Tag Archives: pride

Nehemiah 7-9; John 17

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving.

I love Thanksgiving. I love the food, of course. I love the family all around. And I love having a day designated to reflect and remember the previous year and all that God has done for me.

This passage in Nehemiah fits so perfectly with Thanksgiving. It’s all about remembering. It’s all about recounting. And it’s all about repenting.

It takes place right after the great victory of finishing the repairs of the wall. The people are celebrating by reading God’s word and feasting! But then came the time of repenting and mourning over their failures.

In chapter 9, the Levites cry out to God, recounting all that God had done for them from the very beginning.

You made the heavens… You chose Abram…. You kept your promise… You saw our suffering… You heard our cries… You divided the seas… You led us day and night… You came down and spoke… In our hunger, you fed us… In our thirst you gave us water… You gave us the land…

But then…

We rebelled… We became arrogant… we did not obey… we refused to listen…

But God!

You are forgiving… You are compassionate… You gave your Spirit… You did not withhold… You sustained in the desert… We lacked nothing… We prospered… We were victorious… We reveled in your great goodness…

But then…

We rebelled… We became arrogant… we did not obey… we refused to listen…

And a cycle unfolded. In crisis, they cried out to God. In rest and relief, they rebelled. Even so, God was patient with them. And in this moment, they recognize their failure. They recognize their arrogance. And they recognize God’s righteousness as He was faithful to them even as they were unfaithful to Him. And so they repent. And they ask God for deliverance one more time.

Thanksgiving is all about looking back. And as much as I’d like to be able to say that I look back on the year with only joy and gratitude, I have to admit that there are also moments spread throughout the year where I did not act in a way that honored God. I can see times when I gave in to discouragement and failed to believe His promises. I recall moments of failure that followed success.

When I look back, it’s easy to see God’s hand in every situation. But when I was in the moment, I admit I didn’t always choose to see God’s hand in every situation. Far too often I gave in to fear. And I still catch myself doing that, even after seeing God come through for me every time.

So as I look back over the year, I see some great things God has done. But I also can recognize the not-so-great things I’ve done, and it gives me an opportunity not just to be grateful, but to be humbly repentant as I move forward into the new year to come with fresh vision and fresh goals, letting God lead me step by step into the freedom He has for me.

Father, thank you for your great kindness and patience towards me. Forgive me for not believing you. Forgive me for forgetting all the things you’ve done for me. Forgive me for taking you for granted. Help me to live in constant awareness of your love and goodness so that I can experience the freedom you have for me. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

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Numbers 35-36; Deuteronomy 1-2; Acts 23

Acts 23:14-16 (ESV)

They went to the chief priests and elders and said, “We have strictly bound ourselves by an oath to taste no food till we have killed Paul. Now therefore you, along with the council, give notice to the tribune to bring him down to you, as though you were going to determine his case more exactly. And we are ready to kill him before he comes near.” Now the son of Paul’s sister heard of their ambush, so he went and entered the barracks and told Paul.

Confession time: I’m a perfectionist. I have long struggled with unrealistic expectations of myself – expectations regarding personal habits, my relationship with the Lord, and my ministry to others. As a result, I also struggle with comparison. I see the people around me who seem be excelling, and I feel defeated. I see the numbers of people others are ministering to, and feel like my feeble few isn’t going to make a difference. I see people gravitating to the “super-star” Christians and feel like I’ll never be recognized or appreciated for my effort.

This prideful line of thought crashes into insecurity: I’m not good enough. No one notices me. Why would God ever chose to use me?

The last few weeks God has been bringing this struggle to the forefront yet again. And I think today’s reading is exactly what I needed to confront my insecurities.

Right smack in the middle of Acts 23 we read of the plot to kill Paul. It wasn’t time for Paul to die – and God made sure of it by putting someone in the right place at the right time to hear the plot and intervene to save Paul’s life. Who is this person? He’s an unknown. In fact, we don’t even know his name. He’s simply labeled as Paul’s nephew.

Paul was an “A-list” character in this story, yes; but this background, unnamed “extra” had the most important role. This young man saved Paul’s life. This young man was the reason Paul made it to Rome. This young man was vital to God’s plan for Paul’s life.

Anytime that I struggle with feeling ineffective, I pray that God will bring this young man to mind. He was simply in the right place at the right time – and God used him in such an incredible way! I need to trust that God has put me where He has me for a reason. And eventually, it will prove effective. I don’t need be front and center, to have a platform, to reach hundreds or thousands. I need to be faithful behind the scenes.

