Browsing the archives for the pride tag.


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Acts 11-12: The Voice of a Man and Not a God

Acts, Christian Living, Glorifying God, humility, worship

Today’s reading is Acts 11:1-12:25.

“And the people were shouting, ‘The voice of a god, and not of a man!’ Immediately an angel of the Lord struck him down, because he did not give God the glory, and he was eaten by worms and breathed his last” (Acts 12:22-23).

Yikes! What a warning. Don’t misunderstand. I’m pretty sure if I were preaching and someone started shouting these words, I would know well enough to correct them. But in my day-to-day life, I can easily violate this same principle.

Most of my worrying comes from the egomaniacal thought that somehow I’m in control and I can fix everything. I see things going on with other people and think that I’m the one who get fix them and get them straight. I can sometimes think that I’m the one necessary to make the church grow. Do you see what all of this has in common? Far too often, I have the subconscious idea that I can do God’s job. Edwin Almighty!

Today is a day in which I need to be still and know that He is God…and I am not. He is the one that is allowing me to breathe today. He is the one by whom I’m moving today. He is the one that has granted me relationships today. He is the one providing me victories today. He is the one carrying me through my failures today. I must give God the glory because my voice is that of a man and not a god.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

PS. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Matthew 23-24: The Highest Rank in Christianity is Servant

Christian Living, humility, Matthew

Today’s reading is Matthew 23:1-24:51.

Just right out of the starting gate, today’s reading smacked me with an open can of humility.

Speaking of the Pharisees, Jesus said, “They do all their deeds to be seen by others. For they make their phylacteries broad and their fringes long, and they love the place of honor at feasts and the best seats in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces and being called rabbi by others. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all brothers. And call no man your father on earth, for you have one Father, who is in heaven. Neither be called instructors, for you have one instructor, the Christ. The greatest among you shall be your servant” (Matthew 23:5-11).

Certainly, we go to other passages to learn that there are roles within Christ’s body. Ephesians 4:11 says God gave some to be apostles, prophets, evangelists, shepherds and teachers. There is nothing wrong with calling someone who is a teacher a teacher or who is an evangelist an evangelist. Jesus’ point was not so much about titles as it was about attitudes. 

Sadly, those of us who are evangelists, teachers, pastors or some other role can very easily jump into arrogance. We can look forward to someone introducing us, “Oh, you just have to meet my preacher.” “This is so and so, he’s one of the shepherds in our congregation.” “This is sister such and such, she’s one of our top Bible class teachers.” 

Sure, we have roles to fill within the congregation. We all have roles. But not one role is above another. There is no role that makes us higher or more important than anyone. The highest rank in Christianity is servant. 

The question for me today is not how great of a preacher I am. Rather, it is how can I serve someone today?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

P.P.S. Just a reminder: I’m sorry about being sporadic. However, my family and I are in countdown mode. In 6 weeks, we will be moving to Brownsburg, Indiana. Right now I’m covered up with working on our house and trying to get everything in order to move. That is significantly impacting my writing and internet time. Please be patient with me and keep praying for us.

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II Corinthians 6-7: Being Proud of Churches Like Corinth

Growth, II Corinthians, Judging

proud by rachel titirigaToday’s reading is 2 Corinthians 6:1-7:16.

I have to admit that 2 Corinthians 7:4 shocked me. Paul said, “I am acting with great boldness toward you; I have great pride in you; I am filled with comfort. In all our affliction, I am overflowing with joy.”

“I have great pride in you?” What? Isn’t this the congregation we all go to as the epitome of messed up churches? Isn’t this the congregation that was filled with division, had immaturity and weakness, botched the Lord’s Supper, messed up the miraculous gifts, accepted a highly immoral man? Yet, Paul is proud of them. How can that be?

Surely, this pride comes partially from their repentance with the immoral man. That is what Paul goes on to talk about in the rest of the chapter. But still. I mean they were clearly working on things but am I honestly to believe they had gone from poster church for dysfunction to example congregation between these two letters? I don’t think so. Yet, Paul was proud of them. He was expressing his pride in them.

Here’s what I learn, whether dealing with congregations or Christians, we look for improvements. This is a growth process, not a sprint to perfection. Sadly, we all too often treat Christians and churches like the dad teaching his child to swim who keeps backing up and backing up so the child can’t actually get to him. Sure, the person or church has improved here and there, but look at all that is still wrong with them. That is often how we think. We need to express our pride that they are improving just like Paul did. That, of course, will only happen when we are genuinely proud of them. That will only happen when we don’t see ourselves as their judge trying to fix them to our satisfaction.

