July 21, 2017

Come To The River

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I’m torn between myself and Your Truth
These cursed memories, forever seeping through
My thirst for myself left me wanting more
‘Til I found myself facedown on Your shore

You say, Come to the river
Oh, and lay yourself down and let your heart be found
You say, Come to the river
Drink from the cup I pour and thirst no more

My restless heart led me astray
To my selfish pride I became my own slave
But You placed a thirst in me with no drink in sight
‘Cause I could not see ‘til I saw through Your eyes

Songwriters: Allen Salmon, Rhett Walker Canipe / Performed by Rhett Walker Band

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Have you ever been caught in this place?  “Torn between yourself and His Truth”?  I know I have….

This song has such powerful Truth in it.  A restless heart can lead you astray and to selfish pride you will become your own slave.  WOW!!!  Powerful words to consider….  Let’s see what God says about pride.

The pride of your heart has deceived you,
you who live in the clefts of the rocks and make your home on the heights,
you who say to yourself, ‘Who can bring me down to the ground?’
Obadiah 1:3

A prideful heart leads to a restless heart where you can be lost to yourself.  When my heart is restless I must come to the river and drink from the cup of living water where I will thirst no more.

I love how this excerpt from this woman’s website describes God’s love penetrating a restless heart.  She writes:

“That’s the Trust He’s asking of me, to let His love, as deep and endless as the ocean, to hold me up, to let the wellspring of His heart meet my deepest needs.”

(http://www.arestlessheart.com/)

This is the very trust that God is asking of you and of me, too.  That the “wellspring of God’s heart will meet my deepest need.”  Once we know and embrace the love of the Father towards us we can then be satisfied in our deepest needs and we will thirst no more.

But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again.
It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life.
John 4:14 NLT

God is calling us to come and drink from the endless river where we will thirst no more and let Him fill us up.  So many times in life we try and fill up those empty places with other things that will never satisfy us.  They aren’t meant to…only God can fill the empty places of the heart until we are completely satisfied.  Will you let Him?  The choice is ours.  He is waiting with open arms for us to take the first step. So He can tell His daughters how precious and valuable we are to Him.

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Heavenly Father, may my restless heart never lead me astray to where I become my own slave.  May I choose to drink of the Living Water where I will thirst no more.  In Jesus’ name!!  Amen!!

CHRISTLife — Chapter 15: Knowing My Need

CLfridaygraphicBefore Christ, I was “spiritually dead, defiled, disobedient, and deceived.” I was “empty, enslaved, and self-willed.” Then at the age of six, I knelt at an altar of prayer, and those things were washed away by the blood of Jesus Christ. Yes, it’s true, I was all those ugly things. Psalm 51:5, “Surely I was sinful at birth, sinful from the time my mother conceived me.” Romans 3:10, “As it is written: There is no one righteous, not even one;” No matter at what age you got saved, I know you are saying with me, “Praise God, He saved me from all of that and so much more!”

However, I am still needy. How about you? In our flesh we are still prone toward “doing evil deeds” (Colossians 1:21, ESV). As humans we still have our limitations, and we still sin. So we must continually “acknowledge our deep need for God and cast away our self-centered pride.” God can only work in us when we admit that we are His child, and as a child we are dependent on Him to care for us and help us in our weaknesses. Romans 8:26, “In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness.” Even though we have many wonderful qualities, we can’t take personal credit and think too highly of ourselves. Instead, we must see that it is not by our works but by His mercy that we do anything good.

He saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of His mercy.  He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit.
Titus 3:5 NLT

If we never had any needs—emotionally, physically, psychologically, or spiritually—we would never realize just how needy we are for God. He created us for Himself. Genesis 1:26, “Then God said, ‘Let Us make man in Our image, in Our likeness….’”

Adam and Eve spent time in God’s presence. But as I think about them, I’m not sure they truly understood their need for Him until they had sinned and realized they weren’t “presentable” anymore.

When the cool evening breezes were blowing, the man and his wife heard the Lord God walking about in the garden. So they hid from the Lord God among the trees. Then the Lord God called to the man, “Where are you?” He (Adam) replied, “I heard You walking in the garden, so I hid. I was afraid because I was naked.”
Genesis 3:8-10 NLT

After God told Adam and Eve how their sin would affect their lives from then on, He forgave them and, through the sacrifice of animals (Genesis 3:21), He provided for their need. Life wasn’t easy (verses 22-24), but the good news is that it kept them humble and in relationship with Him.

For the Lord hears the needy and does not despise His own people.
Psalm 69:33 ESV

He stands beside the needy, ready to save them.
Psalm 109:31 NLT

The more we study God’s Word and spend time with Him, the more we will recognize our shortcomings and our great need for Him to reign in our lives. We will find our help is in the Lord, as God tells us in Isaiah 41:17-20, “When the poor and needy search for water and there is none, and their tongues are parched from thirst, then I, the Lord, will answer them. I, the God of Israel, will never abandon them.”

