Saturday, September 26, 2009


“God opposes the proud
but favors the humble.
So humble yourselves
under the mighty power of God,
and at the right time
he will lift you up in honor.”
James 4:5-6 NLT

Pride has been around for a long time. In fact it is older than the human race. Satan was the first creature to take credit for what God had done. God created him with “the perfection of wisdom and beauty”1 and he claimed it as his own accomplishment. He said, “I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God.”2 For that pride God cast him down to become the prince of this world and Satan has been bringing the temptation of pride into every human life ever since - Adam and Eve being the first ones.

“Pride in our achievements and possessions, these are not from the Father, but are from this world.”5 So we may be good looking – be talented - have all sorts of degrees and titles – live in a dream house – drive the most expensive car – wear the latest designer clothes, etc., etc. Who has made all these things possible? A prideful attitude will say, “I have acquired these things by my own skills and efforts.” Our key scripture tells us “God opposes the proud.” Another passage states “he keeps his distance from the proud.”6 That’s not a good relationship to have with God.

The other option is to choose humility which is a much better choice. “Pride leads to disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.”3 “Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.”4 “Those who humble themselves will be exalted.”7 The choice is ours – pride or humility. Humility brings God’s blessings – pride brings his judgment. It’s not difficult to figure out which is the wiser choice.

Pride comes naturally without any effort on our part, but how do we humble ourselves? It seems to me humility begins with admitting that pride is sin - and then repent of it (turn from it). We further need to acknowledge that God is absolutely sovereign and that we owe him absolute obedience. It means we sincerely acknowledge to him and people around us that all we are and have is the results of his gracious work in our lives. It’s all a gift from him!

Let’s Pray-
Father we confess that pride creeps into our lives. Please forgive us and help us to humbly recognize and submit to your sovereign Lordship so that “at the right time you will lift us up in honor.”

Foot Notes:
1. Ezekiel 28:12; 2. Isaiah 14:13; 3. Proverbs 11:2; 4. Proverbs 18:12; 5. 1 John 2:16; 6. Psalm 138:6; 7. Matthew 23:12

Saturday, September 19, 2009


“The grass withers and the flowers fade
beneath the breath of the Lord.
And so it is with people.
The grass withers and the flowers fade,
but the word of our God stands forever.”
Isaiah 40:7-8 NLT

I picked some tomatoes and peppers from our garden the other week. They are still doing O.K., but the rest of the garden is done for the season. There was a head of cabbage left (which probably should have been harvested long ago). And there were a few beans that are all dried up. The Brown Eyed Susans and Cone Flowers have turned brown, but I think I’ll save them for a while longer and let the Gold Finch feed on them.

The prophet Isaiah says, “The grass withers and the flowers fade . . . And so it is with people.” Have you ever looked at the old family picture album and found it hard to believe that the teenager on those pages was really you? How the grass has withered and the flower faded. We are reminded of that every morning as we look into the mirror. But we are more than just a physical body that is growing older by the day. We are also a spiritual being which is nourished and built up by God’s word which never loses its vitality. “The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever. God’s word will never wear out and fade away.

“All praise to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. It is by his great mercy that we have been born again, because God raised Jesus Christ from the dead. Now we live with great expectation, and we have a priceless inheritance—an inheritance that is kept in heaven for you, pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” 1 Peter 1:3-4 NLT

We may have received an inheritance from our parents or some relative (which by the way most likely has lost some value recently) and some day we will pass what’s left to someone else. However, in Christ “we have a priceless inheritance” which we will never have to give up. This inheritance is kept in God’s eternal safety deposit box reserved in our name, “pure and undefiled, beyond the reach of change and decay.” It will never fade away!

James 1 mentions the withering grass and fading flower of human riches and achievements, then adds in verse 12 “God blesses those who patiently endure testing and temptation. Afterward they will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” Another precious and eternal gift from God which will never lose its’ value or fade away.

Let’s Pray-
Father There is no one like you!! Your gifts are priceless and eternal, with the reassuring promise that they will never fade away. May we never forget to be truly grateful.

