Perilous Pride

Perilous Pride

By Patricia Knight

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When pride comes, then comes disgrace,
but with humility comes wisdom” (Proverbs 11:2).  

In Old Testament times, Naaman was the military commander of the Syrian army, a valiant soldier, highly respected by his associates and enemies alike. Although Naaman’s military career was soaring, he suffered from leprosy, a chronic infectious skin disease characterized by skin sores, pain, and disfigurement. Leprosy alienated victims by defining them as social and religious outcasts.

There were no treatments available for leprosy. Naaman knew he would only respond to a miracle. With his opulent chariots filled to the brim with gold, silver, and elegant clothing, Naaman thought his proud, commanding presence would impress the Israeli prophet and influence his healing with gifts and grandeur. But when Naaman’s entourage pulled up in front of Elisha’s modest dwelling, the prophet didn’t show Naaman the proper hospitality by greeting his visitor. To demonstrate to Naaman that it was God, not man, who healed miraculously, Elisha refused to appear to Naaman, instead sending instructions by his servant. “‘Go, wash yourself seven times in the Jordan {River} and your flesh will be restored and you will be cleaned’”(2 Kings 5:10)

The directions were repulsive to Naaman, especially the thought of dipping in the notoriously muddy Jordan River. Furious, Naaman stormed off toward home in a rage at the ludicrous directions. Naaman was a decorated commander in Syria. He had even gained some victories in warfare over Israel, so Naaman naturally expected royal treatment. Naaman’s attitude came through in a blaze of arrogance; of personal entitlement due to his military rank and wealth.

God hates pride, but promotes humility. Pride is defined as excessive self-esteem. Pride is the difference between what you are and what you think you are. —J. Vernon McGee

Man’s pride runs counter with God’s plan. Whenever the two attitudes meet, there is repulsion, similar to the rejection of two like magnetic poles. Pride is a conceited sense of one’s superiority. Naaman defined pride in its best form.

Naaman was beyond human help. There was no cure for leprosy, the dreaded skin disease that created outcasts of its victims and panic in fellow citizens. Only a miracle could save Naaman from shame and disfigurement. Because Naaman was too proud to accept such a simple, but humbling method of healing, he stomped off and headed home.

God was requiring that Naaman reset his priorities. Even though Naaman was desperate for healing, he hadn’t reached the point of complete submission to God and his will. Until Naaman could yield totally to Jesus’ value system, he tightly held onto his self-assuredness. Naaman was willing to conform to Jesus’ ways as long as he could remain in control of the circumstances.

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After Naaman’s traveling servants held a motivational discussion with their master, Naaman hesitantly relinquished his pride. Once he followed instructions to dip seven times in the Jordan River, Naaman was healed. Radiant and with pure skin once again, Naaman stood before Elisha and said, “‘Now I know there is no god in all the world except in Israel’” (2 Kings 5:15).

Humility isn’t a natural response; it seems we must first assume arrogance. Then when pride proves useless and embarrassing, we recall the examples and teachings of Jesus. No one personifies humility more than our Savior. He was born in humble circumstances, lived an unpretentious life, and died on a shameful cross (but arose in glory) as the supreme example of humility.

“God hates pride but gives grace to the humble” (James 4:6). Humility magnifies modesty and meekness, all personality traits of our heavenly Father. Humility is freedom from arrogance or pride; the knowledge that all we have and all we are is a gift from God. By ourselves we are inadequate, without dignity and value. There is never cause to boast of our own accomplishments. Yet because we are created in Christ’s image, we have infinite worth and dignity. True humility does not produce pride but gratitude to the God, who is both our Creator and Redeemer. Our righteousness and existence depend upon Him.

As Naaman learned, no human effort can contribute to our salvation; it is the gift of God through His grace and mercy. “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy (Titus 3:4-5). There is no provision for pride in that formula!

Humility is an important component of discipleship. We must humble our will in submission to Jesus, then deny self—realign our desires and impulses to totally trust Jesus’ values.  We are to love, but avoid judging others; to think of others more highly than ourselves, and to realize each of us has much more growth and knowledge to acquire in our Christian walk. We cannot accomplish humility by ourselves, but only in Christ, as we demonstrate lowliness of mind and heart, inspired by the love and grace with which Jesus lavishes us.

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Amazing things occur when we humble our hearts before our merciful Lord. “He has shown you, O man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). And, that provides us with the instruction for a proper relationship with our Lord.

