“Sitting Around Won’t Win the Battle!”

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“The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat,” Proverbs 13:4

 All of us have goals and dreams, or at least, we should.  All of us “desire” things we would like to see accomplished in our lives.  But, desire can only get you so far.  There has to be a proactive approach in order for one to see the fulfillment of these aspirations come to pass.

I love the Bible because it gives us so many true to life examples of these valued lessons.  For instance, in 2 Chronicles 20, Jehoshaphat and his people were getting ready to be attacked.  The enemy had come against them and “Judah gathered themselves together, to ask help of the Lord,” (vs. 4).

I want you to look at this picture Scripture represents.  It’s one of great sadness.  In verse 13, it describes “All Judah stood before the Lord, with their little ones, their wives, and their children.”  It’s as if they were saying, “If not for us, Lord; then please remember our wives and children.”  Awwww!!!

God’s response was, “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s,” (vs. 15).

“That’s what I’m talking about!  We don’t have to fight!  Woo-hoo!  Let’s go home and watch some TV!”

I’m playing.  We all know they didn’t have TV, but what they probably had was a sense of relief that they didn’t need to proactively do anything to win the battle.  Time to hit the couch!

Wrong!

While God did declare the battle was His, He has never been the promoter of laziness.  Too many people want the victory without ever really doing anything.  Too many people want to reach the next level without ever having to walk up the stairs to get there.

It’s too much work!  Too many people get in prayer lines and the like; want God to do everything without themselves ever putting a hand to the plow to till something up.

God works in miraculous ways.  God is a prayer answering God.  Jehoshaphat and his people will find both of these to be true.  He’s going to work a miracle and they are going to get a tremendous answer to their prayer.  But, God has something that He wants them to do.  He said, “To morrow go ye down against them . . . ye shall find them,” (vs. 16).

GULP!

Then God reiterates, “Ye shall not need to fight in this battle,” (vs. 17).

Yeah!

Then, He proceeded to tell them, “set yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the Lord with you… go out against them…,” (vs. 17).

Hold up!  Wait a minute!  If the battle belongs to God, I don’t understand why I have to go down there and set myself up like I am sure enough going to fight these people.  Huh?

Because God said so.  That’s why many of us lose out.  We want to sit on the couch instead of getting up and following the instructions He gives.  The “sluggard” wants the glory without the work.

In opposite of that, he that is diligent pushes forth to follow through.  Sometimes it’s a hard thing to do.  These people were put in the terrifying position to get in battle formation before the enemy; in front of people who were ready to annihilate them.  Gulp is right!

Yet, they maintained their ground believing God’s promise.  Verses 18-22a tell of the people actively praising God.  Then, the tables turned on the enemies, (vs. 22b).  “Every one helped to destroy another,” (vs. 23), and “none escaped,” (vs. 24).

The result they received was due to their diligence to follow through with the Lord’s instructions.  “Jehoshaphat and his people came to take  away the spoil of them, they found among them in abundance both riches with the dead bodies, and precious jewels, which they stripped off for themselves, more than they could carry away: and they were three days gathering the spoil, it was so much,” (vs. 25).

You may not have to go fight an enemy but you have a goal to reach that will only come by diligence and obedience to God.  I’m not promising you riches, but know this; any time you are diligent to work with God you will see success at the end.

Seek the Lord, He will help you to receive that “expectant end” Jeremiah speaks of, Jeremiah 29:11.  Then, we can rejoice like Jehoshaphat because we saw the fruition of hard work pay off.

“The soul of the diligent shall be made fat.”

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“Greater Is He!”

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Greater is He that is in me!

The life inside that I cannot see.

Only feel with the passion and the burn

Love from the cross that flows unearned.

 

Glowing embers His spirit unfolds.

Power inside of stories untold!

Ripping away all the fear and frights;

Layering on His love’s holy light.

 

The life inside has been swept and cleaned

By the Master who defeats enemies unseen.

Foes tremble, their strength can’t compare,

‘Cause greater is He now resides there.

“Greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world,” 1 John 4:4

Sunday School Lesson – “Zacchaeus Meets Jesus” Luke 19:1-10

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 19:1-10 (KJV, Public Domain)

Can wealth make you happy?  Many people seem to think so.  They pursue it as if this will be the answer to all their troubles.  While money in and of itself isn’t bad, one’s attitude toward it can be.  If it becomes the main focus of life and is managing you more than you are managing it, then it’s a possibility that there’s a problem.

The fact is many people every day look at money, prestige, titles and the like as a gold access card to carry them through life; depending on it to be there to fill every need imaginable.  For some, it may not be money rather it may be certain people and vices that have this hold on them.  But, when the truth of it all boils down to nothing, often the pursuer of such things still find they have an unanswered void that remains in their life.

Material things and people can only take you so far in life.  Not until we meet Jesus face to face; not until we see Him for who He is in our own lives and depend on Him for salvation and to fill that void, do we find the peace and rest that our souls so desire.