Saturday, September 12, 2009


“If you have two shirts,
give one to the poor.
If you have food,
share it with those who are hungry.”
Luke 3:11 NLT
Like many of you, I am reading through the Bible again this year. I have been struck with how often the subject of “the poor” comes up. Mainly two issues are dealt with –we are to protect them against injustice, and help them out materially. In this post today we will just consider giving to the poor.

I’m sure you have noticed the Lord’s instruction to the farmers to not harvest the corners of their fields, but to leave them for the poor. The olive and grape growers were not to pick all the fruit, but leave some for the poor. There are many references both in the Old and the New Testament calling on people of every level of income to give to the poor. In fact John the Baptist said, “If you have two shirts, give one to the poor. If you have food, share it with those who are hungry.” That standard doesn’t leave any of us out.

O.T. passages tell us to give generously to the poor, not grudgingly, and God will bless us in everything we dorescue us when we are in troublerepay uswe will lack nothing. In the N.T. Jesus told the rich young ruler, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven.” In Acts Luke tells the story of Cornelius who gave generously to the poor and regularly prayed to God. An angel appeared to him and said, “Your prayers and gifts to the poor have been received by God as an offering!”

Our giving to the poor is something God definitely takes note of and blesses when it is done with the right motive. While God promises good things to us for giving to the poor, that must not be our primary reason for giving. Paul reminds us “If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.”

As Jesus said, “you will always have the poor with you.” There are countless individuals and agencies we could be giving to, but we can’t be giving to everyone. We need the guidance of the Lord to know whom we are to help. “Therefore, whenever we have the opportunity, we should do good to everyone—especially to those in the family of faith.”

Let’s Pray-
Father you make provision for the poor through those who obey your word. Help us to be sensitive to your Spirit so we will faithfully give to those whom you have chosen to bless through us.

Saturday, September 5, 2009


Don’t love money;
be satisfied with what you have.
For God has said,
“I will never fail you.
I will never abandon you.”
Hebrews 13:5 NLT

The old saying is “Money Makes The World Go Round.” Indeed we need money or some form of exchange of property or services to make a living. Money spells power. It enables us to acquire food - houses and land – services and gadgets - stuff and more stuff. The amount of wealth we have determines how much we can buy and do. One thing becomes obvious early on. The natural inclination is to always want more.

There is nothing intrinsically evil about wealth. Moses reminds us that “the Lord your God is the one who gives you power to be successful.” (Deuteronomy 8:18) Some great Bible characters like Abraham, Job and Solomon were very wealthy people. What makes money either good or bad is our attitude towards it. The more wealth we accumulate, the easier it becomes to put our trust in it rather than in the Lord. Moses warned about that. “When your flocks and herds have become very large and your silver and gold have multiplied along with everything else, be careful! Do not become proud at that time and forget the Lord your God.” (Deuteronomy 8:13-14)

If that happens to us, we will find ourselves preoccupied with material things and spiritual matters will be less and less important to us. We have fallen in love with money and the power it gives us and we will crave more and more. That is a BIG RED FLAG!! “People who long to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many foolish and harmful desires that plunge them into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. And some people, craving money, have wandered from the true faith and pierced themselves with many sorrows.” (1 Timothy 6:9-10)

Love of money opens the door to all sorts of dark thoughts and activities – ungratefulness – suspicions – cheating – lying – stealing - bad business deals - gambling – marital problems, etc. etc. No wonder it leads some people to wandering from the faith. The writer of Proverbs prayed, “Give me neither poverty nor riches! Give me just enough to satisfy my needs. For if I grow rich, I may deny you and say, “Who is the Lord?” And if I am too poor, I may steal and thus insult God’s holy name.” (Proverbs 30:8-9)

The right attitude toward money is to take the opportunities the Lord provides us to make a living, and then be thankful for, and satisfied with, however he blesses us. He promises, “I will never fail you. I will never abandon you.” That’s good to know especially during this economic downturn.

Let’s Pray-
Father please pour out your grace upon us that we may always love you above all else, whether our lot in life is to have enough – more than enough - or poverty. We choose to be satisfied with what we have.