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How to Be Content

Have you wondered how it is possible to be content in this chaotic, sin-sick world? This is a wonderful piece by Sam Storms. Please visit his Enjoying God blog to read more great articles.

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The Secret of Spiritual Contentment

By Sam Storms

What could the Apostle Paul possibly mean when he says that he has “learned” to be “content” in whatever circumstance or situation he’s in? Here is what he writes:

“I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil. 4:10-13).

Key verse from this article:

The issue for us all is resting and rejoicing in Jesus to such an extent that neither poverty nor prosperity has any affect on us, whether for good or ill.

Read the rest here.

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2015 National Day of Prayer is Tomorrow

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Tomorrow is
the National Day of Prayer

Beloved, we are a nation at a crossroads right now. Please join me tomorrow in praying for our country. The need is great.

From the National Day of Prayer site: 

The 64th annual National Day of Prayer, May 7, 2015, will have profound significance for our country.  It is an unprecedented opportunity to see the Lord’s healing and renewing power made manifest as we call on citizens to humbly come before His throne.

Our theme for 2015 is Lord, Hear Our Cry, emphasizing the need for individuals, corporately and individually, to place their faith in the unfailing character of their Creator, who is sovereign over all governments, authorities, and men.  To further highlight our theme, we’ve chosen I Kings 8:28 as our Scripture for this year:  “Hear the cry and the prayer that your servant is praying in your presence this day.”

2015 National Prayer by Dr. Jack Graham

Heavenly Father,

We come to You in the Name that is above every name—Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our hearts cry out to You.

Knowing that You are a prayer-answering, faithful God—the One we trust in times like these—we ask that You renew our spirits, revive our churches, and heal our land.

We repent of our sins and ask for Your grace and power to save us. Hear our cry, oh God, and pour out Your Spirit upon us that we may walk in obedience to Your Word.

We are desperate for Your tender mercies. We are broken and humbled before You.

Forgive us, and in the power of Your great love, lift us up to live in Your righteousness.

We pray for our beloved nation. May we repent and return to You and be a light to the nations. And we pray for our leaders and ask that You give them wisdom and faith to follow You.

Preserve and protect us, for You are our refuge and only hope.

Deliver us from all fears except to fear You, and may we courageously stand in the Truth that sets us free.

We pray with expectant faith and grateful hearts.

In Jesus’ name, our Savior.

Amen.

You can listen to the audio version here.

How to Pray for America

by Franklin Graham

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“When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?”
–Psalms 11:3

I believe our nation is in trouble today, probably more than I’ve seen in my lifetime. We are contending with issues that are causing the very foundation of our country to crumble. Our moral and spiritual roots are eroding, the economy is misleading, family life is disintegrating, and political forces are at unprecedented odds. There seem to be very few leaders who will take a stand for God and for His Word.

It can be tempting to believe that America has reached a point of no return. While these factors cause despair, we are reminded in Scripture that with God, nothing is impossible. No problem is too great for Him. Seasons of distress and uncertainty and hardship call for faithful, fervent prayer by God’s people and remind us of our responsibility to humble ourselves before Almighty God. We cannot expect healing to come to our nation apart from obedience to God through His Holy Word.

Read the rest here.

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When Little Ones Pray – The Power of the Meek

I wrote this post last week and scheduled it for today. However, as you must know by now, the people of Nepal and Kathmandu are in great need of prayer because of the 7.8 magnitude earthquake which struck central Nepal this past Saturday, April 25th. Some of those affected include the Bridge of Hope centers that I refer to in the original post I wrote which follows this news release I received in an email from Gospel for Asia:

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More than 1,000 Dead, Survivors Struggling After Nepal Earthquake

A 7.8 magnitude earthquake struck central Nepal, less than 50 miles outside the capital city of Kathmandu, just before noon Saturday, killing more than 1,000 people in Nepal, India, Tibet and Bangladesh. The death toll is expected to rise.

Rescuers in Nepal are searching through the rubble for survivors. More than 1,700 have been injured, and hospitals are overwhelmed.

Gospel for Asia has 450 churches and 20 Bridge of Hope centers in the region. Some churches and some centers have been destroyed by the quake.

Between 30 and 40 of Gospel for Asia’s missionaries serving in Uttar Pradesh, an Indian state bordering Nepal, are headed toward the destruction to help.

