True success in life is unobtainable by the power of pride. At the center of it is the self. How many have built some magnificent edifice to themselves or reached the top of the corporate latter only to feel unfulfilled? Why are so many failing to perform at their optimal level or afraid to step out of the mainstream? Some might say, “The fear of what others might think;” but, isn’t pride at the center of it, along with the fear of rejection? Why do some fear what others might say? In essence, pride is the counterfeit of true confidence which is trust in the One who lives in you.
Pride can take you to new heights and the top of them awaits a haughty spirit. It will gleefully embrace you, and then give you a hefty shove over the edge, laughing as you plummet to the bottom. It mocks those who fall into the pit of despair as the result of their foolish pride. Remember one simple truth: pride seeks to glorify the self; not God! Proverbs 16:18Pride goeth before destruction, and an haughty spirit before a fall.
Beware of spiritual pride. It is probably one of the most deceptive forms of egotism there is, and there’s nothing spiritual about it. Humility is a major key to true spirituality. Humility knows its Source. One place spiritual pride loves to show up is at major victories. There a number of nuances involved with this, which makes it less obvious at the beginning. They may range from, “My faith did this” to “I am superior to others because God is on my side.” Do understand in conjunction with the later, our true concern should be whether we’re on His side. Consider Joshua’s case.
Joshua 5:13-15And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and, behold, there stood a man over against him with his sword drawn in his hand: and Joshua went unto him, and said unto him, Art thou for us, or for our adversaries? And he said, Nay; but as captain of the host of the Lord am I now come. And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and did worship, and said unto him, What saith my lord unto his servant? And the captain of the Lord's host said unto Joshua, Loose thy shoe from off thy foot; for the place whereon thou standest is holy. And Joshua did so.
There are biblical examples where God saved the day and those who were rescued became prideful. King Hezekiah is one instance.
2 Chronicles 32:22-26Thus the Lord saved Hezekiah and the inhabitants of Jerusalem from the hand of Sennacherib the king of Assyria, and from the hand of all other, and guided them on every side. And many brought gifts unto the Lord to Jerusalem, and presents to Hezekiah king of Judah: so that he was magnified in the sight of all nations from thenceforth. In those days Hezekiah was sick to the death, and prayed unto the Lord: and He spake unto him, and He gave him a sign. But Hezekiah rendered not again according to the benefit done unto him; for his heart was lifted up: therefore there was wrath upon him, and upon Judah and Jerusalem. Notwithstanding Hezekiah humbled himself for the pride of his heart, both he and the inhabitants of Jerusalem, so that the wrath of the Lord came not upon them in the days of Hezekiah (read the entire chapter for fuller context).
One never has to fear pride when one’s knees are bent before the King of kings and Lord of Lords. It’s a matter of mindful worship in which we ever seek to glorify Him. If we do all things as unto God, while understanding it’s by His grace we stand, pride will find no place in our heart. Simply, purpose to do nothing out of arrogance, while remaining humble and yielded to Him.
It seems many want to have a faith-filled life and are in search for the perfect formula to get them there. We all love the follow these five steps and you will succeed approach. Some try to mimic those who have lived a lifetime of faith, but for some unknown reason it never seems to pan out as they hope. Of course, there are the TV, radio and podcast personalities who seem to have all the answers, and yes, formulas to make it happen. Don’t forget the love offering, otherwise it may not work. Okay, here’s a simple truth about faith formulas: they don’t work. That’s not the way faith operates. And no, this blog is not about to offer another recipe. It’s simply time to get real.
But if you really want a formula here it is: you simply have to live it. You have to be in an honest relationship with God. You cannot live through someone else’s; it has to be yours. It is important to understand each of us are designed to have unique relationship with God, which means everyone’s walk is going differ from all others. Sure, there are similarities and biblical principles that apply to all, but not everyone is going to experience the same things in life. Each of us are wired differently, and that means ABBA, Father is going to deal with each of us in distinct fashion. Children teach us this principle. Have you ever noticed one child requires a different form of encouragement or discipline than another? Their personalities are not the same, which means how you connect to each one will have to be tailor made. Here is an absolute truth about faith: apart from God, there is no such thing.
