Lost in Pride

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                Many people think of pride as someone who thinks they are better than those around them. People focus on the “chest beating” pride that is the most outwardly evident form. The dangerous kinds of pride are the less obvious types. These are self-reliance and self-focus. All pride drives us away from God and opens up a foot-hold for the deceiver. God opposed the proud, but gives grace to the humble. (James 4:6) Pride is the reason the devil was cast out of heaven and is the source of all sin. The pride of the deceiver is what causes him to oppose God and oppose those who serve God here on earth. Any pride that you hold is a connection to the nature of satan and a barrier to closeness with the Lord.

Self-Reliance

                It is human nature to try and do things for ourselves in our own way. We drift from reliance on God. This sinful nature draws us into a life soiled by pain, frustration, and worry. We feel out of place and unsettled as we try and mask the missing peace with worldly pleasures through more self-reliance. These earthly “band-aides” leave us deeper in despair. Someone who lives in self-reliance builds a house with no foundation. When they fall there is no limit to the depths of that trouble.

                On the other hand, we can fight that nature. We can rely on God. He desires us to rely on His provision and designed us to walk in reliance on Him. We were designed for a purpose and God wants us to walk in His light. If we follow the path of God we a fulfilled and at peace in our journey through life. We draw closer to God in reliance on Him and the deceiver loses his ability to draw on the pride that causes self-reliance. God calls us to humility and submission so that He can lead us in the peace and joy found in Him.

Self-Focus

       Humans are selfish by nature. From birth we think only of ourselves. The dangerous position of self-focus causes many things that create deep turmoil in our live. This kind of pride is the source of anxiety, depression, anger, unforgiveness, etc. It’s sad to see the world turn to medication over God. When we think the world revolves around us or that we deserve more than we do, we fall victim to pride. We are anxious when we think we can control the things around us. We get depressed when we don’t get what we feel we should or feel the way we want. Anger occurs when we feel wronged because we don’t deserve undesired treatment or belong in a certain situation. We have trouble forgiving when we want additional attention for the wrong we perceive. All of those situations find their source in personal opinions on what we think should be true.

       We have to turn to God and realize our mission on earth is to serve the growth of His kingdom and to glorify Him as His image bearers. The world owes us nothing. We have no control over the outcomes when God is in control. People are not focused on how we are affected by their actions because their fallenness causes them to be self-focused. It’s not our job to hold anyone accountable for the pride that we can now recognize. We must show them what humility looks like as they continue to walk in pride. Their escape from the prison of pride is between them and God. Focus on God and His plans. Focus on your involvement in His kingdom and turn away from the temptation to make any situation revolve around you.

 

       The most dangerous part of pride is that pride keeps us from seeing the pride in ourselves and others. We cannot admit the existence of our pride because our pride will not allow it. That is the reason why, even in the eyes of defeat, the devil cannot admit to himself that he cannot defeat God. People cannot see their own pride so you cannot call out their flaw. You must be an image bearer of humility and love that draws them to God’s peace that radiates from you. If you read this and find pride in your heart, you can thank God for that revelation and know that He personally is calling you out of the darkness of sin. You cannot see your own pride without the humility God gives you. The cycle of pride requires Godly intervention to break. Thank God for His continued work in and through you. Love others in their fallenness and draw close to God who loves you too much to lose you to pride, the source of all sin.

Old Testament Exile is Our Difficulty

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       The exile/ correction of God’s people in the Old Testament can be compared to the difficult times God allows His people to go through today. He let His people in the OT suffer in their turning away from Him so that He could return the faithful/ humble/ obedient to their former blessedness. The same occurs today in difficult seasons where a believer’s faith draws them closer to God and His sovereignty; or turns them toward worldly security. When painful situations draw out the believer’s faith, humility (reliance on God) and obedience to His will; God is able to grow their spirit and mold them to His purpose. God allows trouble in our lives to grow and mature His children.

 The reaction of the afflicted is what decides the result of a difficult circumstance.

       The tendency of people in their sinful fallenness is to turn to their own ability and understanding to correct their situation in their own power. Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight. (Proverbs 3:5-6) Any battle fought with human power will not be finished. For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. (Ephesians 6:12) Only battles where God is our defender find completion for all time. We cannot fight spiritual battles with earthly weapons. Our flesh will only hinder the work of God in our spirits. let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles (Hebrews 12:1)

     With every difficulty we face there is also a plan for revival. God does not seek to bring us to ruin but to correct His children with love. He wants His faithfulness to lead us to a fullness of life beyond our dreams; and to grow us in faithfulness toward His provision and sovereignty. God is glorified when the result of a difficult season is a deeper relationship with His children and when His power and love is shown to those who are witness to His work in the lives of His faithful.