Zacchaeus was such a man in today’s lesson.  He had money.  He had a title.  But his life was not all that it cracked up to be.  On the outside, it may appear that he had everything going for him.  But, on the inside, there was something still missing; something that drew him to want to be where Jesus was on that day of their meeting.

No matter how bad a sinner someone is considered to be, or the negative way people view them when they meet Jesus with a surrendered heart, their life can be changed.

Lesson Summary

Luke 19:1-4 “And Jesus entered and passed through Jericho. And, behold, there was a man named Zacchaeus, which was the chief among the publicans, and he was rich. And he sought to see Jesus who he was; and could not for the press, because he was little of stature. And he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”

Being a “publican” (tax collector) is a title that left an awful aftertaste in the mouth of the ancient Jewish people.  Due to their role in extorting monies from their fellow countrymen and working side by side with the occupying forces of the enemy Romans, this made them especially despised in the eyes of their own people.  And, he who would dare to be considered “chief” among these could be looked on possibly as a chief sinner as well.  His sins against his people were even greater considering he most likely came to that position through bidding with the enemy for the right to tax his own people and to hold back monies for himself adding to his “rich” status.

Yet, it is the same man such as the one described above who hears of Jesus coming to town and wants to get a better view of Him.  The Bible doesn’t specify his cause for wanting to be near to Jesus when He comes, but the fact that he went through great lengths to gain a bird’s eye view is nothing to sneeze at.  Something (as we say, but know it had to have been the Lord), was working on the inside to draw this man closer to where the Savior would be for a divinely appointed encounter that would change his life forever.

“He sought to see Jesus who he was.”  At this point in His ministry, Jesus is coming to the end of His course on this earth.  By now many people in many cities have seen or at the very least heard of this man who teaches with such power and authority; a man who raises the dead and opens the eyes of the blind and the ears of the deaf.  Some identified Him as a man who restores the lepers to a whole state and frees people from spiritual bondage.  Some thought of Him as John the Baptist come back to life or Elijah or one of the prophets (see Mark 8:28).  Very few saw Him for who He really was – the “Christ,” the Son of God (see Mark 8:29), who came with a divine mission to save mankind from his sins.

With such a reputation preceding Him it is not surprising that when He comes to town people want to clamor to at least get a glimpse of Him to see “who he was,” even this publican.  Was it mere curiosity or was there something more going on in the heart of Zacchaeus?  We may never know what started his pursuit to be near Jesus, but we are sure told how the story ends – and that, my friends, is the best and most important part of it all.

With the crowds forming Zacchaeus’ size posed a problem in his desire to see Jesus better.  It is recorded that he was “little of stature,” meaning he was shorter than the average males present there.  We are not told exactly how tall he was, but it had to have been significant to point out as a hindrance to see Jesus.

With that, “he ran before, and climbed up into a sycomore tree to see him: for he was to pass that way.”  Although I am a girl, climbing trees used to be one of my favorite things to do as a child.  I mean, literally, almost every day we were climbing trees.  We would pretend this tree was my house and that one was yours and so on.  Oh, for the imagination of youth…

Yet, it was not imagination that drove Zacchaeus, but a real-life desire.  Determined to not let anyone or anything get in his way, in the most undignified fashion imaginable for a grown man who had the status of “chief publican”, he acted as a school-aged boy and climbed a tree just to see Jesus.

What lengths do we go through to be near Jesus?  Our western culture offers us opportunities that others may not be privileged to, and yet how do we use our unrestricted access of the Lord?  Perhaps if we were forced into hiding just to worship, we would understand the simple desire to climb a tree to see Jesus.

A clear vision of Jesus, no matter where we find ourselves in life, is imperative to our Christian faith.  It requires determination and commitment to be where He is.  The question is, “How bad do you want Him?”

Zacchaeus didn’t know Jesus personally, yet, but from what he heard he, a sinner, had a made-up mind to find out more, even if it meant suffering the scoffing of others.  Not caring what they thought, he mounted the “sycomore tree” branches that went out some, giving him the perfect place to perch himself for a better vantage point to see Jesus.

Luke 19:5-6 “And when Jesus came to the place, he looked up, and saw him, and said unto him, Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.  And he made haste, and came down, and received him joyfully.”

Jesus has always had an amazing focus for people.  He had a perspective of souls that others couldn’t possibly see on the outside.  When they looked at Zacchaeus all they saw was his sins and with condemning attitudes brushed him off as not being worthy of their time.  After all, he consorted with the enemy, so why should they.

Thankfully, Jesus doesn’t see him or us that way.  Outward markers that try to identify us are not what He’s most concerned with.  I have always said that He is more interested in what goes on inside.  Jesus pays attention to the needs of the inner man that the whole man might be saved.  Inside every real person is a real soul that needs to be filled by the Lord Jesus Christ.

