Is There a Fertilizer for Humility?

How does true humility grow in the heart?

To some degree we?re probably all aware that pride lurks in the recesses of our heart and that humility is one of the deepest marks of godliness. And if we?re honest, we all have to admit that pride pokes its ugly head out in action or attitude in some way every day of our lives. So if God opposes those displays of pride, but gives grace to our pursuit of humility (James 4:6, 1 Peter 5:5; cf. Prov. 3:34), how can we practically pour weed-killer on the roots of pride and fertilizer on the seeds of humility?

In a sermon on 1 Corinthians 13:4-5, Jonathon Edwards has a profound insight into the nature of humility. Merely knowing God?s greatness, Edwards argues, is not enough to really make us humble. After all, the demons in Hell know that God is great and they certainly aren?t humble! In Edwards? words, true humility comes from knowing God?s greatness and His loveliness. ?A sense or discovery of God?s greatness, without the sight of His loveliness will not do it [create humility]; but it is the discovery of his loveliness that affects it, and that makes the soul truly humble.?

Here?s the point: humility flourishes in our hearts when we recognize that God is infinitely greater than us and then delight in His greatness and our dependence. There?s a line in one of the Valley of Vision prayers that sums it up well: ?I delight to know that all things are in Your hands, and I rejoice to leave them there.? Humility knows God is God and we are not ? and sings for joy because of it.

Here?s where the practical part comes in. The next time you?re alone with God and His Word, in whatever form that may take, meditate on some of the ways God is God and you?re not, and praise Him for them! Here are just a few suggestions.

Praise God that He has always existed and has no needs, while you and I are dependent for every breath.

Psalm 50:11-12:??I know all the birds of the hills, and all that moves in the field is mine.? 12 If I were hungry, I would not tell you, for the world and its fullness are mine.?

Acts 17:25: ??He himself gives to all mankind life and breath and everything.?

Praise God that while we experience weariness every day and need His gracious gift of sleep, He never grows tired or weary.

Psalm 121:4: ?Behold, he who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep.?

Isaiah 40:28: ?Have you not known? Have you not heard? The LORD is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He does not faint or grow weary; his understanding is unsearchable.?

Psalm 127:2: ?He gives to his beloved sleep.?

Praise God that even the food you eat today is a gift from His hand.

Psalm 145:15-16: ?The eyes of all look to you, and you give them their food in due season.? 16 You open your hand; you satisfy the desire of every living thing.?

Psalm 111:5: ?He provides food for those who fear him; he remembers his covenant forever.?

Praise God that our salvation comes entirely from His hand, without our efforts or good works.

Psalm 3:8: ?Salvation belongs to the LORD; your blessing be on your people!?

Ephesians 2:8-9:??For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast.?

Do You Notice Anything Fishy Here?

See if you can spot the differences between these two passages. When God originally placed Adam and Eve in the garden, he said to them:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, ?You may surely eat of every tree of the garden, but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.?

When the serpent tested Eve, she responded by saying:

We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ?You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.?

Notice anything fishy here? G.K. Beale does. He says of Eve:

It is more likely, however, that she either failed to remember God’s word accurately or intentionally changed it for her own purposes. The telltale sign of this is that each change appears to have theological significance. First, she minimizes their privileges by saying merely, “We may eat,” whereas God had said, “You may eat freely”; second, she minimizes the judgment by saying, “You will die,” whereas God said, “You will surely die,”; third, she maximizes the prohibition by affirming, “You shall not…touch,” whereas God originally said only,”You shall not eat.” (A New Testament Biblical Theology, pg. 35)

This paragraph hit me like a punch in the gut. Whenever we tamper with God’s word or forget God’s word, we are in serious danger of temptation! Hiding God’s word in our hearts is what protects us from temptation.

The 2 Most Amazing Words In The English Language

(From my prayer journal 12.28.11)

“And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (GA 2.20)

The two most amazing words I know – “for me”
Jesus, you did not simply give yourself,
You gave yourself for me
Came for me
Became human for me
Were tempted for me
And obeyed God for me
You were beaten for me
Scourged for me
Crowned with thorns for me
Nailed to the cross for me
Endured God’s infinite wrath for me
Gave up your life for me
Rose from the dead for me
Ascended to the right hand of God for me
And now you intercede for me
And wait for me
And exercise your rule and power for me.
How can I not love and adore you
And do all I can for you and for your glory?
How can I not overflow with thanks
For all you’ve done
For me?

(Ultimately, Jesus’ highest reason for coming for us was his Father’s glory and his own glory, but it’s astounding that we were the objects of his love and sacrifice).

What amazing words would you add?

Your Marvelous, Crazy, Interesting History

How marvelous, how interesting is the spiritual history of each individual believer!? – Legh Richmond, The Dairyman’s Daughter

Christmas is a crazy season for many of us – visiting family members, making meals, planning special church services, getting stents, tweeting, checking Facebook updates.

