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Archive for September, 2012

Laziness and Pride

September 27th, 2012

The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who answer discreetly.

Proverbs 26:16

Laziness is a sign of pride, evidence that we see ourselves above others, superior to those around us. To work hard is evidence of humility and a commitment to an important task.

Laziness in spiritual matters reveals either ignorance about the method of God in our lives, how He transforms us – it is not without our personal effort – or simple spiritual pride. Spiritual pride guarantees that we will be spiritually lukewarm, and on the cooler side of it at that. We will be quick to criticize others, quick to judge their ideas as inferior to ours, quick to dismiss them as second rate, when in reality we are the ones who stand in greater spiritual need.

Go to the prisons of the world and there you will meet plenty of men who feel superior to others, whose pride has blinded them to their true condition. They felt work was beneath them, they were smarter than all others they assumed, so they were cynical and rejected opportunities to truly better themselves, choosing instead the path of inner pride, anger, and judging. There you find unrepentant individuals who only want to be wise in their own eyes, not truly wise in fact, just in their feelings.

But if we look in the world of leadership – military, industry, political, religious, or any other – we will even there find some men and women of a similar spirit, who have chosen pride over humility and secured their own downfall. Those who lead effectively are humble in their hearts, realizing their need for advice and their personal limitations. Humility betters an individual but pride sets us up for failure.

The method of God for our maturity is not by hypnosis. This “let go and let God” mentality of some misrepresents the Scripture. We are called to study to show ourselves approved unto God, workmen who need not be ashamed (2 Tim. 2:15). We are to work for Christ now in the daylight for the night comes when no one can work (John 9:4). We are to do everything in sincere excellent effort and doing our best in all and anything we set our hands to (Eccl. 9:10). We are to make the most of every opportunity for Christ, walking in the fullness of the Spirit (Eph. 5:15-18). “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward” (Col. 3:23).

Victory belongs to the Lord, no question about that, and “unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain” (Psalm 127:1). Amen! But this teaches us that we do not labor alone, nor do we by ourselves alone choose what we will do for God. He leads and directs us, but in obedience we can and should make personal effort, expecting His blessing. Paul said of Epaphras, “I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis” (Col 4:13), and in the passage Paul seemed to mostly be referring to his prayer life. The Lord renews the strength of those who wait upon Him and that strength will be seen in humble service, sincere prayer, and personal effort to grow and serve as the Lord enables us.

Have you been tempted with pride? Have you felt superior to others? Have you neglected spiritual devotions and study? Have you sat motionless when you could have been serving in the power of the Spirit? Have you let opportunities for Christ go past you? Have you put less than your best effort before the Master for Him to use? Put your heart and life back into His hands. Humble yourself before the Lord and He will lift you up!

Evening Devotionals ,

Living in His Blessing

September 25th, 2012

Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you. Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the saints greet you. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.

2 Corinthians 13:11-14 (ESV)

In all our work in church and with people’s lives, we do not replace the Holy Spirit for He is the real Transformer. We work with Him. In the final appeal Paul commended them to God. He had played his part and perhaps will see them again, but he knew his limitations. He pointed them to the One who never leaves His children as orphans, but comes to them through His Spirit. Paul gave series of quick, brief, but meaningful words, all in the passive voice, meaning this is what they should expect from the hand of the Father and what they should aim for in their individual lives.

Be rejoicing – Everyday the Lord is with us and we always have reasons to rejoice – His mercies are new every morning (Lam. 3:22-23).

Be perfect – This verb was used often in Scripture. It was used in Matthew 4:21 for fishermen mending their nets, in Galatians 6:1 for restoring a fallen brother, and in Hebrews 11:3, for God’s act of creation, “by faith we understand that the universe was ‘fitted together’ at God’s command.” Paul used the word in 1 Cor. 1:10, appealing to the believers that they be “perfectly united in mind and thought,” perfectly or completely knit together. The word means: to restore; to mend; to place in order; to render complete; to supply a defect; to be fitted for the purpose that God has for you. Be complete in heart, in mind, in spirit, in decisions, in fellowship, in purpose, in actions. This is a call not just for their individual effort and calling, but this is about their relationships with one another, that they may “contend as one man for the faith” (Phil. 1:27). This is a call to restore one another as followers of Christ, that we might be all that God has designed us to be.

Be encouraged, be comforted – One scholar put it: “receive admonition (or encouragement) from all with a grateful mind, that you may come to greater perfection.” This is a reference to the way the letter started, that the comfort of God is shared between believers, and over flows into our lives from the lives of others. The word is in Greek is parakaleisthe and even those who have never studied NT Greek can hear the similarity to paraklete, referring to the Spirit who is called alongside us. This means to expect God to send us the comfort and encouragement we need.

Be of the same mind – the Corinthian believers had been in power struggles trying to determine which of them would get his way, when the passion of their lives should have been to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5).

Be at peace – the constant trait of the work of the Spirit in our lives, to bring peace to our troubled souls, and the last phrase ties them all in together, “and the God of love and peace will be with you.”

He reminded us of where we are heading and what is in store for us in eternity. Fullness of grace, fullness of love, and fullness of fellowship in the Holy Spirit with God and with His people. This is the end product of discipleship – to bring people into the kingdom of God filled with grace and love and the fellowship of the Spirit.

We are to live daily in the blessing of God, embraced by faith. When we feel overwhelmed by the pressures and challenges around us, we need to rest our hearts upon Him and His promises and be encouraged. He is with us and will be with us always.

Evening Devotionals ,