Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.
Even though we actually walk by the faith of Jesus (which is an entirely different lesson), which is faith without measure, a number of us struggle to completely walk by faith. Why? One reason ties in with our opening Scripture: leaning on our own understanding. For the most part, some walk by faith to the degree it fits in with their understanding. They will only go as far as they can see; even though, we walk by faith; not by sight (see 2 Corinthians 5:7). Instead of looking to God, they look to the how. In other words, if they don’t see how it’s going to work, they get stuck in doubt. As long as you try to use human reason to walk by faith, you won’t be able to do it. Say this in the mirror: “It’s God; not how!”
Some are afraid to look ridiculous, so when God asks them to do something out of the ordinary, they begin to reason as to what others might think about it. The problem is they value the opinion of man more than the opinion of God Who made man. That means their walk of faith is only as solid as to how much others will approve. When reading the Bible, have you ever asked yourself, “Would I do that?” Imagine the Lord asking you to do some of the things you’ve read about. In the natural, a lot of what you read would look ridiculous, especially when you don’t have the advantage of being able to read the results before you act. It’s one thing to say, “I’d do that” when you already know the end of the story. What about when you don’t? What then? Remember, those you read about, did not have the advantage of having a Bible to read before they obeyed. God knows the ending even before the beginning. Will you trust Him with the end, even if you don’t know exactly what it is or the journey there? The Lord may give you a promise, but more than likely, He will not show you how it will come to pass. For the most part, it will be hearing, then obeying what He said. It’s funny how people will trust a little man-made electronic device to get them where they’re going. They’ll obey a GPS’s every command, but they have a hard time putting the car in “D” (drive) when the Lord says, “Go there.” Then when He says, “Wait here,” they put the car in “D.” Of course, that’s as effective as putting it in “R” (reverse) when it is time to move forward. In some cases, they never get into the car, let alone put the key in the ignition switch because there does not seem to be a clear direction. Unlike a GPS that occasionally gets it wrong, God is never wrong –even when it appears you’re going in the wrong direction. You don’t have to know how or even where exactly you’re going; you simply have to know God.
Perhaps that’s a bigger issue: knowing Him. How much do you trust people you don’t know very well? The more you know someone, the more you will trust him or her –for the most part. That requires time spent. The more time you spend with God, the better you will know Him, and recognize His voice and leading. Hearing His voice is a prerequisite for walking by faith (see Romans 10:17). When you know Father’s heart, it will be easier to trust what He says to you. A small child simply obeys his parent’s voice without question, because of absolute trust. He doesn’t have to know why nor understand how things work. He simply does what he’s told. When you absolutely trust the Lord, you will simply obey Him, regardless of your understanding or lack thereof. The bottom line is that if you have to figure it out before you obey, you will never go anywhere by faith.
Have you ever found yourself singing the same song or set of songs over and over? Perhaps, in church services you’ve found the same songs are repeated week and after week. Do you find yourself thinking,I want to sing new songs, orI wish they would sing new songs? The Bible clearly says, “Sing to the Lord a new song” (Psalm 149:1), and Jesus taught us to avoid vain repetition (Matthew 6:7). Are you concerned, perhaps you are offering vain repetitions? Take heart and don’t be dismayed more than likely, you’re not offering them up at all. Unless of course, you are being vain in your worship before Him. However, if you’re concerned about it, then more than likely you’re not.
Here’s the deal: Scripture does not tell us how long we are to sing a new song. After all, He put a new song in our mouth (see Psalm 40:3). You might even sing that one the rest of your life, and more than likely you will. Do you realize each occasion you sing a particular song; you sing it differently than any other moment? It is never identical. The same thing pertains to musicians: they never play the same song the same way. Oh sure, they may sound identical, but they’re not. There are different emphases in the way songs are sang or played. Thoughts behind them differ in each instance. Even when you listen to a song from a CD or MP3, you will hear it differently each time, even though the music plays identically on each occasion. Of course, it may vary in sound quality based on different devices and conditions; but that aside, the same song may take on new meanings to you. Similarly, when you sing the same song onto the Lord, you may find yourself placing different emphases. You might stress an aspect of praise to Him more than another. The next time you sing it, you may underscore something else. Either way, you are singing it as if it is an entirely new song.
It’s about worship and connection. It may be that certain songs help you connect to God more than others. Furthermore, Holy Spirit may lead you in the apparent same direction because God loves and wants to heart it again. It may be at that point you are in better touch with His heart. God’s mercy endures forever, and yet, His mercies are new every morning. Thus, the same song is new every morning. Clearly, this the case when you are chasing hard after God; however, if you depend on a song instead of Holy Spirit to lead you, it can become a ritual. Chase after Him and listen to our Counselor, then watch what happens to that “same old song!”
Perception is everything when it comes to the way we interact with people and respond to situations. It can mean the difference between doing well and total failure in the way we treat others and handle circumstances. That perception begins with yourself, as it does affect how you treat others. A simple example would be those who love themselves less, love others less. Without the proper love for yourself, your capacity to love others well is minimized. If you don’t love yourself the way God loves you, you will struggle to freely loves others. That being said, it is good to allow Holy Spirit to reveal why you reject love. Why do you place so little value on yourself; even though God highly values you. If you receive the love of God and place value on yourself as He does, you will be positioned to love well. Okay, enough about you and me. It is time to get outward focused, because love is not selfish. How can we better love others? How do we diffuse heated situations? Become very outward focused!