I need to work on this.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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I Corinthians 2-3: Favorite Preachers

Evangelism, humility, I Corinthians, preaching

preaching by james.thompsonToday’s reading is 1 Corinthians 2:1-3:23.

“I am of Paul,” some said. “I am of Apollos,” said others. Even others said, “I am of Cephas.” They all had their favorite preacher. This is not surprising. The common custom of the day in the secular world was to get behind one philosopher or another and compete against each other. “My teacher is better than your teacher.” The Corinthians were simply bringing their secular baggage into their spiritual community.

The problem is that is not the way it works in Jesus. Christ is in all, above all, and through all. That is who we are about, not one of his particular messengers. I guess because of our upcoming move, I’m hearing about more churches looking for preachers and more preachers looking for areas to work. I certainly recognize that a church can pick out a particular person because his gifts and abilities may fit well with the church’s goals and needs. Isn’t that what Barnabas did when he went to get Saul from Tarsus (Acts 11:25)?

The problem is we as Christians can get caught up in preacher competitions. “I like this guy.” “I like that guy.” “Not me, I like this other fellow.” Then we start fussing with each other about who we should really listen to. Instead of coming together in unity around God’s message, we are fighting over God’s messengers.

But what about those of us who preach? I notice that Paul did not get upset that someone liked Apollos more than him. He didn’t get upset that someone liked Peter more than him. He didn’t get excited because some folks liked him more than the others. He was upset because folks were not focusing on Jesus. Each of these men were simply servants of Jesus. We preachers must make sure we don’t give folks cause to fixate on us. Certainly, we must do the best we can and work as hard as we can because Jesus deserves our best. But we must not strive to be better than others or gain a following. There is no room for competition among us. We are all on the same team, striving for the same goal. Let us support one another and simply do the best work we can wherever God is giving us opportunity.

I’m very thankful that most of the preachers I know are striving to do exactly that. I guess I’m noticing this today because of my present circumstance and knowing how easy it is to get proud when people like you or devastated when they say they don’t. This is not about being liked, it is about glorifying God with the opportunities He provides.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Mark 9-10: Who Will be the Greatest?

Christian Living, humility, Mark, Serving

first place by  cliff1066™Today’s reading is Mark 9:1-10:52.

Twice this year already, I’ve had opportunity to travel with some other preachers to hear a series of lectures by multiple preachers. On the way home, I noticed how easy it was for us (the preachers who had not been asked to be in these series) to talk about the mistakes the presenters had made. (To be fair, we also talked about the great lessons we heard and learned.)

One of the fellows traveling with us on both occasions was a young man who has just started working in a training capacity with a friend. Recognizing how much we were talking about the supposed mistakes of our brethren, I turned to the young brother and said, “Don’t mind us, this is the part of the trip in which we try to make ourselves feel better about our preaching.”

Sad, but that is often the way it works. Fortunately, on one of those trips we got to hear a great lesson on envy. That helped keep us in our own skin a bit.

However, I can’t help but think of this when I read of Jesus’ disciples arguing about who is the greatest in Mark 9:33-37. I still seem to get that backwards. Too often, I want to be the greatest, the greatest preacher, the greatest teacher, the greatest pray-er, the greatest song leader, the greatest whatever. That is not what being God’s child is about. God isn’t looking for the greatest. He’s looking for servants. He’s not looking for people who can prove how amazing they are. He’s looking for people who are asking, “What can I do next for others?”

The fact is, the preachers we heard in those two series did a great job. They didn’t do everything the way I would, but then why should they? God didn’t put us here to compete with each other. He put us here to serve as best we can. That’s what I need to do today.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What struck you in today’s reading?

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Romans 11-12: Forgiveness is No Cause for Arrogance

Christian Living, humility, Romans

Today’s reading is Romans 11:1-12:21.

Paul’s admonition to the Gentiles reminded me of how too many Christians behave today. In Romans 11:17-24, Paul talked about how the Gentiles were the grafted in shoots to the vine and the Jews, the natural shoots, had been cut off making room for the Gentiles. He then anticipated the potential arrogance of the Gentiles. He reminds them that if the natural branches might be cut off for not submitting to the root, then they can as well.

