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Humility ~ Part 2

This is Part 2 in a series on Humility by guest blogger Donald N. Norris.


In my last post, we began to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  I made my confession that   I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.  In this post, we will look at the concept of humility from the pages of the Tanakh (Old Testament).

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

Humility in the Tanakh [1]

The Tanakh connects the quality of humility with Israel’s lowly experience as slaves in Egypt – a poor, afflicted, and suffering people.  And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us.” (Deuteronomy 26:6 emphasis added.) The Hebrew word translated as humility is similar to another Hebrew word meaning “to be afflicted.”  Humility was closely associated with individuals who were poor and afflicted (see 2 Samuel 22:28).

What God desires most is not outward sacrifices but a humble spirit.  “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.” (Psalm 51:17)

“He has told you, O man, what is good; And what does the LORD require of you But to do justice, to love kindness, And to walk humbly with your God?” (Micah 6:8)

Such a humble spirit shows itself in several ways:

  1. Recognition of one’s sinfulness before a Holy God. “Woe is me, for I am ruined!  Because I am a man of unclean lips, And I live among a people of unclean lips; For my eyes have seen the King, the LORD of hosts.” (Isaiah 6:5)
  2. Obedience to God. “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.”  (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  3. Submission to God. “‘Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before the LORD when you heard what I spoke against this place and against its inhabitants that they should become a desolation and a curse, and you have torn your clothes and wept before Me, I truly have heard you,’ declares the LORD.”  (2 Kings 22:19)
  4. “He leads the humble in justice, And He teaches the humble His way.” (Psalm 25:9)

The Tanakh also promised blessings to those who were humble:

  • When pride comes, then comes dishonor, But with the humble is wisdom.” (Proverbs 11:2)
  • “You shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not.” (Deuteronomy 8:2)
  • Good news. “The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners.”  (Isaiah 61:1)  Yeshua quoted this verse in Luke 4:18.
  • “Though He scoffs at the scoffers, Yet He gives grace to the afflicted.” (Proverbs 3:34
  • “The fear of the LORD is the instruction for wisdom, And before honor comes humility.” (Proverbs 15:33)

The experience of many kings indicated that those who humble themselves before God will be exalted (see 1 Kings 21:29; 2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chronicles 32:26; 33:12, 19). Those who do not humble themselves before God will be afflicted (2 Chronicles 33:23; 36:12).

The prophet Zephaniah appealed to the “humble” of the land to seek the Lord.  “Seek the LORD, all you humble of the earth who have carried out His ordinances; seek righteousness, seek humility. Perhaps you will be hidden in the day of the LORD’S anger.” (Zephaniah 2:3) He knew they were the ones who would listen to him and accept God’s message.

The pathway to revival is the way of humility.  If my people who are called by My name humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, will forgive their sin and will heal their land.”  (2 Chronicles 7:14)

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Brit Hadashah (New Testament).

 

[1] Unless otherwise noted, all scripture references in this series will be from the New American Standard Bible (NASB ~ 1995 Update)

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Humility ~ Part 1

The following is the first post by a new contributor, Donald N. Norris. You can usually find him at My Heart is for Israel, where he regularly impresses me with his in-depth, Israel-loving, Bible study 🙂

Guest Post by: Donald N. Norris

In this post, we will begin to explore the Godly characteristic of humility.  For those that really know me, they are probably wondering why I would even begin to attempt this topic!  I certainly don’t have much of a reputation for being humble.

Confessions of a Self-Centered Man

I have recently come out of my denial and now freely admit that most of my life has been spent as an extremely self-centered man.  It’s all about me!  My over-eating and anger issues are a primary function of my ingrained self-centeredness.

I’m not proud of this at all.  But, with the power of my Savior Yeshua and His indwelling

Ruach, I know in my heart that I have embarked on a recovery journey to transform and renew my mind and my actions to incorporate the Godly character of humility into my walk with the Lord.

After reading my testimony on this blog, you may be wondering how I became so self-centered.  You need look no closer than my given name ~ Donald.  All my life, I have been told that my name means world ruler, leader and overcomer.  Unfortunately, I bought into that, at least the leader and overcomer part.  And it is true that one of my spiritual gifts is leadership.

But despite my self-centeredness, I have always thought of myself as a servant-leader.  One of my favorite hymns, based on James 4:10, has been “Humble Thyself In The Sight of the Lord” by Bob Hudson.  James writes, “Humble yourselves in the presence of the Lord, and He will exalt you. (NASB)  Mr. Hudson wrote:

“Humble Thyself In The Sight Of The Lord”

Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
Humble thyself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
And He shall lift you up
Higher and higher and He
Shall lift you up.

