Walking the Path of Humility…

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John 13:1-15 (KJV)

1Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.
2And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him;
3Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
4He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
5After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
6Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
7Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
8Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.
9Simon Peter saith unto him, Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head.
10Jesus saith to him, He that is washed needeth not save to wash his feet, but is clean every whit: and ye are clean, but not all.
11For he knew who should betray him; therefore said he, Ye are not all clean.
12So after he had washed their feet, and had taken his garments, and was set down again, he said unto them, Know ye what I have done to you?
13 Ye call me Master and Lord: and ye say well; for so I am.
14 If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet.
15 For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.

Do you equate success with wealth, acclaim, and power?

If we measured by these standards, then Jesus, who was rejected by His community and didn’t even have a house of His own, was a failure.

But, of course, we know that’s not the case.

So God must use something other than these worldly goals to define success. In fact,

Scripture is clear that Jesus Christ is our example–we should strive to be like Him.

So, what exactly was our Savior’s mission?

In today’s passage, we see the answer through His actions: He came to serve.

The disciples, wanting recognition and reward, were arguing about who’d be the greatest in heaven. In contrast, Jesus took off His outer garment and performed the task of the lowliest servant: He washed the dirty feet of His followers.

The next day, Almighty God was crucified by His own creation. In allowing this, He offered salvation to all–even those who nailed Him to a cross.

Jesus deserved glory but chose sacrifice and pain.

And He asks that we follow His example of service. With the exception of Judas, His disciples obeyed. In fact, they all faced great difficulty and most died brutal deaths because of their faith.

But they willingly walked the path of humility because of what Jesus had taught them: “The last shall be first, and the first last” (Matt. 20:16).

How do you spend your resources and time?

And which topics dominate your thoughts and conversation?

These are a few indicators of the driving goals in your life. You may long for worldly recognition, but God has a higher calling for His children.

Ask Him to foster a servant’s attitude in your heart.

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A Healthy Sense of Our Merits Talents, and Achievements…

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Proverbs 6:16-19 (KJV)

16 These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him:
17 A proud look, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood,
18 An heart that deviseth wicked imaginations, feet that be swift in running to mischief,
19 A false witness that speaketh lies, and he that soweth discord among brethren.

Humility is a healthy, godly sense of our merits, talents, and achievements.

In the life of the believer, one thing stands as an obstacle to humility: pride.

To think of oneself above others is the exact opposite of the humble mindset God calls His children to demonstrate (Phil. 2:3). Pride is deceitful in that we might not recognize it in our own hearts.

Even more dangerous is the person who is proud on the inside and yet appears humble to others. But God cannot be fooled.

Our heavenly Father hates pride because He knows the destructive power it can have in our lives.

When we are proud, what we’re really saying is that we know better than God. He places pride—“haughty eyes”—at the top of the list of seven abominations.

That doesn’t mean that He hates the person who is prideful. God loves all of us. Because of that love, He despises anything that will bring harm to us.

Pride blocks our communication with God.

Scripture tells us God opposes the proud (James 4:6), so we must recognize that such an attitude will affect communication with Him. We can’t expect the Lord to answer our prayers if we approach Him with a prideful heart.

Our worthiness isn’t God’s basis for considering the prayer requests we bring; the fact of the matter is that we are not worthy.

God instead responds to our need.

When we attempt to live in our own strength, we can expect God to ruin our successes (2 Chron. 26), ridicule our schemes (Ps. 2:1-5), and remove our status (Dan. 5).

He wants us to renounce our pride before it destroys us.

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Getting in God’s Way…

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Luke 15:11-32 (KJV)

11And he said, A certain man had two sons:
12 And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.
13 And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.
14 And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.
15 And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.
16 And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.
17 And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!
18 I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,
19 And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.
20 And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
21 And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.
22 But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet:
23 And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry:
24 For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.
25 Now his elder son was in the field: and as he came and drew nigh to the house, he heard musick and dancing.
26 And he called one of the servants, and asked what these things meant.
27 And he said unto him, Thy brother is come; and thy father hath killed the fatted calf, because he hath received him safe and sound.
28 And he was angry, and would not go in: therefore came his father out, and entreated him.
29 And he answering said to his father, Lo, these many years do I serve thee, neither transgressed I at any time thy commandment: and yet thou never gavest me a kid, that I might make merry with my friends:
30 But as soon as this thy son was come, which hath devoured thy living with harlots, thou hast killed for him the fatted calf.
31 And he said unto him, Son, thou art ever with me, and all that I have is thine.
32 It was meet that we should make merry, and be glad: for this thy brother was dead, and is alive again; and was lost, and is found.

