Humility – A Dirty Word

The Request of James and John…

35 Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him. “Teacher,” they said, “we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”  36 “What do you want me to do for you?” He asked.  37 They replied, “Let one of us sit at Your right and the other at Your left in Your glory.”  38 “You don’t know what you are asking,” Jesus said.  “Can you drink the cup I drink or be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with?”  39 “We can,” they answered.  Jesus said to them, “You will drink the cup I drink and be baptized with the baptism I am baptized with, 40 but to sit at My right or left is not for Me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared.”  41 When the ten heard about this, they became indignant with James and John.  42 Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them.  43 Not so with you.  Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,  44 and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  45 For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life as a ransom for many.”  – Mark 10:35-45 (NIV84)

This scripture begins with Mark 10:35, “Then James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came to Him.  “Teacher,” they said, “we want You to do for us whatever we ask.”  Let’s stop for a second…this is going nowhere good.

Jesus, do whatever we say, ok?

Can you imagine what would come next if our spouse, our kids, our friends, or those we work with asked us that question?  But these brothers, John and James, were bold.  They wanted the premium seats, the ones right beside Jesus, where He is enthroned as King.

Disregard the other ten, and let us take the first places, Jesus.  Ok?

This begs the question: which would be on the left and which on the right since the person on the right had the higher honor, but they were willing to fight that one out later.  The bottom line… they wanted to be first.  They believed that they deserved it.  Perhaps they felt that they were more intelligent, even more loyal than the others.

Or maybe it is easier to identify with one of the other ten disciples… watching someone covet what you would like, but are not bold enough to request yourself.  The NIV translation indicates that the disciples became “indignant” with James and John.  This does not imply that they felt Jesus was being betrayed and they empathized with him, but that THEY wanted the premium seats, the power and honor for themselves.

In the words of one pastor, “They may as well have asked for a 20 scoop ice cream cone.”  Such audacity.  Such arrogance.  If they only knew what they were requesting!  If they only knew what was to come!  If they only knew the cup that Jesus begs His Father to take from Him!  But they don’t.  They only knew what they want- the first, the most, the best.

How does Jesus respond to this?  He knows they do not understand the situation. The text doesn’t share any emotion from Jesus.  Was He annoyed that He had given His all to these people and they still quest for power and not His Father’s kingdom?  Was He angered that He was about to sacrifice His life for people who would betray Him and seemingly just want to use Him for His power?  Or perhaps He is compassionate, understanding the human condition.  Maybe He accepts that we all fall short and that it is His role to bridge that gap so that sins may be forgiven and we may have eternal life.

His response is simple: you guys just don’t get it.  Furthermore, He says that it’s not His decision who is to His left or right, and “whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all.  For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:43-45, NIV84).

Humility is almost a dirty word in our society.  We equate humility with lack of self-worth or with letting people walk all over you.  But, according to Jesus, that is not humility at all.  Humility is powerful and strong.  It is the way of Christ.

Micah 6:8 says, “And what does the Lord require of you?  To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (NIV84).

In order to “act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with [our] God”, we must first look at ourselves.  We must purge ourselves of the things that are not of God.  Humble ourselves to HIS will.  Ooops… I said it.  HIS will.  Not, Lord, I really need a new job or please bring me more money… but if it is Your will please open these doors.

Jesus is trying to teach us to be servants to others, but we cannot do that without submitting to Him and His will.  We are to be servants, not the seat of power.  We are not to seek prestige, but to “walk humbly”.

 Carrie (Guest Contributor)

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Purposefulness…

It has been quite a week!  From spending quality time with family and friends and getting through political science debates “alive”, to catching a bad cold and having my computer decide to completely crash, entirely wiping out my files and programs…it has been quite a week!

I had a good friend recently ask me what God has been teaching me lately, reminding me that everything that happens in my life is indeed a lesson.  Rather than viewing seasons and times as being purposeless, no matter how unnecessary and unfortunate OR necessary and fortunate they may seem, it creates a sense of true hope when you view them all as being purposeful.

