3 And He will delight in the fear of the Lord and He will not judge what His eyes see, nor make a decision by what His eyes hear; 4 But with righteousness He will judge the poor, and decide with fairness for the afflicted of the earth. (Isaiah 11:3-4a)
Think back to a time where you were misunderstood by someone you cared about. If you can't think of one, maybe a time comes to mind where you were the judgmental one. How did the situation turn out?
Taken to the extreme, a misunderstanding between two people can end a relationship of any kind if both parties can't put all of the facts on the table and sort through them objectively to find the truth.
Its no wonder Jesus warns us to be careful of passing judgment on someone else's character or motives for doing the things they do. We seldom take the time in discussion to get all of the facts...and we get the judgment wrong.
Things with other people are not always as they appear. The whole truth is seldom out in the open.
With others, we are challenged by our impatience and blinded by our own perception of reality. Without due diligence, we interpret another's actions based upon our view of how the world works and then label what we see. Then...we assume we are right and dig our heels in for the fight.
Things don't have to be this way.
God doesn't want things to be this way, especially for those within the church. He says through His prophet Isaiah that the Judge Jesus will one day return to earth with perfect compassion, patience and discernment. In perfect righteousness and perception, Jesus will judge, seeing through the external sights and sounds, into the hearts of men. He will judge in perfect righteousness because He is able to see the whole truth.
Finally, all things will be as they should be, with no more tears or suffering caused by wrongful judgments.
Let's seek God together so we can see things as they really are. The people in our lives do not need Judge Janna or Judge ________<your name>. They need our love and our understanding. What will you do today to see things as they really are?
Do you have an experience to share? If so, leave a comment below.
Receiving Love Obstacle #1-Pride
Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God. - 2 Corinthians 7:1 NASB
Too often we let ourselves get in the way of what God wants for our lives. In my last post, I mentioned that there were four things that cause relationships to break down: too much pride, too many priorities, too little patience and too limited a perspective. Actually, these are tactics to avoid in any aspect of our lives!
Today we will talk about pride. Pride is the root of all evil in the world. Pride hinders holiness because it creeps into the fabric of our lives, sometimes without our knowing. It shows up in our priorities, causes impatience and keeps us from seeing the big picture. Unfortunately, pride isn't always self-recognizable. It is often unearthed only after someone (or the Bible) confronts us with the error of our ways.
Essentially, pride is selfish and wants to be right at all costs. If we are prideful we will look for ways to prove we are right, rather than try to understand someone else's point of view. Admittedly, I am guilty of this at times. I will research a point until I've found the answer that proves what I've already decided was true...and then stop looking. After all, why would I want to dig up evidence that I could be wrong? I quit while I'm "ahead". But am I really ahead and am I really right?
We don't get "ahead" or gain just by being right. A lot of times we lose. Conflict erupts that might have been avoided. Fellowship breaks down and we miss out on the love God intends for us. God wants us to experience His love on earth and in eternity. We can have all of that if we seek Him and His wisdom with an open rather than a closed mind. How is your state of mind today? What would God say about you?
Thinking Like Children
"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it." - Luke 18:17
If you can, think back to a time in your life before innocence was lost. Before behavior patterns became cemented into your lifestyle. Before you knew it all. Before you were ever hurt or betrayed by someone. Before you became judgmental. When it was easy to forgive. Times were easier then, weren't they?
Innocence is underrated. From a learning perspective, innocence brings ease into learning. With innocence, old ways of thinking don't have to be unlearned and skeptical thoughts don't have to be wrestled asiide. From a teaching perspective, there is nothing like teaching a pupil who is eager to learn, has no presuppositions the subject matter and is willing to accept instruction for what it is and nothing more. Children are that way. It is no wonder Jesus loved them so.
Jesus used the children as examples for us. He knew how difficult we make things for ourselves sometimes by thinking too much or rationalizing ways to live our own way and still be right with God. He knew how much we need to be right and would resist being told to change our ways. He also knew that with our own adult thinking we would fail.
How do you receive God's instruction for your life? With adult resistance or childlike acceptance? Oh, if only we could accept His teachings as llittle children. Maybe we can with a little work on our part to put our pride aside. If we ask God to receive His wisdom as eager to learn children, He will grant our request. Only then can we enter the fullness of all God intends for us. Maybe it won't be as hard as we think. After all, as Christians we are children of God.
Janna Rust is a Professional Coach and Speaker dedicated to encouraging others towards lives God intends for them. For more information, visit her at www.purposefulpartnerships.com.