As pride is gotten under control, God doesn’t want us to think too lowly of ourselves either. David said (Psalm 40:17 NLT) that even though he was needy—God was thinking about him! Please meditate on this Scripture because it shows us just how significant we actually are to our Father God. He is thinking about you and me!

Yes, we are needy. I know I personally need more love, more patience, more self-control, more—you name it. As I grow in God’s Word, I will see how He is providing for me, protecting me, guiding and guarding me. I will see more clearly how much He loves me. How about you? Have you taken time to see your needs? Have you looked into God’s Word to see how much He wants to help you? Do you know today that God loves you, my friend, and He wants only His best for you? That’s His message to you right now. Our Lord is saying to you, “I have loved you with an everlasting love; I have drawn you with unfailing kindness” (Jeremiah 31:3).

May these Scriptures be your heart cry today:

The humble will be filled with fresh joy from the Lord.
The poor will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
Isaiah 29:19 NLT

Teach me Your ways, O Lord, that I may live according to Your truth!
Grant me purity of heart, so that I may honor You.
With all my heart I will praise You, O Lord my God.
I will give glory to Your name forever, for Your love for me is very great.
You have rescued me from the depths of death.
Psalms 86:11-13 NLT

Whom have I in Heaven but You? I desire You more than anything on earth.
Psalm 73:25 NLT

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Dear Lord and Savior of our souls, thank You for loving us beyond our comprehension. Thank You for loving us enough to save us. Thank You for continuing to show us Your love by revealing to us our areas of weakness so we will repent, be forgiven, and become more like You. We acknowledge our need for You. May we always hunger and thirst for You, Lord, for You promise to answer us and never abandon us. We love You, Lord. In Jesus’ Precious and Holy Name, Amen.

CHRISTLife – Ten: A Self-Opinion Too High

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Have you ever said to yourself, either verbally or mentally:

In light of a problem:   “I’ve got this. I can handle it by myself.

Or after an accomplishment:  “I did it myself with no help from anyone!

Those statements may indicate a self-opinion that is too high. The truth is we can’t—don’t—do anything without the help of God. He is our breath and life.

God who gives you the breath of life and controls your destiny!
Daniel 5:23 NLT

And He (God) is not served by human hands, as if He needed anything.
Rather, He Himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else…
For in Him we live and move and have our being.
Acts 17:25 and 28 NIV

The ‘puffed up’ attitude can become a habitual part of our lives. The way to counter a self-opinion that is too high is to compare ourselves with God as His Word describes Him, and us. The benefit to this for me (and hopefully for you) is that it reminds me (us) of how great God is and still how loving He is toward us. It is humbling to realize that:

All people are like grass, and all their glory is like the flowers of the field;
the grass withers and the flowers fall, but the Word of the Lord endures forever.
I Peter 1:24,25

Let’s look at just a few other Scriptures that will help us balance our self-image with His Truth:

I am — “a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”
James 4:14 ESV

God is  “from everlasting to everlasting You are God.”
Psalm 90:2

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I am accountable — “So then each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
Romans 14:12

God is — “…the great God, the great King above all gods.”
Psalm 95:3

God is our Creator; we are His creation. Do you see in just these few verses what a vast difference there is? We can’t be God, but that is the lie which an inflated self-opinion would lead us to believe, whether we are aware of it or not. (Remember Satan’s fall as told in Isaiah 14:12-15.) Instead the truth is that we need God. We need His guidance. Without Him, our life and our accomplishments don’t amount “to a hill of beans” (a trifling value).

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked.
Galatians 6:7

Lord, I know that people’s lives are not their own; it is not for them to direct their steps.
Jeremiah 10:23

An inflated self-image is a dangerous trap. Look at some of the verses from the end of the chapter that point this out:

Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

The Lord Almighty has a day in store for all the proud and lofty…they will be humbled.
Isaiah 2:12

‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’
Submit yourselves, then to God. Resist the devil and he will flee from you.
James 4:6,7 ESV

Hmmm, if I’m correct, that last Scripture (in James chapter 4) is saying that pride, arrogance, too-high a self-image are each sin that we should run from. Ouch! Okay I get it. This is not just some little hiccup in our personality. This is a sin, a wedge that will separate us from God. I want to get rid of that, how about you!? This next Scripture is our guide to help us correct our self-image to line up with God’s image of and plan for us:

Come near to God, and He will come near to you.
Wash your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts…
Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.
James 4:8-10

Praise God, He loves us enough to point out the areas we need to change, and then shows us exactly how to do it.

We are, after all, fallen and flawed. We are like the sheep in Isaiah 53:6, we “…have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way….” But the Good News is that God is the Giver of life! (Psalm 36:9, NCV). Jesus knows His sheep, and as we humble ourselves more and more to Him we hear and know His voice and we follow Him.

