What Ever Happened To Humility?

For March 14, 2021
In Jesus’ day, people did not have access to the many forms of motorized transportation (i.e., motorcycles, cars, trucks, trains, airplanes, etc.) we have today. In addition, the roads were not paved. So depending on the terrain and weather conditions, travel could be extremely messy.

People who could not afford to ride animals (i.e., camels, donkeys, horses, etc.) walked, exposing their sandaled feet to dirty roads—sometimes checkered with animal feces. Thus, as a common courtesy (and sanitary reasons), the host provided for foot washing since the guest’s feet were soiled by the time they reached their destination.

Also in Jesus’ day and culture, people ate while reclining on one side—sometimes with their feet extended toward other guests,

Reclining on the triclinium, or dinner bed, the guest lay usually upon his left side, leaving his right hand free to reach for food. His head would thus easily come into contact with the breast of the person on his left. It was in this way that John leaned on the bosom of Jesus while at supper.1

Foot washing was the task reserved for the lowest ranking person (or servant) in the household. However, in this instance, Jesus “flipped the script” by washing the Twelve Disciples’ feet as if He was the lowest ranking servant. In so doing, He teaches an unmistakable object lesson on humility to the astonishment of His Disciples,

It was at this juncture that Jesus washed the feet of the Disciples. It was an object lesson to impress upon them the quality of true greatness. He was their Lord, and yet He became their servant as He laid aside His garments, took a towel and girded Himself, poured water into a basin, and stooped to wash the feet of His Disciples. Jesus was not instituting an ordinance like that of the Lord’s Supper but was giving an object lesson in true humility of spirit.2

The Lord exercises great patience with His Disciples’ failure to understand the importance of humility and selflessness. He was their Rabbi (leader and teacher), yet He lowered Himself to serve them when it was their obligation to serve Him. (To the Disciples’ credit, there was no designated servant present to wash their feet since the gathering was a private one.)

The Disciples also failed to grasp the vast spiritual dimension of the Kingdom of God where our Lord reigns forever in full majesty and glory. (They were too busy arguing about who would be “greatest” in the Kingdom and forgot that someone within their ranks should have performed the task.)

Jesus teaches His Disciples what constitutes true greatness—humility—especially for His people. His actions were consistent with His earlier teachings, “If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24 AKJV).

Jesus was the ultimate example of humility as He relinquished His deity and took on human form to pay for our sin,

Though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as something to cling to. Instead, he gave up his divine privileges; he took the humble position of a slave and was born as a human being. When he appeared in human form, he humbled himself in obedience to God and died a criminal’s death on a cross (Philippians 2:6-8 NLT).

Because of Jesus’ humility, we now can have God’s great love and forgiveness through our faith in His redeeming sacrifice on Calvary’s Cross. Our humility and surrender is essential to receiving these blessed gifts from God,

Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble” (1 Peter 1:5 NKJV).

What a Wonderful Savior!

We Can Have Harmony With God And Others

For March 6, 2021
It’s sobering to witness the recent heightening of social discord, which not only serves to remind us of the reality of sin in fallen human hearts while demonstrating how sin’s curse can impair our interpersonal relationships—around the world.

However, it also serves to demonstrate our critical need for personal, spiritual transformation to develop and foster social harmony. The Lord created us as social creatures, who first and foremost, experience an intimate fellowship with Him, and who then can live out harmonious human interactions.

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ uses a wind analogy to describe our critical need for spiritual transformation,

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear the sound of it, but cannot tell where it comes from and where it goes. So is everyone who is born of the Spirit (John 3:7—8 NKJV).

God’s omnipotent Holy Spirit has been changing the lives of people for over six thousand years of human history. His refining work can be as subtle as a soft, gentle breeze or as dramatic as a devastating tornado. And like the wind, we do not see the Holy Spirit at work within us as He performs His incredible work of spiritual transformation—witnessed in new, dramatic behavioral changes.

Jesus Christ is the only solution to our spiritual quandary. As the Son of Man, He came down from Heaven to reveal God’s plan of redemption fully. When the children of Israel sinned in the wilderness, God sent fiery serpents to bite those who rebelled against Moses, and many died.1

The people suddenly cried to Moses asking for forgiveness, and to alleviate their suffering, the Lord instructed Moses to make a brass, fiery serpent and attach it to a pole. Dying people who looked at the brass serpent were miraculously healed instantly.

Jesus said He likewise would be “lifted up,” and whoever believes in Him will have eternal life. He also tells us that His death is motivated by God’s love and not to condemn us, but to heal our spiritual condition forever,

And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:15—17 NKJV).