This made me think about how Christians can behave toward the world. We became Christians because we recognized we were sinners in need of a Savior. We laid out our brokenness before God and asked Him to mend us. So He started His work of grace in our lives. We started cleaning up. Our lives started looking better and better. Sadly, at this point, some of us look out at those who have not yet come to Jesus and instead of looking with eyes of mercy from the been there, done that perspective, we looked askance with eyes that said, “What is wrong with you? You should be more like me.” 

Forgiveness is no reason for arrogance. If our lives have been cleaned up in Christ, it is not because we are great but because God has been great through us. We need to remember from where we came. We need to remember by whose power we have come so far. Then, instead of looking at all those we think don’t deserve what we have, we need to remember how little we deserved it and look toward them with God’s love, letting our prayer and our heart’s desire be for their salvation.

Forgiveness is no reason for arrogance. It is every reason for mercy, compassion, and love.

***Question: How do you overcome arrogance in your spirituality?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

1 Comment

Luke 13-14: There are Two Sides to Arrogance and Humility

Christian Living, humility, Luke

Today’s reading is Luke 13:1-14:35.

In Luke 14:7-11, Jesus told about a wedding feast. Don’t go into the feast and take the seat of honor. If you do, there might be someone more honorable and you may be asked to move down. How humiliating. On the other hand, if  you take the lower seat, you may be asked to move up. How honoring.

In this story, we see the solution to the two sides of arrogance.

On the first side, we have those who are obviously arrogant. They want the seat of honor. They take the seat of honor. They give no thought that others around them may be more honorable. It is just a foregone conclusion in their mind that everyone else is lucky to have them around. How arrogant.

They may not even realize it. I’ve seen people who come off as arrogant all the while trying to come off like they are the spiritual kings. They go around trying to impress everyone with their spirituality. They have to make sure everyone knows how spiritual they are. They have to make sure everyone knows what they’ve done spiritually and what they haven’t done sinfully. They remind folks about how much they study. They remind folks of how much they know. They consistently have to let others know what their two cents on any given issue is. These folks know how honorable they are and just can’t understand why no one else sees it, so they have to put it on display constantly.

That is one side of arrogance. It needs to be answered by not thinking more highly of yourself than you ought (Romans 12:3). Bring yourself down a notch or two and other people won’t have to. Answer questions when asked. Give advice when it is sought. Offer pointers when requested. Otherwise, back off.

On the second side, we have those who are so apparently humble they won’t ever receive honor. They couldn’t imagine ever being accused of arrogance or pride because they are so lowly and humble. Yet, these extreme displays of humility are nothing more than a pride taken in humility. “Wow, look at me, do you know anybody who is as humble as I am? Don’t you wish you could be as humble as me.” This is the person who will take the lowest seat, but then refuse when asked to move up to do so. “Oh, no. I’m just a humble piece of dirt in the midst of all this greatness.” Preachers have this problem sometimes. I’ve heard guest speakers so heap praises on the local preacher as if to say, “Oh, I’m so awful. I don’t even remotely compare to the guy who preaches here regularly. I’m just a piece of cardboard where a pain of glass usually sits.” I’m sure some guys mean this kind of thing sincerely, but all too often it is a false humility fishing for a compliment.

But in Jesus’ story, if you sit in the lower seat and are asked to move up, you don’t refuse in some grand display of humility. You accept the honor the host bestows on you. You accept it graciously. You accept it humbly. Say thank you. Don’t make a huge display of grandiosity. Don’t give the, “I knew this would happen” look around the room. Certainly, don’t taunt those who have been asked to move down to make way for you. 

This is the other side of humility that points out it is not wrong to be honored. Rather, it is wrong to seek the honor of men. When we live honorably, others will honor us. We can accept that graciously. That displays a true humility. Through it all, we continually point others to God who is worthy of all honor.

Remember the two sides of arrogance and humility. Don’t seek for self-honor, but don’t make great displays of refusing the honor offered to you.

***Question: How do you maintain humility?

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

2 Comments

Matthew 27-28: I Need to Quit Trying to Prove I’m Right and Just Follow God’s Plan

Christian Living, Crucified with Christ, Matthew

Today’s reading is Matthew 27:1-28:20.

As Jesus hung on the cross, the crowds mocked Him and cried out, “If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” “Let him come down now from the cross, and we will believe in him.”

That would have been tough for me. My thought would be, “These guys think I’m lying. After all I’ve done, I’ll show them.” I would have wanted to vindicate myself. I would have wanted to prove I was right. I would have wanted to make everyone who doubted me look silly.