So what if no one is noticing me, encouraging me, or recognizing my potential? So what if I don’t have huge following, and no one remembers my name? Is God’s approval enough for me?

Some people are called to impact thousands. What if God just wants me to impact one?

Lord, forgive me for making my ministry and my service to You about me. Forgive me for comparing myself to others and their successes. I want to be faithful to you regardless of where you put me or how much I’m noticed. Help me not to put unrealistic and unhealthy expectations on my own performance, but let me trust in your perfect plan for my life. Help me to remember it’s about the 1 sheep, not the 99. Let me make a difference in the small things and let me make Your name known over my own. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

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Exodus 2-4; Luke 17; Psalm 88

Exodus 2:11-15a NIV

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…

Moses was clearly troubled by what he saw and he wanted to rescue his people. However, rather than seeking God, Moses sought his own intellect and decided to take matters into his own hands. It didn’t work. Instead of things improving, they worsened – not only with the Egyptians, as Pharaoh wanted to kill Moses, but even with his own people, who disrespected and challenged him.

Like Moses, I find it so tempting to take matters into my own hands. When I see someone else suffering, or if I, myself, am feeling overwhelmed, my gut reaction is to jump into action and attempt to work out deliverance for myself. The problem is that my thoughts and my understanding are tainted by sin and emotions that frequently are running out of control. Therefore my actions make things worse rather than improving the situation. I’ve learned that deliverance can only come from God’s hands, not my own.

Moses reacted to the situation by running away – again, I so easily identify with that instinct! However, God used the next 40 years to work in Moses’ heart and develop in him a humility and dependence on the Lord rather than himself. It was a tough lesson to learn, I’m sure – it always is. However, we all must learn it because humility is the prerequisite for being used by God.

In chapter 3, God spoke to Moses and invited him to join Him in delivering the Israelites from slavery. In a shocking contrast to chapter 2, we read that Moses began to argue with God about his inability to rescue the Israelites.

I’ve found that it’s easy to confuse humility with insecurity. I may think I’m acting humble when, in reality, I’m giving into my insecurities. Insecurity causes me, like Moses, to still rely on my own understanding, abilities, and judgment. Humility, though aware of my inability, doesn’t fixate on my failures, but instead trusts in God’s understanding, abilities, and judgment.

While insecurity causes me to question and doubt, humility causes me to say, “Yes, Lord. I know you are able; I will trust you to do what you say you will do.” And that humble surrender is exactly what allows me to begin experience deliverance and, ultimately, victory.

Father, please forgive me for believing the lie that deliverance depends on me. Help me to trust your abilities, your understanding, and your plan in my life and in the lives of those I love. I surrender to what you’re doing and will wait for your direction before I speak or act. Thank you for loving me and being patient with me, even in my failures and when I interfere with what you’re doing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Bethany Harris (drgnfly1010)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Old Testament, Uncategorized

2 Kings14; 2 Timothy 4; Hosea 7; Psalm 120-122

Our Lord is a realist, I think. He sees me in my humanity and vanity and isn’t coy about pointing out my issues. Even the way I look on the outside doesn’t escape His scrutiny. Take His description of the waning pride of Israel when He says, “Yes, gray hairs are here and there on him, yet he does not know it,” (Hosea 7:9). As a woman, I take pride in keeping my gray hairs covered, yet in between the heroic effort of my stylist, those pesky, course sprigs pop up without my knowing. I let down my vigilant watch.

So it was with the people God is admonishing in Hosea. How does it happen that I, too, so easily lose sight of my goal to live in humility and submission? Of course, pride is the first offender that comes to mind. Like Amaziah in 2 Kings 14, I have experienced success only to bite off more than I can chew on my next quest. If not careful, I’m meddling in another’s business, thinking that I have all the knowledge, education, or savvy to solve their problems. For example, I was confronted by a co-worker who asked about a software problem. At least that is what my prideful heart heard. Instead, she merely wanted to know why I chose to enter a certain date. So I spent 15 minutes patronizing her before it dawned on me what she was asking. Her agitation disguised as patience was later revealed through the employee grapevine.

A second offender is associating with ‘yes men;’ that is I prefer to be with people who agree with me on most things. Not listening to divergent opinions dulls my mind and dooms me to being bored mostly with myself. Even worse, loss of perspective can lead me to stray from the truth. The Apostle Paul urged Timothy to be watchful against a similar problem. 2 Timothy 4:3-5 says, “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables. But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”

What is comforting to me is to know that I do not have to dwell in my own chaos.  I can seek God as in Psalm 121:1, 2, “I will lift up my eyes to the hills – From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.” When my eyes are on God, my peace returns, and my perspective is guided by love for Him and love for my neighbors (that is, everyone God brings to my small sphere of influence). Like the Psalmist, I return to praying for the peace of others. “’May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your wall, Prosperity within your palaces.’ For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, ‘Peace be within you.’ Because of the house of the Lord our God I will seek your good.”

