done in te past , which, I thought was making me humble, was self-deprecation. I’d put myself down, or launch a bad spin on my actions, talking about the bad stuff I’ve done. But it only produces a false humility—not at all conducive to eliminating a hunger to be noted. While I thought it would be destructive to my pride, it only fed my ego. If we’re honest, we’ll see it’s the same for all of us. I’ve been doing a deep dive on the subject, and found that nearly every great thinker down through history has percieved the importance of this trait and written on the topic of humility.

 

 Humility is not thinking less of yourself; it’s thinking of yourself less.”

C.S. Lewis

 

“A great man is always willing to be little.”

Ralph Emerson Palmer

 

Bryant H. McGill is more stoic, stating “True love is quiescent, except in the nascent moments of true humility”

 

Only by emulating the love of God do we transform into humble servants, which in turn elevates our eternal ranking.

 

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time. 1st Peter 5:6

 

The assorted virtues of Christ-likeness expounded by Jesus in His great manifesto on the mount are all rooted in, and dependent upon a prior condition of humility. Assuming we all agree that the antithesis of humility is pride, we can easily recognize pride to be the primary, or root sin which so deceives mankind in its many forms. Pride hinders our growth in Christ-likeness.

It’s the #1 sin—not merely the first sin perpetrated chronologically, but also the sin which underlies all others. Pride and humility can never coexist in the same arena, that’s why Satan promotes pride in mankind. He knows it to be the root from which springs every form of ungodliness.

 

“Let us carry ourselves as God’s children in humility. ‘Be ye clothed with humility’ (1 Peter 5:5). It is a becoming garment. Let a child of God look at his face every morning in the glass of God’s Word and see his sinful spots. This will make him walk humbly all the day after. God cannot endure to see his children grow proud. He suffers them to fall into sin, as he did Peter, that their plumes may fall, and that they may learn to go on lower ground.” Puritan, Thomas Watson

 

Each week I hope to spotlight one heavenly virtue from Matthew 5: 3-10, demonstrating how every righteous trait flows from, and is anchored in, humility.

 

This is one trait that appears to act as a huingepin for developing the godly traits Jesus talks about.

Since humility is the condition of heart and mind every soul must possess, if they hope to approach God and be reconciled to Him through trusting faith, learning to lean on this virtue becomes paramount.

In chronicling the characteristics of citizens of God’s kingdom, Jesus seems to demand we presuppose humility as a type of key to all of them. Certainly, if I am to become “poor in spirit” I must first humble myself. Note how essential humility is in becoming what Christ calls us to be.

It will be fruitful for us to disseminate the precondition of humility that’s common to each of the virtues Christ provides. I’ll do so by first defining each characteristic Jesus extols, then by considering examples in the context of current culture, and finally view the whole matter in relationship to ourselves as individuals—making personal application to our hearts.

 

Bring your bibles and join us for the next post as we look at the first virtue found in Matthew 5:3. Please click on notifications and watch for “Poor in Spirit.” 

 

 

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Jesus Offers Refreshment

 

“For your heavenly Father knoweth that you have need of all these things.

Matthew 6:32b KJV

 

In downtown Indianapolis my wife, Becca and I often spotted a homeless man with a long beard who had a mental and emotional disability. Even though the summer heat was sweltering, he wore an extremely dirty, torn up insulated jacket. He always carried nine or ten of those plastic grocery bags stuffed with all sorts of things tearing through the thin plastic. The man would stand for hours and hours in the sun, holding those bags and sweating.

We had to wonder at why he didn’t set the bags down; maybe sit himself down in the shade, and rest. Whenever we attempted to hand him a few dollars, he would simply wave us off. After many attempts to speak with the quiet fellow, we could never get a response from him. The only thing we could do for him was pray.

I think God sometimes views us in the same way that Becca and I would view that poor mentally challenged man. Often we may we carry a load of burdens, worries and fears, but refuse to come to the Lord to receive the rest and refreshing He provides. We struggle with problems that, to God are so simple to solve. He has all the strength and wisdom we could ever need, along with the solution to our difficulties, and yet, we continue to struggle and sweat.

 

Coming into God’s presence is like stepping out of the sweltering heat and into the
refreshing shade. When we release our burdens and difficfulties, setting them at the feet of Jesus, we find rest for our souls.

In His arms of care there’s comfort, direction, peace and purpose.

 

After seeing that same fellow downtown dozens of times, always in the same clothes and with that heavy, tattered coat, one day we were pleasantly surprised. It was last August that elation filled our hearts when we saw that very same man, but we barely recognised him. There he was in the same spot we’d seen him many times before, but he looked totally different. He had on a new, clean set of clothing and was clean shaven. He’d even  received a haircut. And he wasn’t carrying a thing! Becca and I looked at each other with big grins spreading across our faces. We both had the same thought and actually said it simultaneously.

“It had to be Jesus!” The obvious transformation in that man looked to us like it had the Lord’s fingerprints all over it.

