Humility

I will say it again: The Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are righteous, for you are not—you are a stubborn people.

– Deuteronomy 9:6
 

Thoughts:

The man who walks with his nose in the air is liable to land in trouble. Or if you prefer, “Pride goes before destruction” (Prov. 16:18). By contrast, the humble man walks with his nose down and his eyes fixed on the road, because he knows his propensity for going wrong, his capacity for missteps.

We tend to think about our rights, our entitlements, what we think we deserve…… How wrong we are! I don’t meet very many humble people anymore. We’re always comparing, competing, and jockeying for “position.” I wonder how God feels about that? Does it break God’s heart when inwardly and secretly we are happy when we see someone else who gets broken in some way? Somehow we think they deserve this and we deserve better?

It would not have been surprising if the children of Israel had assumed that they merited God’s extraordinarily generous treatment of them. God had delivered them from their bondage in Egypt, had taken the initiative to make a unique covenant with them, and had fed them and protected them for forty hair-raising years in a desolate wilderness. And finally he was giving them the land that had previously belonged to other people. They must have been righteous!

The reality is, the Israelites were anything but righteous. So Moses took steps to bring them face-to-face with reality, which would lead to appropriate humility. He told them, “Don’t say to yourselves, ‘The Lord has given us this land because we are so righteous!’ . . . The Lord your God is not giving you this good land because you are righteous, for you are not—you are a stubborn people” (Deut. 9:4-6). Then he embarked on a long recital of events that showed unequivocally that they were remarkably undeserving of the blessings bestowed upon them. For them to think they were blessed because they deserved it would have been rank fantasy.

God was not being unkind in reminding Israel of their unworthiness. He knew that the more self-satisfied they became, the more they were in danger of spiritual pride and eventual downfall. On the other hand, the more they recognized God’s grace and mercy, the more their hearts would be gripped by his love, moved by his grace, and touched by his mercy. Hearts so affected become loving, obedient hearts. That’s where true blessing is found, and that is what God wanted for his people.

It’s hard for us today to be humble, since we think we have accomplished so much. But a few reflective moments will help us realize that humility is necessary and anything else would be grossly inappropriate. The thoughtful child knows that unless God provides him air to breathe, food to eat, and raw materials with which to work, he cannot produce. And the insightful one sees that unless God gives the blessings that are completely undeserved, we cannot even exist! Reality is humbling, but those who humble themselves make God proud.

Prayer:

Father, the words from Micah 6:8 come to mind this morning … “He has told you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Help me to walk humbly with you today. Amen.

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Worry

“Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. If you do this, you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will guard your hearts and minds as you live in Christ Jesus.”
– Philippians 4:6-7
 

Thoughts:
This pattern given in Philippians 4, of taking our worries to God and centering our thoughts on him and all he has done is an important secret of prayer. We all have different “panic buttons,” or experiences that cause our hearts and minds to race, our confidence and strength to waver. Your panic button may relate to your children’s safety, your finances, your health, or an uncertain employment future. Whatever they are, these needs and burdens are actually meant to draw us to God in prayer. If we open our hearts and invite Jesus into our need and put our focus on him, he will quiet our anxious thoughts and bring us a sense of calm. His peace, which is far more wonderful than our human minds can comprehend, then brings comfort and order to our hearts. In the midst of this anxiety-ridden, fear- filled world we live in, the Lord wants to reveal himself as the God who calms our fears and turns our worries into wonder at what a great God he is.

Prayer:
HOLY SPIRIT, here is my worry. Here is my need. I give them to you, and ask you to calm my anxious heart and quiet my racing thoughts. Center them on Jesus Christ and on his power and sufficiency today. Because I belong to you, I know that your peace will guard my heart and mind.

“THE ONLY WAY IN WHICH WE CAN GATHER AND KEEP COLLECTED OUR DISTRACTED MINDS AND OUR ROAMING THOUGHTS IS TO CENTER THEM ABOUT JESUS CHRIST. . . . LET CHRIST LAY HOLD OF, ATTRACT, CAPTIVATE AND GATHER ABOUT HIMSELF ALL OUR INTERESTS. THEN OUR SESSIONS OF PRAYER WILL BECOME REAL MEETINGS WITH GOD . . . AND THE PEACE OF GOD WILL DESCEND WITH HEALING AND BLESSING UPON MY DISTRACTED SOUL.”
– Ole Hallesby (1879–1961)

www.Lex1.church


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Storms

One day Jesus said to his disciples, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped, and they were in great danger. The disciples went and woke him, saying, “Master, Master, we’re going to drown!” He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. “Where is your faith?” he asked his disciples. In fear

 and amazement they asked one another, “Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him.”
– Luke 8:22-25

Thoughts:
Even though we follow Christ’s command, we should not expect to escape the storm. In this passage of Scripture, the disciples were obeying his command, yet they encountered the fiercest of storms and were in great danger of being drowned. In their distress, they cried out for Christ’s assistance.