When we read about the Prodigal Son, our focus is usually on God’s amazing love, which is demonstrated by the father in the parable.

We delight in knowing that the Lord responds to us the same way when we stray from Him.

But today, I want to look at our responsibility to love others.

No matter how difficult the situation, God has given believers in Christ the capacity to respond with this same kind of love.

Let go.

Though he had every right to refuse his second son’s foolish request, this father understood that the young man had already left home in his heart.

There may be times in our lives when the most loving thing we can do is also the most difficult—to step back and let a loved one go his or her own way.

When you hang on and try to control the outcome, you may actually get in God’s way.

Wait.

Once we have let go, we must then wait patiently for the Lord to do His work in that person’s life.

Did you notice that the father didn’t go to search for his son? Even though he knew that pain and trouble would follow such a foolish decision, he chose to trust God instead of trying to fix the situation and protect his son from the consequences of his unwise choice.

The only way you can respond like this is to have confidence in the Lord’s good plans for the one you’re concerned about.

He loves that person more than you can comprehend and understands the best way to reach a resistant heart.

Your job is to watch and pray until God brings the prodigal to his or her senses.

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Burden Bearing…

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Galatians 6 (KJV)

If you are looking for a way to carry out Christ’s command to love your neighbor, Paul has a suggestion: bear their burdens.

At some point, everyone struggles under the weight of an oppressive situation.

Believers have an obligation to get under that load next to their brothers and sisters.

Jesus sets the pattern for burden bearing.

He calls to Himself all who are heavy-laden and gives them rest (Matt. 11:28-29). Since God predestines believers to be conformed to Christ’s likeness, we must imitate His care and concern for those who suffer.

Acts 4:32 shows that the early church followed His example. To lift the load of poverty, they pooled their resources so that no one was in need.

Paul’s letters make clear his concern for the physical and spiritual welfare of growing churches. He fasted and prayed for them and sent missionaries when he could. He felt it was his responsibility to strengthen them, even though he sustained a personal hardship—his thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12:7).

A believer cannot wait until his life is clear of obstacles before reaching out to others, since that day may never come.

Even though we have our own needs, we can do all things through Christ’s strength—including sharing someone else’s adversity (2 Cor. 12:9).

When you’re willing to wade into someone else’s troubles to help that person hold up under the weight, two things happen.

First, he or she receives desperately needed blessings in the form of aid, support, and love. And second, you fulfill God’s command to love a neighbor as yourself.

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Drama to Get Our Attention…

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Acts 6:4 (KJV)

4But we will give ourselves continually to prayer, and to the ministry of the word.

God has issued some dramatic calls to service.

For example, Moses heard His voice from a burning bush, and Isaiah saw a vision of heaven’s throne room (Ex. 3; Isa. 6).

But a spectacle is the exception rather than the rule.

For most who follow God to the mission field, His call is a tug on the heart, persistently whispering, “How will they know God unless someone tells them?” (See Rom. 10:14.)

It’s better if the Lord doesn’t have to use drama to get our attention.

Consider Saul, who needed a serious talking to and temporary blindness to get him on the mission field (Acts 9:3-9; Acts 26:13-18). I know I’d rather hear the Lord’s still small voice (1 Kings 19:12)!

People can try to ignore the heart tug, block the ever-present call with activity, or satisfy it by giving money rather than themselves. Some say no outright. But the call persists. God’s will is set and His plan is steadfast.

Though we may run, we can’t escape His call to obey (Jonah 1:1; Jonah 3:1).

The road of obedience will certainly be marked with challenges.

But difficulty is part of any life—at home or abroad, in mission work or a traditional job. Thankfully, the rewards of serving are greater than any hardship. Remember that Jesus promised Peter a hundred-fold return on his investment in the kingdom (Mark 10:28-30).

Carrying the gospel is a great opportunity to serve God.

What better way to thank Him for saving us and writing our name in the book of life than to share that experience with others.

If the Lord’s still small voice is calling, say yes and see what amazing, life-changing work He can do through you.

