Posts Tagged ego

Go Get Gad

1 Chronicles 21: 9

And the Lord spoke to Gad, David’s seer saying, “Go and speak to David, saying . . ..”

I read this verse this week and it kind of bugged me. “Why did God speak to Gad,” I thought, “instead of speaking directly to David?”

David is a hero to me. He walked with God and talked with God as few people have. He is numbered among God’s personal friends. When I read the psalms, I see a revelation of the Holy Spirit that is completely unprecedented for an Old Covenant believer. In truth, David knew more about the Holy Spirit and followed his leading better than most New Testament saints. Besides that, his intimacy with God is inspiring. I soak in those words, longing for the same close fellowship he enjoyed. Then, this week, I read this verse and it caused me pause. Why did God speak to Gad instead of to David?

I found the answer and it does nothing to assuage my discomfort. 1 Chronicles 29: 2 reads, “Now with all my ability I have provided for the house of my God.” Do you see a problem here? David is now much older. He is the King of Israel but he is preparing to pass the throne to his son Solomon. He has laid up much gold, silver, wood and all manner of other materials for the building and equipping of the temple. By now he has sat upon the throne for many years and been very successful. And there is where the blessing can challenge us all. David’s success has gone to his head.

In the early days David depended on the strength of the Lord. God was his strong right arm. He followed the leading of the Holy Spirit and he trusted his God. He is a grand example of a person who demonstrated active trust in God.

He is famous for his praise and worship. Once he celebrated God so energetically that he danced himself out of his clothes. He was man who loved God, trusted in God’s ability and then praised God for the continuing triumph.

Now we see him at the end of his reign, very successful, very rich but also, a bit self-impressed. He says he used his ability to provide for the temple but the truth is, and he knows it, he would have had nothing if not for the provision of the Lord. Everything David dedicated to the temple project was given to him by God. David didn’t win the gold, silver or any of the other treasures in his might. God went before him and handed the enemies and their spoils into David’s hands. Then in his later years David began to believe his own press. He began to believe that he was mighty and strong. When he was young he knew he was small and weak but that his God was mighty. Oh, how it grieves the heart, but it also explains, so clearly, why God had to speak through Gad. David was no longer listening. He was too busy attending to people’s praises of him.

You know you have gone off track if you are reveling in the praises of people. Only the humility of the truth will keep you or I in power of the Lord. As soon as we start believing we have done something in our own power rather than acknowledging it was the blessing of the Lord, we are bound for disaster. Jesus said, “I can do nothing on my own,” (John 5: 30 TLV). What makes any of us think we can do better? Any success any of us have is because of the grace and blessing of the Lord. David knew that, but he forgot. He became enamored with his success and could no longer hear the voice of God. What a shame.

Look, God wants to bless us. He also wants to speak to each one of us personally but our big egos get in the way. We are so busy trying to feel good about ourselves and pump up ourselves to others that we are losing the intimacy with God. Adam did the same thing and look where that led. God will bless you and keep you in the protective and loving safety of His embrace. He will give you good success. However, as you are blessed, just remember that He is the author of every good thing you have. All good things come from above. It is He who blesses the work of your hand and you could do nothing without Him. So, keep your heart tender towards Him, or make your heart tender if need be. Get you out of the way so you can hear God. Don’t make Him speak to others in order to reach you. Give Him the glory for everything you have. Get off the throne and let God be a Father and best friend to you.

Pride, Advice and Wisdom

Proverb 13: 10               NIV

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice.

Among the unpopular topics of the day, this must be one. We have become a proud, arrogant people who value our own opinions above all others and rarely will lower ourselves to receive advice from anyone, even God. We don’t inquire of the Lord because we are smart enough ourselves. Hasn’t God given us wisdom? He has given us brains for a reason, right?

I have observed us become smarter than our doctors, smarter than our lawyers and smarter than our pastors. While no one is perfect and no one except the Spirit has all the answers, surely some people know better than we on some subjects. We have become so prideful that we do not wish to hear advice or even teaching. Learning should be a lifelong process. I heard it said one time that as soon as you stop learning, you die. The point is not that you die physically but rather the person within you begins to decay. How shall we continue to learn when we are unwilling to bow to the expertise of another? Even though the Bible is packed with the wisdom of God, Christians don’t value it very highly. We certainly are not clawing for wisdom. We worship the Bible itself but not the content.

