Make no mistake about it, pride is a great sin…maybe the greatest. So much so that it is said to be “hated” by God biblically. Pride can be summarized as an attitude of self-sufficiency, self-importance and self-exaltation in relation to God and an attitude of contempt and indifference to those around us. The desire to lift up and exalt ourselves beyond our place as God’s “creature” lies at the very heart of pride. In fact, it was pride that that caused Lucifer to be thrown out of heaven. Yes, that is how the devil became the devil, when he desired to exalt himself to the same level of God. Thus, pride is one of the most destructive tools the devil has to steer us away from the light. For when we are tempted by our own desires, self-worth, and thinking we can do it all on our own, our center of gravity shifts away from God and more and more onto ourselves. How did that work from Adam and Eve? They too were cast out of a perfect place due to their “prideful” desires. Proverbs 16:5, “The Lord detests the proud; they will surely be punished” (and all were punished accordingly). Also, “Pride goes before destruction”, Proverbs 16:18, so we MUST not tolerate it in our lives as pride can lead to our undoing.
If we think too much of ourselves, we’ll tend to also look down on those around us. Galatians 6:3, " If you think you are too important to help someone, you are only fooling yourself. You are not that important.’ and Proverbs 26:12, “There is more hope for fools than for people who think they are wise.” We must not let our knowledge, money, or success cloud our judgement into thinking that we did all these things on our own. We need to be constantly vigilant in placing our accomplishments at God’s feet "and" only using them to promote His glory. Always remember, they were possible ONLY through His loving mercies versus anything we “think” we did to achieve them. Think about the Philadelphia Eagles upon winning the Super Bowl. Outside of the vast number of players who gave God all the glory, their head coach’s, Doug Pedersen, very first words were thanking his “Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” when asked about their victory…AMEN! Now, THAT kind of boasting is good with God. 2 Corinthians 10:17, “Let the one who boasts boast in the Lord.” and Jeremiah 9:24, “but let the one who boasts boast about this: that they have an understanding to know me, that I am the Lord, who exercises kindness, justice and righteousness on earth, for in these I delight,” declares the Lord. So, sincerely pray to help God remove our tendencies to be prideful in our daily lives, and when we are blessed with successes, that we place the glory where it belongs…with HIM!
Matthew 6:33 "But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." We all need to START here folks. If we aren't at least trying to find Jesus, how is He suppose to have a meaningful impact in our lives? Whether it's our job, money, kids or a significant other, they need to all take a back seat to seeking His kingdom "first". When we find God everything will change (especially with us). And those things i just mentioned? They will too. Oh, maybe not overnight, but through prayer, patience and faithfulness, you'll begin to see God at work.
Do not fear, worry, or despair. Trust in His path for you and especially His timing. For the MOST faithful, this can be at times very challenging. But that's the idea. If we knew the outcome of every decision we are making, and what the future holds, we wouldn't need "faith" would we. And, if we don't need faith, then why would we need to "seek first His kingdom"? Put God first in all you do and the rest will take care of itself.
There is a constant battle for your soul. Good vs evil (or in REAL terms, God vs the devil). Early on after accepting Jesus into my life I read a book called "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. It's a narrative about how the devil and his cohorts work on us to WIN (so to speak) our very soul. The devil and his minions are constantly trying to keep us away from God's intended path that will lead us to Him. They want to tempt us with worldly things, or mire us in constant sin, thus keeping us out of His light. Whether it's money, prestige, online "endeavors" (ie., adulterous behavior or pornography), or SIMPLY getting us to "worry" about things going on in our lives (yes, just WORRYING, instead of "trusting" God is a bad thing). It's a great perspective on how the OTHER side is trying to win the ULTIMATE battle so I highly recommend it.