The One who enters by the gate is the Shepherd of the sheep…
and the sheep listen to His voice.
He calls His own sheep by name and leads them out…
and His sheep follow Him because they know His voice.
John 10:2-4

So instead of being in the dangerous position of a self-opinion that is too high, and will surely cause us to wander “off the cliff of pride,” let’s humble ourselves before our God Almighty. Let’s continue to listen to His voice, to follow Him, and get rid of the high self-opinions He sees as sin. He is Our Good Shepherd who wants only the best for us, His sheep.

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Dear Lord God Almighty, we humble ourselves before You today. We ask You, Lord, to show us any sin of a “self-opinion too high.” Thank You for Your Word that not only reveals our sins, but also reveals Who You are, who we are in Your sight, and just how much You love us. We want to repent of pride today and receive Your forgiveness. We want to know Your voice and follow You because You are our Good Shepherd Who loves us and wants only the best for us, Your sheep. Thank You. In Jesus Name, Amen.

16 Day Love Challenge: Chapter 5 – Love is not Proud

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Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
1 Corinthians 13:4

In this verse, we are first told a bit about what LOVE is—LOVE is patient and kind. Earlier this week, our sisters Cherie and Rebecca (the authors of The 16 Day Love Challenge: Matching our Words and Actions with 1 Corinthians 13:4-8) encouraged us to honestly and bravely ask God to show us if we really are patient and kind women. We looked at the state of our own hearts to see how impatience had cost us in our relationships and if we were really willing to “be kind no matter what!”  I, myself, love these challenges; how about you?

Then we see two things that LOVE is not—LOVE does not envy or boast. Again, Cherie and Rebecca prompted us to search our hearts and seek God’s help in dealing with any and all areas of envy and boasting. Because they are sin…enough said, yes?

Now here we are at the end of Verse 4 where the Scriptures tell us “LOVE is not proud.” Now this is not talking about the kind of pride where a momma is ‘bust my buttons’ proud over the accomplishments of her little ones. Nor is it the type of pride that we are to sing “I am proud to be an American where at least I know I’m free!” Nor is it the kind of pride my young grandson has when he stands up during circle time and—from cover to cover—reads a book to his classmates without a stumble or a falter. Nor the pride we boast of when we proclaim and exclaim over the power of Jesus’ Cross.

No, this pride talked about in Verse 4 is NOT good. This pride is “the absence of love.” Wow! Not where we want to be, hmmm? As Cherie says to us, “…Pride has invaded your heart and separated you from your husband, friends, co-workers, neighbors, family members…” But there is great HOPE! Listen…

But He gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He shall lift you up.
James 4:6, 10

alright, quick now: what DOES humility mean?
From Webster’s 1828 Dictionary
Lowly; modest; meek; submissive; opposed to proud, haughty, arrogant or assuming. In an evangelical sense, having a low opinion of one’s self, and a deep sense of unworthiness in the sight of God.

So, to paraphrase, if one is humble or has humility, then they are modest, submissive, with a deep sense of unworthiness compared to God (and, to a lesser extent, compared to others also).

In closing, consider this section from 1 Peter 5:5-7:

You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety upon Him, because He cares for you.

From these verses, we see four motivations to be humble:

  • God is opposed to the proud. Could there be anything worse? God opposed to you? So don’t be proud.
  • God gives grace to the humble. Could there be anything better than to have your awesome God treat you so graciously. He does that to the humble.
  • God exalts the humble: Under His mighty hand, God will exalt you at the proper time.
  • God cares for the humble: So give to Him all your worry, care, concern, because He cares for you.

May I encourage you (me, too!) to be a humble person because, if you are proud, God will be against you in your pride; but if you are humble he will give you grace, exalt you in due time, and care for you along the way so that you don’t have to be anxious.

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Here are a few other verses to help hide God’s Word regarding humility in your heart:

Proverbs 15:33   The reverent and worshipful fear of the Lord brings instruction in Wisdom, and humility comes before honor.

Zephaniah 2:3   Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land, you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness, seek humility; perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Ephesians 4:1-3 Therefore I, the prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk worthy of the calling you have received, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, accepting one another in love, diligently keeping the unity of the Spirit with the peace that binds us.

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

Colossians 3:12 and 13   Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;

1 Peter 5:5   Clothe yourselves, all of you, with humility toward one another, for “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

Esther – Chapter 6: Recap

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I think this story should be titled, “The Sleepless King and The Providence of God.”  We saw in the last part of this study that Haman strongly dislikes Mordecai and Mordecai despises Haman.  Mordecai wants Haman removed from the king’s advisory counsel and Haman wants Mordecai removed from life.  As I have mentioned before, Esther is one of the only books of the Bible that does not mention God…yet He’s not far from each scene, is He?

Esther 6:1-3

As we know, all is set to come to a head tomorrow so it’s no wonder that the king had a hard time sleeping. He had his servants read to him the story of how Mordecai saved the king from two assailants who had wanted to kill him (Esther 2:21-23).  It was also said that Mordecai had not been rewarded yet for his courage in this situation.  Can you see the fingerprints of God all over this?  He is the One that has the king awake!  He is the One that has him read the book of records and He is the One who directed the king’s eunuchs to choose the story about Mordecai’s saving the king’s life. Have you seen the invisible hand of God working in your life?