 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. (Isaiah 55:8)

so is my word that goes out from my mouth:  It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. (Isaiah 55:11)

Silent Faith

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 And Zechariah said to the angel, “How shall I know this? For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.” And the angel answered him, “I am Gabriel. I stand in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and to bring you this good news.  And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah, and they were wondering at his delay in the temple. And when he came out, he was unable to speak to them, and they realized that he had seen a vision in the temple. And he kept making signs to them and remained mute. (Luke 1:18-22)

The Scripture above is part of the story that tells us about an angel of the Lord telling the father of John the Baptist of his upcoming conception and birth. John’s father, Zechariah was a priest. The angel came to him as he was doing his duty in the temple. Zechariah’s disbelief was met with an inability to speak. This scripture spoke to me. I don’t see this inability to speak as a punishment but a gift. Not only was Zechariah left alone with the ability to only communicate with God, but his doubt was also kept to himself and away from those who looked up to him as a priest.

 [In Scripture silence was the prelude to extraordinary events. It was a sign that God was about to work… he could not be allowed to take his doubt out to the people.  It was thus not just a punishment. It was a chastening with a purpose. – Peter Pett’s Commentary on the Bible]

[When this realization struck home, the crowds knew they he had seen a vision in the temple and that God was about to do something marvelous in their midst (v. 22).- Bible.org]

            Many times, in midst of our troubles, we run to earthly comforts. It might be a substance or people. In doing this we run the risk of turning away from a God that uses troubles to draw us to Him. He wants us to rely on Him so that He can groom us for our purpose. “So you, by the help of your God, return, hold fast to love and justice, and wait continually for your God.” (Hosea 13:6) When we run to other things to comfort us we leave God out of the process He is drawing us to in our trouble. I feel the silence of Zechariah represents our tendency to pour out our hurt, doubt, disbelief, and frustration to the people around us who God desires to influence with our faith and obedience. God wants the people around us to see His work in us. Don’t be quick to spread your doubt and hurt to anyone around you. Seek wise counsel from other believers to speak the truth of God to you in your difficulty. The Lord is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord. It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth. Let him sit alone in silence when it is laid on him;  let him put his mouth in the dust—there may yet be hope (Lamentations 3:25-29)

 for when our faith is weak, and we throw out many obstacles, the truth of God, in continuing to flow toward us must, of necessity, break through them with a kind of violence – Calvin’s Commentary on the Bible

Sin In The Eyes of The Law

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         If Adam’s disobedience was the match that started the deadly fire that we call sin. The law was the dry forest that allowed the fire to run wild, consuming people in their fallen nature like trees in their flammable nature. The law was brought in so that the trespass might increase. But where sin increased, grace increased all the more (Romans 5:20) God then provided His only begotten Son as a rain storm of His Grace to extinguish the fire of sin. just as sin reigned in death, so also grace might reign through righteousness to bring eternal life through Jesus Christ (Romans 5:21) The transgression of Adam, which created in all of us a fallen nature leading to death, was redeemed through the sacrifice of Jesus who knew no sin. For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous. (Romans 5:19)

        To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come. (Romans 5:13-14) The law could not conquer sin because death was still the result. Even perfect adherence to God’s law resulted in the same death that existed before law established and magnified sin and the fallenness of man. God had to come to earth in the flesh to redeem us from the disobedience of Adam and disobedience of man in turning away from God’s law. Jesus had to fulfill the requirements of the law to set us free from the penalty of death. The law given through Moses was fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus says: “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them.” (Matthew 5:17)

 

Adam-Moses: No Law, No Spirit   (People turn away from God)

The world was held under the rule of death. All humanity fell into the depravity of sin with no way to know God as His name was lost through generations. It fell into such disarray that God flooded the world that showed no promise of redemption.

Moses-Christ: Law, No Spirit   (People turn away from God and the law)

God gave Moses laws that would guide His people to be set apart and to keep God their focus. The laws were protection from their fallen nature and a way to keep God and His faithfulness at the center of their lives. They turned away even when God gave them direction and guidance.

Christ-Eternity: Spirit, No Law     (God comes to find His people)

The death and resurrection of our Savior gave us access to the Holy Spirit which writes the law upon our hearts. The love we are commanded to give to God and to our neighbors fulfills the requirements of moral law. As we walk in the newness of life and obedience to God we are not subject to the death penalty of sin.

