One of my favorite scripture passages is Matthew 11:28-30. In this passage Jesus refers to himself as “gentle and humble in heart”. Doesn’t gentle and humble sound safe. I am drawn to him when I think of him being gentle and humble. Paul supports Jesus’ statement that he is humble with this declaration in Philippians 2:6-8,
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking on the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death – even death on a cross!
Jesus not only declared himself humble, but he unequivocally demonstrates his humble nature on the cross. When you think of God, do you think of him as humble? That’s not my first thought when I think of God, but he truly is humble. So, what is humble? In all the definitions of humble, I find that not putting yourself first seems to clarify its meaning. Jesus did not put himself first. He put our needs ahead of his.
Adam and Eve were humble because they were created in the image of God. They lost this attribute as a result of the fall. They then became self concerned. At the start of Philippians chapter 2 Paul is exhorting us to return to being humble. He tells us, (Philippians 2:3-4) “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” He follows this with the scriptural illustration in Philippians 2:6-8 of Christ’s humility.
In our desire to be more like Jesus, humbleness should be near the top of the list. As I looked at this attribute of God, I had to ask myself, am I gentle and humble in heart? Am I safe for others? These questions will dominate my self reflections for the rest of the week. How about you?
This week, I’m still gleaning from Psalm 25. Verses 4 and 5 read, Show me your ways, Lord, teach me your paths. Guide me in your truth and teach me, for you are God my savior, and my hope is in you all day long. And again in verses 8 and 9, Good and upright is the Lord; therefore he instructs sinners in his ways. He guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. God doesn’t leave us on our own. Those who come to him he teaches.
As I read these four verses, I remember all that God has shown me through the years. He has guided me, shown me his truth, instructed me in what is right, and taught me his ways. He has indeed made life easier. I say this because I remember how it was when I went my own way. It was not easy, and it was not smooth.
Let me share an example with you. When my children were young, I directed and corrected them as a father should. When they became adults, I released my control of their lives to God. He is really their father. He taught me to surrender them to him. This was hard to do, but very important.
Well it hasn’t gone as I would have planned, but I am very pleased with how things are turning out. God has patiently worked in their lives. God’s way is building fine adults that I am very proud of. By staying out of God’s way, I have gained great relationships with my adult children. I would never have known how to accomplish this, but God did. All praise, honor, and glory are to our great God. His ways are beyond our ways.
One of the truths that our Pastor is continuingly emphasizing is that God loves us. He also says that God’s love is hard for us to comprehend. I think we all know this. There’s not an abundance of examples of this kind of love here on earth.
The other day, I was singing an old song, “I’ve Got a River of Life Flowing Out of Me”, and I thought of this analogy.
God’s love for us is like a river flowing to us. We throw rocks of sin into this river; they make ripples, but they never stop the flow. When we choose a life of sin, sometimes, we actually dam up the flow, but the pressure of his love is always there. One act of repentance permits his love to breach the dam. And if we allow it, the flow of his love will continue to wash away the dam, and his love will pour into our lives. Receiving his love makes us a new person.
This river of God’s love doesn’t stop with us; it flows through us and blesses those around us. When we doubt his love, the waters get murky and hinder the blessings we can bring to others. Once again, our quest in this life is to learn to trust God. A big part of this is to trust that he loves us. The enemy of our souls will shoot fiery darts from the banks of the river to make us doubt God’s love. The shield of faith will divert them.
(Psalm 25:1-2a) To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul; in you I trust, O my God.
While reading Psalm 25, I recalled that this psalm, written by King David, was written approximately 3,000 years ago. It stands out to me that the soul of man, and our relationship to God, is the same as it was those many years ago. The truth about God and man has not changed. King David knew that if we give ourselves fully into God’s trust, we will lead a blessed life.
Imagine starting every day with this declaration: I entrust my inmost being to you, Lord. Meaning that all that I am or hope to be in this day, I give into your hands my God.
When I first awake in the morning, I lay there thinking of what the day will bring. I can think it through, make a plan, and then do whatever preparations are needed. Or, I can entrust my being to God, and let him lead me through the day. Which one would you think to be the most beneficial?