Faith is instrumental in our becoming righteous before God. Thus, our condemnation is not based on our sinful acts, but our rejection of His redemptive work performed on the cross. This correlation between faith and righteousness is consistent with two well-known Old Testament Scriptures,

And [Abraham] believed in the Lord, and He accounted it to him for righteousness (Genesis 15:6 NKJV).

Behold the proud, His soul is not upright in him; But the just shall live by his faith (Habakkuk 2:4 NKJV).

As the Light of the World, Jesus and says some will choose to remain in darkness because of their unbelief and love for darkness and its sin. Yet, whoever lives by the truth will discover His redeeming and transforming light that will make us righteous before God and cause us to reconciliation with God and each other both now and forever.

What a Wonderful Savior!

But The Lord Was With Joseph

For February 28, 2021
Joseph was the eleventh son of Jacob (Israel), and the firstborn from the union of Jacob by Rachel. He was his father’s favorite son and received a tunic of many colors or color pieces. Such was a garment of distinction, which infuriated his brothers, who “could not speak peaceably to him.” At seventeen, Joseph dreamed two dreams that further exacerbated the situation.

When Israel sent Joseph to check on his brothers who were grazing their herds near Dothan, the brothers tossed him into a pit, and eventually sold him to Ishmaelites on their way to Egypt. There Potiphar, an officer of Pharaoh and captain of the guard, bought him as a house slave. But the Lord was with Joseph and prospered Potiphar entire household because of Joseph.

Potiphar’s wife showed interest in Joseph, and later falsely accused him of sexual assault. As a result, Joseph was imprisoned for a crime he did not commit for thirteen years.

But, the LORD was with Joseph and showed him mercy, and He gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison (Genesis 39:21 NKJV).

Eventually, Pharaoh had two troubling dreams, and Joseph was summoned to provide an interpretation for both dreams. God supplied Joseph with the interpretations, which pleased Pharaoh to such a degree that Joseph was elevated to a distinction that was only superseded by Pharaoh himself.

Ultimately, the Lord used Joseph to save a nation (Egypt) from the ravages and decimation of a severe, seven-year famine. But the Lord also used him to provide a temporary shelter—during the famine—for the Children of Israel in the Land of Goshen.

From Joseph’s encounter with the Lord, we can learn three fundamental principles about how the Lord deals with His people:

The Lord was with Joseph. This preposition shows proximity or association God calls His people to be in fellowship with Him. It is used frequently to show the promises of God towards us, or to affirm that God is with us, or our petitions to God to be with us.

Everywhere God meets us He places on us a moral demand. It is our obedience and sensitivity to the Holy One of Israel that makes us compatible. Ours is a loving covenant relationship that is based on our faith in Jesus Christ. We love Him completely because He first loved us (1 John 4:19).1

From Joseph, we can know that the Lord is with us today; through the highs and lows; through the happy times and sad times; through bright moments and the dark moments. Jesus promises to be with us always—even unto the end of the earth (Matthew 28:20).

Thus, through Christ, we can say with confidence, even as King David attests,

He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil for You are with me (Psalm 23: 2—4 NKJV).

The Lord showed him mercy. Mercy is a word we do not hear much nowadays since vengeance and retribution have replaced it. For not only does it convey good deeds, goodliness, kindly, or pity, it presents our Lord’s prerogative to extend His unfailing love and kindness towards us—when punishment or condemnation are due us!2

It was the mercy of the faithful Covenant God of Israel, which rescued Joseph’s life. In the prison itself Jehovah was with Joseph, procuring him favor in the eyes of the governor of the prison, so that he entrusted all the prisoners to his care, leaving everything that they had to do, to be done through him, and Jehovah made all that he did to prosper.3

Even in our modern world today, God still extends mercy—when judgment and wrath are warranted. We are born with having no fellowship with God due of the disobedience of our ancestors. We were fallen creatures. Jesus paid the price for our sin with His own body and blood.

Jesus Christ bridged the gap between us and God providing a new identity as Born Again and new creatures in Christ.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new (2 Corinthians 5:17 NKJV).

He also gives us a new standing as totally righteous or justified before our Holy God.

Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God (Romans 5:1—2 NKJV).

In addition, He supplies us with the Holy Spirit who supplies our inner strength to live out a consistent Christ-likeness, which is our sanctification while He is preparing for us an eternal Heavenly Home.

Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also (John 14:1—3 NKJV).