What would it have been like to be the most unwelcome guest at the party, but the honoree comes along to point you out and elevate you above all others in attendance?  Sweet!   This is something akin to the way I believe Zacchaeus must have felt when, despite the crowds of “worthy” people in the press, Jesus centered on him alone, saying, “Zacchaeus, make haste, and come down; for to day I must abide at thy house.”

I love this because it really personifies what Jesus taught when He told the parable of the lost sheep saying, “What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4).  This was a picture of Jesus caring enough about each individual to go after that one soul.  Make no mistake about it, Jesus cares about you personally.

It was simply unheard of for a rabbi or a holy man to go to the house of a sinner such as him.  Being the Savior that He was, Jesus often ruffled the feathers of other’s opinions in a desire to draw people closer to Himself.  This was not the first time His actions upended other’s views.  Earlier, explaining His choice to eat with sinners, Jesus taught, “They that are whole need not a physician; but they that are sick,” (Luke 5:31).  Jesus was not, and has never, and never will entertain sin.  Please get that right.  However, Jesus knows that people from all manner of life need a Savior regardless of how the rest of the world views them.

Sticking to His guns, as we would dub it modern terminology, Jesus invites Himself to Zacchaeus’ house.  Zacchaeus surely knows how people viewed him.  He probably would have never thought to ask Jesus to come but Jesus has opened the door and called to him out of the crowds.  Quickly he came down from that tree and “received him joyfully.”

He had something to be happy about.  Jesus chose to be with him out of everyone else.  The world had written him off as a no good, no good.  But, not Jesus.  There’s a phrase that most are familiar with called “carpe diem,” which many interpret as “seize the day.”  It means don’t let this moment go by.  Take hold of what is presented before you before it slips through your fingers.  It may never come around again.  He must take a step of faith now.

Zacchaeus saw Jesus before him.  Zacchaeus received Jesus’ beckoning to allow Him to come to his house.  There are a lot of spiritual underlying references here.  The Bible tells us to “Seek ye the LORD while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near,” (Isaiah 55:6).  The time is now.  The day is at hand.  For anyone who wants to be saved, tomorrow is not promised.  When Jesus knocks at the door of your heart, right now is the time to open it and let Him in; to receive Him joyfully.

The Bible also lets us know, “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name,” (John 1:12).  What would have happened if Zacchaeus would have denied Jesus’ request?  Little did he know that Jesus was making His way closer to the cross to be sacrificed for the sins of all mankind past, present, and future.  Jesus would not come through here again.  This was the time to receive Him.  It was not going to come around once more.  He would have missed out on the best life-altering experience there is.  Don’t let it be said too late.

Luke 19:7 “And when they saw it, they all murmured, saying, That he was gone to be guest with a man that is a sinner.”

The others in the crowd complained when they saw the interaction between Jesus and Zacchaeus.  It is amazing, that despite the grace of God in each individual life, how we can get selfish and nick pick when God wants to do something for someone else.

People talk about what they don’t understand.  God said in Isaiah, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD,” (55:8).  They couldn’t understand why Jesus would want to even talk to the likes of this tax collector, better yet, why He would want to go to his house.  They couldn’t understand that Jesus looks beyond what people are right now and sees what they can become.  They couldn’t comprehend that love, grace, and mercy were at work there that day and every day to any and all who would receive Him joyfully. He might be classified as a “sinner” right now, but before this event is over with, he shall be called a child of God.

Luke 19:8-10 “And Zacchaeus stood, and said unto the Lord; Behold, Lord, the half of my goods I give to the poor; and if I have taken any thing from any man by false accusation, I restore him fourfold. And Jesus said unto him, This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham. For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.”

A changed heart is reflected by changed actions.  What people witness in your life will resound more than the words that are coming out of your mouth.  Something remarkable transpired there that day between Zacchaeus and Jesus.  We don’t know exactly what, but at the end of the day, Zacchaeus was a new man.  The art of greed and getting over on people to make a quick buck were no longer his priorities.  His priority now was living right before the Lord.  And with that, he seeks to pay back some of the wrongs he has committed toward his fellow man.

He offers, of his own accord, to give half of his goods to the poor.  This was not something that was required but wholly testifies to the new nature his heart has undergone.  You can never be saved by your works, but faith without works is dead (James 2:17,20,26).  What has transpired on the inside should be made manifest on the outside.

For this man, who gained his wealth by stealing and extortion, sought means along those same lines to recompense his wrongdoings.  Therefore, anything he had taken from any person through the means of “false accusation” Zacchaeus promised to “restore him fourfold.”  He was ready, and his heart was in proper position, to go above and beyond what was necessary to work to undo some of the wrongs he had done.  

Jesus, the true teller of a true heart transformation proclaims, “This day is salvation come to this house, forsomuch as he also is a son of Abraham.”  True repentance is an inside job.  Faith is personal and Jesus knew, not from his giving, but because He is the only one who can see where man can’t, that this man is a new creature with a new nature.  Jesus knows this man is fit for salvation, and as Zacchaeus received Him with joy into his home, Jesus gladly welcomes this repentant man into the family of faith.