Why is this so important? When you are seeking God, or after you've allowed Him into your heart (and He subsequently has "great" things planned for you), guess what’ll happen? The devil will NOT be pleased with this revelation of yours. So, guess what he and the rest of his loser minions do? By the way, I use the word “loser” purposely here as the devil, being the proud sprite that he is, can NOT stand to be scorned…so, “scorn him” every chance you get!!! The devil will come after you with EVERYTHING he has in order to turn you away from your path towards salvation. No joke! You’ll be sitting there one day, and it’ll be one thing after another, after another, after another, until finally you’ll be like, “what the HECK?!?” or “really Lord?”. This is virtually GUARANTEED to happen when you are on the “right” path. I’ve been there. In fact, I STILL find myself there at times lol. Even though you accept Jesus, it doesn’t mean the devil gives up on you. Far from it, as if he can turn you back from the light, what a prized “catch” you are down below!
There is good news however. No matter what the evil one throws at you, God ALWAYS has an answer. Each and EVERY day put on the full “Armor of God” (Ephesians 6:10-18) to withstand the schemes of the enemy. The more often the devil comes at you, the more you’ll begin to recognize what’s he's up to, and you can tell him to get lost. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but take a deep breath, step back from that last “straw” that just broke your back, and say, “Lord Jesus, I know you’ve got this, so I’m not going to worry about it any longer” and just release it onto Him. God is BIG enough to handle it from there. God commands us to not worry about anything, but instead pray about everything (Philippians 4:6-7). Therein lies faith folks. God has BIG plans for you so don’t ever let the devil impede that path.
When I Googled “leap of faith” it said: “an act of believing in or attempting something whose existence or outcome cannot be proven.” Fair enough I guess. But, I would say for someone who truly believes in Jeremiah 29:11, “for I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” I would say that the ACT of believing or attempting something can be proven…again, “CAN BE”, proven. How can I say such a thing? Because when you have accepted Jesus into your heart, you are no longer living a life that YOU want. That is what YOU think you should be doing or what YOU think is the right thing to do. When you surrender yourself to Jesus you literally die. Your old life is gone forever, and you are now born again living for God’s glory alone. You are asking God’s direction in every decision you make moving forward.
What does that mean? Well, the “old” you might be in a good/secure job but then have an opportunity for more money and quick advancement BUT has the caveat you will be forced to move. Many people will weigh the pros/cons for a week or so. Think about it all day, toss and turn all night, talk it over with a spouse (maybe even a father or mother), but in the end, they’ll make a decision that they think is best for them and their family. Anything wrong with that? Maybe…maybe not. Where was asking “God’s” opinion on this opportunity? Did we honestly pray for His direction? Or did we just jump at the opportunity because WE thought it was best? Think about it this way. God is omnipresent, meaning He is present EVERYWHERE at the same time, which includes of course the “future”. God wants us to acknowledge that we NEED and WANT Him in our lives. God wants us to acknowledge that we can’t do it all ON OUR OWN and that only through Him have we been given what we have right now. Someone who thinks they can do it all on their own may take that new position, and then when it DOESN’T work out say, “why would God allow this to happen?” or “this isn’t fair because I go to church, and I’m a good person, so why would I be allowed to fail when I took this LEAP OF FAITH?”. Leap of faith huh? Sounds like somebody who made a decision ON THEIR OWN and then was counting on God to bless THEIR decision. Good luck with that.
Herein lies the difference. Someone who has given their life to Christ will consult Him in their decisions from the get to. BIG “and” SMALL. When an opportunity like this comes to someone who is truly walking with the Lord, they will pray fervently to make the decision that God’s wants them to make. PERIOD. They will pray for God’s guidance acknowledging that He already knows THEIR path! In all things, they will pray that God provide encouragements (or discouragements) to help them in discerning God’s will for their decisions. THAT’s how we should be making decision folks. And here’s the best part. If we are consulting God, praying and asking for His guidance, EVEN if we chose incorrectly, He promises to straighten our path. Meaning, if we asked God what to do, HONESTLY watching for His encouragements (or discouragements), and end up choosing incorrectly, He then promises to fix it. Proverbs 3: 5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight.” When you trust in God, and His will for you, your decisions will be a “step forward in faith”. There’s no “leap” involved any longer. You’ve acknowledged that He alone knows your path, that He promises not to harm you and, even if all else fails, He promises to straighten your path should you stray down the wrong road. Sounds like a good deal to me.
