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Archive for the ‘pride’ Category

There are many good reasons to teach accurately the wholesome words of Christ.

But Paul provided a particularly compelling reason in I Timothy 6:4.

“Anyone who teaches something different is arrogant and lacks understanding.”

Wow.

The last thing any believer will want to hear on Judgment Day is that his or her teachings had been arrogant and misinformed.

Let’s each commit to a probing, deeper understanding and humble sharing with others of Christ’s Living Water.

It will be SO much better to hear God say to us, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant.”

As always, I love you
Martin

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Pride is our enemy.

It blinds us to our weaknesses and binds us to approaching “train wrecks” in our lives.

Do you know anybody whose life and relationships improved because he or she became more prideful?

Humility is so much better.

We’ll help people more because being helpful is the right thing to do and it shows concern for others rather than only for ourselves.

We’ll forgive more because we don’t want others or ourselves to carry the heavy burdens of unfulfilled “payback.”

We’ll listen more because understanding others’ thoughts and feelings is more important to us than making sure that they “know” that we have the best answer in every situation.

Jesus was humble and it sure served Him well.

Here’s a teaching of His that should guide our steps:

“Those who are the greatest among you should take the lowest rank, and the leader should be like a servant.” (Luke 22:26)

Putting others first in every situation is not a sign of weakness but instead a sign of strength.

Good parents make sure their kids eat first, that their kids are sleeping safely first, that their kids’ medical, clothing and educational needs are met before adult “toys” are purchased.

Good Christians make sure their church’s financial needs for ministry and missions are provided for first before other personal financial splurges are made.

Let’s take a step back of “self” and become the unselfish leaders for our circles of influence that God has saved us to be.

It’s the best way to get ahead in this world… and the next.

As always, I love you
Martin

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Everybody likes to receive praise.

It gives us reassurance that we are valued by others.

There’s a problem, though.

We sometimes view the praise of others almost as an emotional skeleton. If we lack it, we collapse into an emotionally crippled state, able to do little.

If someone needs a pat on the back or they’ll stop functioning, then their measure of inner weakness is profound and in serious need of an overhaul.

Hopefully, we’re not in this emotionally needy condition.

For if we don’t avoid it, we run the serious risk of being trapped by the prideful thirst for praise.

God makes it quite clear that our response to praise is an indicator of our Christian character.

“Fire tests the purity of silver and gold, but a person is tested by being praised.” (Proverbs 27:21)

Here’s how I look at the topic of praise from others — yes, I should allow it to encourage me, but never should I count on it to empower me.

My strength should always come from the Lord, not from the words of people.

For people are flawed and can’t be counted upon to ALWAYS offer the words and Holy Spirit help that I need to stand firm and step forward for the Kingdom.

I try to be the most reliable, honorable, supportive pastor possible for the people in my congregation. But I fall short of that goal sometimes for a variety of reasons.

That’s why I seek to encourage others, but I know that I’m not the one empowering them.

That’s God’s job.

So, let’s welcome encouraging words from others and verbally extend our appreciation. Let’s offer words of encouragement to others as they walk in the empowerment of the Father in heaven.

Let’s make sure, however, that the status and direction of our faith is based on the strength we receive from God, not the abundance of back-patting words from people.

As always, I love you
Martin

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It’s never good to be known as a quarrelsome person.

Who likes spending time with such a person?

Too much drama. Too little genuine listening. Too much control-freak behavior.

Some of us have had extended periods of time at work or school or home or in dating or even at church when we found ourselves connected in some way with one prone to a critical spirit and argumentative nature.

When the contentiousness started, it was not pleasant.

Hopefully, we didn’t reciprocate with quarrelsome behavior but instead showed patience and grace and resolute focus on following the path of God’s leading.

Why this topic today? Today’s reading in the One-Year Bible included Proverbs 25:24. The verse says, “Better to live on a corner of the roof
than share a house with a quarrelsome wife.”

My goodness. That’s a really blunt perspective from a guy who had hundreds of wives.

Even though Solomon had huge palaces, he still might have been stuck on the corner of the roof if he had to get away from even just a third of his 300 wives!

Though this verse creates a popular trap into which some critical-spirit Christian men fall — sometimes even in a men’s meeting group — the reality is that both genders too frequently form attitudes that send their spouses heading for the roof corners.