So I will humble myself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
Humble myself in the sight of the Lord (echo)
And He shall lift me up
Higher and higher and He
Shall lift me up.

So I will humble myself in the sight of You, Lord (echo
Humble myself in the sight of You, Lord (echo)
And You will lift me up
Higher and higher
And You will lift me up.

I bought into the servant-leadership style of Yeshua early in my own walk, especially at work and church.  Sadly, I did not buy into it in my own home.  There, I thought I had to be that ‘world ruler.’  It was my way or the highway.  Trust me that didn’t work out well for me or my loved ones.  In many respects, I’m still reaping what I sowed. I’ve had to make my amends and rebuild those relationships.

So, how is it that I came to blog on the topic of humility?  At our church, I am on a team of people developing the curriculum for a disciple-making training program that will take a new believer along a pathway of becoming like Yeshua and eventually be able to replicate their own journey with other new believers; in short, making a disciple to become a discipler.

Since I knew that I needed to learn and live-out the characteristic of humility before I could ever train someone else, I volunteered to write that module.  This series on humility is a result of my exploration of humility from the Word of God.

Humility Defined

Humility is a personal quality in which an individual shows dependence on God and respect for other persons.  Various Bible translations use humble, meekness, gentleness, tender, mild, afflicted and considerate to describe the characteristic of humility.

In my next post, we will explore the concept of humility in the Tanakh (Old Testament).

 

 

 

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The Simplicity of Grace in all its Complexity

This morning it’s my privilege to introduce you to a new guest contributor, J. David Peever. David blogs at Live 4 Him, so go check him out when you are done here –  and let him know I sent you 😉

Guest Post by: J. David Peever


I understand what grace means but I have to admit, I am not sure what it looks like. I know that grace is unmerited favour but I fail to fully grasp the resulting actions. It is possible that I am the only Christian that finds the scope of grace and the accompanying behaviours difficult to define and the only pastor who feels inadequate when it comes to this. With these shortcomings I hope you are willing to extend a little grace to me or it might as well be the end of this post.

Unmerited favour must be more than letting me off the hook.

I celebrate the grace I have been given. I bask in the thought that someone could do something for me based not on what I have done or deserve but on how much they love me. In my human weakness I miss the breadth and depth, the width and height of God’s love-motivated, unmerited favour. My small mind focuses on the fact that I am forgiven even though I have done nothing to earn that forgiveness. I limit God and His actions to the function of letting me off the hook without paying the price for the sin I have committed which would best be described as unmerited forgiveness. Unmerited favour seems to be much more than that.

Unmerited favour can’t mean out of sight out of mind.

People like to say God forgives and forgets as if He suddenly comes down with a case of memory impairment or experiences concussion like symptoms. This is not the biblical premise behind the way God treats our sins. When we sin we create a deficit in our perfection. God, because of the price Jesus paid on the cross, looks at the deficit in the Christ follower’s perfection as paid, the debt is forgotten and perfection is restored. The debt may be forgotten, but the sinful action is not. I know this sounds like bad theology but bear with me.

Unmerited favour is more than unmerited forgiveness.

I have taken a juvenile attitude toward my salvation for far too long. In my immature approach I have viewed God’s grace as taking care of my need for forgiveness and sending me on my way as if nothing happened. A drop of Jesus’ blood here and piece of broken body there and all is forgotten – wow, so simplistic, so incomplete. God’s grace is much more than my rich dad paying yet another one of my debts. His unmerited favour is the perfect example of the actions a loving father takes when he desires the best for his children.

My son, do not despise the Lord’s discipline, and do not resent his rebuke, because the Lord disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in. Proverbs 3:11-12 (NIV)

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Jesus Paid It All and Your Payment’s No Good Here

A guest post by Wally Fry

jesus saves

Two Religions

Aside from the obvious non-religions like atheism, humanism and so forth, there are only two actual “religions” in the world.

The first is the religion of good works. Believers in this religion believe that there is something, somehow, that they can do to ensure their own entry in to Heaven. There are subsets of this religion:

  • Some believe sacraments and rituals, if done properly, ensure entrance into heaven.
  • Some believe in the scale of justice theory of salvation, believing that if their good outweighs their bad they can ensure their entry into Heaven.
  • Some believe that if they just do not do anything “really bad” they can ensure their entry into heaven. Adherents of this religion call themselves many different things: New Agers, spiritual, Catholic, Protestant, Mormon, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Buddhist, and even Evangelical Christians.
  • Some may call themselves Methodists, Baptists, or any other name one can call to mind.