The Lord gave Joseph favor. Here, the focus of attention is not on the giver (God), but on the recipient (Joseph) of what is given (favor). It was the Lord who caused Joseph to find favor so that he was not just given graciousness and prosperity in prison. God also favored him to become second in command to Pharaoh.4

Joseph suffering innocently, yet he confided in God who gave him favor to endure and prosper. The Lord enables us to thrive during adversity as well,

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellence of the power may be of God and not of us. We are hard-pressed on every side, yet not crushed; we are perplexed, but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed—always carrying about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body (2 Corinthians 4:7—10 NKJV).

When God is for us, who can be against us? (Romans 8:31) As we dwell in the secret place of the Most High, under the shadow of the Almighty (Psalm 91:1), we are certain to experience His peace and favor in all our endeavors,

Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you (1 Peter 5:6—7 NKJV).

We are not exempt from adversity, sickness, peril, or death due to the presence of sin in our world. To paraphrase our Lord, “The sun rises on the evil and the good, and it rains on the just as well as the unjust.” (Matthew 5:45)

When the Lord is leading us, we will be blessed with His favor in all we do as King Solomon observes, “When a man’s ways please the LORD, He makes even his enemies to be at peace with him” (Proverbs 16:7 NKJV).

God used Joseph to fulfill His divine purpose for the chosen people. Yet, He can use us to fulfill His unique plan today, so that despite our challenges and obstacles, the Lord yet calls us to trust in Him with our whole heart by obeying Him completely because He is in full control as Romans 8:28 (NKJV) tells us:

And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.

In the meantime, let us commit our ways to the Lord; trusting Him to direct us, obey His Word and His will so that He can use us to fulfill our purpose for living—for His glory alone! The Lord was with Joseph, and showed him mercy, and gave him favor in the sight of the keeper of the prison. Won’t you trust Him today?

What a Wonderful Savior!

The Lord Our God Sustains Us Forever

For February 21, 2021
While on earth, our Lord submitted Himself to God and resisted the Devil successfully. As we emulate the Lord, James 4:7 teaches we too can “resist the Devil, and he will flee from us.”

Because Christ persevered and triumphed, we have the victory with the promise that no weapon formed against us will prosper (Isaiah 54:17). He dispatches His angels to keep us from danger, while His Holy Spirit dwells within to comfort us (John 14:16-18).

We are not invincible, for even the Lord’s Apostles were persecuted and martyred. Nevertheless, eternal blessing is certain because we belong to the Lord, whether we are living in this world or have gone to the next. He sustains us through our persecution and suffering while protecting us from Satan and the other forces at work against us (Romans 14:8, Revelation 14:13).

The apostle John was the last remaining disciple. While in exile on the Isle of Patmos, he had time to reflect on the three years he shared with our Lord, the other disciples (now gone), as well as Pentecost and the growth of the New Testament church. Despite the persecution from the tyrannical Roman emperors, John did not renounce his faith. Instead, he persevered, just as the Lord predicted,

Now I am departing from the world; they are staying in this world, but I am coming to you. Holy Father, you have given me your name; now protect them by the power of your name so that they will be united just as we are. During my time here, I protected them by the power of the name you gave me.c I guarded them so that not one was lost, except the one headed for destruction, as the Scriptures foretold (John 17:11–12 NLT).

There may be times when persecution and adversity cause us to doubt the Lord when we find ourselves in a “fiery furnace,” as in the case of the three Hebrews, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego presented in Daniel Chapter Three.

But we can be assured God has not abandoned us. He will give us the extraordinary resolve to count it all joy because our unspeakable treasure is not on the earth—it is in Heaven. Hardships do not negate God’s love, grace, and mercy, nor do they reveal His desertion because nothing can separate us from His love.

In the final analysis, all the things we experience will work together for our good (Romans 8:28).

Our toils and disappointments serve as constant reminders of the presence of sin in our world, which contrasts His magnificent Kingdom. There, all our toil and suffering will be forgotten instantly the moment we see Jesus Christ in His full majestic splendor (Revelation 21:3-4).

The Bible assures us we can be steadfast and ever vigilant in pursuing our incorruptible inheritance because we are kept by God’s power “through faith unto salvation, ready to be revealed in the last time” (1 Peter 1:3–5).

What a Wonderful Savior!

Author And Finisher Of Our Faith

For February 14, 2021
Hebrews 12:1-2 (NKJV) contains the fundamental ideals that have informed and shaped our Christian faith for two thousand years. The passage reads as follows,

Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

First, we are surrounded by “so great a cloud of witnesses,” which confirms  that physical death is not the end of our existence. God created us with a spiritual component that survives our death to thrive long after our bodies have decayed and passed away.

