Resolve 19

As we began 2019, my first preaching series in January was entitled “Resolve 19 – Four Choices for 2019 to Enrich Your Spiritual Life.”   Those four choices were to resolve to live humbly, resolve to live prayerfully, resolve to live generously and resolve to live joyfully.
 
To help keep this conversation going I have prepared some devotional thoughts to encourage all of us to keep our focus on Resolve 19.   The first focus will be on living humbly and there will be a devotional guide for each week in March.  These will be available here on our website and our church app or a paper copy in the foyer.
 

Mar 24, 2019
Resolve to Live Humbly: Part 4
By: (All)
Series: Resolve 19

Resolving to Live Humbly - Part 4

The Fruit of the Spirit

Paul’s list of fruit of the Spirit sounds crazy in a world dominated by hate, frustration, anxiety, pride and hunger for power.  To read Paul’s list is to enter a counter cultural world that calls us to an upside down kingdom – listen to these strange and beautiful qualities that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a human beings life: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23)   In this list we find “gentleness” which is also often translated “humility”.  Paul says that the clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is being cultivated in our lives is the presence of humility, gentleness, and meekness. 

While the dominant culture may not honor humility and gentleness, it is the way of Jesus and it clearly demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is reshaping us into the image of Christ Jesus.  Amazingly there comes a great freedom with the way of humility and gentleness.  We no longer have to claw our way to positions of power, we are freed from having to force our wills upon others, and we are freed from the foolishness of thinking we are always right  What a relief!

So how do cultivate this spiritual quality of humility into our daily lives with others?

·      Learn to yield to others without resentment or anger.

When we yield to others by carefully listening to their point of view, we open our hearts to humility.  When we yield to the possibility that we are mistaken or simply wrong about something, we show that the Spirit has begun to soften our heart.  Paul says in Philippians 2:3 that we are to “in humility value others above yourselves”.    Just imagine how refreshing it is when humility is displayed in the midst of a power struggle. 

·      Let the Spirit reshape how you view yourself in relation to others.

One of the most startling stories that Jesus told was a story about a Pharisee and Tax Collector who go to temple for prayer.  (Luke 18:9-14) The Pharisee thanks God that he is not like others – better than others.  The Tax Collector comes with a humble and broken heart and admits who he truly is, a sinner in need of mercy.   And of all things, Jesus says the humble heart is the heart in tune with God.  As we welcome humility into our heart we see who we are and have a gentle spirit toward others.  God’s grace becomes not only something we can receive but so can those who may not even know God yet.  Our humility may be the gateway for their receiving the gift of God’s grace. 

Lord, help us to understand that “Blessed are the meek (humble)” (Matt.5:5) and that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet.5:5)

WatchNotesDownloadDateTitle
  • Mar 24, 2019Resolve to Live Humbly: Part 4
    Mar 24, 2019
    Resolve to Live Humbly: Part 4
    By: (All)
    Series: Resolve 19

    Resolving to Live Humbly - Part 4

    The Fruit of the Spirit

    Paul’s list of fruit of the Spirit sounds crazy in a world dominated by hate, frustration, anxiety, pride and hunger for power.  To read Paul’s list is to enter a counter cultural world that calls us to an upside down kingdom – listen to these strange and beautiful qualities that are the fruit of the Holy Spirit in a human beings life: “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Gal. 5:22-23)   In this list we find “gentleness” which is also often translated “humility”.  Paul says that the clear evidence that the Holy Spirit is being cultivated in our lives is the presence of humility, gentleness, and meekness. 

    While the dominant culture may not honor humility and gentleness, it is the way of Jesus and it clearly demonstrates that the Holy Spirit is reshaping us into the image of Christ Jesus.  Amazingly there comes a great freedom with the way of humility and gentleness.  We no longer have to claw our way to positions of power, we are freed from having to force our wills upon others, and we are freed from the foolishness of thinking we are always right  What a relief!

    So how do cultivate this spiritual quality of humility into our daily lives with others?

    ·      Learn to yield to others without resentment or anger.