At some point in our lives, we'll experience a situation where we just don't understand why something is happening to us (and perhaps MANY times during our lifetimes). Not only do we not understand what's going on, but then we'll turn our eyes to the sky and say, "why God?". For believer and non believer alike, when we encounter something we don't understand, especially a suffering, it's natural for us to cry out. In the movies, people will scream "oh my god!" before falling off a cliff or being jettisoned off of a space ship because someone opened a door. In fact, look at one of the most used texts of all time, "OMG" (or "oh my god" for short). It's at these points in life that God is trying to either "reach" us or "teach" us. If you haven't accepted Jesus into your heart when you experience an "OMG" moment, then God is probably trying to get you to listen to Him. What's He trying to say? In all likelihood God's trying to break down your selfishness that you can do everything on your own, and thus, are refusing to acknowledge that you NEED Him.
I know in my case that was exactly what happened. Sometimes it can occur with one instance, but for others, it can be a long drawn out process. For me personally, it took YEARS, which goes to show you what a stubborn son of a gun I was. The bottom line here is, if you are experiencing an OMG moment, but haven't yet accepted Christ, then God is trying to use this experience to reach you and bring you into His loving embrace. But, what if I have accepted Jesus? Why then is God allowing these things to happen in my life? Doesn't He love me? Didn't He promise not to harm me? "OMG, I just don't understand why this is happening to me!" we'll cry out. Yes, these aren't easy moments for believers either. When these situations occur in our lives, we'll search for our own answers. Maybe I broke my leg because I didn't go to church last Sunday. Maybe I lost a bunch of money because I wasn't tithing. Maybe my family member got sick because, even though I accepted Jesus last year, I haven't been living the life He's called me to lead. God created us as perfect human beings, but when Adam and Eve took a bite of the apple all that changed. Because of that, we'll try and search for "reasons" for why certain things happen to us. The reality is this, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding" (Proverbs 3:5). Yes, God could be trying to "teach" us something by creating or ordaining the situation we are in. Or, it may also be a test of our faith. My recommendation is that when we are in the midst of these circumstances, is to draw yourself ever closer to Him. Spend MORE time in prayer, spend MORE time reading the Bible, spend MORE time in devotion to Him. Use this season to allow God to speak to you via the resources He's provided. I'm not saying the situation will resolve itself to your "earthly" desires, but it could be God wants to see how faithful you really are. Are you "only" faithful to Him in the LIGHT (good times)? Or, will you be "equally" as faithful to him in the DARKNESS (rough times)?
Throughout the Bible, God puts some of His strongest and most faithful children through trials and experiences that they couldn't understand either. But in the end, their FAITH ultimately prevailed and God was well pleased with them. Whether God is trying to "reach" you or to "teach" you, you just need to TRUST in Him. He, and HE ONLY, knows what's best for you. Whatever the experience you find yourself in, just remember this, "Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go." (Joshua 1:9) And to THAT I say, "Amen"!
We live in a time of great divisiveness. Wherever you look you see party against party, race against race, men against women, Christians against non-Christians, etc. Sadly, it seems never ending. It's in times like these we have to focus on what Jesus called us "to" do and what "not" to do each day. We live in a sinful world. We are ALL sinners. God sent the Holy Spirit to us to convict us of our sins (John 16:8). When we realize we are guilty of sin, and deserving of judgement, the Holy Spirit will point us to Christ who is the one and only refuge from sin and judgement. Our heart will be regenerated and our sins will be forgiven. We will no longer stand in front of God alone on judgement day, but will have Jesus Himself interceding on our behalf (Romans 8:34). That's the power of the Holy Spirit. To convince us of our sinful nature and then lead us to Jesus so that we may be saved. Only God can judge us. James 4:12 states, "There is only one Lawgiver and Judge, the one who is able to save and destroy. But you, who are you to judge your neighbor?". So when you accept Jesus into your heart, and receive God's grace for your past sins, you must remember to then not judge others. Who are we to judge as it was ONLY by God's grace that we are now spared judgement. "Do not judge, and you will not be judged. Do not condemn, and you will not be condemned. Forgive, and you will be forgiven." (Luke 37). And when you're tempted to judge a neighbor's lifestyle or their choices, "Let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!" (John 8:7).