We don’t want to be told what to do, we don’t want to be under the authority of another. To listen to the counsel of another is to raise them above us, and that we will not have. I think, “God, save me from myself,” but perhaps what I should pray is, “Father, save me from my pride.” How do we change this tendency in ourselves, much less in our culture? If we do not humbly seek our God, then how will we be able to receive the wisdom He gives others for us? We talk often about our cultural woes and bemoan how our nations are becoming less godly, but I think people have other things in mind when they decry the current state of the culture. This issue, though, is more dangerous to the fabric of our culture than some of the things people would cite. We need to understand which issues are merely symptoms and which are causes. Pride would seem to be a root cause. In fact, I believe it is embodied in the Ten Commandments in which God told us to have no gods, no idols before Him. Our arrogance lifts us up above God which is the original sin. Satan thought he was as smart as God and his insolence shook heaven. God cast him and all of his cronies out because of his insolence. Then man was silly enough to listen to the devil and elevate himself to godlike status. That is what caused man to eat of the forbidden tree.

Pride certainly does breed quarrels. It won’t allow us to listen to anyone’s thoughts so each person vies for the floor which causes friction. Wisdom awaits those who enable themselves to receive instruction. The question, though, is how to we train our egos to allow advice? What is needful? Perhaps we should throw ourselves at the feet of Christ and ask his advice?

Wisdom is for those who take advice. Therefore, seek wisdom. Inquire of God but also allow yourself to be led by those who have gone before you. If you don’t have anyone who knows more than you, you need some new friends. There is guidance available for those who will humble themselves. I pray that we all can learn this valuable life lesson.  Please think about, or even meditate on, today’s verse and email us with your thoughts.  What can we do to right this ship?  Thank you.

Blessing is a Choice

Deuteronomy 28: 2, 45          NIV

All these blessing will come upon you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God. 45 All these curses will come upon you. They will pursue you and overtake you until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the Lord you God and observe the commands and decrees he gave you.

He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.” Luke 11: 28 (NIV).

I call on heaven and earth as witnesses today that I have offered you life or death, blessings or curses. Choose life so that you and your descendants will live. Deuteronomy 30: 19 (GW).

Lest we be deceived, thinking God has changed His tune since we are living in the New Testament, I included the words of Jesus from the gospel of Luke.  There is blessing in obedience.  No one wants to hear this, I know.  Obedience is not at the top of our favored subjects. We should not mourn, though.  There is plenty of good news here.  Yes, if we do not obey, the curse, which is in the land, will overtake us.  You do know that there is a curse out there, right?  It came with the fall of humanity, but God’s blessing is bigger than the curse.  And, it is elective.  Anyone who chooses to participate in the blessing, rather than the curse, can.  We learn that from Deuteronomy 30: 19.  God allows us to choose.  So, we can choose to be blessed and why wouldn’t we?

Well, because the price is obedience and, honestly, our generation has a problem with being told what to do, even by God.  We are very self-aware and self-guided.  That is the choice we make.  Will we humble ourselves to the direction of the Lord, or will we adhere to our own form of wisdom?  The answer seems obvious, doesn’t it, but if you observe the world around you, I think you will find very few people who are actually submitted to the Lord.

The other question which must be addressed is, “What, or whom, are we to obey?”  Jesus answered that question in Luke.  We must first humble ourselves to hearing and receiving the Word of God.  Then we obey what the Word says.  That’s it.  Listen and obey.  It sounds easy but it requires slaying our egos and that is hard.  Still, I think I would rather have the blessing than build an altar to my already over-inflated ego.  What about you?!

Sunshine

Job 11: 16 – 17

For you would forget your trouble, as waters that have passed by, you would remember it. And your life would be brighter than noonday; darkness would be like the morning.

