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Pride leads to destruction; humility leads to honor. Proverbs 18:12 (CEV)

I had just finished delivering what I thought was one of my better sermons in church. Those of us that are pastors or speakers know what I mean. There are times when you just click. The words flow, the message is clear; illustrations come to your mind that perfectly shows your point.

You see it in the crowd too. Few people sleeping, even the kids sitting still and listening. People seem to hang on every word. For some you can almost see the thought wheels turning!

After the service one of the people from the congregation shook my hand and said what a wonderful sermon it was. I heard myself say “Oh, it wasn’t me. It was the Lord.” She good naturedly punched me in the shoulder and said “Thank you would be the correct response pastor. True God gave you the words, but you were still a tool in his hands.”

I smiled, said thank you (as instructed) and we parted our ways. Later in the day I replayed the situation in my mind and realized a spiritual truth was given me that day. We in the church seem awfully hesitant to talk about our gifts and talents. We downplay them in an effort to keep from ‘pride’ because we all know that ‘pride goes before destruction.’

I’ve come to the opinion that we need to rethink the whole pride issue. If God loves me and created me as a ‘fearful and wonderful’ person, in his image, then it seems perfectly okay for me to feel good about myself.

One definition of pride is a ‘reasonable and justifiable self-respect’. Feeling good about me and who I am isn’t pride. The pride being spoken of in Proverbs isn’t about feeling good about yourself. It’s thinking I’m better than you. That’s not pleasing to God.

A healthy view of yourself means you are fully aware of your faults, but refuse to let others judge you by them. A healthy view of your self means you are fully aware of your talents and abilities but refuse to measure your level of ability/talent by someone else.

We tend to go in one of two directions. Either we feel badly about ourselves and hide it by bragging and putting others down, or we feel badly about ourselves and live in defeat because we don’t realize the position we have in Christ.

Destructive pride isn’t an action; it’s an attitude that develops over time because of our uncertainty about who we are.

So, go ahead. Be proud of yourself today. Not because you are better than the person in the desk next to you. Not because you are a better driver than the guy who cut you off. But because you, my friend, are a creation of God and given talents and abilities special to you, to be used for God’s Kingdom.

PRAYER: Father God, I thank you today for me. I know I’m not perfect. I know I make mistakes. But because of you I can be proud of who you’ve made me and for the gifts and talents you’ve given me. Empower me by your Spirit to use the gifts, talents and abilities you’ve given me for your glory. Amen.

“When I was hungry, you gave me something to eat, and when I was thirsty, you gave me something to drink. When I was a stranger, you welcomed me.” Matthew 25:35 (CEV)

During the Great Depression the United States Government instituted a plan which was designed to help those in desperate straights get back on their feet. Depending on your political views, it was a defining moment in our history as it gave jobs to the jobless, food to the hungry, homes to the homeless and hope (physically anyway) to the hopeless.

But there is something that welfare, or any government help program will never be able to do. Government, no matter how compassionate will never be able to meet the need of the soul. It may provide health care, but it will never heal the wound of the heart. It may provide food, but will never fill the hunger of the heart.

Even within the body of Christ there are many fine, worthy, shining examples of people reaching out to meet the needs of the world through a variety of outreach endeavors abroad and at home. Many have not only had their physical needs met through these programs, their spiritual and emotional needs have been met as well. These endeavors are blessed by God and a blessing to the Father as well.

You may look at some of the great things being accomplished and wonder, “What can I do? I’m struggling right now to make it myself. Your home may be in foreclosure or your finances a mess. You may be battling relational difficulties of your own or struggling with addiction. A common lie the enemy will use in cases like that is to say something like, “You’re into your own issues too deep to help much.”

It’s not the mighty things that will change your world, but the little things, the simple gestures that make a difference.  Those small gestures, given in Jesus name will accomplish far more than any program will. Our personal gestures of good will can go deeper to meet not only the physical, but the spiritual and emotional needs of those around us. God doesn’t expect great things from us, he takes the little things we do and make them great!

Offer a kind word and smile to someone today. It may just be the ‘cup of cool water’ they need at that moment. Go out of your way to help someone with a small task. That may be just the meal their soul seeks. Be a friend to someone in prison, a senior citizen in a nursing home, or the person at the office no one will sit with.

Is God honored by the big missions and outreach programs? I think he is. But he is equally blessed by the simple things we do on a daily basis to reach the hearts of those in need around us. That’s the welfare Jesus seeks.

PRAYER: Lord help me see someone today who needs your simple, loving and graceful touch. Help me share the simple things others need for healing today. Amen.

O LORD, our Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! Psalm 8:9 (NASB)

As I write this the internet and news programs have been filled with pictures of a fantastic display of the ‘northern lights.’ Unfortunately in my part of the world we’ve been living under the clouds and have missed the beauty of this phenomenon. They are, however just one reminder to me of the great God we serve.

A God of power as evidenced by nature itself in the power of storms that cover the face of the earth; a volcano; the sheer force of a waterfall; the destructive invisible force of the wind.

He is a God of creativity as seen in a sunrise or sunset; the many colors of nature; the vast array of animal and plant life. Sorry. I don’t buy evolution. Not for one second. None of this could have happened by chance. None of it!

He is a God of love and intimacy. How do I know that? I’ve seen the gentleness of a mothers touch. I’ve enjoyed the intimacy I have with the one I love. I’m made in God’s image. Passion and intimacy didn’t just happen. He put it in us to enjoy, to share, to get excited about!

He’s a God of quiet, gentle strength as seen in the gentle endurance of a flower when faced with the elements, as seen in a bird riding out the storm in perched on a branch swinging violently as if to toss its passenger to the ground.

He is a HUGE God. If our universe is any indication of what my God can do, his immensity is incomprehendable.

