Humility and Grace

Proverb 3: 34            The Voice

God treats the arrogant as they treat others, mocking the mockers, scorning the scornful, but He pours out His grace on the humble.

Yesterday’s proverb spoke about the arrogant person, that they stir up strife and that failure follows in their wake. Today we find this explanation. God abhors the arrogant. Wow! That is a bit frightening. He, Yahweh, scorns the scorners and mocks the mockers. Therefore, being scornful, arrogant or mocking others sets us up in opposition to God, a very frightening position to be in. If you look at the footnotes for this verse in the NLV Bible, you find the Greek version of this verse. It reads, “The Lord opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”

Grace is the unmerited favor of God. So, this verse reveals that God gives favor to the humble. Grace is that intangible blessing that follows you around making life click into place a bit better. God’s favor affects other people so that they see you and treat you as a VIP. Humility gives us what arrogance cannot. We can posture and act big trying to get people to treat us as important, but it is actually humility which yields that kind of favor. The minute we begin thinking or behaving as if we deserve it or that we really are special, it dissolves. A person can be humble at church and see the favor of God blessing them but act arrogantly at work and find that the grace just isn’t there.

Humility is not being a doormat for others. Sometimes we think it is. Humility is best understood in the scope of worthiness. In ourselves we were not worthy of God’s love or Jesus’ sacrifice, but Jesus has made us absolutely worthy, in him. We can be humble in our greatness because we know that it has nothing to do with our strength, skills or intelligence. Any gifts we have are from God. When we set our eyes upon Him and this truth, we can stand very tall in the fullness of God’s greatness understanding that we are here because Father decreed it and Jesus bought it. If your Father gives you a position, one you didn’t earn, you still get the position but perhaps you wouldn’t be so arrogant knowing that it is only by His grace that you stand in royal shoes.

God wants to shower His favor upon everyone. Truly, He wants everyone to be treated as someone special. We, however, either opt in or opt out of His plan. Interestingly, thinking we deserve it or that we are more special than others opts us out. Knowing that we are deserving as long as we stand in Jesus’ victory keeps us rooted. This is the great dichotomy which confuses so many. We are the unworthy worthy ones. We earned nothing, deserved nothing but as long as we are in Jesus – standing and abiding in him, we are kings. You have to know that you are deserving but humble because you know your worthiness is only in Jesus.

Arrogance is for the fool. The favor of God and man is for those who humbly receive all that God has for them.

Weakness to Grace

Proverb 25: 21 – 22

If your enemy is hungry, give him food to eat; and if he is thirsty, give him water to drink; for you will heap burning coals on his head, and the Lord will reward you.

What do you think of this passage? Is this counsel about heaping guilt and shame on your enemy or is it about showing kindness because that is God’s way? I have always thought it was the latter and that the heaped coals are simply a by-product. Seeing what we now learn in the New Testament, seems to confirm this idea.

God saved vengeance for himself (Romans 12:19) and Jesus said to love our enemies and pray for those who persecute us (Matthew 5: 44). Today’s verse, then, is right in line with New Testament theology. Most of you know God calls us to be charitable towards those who persecute us, so that is not the revelation of the day. It is a good reminder, though, because none of us wants to pray for the person who is a thorn in our flesh. This is where the rubber meets the road, as they say. This is grown up Christianity.

Paul had the same problem. You see, he had a thorn in his flesh as well (2 Corinthians 12: 7). He asked God to remove the painful impediment, but God taught him that the solution to life’s challenges is God’s grace. “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12: 9 TLV). So, I am not trying to tell you, today, to do what you already know God has told you. I am trying to help you find the means to do the impossible because if you are like me, and many others, praying for your nemesis is a hard thing to do, especially when they continue to be a thorn in your flesh. God knows what He is asking of us and knows it is impossible in our strength, so He has blanketed us with His grace so that we may do all things. The theme, then, of this Word of the Day is more about God’s grace as He supports you than about feeding your enemy. I think it is timely too because I know many of you are more challenged during the holidays than any other time.

Here is my prayer for you: Father, cloth these, your beloved, in tapestries of grace and mercy. Comfort them and embrace their hearts with your love. Help us all, Father, to do as you direct us. Pour out your grace upon us and manifest your power through our surrender. Cause your strength and will to shine through our weakness so that your glory fills the visible spectrum. Help those who hinder us. Show them your grace and give us favor in your sight and in the eyes of all people.

Wisdom Monday

Proverb 9: 10 – 11             TPT

The starting point for acquiring wisdom is to be consumed with awe as you worship Yahweh. To receive the revelation of the Holy One, you must come to the one who has living understanding. Wisdom will extend your life, making every year more fruitful than the one before.