Can I make a suggestion? ?If you can, get off by yourself for 30 minutes or an hour and just remember.

Christmas night after all the day?s festivities were over, I took a few minutes to write down a list of things I could remember from this past year. ?Most were obvious blessings. ?Some were trials that God turned to blessings. ?Some were big things, some small. ?Some were joyous, some were hard. ?Here?s a sampling:

Our daughter Beth got married to a wonderful guy
Our 3rd grandchild was born
My son, Stephen, got a book published
My 93 year-old dad almost died – God spared him for the 7th time and he got stent #10.
Our church held its first service in our new church building after renting for 30 years.
My sister almost died of blood infection – God spared her life.
My wife Kristi began working part-time as a hospice nurse
I got to participate in a Sovereign Grace Ministries Songwriters Retreat
I got to go fishing in the Chesapeake with my sons and our friends
A great guy, Bob, began an internship in our church
I got to go on vacation with my family, our best friends and family. ?During vacation there was an earthquake.
My neighbors began coming to our church
Dec 19 – Got a cardiac stent. ?I could have had a heart attack but God spared me.

And this is just part of the list!

As I wrote my list, I was filled with gratitude for all God?s kindness to me. ?Even the trials I listed were an opportunity to review God?s mercies.

I?d encourage you to take a few minutes and reflect on all God?s done in your life this year.? Maybe even write some things down.

Your spiritual history is marvelous and interesting, even if crazy at times.? It’s the history of God working in you.? Take time to remember it and praise God for his steadfast love and unceasing mercies.

The Heavens – A Wonderful New Devotional

This morning’s post is taken from my friend Kevin Hartnett’s delightful new devotional, The Heavens, Intimate Moments With Your Majestic God.

NAMED AFTER ITS CODISCOVERERS, ALAN HALE AND THOMAS BOPP, the magnificent Comet Hale-Bopp was easy to see with the naked eye during the months of March and April in 1997. ?Comets are bodies of dirty ice and rock that travel around the Sun in long elliptically shaped orbits. ?Some, like Comet Halley, return with relative frequency. ?But most comets (like Hale-Bopp) take thousands of years to complete just one trip around the Sun. ?Based on its orbit, this celestial visitor was last seen around the era of the Old Testament Patriarchs (circa 2000 BC). ?Because of their unpredictable appearances and motions, comets have been viewed by many cultures throughout history as heralds of doom. ?The English word disaster literally means “bad star,” from the Greek aster.

Has a dirty ice ball of unpredicted and unwelcomed events careened into your life? ?Do circumstances seem completely haphazard or out of control? ?Are you fearful of what tomorrow might bring? ?If so, then be comforted by the knowledge that God is sovereign over all. ?Nothing is haphazard in His universe or beyond His control. ?Try to imagine the magnificent mind of God, working every circumstance–even the horrible death of His own Son on the cross–for the good of His sons and daughters. ?His timing may be beyond our comprehension, but trust that He has a grand design for your life.

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to his purpose. ?Romans 8:28

The Heavens (published by Thomas Nelson) is a beautiful combination of doctrinally rich meditations, poetry, and majestic photos of stars, galaxies, and other celestial phenomena. ?Kevin Hartnett works for NASA, and the beautiful photos in his book are both from NASA and some he took himself. ?Kevin is also a poet and wrote the poems and the devotionals.? About every 10th?devotion has a longer poem; then spaced about every 10 are devotions on attributes of God (Sovereignty, Omniscience, Unchangeableness, Transcendence, Holiness, Omnipresence, etc.).? Somewhat equally spread throughout the book are two other categories, one about particular constellations (The Lion of Judah (Leo), Justice (Libra), The Twins (Gemini) etc.) and ones about Jesus (e.g. Christ, the Morning Star; Christ, Our Bridegroom Christ, the Center; Christ, the Substance, etc.)

You can get The Heavens here or in Family Christian and Lifeway book stores.

This Is The Glory of Christmas

Christ, the Lord from eternity past

Did not clutch tightly to his glory – his brilliant, blazing, baffling glory that forces angels to cover their eyes

As if it were a thing a to be clutched and grasped

But took on the fragile clay of humanity

A body, formed inside a woman

A body that would be racked by hunger and headaches and heaving sickness

The World Maker, who keeps Jupiter and Saturn from colliding, who declares supernovas, who breathes forth the snow and the rain

Became a baby – a helpless baby, clutching and grasping at his mother

The Light of the World took form in the darkness of a womb

Was born into the darkness of a stable

Into the darkness of a world at war with God

A rescue mission, redeeming mission, sacrificial mission, servant mission

Jesus, the Christ, the Lord, the King, and the Conqueror at birth

Born beneath the specter of the cross, haunted by the shadow of death

Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give us second birth

Lift your hearts in grateful praise, Christ the Lord is born today