Putting God's Word into Practice…

Good News

She WILL bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for HE WILL save His people FROM THEIR SINS! (Matthew 1:21)

Jesus means “the Lord saves!”  What a wonderful name!  It’s the name above all names, and one day every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. (Phil. 2:10-11)

HE WILL SAVE–that’s promise!!

FROM THEIR SINS.  Jesus didn’t come to save us from our unfortunate physical circumstances, not from the consequences of our bad choices, not from our enemies, not from our sickness.  His primary purpose in coming was to save us from our sins.  That’s really our greatest need!!  If our sins aren’t forgiven, and we die with them hanging over us, we will be separated from God and all things good for eternity.  But, if we recognize our need for a Savior, the afflictions and disappointments of this life will be wiped away upon our death and replaced with an eternity of joy and peace in God’s presence.

Whatever I think I want or need today, nothing is greater than my need for a Savior.  Whatever I think will bring me joy and peace, if it’s not Jesus, it will never truly, eternally satisfy.  No material possession, no relationship, no healing will last as long as salvation.

Jesus came to save us from our sins.  Won’t you let Him do what He came to do today?  And if you have been saved from your sins already, worship Him and share your hope with your family and friends today.  That’s the best gift we have to offer.

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Deuteronomy 3 ~ Servant

O LORD GOD, You have only begun to show Your SERVANT Your greatness and Your mighty hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do such works and mighty acts as Yours? (Deuteronomy 3:24)

God displays His greatness and might constantly, but recognizing it depends on our view of ourselves.  If we laid a diamond on a white piece of cloth, it would not look nearly as radiant as when it were laid on black cloth.  The loftier the view we have of ourselves, the dimmer His power looks to us.  The lowlier our view of ourselves, the greater His glory shines! God reveals His character and power to His servants.  Servants!  Do we view ourselves as servants?  If we are not witnessing God’s power in our lives, maybe we have too grand a view of our status.

God has been bringing verses to mind with this word “servant” in them quite often.  Some specific ones are:

  • “Have you considered my servant, Job?” (Job 1:8, 2:3)
  • “I am your servant, may it be to me as you have said.” (Luke 1:38, Mary)
  • “Have this mind among yourselves which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.” (Phil. 2:5-7)
  • “Well done, good and faithful servant!” (Matthew 25:23)

What do those verses tell me:

  • God’s eyes are always on His servants.
  • Servants of the Lord are surrendered to His ways and take Him at His word.
  • Servanthood was good enough for Jesus, it’s good enough for me.
  • When I see Jesus, He isn’t going to say, “Well done, good and faithful exerciser…reader…Bible study leader…cook…organizer…blogger” but “servant.”  All those things could be part of being a servant, but servanthood has to be the umbrella over them; the foundation under them.

How can we keep this humble view of ourselves?  Fix our eyes on His greatness and might!  Let His brilliance captivate us!

Lord, at the end of my life, may my epitaph merely read, “Servant of the Lord.”

Bonus Thought:  In the first part of the chapter the most common verb phrase in some form is, “The LORD gives…”  It is easy to forget the generosity of the Lord. He is a giver!!!  Let’s focus our minds on that aspect of His character today!

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More Lessons from Henry

Peace and contentment flooded my kitchen as I sat feeding Henry this morning.  His needs were being satisfied…finally.  As I sat in the peace of the moment, I heard the Holy Spirit speak to my heart.  I had gone against my very life verses.

Do NOTHING out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.  Each of you should not only look to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Philippians 2:3-4

You see, minutes before the peace, the house was filled with hungry wailing.  I had heard Henry rousing and thought, “Let ME FIRST fold this laundry.”  Halfway through the task, his rousing had turned to crying and quickly escalated to wailing.  I thought again, “I’M almost finished.  Let ME FIRST fold these clothes.”  Peace never comes by way of selfishness–peace comes through serving others in humility.

How often do we put our needs, agendas and interests before others and sometimes at the expense of others?  It is so un-Christlike!  He gave up everything to put our needs–our greatest need of salvation–first. Verse 5 says, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:  Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.”

Lord, help me to serve like Jesus today.  Give me His attitude and perspective toward others.  Give me humility.  In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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1 John 3:22-24 ~ Believe and Love

And whatever we ask we receive from him, because we keep his commandments and do what pleases him. AND THIS IS HIS COMMANDMENT, THAT WE BELIEVE IN THE NAME OF HIS SON JESUS CHRIST AND LOVE ONE ANOTHER, just as he has commanded us.  Whoever keeps his commandments abides in God, and God in him. And by this we know that he abides in us, by the Spirit whom he has given us.

When we read the Bible long enough, God uses it to answer our questions.  Several days ago when I was studying the word “abide” from 1 John 2:18-29 I asked the Lord, “How do I abide in You?” The answer is to believe in the name of Jesus and love others.

To believe means to have faith in or accept something as truth.  We abide in the Lord when we daily live out our belief that Jesus is who He and His Father says He is–God the Son.  That He accomplished what He said He did–the salvation of all who believe in His finished work on the cross and resurrection.  And that He’s able to do what He says He can–the impossible.  We believe in Jesus’ position, power, and promises!  Believing in the name of Jesus means that we don’t go ahead with our own plans, but submit to the ones He has planned for us.  It means that we don’t spend our lives trying to make our own righteousness, but we completely trust in His grace alone.