I thank God that my wife Lori doesn’t have a critical, quarrelsome spirit. It’s much better living in the house with peaceful satisfaction than it is living on the roof in order to survive emotionally.

Even the kindest among us, however, can slip into a quarrelsome spirit if we’re not careful. We have to resist the me-first agenda at all costs. You see, a person with a quarrelsome spirit is not sincerely concerned about finding win-win solutions.

If he or she were, he or she would discern the montage of emotional and spiritual factors influencing a situation and pray for wisdom to nurture cooperation rather than pursue verbal domination.

The quarrelsome person seeks only win-lose solutions as in “I’m right. You’re wrong. Get over it” or “I’m not getting my way and you’re going to pay.”

Let’s rise above a conflict mentality, let’s commit to principled compromise as needed and then focus on the real Enemy — the author of all whispered temptations to turn us against a loved one or friend.

As always, I love you
Martin

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I wish it were not true, but even we longtime Christians are not immune to making dumb and costly decisions.

Sometimes we’re offended by another’s words and we fire back with offensive words of our own. The problem is that such words are not like lightning bolts that flash and are gone, but instead are like red dye stains indelibly reminding others and ourselves of our sinful moment.

In a workplace or in a family setting, such stains can have devastating consequences.

Sometimes we get caught up in the “like it-want it-gotta have it” moment while smelling the inside of a new car or new house or while talking with the new co-worker who happens to be cute and who flirtatiously tells us how interesting and funny we are — even though we’re wearing a wedding ring.

The list could go on, of course, with all sorts of examples from your life or mine.

Our mission as Christians includes avoiding dumb decisions. For the cost can be enormous not just to us but to the important people in our lives.

Are you being tempted to make a dumb decision just now that will cost you and perhaps your loved ones dearly?

A decision that hasn’t been taken repeatedly to the Lord in prayer or discussed with the key people in your life? Or with a spiritual accountability friend?

Think quickly, my friend. Act slowly. Allow time for the Holy Spirit to influence you, to educate you, to warn you of Satan’s spring-trap that your foot is marching toward.

And, please, make sure to read 2 Chronicles 35:20-24. You’ll read about good King Josiah who did SO many things right in his pursuit of faith,but who made a horribly dumb decision that cost him his life and that threw his nation into turmoil, ultimately leading to its destruction by the Babylonian army.

There is no mention of prayer before Josiah’s tragic decision. And there is no mention of consultation with spiritual leaders.

Josiah just got a hair-brained idea and decided he was going to do what he wanted.

Hmmmm…. no prayer. No consultation. “I’m gonna do what I want and nobody is going to stop me.”

Have you ever acted like this? You know the answer to that question. And you know that you have paid a steep price for that past indiscretion.

Let’s avoid dumb, costly decisions. Let’s pray more. Let’s consult with spiritual partners more. Let’s ask ourselves if our idea is going to help grow the Kingdom of God.

We’ll save a lot of headaches for ourselves and for God.

As always, I love you
Martin

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We longtime Christians face a recurring temptation that is so devious.

We are randomly tempted to feel so confident in our decision-making that we stop checking with God’s Word to see if we’re choosing wisely.

After all, we think, we haven’t been ruined by our past decisions so why would we be ruined by any future decision?

Dumb line of presumptive, incomplete reasoning, I know.

Listen, no matter how long we are in the family of God, we still have to listen to Daddy for, truly, Father knows best.

We can make 100 smart decisions as a teenager, decisions that applied the lessons and principles that both our earthly and heavenly father/Father taught us. But if, just once, we decide that we don’t need their advice or don’t need to base our decision on their lessons and values, we’re likely going to end up in a bad situation.

This still happens with older, longtime Christians unfortunately.

The roster of “Thought I could do it myself, but I learned that I was wrong” people in scripture is very long.

Noah, Abraham, Jacob, Moses, David, Solomon, Jonah, Peter were all bigshots of faith who made big problems for themselves because of prideful reliance upon their own understanding.

King Asa of the Southern Kingdom belongs on that list, too. He was a wonderful, godly leader for 35 years, pushing for all sorts of spiritual renewal among the people in the years before Babylon invaded and destroyed that kingdom. You can read about it here.

But then, despite so many years of faithfulness, pride grabbed the reins of his heart and he messed up big time by ignoring Solomon’s warning to lean not on his own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Instead of turning to God when hassles and intimidation came from the arch enemy/backslidden Northern Kingdom of Israel, Asa hired pagan mercenaries to come and threaten Israel with war.

