Humble Yourself

Today’s reading is Luke 14.

It is too easy when we hear a principle to keep it so general it is hardly applicable at all. For instance, Jesus could simply say, “Humble yourself.” Or just, “Be humble.” Instead, He gives an extremely specific example. When invited to a feast, don’t assume the seat of honor. Instead, sit in the place of least significance. Of course, if we assume Jesus is only talking about wedding feasts, we have a problem. After all, if Jesus’s example is taken too literally, it becomes nothing more than another way to gain honor for yourself. In fact, it becomes all about propping yourself up in front of others, which is never Jesus’s true intent. Rather, Jesus is using this particular illustration to point out that if we don’t humble ourselves, God will. It will not be pleasant when He does. However, the opposite is not true. That is, folks today will say, “If I don’t promote myself, who will?” That isn’t how it works in the kingdom of Christ. Self-promotion is never the right path. Humble yourself. If God wants you exalted, He will do it. If not, be thankful you were invited to His feast at all and enjoy a place at the table.

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 14.

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King of the World

Today’s reading is Luke 4.

Satan tempts Jesus to worship Him, but Jesus is not tempted by worshiping Satan. There is nothing about worshiping Satan that by itself is tempting. No, Satan tempts Jesus with the kingdoms of the world. However, the temptation was not actually being king of the world. God has already promised that to Jesus (see Psalm 2). The temptation is becoming king of the world, but avoiding God’s pathway. I don’t think Satan understood the plan of God. I don’t think he had foreseen the crucifixion. But he saw Jesus had left the throne of God and come into the world. He could see God’s way to the throne was awful for Jesus. Satan was supposedly offering Jesus a ticket back to the throne room of God. Whatever God’s plans for Jesus might be, Satan was saying he would give up without a fight and Jesus could bypass anymore hardship. He would just hand over the nations of Jesus would worship him. He could quit this whole incarnation and any other terrible thing God had planned for Jesus if He would just bow down. What a temptation! And isn’t that just how Satan does it. He offers us the easy way. He promises life, joy, peace if we will just take the shortcut. But Jesus knew better. The shortcut wasn’t worth it if it meant worshiping someone other than God. The same is true for us. The shortcut isn’t worth it if it means surrendering to someone other than God. Sure, Satan was probably lying. He always does. Sure, he promises the moon, but only gives dirt. That, however, is really beside the point in this story. Jesus chose the hard path because it was God’s path. God is the only one to be feared, reverenced, obeyed, and worshiped. Oh, how sad it makes me to think of the times I have failed at this even after learning better. But Jesus shows us the way to victory. No matter the past, follow His way today. Praise the Lord!

Tomorrow’s reading is Luke 4.

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Repent and Give God the Glory

Today’s reading is Revelation 16.

Of course, there are some differences, but don’t these bowls of wrath sound familiar? Painful sores, darkness, water turned to blood, hail. Obviously, the Holy Spirit is again calling to mind the plagues of God on Egypt. Further, He is calling to mind Pharaoh’s own hardness of heart that refused to repent and give glory to God. However, notice right in the middle of this the interjection, “Behold, I am coming like a thief! Blessed is the one who stays awake, keeping his garments on, that he may not go about naked and be seen exposed!” Does that sound familiar to you? It should. It is a mixture of what Jesus said to the church at Sardis in Revelation 3:2-3 and to the church at Laodicea in Revelation 3:18. Smack in the middle of all this judgment coming on the Bride’s enemies, there is a reminder that these messages are for us, the Bride, the church, as well. This is not simply an issue of insiders and outsiders. This is not just an issue of having gone through some entrance requirements, having our name on the role, paying our weekly dues, and now it doesn’t matter how we live. We who make up the Bride are to stand against the enemy as much as God is to judge the enemy. How often do Christians end up turning their back on the Lord because of hardship instead of repenting and giving glory to God. Remember, no matter what, God is the Savior. He is the Lord. He is the deliverer. Even when it looks like He is going to lose, even when we can’t understand why He is behaving as He is, He deserves glory. Whether you are in the church or without, let God’s disciplines accomplish their goal. Do not curse God and die, rather surrender to God and give Him the glory. I promise you, in the end, you’ll be glad you did.

Tomorrow’s reading is Revelation 17.

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I Want to be Truly a Widow

Today’s reading is 1 Timothy 5.

Okay, okay, let me clarify. First, I know I’m a man, and that would make me a widower, not a widow. Second, I don’t want my wife to die or my kids to abandon me. But here is what I do want. Because the true widow has been left all alone by biological and legal family, she knows her only hope is God. Therefore, she spends night and day in supplications and prayers. That is what I want. I want to be so convinced my only hope is God that I spend night and day in supplications and prayers. Too often, I place my hope in my strength, my work, my relationships, my plans, and then I use prayer more as the rubber stamp to get God’s religious seal of approval on all my hopes and dreams. I’ve come to realize that I can be a church-going Christian who reads my Bible a lot and even teaches the Bible who still leads a relatively godless existence. I don’t mean the pursuing immorality and sin kind of godless. I mean leading an existence where reliance on God is only in the background if thought about at all. I make sure to “say my prayers,” but I don’t necessarily see them as practically necessary to my daily living. I guess what I’m saying is I don’t want to wait until I’m in the true widow’s circumstances to have the true widow’s spirit. My only hope is God. Today, I want to pray like it. How about you?

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Timothy 6

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Don’t Be So Sensitive

Today’s reading is 2 Corinthians 8.