 Esther 6:4-9

The self-consumed one enters the picture.  Haman has this plan to hang Mordecai.  He wakes early and rushes to the king to tell him his plan before anyone else and,because he actually thought the king loved him, he had no doubt he would honor his request.  What he didn’t take into account was that God never sleeps and He had been working on Mordecai’s behalf throughout the night and speaking to the king’s heart (praise the Lord!).  So Haman comes in and the king wants to know what Haman thinks should be done to the man that the king himself wants to honor. He’s thinking the king MUST want to honor him, so he says this: the one you honor should be displayed wearing a royal kingly robe and crown, and paraded on a horse and should be admired by all the people.

Esther 6:10-14

What does pride come before? In Proverbs 18:2, it says, “Before his downfall a mans heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.”  Proverbs 25:27 says, “It is not good to eat too much honey, nor is it honorable to seek one’s own honor.”  Can you imagine what Haman was feeling when the king told him to do for Mordecai what he expected to be done for himself?  I feel sure his heart dropped and after the words sank in, he probably becomes extremely angry.  His worst fears have come true as he has to robe Mordecai and crown him and parade him through the streets in which Haman himself hoped to be paraded.  So what does he do?  He seeks counsel from his wife who confirms his own thinking, he is ruined.

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Let me just say to each of you who follow our Lord faithfully with your whole life, the day will come when you are publicly praised and honored and displayed by our great God Himself.  But do not set your heart on it in this life!  As I have said before in previous blogs, there is a little Haman in all of us, right?  We don’t want our good deeds to go unnoticed.  We may want a little recognition from others for the sacrifices we make on others behalf.  But now is not the time, unless God chooses to.  Otherwise, honor is reserved for Jesus Himself!  Jesus says if we love Him then we must love each other and we must put others before ourselves.  And we should seek only those things that hold eternal value.  All things will pass away, except Jesus Himself.

“He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”~ Jim Elliot

Who is wise? Let them realize these things. Who is discerning? Let them understand. The ways of the LORD are right; the righteous walk in them, but the rebellious stumble in them.

Hosea 14:9

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Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou my inheritance, now and always Thou and Thou only, the first in my heart,
Sovereign of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, Thou Heaven’s bright sun
Grant be its joy after victory is won
Great Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Be Thou my vision, O Ruler of all.”
(from Be Thou My Vision)

Let’s Pray:

Dear Daddy, we thank You for the clear, bright glow of the light of Your truth that shines in the darkness of our own hearts so that we can see ourselves exactly as we are.  Frightening as it is, we thank You that we don’t need to continue to look at that but to look to the One who has come into this world for this very purpose, that’s Jesus.  He alone destroys the work of the enemy in our lives.  Forgive us when pride gets in the way and we seek glory that belongs to You, oh Lord. Gently put us in our place.  For all we do on this earth, all words that come out of our mouths, may they only point to You and give You the honor and glory You so deserve.  Help us to love each other the way You have commanded and rid us of any anger or bitterness.  We love You and we praise You and we can’t wait to meet You face to face one day but until then may we continue to walk in Your path and light.  For it’s in Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 6:12-14

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Afterward Mordecai returned to the king’s gate.

Esther 6:12

How interesting that all that honor and fanfare didn’t seem to give Mordecai a big head.  He went back to his daily position and duties.  I believe he knew his true value came from his God, and not from men, and that’s all he needed.  What a difference humility and faith makes in a person’s life!

Then there was Haman.  Obviously, honor from the king fed his self-centered pride so it meant everything to him.  But the honor went to the “other guy!”  Esther 6:12b, “But Haman rushed home, with his head covered in grief,”  How frustrating, depressing, and embarrassing for Haman.  What could be more defeating than to have his plans for destruction completely reversed, and perhaps begin to fall on him!?

Pride ends in humiliation, while humility brings honor.

Proverbs 29:23

Esther 6:13 (NLT), “When Haman told his wife, Zeresh, and all his friends what had happened, his wise advisers and his wife said, ‘Since Mordecai–this man who has humiliated you—is of Jewish birth, you will never succeed in your plans against him. It will be fatal to continue opposing him.’”  In his arrogance, Haman expected some sympathy from his wife and his “wise” friends but instead they foretold of his demise.  They told him two things which turned out to be prophetic.

The first was based on a fact: “Mordecai is a Jew, and because of that fact your plan will fail.” They were implying that the Jews’ God was watching over them, and He was more powerful than any human plan.

I found this very intriguing.  Here was the Jewish Nation defeated in war, their cities destroyed, and the people taken captive to serve in foreign lands.  In spite of those facts, the citizens who lived around the Jews recognized that God was with them.  They saw the resilience, strength, and confidence of the Jews that could only be explained in reference to their worship of and their trust in their God.

