Category Archives: pride

who were you five years ago?

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yesterday when I was meeting with Matt (my pastor) we were talking about God’s power to change lives.  Often I feel that its up to me to change myself… that its up to my great faith (oh wait, i don’t have that).  I get discouraged when change doesn’t happen as quickly as I think it should.  I feel like I’m letting God down by not “holding up my part of the bargain.”  After all, He saved me, its my job to “return the favor” by living for Him, right? 

As I’m writing this, it seems absurd to think this way.  Yet I find this thinking is so pervasive in my life.  When things are hard, I naturally assume that its because I did something wrong or failed to trust God fully or that its judgment for something I did wrong in my past.  And when things go well, I assume its because I did something right and God is pleased therefore He makes my life easy.

So Matt asked me to list ways that I am different from 5 years ago.  He wanted to know specifics of what has changed and what caused those changes.  To be honest with you I didn’t know where to start…   Really the only thing that is the same now is my name.  And the fact that I’m employed full time.  But even where I’m employed is different. 

Here are a 5 things that have changed in my life in the last 5 years:
1.  Five years ago I did not care about God.  I did not love God.  Today, I’m aware my love for Him is very small, very imperfectly offered and not nearly as passionate as it should be, but I do in fact love Him.  And my desire is to love Him more and more each day. 

2.  Five years ago, my desires, passions and lusts controlled every aspect of my life.  I lived for what I wanted.  I did what I wanted.  I didn’t care who didn’t like it.  But God drew me to Him by showing me His kindness.  He showed me that His love is so far superior to the desires of my flesh.  He gave me a hope that was so far greater than sex, drugs and uncontrolled passion.  I want to know this God who gave so much to prove His love for me.

3.  Five years ago, I was a thief, drunk, druggie, controlled by the passions of my flesh.  I was controlled by my sins.  I could do nothing other than carry out those desires.  But God grabbed me from that slavery.  He showed me immesurable kindness.  He gave me this gift, changed my desires and now I can say that none of those desires control my life.  That’s not who I am anymore. 

4.  Five years ago, when I first began coming to Sovereign Grace Church, it was because they had something to offer me.  I could get something from them.  They gave me free meals, they gave me intelligent (well, sometimes) conversations, they gave me friendship.  And they asked nothing in return.  I came for what I could get from them.  And for several years, I simply came and took.  Today, by God’s grace, I still am receiving so many benefits from my friends but now I actually call them friends.  And I try to be a friend to them as well.  I desire to pass along the same kindness and mercy they showed over the past five years.  I desire to reconcile when differences arise.  It is a highlight of my week to talk each Sunday with my dear, sweet friends, pray with and for them and serve them in many little ways.  Again, I’m aware that I still take more than I give, but its only by God’s grace that I’m there at all… and that I’m giving at all.  So, that gives me faith that one day I’ll give more… more freely and with more joy.

5.  Five years ago, life was about me.  I’m often tempted to despair because I see so much of my life is still about me.  And I know that needs to change.  But five years ago, my heart desired only to serve myself.  After God captured my heart and offered me salvation, my desire is now to live my life for Him.  And I know that desire didn’t start with me.

 

So, there you have it… a brief snapshot of what God has done.  Matt then reminded me that everything I had just told him was all a work of God’s grace alone.  I did nothing to change myself.  Every change that has happened in the past 5 years was a result of His loving hand working in my life.  It wasn’t because I desired to change or because I made myself change.  I can claim no part in those changes.  They are all a work of God’s grace.  He went on to read Galatians 3 where Paul asks the Galatians if they are so foolish to really believe that what God started they must now finish.  Matt then reminded me that, just like the Galatians, I didn’t begin this work and its not up to me to finish it.  Actually, even if I wanted to, I couldn’t.  It is a work of grace from a God of grace.  None of it is a work of my own ability… God designed it that way so He would get the glory and so that I wouldn’t boast. 

That’s very humbling… on two fronts.  First, that God would really love me that much.  That He knows all my sin and weakness and failure and that He simply offers to me His open hand full of love.  And He asks nothing in return.  I wish I had something to offer to thank Him for that gift.  But He says even if I did, He wouldn’t be pleased with that.  And second, its humbling because there is nothing I can do other than stand in awe of a God that is that great.  He began this work in me.  He is currently working in me.  And He has promised to complete it.  All I can do is sit back in thankfulness and be amazed at such grace.

 

So, my question for you is this… How has God changed you in the last 5 years?   How have His amazing works of grace transformed you from who you once were?

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Boasting

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Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.”
Jeremiah 9:23-24

My wisdom doesn’t know what job I’ll be doing tomorrow.
My might can’t make my headaches go away.
My riches can’t magically make my bills disappear.