Whether 3,000 years ago or today, this life for us humans is about learning to trust God. I believe it’s that simple, but I do recognize that trusting God is a lifelong pursuit.
I have always been fascinated by the revelation that God has a plan. This quote from Galatians 4:4, “When the time had fully come”, tells us that the timing of Jesus’ birth was planned. Even today in the midst of our daily life, God’s plan is unfolding.
I have been reading the Christmas story in the first two chapters of Luke’s Gospel. The story of Elizabeth and Zechariah in chapter 1 has captured my attention. As you may recall, they were the parents of John the Baptist. The couple is introduced in verses 4-7. Zechariah is a priest, and he and his wife Elizabeth are upright in the sight of God, yet they have been unable to have children. They were both well along in years.
This couple apparently spent their time going about the daily processes of life. In their daily life, they were faithful and trusted in God. I’m sure they had prayed for a child, but they did not abandon God for his seeming failure to answer their prayers.
One day, “at the appointed time”, when Zechariah was ministering before the altar, an angel of the Lord appeared to him. The angel said, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John…..” How many times have you prayed for something and thought that your prayer wasn’t heard? Maybe, it just wasn’t the right time.
God has a plan that he is working out through history. We only have a broad very general insight into his plan. Each of God’s children has a part in his plan, but we usually aren’t sure how we fit in to his plan. That is where trust and patience come into play. Don’t lose heart; stay faithful. God has a plan, you have a part in his plan, and in faith we know, God will execute the details of his plan when the time has fully come.
In my late teens and early twenties, I hung out with a group of guys my age. We focused our young minds on solving the problems of the world. Our solutions seemed reasonable and rational. Then life changed for us. We became husbands and fathers. The big picture problems of the world took a back seat to the daily problems of domestic life.
The world we live in hasn’t changed. There are still big problems. In our young idealistic minds, we thought that we could show people a better way and that would fix it. Don’t we wish that were true! I now know that the complexities of the world’s problems are way beyond any solution I might come up with.
Who then can solve the world’s problems? God in his infinite wisdom knows that the problems of our world can be defined by one simple word, sin. Sin generally stated is the self-centered perspective that I’m more important than others. That’s the root of our problems. Unfortunately, I can’t even fix this problem in myself let along the whole world.
However God has provided us with the solution. We are currently celebrating his solution. He came to us as a baby in a manger to provide for us the opportunity to overcome sin. Sin is an individual problem, so the offer is to each of the world’s citizens. The problems in our world still exist because many have chosen to reject God’s solution.
Here in this season of celebrating the answer to our problems in Christ Jesus, please join me in a prayer for the salvation of those around us. Let’s work on the world’s problems by bring one individual at a time to Jesus for the solution to the root of our problems.
God loves us! As he was preparing a place for us he first created light. Light is incredible. It sustains physical life, refracts into all the wonderful colors we see, and provides a contrast to darkness. God designed a great place for us that is full of light.
Light is necessary for life to exist on earth. The process of photosynthesis is the foundation for all food consumed by living creatures. The light we receive from the sun provides the necessary heat the earth requires. In light we find God’s provision for his created ones.
As light contacts various objects it refracts. These refractions disperse the light into an amazing array of colors making the earth a beautiful place. The colors we see calm us, delight us, and stimulate us. Through light our creator has inspired us and made our lives full and interesting.
Light and its contrast darkness are used figuratively throughout the scriptures to help us understand God’s care for us. We read in Psalm 18: 28 “God turns my darkness into light,” and Psalm 56:13 says that God provides the light of life. Light provides a metaphor for virtue. Light is righteousness and darkness is sinfulness. Romans 13:12, “The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light.”
Light has great importance in God’s creation. Isaiah used light to predict the coming of Jesus, “the people walking in darkness have seen a great light; on those living in the land of deep darkness a light has dawned (Isaiah 9:2).” For us today that light has long since dawned. We can now walk in the light. I pray that His light will shine in your heart today, and that darkness will have no place in your heart. Praise be to God for the wonders of light.