Turn to the Father

When you have eaten and are satisfied, praise the Lord your God for the good land He has given you. Be careful that you do not forget the Lord your God, failing to observe His commands (Deut. 8:10-16).

As a believer, when times of trouble come, I immediately turn to God. I stay in His presence whether I am totally focused on prayer or talking with Him while doing daily tasks. It’s easier to trust when we must, in situations where we have no control. But this is God’s desire in the good times, too.

God doesn’t enjoy our pain, in fact, it tears His heart too. In all their distress, He too was distressed (Isa 63:9a). Although He doesn’t initiate our suffering, He uses it to draw us into His fellowship so that He can dispense His love and mercy and bless us with His better plan.

When times are good, it is easier to lean on ourselves and forget the Giver of all good things. If I could only always be mindful of this and avoid what is documented time and time in scripture when pride led to destruction.

May His praise continually be on my lips.

Pure in Spirit

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts and see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23-24).

The topic for my most recent bible study was purity — not just sexual, but more so the motives of our heart. Coincidentally, today’s reading from Oswald Chambers, My Utmost for His Highest, was also about purity. He says that when our hearts are left to their own devises, what proceeds from them are evil thoughts, murder, adultery, fornications, false witnesses, blasphemies and that list of ugly things noted in Matthew and 2 Corinthians. Whoa! I don’t do THOSE things, but…

Without the Holy Spirit, we are constrained only either by cowardice (would I really act on my thoughts if I was more brave!?), or that we are constrained by living in a civilized society (so grateful for the morality set in place by our forefathers).

Sometimes I question my motives like am I being manipulative or prideful or selfish. Those I don’t like, but they are “acceptable sins” if there is such a thing. But when we let the Holy Spirit penetrate our heart, we’re appalled at how evil we really are. The Spirit of God uncovers our self-exoneration and excuses and makes us sensitive to things we never recognized, let alone admitted before. We begin to realize how much we need the kind of cleansing that only comes from Him.

Proverbs 16:2 says, Everything a person does seems pure in his own opinion, but the Lord weighs intentions. So I prayerfully repeat O God… see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Love and Relationships

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres (I Cor13:4-7).

From the “Love Chapter,” this is a very familiar verse to most people who have attended a wedding. Unfortunately, it is usually rattled off with little attention to the meaning of each phrase. Each part is a gem of wisdom, and if we made a determined effort to apply even just one, our relationships would thrive.

One that I especially need to work on is it keeps no record of wrongs. Sometimes I find myself even years later holding ill-feelings toward someone who I felt treated me unfairly. When that happens, we have choices on how to react (after all, to love is a choice). We can attack back—definitely not a relationship builder. We can get even or retaliate on the same level—also not a loving alternative. Or we can rise above and react kindly and respectfully.

If that last choice seems insincere, then we can first try a little exercise in understanding. Maybe their attack had nothing to do with us—we were just at the wrong place at the wrong time. Maybe that person was hurting or confused himself. Our attempt toward understanding can also help with the love is patient, kind and not easily angered phrases too.

I guess second to only Satan, I’m my own worst enemy thinking it’s all about ME. Reflecting on God’s word sure aids in clearing our vision and helps us to take our eyes off ourselves and onto God and others.

Pride

God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble (Prov 3:34, James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5). Submit yourself to God, resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:6-7).

These words from James can be found three times in scripture. It makes me think that God is writing this in all CAPS followed by a series of !!!!!!! Pride is at the root of every sin. It began before the Garden of Eden when the enemy was banished from Heaven. It continued in Adam and Eve, and it continues in every human heart when we resist submitting to a holy, perfect, and loving Father.

If we could step back and ask ourselves objectively why would we resist submitting to a loving, generous Father who knows us—our past, our character, our short-comings, and whose plan for each of us is good and perfect.

Submitting is a difficult battle because it is so complex yet crucial. Each of these pride verses is either followed or preceded by a warning about the enemy looking for someone to devour. Bob Dylan had it right when he said, “You’re gonna have to serve somebody. Well, it may be the devil or it may be the Lord. But you’re gonna have to serve somebody.”

Once again, the Holy Spirit is there to rescue us from ourselves. With His help, and only with His help,  can we resist the devil, and he will flee. 

The Root Cause

Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before stumbling. (Prov 16:18)

It is said that pride is the root of every sin. Just think of the Ten Commandments in light of pride.  In each of the ten, arrogance or self-importance causes a person to think he can handle things without God, or puts his own wants before what God wants him to have.

What is sinful pride?

It is not the feeling of satisfaction after a job well done. And It is also not just an inflated sense of one’s own self worth. But in a biblical perspective, it involves our relationship with God. It is a self-righteousness that compels us to do or say things without first seeking Him.

It is pride when we:

handle a situation ourselves without pursuing His guidance.

think that our sins are not that bad.

compare our righteousness to others (who are “more sinful” than we are).

are blessed, and give ourselves the recognition (actually, when we credit ourselves instead of God, it is a form of idolatry—and I’m the idol!).

Lord, help me to seek You first, and acknowledge and give You the honor that You unquestionably deserve, and recognize and control my prideful spirit before I stumble or meet with destruction.