Pride goes before destruction, a haughty spirit before a fall. - Proverbs 16:18 NIV
What a fitting verse to think on as I relish in the rare happening that my Missouri Tiger football team is ranked #1 in the country. This hasn't happened since 1960, and when I was in college the football program was awful, so won't you please let me be a little bit excited?
But in the midst of all the excitement and hype, it does bring up a few questions when we consider Proverbs 16:18:
1) What exactly is a haughty, prideful spirit?
2) At what point does happiness over accomplishments cross the line into pride territory?
3) How long does it take before the inevitable pride-induced fall occur?
These are good questions to ask ourselves, aren't they? We don't have to wait for an athletic event to stir up our natural prideful tendencies. We can manage just fine being prideful in the daily routine of our lives. Pride is definitely destructive. Don't fall for it.
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. - Romans 12:3 NIV
The monster reared its ugly head in the local Bible college library last Thursday afternoon. It wasn't the first time I'd seen its face, but it was the most prominent sighting of late and the most attention grabbing. And wouldn't you know, the monster was also witnessed by a friend of mine. Go figure. This monster was pride ... mine. But people should be quiet in libraries, right? Especially the librarians of such libraries. Therefore you would think that meetings - with people talking - should not be held in the middle of library quiet areas ...especially if I was present, working on what I thought was a noble cause. I hope you can grasp the scene. Because of my entitlement to the perfect environment and the fact that I wasn't receiving the peace and quiet that I deserved, I made a comment to my friend, packed up my stuff in a huff and left ... madder than a hornet.
To make a long story short, this incident, along with some kind words (in that they were the painful truth) from a friend, caused me to dig deep inside and realize that my reaction stemmed from pride. Ouch. As I looked back on the past several months of my life, I realized that this wasn't just a one time thing. All of the little irritations I feel on a daily basis also stemmed from pride. Why pride? Because most of my frustrations in life result from interruptions of my time and my agenda. I'll say it again...pride...because after all, my time is too valuable to be interrupted by a barking dog, a slow person in traffic, etc. God revealed to me again the painful truth that no matter how many things I do for Him, if I'm not being who He wants me to be, I cannot please Him for Romans 8:8 says
Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God. (NIV)
And for good measure, scripture further describes some acts of the sinful nature (my emphasis added):
The acts of the sinful nature are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery; idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions factions and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. I warn you, as I did before, that those who live like this will not inherit the kingdom of God. (Galatians 4:19-21)
Another ouch. I want to please God. I want to hear the words "Well done, good and faithful servant" from God someday as they pertain to me. But I cannot please God if am walking around with the sin of a prideful spirit, no matter how subtle it is. Now, I've got to take action with some scripture memory (Ro 8:8 will be my choice) and a lot of prayer of Psalm 139:23-24. I've got some work to do.
Be your judge:
1) What subtle sin would a sober judgment of your spirit reveal?
2) When was the last time you asked God to reveal sin in your life to you so that you could change it?
Dear Father, I thank you that you take the time to chastise your children, even me, for those things that you do not approve of. Forgive me for my pride. Continue to mold me into the woman you want me to be, even if it hurts sometimes. Reveal to me the areas you wish me to change. I know that you want what is best of me and for me. Amen.
Do you ever think that God needs your help? Let me put this another way. How much of a planner are you? Are you constantly active, trying to make things happen on your time or do you make your best effort at a "plan" and then sit back and wait for God to take care of the rest (timing, resources, etc.). How much do you pray?
I think to some extent at various times in our lives we are all guilty of trying to help God work His plans for our lives. Unfortunately when we get impatient or prideful and try to "help", we often do so at the peril of God's best wishes for us. In 2 Chronicles 25, King Amaziah was no different. He wanted to "help" and was cautioned otherwise. Fortunately for him, he listened...this time.
Once Amaziah was well established as king, he decided it was time to go fight the Edomites. He was able to organize a massive army of 300,000 men from Judah and Benjamin. However, he still saw the need to hire an additional 100,000 men from Israel. This is where Amaziah thought he would "help" God. This is when God spoke to Amaziah through a prophet. Let's take a look.
"But a man of God came to him and said, "Oh king, these troops from Israel must not march with you, for the Lord is not with Israel - not with any of the people of Ephraim. Even if you go and fight courageously in battle, God will overthrow you before the enemy, for God has the power to help or to overthrow." (2 Chr 25:8-9 NIV)
APPLICATION #1: We need to choose our alliances carefully. Remember that God isn't "with" everyone.