Isaiah tells us, “Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the LORD, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon,” (55:7).  And, this is what we see play out in Zacchaeus’ story.

God has from the beginning always sought the side of pardon.  Man has often gone in the opposite direction.  But, when one wants to make that spiritual U-turn in life and gets back on the right path where He is, God does not reject him.  God is “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance,” (2 Peter 3:9).  And, “He that believeth on him is not condemned,” (John 3:18).

The murmurers and complainers had condemned him already, but Jesus saw more.  He was still a child of promise, the seed of Abraham (compare to those of us who are now in Christ, who through faith are now the seed of Abraham as well – see Galatians 3:7,16,26), just as they were, and if he was truly repentant, he deserved another chance. Earlier Jesus taught, “But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance,” (Matthew 9:13; compare to Paul’s personal testimony in 1 Tim. 1:15).  And, judging by Zacchaeus’ outcome, I’d say, MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.

Changed hearts and changed lives are what Jesus’ ministry is all about.  He didn’t wash His hands of him and consider him out of the game.  Rather, He sought for that lost soul, stating, “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” 

Jesus’ life was marked with the undeniable cause to save men from their sins; to redeem a people unto God.  The ministry that He operated in would heal; bring peace and deliverance, eventually fulfilling all through His ultimate sacrifice on the cross.  “For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved,” (John 3:17; see also 1 John 4:14).

Conclusion

Revelation 3:20 says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.”  Zacchaeus joyfully received Jesus with faith.  Will you?

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Zacchaeus Meets Jesus

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Kid’s Journal Page: Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Christ is a Personal Savior

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Word Search: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Search  Answers: Zacchaeus Meets Jesus Word Search Answers

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God Gets Personal!

 

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Omnipresent and personal, those words are kind of an oxymoron, don’t you think?  Yet, that’s what God is known as.  He is never kept within the walls of the status quo erected by the human mindset anyways.

Yes, omnipresent (everywhere at the same time) and personal (individually based)  are contradictory in the finite statement of the human mind, but not in the loving nature of God.  When we think of omnipresent we think of God’s work as being far-reaching.  He can extend His love, power, and authority through an infinite number of channels to touch an infinite number of lives all at the same time.  Yet, the heart and life of each individual soul are precious to Him.  You and I are a special creation to Him.  Fashioned uniquely.  Designed particularly to be you.  And, loved personally.

This is a role only God can fill.  He can govern the universe while at the same time lean in close to hear from you; paying special attention to just you.

So, if you feel lost in the vastness of all that is going on in your world today, be encouraged.  The same God that is running everything also has His eyes focused on you personally.  The same God that is everywhere all at once is reaching specifically to your heart.  And, there He gets personal with you.

 

The Anointing Breaks the Yoke! | An Isaiah 10:27 Prayer

Father God, we know Your Word declares that it is the anointing that destroys the yoke that tries to bind Your people (Is. 10:27). We are praying that You would rain down Your anointing this day and break every chain that tries to hold Your people down. We pray for release to walk in the power of all You have declared for us over our lives. We believe in You! We know that You are at work on our case even as speak. You are our hope and confidence in everything we face. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Text Free Photo Credit: Pixabay

“Again!”

 

God can do it again!

God can restore again!

God can touch your land again!

God can cause fruit to grow in your life again!

God can turn your captivity into prosperity again!

God can do it for you even when it seems all hope is lost again!

Our God specializes in restoration, healing relationships with Him again!

He majors in turning the ashes of our lives into something beautiful again!

Turn to God because He can do it for you again!

“For thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Houses and fields and vineyards shall be possessed again in this land.” (Jeremiah 32:15)

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God hears your prayers; so pray, and look up!

“Give ear to my words, O LORD, consider my meditation. Give heed to the voice of my cry, my King and my God, for to You I will pray. My voice You shall hear in the morning, O LORD; in the morning I will direct it to You, and I will look up.” Psalm 5:1-3, NKJV

Sunday School Lesson – “Instructions on Humility” Luke 14:4-14

Photo: Pixabay/Lumapoche

VERSE DISCOVERY: Luke 14:7-14 (KJV, Public Domain)

Have you ever been around that one person in the crowd that always needs to be heard?  They stand amid a circle of onlookers boasting about all the what’s going to be.  They are people with a lot of talk and little action, when, actions really do speak louder than words.

Jesus was the epitome of humbleness and humility.   Philippians 2:7 says, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men.”  The King of all kings stepped down from His throne in heaven and stooped down to the rags of earth and put on humanity.  The King who could’ve demanded all demanded nothing.

In John 13:15 He told them, “For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you.”  Though that was written after the washing of the disciples’ feet the same principle of humility and how one lives their life applies here.

Prominence is not a new and now thing.  Wanting to be seen and noticed by others is something that mankind has before and continues to struggle with today.  Jesus instructs us on how to seek the humble road to walk and let God exalt us in due time.