I believe that it is especially important to have such a perspective if you call yourself a Christian.  Remember that it is Christ’s Spirit who is within us that teaches us.  Jesus explicitly tells us this in the New Testament, “[T]he Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things” (John 14:26, NKJV).  There is even a consistent description throughout the Bible, of God being like the Potter and us, His people, being like the clay.  Whether it be through seasons and times of birth or death, weeping or laughing, embracing or refraining, staying or parting, tearing or mending, peace or war, silence or speaking, He is shaping us to reflect His craftsmanship and function for His purpose.      

“For we are God’s [own] handiwork (His workmanship), recreated in Christ Jesus, [born anew] that we may do those good works which God predestined (planned beforehand) for us [taking paths which He prepared ahead of time], that we should walk in them [living the good life which He prearranged and made ready for us to live]” (Ephesians 2:10, AB).  GOD  PLANNED  BEFOREHAND…that surely sounds purposeful to me!

We are promised that “God, who began the good work within [us], will continue His work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6, NLT).  If He is continually shaping and molding and teaching us, shouldn’t we continually acknowledge that?

In every season and every time, may we wholeheartedly reflect His craftsmanship and remember that we are to function for His purpose!

Victoria

who’s created in whose image?

So God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. (Genesis 1:27)

GOD the Creator of the universe created us (male and female) in His image.  Yet, how many times do we create GOD in our own image?   Do we sometimes make GOD our Santa Claus, or a mean ogre ready to pounce on us, or too much of our “buddy pal”.   What about making GOD into an absent GOD who doesn’t really care, or a GOD who doesn’t take sin seriously?  When we are having a great day and are filled with joy – do we think, “Oh boy, GOD must be so happy with us”?   When we are having a bad day when we are grumpy or complaining – do we think, “Oh no, GOD will surely leave us now”?.  I can go on and on.   It is like being on a roller coaster ride, up and down and all around – wherever our feelings take us.  Thank GOD He is not moved or changed by the image we have of Him or the way we feel from day to day.

So what does the Word of GOD say about who HE really is?

God is Holy and He cannot look on sin.   Our sin separated us from Him.   John 3:16 states, “For GOD so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believes in Him, should not perish but have everlasting life.”   God loves us so much that He did not want to be separated from us.  He made a way for us so we would not have to perish in hell.  Because of Jesus’ birth, death, and resurrection we can forever be with our Loving Heavenly Father.   Once we except by faith what Jesus has done for us, we can receive and expect all of His promises.  Some of His many promises are: He will never leave us or forsake us; Jesus takes our sins away, casts them into the depths of the sea and forgets about them; He tells us that if we ask anything in His Name, according to His will, He will do it; He will provide all our needs; He will heal us (spiritually, emotionally, physically…); and He will give us His peace (which passes all understanding), comfort, correction and direction!

The Bible tells us that Jesus is our friend who sticks closer than a brother, but He is also the KING of Kings and the LORD of Lords.   He is the Lamb of GOD, and is also the LION of the Tribe of Judah.   God is Love, yet He is also a Consuming Fire.   He is JUST AND MERCIFUL because He extends His uncompromising righteousness to the unrighteous- those who don’t deserve it!

For those of us who are tired of making GOD into our image, Jesus tells us to come to him all who are tired and weary and He will give us est for our souls.   He will forgive our sins, cleanse and make us whole, make us children of the King with an inheritance in Heaven.   We will have eternal life – a room in our Heavenly Father’s home – never to be alone again.  No sin is too great.   Jesus’ blood is greater!  He is the WAY, the TRUTH, and the LIFE.

Let us have this image of GOD.   The true image.  Not what the world tells us of Him or what we imagine HIM to be, but what HIS WORD tells us HE IS.