Happy Monday. Wisdom is speaking again today. The beginning of the proverb tells us she has spread her table and put out the welcome mat for us. Those who desire to live a good life, will turn their feet to her house.

We have seen previously that the beginning of wisdom is having reverence and love for God and His ways. Truly, that alone is an expression of wisdom. Further, all wisdom, revelation and insight are in the Lord our God. He is the brilliance in good ideas. He is the anointed touch. Therefore, to receive revelation and wisdom one must connect with the source. That is why wisdom begins with following Yahweh.

The second verse is what I wish to highlight. I cannot understand why some people don’t engage in a relationship with God. Others profess to believing in Christ but don’t seem to have much of a relationship with him nor pursue the relationship. I think they will see how Great and Wonderful our God is and how much He blesses everyday life and that alone will cause them to seek Him, but it just does not work that way.

I am so grateful for the truth of this proverb. Not only does wisdom extend our lives but also the life lived with the Lord enriches our very existence. It is a life of health in the face of adversity. It is wellbeing in life, friends, finances, and so much more. When I see all the little touches of God’s benevolent grace, I am overwhelmed. It is God and His beauty that causes great things to happen.

If there is any goodness in me, any kindness, wisdom, proficiency, energy or skill, it is because of Christ within me. I am humbled because I know that I can do nothing without Him. I know that it is the blessing which follows me around that causes good things to happen. Can I just say, the Lord blesses my life and I do what I do hoping that I can spread a bit of His beauty and grace to others? I wish every person would relentlessly pursue God because His touch adds wisdom, grace, beauty and life to every step. Glory to our most holy and loving Father.

Proverb 9:

https://classic.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=proverb+9&version=TPT

Grace & Judgment

John 3: 17

For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but so that the world might be saved through Him.

Many of us know John 3: 16, but Jesus went further with his declaration of purpose. This idea goes along with the pronouncement that grace and truth are realized in Jesus. Judgment is an anchor around our necks, one which Jesus is here to free us of. Being judged is no fun but being the one with a judgmental spirit is just painful.

Grace means you are free to move from laws to principles. You are free to accept people  even when someone sets a foot awry. The law is very strict and it is judgmental. Law tends to be black and white. It is not gracious and kind. It takes people to add that gentility and forgiveness. Forgiveness and grace flow from the Father. Acceptance and understanding are beyond law concepts. That is not to say that we should pay no heed to the laws of the land or God’s laws. It is to say that grace is the ability to see beyond the law to the greater principle of serving one another in love. Grace does not mean lawlessness. It represents a higher degree of behavioral deportment. The law did not require Jesus to heal anyone. In fact, the law forbade him healing on the Sabbath. Grace, truth, mercy and the love of God required Jesus to show compassion.

Judgement was, and is, easy. The Pharisees did not need to lift a finger to condemn the sick or criticize Jesus.  The law required nothing of them.  Strict adherence to the letter of law would have left the sick in pain and torment.  It also condemned Jesus. The Pharisees were so stuck in their judgments that they could neither receive nor administer grace. Law and judgment are evil twins. If we, as a body of believers, lean towards law, then we will also find ourselves quick to judge. When we, on the other hand, are full of the grace of the Lord, we find it easier to minister forgiveness and understanding.

Tomorrow – part 3 of Moses’ Law and Jesus’ grace.

Law & Grace

John 1: 17

For the Law was given through Moses; grace and truth were realized through Jesus Christ.

Jesus told the Pharisees that they would be judged by the law they served. He was trying to show them a paradigm of grace. Jesus not only represents a changed paradigm but also, he ushered in salvation by grace. The Apostle John opens his book making this distinction about Christ. He understood that Jesus caused a shift in the way we were to think and to live. As I pondered this verse I began to question, what does this shift mean us? How does the church of grace and truth differ from a church of law. We don’t deny the law Moses brought down from the mountain, do we? So, what does Jesus’ ministry do to alter our spiritual and ecclesiastical experience. Ultimately the question would seem to be, “What does a life, and a church, of grace and truth look like?” The follow up question is, how are we doing with that?

I am a lawyer by training. I like my rules. They tell us where to step and where not to step. However, we have all experienced times where the rules frustrate other purposes. This points out an important concept. The laws are made according to guiding principles. When the rules, or law, run afoul of the principles we have a problem. That is what Jesus encountered. The Pharisees criticized him for breaking the rules, but he was fulfilling God’s guiding principles. When is the appropriate time to heal? Jesus’ coming was a fulfillment of the law. He actually ushered us back to a time before the law, when we were supposed to be led by the Spirit rather than by codified rules.

Tomorrow, I will carry this a bit further as we all attempt to picture what a church of grace and truth is.