Humility Does Not Exalt Itself

Luke 14:7 “And he put forth a parable to those which were bidden, when he marked how they chose out the chief rooms; saying unto them,”

“I only want the best for my…” you fill in the rest.  It’s something I’m sure we have all said at one point or another.  The best is a symbol of status.  It is thought of to be in a more favorable condition than another.  The best for the purpose of showing off was not something Jesus supported, but for those who attended these events, they fervently sought for it.

“He marked how they chose out the chief rooms.”  Jesus pays attention to the dealings of man.  He has a very astute eye for detail.  Attending the weddings and/or events He observed how people clamored for the best; “the chief rooms.”  Many may not see a problem with wanting choice seating but let me unwrap it a bit and show you this in another perspective.

Imagine a concert with people fighting and pushing their way to get as close to the front as possible.  Not caring for others, they would trample and step over others to get to that prominent place.  Or, let me pick with some other folk.  Imagine… are you ready for it… BLACK FRIDAY SHOPPING!  Enough said.

Seeking after these chief rooms was seeking after the world’s symbol of being lifted above another.  The attitudes represented didn’t give thought or care to their human counterparts.  Getting to that prominent position is all that mattered.

Luke 14:8-9 “When thou art bidden of any man to a wedding, sit not down in the highest room; lest a more honourable man than thou be bidden of him; And he that bade thee and him come and say to thee, Give this man place; and thou begin with shame to take the lowest room.”

It’s the “not’s” of life that people don’t want to hear about.  But Jesus, with His wise perspective, instructs the people to live opposite of their natural inclinations.  Naturally, people seek the higher, the better.  True humility doesn’t vie for the best for oneself; it vies for the best for others.

One teaching I have always heard and still remember to this day is that none of us are the end all to everything.  What that means is that God can raise up someone off the streets or wherever to take anybody’s place and fulfill a ministry, calling, etc. if one is unwilling to do so on their part.  There is always someone who can take over the place where we fight to sit or someone in the wings whom others may view as more important.  Therefore, to vie for the temporary of our own accord means that we will not have the strength in and of ourselves to retain that so-called “seat of honor” if the one who bids decides that we can be swapped out and made to move and give room to another.

Jesus’ advice was not to put oneself in that situation where instead of the honor they fought of themselves to obtain, they actually have come to know shame by being made to move.  This reminds me of the naughty dog who walks away with his tail tucked between his legs; ashamed and put out.  Jesus was trying to help Christians save themselves from shame through the fruit of humility.  In our success-driven generation more of this fruit needs to be eaten more often, and with careful regard.  The thrill to seek the “high” will quickly be overtaken when one is forced to take the “lowest.”

Luke 14:10 “But when thou art bidden, go and sit down in the lowest room; that when he that bade thee cometh, he may say unto thee, Friend, go up higher: then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.”

The way to up is down.  How backward that is to the thinking of many today?  But how glorious it is that when one is in the “lowest” to have another come and place him in the “higher.”  This is how things work in God’s economy.  Notice in the Bible, it is the lowliest of people that are entrusted with the greatest honor.

People will take notice of the one who is lifted.  “Then shalt thou have worship in the presence of them that sit at meat with thee.”  Notice the opposites of God’s economy.  Those that seek to be noticed in the “presence” of people are the same ones that can be overlooked or even made to move lower.  Yet, at the same time, those who are not worried about self-glorification and such are the ones who are now noticed in the “presence” of all.  “Put not forth thyself in the presence of the king, and stand not in the place of great men: For better it is that it be said unto thee, Come up hither; than that thou shouldest be put lower in the presence of the prince whom thine eyes have seen,” (Proverbs 25:6-7).  Choose what Proverbs calls the “better!”

A good biblical representation of this is the story of Joseph.   He was forced into servitude yet through it all he kept his cool and let God work in him where he was be it the pit, Potiphar’s house, or the prison.  God moved him “higher” in each circumstance until eventually, Pharaoh declared, “Thou shalt be over my house, and according unto thy word shall all my people be ruled: only in the throne will I be greater than thou,” (Genesis 41:40).  Now, Joseph was honored or “worshipped” as second in command of Egypt.  He didn’t exalt or seek the higher for himself; God was responsible for bidding him to come “higher.”

Luke 14:11 “For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

Through stories of parable or through a direct command of the Word, Jesus is making His point: if one decides to lift themselves up God can and will bring him/her down!

Obadiah 3-4 says, “The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground? Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the LORD” (emphasis mine).  Arrogance and self-exaltation are deceptive.  It is a lie that will fade as fast as any fake substance that tries to stand before a very real God.  That’s God’s economy!

When one seeks to exalt themselves not only is it prideful, something that God is dreadfully against, but it shows that one trusts in themselves over God’s sovereignty.  “Whosoever” means absolutely anybody! There are no exceptions.  Nobody is exempt.  Any who would seek to lift himself will be “abased;” God will put them down.  But, for those that are humble God shows special favor.  “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabiteth eternity, whose name is Holy; I dwell in the high and holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble, and to revive the heart of the contrite ones,” (Isaiah 57:17).  These are revived.  These are exalted.