Step one: decide to walk in love and not be easily offended (see 1 Corinthians 13:4-7). Step two, and this can be a little tricky sometimes: using love as your filter, be more concerned about another’s spiritual condition than you are about his or her attitude and behavior towards you. Sometimes, behavior and attitude is an indicator of what’s going on inside –sometimes. Obviously, if we offended someone, he or she probably won’t be very cordial. Of course, if we know this is the case, we should make amends if possible. We ask for forgiveness for his or her sake. The idea is that we want others to release us or no longer hold a grudge, so they can move in life. It is not about “getting off the hook;” it’s about restoration. There are times people will be offended simply because Jesus offends them (see Matthew 5:10-12; Luke 6:22-23; John 15:18-21). In which case we have nothing for which to ask forgiveness. We simply love and treat them well. Luke 6:27-28But I say to you who hear, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. Being aware of where people are in life or in the moment helps us interact with them more effectively. That doesn’t mean we become a bunch of psychologists seeking to psychoanalyze others; rather, we allow Holy Spirit to give us the proper discernment at the proper time. Along with that, let Him lead us in what to do or say –if anything.
We cannot afford to be offended at someone’s worldview or belief system if it differs from ours. If, for example, someone says he’s an atheist, don’t be offended. At the same time, you don’t have to try to convince him God exists and He absolutely loves him. Loving him well will plant that seed. Have compassion! Living a life as an atheist is a life without hope. Pray for him! Holding others’ bad attitude against them will not help them along in life. That attitude is a symptom of what’s in their heart. People are hurting. They’re angry, depressed, broken and in bondage. They need love –they need Jesus! Can you and I be Jesus to them? If we get bent out shape because of their behavior, we won’t be. The reason we can be Jesus to others is because He lives in us. By submitting to Holy Spirit, we can absolutely reveal Jesus to them.
Jesus is concerned with what’s going on with people. He deeply cares for them. He laid His life down for them. He laid His life down for you. John 15:12-13This is My commandment, that you love one another, just as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this, that one lay down his life for his friends. Maturity goes beyond looking after its own needs, it looks to the needs of others. A way to discern where you are spiritually in terms of maturation is how well you love others. If we cannot even consider another’s point of view, at least from the standpoint of understanding where he’s coming from, we have some growing to do. It doesn’t necessarily mean we have to agree with him; but it does mean we have to love him regardless. Since Jesus said love your enemies, it means we have to love everybody, and that includes those with whom we may disagree. Our call is to walk in the unity of the Spirit, which means our goal is to love others as He does. Perhaps, if we sought to love rather than be loved and to understand than to be understood, we would have a greater impact for the Kingdom. Ephesians 4:1-3Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.
Pride hates humility because it costs pride everything. Pride’s very nature is actually more antichrist than we realize. Humility is a Kingdom principle; pride is its antithesis. The price of humility is extremely high; yet, it’s the only way to reach unimaginable heights. It is a contrariety (quality of being contrary, logic contrary opposition): to go high, you have to get low. Before you can step up, you have to step down. To do the will of God, you may need to forgo your own. When you say, “Have Your way,” it may mean you don’t get your way; until of course, His will becomes yours. That’s called humility. You do realize that before God asks anything of you, He has already done it Himself. Psalm 113:5-6Who is like the Lord our God, Who is enthroned on high, Who humbles Himself to behold The things that are in heaven and in the earth? In fact, He still does today; otherwise, He wouldn’t bother listening to your prayers.
Humility cost Jesus everything, including His very life. If He did not humble Himself, you would still be lost in your sin. 2 Corinthians 8:9For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich. Humility benefits others before it benefits you. Without it, however, you will not experience joy. Hebrews 12:2 Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the Author and Perfecter of faith, Who for the joy set before Him endured the Cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Humility turns you into a servant, which is exactly what Jesus became, even though He is the King of kings (see Philippians 2:1-11). If you want to reign on earth as a king, you have to serve well. Jesus said, “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted” (Matthew 23:11-12). The greatest in the Kingdom serve. Humility does that, and that might even mean doing things no one else will do. Interestingly, as a child of God, it may mean you that you serve while not being served. Yet, in order to be served, you have to humble yourself in order to allow another serve you. Of course, pride demands another serve. Humility on the other hand, allows others to serve, so they may use their gifts and experience the joy of serving others. Strangely, pride will refuse service from another because of the desire to be independent. Humility is very dependent; yet, without it, we cannot act independently from others.
Humility patiently waits. It does not demand things now; unless of course, being led for the sake of the Kingdom. A lot of times you will not see quick results of your humility. Obviously, you will not see the majority of the rewards God has for you until you’re home with Him. How many know that influence usually takes a long time to effect change? If the Lord sends you to a place to win souls and change culture, you more than likely are going to have to be there for a good while before seeing results. In some cases, you may never see many of them in your lifetime. Humility is more interested in the long term than recognition, which means it will also hand off the baton to another in the race it’s running. You might start a work, but not get to see it through to maturity or completion. It’s something we all have to be okay with, since humility recognizes that Jesus Christ is Lord of all. We are at His beck and call, and yet, He is there for us as well. In fact, more so than us. He is the Epitome of humility.
By humbling yourself, you may lose face in front of others. You may have to stand down. Jesus lost face before the entire world; in fact, He offered His face to be spit on and beaten for our sake. He was mocked and humiliated, even though He could have stopped it. He appeared weak. Humility is also meek by nature. It is strength and power under restraint. It makes us strong, because it’s in our weakness that Christ is strong in us. If one does not humble himself, he will never have the strength to do the work of the Kingdom of God. As a matter of fact, the works would be dead, with no eternal value or reward. Anything done out of pride fails to glorify God! Here’s a loaded question: what has the higher price, humility or pride?