Humility 5

Jude 20-21

Prayer is one of the first parts of my day. There are times when I get caught up doing this thing or that, but as soon as I remember that I need to pray I stop what I am doing and spend some time with God. This gives me strength. This gives me clarity in my thinking. This gives me spiritual focus.

This letter from Jude warns about those who have gone or will go in their own ways spiritually. What instruction is offered? What encouragement does he give?

Being a Christian and remaining obedient to God is no easy task. Although it may be our greatest desire, it is so easy to become distracted by other things. It is so easy to get caught up in what we are doing we forget why we are doing it and where we receive our ability.

This happens to individuals. It happens to churches. It can even happen to entire denominations.

To avoid allowing our work to become the center of our focus, we must turn to God first and build ourselves up in the Spirit and love of God. To avoid allowing the pride of our past to make us stagnant and exclusionary in our attitudes and behavior, we must be humble before God and ask for His guidance. Before we become inflexible in our attitudes and actions, we should bow before the Lord and ask for Him to direct us.

As we face a time of vacation and relaxation, perhaps a time of declining attendance and a break from ministries, let us keep in mind the power of God and the strength of His love. May we remain humble before our Lord and dedicated to His work.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you keep yourself in God’s love?

This is the last in our series of the 10/2 Grow Daily Devotions for this spring. We will resume on August 31. We pray that God will bless you and be with you over the summer months, and we encourage each of you to invite someone to sign up for our daily devotion.

Peace. – Peggy and Roger Emerson

Humility 4

1 Corinthians 2:1-5

The band director at our local school honored me several weeks ago with a “Band Booster of the Year” award. It was an expression of gratitude for my presence at the school this past year during the two times students died in car accidents. I truly appreciate the award, but honestly do not feel I deserve it. I was one of many area pastors who responded to the school’s needs.

I am also no expert in grief counseling. In fact, I feel hopelessly lost when it comes to offering comfort. If I am able to provide comfort I know it is entirely due to God working through me, and not any skills of my own.

In his letter to the Corinthian church Paul expresses some humility in his ability. How does he describe himself? What was his attitude? What did Paul show the church?

Sometimes churches that are successful in ministry can lose sight of the source of their ability. They can begin to think they have accomplished all of it on their own.

Many churches, on the other hand, have stopped daring and risking and moving forward. Instead they have become quite content with exactly where they are. They have done ministry and now rest on the glories of past successes.

In both cases a successful past becomes a downfall for the church. A successful past and praise for good work becomes a stumbling block, or an obstacle that cannot be overcome.

All of us need to take on the attitude that Paul has assumed in this passage. We must go out into the world knowing only Jesus Christ and the message of salvation. We must go out into the world with no pride in past successes and no fear from past failures. Instead, we must equip ourselves completely with the faith and knowledge that we may be an instrument in the hands of a powerful God. Then, any successes we may achieve are due to the Lord and not ourselves.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you or your church demonstrate the power of God this year?

Humility 3

1 Timothy 4:9-12

In the August 2008 issue of “Reader’s Digest” there is an article (page 15) about a girl named Carly Zalenski. At age twelve she decided she wanted to raise money for a school in Vietnam. In two years Carly raised $50,000.

It isn’t always older adults who can do good work in the world. Sometimes children do incredible things.

1 Timothy is a letter to a young leader in the emerging church. What is the trustworthy saying? What instruction is given in verse 11? What encouragement is offered?

Timothy is referred to earlier in the book as “my son” and 2 Timothy mentions both his mother and grandmother. These, coupled with the statement that he should not let others look down on him because of his youth, indicate that Timothy is likely a teen-ager. Yet he is a leader in this early church, doing the work of a minister and evangelist.

As we work in ministry and outreach in our churches we need to remember that the work of God’s kingdom can be accomplished by people of all ages. Faith may be mature in a person young in age. Such awareness should keep us humble, knowing that there are times when the faith of a youth is stronger than the faith of one much older.