Humility Treats Others Fairly

Luke 14:12-13 “Then said he also to him that bade him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.  But when thou makest a feast call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:”

Instructions for humility also include how we treat others.  One who is prideful and operates for self-advancement will put on a show for those who can help them reach their goal.  Shaking the right hands and scratching the right backs can lift one in certain social circles.  It propels them further up the ladder of success.

Humility, as what Jesus was teaching, operates with compassion and is based on love.  Love that wants to see others treated fairly.  Love that is not concerned with who approves of the guest list.  Love that sees people for who they are and not the badges of afflictions such as maimed, lame and blind; and not for the labels of being “poor.”  These people, despite how society looks on them, are to be welcomed to come to the feast!

Are we not a people who will experience the same benefits that Jesus is teaching in this parable?  Revelation 19:9 says, “…Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb…” Were we not the unloved?  Were we not the ones maimed by sin and the degradation of this world?  Were we not the ones who bore afflictions and were outcast yet when He saved us we became “blessed?”  We have received our open invitation to the “marriage supper of the Lamb” which we could never have been counted worthy of or repay.  Jesus is saying for His people to start practicing what He already was going to do for all those who are “called.”

Luke 14:14 “And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompence thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”

If you will allow me to paraphrase, Jesus was saying, “They can’t repay you, but I can!”  Isn’t that exciting?  “Thou shalt be blessed!”  The Bible declares, “Evil pursueth sinners: but to the righteous good shall be repayed,” (Proverbs 13:21).  Too many are worried about the idea of losing out.  They allow thoughts of being shortened by someone or not receiving a return for their supposed good that they do.  But our God is faithful, and He is the one that will reward!

“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ,” (Colossians 3:24).  When one loves people enough to invite those whom to others seem unworthy, they are showing that they are true servants of Christ because this is what Christ did for all.  And, because they “serve the Lord Christ” they “shall receive the reward of the inheritance.”

If you have ever read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom, you know that the Ten Boom family was a family that was used to opening their home out of their meager means to feed any who knocked on the door – people who could not repay them for their kindness.  Then, during the German occupation, they rescued, saved, and cared for countless Jews while they themselves suffered loss.  God does not soon forget such kindness toward one of His own.  On this earth, it may have appeared that this family lost all, when, in actuality, they have their reward that will be “recompensed at the resurrection of the just.”  In humility, they were just happy to be servants of Christ that could reach out and help others.  They were never worried about a here and now reward.  They just wanted to help any way they could. That’s compassion.  That’s the love of Christ in operation, which to me, is the meaning of true humility.

PDF Printable Sunday School Lesson Pack (With easy to read instructions following the P.E.A.R.L. format on how to conduct each lesson with areas for adding personal notes): Sunday School Lesson – Instructions on Humility

Suggested Activities:

Draw the Scene: Instructions on Humility Draw the Scene

 

Word Search: Instructions on Humility Word Search Answers: Instructions on Humility Word Search Answers

Crossword: Instructions on Humility Crossword Answers: Instructions on Humility Crossword Answers

Word Scramble: Instructions on Humility Word Scramble Answers: Instructions on Humility Word Scramble Answers

Adult Journal Page: Adult Journal Page – Luke 14:11

Kid’s Journal Page – Kid’s Journal Page – Jesus Teaches Us to be Humble

Blank Journal Pages:  Blank Adult and Kid’s Journal Pages

“A Tale of Two Prayers” (Great lesson ideas and object lesson.  It has balloons so you know students will enjoy this one.  Enjoy!)

“The Tortoise and the Hare” (This old story with coloring sheet is a great example of humility.  Enjoy!)

“Donkey Paper Bag Craft”

“Activities for Kids on Humility”

“Humility Bible Lessons for Kids”

“Boastful or Humble” (Printable activity page that will help kids evaluate what is humble.)

“Pride vs. Humility” (Different lesson but can easily be applied to this one.  After all, when you have boxing gloves involved it becomes a whole new way of illustrating such an important truth.  Enjoy!)

 

“When they speak against your possibilities . . .”

Numbers 13:26-33

I don’t know what you think about when you think about the idea of a Promised Land, but I can tell you what I think about. I think about a place of hope. I think about the word destiny. I think about stepping into something new and embracing the opportunity to leave the old behind.

The Promised Land was, for the children of Israel, exactly as its name describes. It was told hundreds of years before that this land would belong to them. This was going to be a place of ownership. This was going to be a place of heritage. Their inheritance, blessings, and promise for a pleasant, abundant and happy life would be in this land.

After being freed from bondage, God was now ready for them to finally take hold of all that He had in store for them. So, He instructed Moses to gather a delegation of men to go and spy out the land. He specifically said in Numbers 14:2 “Send thou men, that they may search out the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel . . .”

God already had it made up in His mind that this land; this promise was theirs. “I’m giving it to them,” He said.