Lord let my prayers be answered even as I bow this graying crown in honor of Your beauty, Your goodness, and Your great love for us all. Guide me to do good and to lean not on my own understanding. Help me to live in humility and curiosity for Your perfect ways. Through Christ my Lord, I pray.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture quoted is from The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Filed under 2 Kings, 2 Timothy, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Hosea, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

I Kings 21; I Thessalonians 4; Daniel 4; Psalm 108, 109

Jesus Christ summed up the Ten Commandments in two statements, one of which is to love the Lord God with all your heart, your soul, and your mind. The other is to love your neighbor as yourself. I wax and wane in my passion to love God even though I never want to leave His side. And I sometimes step back when loving my neighbor is at stake. That is, I have to take a time out to rethink my words, reframe my motivations, and reign in my emotions before asking questions, making and answering requests, or commenting on what others say and do. Years of not getting this right and experience in hurting others or causing chaos in my relationships has heightened my vigilance for preventing problematic encounters, yet nothing can stay my heart and my tongue like the chastisement of God.

As I read I Kings 21:5, 15, I recognized how Ahab was influenced by his wife. Specifically, I relate to my own behaviors that incited my husband to defend me in situations where I needed to humble myself, instead. Like Ahab, I displayed a sullen, pouty face about something that I could not have. In the Old Testament, Ahab’s wife Jezebel, asked, “Why is your spirit so sullen that you eat not your food?” She then orchestrated the murder of Naboth so that her husband could have Naboth’s vineyard. Like Ahab’s spouse, my husband sought solutions, and sometimes that meant compromising his own righteousness. And what did I do? I did just like Ahab: “So it was when Ahab heard Naboth was dead, that Ahab got up and went down to take possession of the vineyard of Naboth the Jezreelite.” That is, I allowed my husband to do something that I would not, but then was happy to have what I should not.

Isn’t it interesting that in marriages, a spouse can either encourage and inspire or manipulate and blame.

In other situations, trying to love thy neighbor as thyself has left me confused and disappointed. I think I am in good company because even the saints cried out to God in similar situations: Psalm 109:4, 5 records these complaints, “In return for my love they are my accusers, But I give myself to prayer. Thus they have rewarded me evil for good, And hatred for love.”

Yes, I pray, and yes, I want justice. Yet one meaning of justice is “a concern for justice, peace, and genuine respect for people,” (https://www.google.com/search). Do I want this just for me or do I love well enough to desire this for all others? I’m afraid my ill will too often highlights the sin of entitlement. Instead of agreeing that others deserve happiness, I speak this lie to myself; “I deserve an easier life.” Thus, what naturally pour out of my mouth are words of bitterness, jealousy, and anger. Like I said, experience has taught me this.

Walking with God, the Father, however, has taught me better truths. I now know that I despise inciting or attacking others worse than accepting being sad, frustrated, or afraid. I know that I can praise the Almighty, loving God who is able to confront or defend me, as He sees fit. Daniel 4:37 says, “I…praise and extol and honor the King of heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.” I do not have to play the Holy Spirit in another person’s life; my task is to love God with all my heart, my soul, and my mind; and to love my neighbor as myself.

Janet (jansuwilkinson)

All Scripture and commentary quotes from: The Nelson Study Bible, New King James Version, Trinity Fellowship Church 25th Anniversary Commemorative Edition, 2002.

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Filed under 1 Kings, 1 Thessalonians, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Daniel, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized

2 Samuel 21, Psalm 77, Ezekiel 28, Galatians 1

Pride. A virtue or vice? It is used so frequently in our day and age. In the positive, “I’m so proud of my family….”, “Take pride in your work”, “Do your parents proud.” These all seem like wonderful things but when is it

Pride stands in the way of seeing our own sin. It makes us feel better about ourselves than we really are. Pride puffs up our spirits with a false sense of security in ourselves or the people and processions we surround ourselves with. It leaves us feeling alone, stressed, successful or like a failure. It’s all up to us.

Ezekiel prophesied the words of the Lord to the king of Tyre who had become so proud and was being warned of the consequences of his pride.