Wait! What? Appoint a brother to travel along with Paul to make sure he is being honest with the money the churches are contributing to help the Jerusalem saints? How dare they? Yet, Paul isn’t upset about it at all. In fact, he glories in it because he wants to do what is honorable not only in the Lord’s sight, but also in man’s. If I can get very practical on this one. I heard of a congregation in which the elders started establishing some boundaries regarding class teachers, especially for children’s classes. Boundaries like, must have been a congregational member for at least six months, always have more than one teacher in the classroom, spouses could teach together but there had to be at least one more non-family teacher with them, background checks, windows in the classroom doors, etc. I’m sure you know exactly why these measures were taken. What blew me away was how offended people were that the elders would establish these protocols and boundaries. I try not to assume the worst about those who were offended, but let us allow Paul to be our guide. Don’t be so sensitive. Don’t take it personally. See these kinds of boundaries as an opportunity to not only be honorable before God but to demonstrate honor before people. And, let’s face it, these kinds of boundaries help keep honest Christians honest and help us find those who need our support and help staying honest. Why wouldn’t we want that? Paul was okay with it. Don’t be so sensitive.

Tomorrow’s reading is 2 Corinthians 9.

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The Body is for the Lord

Today’s reading is 1 Corinthians 6.

God did not give us bodies so we could be involved in sexual immorality. Expanding that point, we recognize God didn’t give us our bodies so we could do whatever we pleased with them. Rather, He gave us bodies so we could serve Him with them. The body is for the Lord. But also note that the Lord is for the body. In other words, any restrictions or requirements God gives us are actually for our benefit. After all, our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. Whatever God tells us to do with those bodies will be for our good because that is also for God’s good. Further, what God tells us is for His good will be for ours as well. He is glorified in our bodies not by putting us down or diminishing our bodies, but by lifting us up in our bodies. Therefore, let’s be excited to glorify God in our bodies. That will be best not only for God, but for us as well.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Corinthians 7.

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Honorable Spouses

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 3.

Peter doesn’t just tell us to live honorably before the Gentiles (meaning non-disciples in this context), he actually gives examples. In yesterday’s reading he talked about submitting to the government which persecuted Christians and about slaves submitting honorably to masters even when the masters weren’t being honorable. In today’s reading, he begins by talking about honorable spouses. Please, keep that in mind as you read this chapter. Peter is not just talking about husbands and wives out of the blue, he is giving examples of what it means to be holy and honorable while in exile behind enemy lines. He is talking about what it means to be holy and honorable even if you are sleeping with the enemy. And this should tell us something about all marriages, even those between Christians. We are to live holy and honorably in our marriages because the most important goal in marriage is our spouse’s salvation, not for us to get our way, not for us to be happy, not for us to be served, but for our spouse to glorify God in the day of visitation. This doesn’t mean all spouses of Christians will come around. Some won’t. But that is the goal and the governing principle behind our behavior in marriage. Keep that in mind today whether or not your spouse is a Christian.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 4.

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Honorable Exiles

Today’s reading is 1 Peter 2.

While we live here in exile from our homeland, not only are we to be holy, we are to be honorable. Yes, we are to be distinct, set apart, and in some ways separate. We are set apart by God for sacred use to bring praise to His excellency. But that is not the same as being a jerk, and some Christians present their holiness like jerks. We need to conduct ourselves in such a way that when the citizens of the world want to find some way to complain about us, dismiss us, write us off, or even speak ill of us they don’t have a leg to stand on. It means we suffer dishonor, but still treat others with honor. It is by this powerful mixture of holy and honorable living that some of the worldly will be provoked to listen to the gospel message and glorify God in the day of visitation. We will not convert people to Jesus by becoming more like the world; we need to be holy. But neither will we convert people by being holier-than-thou; we need to be honorable.

Tomorrow’s reading is 1 Peter 3.

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Blessing, Harmony, Peace, and Honor

Today’s reading is Romans 12.

I imagine you are reading this on the same device you access social media. When you move from this post to Facebook (or you may be reading it there), Twitter, Instagram, or whatever other platform you socialize virtually on, please remember today’s reading. Bless those who persecute and curse you. Don’t curse them in return. You don’t have to agree with everyone, but at least communicate with harmony. Don’t repay evil for evil, give good instead. Honor others and do what is honorable. Be at peace as much as it depends on you. Sure, there are plenty of people who are going to do bad, evil things. Don’t respond in kind. Overcome evil with good. One of the true life-changing differences the gospel makes is not how we treat the people most like us and whom we most like. It is in how we treat people who don’t like us, are not like us, and whom we don’t like all that much. And what better place to start that gospel life change than right now while you are online? After all, Jesus didn’t die for a bunch of people who were nice to Him.

Tomorrow’s reading is Romans 13.

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Almost a Disciple

Today’s reading is Mark 10.

In our congregation, we remind ourselves a disciple is someone who honors God, learns from God, loves like God, and leads others to God all while abiding in God’s Word. Here we find a man who was almost a disciple. He comes to Jesus as if to honor, learn from, and lead others to him. But in the end he falls short. And what is the ultimate difference? In the end, he honored himself (Sure, he called Jesus “good” but his own ideas were better). He learned from himself (yes, he called Jesus “teacher,” but when taught what he didn’t want to hear, he went his own direction). He loved himself (whatever it was about the many possessions that attracted him, it was because of what they did for him). He led himself away from God (that one is obvious). Don’t be an almost disciple, because there really is no almost. Be a disciple.

Tomorrow’s reading is Mark 11.

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