When People Prosper Without Christ

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But when I thought how to understand this, it seemed to me a wearisome task, until I went into the sanctuary of God; then I discerned their end. (Psalm 73:16-17)

                This Psalm describes the trouble many of us have when we see the non-believers walking in “happiness”, “security”, “health”, “wealth”, etc. The Bible describe throughout its pages how worldly prosperity will lead to destruction. The structure of worldly prosperity is built on a foundation that is falling apart. There is no real security in a world that is deteriorating and will ultimately be destroyed. As believers, we are called to store our treasure in the eternity of Heaven. When we build wealth and other earthly attachment they pull us away from a God focus. We drift into self-reliance and self-security, neither of which can be trusted. Trusting in ourselves and the security of this world is trust in fallenness, in sin, and in darkness. When we go into the sanctuary of God, as the psalmist says, we allow God to give us His divine provision which is more than we need or deserve. We also can glorify God for and with His provision which let our focus stay on God and our relationship deepen with the God of eternity. The more secure we become with the provision of God and His work in our lives the more we can see the artificial confidence people have in worldly pleasure. As the psalmist says: we can discern their end. We can see how thin the ice is below their confidence. We can see how easily their security can be shaken and how truly fragile their earthly prosperity is. Obey the call of your Lord to be not of this world and allow His grace to fill you with joy, peace, purpose and love. Don’t be distracted by the “prosperity” of the lost. Their gain apart from God will deteriorate and fall to dust. Your trust and hope in God will earn you a relationship that will prosper you here and last into eternity.

A good man leaves an inheritance to his children’s children, but the sinner’s wealth is laid up for the righteous (Proverbs 13:22)

To the person who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge and happiness, but to the sinner he gives the task of gathering and storing up wealth to hand it over to the one who pleases God (Ecclesiastes 2:26)

Though he heaps up silver like dust and clothes like piles of clay, what he lays up the righteous will wear, and the innocent will divide his silver… He lies down wealthy, but will do so no more; when he opens his eyes, all is gone. (Job 27:16-17,19)

Obedience Over Effort

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“Has the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to listen than the fat of rams. For rebellion is as the sin of divination, and presumption is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.” – Samuel (1 Samuel 15:22-23)

                The religious actions of people will never take the place of God’s desire for obedience. People think that they can please God by doing things that they feel serve Him. God desires your service for His kingdom but He desires to lead you in your service. Samuel says in the scripture above that divination (prediction) can be considered rebellion and presumption (assumption) is considered to be on par with immorality and self-reliance. We can’t walk a path that we have designed for ourselves and then be disappointed when God won’t honor our misguided decisions in how we should follow Him. In the case above, Saul was told to kill all of the people and the livestock of the people God had chosen. He instead kept their king alive and brought back all of the good livestock to sacrifice it to the Lord. He directly disobeyed God’s order to kill everything. His intentions might have been good but God was looking to be obeyed. What use does God have with the things He created being sacrificed to Him? The intention of sacrifice was submission and obedience in its implementation. Bypassing what God has called you to do and trying to serve Him in your best efforts will not please Him. Don’t fall victim to self-reliance in how you want to be part of God’s kingdom. Let the Spirit He gave you through your faith in Jesus as your Savior guide you into your service for Him. Recognize Him as Lord and let obedience through love be what drive you into relationship with your Creator.

Don’t Do It Yourself

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 He (Saul) waited seven days, the time appointed by Samuel. But Samuel did not come …, and the people were scattering from him. So Saul said, “Bring the burnt offering here to me, and the peace offerings.” And he offered the burnt offering. As soon as he had finished offering the burnt offering, behold, Samuel came. And Saul went out to meet him and greet him.  Samuel said, “What have you done?” And Saul said, “When I saw that the people were scattering from me, and that you did not come within the days appointed, and that the Philistines had mustered … I said, ‘Now the Philistines will come down against me …, and I have not sought the favor of the Lord.’ So I forced myself, and offered the burnt offering.” And Samuel said to Saul, “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the command of the Lord your God, with which he commanded you. For then the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.  But now your kingdom shall not continue. (1 Samuel 13:8-14a)

                Saul falls victim to temptations we all face in our Christian walk. As soon as circumstances developed in a way that he did not like he took matters into his own hands. He was impatient when Samuel didn’t come when expected, he was discouraged when all of his men had scattered, and he lost focus of God’s direction when his focus shifted toward the army mustering against him. He made the decision to trust in his own power over the power of God found through obedience. God had a plan for Saul to rule as long as he was obedient to God’s rule over His chosen people. If you will fear the Lord and serve him and obey his voice and not rebel against the commandment of the Lord, and if both you and the king who reigns over you will follow the Lord your God, it will be well. But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the commandment of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you and your king. (1 Samuel 12:14-15) But his self-sufficiency led him away from God and bypassed the plans for his prosperity.

                No battle will ever be complete unless it is won through God. Our human efforts leave trouble incomplete. It is why we find ourselves in struggles repeatedly. If we submit our plans and allow God to fight for us He will bring those troubles to completion where we would continually fight and grow weary. Don’t let the circumstances you see pull you away from what God’s will. Don’t let an impatient soul drive you forward while God is setting up the victory for you. Walk with God as He develops a victory that glorifies Him and His provision for you. Let God’s timing lead you and find rest in the anticipation of the upcoming victory. Die to yourself daily and establish Jesus as your Lord. Give control top the Creator and Sustainer of the universe. Let the plan He has for you exceed your wildest dreams and destroy forever your biggest fears.