He’s telling them, “I have a place for you. I have a destiny for you to walk into; place where you belong.”

So, with great joy, I’m assuming, these men marched forward, chosen to be the first to view the promise of God. They would be the first to walk on its soil; the first to see the land; the first to see the people; and, the first to see the rewards of the fruit.

The Bible says they went up and searched the land and they returned from searching after 40 days and they brought back a little show and tell segment. They brought back proof of the promise.

They had evidence of their future blessing right in their hands and it was HUGE! A cluster, not many clusters, but a cluster (one cluster, one branch) that was so big it took two men to carry it on a staff between their shoulders. What God had in store for them was phenomenal.

So, when the Bible says, “Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him,” oh, honey, you better believe it.

But, here’s the kicker. They had the evidence in their hands but still didn’t believe the promise was for them. The world says, “Seeing is believing.” Right here is proof that the world is lying to you. They saw and still didn’t believe. On the other hand the Bible says, “The just shall walk by faith and not by sight,” (2 Cor. 5:7) and here’s why because it is always better for you to believe in what God said than what you can see with you natural eyes.

With their natural eyes they could see the promise, but they could also see a problem. They said, “We came into the land and surely it flows with milk and honey and fruit,” (Num. 13:27). Surely means without a doubt it’s there. Without a doubt everything that God described it to be for us, it’s there.

“Nevertheless!”

How did they move from “surely” to “nevertheless?” Immediate doubt moved in. Doubt is a robber of dreams and a drainer of possibilities. Doubt causes you to be uncertain when God already said it is certain. Doubt causes you to hesitate when God already said to move forward. Doubt causes you to give up when God says you can do this.

Who are you going to listen to: doubt or God?

Unfortunately many of us are making the same mistake as the children of Israel and they listen to the voice of doubt; they listen to those who speak against their possibilities instead of God.

In verse 28, their doubt turned into excuses. It doesn’t take long for your doubt to convince you that it’s right and you have a legitimate excuse not to pursue that passion; that dream; that promise.

“The people” became their excuse to keep them from their possibilities. When push comes to shove, more often than not, it’s always more about “people” than it is about God. That’s why many of us don’t see the results of Promised Land living because of the “people.” Usually it’s their criticism or fear of rejection or dealing with their jealously that lets people get in the way.

For them, their excuse was they “are strong.” We see the land but we can’t have it because they are bigger than us; they are better than us; they are stronger than us; they are greater than us, and we can’t match up to that expectation.

Who told you to match up to man’s expectation when God who created you and gifted you and said, “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light,” (1 Pet. 2:9). When God said at other times, “This people have I formed for myself; they shall shew forth my praise,” (Is. 43:21).

But there was one who refused to get in line with that loser mentality; one who shunned the thought of being defeated by an enemy when he knew God was on their side. There was one who took a stand against this destructive thinking and said, “Let us go up at once!”

He stuck with the word “surely” and threw off the “nevertheless!” Get a Caleb mentality and refuse to let a bad report rob you of your destiny. Don’t let anybody speak a “nevertheless” into your situation. Don’t let anybody get away with putting “buts” and “what ifs” in your mind. Don’t let anybody speak negative about your promise. Take a Caleb stand and protect your possibilities.

He made his mouth match up with the message of God. He got into agreement with what God said and not man and said, “Let us go up at once!” And, not just “go up,” but when we get there we’re going to do something about it; we are going to “possess it!”

“For we are well able to overcome it!” Confidence begins first in getting into agreement with God (which Caleb did). Then, you have to believe in the gift He put in you. You have to have the confidence of Caleb and say, “we are well able.”

He could have just said, “we are able,” but he went a step further in his faith and declared, “we are well able.” Adding that word “well” to the equation means we’ve more than got this.

Doesn’t our Bible tells us that we are “more than conquerors?” (Ro. 8:37). What Caleb was saying is the destiny of reaching and claiming the Promised Land is for us.

Our promise is for us. It fits us. It looks good on us. “What God has for me it is for me!”

The problem is we need to take it out of the song and apply it to our lives. Start thinking like Caleb and refuse nothing less than your promise. Take a stand against negative people speaking about your possibilities!

After Caleb said, “We are well able,” here come the naysayers again, saying, “we be not able.”

They couldn’t see themselves overcoming. They couldn’t see themselves walking in victory. They didn’t mention anything about having faith in God or His ability to see them through. They just said, “No! It looks good but I’ll never have it.”

“I wish I may, I wish I might, but it’s not a wish I’ll have tonight.” They couldn’t see themselves in it. “Without a vision the people perish!” (Pro. 29:18).

There was one father in the Bible who had a vision to see his son made whole again. His son was demon-possessed and came to Jesus seeking deliverance, declaring, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief,” (Mark 9:24).

He knew if given the opportunity, his flesh would get in the way of seeing a great miracle happening for his family. “I see myself, Lord; I see my family; I see my son restored and walking in the promises of God.” “Lord, I believe, help my unbelief!”