Thus, along with the “Roll Call of Faith” of Hebrews 11:4-40, all those who have died in Christ surround us like spectators whose existence confirms our successful completion of faith journey with God. Just think. We have our own cheering section to affirm us.

Our parents, loved ones, and friends became part of the “cloud of witnesses” when they became absent from the body and present with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:8), awaiting His glorious return. Then, all those who have “died in the Lord,” will be reunited with us who are yet alive (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).

The Bible also teaches that we have an appointment with death, and then comes judgment (Hebrews 9:27). So to avert our eternal peril, God  has given us both the capability as well as the opportunity to choose where we will spend our eternity—weather in Heaven or Hell—while we are yet alive today.

In other words, we can either choose to accept His gift of righteousness secured by our faith in the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, to satisfy God’s righteous requirements, or we can rely on our flawed self-righteousness to appease God’s wrath (due to the penalty of our sin).

It is comforting to know that we can trust in Christ, and we will be with Jesus along with all the saints, “coming in the clouds with great power and glory” (Mark 13:26). A most welcome and most wonderful day that will be indeed. Amen!

Second, we Christians are responsible to make every effort to “lay aside” the continual practice of sin, particularly the ones we find extremely tantalizing and are within easy reach. Instead, we are to pursue earnestly and heartily His righteousness consistently, as Luke 11:35-36 (NKJV) tells us,

Therefore take heed that the light which is in you is not darkness. If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, the whole body will be full of light.

“No part dark” means our lives are faith-driven, Spirit-powered, Christ-centered, and God-honoring quests for spiritual and moral purity publicly and privately, with no “secret” sins. We strive to be the same spiritual and moral person, whether we are alone or in the company of others.

In other words, what we do, and how we act on Sunday during church services should be the same way we act on Monday at home, work, or school. The “what I do in the privacy of my own home” should never be shameful or embarrassing if ever disclosed publically, since our lives are to reflect an integrated, consistent ethic that flows from our genuine conversion in Christ,

Sin is turning away from God. As someone has said, it is aversion from God and conversion to the world; and true repentance means conversion to God and aversion to the world. When there is true contrition, the heart is broken for sin; when there is true conversion, the heart is broken from sin. We leave the old life, we are translated out of the kingdom of darkness unto the kingdom of light.1

Finally, our “spiritual eyes” must remain focused on the Lord Jesus Christ, who is the source and consummation of our faith in God, as His Spirit actively works within us. In Jesus’ Intercessory Prayer in John 17, He foretells how His followers live “in the world,” yet they will never become “of the world” (John 17:15-18). This remains true for us today.

God commands us to be holy, just as He is holy (Leviticus 20:26). Jesus calls us to be perfect as God is perfect (Matthew 5:48). Jesus is the Vine, and as His branches, we can yield His fruit consistently, just as He states in John 15:5. Although only Jesus was perfect, yet we can make every effort to refrain from habitual sin and let our lights shine before the world. Then we can glorify God and be a blessing to others just as the Lord teaches in Matthew 5:16.

Unfortunately, dishonesty, deceit, and debauchery have become commonplace for many professing Christians as three-quarters of Americans identify themselves as Christian, yet only 13 percent say they have no faith at all. Only one in every four is Bible-minded, although nearly two-thirds have an orthodox view of God.2

Oh, how I long for a time when noble character with principled behavior is deemed as innate Christian characteristics. To the modern-day society, inconsistent conduct has hampered our noble Christian witness,

Christianity is often not portrayed well in media. It is not “politically correct” to be a Christian anymore. Social pressure to “fit in” as a Christian is largely absent. In contrast, it is considered more socially acceptable to embrace non-Christian identities and lifestyles that stand in conflict with biblical values.3

God’s eternal purpose for His people—to do justly, love mercy, and walk humbly before Him each day—has not changed (Micah 6:8). Jesus declared that as the Light of the World, His followers will not walk in darkness but will have the light of life instead (John 8:12). In this way, He affirms His righteousness and ours.

Christian faith changes human lives as we enter into the presence of the Living God. Drastically changed human lives think, speak, and act in ways that improve the welfare of others without being motivated by race, gender, culture, social status, or political affiliation. Such is our destiny,

We don’t have to be victims of our glands. We are not automations or victims. We are free to make choices, whether noble or ignoble. To live for money, power, or pleasure is to die one day and leave it all behind. Indeed, to live for anything except Christ will mean reaching the end haunted by guilt and despair.4

Ultimately, Jesus paid the price for our sin when He died on Calvary so that we can share in the perfect joy that was set before Him. It is His joy that captivates our hearts and minds today and always as we receive His unfathomably precious gifts of forgiveness and freedom.

 What a Wonderful Savior!