    When we yield to others by carefully listening to their point of view, we open our hearts to humility.  When we yield to the possibility that we are mistaken or simply wrong about something, we show that the Spirit has begun to soften our heart.  Paul says in Philippians 2:3 that we are to “in humility value others above yourselves”.    Just imagine how refreshing it is when humility is displayed in the midst of a power struggle. 

    ·      Let the Spirit reshape how you view yourself in relation to others.

    One of the most startling stories that Jesus told was a story about a Pharisee and Tax Collector who go to temple for prayer.  (Luke 18:9-14) The Pharisee thanks God that he is not like others – better than others.  The Tax Collector comes with a humble and broken heart and admits who he truly is, a sinner in need of mercy.   And of all things, Jesus says the humble heart is the heart in tune with God.  As we welcome humility into our heart we see who we are and have a gentle spirit toward others.  God’s grace becomes not only something we can receive but so can those who may not even know God yet.  Our humility may be the gateway for their receiving the gift of God’s grace. 

    Lord, help us to understand that “Blessed are the meek (humble)” (Matt.5:5) and that “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.” (1 Pet.5:5)

  • Mar 17, 2019Resolve to Live Humbly – Part 3
    Mar 17, 2019
    Resolve to Live Humbly – Part 3
    By: (All)
    Series: Resolve 19

    Resolving to Live Humbly - Part 3

    The Enemy of Humility
    As we continue to think about the call to live humbly, one thing is very clear.  The greatest enemy of humility is pride.  The problem with pride is that it is sneaky.  It comes to us claiming to just be about self-worth and dignity but then when pride moves into our heart it takes over. Think about what pride does to your relationships – it makes you overbearing, egotistical, and arrogant.   This means that your relationships become toxic and often pride will separate the best of friends.  Humility is always spoken of as a Christian virtue in scripture but pride is always described as deadly to our relationship with God and with others. (Phil. 2:3; Prov. 16:18)  In fact, there are two words that are used to refer to pride in the Christian scriptures: one of those words means literally to promise much more than we can deliver (alazon – James 4:16; 1 John 2:16; Rom. 1:30).  The word means to be out of touch with reality.  The second word for pride simply means arrogant (huperephanos – Mark 7:22; James 4:6; 1 Peter 5:5).  What comes with this arrogance is a constant attitude that despises others.  Pride brags about power, position, and wealth and looks down on others.  Humility sees the beautiful value of others and seeks to serve, build up, encourage, and love others in the most practical ways.  Pride Detox Here are a few ideas on how to detox pride from your life:
    • Take An Honest Look at Yourself! I admit this can be a bit scary but if we are willing to stop and evaluate the way we think about ourselves and how we behave toward others, we open the door to real change.  Do you look down on others?  Do you think you are better than most? Do you get angry when others do not praise you? Do you enjoy being the center of attention?  Remember pride is robbing you of the rich relationships you can enjoy with both God and others.  Write down the words of Proverbs 16:18 on an index card or a sticky note
    • Trust God Wholeheartedly! Pride is often present because we don’t trust God to take care of our needs.  Pride says, “I have to look out for # 1 – no one else will.”  But when we trust God we know we are loved and valuable – we don’t have to live or die based on what other people think of us.   The truth is that the arrogant and overbearing person is really just afraid – living in the grip of fear.  Let go of pride, trust God and don’t be afraid!
    Oh trustworthy God – take away all my fear and give me a humble spirit! Amen. 
  • Mar 10, 2019Resolve to Live Humbly – Part 2
    Mar 10, 2019
    Resolve to Live Humbly – Part 2
    By: (All)
    Series: Resolve 19