Fingerprints

Deuteronomy 28: 6

“Blessed will you be when you come in, and blessed will you be when you go out.”

An apt description of what this verse means in practical terms is that you see Jesus’ fingerprints on the fabric of your life. Or perhaps you like footprints running across the landscape of life. Whichever metaphor you choose, the effect is Jesus’ influence all over one’s life; little drops here, little touches there. Of course, there are the tidal waves of blessing too, but it is the dew drops on every leaf of life that have caught my attention. They could easily be ignored but when you lift your eyes, you see that Jesus is very gently watering every corner of your life. So many of life’s daily matters are simply taken care of, things about which one has not even prayed, things we would not even think to pray about are simply taken care of. It is like the most beautiful of spring days when you open your eyes to find flowers have bloomed where you did not plant.

I have been overwhelmed recently by the sheer number of details Jesus and Father have taken care of for me. It is humbling because these golden touches have nothing to do with my prayer or anything else I have done right. All glory to God, it has absolutely nothing to do with me. Father, in His goodness, knows issues which need attention, and He has been taking care of these things Himself. When I recently lifted my head, I saw Jesus fingerprints were all over my life. He has been busy blessing me. Some of the “little” touches have been nothing less than miraculous. Beyond Yahweh’s kindness is His attentiveness and I praise Him that He is paying attention to the details of my life.

The other side of this is the sorrow that people who don’t have Jesus don’t know how much they are missing. When I see all the little things Father does for me, I realize how barren their lives are. How does one explain the blessing on one’s life? How do we convey the love that Father pours out in even the smallest details? There is such a release of stress, stress we might not even realize we are holding when Father takes these things off our plate. You look around and find matters have just been handled, even matters which haven’t made it to your to do list yet. Problems are resolved before you realize there was an imminent issue. I wish that for everyone. I hope others will see the beautiful grace of Jesus upon our lives and join the club.

He’s Alive

Acts 1: 3

To these He also presented Himself alive after His suffering, by many convincing proofs, appearing to them over a period of forty days and speaking of things regarding the kingdom of God.

I have been thinking about Easter, as, I am sure, many of you have as well. What new can be said about the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection of our Lord? Nothing perhaps, but what I have been thinking is that he is alive. Now, we all know that, but I wonder if I act like it is true. We sometimes know things in our minds which aren’t quite realities in our hearts.

So, what is the message of Easter? There are so many important concepts which flow from the cross but the one I am wrapped up in is that Jesus is alive, and more to the point, his life is now in me. We are each renewed, not just from a theoretical or theological point of view but instead, renewed and reborn as new creations in his blood. Our hearts and spirits are washed and new. In the surrender to Jesus’ saving grace, is our forgiveness of ourselves and our remaking. We’ve seen how David failed, how Moses stumbled. Peter, one of the great apostles, denied Jesus three times and worse yet, he did so at Jesus’ hour of greatest torment.

I have been listening to the song, “He’s Alive.” It is an account of Peter’s reconciliation with Christ after his denial of Jesus. The songwriter, Don Francisco expressed this much better than I can. Peter is speaking:

When at last it came to choices
I denied I knew His name
Even if He was alive
It wouldn’t be the same

Suddenly the air was filled
With strange and sweet perfume
Light that came from everywhere
Drove shadows from the room

Jesus stood before me
With His arms held open wide
And I fell down on my knees
And just clung to Him and cried

He raised me to my feet
And as I looked into His eyes
Love was shining out from Him
Like sunlight from the skies

Guilt in my confusion
Disappeared in sweet release
And every fear I’d ever had
Just melted into peace.

Peter’s story is our story. Each of us has doubted, feared and denied Jesus. We have all fallen short of our own aims, much less the worthiness of Christ’s sacrifice. None the less, Jesus reaches out and takes us into his arms. As we look in his eyes, we see none of the judgment or recrimination we deserve. He doesn’t even have to say a word; his eyes and his gentle smile tell us that he loves us and that we are accepted. “Enter into my grace,” he might say to us, “Enter and find peace.”

Jesus is alive and what that means to me this Easter is that we can all throw ourselves at his feet with our burdens of guilt and shame. Easter means that like Jesus, we arise. As he lifts us up, our burdens fall from us and we become holy because he is holy. He is alive and we are okay because he buried our sin and guilt.

Praise the Father of our Lord Jesus and bless Jesus’ name forever. Glory to Father, Son and Spirit! Cause your Spirit to rest upon us, dear Father, refreshing us in your glory and grace. And let us dwell in your presence and abide in your love today and evermore!

Click below to watch a video of David Phelps singing “He’s Alive!”
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gGa1w_bnvM