Aug 29, 2012
Early in Handel’s Messiah come these enigmatic words: “Ev’ry valley shall be exalted, and ev’ry mountain and hill made low; the crooked straight and the rough places plain.”
What do these words from Isaiah 40:4 actually mean? They refer to a constant theme of the Bible: those who humble themselves will be exalted. But those who exalt themselves will be humbled. The book of James puts it this way, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
Pastor D. James Kennedy once quipped, “I hope you all heard my last sermon on humility. It was a masterpiece.”
As we’re about to enter a new year, and as we consider turning over a new leaf, one thing to consider is approaching life and relationships with greater humility.
Because humility is so hard to obtain, it has some nasty, false imitations. People who are constantly putting themselves down, might think they are humble or might try to convince others that they are humble. But in reality, they may be just fishing for compliments.
Charles Dickens has a character in David Copperfield who constantly belittles himself. At first glance, Uriah Heep seems humble, but in his constant show of self-condemnation, he was actually hiding great pride. He turns out to be a scoundrel.
Playing the martyr is another form of false humility. What makes all false humility false is that it is still focused on self. Sometimes false humility is nothing but pride in disguise.
Recently I got to talk with Pat Williams on my radio show. He is the author of more than 100 books. He’s a professional sports executive (Orlando Magic), and a popular motivational speaker, as well as a dedicated Christian.
His most recent book, co-written by Jim Denney, is called, Humility: The Secret Ingredient of Success.”
After Pat told me this book was number 103 for him, I asked him how he managed to stay humble, writing so many published volumes. He answered with a laugh, “Well, until they start selling hundreds of thousands of copies, Jerry, it’s very easy to stay humble.”
I asked him what caused him to write this book? He said, “Throughout my career, I have just been so impressed with the number of humble people—and highly successful—that I have encountered or spent time with or interviewed or worked for or worked with over the years. It’s just left a deep imprint on me.”
He added, “These are legendary people in many respects, yet you’d never know it. And they have a sweet humble spirit. That has touched me deeply. So I thought it would be important to write about some of these people and more importantly, to get the point across that humility can be learned. It can be taught. We need to teach it to our children and our young athletes and our students, and I’m convinced we can do that. So I’m not minimizing the importance of success and living to your full potential; I’m all for that. But I think we can do it also with great humility.”
In the book, Williams mentions how Katherine Graham, publisher of the Washington Post, had the opportunity to meet many of the world’s great leaders. When asked, “What is the single most important trait of all great leaders?” She instantly replied, “The absence of arrogance.”
Another Christmas has just passed. The ultimate example of humility can be seen in that of Jesus Christ. We Christians believe that in becoming a man, He who is eternal and infinite at one point in history became limited by time and finite.
The Apostle Paul writes, “Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself and became obedient to death—even death on the cross!” In those days, crucifixion was reserved only for slaves, about half of the Roman people.
He concludes, “Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”
If you want to be great, then humble yourself, especially before God. Classic Bible commentator Matthew Henry made a fascinating remark when discussing Jesus’ statement in the Sermon on the Mount that “blessed are the poor in spirit.” He said that being “poor in spirit,” i.e., humble, is “the foundation for all Christian graces. . . . Those who would build high must begin low.”
Have you ever attempted to walk in a straight line while looking at your feet? Try this on the beach sometime so you can look back at your footprints. You’ll probably be surprised at how crooked the path is. But fix your eyes upon something far away, and each step will point in the desired direction—toward that distant focal point.
Our lives are like this. If we set goals, then our decisions and thoughts will lead toward the desired end. On the other hand, if we bumble along without specific aims, we will wander and waste much precious time and energy.
Goals are crucial to the well-lived life. Why, then, do so many people fail to formulate purposeful aims? Some simply do not see the importance of a plan, while others are too lazy to devise one or don’t know how to go about it. Then there are those who lack faith in God’s ability to help them achieve their aspirations.
Think about the many goals Jesus had—they drove all that He did. His daily aims involved such things as serving others and teaching those who sought righteousness. But more than that, our Savior centered everything on a primary purpose set even before time began: to lay down His life on the cross in order to save mankind from sin and glorify the Father.