    Resolve 19 - Resolving to Live Humbly – Part 2

    The Humble Heart
    There were qualities that Jesus displayed that made him almost irresistible.  Genuine humility was one of those qualities.   Unlike any other human being who had ever come along, people were drawn to Jesus by his humble heart. Jesus said this: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.  Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.  For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30) Now if I made such an amazing claim that I was “gentle and humble in heart” you would likely just laugh out loud.  But Jesus could say these words and offer this invitation and no one laughed because anyone who knew him understood that what he was saying was right on target.  Even those who opposed Jesus knew that his self description was entirely accurate and honestly it shocked them to their core.  How can someone actually live this way?  For those filled with pride, the humility of Jesus was a bold rebuke of their self-centered attitude, all without a word spoken. Here is my question for us: is it possible for us to live like Jesus with a humble heart?  The answer is yes, but not perfectly. And yet the goal, the aspiration of our heart can be to excel in humility!  Paul aspired to excel and calls us to as well: “Be completely humble and gentle” he says in Ephesians 4:2.   That is setting the bar very high, but of course isn’t that how we learn to excel in anything in life?   Is there a path to a truly humble heart?  Let me offer a way that may help.
    • First, accept Jesus invitation to bring our weary, burdened and troubled heart to him and for goodness sakes, give it a rest! (Matt. 11:28)  We cannot expect to have a humble heart, when our heart is weary, burdened, and troubled.   As we take his “easy yoke” and learn from him we find rest for our souls.  Religion only offers a burden that no one can bear. (Read Matt. 12:1-14 to see that kind of religion.)  But a relationship with Jesus offers sweet rest for our souls  This is the first move to reshaping our heart.
    • Second, with a soul that is at rest, stop following rules and start following Jesus. Jesus is the living “Torah” – he is both the teacher and the core curriculum – only those who follow Jesus can begin to have a humble heart.  It is not human performance of religious rules, it is a living relationship with Jesus who knows the heart of the Father.
    • Third, begin to “clothe yourself with ….humility” (Col. 3:12) Think of it this way: what we wear is what people see first. If humility becomes what people see first in our way of living, thinking and acting then the focus is off of self because humility has us always thinking of others.
    What can you do today to focus your attention on others and not yourself?  A cup of coffee for a co-worker – a listening ear to a friend in need – a gentle word of encouragement to a parent wrestling with their young child – the list goes on and on. Lord Jesus, give us your humble heart. Amen
  • Mar 3, 2019Resolve to Live Humbly – Part 1
    Mar 3, 2019
    Resolve to Live Humbly – Part 1
    By: (All)
    Series: Resolve 19

    RESOLVE 19 - PART 1:   Resolve to Live Humbly

    Resolve 19? How’s it going?
    Amazing isn’t it – it is already the end of February – the first two months of 2019 are history!  As we began 2019, we began an ongoing conversation about how we could focus on some key spiritual areas in our life and move toward real change and growth.  The first of those, I am sure (hoping) you recall is to resolve to live humbly. One of the more interesting things I have observed is that humility is not a hot topic.  Humility doesn’t seem to make many appearances on the 24 hour news channels or the social networks.  Pride is on full display on those media outlets non-stop but humility, not so much. Timothy Keller wrote a book a few years ago entitled The Freedom of Self-Forgetfulness.  As always Keller has some great lines.   One that caught my attention is this: “A truly humble person is not a self-hating person or a self-loving person, but a self-forgetful person.” In an age where people with the biggest egos seem to be constantly in the spotlight, and where living as if it is all about you is seen as normal, humility sounds downright weird.  And of course it is an unusual but remarkable way to live.   Jesus lived a life of self-forgetfulness and yet has become perhaps the most influential person to ever walk the planet Earth. Jesus lived the life he calls us to live – “Blessed are the poor in spirit (the humble)” (Matt.5: 3) and yet this humble one, Jesus, was a world changer.   His humble spirit drew people to him – no pride, no pretense, and no charades – just authentic humility.   Even to the point of the cross.   Paul says he “made himself nothing” and yet his life was so full, so powerful and had such great impact. (Philippians 2:5-11)  And we now resolve to follow his way and live humbly and have the mindset of Jesus in our relationships with each other. What does that look like?
    • Be interested in others – ask yourself what can I do to show that another person matters to me? Find simple ways to serve, take notice, really see others – talk to others, listen to others, smile at others – the more we are thinking of others the less we are thinking of self.
    • Live with quiet confidence –very quiet. Jesus was as confident as any human being ever was and yet he was not full of himself.  We have confidence because the verdict is in – we are not loved because of looking good and personal performance – Jesus loves us because Jesus like God is love.
    • Remember low self-esteem and pride are first cousins – they both rob us of the joy of serving others with genuine joy. Let go and enjoy the freedom of humbly serving for the pure joy of it!
    “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  (James 4:10)
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