He’s a God of miracles. I think that every time I see a newborn baby. The giver and sustainer of life. That mass in a woman’s womb isn’t a mass at all. It’s a new creation, a life to be cherished, protected and honored because every day of its existence, from conception has been ordained by God.

But the greatest miracle of all is what he did for me. His power, his creativity, his quiet gentle strength, his intimacy and his immense size is nothing compared to his love and forgiveness that he gave me when his Son Jesus died for me and rose again to give me the promise of eternal life.

In the grand scheme of things I am nothing more than a mere microscopic speck. Yet in my insignificance he saw significance. In my weakness he saw strength. In my hopelessness, he sees hope.

The prophet Nehemiah writes, “You alone are the LORD, Creator of the heavens and all the stars, Creator of the earth and those who live on it, Creator of the ocean and all its creatures. You are the source of life, praised by the stars that fill the heavens.” Nehemiah 9:6 (CEV)

The greatest miracle of all? The fact that the creator God of the universe loves me enough to die for me.

PRAYER: Father God. Jehovah. I can find no other words today than to repeat the words of David, “O LORD, my Lord, How majestic is Your name in all the earth! Amen.

With praises from children and from tiny infants, you have built a fortress. It makes your enemies silent, and all who turn against you are left speechless. Psalm 8:2 CEV

All of us want to do mighty things. When we are little we don’t play games that we lose at. We always make the winning shot, have the nicest house, the best spouse and perfect kids. The games we play when we are young make us champions.

While it’s human nature to want to be the best, and we should always strive for excellence, it’s important to remember that God’s Kingdom is never about the wealthy, the wise and the powerful. God’s most powerful work is done with the insignificant things.

The smallest seed falling into a rock becomes a tree that splits the rock in two! A delicate flower pushes its way through drought parched soil to bring a touch of beauty to the wilderness. A few fish and loaves fed over 5,000 men. A little mud gave a man his sight. The union of two microscopic cells brings life to the womb. The praises of a child make a fortress against evil.

God doesn’t need our wisdom to outwit the enemy. He doesn’t need our eloquence to thwart the plans of evil. It’s the praises of children, the simplicity of an infant’s words that unleash the mighty power of the Heavenly Father.

An infant doesn’t comprehend the mysteries of life. A child can’t understand all the ramifications of the political world, the economic climate and financial stability. A theologian was once asked what the most important of all the doctrines was for the church to hold onto. His answer became the basis of one of the most well-known of all songs: “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”

Our Father has given us direct access to his throne. He wants us to come boldly, to come honestly before him with our fears, our burdens, our guilt. But the most powerful prayer we can come with, the prayer is the most effective is the prayer of praise.

What struggle are you facing today? Job loss? Health issues? Relationships with your family, your kids, your spouse? A job that’s unfulfilling? Guilt? Addiction? It may be the hardest thing in your life to do, but when faced with any of these ‘enemies of the soul’ your best weapon is still praise to the Father because God’s power is unleashed when his people praise.

PRAYER: Father God, it’s hard to praise you and worry at the same time. Worry is easier and makes more sense to my frail, human mind. I try to figure all this out when I really need to praise you more. Replace the enemies of my soul with praise for the keeper of my heart, you the almighty God. In Jesus name I pray, amen.

Again Jesus said, “Simon son of John, do you love me?” He answered, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.”  Jesus said, “Take care of my sheep.” John 21:16

In our house we have a little game we play from time to time. One of us will say, “I love you.” The response back will be, “I love you more”. Depending on time and circumstance the game may go on for a few minutes.

“No, I love YOU more!”

“Oh no you don’t. I love YOU more!”

One day the youngest thought she’d settle it once and for all and proclaimed, “I love you the MOSTEST!”

I often wonder about the scene on the beach when Peter and Jesus were reunited. Peter, my favorite disciple, quick to speak, slow to think; a man of action and reaction; a man who saw a problem and a solution (which of course, in his eyes was the ‘right thing to do’) and acted on it.

When you wrong someone that you love very much and you want more than anything else to be reconciled, you go to that person and (in your own words or action) ask “Do you love me?” However you phrase it, what you really want to know is, are we all right? Is the thing I’ve done to you going to end this relationship? Is there any hope?

That scene on the beach must have been incredibly emotional and it’s interesting because Peter isn’t the one asking the question, it’s Jesus. It’s not the offender that seeks the words “I love you” it’s the offended.

There’s a reason for that. Jesus love for Peter wasn’t in question. He knew that regardless of Peter’s answer his answer would be the same. In a sense Jesus was saying, “I love you Peter. I love you more. I love you mostest. There is nothing you have done in your past that will change that. There is nothing you do in the future that will jeopardize that. Do you love me?”

To often we measure love on our terms. We love based on the response of the other person. If I say I love you, and you respond in a like manner, our relationship is good. If I say I love you and it’s not returned a huge red flag goes up.

Every day of our existence Jesus says “Do you love me?” His love for us is never in question. He always supports us, is always loyal to us, is never jealous or rude or selfish. When the Apostle Paul describes love, he describes the love Jesus has for us, “Love is kind and patient, never jealous, boastful, proud, or 5rude. Love isn’t selfish or quick tempered. It doesn’t keep a record of wrongs that others do. Love rejoices in the truth, but not in evil. Love is always supportive, loyal, hopeful, and trusting. 1 Corinthians 13:4-7 (CEV)”

Today, regardless of your past. In spite of the circumstances you are in right now. Whether what you are going through is self-inflicted or the result of someone else. Imagine yourself on the beach. Jesus is standing before you with love pouring from his eyes and asking you, “Do you love me?”

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank you for being so patient with my selfishness, my rebellion, my demands for my own way. Forgive me for the path I’ve chosen. Yes Lord Jesus. I love you…mostest. Amen.

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