This raised questions in my own mind: Do others see the evidence of resilience, strength, and confidence in my life that demonstrates my faith that God is taking care of me?  Do I live a life of humility so that my life points others to my God?

What “great“ friends these guys were, and they weren’t finished with Haman yet!  They barely took a breath when they hit him with the second prophetic statement: “You, personally, will be ruined!”

Without a chance to think that through, a knock came at the door and Haman was escorted, as was the custom, to the second of Queen Esther’s banquets.  I imagine in light of what his friends had just told him, he had many conflicting thoughts as he went.  Would this be his chance to make more “brownie points” with the king and queen and receive more honor, or was doom lurking in the very shadows of the queen’s banquet hall?

Our author, Darlene Schacht says, “This entire chapter has a strong focus on the dangers of pride and the blessings of humility. It is further exemplified here as Mordecai is exalted and Haman is cut down.”  We talked last week in chapter five about pride and humility, and Tonya talked about the dangers of pride on Tuesday.  Oh my, here we are again today.  Over the years I’ve heard Bible teachers say that if God’s Word repeats something more than once God must consider it important enough for us to stop and reflect on it.  (Okay, Lord, I’m listening!)

Humility:  Mordecai is our example of humility.  He was meek, having a quiet, gentle spirit. He was more concerned about others than he was for his own welfare.  True humility is more than an outward act of service.  It is also an attitude that comes from the heart. Colossians 3:12, “Since God chose you to be the holy people He loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience.”

Pride: There are two kinds of pride.  We can take “pride” in a job well done; that is to be happy for the accomplishment.  We see the other kind of pride that the Bible refers to in Haman; pride in himself, giving himself all the credit.  Like humility, pride is an attitude of the heart.  We, too, can have this pride which convinces us to think more highly of ourselves than we ought to. This pride can be subtle. This pride is self-righteousness, not giving credit to God for the good in our lives and what we’ve accomplished, and that is sin.                 

I Corinthians 4:7, “For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?”

Darlene asks, “What are some of the ways you might protect your heart against pride?”  I’ll share a couple and then please add your thoughts as you share today:

  1. I remind myself regularly that any gifts and talents that I have, and the fruit of the Spirit, all come from God.
  2. I must recognize that whatever is good within me is only because of Jesus.
  3. Your turn!

I would like to use some of John Piper’s quote that Darlene shared with us as part of our prayer today.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, we are once again confronted with the sharp contrast between humility and pride, two very opposing forces in our own lives.  You want us to be clothed in humility, and to be alert to protect our heart against pride.  Holy Spirit, we can’t do this without You.  Please help us “to cultivate a joy in Christ, His wisdom, power, justice, and love that is more satisfying than the pleasures of human praise.  We pray that we will experience the miracle of self-forgetfulness in the admiration of Christ, and in love toward people.”  In Jesus’ name.  Amen.

Esther – Chapter 6:4-9

Esther 6:4-9

So the king said, “Who is in the court?” Now Haman had just entered the outer court of the king’s palace to suggest that the king hang Mordecai on the gallows that he had prepared for him. The king’s servants said to him, “Haman is there, standing in the court.” And the king said, “Let him come in.” So Haman came in, and the king asked him, “What shall be done for the man whom the king delights to honor?” Now Haman thought in his heart, “Whom would the king delight to honor more than me?” And Haman answered the king, “For the man whom the king delights to honor, let a royal robe be brought which the king has worn, and a horse on which the king has ridden, which has a royal crest placed on its head. Then let this robe and horse be delivered to the hand of one of the king’s most noble princes, that he may array the man whom the king delights to honor. Then parade him on horseback through the city square, and proclaim before him: ‘Thus shall it be done to the man whom the king delights to honor!’”

Oh, pride…that little five letter word that I have truly grown to dislike.  A word that has proven to hurt so many lives, ruined so many relationships, guided so many down paths harder than they should have been. Pride doesn’t discriminate; it touches the work place, the home, the church, it wraps itself around our hearts and makes life a difficult place.

Googling verses on pride, I found many more than the word count of this blog will allow.

  • I will break down your stubborn pride.  Leviticus 26:19
  • He grew proud, to his destruction. For he was unfaithful to the Lord his God.    2 Chronicles 26:16
  • In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.  Psalm 10:4
  • When pride comes, then comes disgrace, but with humility comes wisdom.  Proverbs 11:2
  • Pride only breeds quarrels, but wisdom is found in those who take advice. Proverbs 13:10
  • Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall.  Proverbs 16:18
  • A man’s pride brings him low, but a man of lowly spirit gains honor.  Proverbs 29:23
  • But when his heart became arrogant and hardened with pride, he was deposed from his royal throne and stripped of his glory.  Daniel 5:20
  • Your heart will become proud and you will forget the LORD your God.  Deuteronomy 8:14
  • Though the LORD is on high, He looks upon the lowly, but the proud He knows from afar.  Psalm 138:6
  • The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. Proverbs 16:5
  • Better to be lowly in spirit and among the oppressed than to share plunder with the proud.  Proverbs 16:19
  • Before his downfall a man’s heart is proud, but humility comes before honor.  Proverbs 18:12
  • Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.  1 Corinthians 13:4

I would be lying if I tried to say that I haven’t had an issue with pride.  I like being able to do everything myself and I don’t like asking for help and I don’t like admitting that I am wrong.  I had the thought that doing these things made me weak.  They made me less of a woman, less of a wife, less of a mom.  I should be able to handle it all.  I have the skills, the know-how and the desire.  This is pride in a different sense than what Haman showed; but it is pride none-the-less.