We were created to glorify the Lord and be fruitful in His service. Imagine the impact our lives could have if we asked God to guide our goals. Pray, “What do You want to change about my life? What do You want to accomplish through me?” Let Him determine on what and on whom you focus.
“Sing unto him a new song; play skilfully with a loud noise.” (Psalm 33:3)
This is the first of nine references in the Bible to a “new song.” Appropriately, the song of Psalm 33 deals with the primeval event of creation, and it is the first psalm that does so (note also Psalm 104, etc.).
The new song is to be sung with instrumental accompaniment. However, the Hebrew word translated “loud noise” is so translated nowhere else; it is translated many different ways, but perhaps the familiar rendering “joyful sound” (Psalm 89:15) is the most appropriate here. In any case, this new song is of great importance and so should be performed well and joyfully, for it deals with the grandest of themes.
First of all is the great assertion that “the word of the LORD” is always right and the “works” of the Lord are always of truth (33:4). His righteousness and goodness are evident everywhere to those with eyes to see and hearts to believe (v. 5).
Then there is the vital revelation that God’s creation of all things was simply by His mighty word, “the breath of his mouth,” accomplished instantly, and not dragged out over long ages of evolutionary trial and error. “He spake, and it was done” (vv. 6, 9).
Furthermore, it is a comfort to know that God does not change, though new years come and go. “The counsel of the LORD standeth for ever” (v. 11). “Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD” (v. 12).
There are many other great themes in this new song, and it would indeed be well to read and rehearse them all as the new year begins, committing ourselves once again to the faithful teaching of His inerrant Word, His magnificent creation, and His great salvation. HMM
The mere reading of the holy Scriptures will be of no avail to us, unless the Holy Spirit sanctify the truth to our souls. Let us pray that (in commencing this years Family Reading) he who commanded light to shine out of darkness may shine into our hearts and give us to know the inner meaning of his word. We shall begin at the opening page of revelation.
Thus dark are we by nature, thus disordered are all our powers through sin. We are nothing but confusion and emptiness. The Spirit of God is the first efficient mover in the new creation. He visits the dead and dark heart, and begins the work of salvation within
Thus powerful is the word of the gospel when heard in the soul. May its enlightening power be felt by us all.)
Wherever God puts his grace he looks upon it with pleasure
Grace also makes a separation, for what fellowship has light with darkness?
Thus the first day of the week, the day of our Lord’s resurrection is a day of light. May. it ever be so to us.
It is interesting to notice how the New Testament, as written by John, opens in the same manner as the Old Testament, with “In the beginning.” Let us add to our reading the first fourteen verses of John’s Gospel. Jesus, the Lord our Saviour, is called “the Word,” or the uttered mind of God.
Jesus was in existence when all created things began; he was with God in nature, in love, and in cooperation, and he is himself essentially God.
If we live unto God, and have any spiritual light, it comes to us by Jesus Christ.
No one can get light from any other source, and all who desire light may have it from him.
The Jews, who were his own kinsmen, rejected him; and, alas! too many of the children of
godly parents refuse the Saviour. May it not be so in this house.
This is the essence of the gospel, Christ is the giver, we are only receivers. Faith like a hand receives Christ, and with him the privilege of adoption.
The Lord grant unto us to receive of his grace and to know his truth. Amen.
Ere the blue heavens were stretch’d abroad,
From everlasting was the Word:
With God he was; the Word was God,
And must divinely be adored.
But lo! he leaves those heavenly forms,
The Word descends and dwells in clay,
That he may hold converse with worms,
Dress’d in such feeble flesh as they.
Mortals with joy beheld his face,
Th’ eternal Father’s only Son:
How full of truth! how full of grace!
When through his eyes the Godhead shone!
Have you ever had one of those days when there was so much confusion whirling around your head that you felt like screaming, “STOP”?
From time to time, everyone has that kind of a day And when you do, your temptation is probably either to get in the flesh and react to someone in an ugly way or to get depressed, go to bed, and forget about it all. However, you know that neither choice will help you solve the problems you are facing.