He was not going to let a seed of doubt get planted into his spirit and erase his blessings because that’s what doubt does; it cancels out blessings.

But, the men in today’s text couldn’t see through the lens of belief. God can do it for this one and that one, but not for me.

They relied more on the flesh; more on their own strength, saying, “They are stronger than we,” than the God who brought them through thus far. Psalms 118:8 tells us, “It is better to trust in the Lord than to put confidence in man.”

Man will fail you. Your own strength will fail you. Somebody said, “But God . . .”

Not only did they not see that God’s blessing was for them, but they brought themselves low with their speech. They talked about how “great” they are, and at the same time said they themselves were nothing.

“We were in our own sight as grasshoppers.” They didn’t say this is how the enemy saw them, but this is how they saw their own selves. The battle they fought before ever coming against anybody else was the battle in their mind: “we were in our own sight as grasshoppers.”

Listen, God doesn’t bring you to the edge of the promise just to turn you around and say, “Sike! I was just playing. Go back.” If God brings you to it, He will bring you through it.

God’s intention was for them to go in, take the land, and possess it. But, they lost the battle in their mind before they ever set foot in the land.

They didn’t give God a chance! This is only the same God, who delivered the 10 plagues; who divided the Red Sea; who did miracle after miracle. But, when it came to their promise they wouldn’t give Him a chance, for if they did they would have gotten in line with Caleb’s way of thinking and say, “we are well able.”

Too many of us feel too small for where God wants to take us. God has big plans but we don’t see ourselves as big enough. We feel outsized by what lies ahead. We can’t get past what others are speaking about our possibilities, and so, we close up the door of faith; we slam shut the way to victory never fully realizing the greatness of His promise for your life.

Yes, there are always going to be barriers (real or imagined). Yes, there will always be giants. But, you and I have to have enough faith not to be overwhelmed by what we see with our natural eyes. We have to have enough in us to look past how we view ourselves; how they view us, and see something bigger!

1 John 4:4 says, “Greater is He that is in you than he that is in the world.”

The promise may seem too big for us, but it’s never too big for the God in you. “Greater is He that is in you!” God is never outsized by anything. God dwarfs to nobody, and He’s working in you!

Stop listening to the negativity about your promise. Stop paying attention to the naysayers. You are NOBODY’S GRASSHOPPER!

As a matter of fact, we need to say that to ourselves, “I AM NOBODY’S GRASSHOPPER!”

Therefore, stop listening when they speak against your possibilities.

“Learning to Let Go!”

Learning to let go

 

Once, I took a much-needed vacation with family and friends.  I haven’t had a real one in years.  Every part of me, inside and out, needed a break from schedules, routines, and the normal day-to-day.

During this vacation, I was privileged to do and experience things I haven’t before.  Two of the things especially of note were the zip lines and the quick jump.  Both required jumping from the top of a high platform or rock wall and both really stretched me out of my comfort zone.

Don’t get me wrong; zip lining was a blast, but in order to get down off the landing platform I was attached to a sort of supportive rope that would grab you and lower you gently as you made your descent.  In order to activate the rope, the instructor told me to just step off.

Huh?!

Watching others from the ground it didn’t seem that big of a deal but standing on the platform for yourself was a whole other story. It was higher than it appeared and I am not too fond of heights, to begin with.  Standing there looking down the instructor repeated her directions: just step off or jump.

Just step off or jump …???

With my eyes, I saw the rope catch and lower each person that used it.  It never failed to do its job.  But, my body had trouble taking that leap of faith.  All I simply had to do was let go and depend on the equipment to do its job.

A lot of times we face difficulties and challenges in life, things that stretch us way out of where we are used to being.  Then, we are asked to trust God; to just step out and depend on Him as our unfailing equipment.  Often our response is the same as mine standing atop that platform.

Huh?!

The mind knows all the promises of God.  The heart has digested His Word and has been filled with His Spirit, yet to just step out and let go  . . .

It’s a lot harder than we first imagined.  To let oneself freefall into trust where you have absolutely no control but to lean on Him takes courage.

But, this is the kind of courage and trust that makes our heavenly Father’s heart swell.  Knowing that our confidence is so strongly planted in Him, we just hold on and depend on Him to take us down from those high platforms of life – well, let’s just say, that’s all He ever asks from us is to lean and depend on Him.

Every challenging story in the Bible and every hero in the great hall of faith (Hebrews 11), each one started with that one-step-of-faith moment; one learning-to-let-go experience, trusting wholly in God for the end results.

Are you facing a challenge today?  Are you being stretched beyond your comfort zone?  Do you have goals that seem too big for you to accomplish by yourself?

You don’t have to do it alone.  Let go, and let God.  See where the end results will be in Him.

As far as those high platforms for the zip line and quick jump, I eventually sat down and scooted off.  No flash or show.  The rope was activated and did its job.  The point is I did it, in my own way, and let go.

Step off and let God’s power be activated in your life today.