This is how I think it is best to conclude our thoughts and musings over Psalm 35. We have a vindicator. Better still, we have a father who loves us with an infinite love. In the end, we win. There may be sorrow today but the sun will arise in the morning. Then your grief, your woe will be as the waters of the river. Yesterday’s water is long gone and with it your remembrance of yesterday’s distress. The sun will shine on you again. So bright will your life be that even your darkness is as bright as the morning sun.

This is God, the Father’s will for you. He wants to be light in a dark place for you. He wants to rescue you from your deepest depression. He wants to give you wings to that you can change your plight to flight. He will give you wings of eagles with which you cease flapping and learn to soar.

For our part, we have to increase in trust and decrease in control. There is ultimate power in surrender but oh, what a strong person it takes to surrender their will to God. Ego is a sounding death knell and that bell tolls for us.

What does it take to actually install God on the throne of our lives? How do we surrender our will and our brilliance to the degree that there is room for Him to work in our lives? Our miracles are in our cessation of managing our lives. Once we finally learn how to let go and allow Yahweh to actually function as the God of our lives, then we will live in peace, power and harmony. This is my prayer for you today.

Ouch!

Proverb 1: 7

The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction.

I am listening to a CD series by Dr. Jim Richards. The first CD is entitled Wisdom: The Principle thing. In this teaching Dr. Richards leads us to Proverb 1: 7. Now, I already have that one highlighted in my Bible so as I turn there I feel pretty good. That is until he started teaching it. I will say I have never heard this verse so loud before. However, I did immediately think of how often I have encountered this problem in society as well as in my own heart. Therefore, when I teach on this problem of rejecting wisdom, know that I am preaching to myself.

The Living Bible says, “Only fools refuse to be taught.” Not one of us wishes to be a fool. We have not made it our life’s ambition. None the less, so many of us get our backs up when someone tries to teach us. Somewhere in the great scheme of things we have decided that we already have all knowledge. Of course this is foolishness itself. The resolution of our inherent knowledge isn’t cognitive though. If I were to ask a person if he had nothing left to learn, he would of course answer in the negative. So what is really going on here?

I believe the truth lies in a weak self-esteem. We know that there is much we do not know but our hearts do not allow us to admit it to others. Our sense of inferiority makes us puff up like an old rooster and strut around in a way to deflect the shame we feel. To submit to the teaching of another is an admission of lowliness. The truth of the matter is that those who are strongest are most likely to submit to the teaching of others. They know that each person has specific knowledge from which they can benefit.

The reality of this problem is nowhere more obvious than in the church. To many, submission to the teaching and leadership of another is almost synonymous with hedonism. This should not be. Again I have noted that the most spiritually mature people do not suffer from this foolish delusion. They are the first to ask to be taught. They pull on you to get you to reveal your insights even though you know in your heart they know much more and have experienced much more than you. They are students and they always will be. They are students of life and they look for God’s epiphanies everywhere. Ego is replaced with zeal. And, it seems they are always a delight to be around because of their hunger for enlightenment.  

I really believe it is important for us to accept that God has placed people in, not only the body of Christ, but in our lives also, for the purpose of bringing us light. They are light bearers, if you will. Our pastors may not know everything we know, but they may know something we don’t. Isn’t that enough? And I have to admit that if I cannot sit under the anointing and teaching of another, then I am not as spiritually mature as I may wish to pretend. Worst of all is that my refusal to be taught is a loud clanging cymbal announcing my foolishness. My need to be right is as loud a report as a cannon blast.

Oh God, save us from our own foolishness. Touch our hearts and heal our brokenness that you may speak life and light into our lives. Give us, dear Lord, the strength of submission and lead us into all truth and knowledge through the power of your blessed son and Holy Spirit. Let the fire of your Spirit burn hotly within us; the fire, Father, of unquenchable yearning for more of you and lead us to those who can teach us. Amen.

My Kingdom for a Leader

Proverb 13: 10, 13, 14, 18, 20                        NIV

Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. He who scorns instruction will pay for it, but he who respects a command is rewarded. The teaching of the wise is a fountain of life, turning a man from the snares of death. He who ignores discipline comes to poverty and shame, but whoever heeds correction is honored. He who walks with the wise grows wise, but a companion of fools suffers harm.