People might take certain risks and call it faith; but that’s not faith. A textbook definition is assurance, firm persuasion, or conviction by inward certainty. Biblically, Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1). Therefore, faith is the substance or foundation, the essential nature or essence of the thing hoped for, the evidence or proof of things not seen by the natural senses. Or simply put: the unseen reality. By the way, hope is not wishful thinking, it is a positive expectation from God. Which means, faith requires trust in Him. Secondly, Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God (Romans 10:17). And that means if something is to be of faith, hearing from God must first take place. This goes back to the beginning principle: faith requires a relationship with God. Jesus is the Author and Finisher of our faith (see Hebrews 12:2), which means He is our Example to follow. While on earth, Jesus was in constant communion with Father. He spent a lot of time alone with Him. Perhaps this is a sticking point for some: faith will call upon you to endure. Of course, endurance relies on faith in God.
1 Peter 1:6-9Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations (trials): That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in Whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.
Everyone can have a walk of faith if they decide. The precious few who do, are those who made the decision to come in agreement with God, Who in all actuality, did the rest. Don’t look for the formula; look to Him and just do it!
What holds you back from moving forward in your life? While it is true your thought-life plays a large role in things, there is a component of the thought process that is critical, and that’s the area of repentance. Repentance means to think differently, and as a result a change of direction takes place. Part of repentance is submission, and for some, submission is the sticking point. Even though the Lord is God, some tend to want Him to submit to their wishes. Basically, they insist on doing things their way, and if God’s way happens to fall in line with theirs, great! The problem is, that process doesn’t serve people very well. This is especially true for those who use the “grace card” to do what they want. Many have found themselves in bad circumstances because of their life-choices and actions that either didn’t fit His will, or they were outright rebellious. What’s more, when things came crashing down, they still blame God for their woes. You cannot live a carnal lifestyle and still expect spiritual results! Grace is not a get out hell free card by which you can do as you please.
Romans 5:21-6:2That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord. What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein?
While grace is God’s unmerited favor, it is also a gift that enables us to do things of God we cannot do in our own strength. That means the very essence of grace is centered on doing things His way.
Maybe things are cruising right along for some people, but the cruise is missing the amenities of unseen blessings that come with obedience. Ultimately, there will come a time when they will have to disembark from that ship, stand before the Lord and give an account for their life to Him. What will they be able to say?
Romans 14:10-12But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.
The lack of surrender holds numerous people back from living a truly rich life. While the Lord may not insist on us conforming to His will, likewise, none of us will ever be in a position to insist on Him conforming to ours.
One mistake taught about prayer is that it is difficult. How many have heard, “Just start with five minutes and increase your prayer time as you grow?” It almost sounds like going to the gym to work out for the first time. “Here, start out light and then gradually add more weight.” There’s a difference between a labor of love and just plain work. Likewise, there’s a difference between dead works and being Spirit led. Why do some teach those new to the Faith that prayer is hard? That proposition sabotages their prayer life from the beginning. Moreover, it instills that prayer is an act of the flesh; and not the Spirit. Paul said, “I serve with my spirit” (Romans 1:9). Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). Works of the flesh are dead works. Nothing is supposed to be done in our own strength, which is why God gave us grace which enables us to do what we cannot do on our own. By telling someone prayer is hard, are you are actually teaching him to pray in his own strength? Moreover, when a people say they don’t have time to pray, what does that say about their priorities? That statement may indicate where they may lie. Generally, we all have time for what’s important to us. On the other hand, if prayer is a struggle, subconsciously, they may be putting it off. If you or someone you know struggle with prayer, consider the following concepts: communion and praying in the Spirit.
Prayer in itself is not fellowship or intimacy. It’s part of it. Ideally, prayer flows out of relationship with God. With that in mind, the next time you spend time in prayer, perhaps stop and listen. Sit in His presence and commune with Him. Effective prayer includes having a dialogue with God; not a monologue. In a monologue, only one speaks. In that type of prayer, who does all the talking? The one praying. Do you always know what to pray? Jesus taught us to pray, “Thy will be done in earth as it is in Heaven” (Matthew 6:10). Effective prayer requires agreement with God’s will.
1 John 5:14-15And this is the confidence that we have in Him, that, if we ask any thing according to His will, He heareth us: And if we know that He hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of Him.