Taste and see that the LORD is good, How blessed is the man who takes refuge in Him. (Psalm 34:8)

 – Mary

Obedience

Over the last few weeks, I have been reading a lot about the importance of obedience.  It seems that often times, people are seeking after revival and “the miracles”, but they do not start by obeying all that GOD commands.   They may go through “rituals” like fasting or spending an hour a day reading the bible, but if it is not combined with obeying GOD and HIS word, it is really of no benefit and does not produce the desired result.

It is important to remember that the LORD is looking for our Obedience…not our Sacrifice or our Works.   This can be seen in 1 Samuel 15: 22-23, where Samuel speaks to Saul, the first king of Israel and tells him “22…Does the Lord delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices as much as in obeying the voice of the Lord?   To obey is better than sacrifice, and to heed is better than the fat of rams. 23 For rebellion is like the sin of divination, and arrogance like the evil of idolatry.”

Samuel then went on to tell Saul that the LORD had rejected him because he had rejected the word of the LORD…literally because of his disobedience.

The Definition of “OBEY” is to comply with or follow the commands, restrictions, wishes, or instructions.  The Bible reminds us that sacrificing and following rituals is not what obedience is all about.   As we see in the verse in 1 Samuel, GOD is looking for our obedience to HIM, to HIS will, and to HIS voice.   Are we obeying  all that GOD commands us today?

If you take a closer look, you will see that there are numerous examples in the Bible which speak of the benefits of obeying God.  Let’s take a look at some of these promises.

God’s Promise to Isaac:     Genesis 26:4-6 (NASB),  “…4 I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; 5 because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws.”   6 So Isaac lived in Gerar…”

God’s Promise to the Israelites through Moses:     Exodus 23:21-23 (NASB), “…21 Be on your guard before him and obey his voice; do not be rebellious toward him, for he will not pardon your transgression, since My name is in him. 22 But if you truly obey his voice and do all that I say, then I will be an enemy to your enemies and an adversary to your adversaries. 23 For My angel will go before you and bring you in to the land of the Amorites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Canaanites, the Hivites and the Jebusites; and I will completely destroy them…”

God’s Promise to Joshua:    Joshua 1:7-8 (NASB),  “…7 Only be strong and very courageous; be careful to do according to all the law which Moses My servant commanded you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, so that you may have success wherever you go. 8 This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success…”

God’s Promise to His people through Jeremiah:     Jeremiah 7:22-24 (NASB),  “…22 For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings and sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, ‘Obey My voice, and I will be your God, and you will be My people; and you will walk in all the way which I command you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but walked in their own counsels and in the stubbornness of their evil heart, and went backward and not forward…”

In each case, we see that there is favor and blessing that comes to those who obey.  Unfortunately there are even more examples in scripture of instances where a lack of obedience leads to punishment.

Romans 6:15-17 tells us that we are slaves to whoever we obey.   “…15 What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! 16 Don’t you know that when you offer yourselves to someone to obey him as slaves, you are slaves to the one whom you obey—whether you are slaves to sin, which leads to death, or to obedience, which leads to righteousness? 17 But thanks be to God that, though you used to be slaves to sin, you wholeheartedly obeyed the form of teaching to which you were entrusted…”

So are we slaves to sin?  The world?  The enemy?   Or are we slaves to JESUS?  Whom do we obey?

Now you may be thinking does this all mean we have to perfect all of the time?   What if I mess up?  What happens when I don’t obey?  Once again looking to scripture, I believe we can find the answer to this common question.

Ephesians 2:8-10 reminds us that:  “…8 For by grace you have been saved through faith; and [a]that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; 9 not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. 10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them…”

How awesome is that?   The expectation is NOT that we will be perfect.    Instead we need to just be Obedient and because of JESUS and all that HE is and all that HE does, we are perfected by Grace, through faith!    That’s what the GRACE of GOD is all about!

Be Obedient to JESUS today….and HE will do the rest!