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The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.  Prov 16:5 

In the present generation little attention is given to the sin of pride, yet pride was the sin that caused the downfalls of both Satan and the first man.

The downfall of Satan is recorded in Isaiah 14:12-15 . His sin was his pride. He was the most glorious of all the angels God had created. His glory led to his pride, and he attempted to set himself above God.

Satan tempted Eve with the same sin of pride. (Genesis 3) He said to Eve, “…you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” You know the story, Eve ate the fruit and gave some to Adam who was with her. They could be like God, they could make their own rules.

It was Satan’s pride that cost him the highest position among the angels in heaven and separated him from God. It was Adam and Eve’s pride that got them banned from the Garden of Eden and separated them from God.

The same sin of pride and the desire to do things our own way have separated mankind from God since the beginning of time. Throughout the Old Testament the Israelites continually turned their backs on God and went their own way. When Jesus Christ came to earth, the religious leaders of the Jewish people were jealous of Jesus’ popularity and power. They were proud of their positions and didn’t want people to honor Jesus over them. Jesus challenged their hypocrisy, and their jealousy in turn led to their Crucifixion of Jesus.

The cycle didn’t stop then, nor has it stopped today. Human nature tends to want to do it “my way.” It is nowhere more obvious than in today’s supposedly “enlightened” society. Many universities turn out students who blatantly challenge the existance of God. Some people revere the Bible only as long as they are not expected to read it or use it for a guide to make decisions. Others mock those who take the Bible seriously.

Proverbs 14:1 tells us: The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” 
Proverbs 16:5 says: The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished. 

There are many forms of pride, and they touch us all. It can be blatant as the denial of the existance of God. Or it can come in more subtle forms such as the deliberate choice to ignore the commandments in the Bible. We are prone to assume we know more than God about what is best for us. We fail to pray because we think we can handle whatever will come our way. Then when our backs are against the wall and we are desperate, we pray fervently and wonder why He seems distant.

Galatians 6:7 tells us: Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. 

What seeds are you sowing in your life? Are they seeds of faith or seeds of foolish pride and self sufficiency? Allow God to examine your heart and reveal the sins that puff up so quickly and separate you from Him. Agree with Him in confession and seek his face with all your heart.

Father God, you know our hearts. We think we know ourselves until we get close to your light. Then, if we are honest with ourselves, we don’t like what we see.  Help us to daily seek your face and to put our full trust in You, come what may.

Copyright © 2009 by Janice Green

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John 5:39-40 Click on this link to read the passage. You may select your preferred version of the Bible after the link opens. Better yet, read it in more than one translation.

In this passage Jesus is talking to the Jews who were critical of Him and who would not believe his message. He was talking to people who knew the Scriptures, people who were diligent in studying them. Yet He was still critical of them because they would not accept His testimony about who He was, the Son of God.

This passage applies equally well to us today. There are those who diligently read their Bibles and there are those who never read them. It is easy for the “readers” to get puffed up in their minds thinking they are superior to the non-readers or the every-now-and-then-readers. I know that I have often caught myself feeling a bit smug when the pastor reads the scripture for his sermon and I discover that is was a passage I had at some point in time highlighted it in my Bible. I have been guilty of taking pride in how fast I can locate a particular scripture passage during a worship service. And then a sense of conviction comes over me and I feel about one inch high.

The test of salvation has nothing to do with how many Bible verses I have read or can locate at the drop of a hat or can quote from memory. And even though the study of scripture is good and necessary for a healthy relationship with Jesus, it isn’t the first thing. The first thing is to accept Jesus into your heart, and the second is to apply His truths to your life.

Have you welcomed Jesus into your heart? Have you allowed Him to sit in the driver’s seat of your life? If not, He is waiting for you to invite Him in. Don’t worry about using the right words, it is your heart He is interested in, not words. He will pick up where you leave off and show you the way.

Jesus we love you and want to know you better. Help us to love you more. Grow us up in our faith and enable us to seek you with our whole hearts.

Copyright © 2008 by Janice Green

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The following blog inspired me to write this post:

     1 To the elders among you, I appeal as a fellow elder, a witness of Christ’s sufferings and one who also will share in the glory to be revealed: 2 Be shepherds of God’s flock that is under your care, serving as overseers–not because you must, but because you are willing, as God wants you to be; not greedy for money, but eager to serve; 3 not lording it over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock. 4 And when the Chief Shepherd appears, you will receive the crown of glory that will never fade away. 

    5 Young men, in the same way be submissive to those who are older. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud
but gives grace to the humble.”
1 Peter 5:1-5 (NIV)

     Peter is addressing the duties of the church elder – watching over the members of the congregation in a spirit of humility and servanthood. They should do this, not as a duty or requirement, but because they have a willing spirit to help others. They should not expect financial gain for their service nor should they lord their authority over the congregation in a heavy handed way.

      Peter then addresses the younger generation challenging them to be submissive to the older men. Peter stresses the concept that we have been considering all week – humility. Peter tells young men (and I don’t believe he deliberately omitted the women, this was one characteristic of the Jewish culture in his day) to clothe themselves with humility. Then he quotes Proverbs 3:34 saying “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (NIV)

      We may not be elders or have great leadership roles in our churches, but all who are called as Christians are also called to minister one to another.  For this reason, we can all learn from the advice Peter directed to the elders in this letter to “God’s elect” (from chapter 1:1)

     Lord, thank you for your Word that you use to speak to our hearts. Give us ears to hear and teachable spirits that we may be willing and able to humble ourselves and serve those around us.

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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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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