APPLICATION #2: God can open or close the door to any plans we have for our lives.
At this point in our chapter, Amaziah heeded the advice of the man of God, but only after he questioned God's plan.
Amaziah asked the man of God, "But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?" The man of God replied, "The Lord can give you much more than that." (2 Chr 25:9)
Alrighty then. I get the point. And so did Amaziah. He let the troops go, went to battle and won, God's way. This leads us to my final application.
APPLICATION #3: God doesn't need our help. Think about it. Why would God in all of His infinite majesty need us? If we would stop meddling in God's business He will show us His glory and give us much more than we ever dreamed possible.
So in closing, for you personally today...
- What are you trying to "help" God to do?
- In what area of your life are you trying to fix/achieve on your own, rather than waiting for God to come and take over?
Remember, that God doesn't need our resources. He can do much better than us.
From Good to Bad
What is it about success that is so hard for we humans to handle appropriately? Once again through the trek of my daily reading, the bible is proved to be timeless as God's word points out the pitfalls of pride. Rehoboam, one of the successors to Solomon (remember, the kingdom had just divided at this juncture) hadn't been king of Judah for very long when good things started to happen for him. The kingdom was growing, Rehoboam was listening to God and sacrifices were being made. And then what happened? Once Rehoboam started realizing he was the king, he decided he didn't need to listen to THE King.
And it came to pass, when Rehoboam had established the kingdom, and had strengthened himself, he forsook the law of the LORD, and all Israel with him. - 2 Chronicles 12:1
Confidence is a funny thing. We need to have it, but we shouldn't desire too much of it. Too little, and we'll never do a thing. Too much, and God just might not do His "thing". If we get too cocky, God just might teach us a little lesson. Take a further look at the plight of Rehoboam. In just the fifth year of his reign, God allowed the Egyptians and their friends to come against Jerusalem, because of their sin. Fortunately, there remained a fragment of humility within Jerusalem that softened God's heart and caused Him to show once again His mercy to His wayward people.
And when the LORD saw that they humbled themselves, the word of the LORD came to Shemaiah, saying, They have humbled themselves; therefore I will not destroy them, but I will grant them some deliverance; (2 Chronicles 12:7a)
Friends, we need to constantly be examining the states of our heart. I believe that all of us at some time or other become too self-reliant, especially those of us in leadership positions. Self-reliance leads to pride. And we know what pride leads to - resistance from God.
...God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. (James 4:6)
Every one that is proud in heart is an abomination to the LORD: though hand join in hand, he shall not be unpunished. (Proverbs 16:5)
Rather than placing our confidence in God, we plan and plan without waiting for God to take the reigns of our jobs, ministries and homes. Do we really want to rely on our own strength when we have the power and wisdom of the Creator of the Universe at our disposal? The solution seems simple, doesn't it? Who wouldn't want to have God on their side? But in reality it takes effort to place our confidence in God and wait on Him rather than to take care of things ourselves, doesn't it? Our culture makes it hard. We have so many abilities. We have so many resources. And we can do things so fast. Like Rehoboam, we too can go from good to bad in God's eyes if we aren't careful. All it takes is a little prosperity to lessen our perceived need for God.
1) How prosperous or "strong" am I? Am I in a dangerous place of being over-confident?
2) Do I realize how much I need God?
3) What am I doing on a daily basis to ensure that I realize my proper place in this world in relation to God's marvelous majesty?
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent.
Shut Your Mouth or the Earth Might Open Its Mouth For You
and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, with their households and all the men with Korah, with all their goods. (Numbers 16:32)
There are a lot of morals to the story I read last night in the book of Numbers 16. To set the stage, once again poor Moses, our faithful leader, is being challenged by a group of people wishing things were different with their lives. This time, Korah the son of Izhar, Dathan and Abiram the sons of Eliab, and On the son of Peleth, along with 250 renowned leaders of the congregation and some of the children of Israel, decided that Moses and Aaron shouldn't be the only individuals exalted by God. (Nu 16:1-3).
Can you imagine the sight of this? Poor Moses once again knew what to do. He fell on his face before God in prayer. (Nu 16:4). These people challenging after all, were already special in the sight of God, but they wanted more. They wanted to be priests. How many of us are never satisfied with the place God has us in our lives? Moses charged them that they had come against the Lord, not him, in their rebellion (16:11). Then, another argument ensued. Poor Moses, I say, but woe on the individuals who argue with Moses. Moses prayed for judgment, God delivered with a bang. The earth opened up its mouth and swallowed up the tents and the families of Korah, Dathan, and Abiram and if that wasn't enough, fire came down from heaven and consumed the other 250 leaders.