Wk6_Ellison_Esther

When these thoughts of pride and inadequacy creep in I remind myself that I have not been doing this without God and that I cannot continue to do this without God.  We are not created to do things alone, to walk our paths alone, we can only do it with God on our side. This is where Haman fell short; he thought that he alone reached the position he was in, he thought that no other man could be held in such high regard as him. His pride was his downfall.  I don’t want to see this in my life and I don’t want to see it in yours.

It’s wrong to be proud of our accomplishments. I don’t think it’s wrong to think that we did a good job at something.  But we need to remember to give honor where honor is due.

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Heavenly Father, You bless us daily. You give us skills and talents that allow us to accomplish tasks, to succeed in this life. Lord, please forgive us for the times where we allow pride to take over, for the times when we fail to thank You.  Give us a gentle reminder when our pride starts to get too big, when we look to ourselves, and forget to look towards You.

In Jesus’ name we pray.

Amen.

Esther – Chapter 5:9

Wk5_Fox_Esther

“Haman was a happy man as he left the banquet” (Esther 5:9a, NLT).  His seemingly ever- increasing power starting from his promotion (chapter 3:1 and 2) to King Xerxes giving him his signet ring and carte blanche to do what he wanted with this “certain people” (chapter 3:10 and 11) to this intimate banquet with the king and queen (here in chapter 5:4 and 5), was feeding Haman’s pride big time.  Not only that but Queen Esther had invited him to a second banquet! His hat didn’t fit his big head anymore, and his buttons were popping off his cloak from his puffed out chest as he walked out the king’s gate to go home for the night!  Can you hear his evil cackle?  Oh, I don’t like this guy!

“But when he saw Mordecai sitting at the palace gate, not standing up or trembling nervously before him, Haman became furious” (Esther 5:9b).  We already know from Esther chapter 3, that Haman planned to destroy Mordecai and all the Jews.  Now, when he saw Mordecai sitting there so peacefully with no regard for him at all, Haman almost exploded on the inside with indescribable hatred.

Mordecai “stood” his ground by sitting when Haman walked by. Mordecai knew Who he had to ultimately answer to, and it wasn’t Haman.  Mordecai had full confidence in the Lord’s provision and protection.  Confidence in God and the humility of obedience and submission to Him gave Mordecai a calm and peaceful presence that was like acid eating away at Haman. (Compare the similarities when Jesus “stood His ground” in His last hours, Matthew 26-27.)

Haman was so full of himself that he couldn’t see that his pedestal of pride had no foundation. One day it would come crashing down around him.  As Matthew Henry’s Commentary would describe him: he is a self-admirer, a self-deceiver.  Doesn’t he sound like someone else we know? Isaiah 14:13-14, “For you (Satan) say to yourself, ‘I will ascend to heaven and set my throne about God’s starsand be like the Most High.’”  Satan’s plan is for the destruction of God’s creation.  His pride is so great and his rage against God is so consuming that he intends to kill and destroy (John 10:10) everyone he can.  But he has no foundation of truth.  He has built his plan on pride and hatred.  He and his plan will fall.  Isaiah 14:15, “Instead, you will be brought down to the place of the dead, down to its lowest depths.”

Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.
Proverbs 16:18

Haughtiness goes before destruction; humility precedes honor.
Proverbs 18:12

Matthew Henry’s Commentary also says: “A slight affront, which a humble man would scarcely notice, will torment a proud man , even to madness, and will mar all his comforts.”  Haman was tormented by Mordecai’s affront, his intentional defiance.  I believe Satan is tormented by our affronts when we stand against him and his evil plan to destroy us and our families.

We have two life examples to look at here.  We have Haman who lived a very self-centered and prideful life.  He deceived himself and he deceived others, especially the king, for very selfish motives.  Then we have Mordecai, who was a humble man of faith and confidence. His motives were selfless as day after day he watched over and wisely advised Esther, even to the extent of sitting at the gate when “trouble” walked by.

Today we have the opportunity to check our motives for what we do and what we say.  If our motives are based on feeding our pride and obtaining power over a person or a situation, we are self-deceived and insecure.  If a small offense eats away at us, we will want to check our lives for underlying pride.   A life controlled by pride will lead us to “destruction,” as we read in Proverbs 16:18.