As Christians we are commanded not to judge our neighbor. Don't fall into the worldly trap of doing just that. So, what do we do? Simple. Jesus commanded us to love. Just love. "My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you." (John 15:12). And, "Love your neighbor as yourself." (Mark 12:31). How can "we" lead someone to Christ by convicting them of their sins (that's the Holy Spirit's job)? How can "we" lead someone to Christ by judging them for their sins (that's God's job)? But, "we" can lead someone to Christ by loving them. Even if they don't love us back, that's ok, as we have all the love we will EVER need from our Heavenly Father. Love them all just as God loves you.
has life thrown you a curveball or are you looking for some guidance? well then, I've got a book for you!
I'm sure the above looks familiar to all of us. Given that the Guinness World Book of Records lists the Bible as the number one best selling book of all time (coming in at over 5 billion copies), we at some point have come across one. Whether it was in Sunday school, church, our home or even in every hotel room in the US for decades, we've all encountered a copy of the Good Book during our lifetime. But, how familiar are you really with it? Have you even read it? Given it's complexity, language and even "thickness", it can be quite an intimidating piece of literature. Here's the good part. Because its beginning origins can be traced back two to even three thousand years ago, there have been many who have come before us to translate it, provide some context, and have even dug deep into some of the most minute details, so we don't have to start from square one. There are even some excellent resources available online. The guys at the Bible Project for one, have created a "step by step" process to tackle each chapter of the Bible (starting with the Old and then taking you all the way through the New Testament). First, they share a short comic strip like video about what the chapter is about, and then have you read the actual passage (this is available on YouTube and also via the Read Scripture app for your phone). This can be a good starting point if you are having a hard time figuring out how to get started.
I mentioned above that the "good part" about the Bible being around for so long was that many have come before us, have been able to summarize some of the larger themes and then give us their thoughts on the meaning of certain passages. Even though that may be CONVENIENT for us, at the end of the day those are "their" thoughts and not "ours". At some point in your life, you will want to take the plunge and read the Bible from cover to cover YOURSELF. Why? Because this is what God intended each of us to do. To read His word, interpret it for ourselves, and then allow Him to SPEAK to us through these words. I can't tell you how many times when I'm struggling with a problem, or in a state of worry, that I've just randomly flipped open the Bible and started reading. Well, lo and behold, there always seems to be something on those very pages that ends up resonating to my current situation. Don't get me wrong, there are tremendous third party authors available nowadays who've written some very Spirit filled books about our journeys in faith (in fact I've posted some of my favorites in the Book Room) but sooner or later you will want to read what the greatest author of ALL TIME has to say. He's written the "Greatest Story Ever Told". Do you know how that story ends? If you don't, then you better get started TODAY!
One of the most difficult challenges we face is having "patience" when we feel life isn't going our way or we've been praying but haven't received an answer yet. In Acts 1:7 Jesus tells his disciples, "It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by His own authority." If we knew when certain events would happen in our lives, why would we need faith? By not knowing the timing of God's plans, we have to trust in Him even more so. Not only do we have to trust His plan for us (Jeremiah 29:11) but ALSO when those plans will play out. Of course, that can be easier said than done. Sometimes we'll get impatient and try to force open certain doors that God has been keeping closed for our own good.