On the other hand, there is the true “religion”. This is simply the Faith that teaches that absolutely nothing any human can do is sufficient to pay for the sin we have all committed. Our payment is no good here. In the first article in this series, Jesus Paid it All, we discussed the fact that we can each certainly pay our own way for our own sin. That article can be Read Here:

Jesus Paid It All and you Really Don’t Want to Pay Your Own Way

But, as that article shows, the only way we can pay for our own sin is by death, both physical and spiritual. Eternally we pay our debt by being forever separated from God in a place of torment called Hell. That is the ONLY way we can pay for our own sin.

In other words, we can pay our own debt, but we can never redeem ourselves from the penalty of what we have done.

Ephesians 2:8-9For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.”

That verse is really fairly self-explanatory and says and means exactly what it says. It seems to say it with little ambiguity or room for alternate interpretations. Nonetheless, let’s expand a little on what it is really saying.

Only Grace

We are saved by God’s Grace, through our faith(and even that is given to us by God.) Grace is a free gift of God, not earned by us. No work we might ever do contributes one iota toward our eternal Salvation. We WANT our salvation to be by our works because we really, really like ourselves.

Grace plus nothing equals our Salvation. Jesus Paid it All. He doesn’t need our help to finish the project, His Grace is sufficient. Period and end of the story.

We can’t do enough good to cover our own sin.

We can’t avoid enough bad to cover our own sin.

We cannot do anything in our unsaved state to appear favorable in the sight of a Holy and perfect God.

Our Rituals, Sacraments and Ordinances, while not wrong by any means can never save us.

No sacrifice of any sort can ever save us.

What, then saves us? It starts with Grace. God’s gift of His son who COULD pay for our sin, and did. We simply have to accept the gift by Repentance toward God and believe in His Son Jesus Christ.

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Hurting

Guest Post by: Dorissa Vanover


“I’ve lost my song,” my mother-in-law told me, as her tender heart broke into a million pieces.Today, I understand exactly what she meant.

Sometimes the pain seems relentlessly intense and hopelessly never-ending. During those times, the singer can’t sing, the writer can’t write and the artist can’t paint.

Each of us is born with a unique gift or ability, given to us by our Creator, so that we can fully express ourselves. Using the gift is a way of expressing our love and thanks to our Heavenly Father, a way to encourage others we meet along the way, and a way of joyfully immersing ourselves in our passion. We make time, knowing that we affirm ourselves and our God-given abilities as we express ourselves.

And then…unexpectedly, because we are imperfect humans living in a fallen world, we encounter heartbreak so overwhelming, it immobilizes us. We may be able to awaken each morning, get dressed and make it through our day; we may even remember to thank God for the blessings we know are still all around us. Truth is, though, we feel hopelessness inside. While we may be able to continue to function, we are not able to thrive.

Finally, knowing our spirits will break if we don’t get help, we fall to our knees beseeching our Father for the comfort only he can give. We quietly absorb the grace and mercy of being in his presence. His love surrounds us and our burden is lifted. We are renewed.

Once again, the singer sings, the writer writes, and the artist paints. It seems amazing, but the time spent away from the gift seems only to enhance the song, the words, or the painting. Yes, our Father created each of us with a wonderfully unique gift and gives us a time and place to use the gift. The greatest gift he gave each of us, though, is the freedom to have a relationship with him. He alone can replace our brokenness with joy and thanksgiving.

There may be several periods during a lifetime when the hurt seems greater than the hope. We know, though, because we belong to him, he is our hope, and there is nothing greater than him!

 

 

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I Will Sing a New Song

A Guest Post by: David Fuller


Over the years, my favorite creative outlets have been playing and composing music, and various attempts at written expression, both prose and poetry. I’m arguably better at the prose.

Some years ago, the person I was with at the time complained that I had never written a love song about her, which, given my musical aspirations, was awkwardly true. Also true was that I had never written a love song, period. Not for lack of trying. They just always seemed to come out cheesy and contrived. Not my niche, I guess. So I decided to give it another shot. Relationships take work, right? Unfortunately, my relationship at the time was not a great source of inspiration.

So, enamoured as I am with His woos and advances, I decided to draw inspiration from my relationship with God. I wrote the only love song I’ve ever written, and knew as soon as I finished, that He had actually written it for me.