But I have a God who is steadfast in His love. That love doesn’t change when the winds blow. Through His justice, His wrath was fully poured out on His Son on the cross. That means it will never be poured out on me. That is grace and that is amazing! He is righteous in the earth – He is sovereignly in control of all things. That combination is a God who is powerful, loving and just. That is more than enough reason for boasting!

I want to know that God more. I want a deeper understanding of His love, His justice as displayed on the cross and His sovereign control over all things. I want my boasting to be there – not in my ability to think or act or anything else.

I believe that God is stripping me and divorcing me (albeit painfully) from my boasting in myself. But I’m so self-deceived. Even in that process, I still try to sneak a little of my own righteousness into the process. I still seek to earn or deserve. By seeing my weakness, its obvious why my boasting should not rest there. By comparing that weakness with all-powerful loving Soveriengty, there is no comparison.

All boasting to Him. All praise to Him. He knows my future. He knows my present struggles. He knows my desire to understand Him deeper, and He will bring this to pass. He will receive glory in my life. There is no other option. How is it possible for Him, a sovereign holy God, to receive delight in me? As I repent of my pride and arrogant self-boasting, and humbly seek a deeper understanding of His greatness (realizing that the more I see this, the more I am also aware of the depths of my pride), He receives glory and delights in my actions. Not because I accomplished anything, but because I see that I cannot accomplish anything and that everything that is accomplished through me… any wisdom, might or riches I have… is a gift that has been given to me by a loving, just, righteous God. Those are good gifts. The Giver is generous. He receives glory as I learn to boast in Him, for this boasting magnifies His greatness.

I’m grateful.

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i’m grateful for my body. my physical body of pain and weakness shows my need for a Savior.
i’m grateful for my church body. they support, love and uphold in my weakness. they encourage, hug and cry and approach together with me the almighty throne of Grace. they love me.

my heart wanted to run and hide this morning. God in his gracious lovingkindess knew I needed his arms around me. So, He provided that through His church. My, how I love them. I feel guilty for being so weak. Yet we all are. I would prefer to hide and minimze this (and pretend there is nothing wrong and that there is no inner turmoil in my soul) but God is not allowing that. My weakness was on full display this morning as seen through my weepy eyes during worship. Yet somehow, in my weakness, God, in His sovereignty, used me, in my weary weakness, to encourage Missy and JB and Josh and Bev and Julie C. and others. That is amazing. That is so beyond me. I’m weary. Yet refreshed. Physically cast down but not forsaken. Mentally persecuted yet enduring. What amazing grace God bestows. What lavish kindness to bring freedom to my soul.

“In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of God’s love.”—Bunyan.

The exalted Lamb of God bore my sins and suffered in my place so that I might be made righteous before God – that is God’s love perfectly on display. I wandered off like a sheep. All the burdens of my sin were literally taken from my shoulders and placed on His. He willingly took them as His own. His atonement was sufficient. I have no need or requirement to wallow. Every sin was a future sin when Christ died for me. He has forgiven all my sins. I’m a slave to those sins no more!!!!

He was spat upon by men when He had healed men with his spit. He created man with His breath, they used their breath to mock and revile. In the cross He was forsaken. He was forsaken in my place. My hope is that no matter what comes my way, I will NEVER EVER be forsaken by God.

“most people believe they have an alien problem that can be solved by an inner solution, but the gospel says that we have an inner problem that can only be solved by an alien solution.”

My problem is not my pain. My problem is my sin before a guilty God that stems from a heart of wicked deceit and pride. My soulution is not to “fix it” but to recognize that the answer lies in the cross of Christ. That precious cross that reconciles me to God. it reconciles wholly.

“I will glory in my Redeemer. His priceless blood has ransomed me.”
Who is Jesus? He is my hope. He is my cause for rejoicing. He is the victor over my guilty conscience. He is more powerful than the attacks of Satan.

I look at my baggage at the foot of the cross, determined to “steal” some back so that I can somehow earn some justification before God. Yet, every bag is covered with blood that cannot be removed. Every burden is permanently stained by that blood. That permanent stain is my cause for rejoicing. I can’t do it. But He already has.

I’m grateful.