If our motives are directed by our faith in God, then we will live selfless lives of submission and service.  We will not be easily offended, and will forgive quickly.  We will stand in humble confidence and peace, even as we “sit by the gate” when trouble tries to destroy us.  (Ephesians 6:13.)  We will have an inner assurance that God will show Himself mighty to save.

The thief comes only to steal, kill, and destroy;
I (Jesus) have come that they (you and I) may have life, and have it to the full.
John 10:10

Who does your life look most like…Haman or Mordecai?  Is it one of pride, torment, insecurity, fear, and eventual destruction? Or is it one of humility, peace, confidence, faith, and life?  Today is your day to choose “life and have it to the full.”

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Let’s Pray:

Dear Lord, we come humbly to Your throne of grace today.  Even at this moment we are searching our innermost beings for areas of pride and deception.  Help us, Holy Spirit, to find them so we can repent and allow You to cleanse us.  We want our motives to be pure and selfless. Please help us to not be easily offended and to quickly forgive.  May each of us live a life of humility, peace, confidence, and faith.  Thank You for offering us life to the full!  In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Life’s Healing Choices: Chapter 7 – The Causes Of Relapse (pp 208-211)

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.

James 4:10

 

Today we are going to take a look at the Causes of Relapse:

1. We Revert to our own willpower
2. We ignore the choices
3. We try to recover without support
4. We become prideful

I use to tell myself, if I just don’t go to a bar, drink any alcohol, start going regularly to church, and stay away from people who party and drink, then I do not ever have to worry about relapse. Ha! While these things are good to follow, it’s not always going to work. In fact, without any support—whether your addiction is alcohol, drugs, sex, food, etc.,—more than likely you will relapse without support. Why is it so hard for us to understand that we cannot do these things on our own? Here we go again with trying to take back control and do things our self. It seems like after failing so badly before, we would not try it again. There is that stubbornness in us. Here is a simple example—me cutting my hair (maybe you can relate). I always mess it up. I think that if I just hold my bangs at a different position, then it should turn out straight and will look better. Besides, I don’t need to spend money by getting a hairdresser to do it when I can. Reality is…I can’t. I always mess it up trying to do it myself. I end up with crooked bangs that always need to be straightened out by the hairdresser. It seems like after trying this so many times and failing, I would finally realize that I need someone to do it for me.

This may be a silly example, but the basic idea applies to everything we have a hard time with. We need help from others. When we are in the middle of a crisis, if we are struggling and thinking about picking up that cigarette we quit a few years ago, wouldn’t it be a good idea to talk with someone who might remind us that it’s not good to go that direction again.  We need someone to talk to. Yes, God above all is who we go to and pray for help, share our hurts, fears, and tears with, but He wants us to reach out to others and to be in healthy relationships. If someone we know can talk with us when we get frazzled and feel like we are falling, they can help get us back up. We cannot do it alone.

In the Bible it says, Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.  If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in trouble. Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone? A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer. Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken Ecclesiastes 4:9-12. The point is that we need others. We need someone who will hold us accountable, support us, and encourage us.

One of the biggest problems I deal with is my pride. During the last 2 years there have been times I thought, “Wow, I’m doing so good…not having cravings anymore…and I am finally getting on with my life, and it’s all good! My depression has lifted, and anxiety is lessened.  I don’t need to talk to my friends and husband about my problems anymore. They probably don’t want to hear it after all they put up from me in the past. Besides, they think I am doing so good, I can’t let them down or admit I am struggling a bit, that would mean defeat. All the work staying sober, forming new relationships, and my new life I have given to Christ, no way will I feel defeat!”

My pride is a HUGE defect. I blame others for why I react in anger. I tell myself it’s their fault and I shouldn’t be the one to apologize. Pride is something I struggle with and want to change. But, thankfully, I am starting to see it in myself more each day. I don’t like the way I feel afterward. Honestly, I can only describe it as a conscience and although I don’t want to admit I’m ever wrong, I do try. I don’t always do it, but deep down I know it’s the right thing to do. It feels super good to do the right thing and be humble. Pride can take us places that can destroy our relationships and it builds a wall between us and God. Baker states, “The Bible reminds us, ‘If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! 1 Corinthians 10:12.  Baker goes on to say, you have been working hard on “getting it all together,” “but you don’t have it all together.” So what’s the secret to lasting recovery? Baker states that we are to live in humility. Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up James 4:10.

The best protection against relapse is Humility.

No one is perfect. No one has everything all together. If you think you do, watch out. Our greatest weakness is often unguarded strength. Just remember these words, “If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” 1 Corinthians 10:12. Watch out, and be careful.

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Let’s Pray:

Father God, thank You for Your love, forgiveness, patience, and strength You give us. Lord, it’s hard to humble ourselves. We seek help doing this. Teach us humility. Lord, reveal to us our pride. Help us to reach out and ask for help. Lord, we need You in all things! Lord, without You we fall. Thank You for always protecting us and giving us relationships with friends who we can lean on. We love You!  In Jesus’ name, Amen

Your Assignment:

Spend some special time with the Lord today. Ask Him to reveal areas in your life you need help with. Write these down and find that friend to share with. Let go of that pride!

