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Romans 1:17 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens.

Where do you find your confidence? your security? your trust? your faith? Are these not one and the same? In this fast changing world we live in it is easy to become fretful when we find the cost of living rising so fast. We watch grocery and gasoline prices rise while our savings diminish and we feel a loss of security.

I am facing what I call a “premature retirement.” My position as librarian in a small school is coming to an end in December. My school has been consolidated with a larger school and we have a new building. I was offered another position at a small school an hour away from where I live, and at today’s escalating gas prices, I refused. But I was able to convince them they needed me through December to help consolidate the two libraries into one. I am now facing an early retirement with less than the number of years required for full retirement and with a sizeable deduction for the fact I’m not quite 65. I live in a very small town with a high unemployment rate. All this is to say I know what it is like to be anxious and nervous about tomorrow.

But all my anxious thoughts and worries are an affront to God who has promised never to leave me or forsake me. (Hebrews 13:5) So I must come back to my first question and apply it to myself: Where do I find my confidence? my security? my trust? my faith? My heart tells me I should put my confidence, my security, my trust, my faith in God. In my heart I know this is true, but I need God’s help to take my eyes off my bank account and to keep them on Him. Like Peter who could walk on water until he took his eyes off Jesus and looked at the waves, (Matthew 14:30) I must learn to keep my eyes on Jesus instead of dwelling on the things that worry me.

Our verse for today reminds us to look to the message of the Gospel to find our righteousness. This is where we are to put our faith. We can’t live by faith until we find it in Jesus and in his teachings.

It helps me to look at the ways God has intervened for me in the past. I can recall several critical times in my life when He pulled me out of a crisis at the last minute in a most unexpected way. If He did it then, He can do it again.

So here I am looking to Jesus to pull me out. Something is still amiss. Shouldn’t I be looking to Jesus for the sake of being close to Him? If I’m looking to Jesus only for a rescue of my finances, I’m not really looking to Jesus, I’m looking through Him at myself. It is time to lose myself in Him, time to spend quality time with Him, time to seek Him with all my heart for the pure joy of knowing Him better each day.

Heavenly Father, help me to truly focus my eyes on You and seek to do Your will in everything. Help me to look above the cares of this world to see Your hand at work in everything, and to rest in Your peace.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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10 But when you are invited, take the lowest place, so that when your host comes, he will say to you, ‘Friend, move up to a better place.’ Then you will be honored in the presence of all your fellow guests. 11  For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” Luke 14:10-11 (NIV)

 How special it is when someone unexpectedly honors us in some way in appreciation for something we have done. It is a much more pleasant experience than when we anticipate recognition that doesn’t come. Jesus is telling us in these verses that a spirit of humility is of great value, while those with a spirit of pride and self-seeking can only anticipate an embarrassing fall.

It seems appropriate to consider some forms of false humility. For instance, if someone does something very well–perhaps they sing beautiful solos or prepare fantastic meals–yet they habitually belittle his/her own performance; the appearance of humility may only be an attempt to fish for praise. 

So what should we do when we are praised for a job well done? We should acknowledge our honest appreciation to God for giving us the ability to do the task.

I must also share a confession from out of my past that still occasionally spills over into my present. I went through a long period in my life where I was starved for appreciation by the most important person in my life, one who willfully chose to withhold it. As a result of this void, when I received praise at church I was so grateful for it that I found it difficult to pass it on to God. It wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate the role God played in enabling me to perform, I was simply desperate to be affirmed as a person. It was as if I was saying “Yes! I did it!”

I don’t claim to have been justified in accepting and treasuring that praise. I only share it here for the sake of some unknown person who, too, may be starved for recognition and appreciation. Be gentle with him or her – the time will come when he/she will joyfully pass the praise on to God.

Lord, help us to always recognize our dependence on you. Enable us to sincerely humble ourselves as we walk through this life. Help us to seek your glory and not our own. And help us to honor those around us who serve you and others well.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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     7 When he noticed how the guests picked the places of honor at the table, he told them this parable: 8 “When someone invites you to a wedding feast, do not take the place of honor, for a person more distinguished than you may have been invited. 9  If so, the host who invited both of you will come and say to you, ‘Give this man your seat.’ Then, humiliated, you will have to take the least important place.  Luke 14:7-9 NIV

     While watching people position themselves at the prominent pharisees house to make themselves look important, Jesus cautioned them about their foolish ways. It would be much better to be asked to move to a better seat than to be asked to give up your seat for someone more important than you.

     How do we apply these scriptures to our lives today? Do we like to sit at the “head table” at special occasions? Do we seek public audience for every good deed we do? Are we bent out of shape if a plaque with our name on it for a contribution we made thirty years ago gets moved from the vestibule to a less significant place? Do we blog every day on Bible scriptures, but spend so much time studying the “stats” (counts of how many read which posts) that it is hard to start writing the next post? (ouch!)

     Humility and pride don’t survive each other well. For humility to come in, pride must leave. If we give pride a little room in our hearts it isn’t satisfied until it takes over everything. Pride and confidence are not the same thing, however. We can have confidence in God, and in what he can do through us. But confidence quickly turns to pride if we seek to take credit for what we do, without honoring God for giving us the vision, ability, and skill to accomplish the task. Many would-be great spiritual leaders stumble over their own pride and thereby limit what God can do through them.

    Heavenly father, use your paternal attributes to keep our pride under control. Prevent us from fooling ourselves into a sense of false humility that comes from meaningless flowery confessions. Make it painfully obvious to us when we are filled with pride, and lead us down a path of true humility, a walk that pleases you. 

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

Scripture quoted by permission. Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

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