Also, what is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be, the one without which we cannot come to God or love Him the way we should? It’s the same quality required to love and serve others, lead in a godly way, communicate biblically, resolve conflict, deal with the sins of others, and resist sin ourselves.
Ezekiel 27 & 28
When Life is Hard
God Our Perfect Parent
This chapter talks about the discipline or the chastening of the Lord. When we go through difficult times, the devil tempts us to believe that it’s because God doesn’t love us or because we aren’t really believers or that we must have done something so horrible that He will no longer help us.
But in reality, the opposite is true. This chapter clearly tells us that “whom the Lord loves He chastens.” So whether we are chastened because of unrepentant sin, pruned so that we will bear more fruit (Jn. 15), or suffering the consequences of our own choices (Gal. 6.7-9), it is proof that God loves us.
As Psalm 119.71 says, “It is good for me that I have been afflicted, that I may learn Your statutes” and verse 75 adds, “in faithfulness You have afflicted me.”
Pastor James MacDonald has done a wonderful, life-changing series based on Hebrews 12.5-17 entitled When Life Is Hard. In it, he explains the importance of understanding how God as the Perfect Parent lovingly disciplines His children, how He does it because He loves us, and how He uses it for our good.
He also outlines the dangerous process that can happen to someone who rejects God’s discipline. That person can become discouraged and then bitter. That bitterness can defile everything and everyone around it. And, if those attitudes are not dealt with, it can lead to profane living and, finally, rejection.
Today’s Other Readings:
Ezekiel 27 & 28:
Pride & Humility
God continues to speak through the prophet, this time to Tyre, a coastal city in modern Lebanon famous for its trade and goods. In Ezek 28.11-17, he speaks to the King of Tyre. This passage and others in the Bible, especially in the prophetic books and the Psalms, have dual meanings. While it is addressed to the historical king and city, it also speaks of Satan who was the power behind the King of Tyre.
In both cases, God addressed their pride and arrogance. It was pride that caused Satan to exalt himself above God and cost him his place in the heavenly kingdom in the first place and it’s still one of the things he lures men into today.
Stuart Scott in his little book From Pride to Humility, says, “Pride is the epidemic vice. It is everywhere and manifests itself in many ways. As much as we may hate to admit it, we all have pride, each and every one of us. The question is not, ‘Do I have it?’ but, ‘Where is it?’ and ‘How much of it do I have?'”
Pride is the enemy of humility.
Scott says, “… humility is the one character quality that will enable us to be all Christ wants us to be. We cannot come to God without it. We cannot love God supremely without it. We cannot be an effective witness for Christ without it. We cannot love and serve others without it. We cannot lead in a godly way without it. We cannot communicate properly without it. We cannot resolve conflict without it. We cannot deal with the sin of others rightly without it. We especially cannot resist sin without it.”
He goes on to list 30 manifestations of pride (what he calls, “just a sample list”).
Let’s pray that we allow God to root out pride in our lives and help us to grow in humility.
How has God revealed pride in your life?
The Cords of the Wicked
Like the Nation of Israel, the people of God will often be persecuted, but we need to remind ourselves as the ancient Israelites did, that our God is sovereignly in control and will ultimately “cut in pieces the cords of the wicked.”
“He who trusts in his own heart is a fool, but whoever walks wisely will be delivered.”
Jeremiah 17.9 says the heart “is deceitful above all else.” When we put our confidence in our own plans, ideas and wisdom, the essence of pride, we will get into all kinds of foolishness and destruction.
But when we choose to trust and obey God (often in spite of our feelings and even when it doesn’t make sense to us), we are entrusting ourselves to God’s sovereign care.
How has God spoken to you today? Did you see a passage in a new light? Did you see an area where you need to grow and change? Did you find a promise to hold on to? I’d love to hear your thoughts.
In the next few days, we’ll discuss the questions, “Should we submit to church authority?” “Is believing ‘in’ God enough?” and “Are your words blessing or cursing?”
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From Pride to Humility: A Biblical Perspective by Stuart Scott
God has given us a model to follow in order to be what He wants us to be, and that model is the person of Jesus Christ. We must first want to glorify God with our lives and realize that it is Christlikeness that will help us to do that. The humility of Jesus Christ is His most stunning attribute, and the sin of pride is probably the most detestable to God. Pride is a form of self-worship and is often manifested in the most subtle ways. Contained within this small volume is an exhaustive list of manifestations of pride, which we must put off, followed by the challenging attributes of humility, which we must put on through the Holy Spirit.
When Life Is Hard by James MacDonald
When life is hard, really hard, we often spend all our time pleading, begging, yelling, refusing, and questioning. While none of these things are necessarily unusual, they are missing the ultimate point. When life is hard, when things get ugly, when all hope seems to be lost… that is when we are able to display the superiority of the life lived in God.
It is in those moments of despair, when we question what is happening, when we don’t know what to do, when some trials never seem to end, that we can lean most heavily on God’s promises and truths. Pastor MacDonald works his way through the questions we’ve all had, including the obvious one: “Why?”
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