David observes in Psalm 25:9 how the Lord guides the humble in what is right and teaches them his way. Humility is a character trait of great value to God. We should be doing everything to cultivate this grace into our lives.
We must immediately confess that it is not a trait that is natural to us. It is pride which naturally characterises us. We want to exalt ourselves and push ourselves forward. It is grace which changes this situation. It is the Lord revealing to us our sinful weakness that starts us in the way of humility. True humility grows when we have God in view. When we see how majestic and magnificent He is, then we start to see ourselves properly; we are humbled.
Whenever we lose sight of the greatness of our God then we start to see ourselves bigger than we ought. Self-promotion starts to develop and we deviate from the way of humility. It is in the presence of God that we see ourselves aright. Every day I should be seeing myself afresh as an unworthy individual wholly dependent on God.
Humility leads to God showing His favour, as our verse teaches us. It shows us how He lovingly guides us into what is right and into His way. And thereby I will be living well. So may humility characterize us as we seek to move forward for the Lord.
Some weeks ago Mark Henderson, who is the Evangelist in our church, preached a sermon on King Josiah it is here At one point he provocatively mentioned about how many books there were about people who had lived half-heartedly for God. Of course, the answer is that there would be none of such. The books that have been written are about Christians who have poured themselves out for the cause of Christ. Only such lives are worthy of being so recorded as to be passed on to the reading public. This is because it is only such lives that are worth the reading public taking an interest in.
There is of course a greater assessment which is to come when God assesses our lives. In 2 Corinthians 5:10, Paul informs the Christians in Corinth of how we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due to us for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad. In that day God will examine our lives to see whether they are worthy of commendation.
Whether or not people write a book about us is ultimately of no consequence. What is of consequence is the verdict of God upon my life.
Also I need to mention that the Christian publishers may ignore many lives because they are not seen as being sufficiently interesting, but God will never miss a life that is lived wholeheartedly for Him. A wholehearted life can be quietly and effectually lived. Such a life may not impress man, but it will impress God.
Nevertheless Mark’s point stands provocatively challenging as it is only wholehearted lives that are worth recording whether that be by authors or more especially God Himself.
I am concerned here to dwell upon the need for Christians to be studying the Bible. Growing Christians are Bible studying Christians. Moreover, such people are enjoying what it is to be a Christian. So Bible study is essential and thrilling. Particularly I want to address you:
- if you are starting out in Christ and therefore you are new to the Christian life.
- you have drifted in your walk with the Lord and are feeling all is drab and aimless.
- you have been a Christian for many years and want a fresh surge of progress.
- you have time on your hands through some providential happenings.
My simple advice is to get stuck in to studying a book of the Bible. I suggest you start with the one chapter books and build up from them. Get some commentaries and Bible helps. Make notes on what you are learning. Memorize all or apart of what you are studying as well. Above all, don’t let time pass away which can be helpfully used for the study of scripture.
Above all be praying before, whilst and after studying the Bible.
And through this and in this, you will be knowing something of the joy of knowing the Lord.
I was watching a TV programme on crisp making last week. It was noted that as a final part of packaging the crisps, the crisp packets are given a blast of nitrogen. The reason for this is so that the freshness of the crisps could be maintained. Apparently, if they are just allowed to be packaged in a packet with normal air then they lose their freshness far more quickly than if the packet has enhanced nitrogen content.
This led me to muse upon the air that we surround ourselves with. If we are relentlessly just breathing the air of this world then we will soon lose our freshness for the Lord. There will be a certain limpness in our charachter and lifestyle.
The only way of counteracting this drift is to breathe the air of another place. We need to be seeking the Lord through His Word and prayer so that we escape from the air of this world and breathe some other air which will freshen us in our gracious Lord and Master. As a result our characters will be transformed; renewal will take place.
It is my observation that the people who spend time in this other air can be distinguished. There is that freshness about them; that aliveness to the ways of God.
Alas for those who do not enter that heavenly air through prayer and the Word there is a “withering on the vine”. Yes they are true believers, but through failure to seek the Lord they have lost that vitality of life which is found in the Spirit. Just breathing the air of this world will not foster freshness and aliveness in the Lord.
So what of you and me what air are we breathing?
…even when it hurts; that is what a godly person should do. Psalm 15 is about the character of the person who is dwelling in the presence of the Lord. In v3 we read of such a person that he is one who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
Here is a person who makes a commitment; he then finds out that if he keeps his word he is going to lose out whether that be financially or emotionally or in whatever other way. So what does he do? Well if he is of the world then there is only one outcome he will backtrack and makes sure he protects his position. But what of the one who is godly? They keep their word even when it hurts! Even when the outcome is disadvantageous to them; they still keep their word.
Which raises the question: are you more interested in your bank account or your personal reputation or in keeping your word? Are you interested in being a person of integrity and, yes, a person who dwells in the presence of the Lord.
Oh Lord please work in me that I might be a man who keeps an oath even when it hurts, and does not change their mind;
I came across this It has a big message regarding our interactions with our children. Much convicted myself through reading it. And much wanting to change my ways as a result.
One of the most sobering passages in scripture focuses on what will happen when we all appear before God at the final Judgement. Matthew 7:21-23 reads
‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, “Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?” Then I will tell them plainly, “I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
Here we have the contrast between making an impression and having a relationship. There is much in this passage which tells us about impressive activity. There are people prophesying, casting out demons and doing miracles. We would expect that this is the stock-in-trade of those who are really close to God. We think that if people can do this sort of thing they must be extra special servants of the Lord. But this is not the case here. Rather, there is the sobering judgement from the Lord that He never had a relationship with them.
This reminds us that the key issue is relationship. Knowing the Lord is the most important characteristic in our lives.
This leads us on to contrast those who are showing their knowledge of the Lord by, as Peter terms it, growing in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever! Amen. (2 Pet. 3:18). Knowing and growing go together. And it is the growing in grace and the knowing of Jesus that are the most important things. Character transformation is far more important than the dramatic operation of gifts.
The steady walk and growth of a quiet Christian is far more valuable than dramatic happenings.