Lifting Others

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves (Phil 2:3).

If you look back a couple messages ago, I referred to this same scripture. God has been speaking to me lately about acknowledgment and appreciation of others as well as humility. Also, a bible study that I attend has been focusing on submission these past few weeks.

God designed the family as the most efficient foundational institution here on earth where we are not alone, but support each other by providing love, nurturing, learning and stability. The enemy knows exactly the areas to attack that will make us most vulnerable to sin, and submission is the one concept that has been more than misunderstood— it has been perverted.

It has been used in some cultures to place others, especially women, in positions of little more than indentured servitude. This is clearly NOT what God had in mind. Think of the parent who willingly sets aside his/her own needs for the needs of a small child. It is not motivated by coercion, but quite the opposite. The motivation is love.

The one who is submitting is actually in control, choosing that course of action. We have all read about mothers who have chosen to give their last bit of food, or their coat for the comfort or life of their child. Or men who have sacrificed their own desires and needs in order to provide for their families.

Valuing others above ourselves requires confidence in God’s love in order that we can willingly yield to others. It can be as simple as relinquishing our place in line to giving away our prized possession (probably our pride).

With loving humility, submission involves willingly placing ourself beneath another in order to lift that person up.

Advertisements

Qualified

Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God–this is your true and proper worship (Rom 12:1).

The Gennesareth Gospel Team listed the resumes of the following biblical saints: Jacob was a cheater, Peter had a temper, David had an affair, Noah got drunk. Jonah ran from God, Paul was a murderer, Gideon was insecure, Miriam was a gossiper, Martha was a worrier, Thomas was a doubter, Sara was impatient, Elijah was moody, Moses stuttered, Zacheus was too short, Abraham was old and Lazarus was dead.

Their premise was that God doesn’t just call the qualified. The fact is that those who have the highest qualifications, the most talents, and the greatest intelligence are actually harder for God to use. What we have to offer God is minus-a-billion compared to what He can do with us if allow Him to use us. Our intelligence, our motivations, our logic, even our passions often get in the way of His perfect work.

I often have to remind myself when it seems like God is nudging me to do something uncomfortable, that it is His work, not mine. And He certainly meets all requirements to do the task perfectly.

He doesn’t just call the qualified. He qualifies the called!

 

Diverse

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or empty pride, but in humility consider others more important than yourselves (Phil 2:3).

Another spiritual concept that has been compromised and distorted is “diversity.” Not only are we unique, but we are each so very special to the Father that even the hairs on our heads are numbered. Can you imagine?! There are 7.5 billion of us, and I know that my number changes hourly.

Grouping us by any one characteristic makes no sense at all. We are more unique (can I say that?) than a snowflake, the traditional symbol of diversity. Stereotyping, even by positive qualities is wrong because it strips away our individuality. We are all distinct, a minority of one, each differing in looks, talents, motivations, fingerprints, DNA, and each designed by the Father for His one-of-a-kind plan for us.

We work best whenever we work together—whether it be a family, a workplace, a church, or a country. Unity is possible when we learn to value each other. The eye cannot say to the hand, “I do not need you.” Nor can the head say to the feet, “I do not need you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable.

We are all created special, and are a witness to God’s diversity.

 

 

Chosen

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be (Psalm 139:13-16).

I would like to share with you part of a story from Crosswalk. I hope I can do it justice without getting too lengthy.

A women’s ministry speaker challenged her audience by asking them to be still and listen to their hearts in order to recognize the lies about themselves that either knowingly or unknowingly linger there. It may have been something spoken by a parent, teacher, spouse, school kid, or something not even spoken at all, just believed. The ladies were asked to write them down, then symbolically (and not so symbolically) place them at the foot of a wooden cross and replace them with a “truth card” that she had prepared citing a promise or positive affirmation from God’s word.

After the retreat, the speaker gathered the cards and noticed that over and over again the word “worthless” appeared. This big, fat, ugly lie is one that the enemy throws in our face time and time again.

As parents, we were intentional in instilling a positive self-concept in our children; in fact, one spouse says that we went a little overboard. But it really is not based on anything we do or are. Self-worth is only meaningful when we recognize who we are in Jesus—beloved, precious, wonderfully made. We are not only worthwhile, but we are a necessary part of His perfect plan; and to believers, all mistakes and sins are covered.

Next time a negative self-thought pops in, recognize that it is not from the One who made us just as He wanted us, “complete” and filled with all His fullness and power.

Wait

Be still before the Lord and wait patiently for Him (Ps 37:7a).

For a while food trends in the U.S. were all about speed—microwaved fast food from freezer to table in five minutes or less. Recently we have realized the value of waiting, starting from the real deal and patiently waiting until it reaches the richness of its intended, wholesome end. I’m not sure if it’s me, women in general, or our culture that finds patience at a minimum.

 I am beginning to realize that God doesn’t always work on my schedule, nor does He always answer my anxious prayers the way that I think will remedy situations. When I think back on some of my prayers, it’s obvious that God loves me, and has always worked things in His way, in His time, for my best interest. Like Garth says, “Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers.”

I have found, too, in hindsight, that when God isn’t as fast as I think He should be, that He is preparing me. There is usually something lacking, often in my character, which needs to be dealt with first.

Our Father really does know best and I hope someday to learn not to question Him.

Submission

Submit to one another out of reverence to Christ (Eph 5:21).

Our ladies’ group was discussing submission a few days ago and I was reminded of some of the principles that, as I saunter through the day, are so easy to disregard. I also realized that this topic and related scriptural references were ones that I had never written about—maybe because it is so volatile and misunderstood even among believers, and especially when dealing with less-than-perfect marriage relationships.

The goal of submission is not domination/subservience, but rather unity. And the path to unity is kindness, respect, honor and love—one to another.

Submission is lifting another up—not pulling or dragging, but lifting for the other’s greater good. That is so opposite of pride or even low self-esteem where we’re trying to make ourselves feel good, right, or knowledgeable.

Relationships always work best when we follow the instructions and guidelines of the Creator. And I personally think the connotations of the words arrogant and prideful are much more distasteful than that of one who serves out of love.

Tuning in to The Good Shepherd

He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out. When He has brought out all His own, He goes ahead of them, and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice (John 10:3-4).

I was raised in an Italian household where almost daily there were lots of people there, talking all at once, usually at a high volume. I learned early on to block out conversations and to concentrate in the midst of chaos. This isn’t always a good thing because now when I tune-out, I sometimes miss some very important information.

Tuning in to the Good Shepherd is vital for every believer. It is one conversation that we don’t want to miss or dismiss. Hearing His voice is important, not only for direction, but also to build a relationship with the One who loves us so much. And when He does direct us, it is in ways that are the best ways.

He never pushes or forces, but gently guides us to “have a life that is full and good.”