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i’m grateful for my body. my physical body of pain and weakness shows my need for a Savior.
i’m grateful for my church body. they support, love and uphold in my weakness. they encourage, hug and cry and approach together with me the almighty throne of Grace. they love me.

my heart wanted to run and hide this morning. God in his gracious lovingkindess knew I needed his arms around me. So, He provided that through His church. My, how I love them. I feel guilty for being so weak. Yet we all are. I would prefer to hide and minimze this (and pretend there is nothing wrong and that there is no inner turmoil in my soul) but God is not allowing that. My weakness was on full display this morning as seen through my weepy eyes during worship. Yet somehow, in my weakness, God, in His sovereignty, used me, in my weary weakness, to encourage Missy and JB and Josh and Bev and Julie C. and others. That is amazing. That is so beyond me. I’m weary. Yet refreshed. Physically cast down but not forsaken. Mentally persecuted yet enduring. What amazing grace God bestows. What lavish kindness to bring freedom to my soul.

“In times of affliction we commonly meet with the sweetest experiences of God’s love.”—Bunyan.

The exalted Lamb of God bore my sins and suffered in my place so that I might be made righteous before God – that is God’s love perfectly on display. I wandered off like a sheep. All the burdens of my sin were literally taken from my shoulders and placed on His. He willingly took them as His own. His atonement was sufficient. I have no need or requirement to wallow. Every sin was a future sin when Christ died for me. He has forgiven all my sins. I’m a slave to those sins no more!!!!

He was spat upon by men when He had healed men with his spit. He created man with His breath, they used their breath to mock and revile. In the cross He was forsaken. He was forsaken in my place. My hope is that no matter what comes my way, I will NEVER EVER be forsaken by God.

“most people believe they have an alien problem that can be solved by an inner solution, but the gospel says that we have an inner problem that can only be solved by an alien solution.”

My problem is not my pain. My problem is my sin before a guilty God that stems from a heart of wicked deceit and pride. My soulution is not to “fix it” but to recognize that the answer lies in the cross of Christ. That precious cross that reconciles me to God. it reconciles wholly.

“I will glory in my Redeemer. His priceless blood has ransomed me.”
Who is Jesus? He is my hope. He is my cause for rejoicing. He is the victor over my guilty conscience. He is more powerful than the attacks of Satan.

I look at my baggage at the foot of the cross, determined to “steal” some back so that I can somehow earn some justification before God. Yet, every bag is covered with blood that cannot be removed. Every burden is permanently stained by that blood. That permanent stain is my cause for rejoicing. I can’t do it. But He already has.

Self Pity

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http://newattitude.org/articles/feeling_sorry_for_myself – great article but its long… see below for highlights …

“Often those trapped in self-pity can not see their sin or apply the message of the cross to themselves. That is because the foundation of self-pity is pride, and the nature of pride is blindness. It follows that those bound by self-pity will often be blind to both its presence and its underlying cause.” (The Journal of Biblical Counseling, Summer 2007).

The reason I so often fail to see self-pity is active in my life is that I become so focused on myself and my circumstances that I lose sight of God. Instead of seeing all things as under God’s kind and loving sovereignty, all I can see is that I am not getting what I want. God begins to fade from my field of vision. Self looms larger and my self-pity becomes a form of self-worship. My self-worship is rooted in my thinking so highly of myself, it’s rooted in pride.

Gratitude evaporates from the self-pitying heart. Those immersed in self-pity do not have the ability to see God’s grace at work around them. Objectivity is gone and we are tossed on the seas of our subjective senses. We feel that we have been victimized and no one cares, not even God. The only person left to pity us is ourselves… and then our self-focus spirals in on itself, leaving us trapped under the weight of our sin, miserable, bitter and alone.

But we don’t have to stay there. The way out of self-pity is to repent and turn our eyes to Jesus Christ. The way out is to counteract the lie that God does not care with Scripture about his character, his mercy, his nearness and his cross. He reminds us that we can cast all of our cares on him because he loves us (1 Peter 5:5-7), Jesus tells us that the Father cares for the birds and that we are worth more to him than a bird (Luke 12:22-34) and that is how we see God’s grace each day. And above all that he does to sustain us each day, the grace of God comes to us in the fact that through his own sacrifice he has transferred us from a domain of darkness and into the kingdom of the Son who forgives our sins! (Col 1:13-14) When he is our focus, it brings everything else into perspective. Our confidence in the cross where Jesus dealt with our greatest need is enough to give us hope in all situations.

Life deals out serious situations, but the gospel of Jesus Christ grounds us. Even in pain and loss, we can find strength in our salvation. Hab 3:18-19 says: “Though the fig tree should not blossom, nor fruit be on the vines, the produce of the olive fail and the fields yield no food, the flock be cut off from the fold and there be no herd in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD; I will take joy in the God of my salvation.” In each situation, we face the choice of setting our eyes on ourselves or looking to Christ crucified. Self-pity is the result of self-focus; the remedy is God-focus.