But that wasn’t Jesus. He wasn’t here to make everyone believe Him. He was here to do God’s will. So what if everyone believed He was the Son of God. If He came off that cross, God’s plan would not have taken place. I don’t want to get into the metaphysical discussions of whether or not Jesus could have come down from the cross based on prophecy, God’s foreknowledge, etc. Those are the kinds of questions that just confuse the issue. All I know is instead of defending Himself, Jesus simply obeyed God.

I need to work on that. I need to quit worrying about whether or not people think I’m right. I need to quit worrying about having to win all the arguments. I need to quit worrying about feeling the need to prove myself. I just need to get into God’s word, learn God’s plan, and surrender to God’s will. Like Jesus, I need to commit my spirit into the Father’s hands and let Him deal with what everyone else thinks about it.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

1 Comment

Matthew 15-16: Can I Admit I’m a Dog to Receive Jesus’ Mercy?

humility, Matthew

Today’s reading is Matthew 15:1-16:28

The story of the Syro-phoenician widow struck me today. It struck me in a little different way than before. I’ve always been impressed with her faith. She so believed Jesus could heal her daughter that she simply kept on begging. However, what really hit me was what Jesus called her and how she responded.

Jesus said, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”

What? Is Jesus calling her a dog? WOW!

Yet, she doesn’t even bat an eye. She doesn’t get defensive. She doesn’t say, “Wait a minute here. I know I’m a Gentile, but a dog? You need to get your act together Jesus, you’ll never attract people that way.” She doesn’t stalk off in anger at His insensitivity.

Rather, she just says, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”

She was willing to accept the epithet of “dog.” She was humble enough to admit she was begging. She was humble enough to admit her own poverty. Jesus was the master. He was the one with the power. He was the one she had to latch on to and honor. She was willing to cast away all personal honor in order to honor Jesus. When she did, Jesus healed her daughter.

What about me? How much of my pride do I like to hang on to. I mean, I know I’ve messed up royally, but really, I’m not that bad. I’m really a great person. Don’t dare call me a dog. If Jesus is going to call me a dog, then I’m going some place else. 

Of course, the problem is there is no other place to go. 

In one sense, I am a dog. My sins have separated me from the master. I have wallowed in the mire and returned to my own vomit again and again and again. Yet, when I come to Jesus willing to cast aside all my pride, humble myself under His hand and admit that only He can fix whatever it is I need fixing, then He’ll be able to act. Notice, I didn’t just say He will act, but He’ll be able to act. The fact is, I’m only able to be a tool for Jesus when I put aside all my pride and humble myself before Him. To the degree that I hang on to my pride and my own ideas of personal powerfulness, Jesus is unable to work in my life. Not because He can’t overpower me, but because He refuses to.

Can I admit I’m a dog to receive the mercy of Jesus?

That’s a tough one.

Keep the faith and keep reading.

ELC

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

2 Comments

Luke 13-14: Be Humble, God Will Exalt You

Christian Living, humility, Luke

Today’s reading is Luke 13:1-14:35.

SMACKDOWN!

That’s what today’s reading is for me. Especially in Luke 14:7-11, called the parable of the wedding feast. Don’t take the seat of honor, Jesus says, lest you find out you didn’t deserve it and get humiliated in front of everyone. Instead, take the lower seats. Sure, you may end up stuck there. On the other hand, you may be exalted before everyone as the host explains you deserve to sit at a higher rank.

I need to hear this today (and every day). I have an awfully arrogant tendency to think I should be receiving most of the honor. For most of my life I have been plagued with jealousy when others receive honor. Thankfully, God has been working on that one and I’m gaining progressive victory over that arrogance. However, I needed this reminder. 

Of course, while Jesus couches His point in a seemingly self-serving practical point, I don’t think that was Jesus’ point. Jesus wasn’t saying, do this in some kind of self-deprecating, false modesty. Rather, he was using this scenario to explain the reality of life in general. When I think more of myself than I ought, God will humble me (King Saul comes to mind, as does King Rehoboam). On the other hand, when I walk with sincere humility, God will exalt me at the right time. I don’t walk with the humility in order to be exalted, because then that wouldn’t be sincere humility, would it? I can see it now as we develop our humility competition, “I’m more humble than you are.” No. That is not really humility. 

Rather, when I go to the lower place because I truly believe others are more important than me (cf. Philippians 2:3-4), then God will exalt me.

Praise God for this reminder.

Keep the faith and keep reading,

ELC

 

P.S. What did you get out of today’s reading?

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