But we need to keep the same attitude with the new Christian. Too often we treat those new to the faith as if their relationship with the Lord is not good enough or strong enough. We can create a sense of unworthiness in others, especially the new convert, if we will not admit that the length of time a person claims the title of “Christian” is not the only way to measure faith.

I believe we can learn lessons from younger people. We can listen to the youth in our churches to discover new ways to be real and relevant. I believe we can learn how best to be a church from the new visitor and the new Christian. They bring a fresh perspective and a keener insight of the secular world.

Pride in your church and pride in your own faith is not a bad thing. But we must be cautious that our own pride does not hinder us from accepting, welcoming and encouraging new believers. Humbly accept the work of God, and humbly serve Him.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How do you measure faith in yourself and others?

Humility 2

Luke 11:52-54

It is hard to take criticism. As a pastor and an aspiring writer I need to be edited all the time. I need someone else, usually my wife, to look over what I have written and give me an honest evaluation.

Corrections can feel painful sometimes. It is almost hurtful to see that what I thought was brilliant is actually erroneous or weak and requires rewriting. But it is for the best.

Jesus has a final comment for the experts in the religious law. What have they done? What is the reaction?

Jesus says that these experts in the law “have not entered.” We must assume that what they have not entered into is the knowledge he speaks of in the previous sentence. We can further assume that the knowledge is knowledge or awareness or enlightenment about faith and God.

These experts have taken away the opportunity for others to understand God better, and they have not worked to understand God themselves. It seems that they are very secure in what they believe and how they have always done things, and they are not open to any correction or change.

But in fact they needed to change. They should have seen the errors of their ways and been willing to look at things with a new perspective, but their pride evidently prevented any editing.

As we look at our current society we must be aware that the church no longer has the influence and authority it once had. Most mainline denominations are in serious and dramatic decline. Misguided and mistaken theologies appear to be on the increase along with the number of people who simply have no religion at all.

It’s time for an edit. We can be proud of our past and proud of the good work the church has done over the centuries, but we need to humble ourselves and admit that change is needed. We must be humble enough to realize that new approaches and new attitudes are called for so that we can continue in the good work of building God’s kingdom and serving God’s children.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What would be one thing you would change about your church? What would you change about yourself?

Humility 1

Luke 11:47-51

While doing research of our previous church in preparation for their centennial celebration I gathered all manner of photographs and documents about the church’s history. It was fascinating to see all the changes which had occurred and look at all the people who had been part of its growth. Then one of the members told me that our church had for several years been host to meetings for the Ku Klux Klan. It was a shocking revelation, one which I would like to have erased. But there it was.

Jesus continues in his list of woes against the religious leaders of his time. What have they done? What is God’s attitude toward them?

Christian congregations have a rich history that traces back to Christ and his disciples. We were birthed from the earliest meetings of faithful believers, and “The Church” was further nurtured by the faithfulness and good works of tremendous men and women. The church grew and expanded with hard work and ministry, and continued in spite of the death and persecution of its martyrs.

Each individual church has its own history, usually filled with stories of sacrifice and goodness. Most members can recall the stories of ministry and outreaches from years past. And this is something that can give us all pride in where we are.

But there is always the possibility (and probability) that there were times when mistakes were made. There is likely some errors in judgment and simply wrong-doing intermingled in our pasts.

Jesus points out the fallacy of being too proud of all that has been done. The priests and teachers and Pharisees should have been aware that the leaders of the faith have not always been perfect.

Jesus concludes with the statement that “this generation will be held responsible for it all.” But before we get weighed down by the guilt of the past, we may want to consider what could be inferred from this comment. Rather than our responsibility becoming just guilt, the responsibility may be that it is up to us to be certain we correct any past mistakes – if possible – and be certain we work to avoid those mistakes.

The pride we have as believers must be mixed with a strong sense of humility. And that humility can guide us in making wiser, more informed, more merciful and positive decisions in the future.

DAILY CHALLENGE: What mistake has your church learned from?