Don't rush God's plan for you. He already knows where you're going because He's ALREADY there! Whether you've ever prayed for His direction or not, "do it". Then wait patiently and watch for God's encouragements to guide you from there (conversations out of the blue, people that come into your life, things you read or hear, etc). When you trust God's path and timing for you, you'll discover there are no longer coincidences, only "God"incidences (God's nudgings to keep you on the correct path). Here's the best part. If you believe God has a path for you in your heart "AND" continually pray for His direction, even if you go the wrong way, God promises to straighten your path. Sounds like a pretty good deal to me.
Merriam Webster dictionary defines temporary as "lasting for a limited time". It's hard to view our money, house, car and career as something that is temporary, as we need these things to live a comfortable life. The reality is, one day, we won't need them any longer so that makes them temporary. Sure, it would be nice to have lots of money, a big 'ole house, a shining new car and a career where we feel loved and appreciated. Piece by piece all that will fade away until the final day when all these things will be of zero use to us. As the old joke goes, "you never see a hearse pulling a Uhaul trailer". In the end, will you look back and realize you only focussed on what made you TEMPORARILY comfortable? Did you forget, or say you had no time for, that one thing that ISN'T temporary? That ONE thing of course is a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.
We sometimes forget that all these comforts we need and accumulate aren't by "our" doing, but are simply borrowed to us through God's grace and mercy. Have you thanked Him for all He's provided you today? How about thanking Him for that last breath you just took? Did He owe you that? Nope. You want to talk about something "temporary", there is nothing more so than your very life, as it could be gone with your NEXT breath. So don't wait. Make room for God each and every day. Allow Him to work in your heart and in your mind. That way, when your final day arrives, you can stand in front of God and give back all that you have borrowed from Him. Exchanging, not only what was temporary, but also handing back your heart where Jesus now dwells, guaranteeing you a new and "permanent" life with our heavenly Father for all eternity.
In life we will encounter storms. Whether it's our health, money, kids, marriage or the loss of a loved one, there may be times we finally cry out "Save me Lord!" as we can't take it any longer. Have faith in the midst of these troubles. Even though you may think God is sleeping, and not paying attention to your hardship, He's not. God's well aware of what's going on and may be testing you to see how you will react. Will you trust Him? Or, will you lose faith and cry out like the disciples. He'll save you as Jesus did here, if you believe in Him, but oh what a far better testimony to your heavenly Father to just stand firm in your faith, not doubt, and allow the storm to pass by.
Unfortunately many of us go down the wide road of worldly priorities. Whether it's our job, money, addiction, or even our very family, we end up putting all these things ahead of our relationship with God. What Jesus is saying here is to get your priorities straight, as the only way to heaven is through Him and Him alone. The gate to heaven does not accept the currency of good deeds or the attributes of being a good person. Yes, these are qualities we should exhibit when accepting Jesus into our lives, but the only method of payment that will guarantee entry is your heart where Jesus now dwells.
On this day we are to express our love for our spouse or boyfriend/girlfriend through cards, candy and dinner. Yes, it's nice to have a special day to share our love for our partner. But let's take a moment to acknowledge the ultimate Valentine and act of love. God so loved YOU that He allowed His son to suffer and die on the cross. "That" my friends is love! "That" my friends is sacrifice! "That" my friends is saying NO ONE will ever love you more than Me. So on this Valentine's day, cherish your loved ones but remember who desires to be your Valentine more than anybody. Give you heart to Jesus as He gave up His heart for you.
There are two forces competing for your soul. The devil will not like you spending time in this room, as it's a tool for you to move closer to God. In defense of the devil's schemes, clothe yourself in God's armor for protection and perserverance each day. The devil will always over overplay his hand. When you sense you are under attack, recognize it, and then laugh at his attempts to stray you from God's path. The devil, being a proud sprite, will flee as he cannot stand to be mocked or made fun of.
In this world we will experience suffering. Will it draw you away from god or closer to him? I pray closer.