1The word of the Lord came to me: “Son of man, say to the prince of Tyre, Thus says the Lord God:

“Because your heart is proud,
    and you have said, ‘I am a god,
I sit in the seat of the gods,
    in the heart of the seas,’
yet you are but a man, and no god,
    though you make your heart like the heart of a god—
you are indeed wiser than Daniel;
    no secret is hidden from you;
by your wisdom and your understanding
    you have made wealth for yourself,
and have gathered gold and silver
    into your treasuries;
by your great wisdom in your trade
    you have increased your wealth,
    and your heart has become proud in your wealth— Ezekiel 28:1-5

I think of my own pride. How do I rely on myself? What do I look to to provide me with security? Is it the things I have accomplished, the money in the bank, or the good job that I have today? My pride tells me I am in control and all that I have is because I worked hard. My pride lies to me daily, wanting me to believe I have something to do with my own success (or failure).  Alternatively, when things are not going well, I am tempted to feel like a failure, like I’m not enough, like I missed out on something I should have done. Either way, it is pride. Self reliance. Self dependence. Self.

The truth, is that God gave me the ability to be successful. It is by the Lord’s mighty and outstretched hand of grace and mercy that I even have breath at this very moment. At any moment those things that make me proud of the life that I have built or the things I have accomplished could vanish. When I sit and meditate on God’s incredible grace to me; it is by grace, through faith that I not only believe but am saved, I am humbled.

I remember, like the Psalmist:

11 I will remember the deeds of the Lord;
    yes, I will remember your wonders of old.
12 I will ponder all your work,
    and meditate on your mighty deeds.
13 Your way, O God, is holy.
    What god is great like our God?
14 You are the God who works wonders;
    you have made known your might among the peoples.
15 You with your arm redeemed your people,
    the children of Jacob and Joseph. Selah

16 When the waters saw you, O God,
    when the waters saw you, they were afraid;
    indeed, the deep trembled.
17 The clouds poured out water;
    the skies gave forth thunder;
    your arrows flashed on every side.
18 The crash of your thunder was in the whirlwind;
    your lightnings lighted up the world;
    the earth trembled and shook.
19 Your way was through the sea,
    your path through the great waters;
    yet your footprints were unseen.[c]
20 You led your people like a flock
    by the hand of Moses and Aaron. Psalm 77: 11-20

 

 

Sweet Jesus. Thank you for your Word that is sharper than any two-edged sword. It pierces my pride and reminds me of your great and mighty works and your even greater mercy and grace. I look to you, Jesus as my source of hope when I am tempted to place faith in myself. You alone rescue. Amen.

kateredding

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Exodus 11,12:21; Luke 14; Job 29; 1 Cor.15

Those were the days when I went into the city gate and took my place among the honored leaders. The young stepped aside when they saw me, and even the aged rose in respect at my coming. The princes stood in silence and put their hands over their mouths. The highest officials of the city stood quietly, holding their tongues in respect. “All who heard me praised me. All who saw me spoke well of me. For I assisted the poor in their need and the orphans who required help. I helped those without hope, and they blessed me. And I caused the widows’ hearts to sing for joy…When they were discouraged, I smiled at them. My look of approval was precious to them” Job 29:7-13, 24 NLT

Job is yearning for the past. When he was esteemed and honored my his peers. As I read through these verses, I keeping seeing the word ‘I.’ “I did this”, “I did that”….I think about how many times  I can be forgetful, like Job. And my heart is filled with pride. I fail to remember that I can’t do anything in my own strength. It is God who is with me and He gets the glory for every good thing in my life. Looking back at God’s faithfulness is good for my soul, it can spur me forward and give me the encouragement to press on. But, sometimes if I stay in the past, I get stuck and it hinders me from living my life in the present. I miss out on the blessings that he has for me right now.

But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me-and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace.” 1 Corinthians 15:10 NLT

Recently I was asked to paint words of remembrance of someone who died. I didn’t know them, but I was told that it would mean a lot to the family. I thanked God for allowing me to use my talents in that way.The verse that I painted spoke hope into my life. I knew that I couldn’t take the credit, because it ministered to me as well. God is continually showing me that he sees me and that is enough.

For those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11 NLT

Dear Father, Please forgive me for my pride. Help me to remember that everything I have comes from you. I pray that I would steward my life well and not waste the gifts you have given me. I pray that I would use them for your glory. Amen.

Amy (amyctanner)

So, my dear brothers and sisters, be strong and immovable. Always work enthusiastically for the Lord, for you know that nothing you do for the Lord is ever useless.” 1 Corinthians 15:58 NLT

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