Hmm...I think there are several morals to this story that can even be applied to our lives today:
1) Submit to those in authority over you as you submit to God. In our jobs, in our ministries and in our homes, we have most likely been placed under the "rule" of someone else. After all, God tells us to and they are the ones accountable to God for our souls. (He 13:17)
2) Let God place you in leadership in His time, not yours. God knows what He is doing after all. He knows when we are ready to handle more responsibility and He knows when we have more to learn. Just because someone else has the authority we want, do we really want to be somewhere that God has not yet willed for us? (1 Peter 5:6) Let's not get swallowed up!
There is so much to write about in this little book of Jonah that I'm having a hard time picking out the one thing to apply. The story of Jonah is definitely one of my favorite old testament stories - probably because I remember it :) - because it is comical to me how a prophet of God can be so ungodly. Now, I'm not a prophet, but I can definitely relate to Jonah!
I have a love/hate relationship with Jonah. I love him because I can relate but I "hate" him because he is so foolish. In chapter 4, we see Jonah hopping mad because God let the city of Nineveh off the hook for their previous bad behavior. The word "angry" is used 4 times in 11 verses to describe Jonah's state of mind. First, he was mad about God's mercy (v 4:1). Then, he was mad because the plant providing him shade died (v 4:11).
God provided Jonah the plant, and also provided the worm that ate the plant. When the plant died (i.e. when Jonah didn't receive mercy any more from God from the heat), it was the final straw for Jonah. Let's listen in to what happened after the plant died in Jonah 4:8-10(NKJV).
And it happened, when the sun arose, that God prepared a vehement east wind; and the sun beat on Jonah's head, so that he grew faint. Then he wished death for himself, and said, "It is better for me to die than to live."
Then God said to Jonah, "Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?"
And he said, "It is right for me to be angry, even to death!"
But the LORD said, "You have had pity on the plant for which you have not labored, nor made it grow, which came up in a night and perished in a night. And should I not pity Nineveh, that great city, in which are more than one hundred and twenty thousand persons who cannot discern between their right hand and their left - and much livestock?
God sure told Jonah what he thought about his ungrateful, judging behavior. I only wish I knew what eventually happened to Jonah. I wonder what was behind his stubborn, angry, judgemental attitudes. He didn't listen to God and somehow I don't think he understood the meaning of "be ye angry, and sin not" from Ephesians 4:26. Rather, I believe he was too caught up in himself to hear anything God was saying.
To think about: What preconceived ideas am I hanging on to that I won't let God change because I'm too stubborn?
I Samuel 15:23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry.
From Pride to Insanity-Part 2
And now, the rest of the story.... Daniel 4 (continued)...
Twelve months have gone by since the dream and Daniel's advice to Nebuchadnezzar to change his ways (4:29). At the end of the year, Neb was walking about the palace in Babylon speaking about how great he was when...
While the word was still in the king's mouth, a voice fell from heaven: "King Nebuchadnezzar, to you it is spoken: the kindgom has departed from you! And they shall drive you from men, and your dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field. They shall make you eat grass like oxen; and seven times shall pass oer you until you know that the Most High rules in the kingdom of men, and gives it to whomever He chooses." (Daniel 4:31-32 NKJV)
I wonder what was going through Nebuchadnezzar's mind when he heard the voice from heaven declaring to be true what Daniel prophesied twelve months before? Fear? Regret? Humiliation? That very hour, the word of prophesy was fulfilled and he was eating grass in the field.
Nebuchadnezzar got a real dose of humility in the form of living out his nightmare of a dream. He could have been in his insane state for seven years! (see v 25 - seven times. In other instances, scholars have equated "times" with years). He had to stay there until he recognized that God was the one in control and not himself. Neb was restored both physically and mentally (kingdom and mind) immediately after He praised God and realized his place in the world:
Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, 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. (v37 NKJV)
And those who walk in pride He is able to put down. That phrase was definitely worth repeating. God is SO in control. Not only is He in control and able to work all things for good tobethose who love Him, but He is also willing to take us down a notch for our own good when we think we have "arrived". The good thing though, is that once we regain our senses, we will be restored. Praise God for His mercy! :)