And for you.

I love you more than the sun is bright
More than darkness fills the night
To the top of Everest’s freezing height,
My love still burns for you.

I love you more than the day is long
More sweetly than the saddest song
When the heavens and the earth are gone
I will be here with you.

I love you more romantically
Than moonlight on the lonely sea
The ways I’ll show you number more
Than grains of sand along the shore.

You and I will be together
Even longer than forever
And I will hold you close to me
Closer than the air we breathe.

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Christian Tyranny

The following is a guest post by David Robert Fuller. David blogs at Christian Consciousness, so go check out his stuff…but only after you read this and share your thoughts in the comment section. There’s a lot worth discussing in this post, the least of which is his use of periods and quotation marks 😉 First let’s talk Christian tyranny, then we can see who’s a grammar Nazi.


Now this matter arose because of the false brothers with false pretenses who slipped in unnoticed to spy on our freedom that we have in Christ Jesus, to make us slaves. But we did not surrender to them even for a moment, in order that the truth of the gospel would remain with you. – Galatians 2:4,5

I am concerned about one of my Christian brothers. He is a prominent member of my church, well known to everyone in the congregation. He says that he loves the Lord and is devoted to the Faith, yet he seems to experience some profound struggles in his Christian walk. It is not his struggles which most concern me, however, nor is it the fact that despite all the special consideration given him by his fellow Christians, no one seems to have a desire to see him grow beyond his spiritually immature state. What concerns me most is that I have the distinct impression that he doesn’t want to grow. He seems content to maintain a state of affairs in which he can play the role of a kind of Christian tyrant.

If there is a sin, this man struggles with it. Lust, drunkenness, immorality, drugs, gambling, smoking, swearing, and even occult practices are among the things that littered the former life of this dear brother. And he is apparently having an extremely hard time excluding these things from his life as a Christian, since everything he sees or hears reminds him of one or more of these things. He just can’t get away from it all. What’s worse, when he’s reminded of his former life, instead of being filled with the joy of his deliverance, he is rather filled with a desire to return to the very things he supposedly hates!

This unfortunate state of affairs has caused him to create a situation for himself similar to the famous “boy in the bubble”, who, due to the weakness of his immune system, was forced to spend every moment of his life within the confines of an artificial environment. In much the same way, this brother has devised a system for filtering out “impurities” and allowing only that which is “pure”.

For instance, all “secular” media is harmful to him. He can only be exposed to “Christian” music, television, magazines, books, and the like. He frequents only those events which are spiritually “edifying” (church functions mostly), and limits his business dealings to Christian merchants whenever possible. He cultivates friendships with Christians exclusively, since “bad company corrupts good character”. Even some “Christian” elements are filtered out, because they have the “appearance of evil”. He is very careful, because he knows that “…a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump”.

The upshot of all this is that special procedures must be observed by all those around him to avoid unintentionally short-circuiting his filtering system, which is so elaborate that it cannot be maintained by himself alone. This is where the tyranny starts.

I call it tyranny for three reasons.

First, tyrants manipulate facts to support their own cause. This is done by forcing others to conform to his standards by repeatedly quoting a couple of verses in the New Testament, which he conveniently takes out of context. He tells them that Romans 14:21 forbids them to do anything which he finds “offensive”, and 1 Thess. 5:22 prohibits anything that even “appears” to be evil, ignoring the fact that “…to the pure, all things are pure…” (Titus 1;15), or that Jesus Himself commands us not to judge by mere appearances (John 7:24).

Second, tyrants typically impose fear on other people. This is accomplished by saying it would be better for them to be thrown into the sea with a millstone tied around their neck, than to make him stumble; in effect, threatening their eternal life if they don’t do what he wants,when he knows that “…each of us shall give account of himself to God.” (Rom. 14:12).

Third, tyrants are self-serving. While they usually claim to serve some nebulous “greater good”, in this case “the things which make for peace”, it is really only an excuse they use to bully others into bowing to their own personal self-interests, however good and right they may believe those self-interests to be.

While I repeat my concern for this brother, let me hasten to add that I have serious reservations about passing judgment on someone whom I don’t personally know. I have never personally met this man, although he has been a church member for as long as I can remember. In fact, I don’t even know his name, because no one ever uses it when referring to him; maybe it’s because they don’t know his name either. Usually, everyone refers to him as, “the Weaker Brother”.

 

© 2017 David Robert Fuller

 

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