This is estimated to be the worst earthquake to hit Nepal in 80 years.

Read the rest here.  Beloved, thank you for praying about this.

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When Little Ones Pray –
The Power of the Meek

I often post about prayer. There is nothing else like prayer. It blesses us and God to pray for others. Our hearts become one with those for whom we pray. And God uses our prayers for our good and for His glory.

At the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus preached the Beatitudes. This is one of them:

Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth. —Matthew 5:5

K. P. Kohannan is the founder and president of Gospel for Asia, and his wonderful book, No Longer a Slumdog, tells the story of how the children (the meek) of Asia have learned to pray. They daily use the power of prayer to affect their lives and those of their family and neighbors.

From the Gospel for Asia’s No Longer a Slum Dog site:

When you teach a child that the God who loves them unconditionally answers prayer, miracles can happen. Sagan and his friends learned of the power of prayer from watching their Bridge of Hope teachers. Soon they were praying for those in need, while watching God answer. See what happens when they hear of a young boy with a terminal condition in a neighboring village.

Beloved, please take the time to watch this 5-minute video. You will be touched by the faith of these little children that God is using to change lives in Asia. Click here to get a free copy of No Longer a Slumdog.

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Praise His Holy Name

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I will exalt you, my God the King;
I will praise your name for ever and ever.
Every day I will praise you and
extol your name for ever and ever.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord.
Let every creature praise his holy name
for ever and ever.
—Psalm 145:1-3, 21

 

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Like a Rose Trampled on the Ground

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Recently we sang “Above All” at church. This song never fails to make my eyes leak, especially when I try to sing the chorus:

Crucified, laid behind a stone
You lived to die, rejected and alone
Like a rose, trampled on the ground
You took the fall and thought of me
Above all

How can we possibly view the agony Jesus went through during all those beatings and His crucifixion—just for us sinners—without being impacted by it? And how can we not be utterly thankful for all that He went through—just for us sinners—and not be thankful beyond words?

Beloved, we should be spending the rest of our earthly lives thanking Jesus for His great sacrifice on our behalf, and looking for ways to share the truth of His mercy and grace with others. Telling people about the Reason for our faith, hope and joy may seem scary but it is not difficult. Simply tell them where you came from and how Jesus transformed your life into where you are today!

To help you walk someone through the process of asking Jesus into their hearts as their Savior and Lord, go to my A…B…C… post to help you with the steps.

Please enjoy this video is of Michael W. Smith singing “Above All” with lyrics.

If for any reason you are unable to view this video, you can read the lyrics here.


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Thankful for God’s Salvation

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This is another of the devotionals I wrote for the anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleThis particular devotional was included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving and is perfect for this time of the year as we are contemplating the true meaning of Resurrection Sunday.

 

When I want to thank God for His salvation . . .

I am not ashamed of the gospel: it is the power of God
for salvation to every one who has faith.

—Romans 1:16 RSV

I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor,
now is the day of salvation.

—2 Corinthians 6:2

The LORD lives, and blessed be my rock;
and exalted be the God of my salvation.

—Psalm 18:46 NASB
 

[Peter said] Jesus is the only One who can save people.
His name is the only power in the world that has been given
to save people. We must be saved through him.
—Acts 4:12 NCV

If you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and
believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead,
you will be saved.

—Romans 10:9 NKJV

 

. . . I will pray.

Redeeming Lord,

I am always amazed when I consider the depth of Your love for me. You, who created everything in the universe, care for me so much You sent Your Son, Jesus Christ, to die for my sins. And I will never be able to explain why Jesus came—willingly, determined to rescue me and make me part of Your family. My salvation is more wonderful and amazing than I could ever comprehend.

Lord, You could have simply walked away from Your human creation, washed Your hands, and moved on to a new project. Instead, You walked beyond Your personal disappointment and went to extraordinary, even miraculous, lengths to salvage us. Knowing that moves me beyond words. And then to think that even in the face of so great a gesture toward us, You’ve made Yourself vulnerable by leaving us with the choice to take Your gift or leave it.

I want to be very clear, Lord—I take it! Every bit of it—all You have or want or plan for me! I choose to love You back every day of my life. Thank You for Your lavish gift of salvation.

Amen.

It is not your hold of Christ that saves you,
but His hold of you!
—Charles Haddon Spurgeon

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[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

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