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If you would like to send a private email to Leslie in regards to this blog, please email her at: Leslie@GirlfriendsCoffeeHour.com

Life’s Healing Choices: Week 3 “The Commitment Choice” – What’s Holding You Back?

I have a question for you this morning: What is holding you back from surrendering your problems and your life to the care of God?

Today we are going to talk about five things that keep us from making this choice: Pride, Fear, Guilt, Worry, and Doubt.  

This has been, and to this day still is, a battle for me in a few areas in my life. I found it painfully hard to fully acknowledge to myself those painful feelings of guilt that I tried to push down deep inside that would continue to pop up and hurt. Satan loves to try and ruin our day by bringing up past scars. He loves to see us reliving that pain and being pushed bit by bit away from God. His desire is that the pain will always be there and we will not ever be able to heal.

Everyone has feelings of pride, fear, guilt, worry, and doubt from time to time. But God wants us to stop, let go, and give Him these feelings and hurts that cause destruction in our lives and to those we love. He simply wants to take care of our hurts; all we have to do is hand them over to Him today. For many, this is not easy. In fact, this was so very hard for me to do. I would like to share a situation in which I had a very hard time giving up control and putting my love and trust in God.

Due to the lack of male figures as a child growing up, I had trust issues and I yearned for male attention. I had my heart broken many times as a young child and I truly felt very sorry for myself and very angry toward men, but on the other hand, I wanted their love so badly. When I was 14 years old, I was raped by my boyfriend. He pressured me to be with him because he “loved” me. Although I wanted that love so bad, I wasn’t sure if I was ready to give myself to him.  At the last minute, I decided not to go through with it, but he chose to continue…without my consent.  Afterwards, he threatened that if I ever told anyone what he did, or tried to break up with him, he would let everyone know what I had done with him; that I was no longer innocent and pure.

As time went on, anger, hurt, love, and trust turned into major resentment toward every man I came in contact with. I was not about to trust a man with my heart. I would be the one in control, and I would not have to fear rejection. I started using my body as a way to control that overwhelming need for love. I used sex lying to myself calling it “love.” I would now become the rejecter. Although, reality was that sex became disgusting to me because it was filth and not love that I always yearned for. That was when I decided I would be the one who would cause one to feel sad, hurt, and unloved. I wanted men to “want” me, because this is what I thought love was. I learned great ways to manipulate them with my eyes, the way I moved my body, the way I did things to cause them to feel jealousy so they would stay with me. This was (in my mind) justifiable behavior. I had been treated that way, so why shouldn’t I treat men that way. Isn’t that how love works?

After this, I turned very selfish and could not offer real intimacy and pure love to anyone, even with my devoted husband who truly loved me. I just never believed that love was real. I had never received it in any other male relationships before, so I thought how would my marriage be any different. That boyfriend I had, said he loved me, but look how that turned out. I believe this is my reason for having a hard time putting my trust, not only in my husband, but mostly with the Lord. How on earth could my Heavenly Father really love me that way?

Finally I woke up and decided to quit playing the victim. I chose to give this hurt to the Lord along with the control, pride, guilt, fear, worry, and doubt. In the beginning, I did not think He could change me, but God did. He was going to set me free!

“I have swept away your sins like a cloud.  I have scattered your offenses like the morning mist.  Oh return to me, for I have paid the price to set you free.”  — Isaiah 44:22

Today, love is changing between me and my husband. I am “learning to trust” him and even more, trusting God in all things. God is calling out to all of us “This is the Lord, trust me, let go, and I will catch you.” (Baker)

How about you? Are you willing to lay down your pride and surrender? Are you ready to stop being tormented by your hurts that have controlled you for so long? Are you having doubts right now even though you want to believe? Ask God right now to help you with your unbelief. As John Baker says, “Jesus said, that’s good enough.” All you need is faith as small as a mustard seed. If you put that faith in our Big God then you will get results. (Baker)

Jesus replied, “Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” Matthew 17:20

So what are you waiting for? Let go and give Christ control! He wants a loving relationship with you more than anything!

 

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Let’s Pray:

Lord, Thank You for Your love for us. You tell us, Lord, to come to You with all things and You will give us rest. Lord, we want to do this and surrender our problems and care over to You; but it’s not easy. The pride, guilt, fear, worry, and doubt get in the way. Lord, we ask You to help us right now to let go and surrender our problems and lives to the care and control of You. Lord,we need help. We need You in our lives. All this we pray in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

Your Assignment: 

Write down and explain which of these things God is showing to you about yourself such as: pride, guilt, fear, worry, and doubt that is holding you back from making a decision to surrender and give Christ control of your life. Remember, comments made here are public. You do have the option of signing in anonymously.

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If you would like to send Leslie a private email in regards to this blog, please email her at: Leslie@girlfriendscoffeehour.com