Christ may delay coming to us during our times of distress, but it is simply so our faith may be tested and strengthened. His purpose is also that our prayers will be more powerful, our desire for deliverance will be greater, and when deliverance finally comes, we will appreciate it more fully.

Gently rebuking his disciples, Christ asked, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” (Mark 4:40). In effect, he was saying, “Why didn’t you face the storm victoriously and shout to the raging winds and rolling waves, ‘You cannot harm us, for Christ, the mighty Savior, is on board’?”

Of course, it is much easier to trust God when the sun is shining than to trust him when the storm is raging around us. Yet we will never know our level of genuine faith until it is tested in a fierce storm, and that is why our Savior is on board.
If you are ever to “be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power” (Ephesians 6:10), your strength will be born during a storm.

With Christ in my vessel,
I smile at the storm.

Christ said, “Let us go over to the other side” [Luke 8:22]—not “to the middle of the lake to be drowned.”
—Daniel Crawford


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Being Real With God

O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.

– Psalm 62:8
 

Thoughts:
This verse is an open invitation to be honest and deeply real with the Lord. It calls us to take our masks off and pour out our true thoughts and feelings to God, to be there before him telling it like it is, not how we think things should be. How freeing it is to realize that we can be totally honest with God and express our sadness or joy, our fears, our faults and weaknesses, our pain, desires and dreams, and to know that the contents of our hearts are really safe with God, our refuge. This verse also reminds us that although the specific patterns or formats for prayer are excellent principles for individual or corporate prayer times, we don’t have to follow them in order for God to hear us, nor do we have to hide our negative emotions and attitudes just so we’ll look good. God already knows all that we are feeling and struggling with, so we can come to him just as we are and pour out our hearts “at all times.” He invites us in the midst of conflicts, stresses, responsibilities, and frustration to seek him as our closest confidante, our intimate friend.

Prayer:
How thankful I am for the confidence and security that you long to hear from me and to comfort me. You know and understand all the thoughts of my heart better than I do myself, and you invite me to pour out my heart to you now. And so I will. . . .

“THE SPIRIT OF PRAYER MAKES US SO INTIMATE WITH GOD THAT WE SCARCELY PASS THROUGH AN EXPERIENCE BEFORE WE SPEAK TO HIM ABOUT IT, EITHER IN SUPPLICATION, IN SIGHING, IN POURING OUT OUR WOES BEFORE HIM, IN FERVENT REQUESTS, OR IN THANKSGIVING AND ADORATION.”
Ole Hallesby (1879–1961)


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Connections Newsletter 9_1_17


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Returning To God

The Sovereign Lord . . . says, “Only in returning to me and waiting for me will you be saved. In quietness and confidence is your strength.”

– Isaiah 30:15

 

Thoughts:
This verse describes the revealed heart of God toward humanity: “Return to me” was always God’s heart toward his people even when they were in rebellion and were rejecting his call to come under the shelter of his wings. Despite the hardened condition of the people’s hearts at the time Isaiah penned these verses, God declared this to be his desire—to receive the penitent, to extend salvation to them, and to grant them rest, quietness, and strength. What a shining promise to us today! Wherever we are in life, whatever mess we have made of things, or however bleak the outlook, God calls to us, “Return to me!” He knows that only in him can we find true rest for our souls as we live in this hectic world. He calls us to repentance so that we can experience his salvation. He calls to us to be quiet, still, and confident in him so that we can experience his strength.

 

Prayer:
OH, LORD, thank you for always calling me to return to you. My desire is to walk in harmony with you. But sometimes I become distant from you. Even then, I know that you haven’t distanced yourself from me. You are ever waiting for me to return, to repent, and to find rest in you.
 

“IS NOT PRAYER PRECISELY OF ITSELF PEACE, SILENCE, STRENGTH, SINCE IT IS A WAY OF BEING WITH GOD?”
Jacques Ellul (1912–1994)


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