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Exchanging Our Filthy Rags For a Cloak of Righteousness…

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John 3:16 (KJV)

16 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.

God has to be true to Himself.

People are foolish to entertain the hope that He will ignore justice and sacrifice holiness in order to allow unbelievers into heaven.

Living a mostly moral life will not satisfy a righteous Judge.

As much as the Lord loves us and desires to save us from our sins, He cannot deny His holiness by accepting sin in His presence.

The Father is pristine perfection–a holy Being who, by His very nature, must condemn all sin.

Therefore, it is the height of egotism to think that God will bend both His law and His nature to welcome one whom still bears the stain of wrongdoing.

There is not one person who’s good enough to enter heaven on his or her own merit.

Every one of us needs Jesus.

The stain of sin is washed clean only by the sacrifice of God’s holy and blameless Son. Those who believe in Christ are forgiven their wrongs and cloaked in His righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21).

Let me make it very clear that trusting Jesus is far more than giving intellectual assent to His existence–that’s something even the Devil acknowledges.

A true believer enters into a relationship with the One who loves his soul enough to save him from eternal punishment.

Those who remain tightly wrapped in their mantle of sin cannot hope to sneak into heaven.

God’s holy nature demands perfection, and since we can’t provide this for ourselves, the Lord has given it to all who believe in Him.

He has exchanged our filthy rags for a cloak of righteousness (Zech. 3:4).

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None of Us Are Worthy…

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1 John 4:7-12 (KJV)

7Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God.
8He that loveth not knoweth not God; for God is love.
9In this was manifested the love of God toward us, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.
10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.
11Beloved, if God so loved us, we ought also to love one another.
12No man hath seen God at any time. If we love one another, God dwelleth in us, and his love is perfected in us.

Many people simply can’t believe that the Lord loves them.

Others believe that He loves them, but only when they are pleasing Him in some way.

Why is it so hard for us to accept His unconditional love?

One reason is that we have a hard time loving others without condition.

We might say the words “I love you” to our spouse, children, friends, co-workers, or fellow believers but all too often are calculating in our mind whether or not they’ve lived up to our standard. We sometimes excuse ourselves from loving certain people because their behavior upsets or annoys us.

The fact that we place restrictions on extending favor causes us to wrongly assume that the Lord does likewise.

Another reason is poor self-image.

Considering ourselves unworthy, we refuse to accept God’s love.

You know what? None of us are worthy of the heavenly Father’s goodness and mercy—so you can let go of that excuse once and for all. We’re not coming to Him based on our worth. Rather, we’re coming to Him based on His grace, and our position is secure in Christ.

To put yourself down as “beneath His grace” is to trample on His loving, generous gift.

God arranged an awesome divine way for us to be reconciled to Him, and His greatest desire is for relationship with each of us.

If you feel unloved or struggle to accept yourself, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the truth of our heavenly Father’s love for you—and to sink it deep into your heart.

Receive the truth that He reveals. It will be a completely different story about your value as an individual.

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No Conditions or Restrictions…

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Romans 5:6-11 (KJV)

6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
9Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.
10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.
11And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

Scripture tells us that love is the very essence of who God is (1 John 4:7).

So if you don’t believe that He loves you unconditionally, you’ll never really know Him or have genuine peace about your relationship with Him.

How do you define “love”?

It is Jesus unselfishly reaching out to mankind, giving Himself to us and bringing good into our life regardless of whether or not we accept Him.

Romans 5:8 tells us that His care and concern are so immeasurable that He laid down His life for us while we were still His enemies.

In fact, the Bible says that He first began to express His love toward us before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:3-5).

That means your actions had absolutely nothing to do with His love for you!

God’s commitment to us has absolutely no conditions or restrictions and isn’t based on whether we love Him back. Nor does He have more love for “good” people who may strike us as more worthy.

He loves us even in our sin, even when we don’t repent.

Does that give us license to disobey? No. It gives us power to live holy lives, walk obediently with Him, and learn to love Him the way He deserves. To follow Him is to receive the love He has been offering all along.

Every single moment, whether awake or asleep, we all live under the canopy of the Lord’s wondrous, absolute love for us.

But to fully experience that love, you must receive it.

Say yes to this amazing gift that God wants to pour out on you. Bask in it, and let it overflow to those around you.

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