Rather than throw in the towel and give way to these emotions that want to get the best of you, why not stop right now and make a decision to let the Word of God rule you today? When I say “rule” you, I’m talking about God’s supernatural peace dominating and governing every emotion and situation that confronts you. If you don’t make this decision and follow through with it, worry, fear, insecurity, doubt, and a whole host of other emotions will assuredly try to take control. And there is no worse roller-coaster ride than when you are being knocked all over the place by emotions that are out of control!
Instead, let the peace of God rule in your heart, as Paul wrote in Colossians 3:15. He said, “And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.” I especially want you to notice the word “rule” in this verse. It is from the Greek word brabeuo, which in ancient times was used to describe the umpire or referee who moderated and judged the athletic competitions that were so popular in the ancient world.
Paul uses this word to tell us that the peace of God can work like an umpire or referee in our hearts, minds, and emotions. When detrimental emotions attempt to exert control over us or try to throw us into an emotional frenzy, we can stop it from happening by making the choice to let God’s peace rise up from deep inside us like an umpire or referee to moderate our emotions. As we do, we will be kept under the control of that divine peace as it rules in our hearts. When this divine umpire called “peace” steps into the game, it suddenly begins to call the shots and make all the decisions instead of fretfulness, anxiety, and worry.
Colossians 3:15 could be translated:
“Let the peace of God call the shots in your life….”
“Let the peace of God be the umpire in your life and actions….”
“Let the peace of God act as referee in your emotions and your decisions….”
Even though it’s true that everyone has hard days and difficult weeks, you don’t have to surrender to those emotions that try to steal your joy, disturb your relationships, and rob you of your victory. When you feel overwhelmed by problems or emotions that are hitting you from every direction, just stop a moment and deliberately set your heart and mind on Jesus and the Word of God. As you do this, the wonderful, conquering dominating supernatural peace of God will rise up from your spirit and take control!
MY PRAYER FOR TODAY
Lord, I don’t want to let my emotions get the best of me today, so I ask that Your peace would rise up like a mighty umpire and referee in my heart, mind, and emotions. Help me recognize those moments when unhelpful emotions try to sneak up on me. I ask You to teach me how to put those emotions aside and release Your supernatural peace that is resident in my heart—the peace that is always ready at every moment to moderate every thought and emotion that tries to pass into my life! I pray this in Jesus’ name!
MY CONFESSION FOR TODAY
I confess that God’s supernatural peace dominates me. When I am tempted to get upset and my emotions try to take control of me, I put these emotions aside and allow the Spirit of God to release a supernatural, dominating moderating peace to rule my heart, mind, and emotions! I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!
QUESTIONS FOR YOU TO CONSIDER
1. Do you recognize moments when your emotions try to throw you into an emotional tizzy
and steal your peace and joy?
2. Have you asked God to help you overcome these moments?
3. What steps can you take to quiet yourself so you can focus on God’s Word and allow the peace of God to rise up and referee what is going on inside your heart, mind, and emotions?
You need to know how God feels about you:
You are “majestic” in His eyes (Literally: excellent, glorious, mighty, worthy)
You are the source of all His delight (Psalm 16:3)
Zephaniah 3:17 puts it this way:
The Lord is with you
He takes great delight in you
He will quiet you with His love
He rejoices over you with singing
Of you He says, “I have loved you with an everlasting love.” (Jeremiah 31:3) He has always loved you! Even before you were conceived!
Yes, I know you are a sinner. That is not new information. But in His eyes your problem with sin has nothing to do with your intrinsic worth. If your daughter contracts cancer, her worth is not diminished in your eyes, is it?
As the kid said, “God didn’t make any junk.” The truth is that “you are fearfully and wonderfully made… skillfully wrought”: God’s marvelous creation! (Psalm 139:14, 15) In fact, “while we were sinners” — scuzzball rebels — Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) Before we cleaned up our act, He crawled up on that cross for us. Is there a more forceful demonstration of unconditional love?… Of your worth to Him?
So, this week as you enter the shark infested waters of the marketplace, keep in mind the fact that you are A CHILD OF THE KING. A PERSON OF INFINITE, ETERNAL WORTH.