By having a dialogue with God, not only do we express what’s in our heart, He expresses what’s in His. By listening to Him, He can reveal to us how to effectively pray. In fact, the Lord can lead us to pray about things we’ve never considered. It’s one thing to pray at something; it’s quite another to know specifically what to pray. That comes with listening. If God tells you what to pray, then you are most assuredly praying according to His will. Remember, Jesus said what He heard Father speak. He communed with Him. By communing, we also co-labor with Him when we pray. And that is a labor of love!
Ephesians 6:18Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints. Praying in the Spirit is critical, especially when you don’t know what to pray. And yes, that includes praying in tongues; but is not limited to it.
1 Corinthians 14:14-15For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
Romans 8:16The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Our spirit connects with Holy Spirit Who knows exactly what to pray. This is where communion comes into play. By submitting to Him, He can both lead us in prayer and pray through us. Romans 8:26Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. Prayer does not need to be hard. It boils down to intimacy and submission.
As a person thinks so is he or she (see Proverbs 23:7). This truth runs much deeper than many realize. Even repentance is based on the change of thought. Understand God is most assuredly in control; however, He gave much control to us by providing us a mind, and yes, a will. We are not robots that are programmed a certain way. Rather, our programming is the result of what’s been inputted into our minds. By and large, God leaves the programming up to us. Just as you have the will to decide whether to follow Jesus or someone else, you can also choose the thoughts which you receive. Those thoughts have influenced your decisions and choices, and they are largely responsible for where you are at this moment. Of course, there are other variables involved, such as the other human beings on the planet along with their decisions and choices. At times, they collide with your life. But, how you respond or react with others is still up to you. How did you make the decisions that got you where you are today? What is your decision making process? Thoughts or the lack thereof played a role in it.
James 1:19Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath. How are your listening skills? Maybe you’re an expert listener, but there is another component to consider: to whom or what are you listening? Whose advice do you receive? Who or what do you allow to shape your thoughts? This is huge! Many know by experience, bad advice can lead to serious trouble. Ironically, bad advice can come from those who care deeply about you -no malice attached whatsoever. While love is vital, it alone does not necessarily qualify the individual to give good guidance. They need to know what they’re talking about, if it is going to be of value. Why do people take counsel from those who lack the needed knowledge, wisdom and understanding required to help in their area of need? Would it be good idea to find someone who has success in that arena? How much good information could you learn about God from an atheist?
If you want to live a godly lifestyle, then it would be best to focus on a godly worldview. With whom you surround yourself is an important consideration. This is especially true for those weak in the faith and easily influenced by others. Beyond that, if you have limiting thoughts which are holding you back, ask yourself where they came from. Question and challenge those thoughts, because they play a role in hindering your success. For instance, ask yourself, Is this thought true? Then ask, What makes it true? This question might help you discover if you have been believing a lie. In other words, you might consider a thought to be true, until you break down. You may find there was no foundation for it to ever be true. It could simply be that the thought came from someone you trusted, and you took to be the gospel. For example, what a parent says out loud often becomes a child’s inner truth. What we say matters! If what was said wasn’t true, that child could grow up believing a lie. In turn, it would negatively impact his or her life choices.
Many are more influenced by the media than they realize. Some believe the world’s report more than God’s. In spite of what so called experts may say, God’s Word trumps science, technology and popular opinion combined. Nonetheless, what you believe will influence what you are able to receive from Him. Even though Jesus could perform great miracles, it did one community little good. Why? Because they did not believe (see Mark 6:1-6). And yet, Jesus said, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 11:22-23). Because some believers are so inundated with what the media says, they are limiting God in their lives. Again, to whom or what you listen plays a part in is shaping your life -good or bad.
In relation to changing your thoughts, here are a couple things to consider: first, do your thoughts line up with the Word of God? Secondly, you are not only who God says you are, you can do what He says you can do. Philippians 4:13I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me. God is limitless. With Him all things are possible; and yet, there two things impossible for Him. One is it’s impossible for Him to lie (Hebrews 6:18). Secondly, He cannot deny Himself (2 Timothy 2:13). Ask God about your thoughts. Romans 12:2And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. If you allow your thoughts to conform to His, your life will drastically change for the better!