Victim Mentality vs. Conqueror in Christ.
Behold Your God
James MacDonald - Senior Pastor - Harvest Bible Chapel
Go on up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good news; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good news; lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, “Behold your God!” Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense before him.He will tend his flock like a shepherd; he will gather the lambs in his arms; he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.
Do you want to see the greatness of God? To the extent that He has revealed His greatness, you can. ”Cities of Judah” is a term for God’s people—that’s us, the children of God, the followers of Christ! God wants me to say to you, from up on a high mountain, “Here is your God!”
And you’ll need to climb higher, too. “Get yourself up on a high mountain” is about perspective. It’s taking a step back from the weighty circumstances of your life and saying, “I’m going to lay these burdens down. I’m not going to let them keep me from giving full attention to God’s greatness and receiving the truth of His Word—right now. I’m getting up on a mountain.”
From that perspective, consider the two sides of the nature of God in verses 10-11. Notice His strong arm of might and justice, and His shepherd’s arm of care and love. Which one are you most familiar with? Most people know either the mighty God of verse 10 or the shepherd God of verse 11. We need to know both. He is the same God.
“Behold, the Lord God comes with might, and his arm rules for him; behold, his reward is with him, and his recompense(justice) before Him” (v.10). This is the holiness and righteousness of God and His strong arm. The idea is that God comes powerfully to His people, looks at our lives and says, “Get it together!” Are you familiar with that God?
The same God is in verse 11: “He will tend his flock like a shepherd He will gather the lambs …in his arms.” This is a great picture of what God does for every one of us. A shepherd’s care is very personal: “He will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.”God gives special treatment in times of need. You may have a season of special needs in your life, a time of deeper waters, greater heartaches and heavier concerns. At those times, you need to draw nearer to the Lord and get alone with Him. God sees the situation, and cares for you in an even more particular and personal way.
God’s strong arm that confronts and corrects your life also practices compassion toward you every day. He is our holy, just, righteous and mighty Shepherd—and you need to know and love Him with an ever-increasing, humble understanding of His greatness. Behold your God!
14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 15 from whomwevery family1 in heaven and on earth is named, 16 that according to xthe riches of his glory yhe may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit zin your inner being, 17 aso that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being brooted and cgrounded in love,18 may have strength to dcomprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and eheight and depth, 19 and to know the love of Christ fthat surpasses knowledge, that gyou may be filled with all hthe fullness of God.
20 iNow to jhim who is able to do FAR MORE abundantly than all that we ask or think, kaccording to the power at work within us, 21 lto him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.
Humility is the blossom of which death to self is the perfect fruit. Jesus humbled himself unto death and opened the path in which we too must walk. Humility must lead us to die to self: so we prove how wholly we have given ourselves up to it and to God; so alone we are freed from our fallen nature and find the path that leads to life in God, to that full birth of the new nature, of which humility is the breath and the joy.
He humbled himself and became obedient to death. - Philipians 2:8
Humility means giving up self, taking the place of perfect nothingness before God. Jesus humbled himself and became obedient unto death. In death He gave the highest and perfect proof of having given up His will to the will of God.
If you would enter into full fellowship with Christ in His death, and know the full deliverance from self, humble yourself. This is your duty. Place yourself before God in your helplessness; consent to the fact that you are powerless to slay yourself; give yourself in patient and trustful surrender to God. Accept every humiliation; look upon every person who tries or troubles you as a means of grace to humble you. God will see such acceptance as proof that your whole heart desires it. It is the path of humility that leads to the full and perfect experience of our death with Christ.
True humility will manifest itself in daily life. The one who has it will take the form of a servant. Claim in faith the death and life of Jesus as your own. Enter into rest from self and its work- the rest of God. Every morning remind yourself afresh of your emptiness so that the life of Jesus may be manifested in you. The souls that enter into HIS humiliation and will find IN HIM the power to see and count self as dead and, as those who have learned and received of Him, to walk with all lowliness and meekness, forbearing one another in love.
-Andrew Murray “Humility”
John Piper: The absence of our fasting is the measure of our contentment with the absence of christ.
Fasting reveals the things that control us. It humbles us and shows us our true selves.
Richard Foster Our human desires are like rivers that tend to overflow their banks. Fasting brings the river under control and forces it to flow in its proper boundaries.
“Because Therefore…” Part 1
Love precedes Activity
Martin Luther made the distinction between passive righteousness and active righteousness.