Abiding in the Lord doesn’t just hinge on believing in Jesus, but also in letting that belief affect our actions–specifically in the area of love.  I have a son who thinks his sports skills should be good right away–a natural–but he is so consumed with how he looks in the process that it stunts his ability to play.  His pride prevents him from taking risks on the basketball court.  I feel like that when it comes to loving others.  As a Christian, loving others is my job and it should come naturally to me because it’s God’s character that He infused into me when I became His child.  But loving others is the most challenging part of my spiritual walk.  Pride and selfishness get in the way.  I’m too afraid to risk when it comes to loving others. (How would loving others affect me? What if my love is rejected? Do they really deserve my love?)  Obedience to God is how we demonstrate love to Him.  He has given us only one other command to obey–and that’s loving others.  Loving others demonstrates love to Him!  It’s easy to say, “I love God,” but real love is not words, it’s action (1 John 3:18).  It’s one thing to say, “I can make that basket.”  It’s another thing to shoot the ball and prove it!

Loving others is essential for abiding in Christ.  But, loving others is impossible by sheer will power and human strength.  Love happens because the Holy Spirit abides in us.  Surrendering to His power and work in our lives enables us to express the love of God to others.  Love requires laying down our pride–admitting we need supernatural help to love not only “difficult” people but all people according to God’s definition of love found in 1 Corinthians 13:1-7. Love requires laying selfishness aside–laying down our rights, our reputation, our schedule, our will–just like Jesus did (Phil. 2:3-7, Matthew 26:39).

When I don’t feel close to the Lord, I need to examine my heart to see if there is anyone that I am not loving selflessly, unconditionally, and sacrificially.  Being unloving prohibits abiding!  I know this personally because today, I was feeling distant from the Lord, and it was due to a critical spirit towards others.  Thankfully I BELIEVE that Jesus’ sacrifice and grace are the only means to forgiveness and restoration!  Now I am abiding again!!!

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Humble Myself

I mentioned it yesterday, but I have been absolutely disgusted with the pride in my heart.  God has been revealing to me over the past several weeks that humility is the answer to all the changes that are needed in my life. 

Yesterday, while reading Embracing Obscurity the author wrote this of Matthew 18:5, “Jesus gave an active command.  We are to humble ourselves…the responsibility is on me to take the unassuming, submissive, unassertive nature of a child.  I not only have to choose humility, I have to work at it.” (pg. 161)  I started to think about all the verses I knew in the Bible that use those words together, “humble yourself,” and decided this morning to do a word search with biblegateway.com  (If you want to know more about God’s heart on humility, you should try it!)

The first reference was in Exodus 10:3.  Moses said to Pharaoh, ” Thus says the Lord, the God of the Hebrews, ‘How long will you refuse to humble yourself before me?'”  We know that Pharaoh continued to refuse until God humbled him!

In Deuteronomy 8, God said that he used the years of wandering in the wilderness to humble the Israelites because they would not humble themselves.

2 Chronicles 33 references two kings–Manassah who did humble himself and sought the Lord (12-13) and his successor, Amon who refused to humble himself and was killed (22-24).

Personal calls to humble ourselves are found in James 4:10, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you,” and 1 Peter 5:6, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you.”   And God also honors corporate humility.  In 2 Chronicles 7:14 it says, “If my people who are called by my name humble themselves, and pray and seek my face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and heal their land.” And also in Ezra 8:21-23 Ezra said, “Then I proclaimed a fast there, at the river Ahava, that we might humble ourselves before our God, to seek from him a safe journey for ourselves, our children and all our goods…’The hand of our God is for good on all who seek him, and the power of his wrath is against all who forsake him.’ So we fasted and implored our God for this, and he listened to our entreaty.”

Some benefits of humility:

  • humility bridles my tongue.
  • humility is the source of true praise and worship.
  • humility allows me to see myself as clay in the Potter’s hand.
  • humility allows me to fully trust and depend on the Lord.
  • humility enables me to surrender my plans and agendas to God.
  • humility makes it possible for me to please God instead of man.
  • humility allows me to rest and say “no” when necessary.
  • humility enables contentment.
  • humility causes me to see God’s glory and greatness.
  • humility draws God near and lets me experience His presence in my life.
  • humility enables fervent prayer.
  • humility opens God’s ears to my prayers.
  • humility makes the needs of others more urgent than my own.
  • humility causes God to rescue me, give me His favor, wisdom and grace.

How can we learn humility?  Look to Jesus!

In Matthew 11:29, Jesus said, “Take my yoke upon you and learn from me for I am gentle and HUMBLE in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”  

Matthew 21:5 refers to a prophecy given about Jesus, “Behold your king is coming to you, HUMBLE, and mounted on a donkey…”

Paul wrote in Philippians 2 this command and help for humility: “Do nothing from rivalry or conceit, but in HUMILITY count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he HUMBLED HIMSELF by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.”

If Jesus humbled himself, and if my mind has been renewed in His likeness like Phil. 2:5 says, then I need to learn from Him how to humble myself.  The alternative is to let God humble me–I’d rather learn than be “schooled.”

I’m attaching a link to this tool that I have found very beneficial in detecting pride in my heart and I hope that if pride is an area that anyone who reads this is struggling with that it will lead you to the brokenness that God in His grace allowed me to experience this morning.