In an earthly sense, the plan worked because Israel withdrew, the pagan army got a bunch of Asa’s silver and gold and Asa didn’t have to worry about losing his land to the deadbeat, backsliding, morally compromising sort-of Jews to the north.

In avoiding the battle, though, Asa lost the war.

God sent a preacher named Hanani to Asa and told him, in effect, that the dumb mistake of trusting a godless king to protect God’s people and God’s Promised Land was really, really bad. Hanani reminded Asa that God’s eyes go everywhere to find and help those totally relying on Him.

Sadly, Asa’s pride had lured him into a one-way trap.

You have done a foolish thing, and from now on you will be at war,” the prophet promised Asa.

Listen, no matter how long you or I have been a Christian, we CANNOT drop our guard by looking to worldly help as a replacement for God’s help.

I really don’t know why Asa changed his pattern and relied on a pagan king rather than God. Perhaps there was sin in his life at that time and he didn’t want to repent before seeking help.

Hmmmm….. guess that happens all the time with longtime believers, doesn’t it?

Please make sure that you’re right with God spiritually and that He’s the first call you make when tough times — or tough temptations — come.

The cost will be too high to do something else and you will keep paying for it over and over.

As always, I love you
Martin

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To hear this Morning Devotion, please click Letting go of the handlebar

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While teaching Jessica how to ride a bike some 20 years ago, the time came when I had to take off the training wheels and then — gulp! — let go of the handlebar and seat.

I knew quite well that Jessica would fall sooner or later when she turned too sharply or became distracted and ran into something or applied the brakes without remembering to put down her feet.

And she did fall, of course.

But not without my being close by to make sure that the fall wasn’t too severe and to make sure that she had encouragement to get up to try it again.

Jessica and I both needed to test her level of learning and commitment to doing what was necessary to safely ride a bike.

Fathers need such times of testing for their children in order to know if the child has learned to do things in a proper, safe fashion.

And so it is with our Father God.

He allows times of testing in our lives so that our measure of learning about the right way of doing things might reveal the character of our faith.

If we pray more and read the Bible more and if we attend church more, then the testing displays the basis of our hope.

If we pray less, read the Bible less, attend church less — all because we’re blaming God for not protecting us — that, too, displays the basis of our hope.

Which pattern have you displayed lately during your times of testing at home or at work or at school or at the doctor’s office?

God knows that the testing of stress coming against you is not easy.

He also knows, however, that He can’t run alongside of you holding onto the handlebar and seat and still know the real measure of your reliance upon Him.

You can’t know it, either, until He withdraws His sustaining hand for a time.

In today’s One-Year Bible reading, we see God withdrawing His hand for a bit in order to reveal the depth’s of King Hezekiah’s heart. In 2 Chronicles 32, the account is given about an ominous threat against Jerusalem by King Sennacherib of Assyria.

It’s a vivid story that is filled with detail and intrigue. God miraculously protected Jerusalem and her people because Hezekiah had displayed excellent spiritual leadership.

Later in the chapter, though, Hezekiah’s faith became corrupted and pride took over for some reason. God saw this and decided it was time to let go of the handlebar and seat.

But when envoys were sent by the rulers of Babylon to ask him about the miraculous sign that had occurred in the land, God left him to test him and to know everything that was in his heart” (v. 31).

When God withdrew, it was very likely the withholding of Holy Spirit’s voice warning Hezekiah about the carnal motives of the Babylonians. Hezekiah blindly and pridefully showed off all his wealth and the kingdom’s wealth to the visiting government officials from Babylon.

Those officials went home and told their king about all the stuff in Jerusalem and the foolish king who showed it to them. Next thing you know, Babylon starts making plans for a future conquest of Jerusalem.

It’s a sad sequence, this testing that revealed pride that produced weakness that resulted in vulnerability that led to destruction and bondage.

I pray that times of testing that God allows in your life will not reveal the same, but instead will reveal a tap root of faith that cannot be pulled out by storms or droughts.

Even if the tests do lead to a fall because you pridefully turn the wrong way or you become distracted or you put the brakes on faithful living without planting your feet on the Rock, just remember that your heavenly Father is close by waiting for you to cry for help.

Just like I was with Jessica.

As always, I love you
Martin

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