I prayed many years for a mentor and when one appeared I learned a quick lesson. This learned and wise man suggested that I participate in a conference call which occurs weekly. Even as I clicked on reply to affirm my acceptance I realized something very important, I had already eliminated the option to say “No.” When you ask someone to mentor you or you ask God to provide you with a mentor, then “No” is no longer an option. This is called discipline and obedience and although they are very alien concepts in our modern culture, they are part of the bedrock of the Judeo-Christian ethic. We talk about discipleship a lot in Christian circles but one of the things it seems that we fail to realize, much less underscore, is that discipline is at the root of discipleship.

What do you think about when you hear the word discipline? Many of us think of punishment. I do not. I think of athletic prowess. Athletic competition taught me much about discipline, for which I am, to this day, grateful. When I hear the word discipline I think of the well-honed athletes that we admire. They have had to discipline and deny their flesh. They have had to discipline their minds, overcoming every negative thought, fear and impulse that would constrain them. And they have submitted themselves to coaches and trainers in order to become excellent in their chosen field. This, I believe, is an ideal model for discipleship.

No one attains any great level of success on their own. You may hear people claim that they are self-made but it is not true. When you pull back the veneer of their success you will find that they had mothers drive them to practices at ridiculous times in the morning, dads pitching the ball with them into the twilight hours and wives who have taken care of every detail of their lives so that they could focus on their one central goal. Neither do we become spiritual giants of our own merit. We must always lean on those who have gone before and we are just foolish if we try to learn it all on our own. Why spend 80 years of your life learning what the guy who went before you learned. First learn what he can teach you and then take that wisdom on to the next level. This is how it was meant to be. This text says that whoever walks with the wise will be wise. Why? It is because they share their wisdom with you so that you may avoid the potholes which cause misalignment and also because you get to stand on their shoulders. I remember when I was a small child and we went swimming, I would stand on my dad’s shoulders. All of a sudden the water wasn’t over my head. Instead I was well above it.

I can only think of two reasons why we do not subject ourselves to authority more readily, perhaps you can think of others. The first reason, I suspect, is just ego. We do not want to bow to anyone. That is pride and you know that nothing good comes out of pride. 

The second reason is fear. Anytime there is a spiritual problem if you look behind the curtain you will often find fear lurking. Fear comes from not having a full realization of the love of God. In here is weak self-esteem, anger issues and about everything else but including not being able to submit oneself to authority. It is hard enough to submit ourselves to our bosses and pastors who have legitimate positional authority over us. How much more difficult is it to willingly submit yourself to the authority of someone who does not exercise any substantive power over you. Fear makes you feel that you will be made small when you submit yourself to another but that is a lie. Willful submission to a mentor or intentional discipleship will make you stronger and wiser. Is there ever an occasion for a rebuke? Well sure. If your mentor loves you, they will correct you and correction is okay. It helps us to grow and to make right choices.

So this is my suggestion, if you are the locomotive of your train, find someone who can be a leader and an advisor for you. The people following you need for you to be a good disciple to someone else so that you can be a good leader to them. Leadership always begins with followship (if you will allow me to coin that word). If you have never allowed yourself to be led, mentored or discipled today is a great day for you. Do not delay. First ask God for a mentor. Second, recognize that one may appear quickly and humble yourself. Do not let the fear that they may take advantage of you or “Lord” it over you prevent you from receiving that person and their wisdom. Just keep your mouth shut and learn everything they know. If you outgrow their knowledge, God will assign you a new mentor. Just remember, if he has not yet assigned you a new leader then there is still something that He wants you to get from the one you have. The person that God wants you to shadow may be in your life right now and in fact, probably is. They won’t be perfect so stop looking for the perfect but they have something you need.

Lastly, if you perceive yourself as the leader of your group I suggest this little exercise. Stop leading for a moment. Turn around and see who is behind you. Who is following you? If your following is not what you want it to be or expect it to be, then run quickly to find your mentor. Submit yourself to their direction. Never let yourself be a leader without a leader. Make sure that as you lead others there is someone leading you. Foremost that is Christ but God has also provided people to disciple and mentor us. If you do not have someone filling that role in your life, pray to the Father for your leader and make it your determined goal to receive that person. 

Wisdom, honor and success accompany discipline.