Vertically : Before God
Horizontally: Before People
Before God our righteousness is passive and…
Lord, I want your heart.
– timothy keller
The first thing I must be willing to admit when I begin to examine what controls and dominates me is that I am the one responsible for having yielded myself to whatever it may be. If I am a slave to myself, I am to blame because somewhere in the past I yielded to myself. Likewise, if I obey God I do so because at some point in my life I yielded myself to Him.
If a child gives in to selfishness, he will find it to be the most enslaving tyranny on earth. There is no power within the human soul itself that is capable of breaking the bondage of the nature created by yielding. For example, yield for one second to anything in the nature of lust, and although you may hate yourself for having yielded, you become enslaved to that thing. (Remember what lust is— “I must have it now,” whether it is the lust of the flesh or the lust of the mind.) No release or escape from it will ever come from any human power, but only through the power of redemption. You must yield yourself in utter humiliation to the only One who can break the dominating power in your life, namely, the Lord Jesus Christ. “… He has anointed Me … to proclaim liberty to the captives …” (Luke 4:18 and Isaiah 61:1).
When you yield to something, you will soon realize the tremendous control it has over you. Even though you say, “Oh, I can give up that habit whenever I like,” you will know you can’t. You will find that the habit absolutely dominates you because you willingly yielded to it. It is easy to sing, “He will break every fetter,” while at the same time living a life of obvious slavery to yourself. But yielding to Jesus will break every kind of slavery in any person’s life.
my utmost for his highest
It doesn’t matter how long we have been a Christian, we need to continue to yield to Him, not ourselves. Sometimes we mistake our “freedom in Christ” for freedom to relax in our old habits and life style.
(23) O LORD, I know the way of man is not in himself;
It is not in man who walks to direct his own steps.
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Jeremiah 10:23 reveals why humanity is the way it is and why prayer is important. The prophet does not mention prayer here, but what he says has much to do with prayer’s great value to mankind. The verse states the universal problem of mankind. By nature, the right way to live is not within us. Our nature must change. The purpose of prayer is to give us yet another, greater opportunity—an exceedingly important tool—to harmonize with the way God lives. God lives the only way that works, producing abundant life, endless peace, and supreme achievement for all.
This overall reason includes synchronizing with God’s will in any present-day situation as He forms us into His image. Prayer’s purpose is not to force or cajole God to go along with our narrow and shortsighted idea of what we think is going on. God has determined our destiny in life, and He will not give us anything that is outside that purpose. We can work things out for ourselves and choose to believe He granted our request, but that is not the same thing. Instead of granting our request, He simply allows us to do our thing. In addition, our working things out for ourselves holds us back to some degree, probably making our course toward God’s ultimate aim for us more painful.
Because God knows the end from the beginning does not mean that He has figured out and predetermined every event of a person’s life. In using our free moral agency, we are quite resourceful in presenting God with challenges to keep us on track toward our destiny to be in His Kingdom. God’s concern is for events in life involving moral, spiritual, and ethical choices. Whether one chooses a red or blue car makes no difference morally, but whether we choose to buy a car when other family needs are more pressing is another situation altogether. This choice may shape character and therefore destiny.
Some of us are tough nuts to crack! Some are quite stiff-necked, opinionated, and self-willed. Sometimes this occurs because of ignorance or cultural influences. Far too often, the cause of our poor moral and ethical choices is pride and self-righteousness—to the point that some will actually choose the Lake of Fire! Others, though their inferior works burn because of their poor choices, God will mercifully spare them (I Corinthians 3:15).
So, why pray? If God knows the end from the beginning, if prayer does not include informing Him of something He does not already know, changing His mind, or dictating a “gimmie” list to Him, why pray at all? Prayer’s major purpose is to give us an additional, effective way to draw near to and harmonize with the Spirit having the only nature equipped to live eternally in peace and oneness. Do we want to do this? All of our lifetimes we have been subject to the spirit of the prince of the power of the air (Ephesians 2:2). Our personal experiences, reinforced by the history of life on earth under him, should be witness enough that there is a better way. Are we willing to make the effort to find it and live it? As Jeremiah says, “[T]he way of man is not in himself,” that is, not in his nature. We must have access to God and His nature if we will ever live the right way, the way He lives.
— John W. Ritenbaugh
Christianity is not consistency to conscience or to convictions; Christianity is being true to Jesus Christ. – Oswald Chambers