 

The following week we we’re finally able to communicate with him. He informed us that his name is Walter.

I told him, “You’re really looking good today, Walter.”

He responded, “Thank you. It sure is a nice day that God has given us, isn’t it?”

The conversation continued, but we won’t get into that. Suffice it to say that the conversation is still ongoing whenever we are blessed to see Walter, our new friend. He even let’s us buy him a cold drink and donuts at at local coffee shop, where the three of us sit together, and talk about Jesus.

 

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.”

1 Peter 5:7 KJV

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Blood of Life

In his book Written In Blood, Robert Coleman tells the story of a girl who was suffering from a disease that would soon take her life, unless… Lisa was told that without a blood transfusion her death would be imminent. Thankfully, she had a little brother who shared her blood type, which was very rare. The fact that he’d defeated this same disease three years earlier offered the doctor even greater hope for success. So the physician carefully explained all of this to Lisa’s little brother, Dennis, discretely informing him that without the transfusion his sister would surely die.

 

“For the life of a creature is in the blood…” Lev. 17:11

 

“Do you think you would be brave enough to give your blood to your sister?” he asked. Dennis’ lips trembled nervously as he contemplated the situation, but finally, he smiled and said, “For my sister, yes, I’ll do it.”

 

As the two children were rolled into the hospital room, Lisa’s body looked enervated and pale, while Dennis appeared quite robust. The boy smiled at his sister. Together, they watched the blood make its way through the clear plastic tubing as it flowed out of Dennis’ arm and into her’s. Eventually, the smile began to fade from the boy’s little face, and he lay there feeling weak. Looking intently up at the elderly MD, he asked, “Doctor, when am I going to die?”

 

Dennis thought he would have to give all of his blood to Lisa, believing he was trading his life for his sister’s. Because of his love for her, he was prepared to pay that price.

 

When the Son of God became a man, coming to earth revealing God to mankind, one of the memorable truths He disclosed sheds light on that young boy’s willingness to sacrifice himself for his sister. Jesus said, “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”

 

That’s precisely what Jesus came to do—to be the Christ, the Savior—to offer Himself as a sacrifice to pay the terrible penalty for the sins of the whole world. “He himself bore our sins” in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; ‘by his wounds you have been healed.” 1 Peter 2:24

 

Since no other person who has ever lived on earth is perfect, this was the only way a perfectly innocent sacrifice could be made. God Himself had to provide the Lamb for the sarifice.

 

“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Romans 6:23

 

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16

 

The good news of Jesus Christ has come, been declared and preached. This news concerns the greatest love ever known, and the greatest love ever shown.

 

“But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” Romans 5:8

 

God loves us. Jesus sacrificed Himself, giving His life blood to save you and me. God wants us to repent of our sins—turn to Him, and simply believe on His Son, Jesus Christ, and trust Him to be the Lord of our lives.

Categories: Bible, Christian Doctrine, Christian Living, Devotional, Jesus, Love, Medical practice, sacrifice, Salvation, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

You Are God’s Masterpiece

Have you ever noticed how adeptly Jesus addressed the issues of life? He always goes straight to the heart of every difficulty, and shines the light of truth to expose the root of everything that’s wrong with the world, along with the real cause of every sin. “Nothing in all creation is hidden from God’s sight. Everything is uncovered and laid bare before the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (Heb. 4:13)

I find it to be so very awesome to have a relationship with Christ Jesus—His wisdom is beyond the scope of my comprehension. And yet, He knows how to convey truths to each individual person in a manner that can be clearly understood. But there are some qualifiers—things He requires of us before He does so.

 

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He sets it forth like this—“Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.” (Mark 12:30)

“Where your treasure is there your heart will be also.” (Matt. 6:21)

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (Col. 3:1)

We love from our hearts, or from the center of our being, at the very root of who and what we are.

Jesus Christ is “The Truth.”  Love desires to know the Truth.

Love desires to obey Truth—to act & speak in a manner consistent with and faithful to the Truth.

Love remains in the light—it doesn’t hide in darkness from the Truth.

A child of God who has been born from above, lives moment to moment seeking to perfect this Love.

Jesus has planted that seed of love in our hearts—in each of those who belong to Him. We are given a new nature and a softened heart that can be shaped by the hands of the Master. As the gardener of our hearts, our heavenly Father is faithful to nurture, prune, test, grow, and constantly tend that love until it finds completion on the glorious day when Christ Jesus returns.

God continues to impact who and what we are with His dynamic love, which produces transformation in us. Then He begins to love all others through us, for we have entered into Christ, and He dwells within us through His Spirit.

I have discovered a fantastic truth. The more I let God’s love flow out of me to others, the more of His love He pours in! So I say, let His love flow!

 

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Categories: Bible, Christian Living, Devotional, God's Faithfulness, Growing in Faith, Jesus, Love, new nature, Testimony, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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