“Grace to the Lowly”

kneeling in prayer

“Surely He scorneth the scorners; but he giveth grace unto the lowly” (Proverbs 3:34).

“…God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble. Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you” (James 4:6-7).

Scorners lift up themselves, refusing to yield to anyone else, always resisting them. They pay no attention to God, as if He did not exist, while boldly continuing in sin. But God will deal with them and their proud ambitions by holding them in everlasting contempt, while blessing those who humbly believe in Him. Humble people don’t mind lowering themselves and walking in the footsteps of Christ. But mockers and scorners are wise in their own thinking. They hate those who are humble and lowly. In our current era, love of self rules, with contempt for all that is good, noble, holy, and true. As we get ever closer to the end of this present age, scorning and mocking are increasing all the time.

“God resisteth the proud” ones who lift themselves up against Him, and whose self-esteem knows no limits. Their nature is having pride in what they own, or are part of, or of anything that applies to them. They have convinced themselves of their supreme excellence and importance. Yet they have nothing to justify their superior attitude. They truly hate others, and even despise the warnings and judgments from God. It is this very attitude that can provoke God to set Himself up to oppose them.

But God is also kind enough to allow those with a humble and contrite spirit into His presence. They don’t covet what others have, or envy them, nor are they consumed with worldly ambitions. But being humble does not come naturally to man. Left to his own ways, he would never have a single humble thought or holy desire on his own. Realizing this alone should be enough to bring us low before God and make us want to be humble.

True humility comes from receiving the grace of God—His unmerited favor—which makes a person humble in the first place. Only by the operation of God’s Holy Spirit in our life can we become humble.

And the humble and poor in spirit have the right to be part of the kingdom of Heaven, which they have been made fit to receive. They will enjoy being there in God’s presence, but the proud and scornful would not. No one who truly mourns for his sin will be turned away by God. And He will not refuse to exalt anyone who comes to Him in humility.

God cannot tolerate the exalting of ‘self’—which is the very nature of sin. Look at Christ as an example. He made Himself of no reputation while here on Earth, although He is the Lord of Lords and King of Kings. How can we justify elevating ourselves, when He did not? Proud people resist God’s laws, truths, and His provision. Do we wonder why God resists the proud? There is great danger in pride, which is why God “resists the proud” in every way. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time” (1 Peter 5:6).

The devil, who is naturally full of pride and completely the opposite of humility, makes it his job to get men swollen with pride in themselves. Then he can easily master and do what he pleases with them. But humble believers who have God living inside them receive more of His grace. Their lowliness doesn’t come from their own strength; it comes from His.

A humble believer knows very well that deep down he is vile and sinful. So he runs to God’s grace and Christ’s blood for his protection. And the devil, in all of his pride, doesn’t know what to think of people like this—how they puzzle and frustrate him!

He is not pleased by the power and strength that come from prayer and faith either. Humble believers like this he leaves alone—in fact, he flees from them!

Don’t go along with the devil’s proposals and temptations. Consider him an enemy and oppose him. How can the devil conquer someone who continually resists him? Even though he is stronger than man, God will never allow him to conquer His people who continually resist him. Stand therefore, by faith in God, and put all the spiritual armor of Ephesians 6 to use. Depend on the Lord to help you, and continue to resist the devil at all times. Remember that, to those who have faith, the devil is already defeated.

Fight against the devil by refusing to yield to him and the fleshly lusts he proposes. Submit to God instead, as Head and Ruler of us all. The devil will run if we continue to resist him. But he will also return again and again to try to tempt us to sin. We will not be conquered as long as we don’t give in. And our heavenly Father will not allow him to force the human will to give in to his temptations (if we continue to stand and resist his onslaughts). Continue to be ‘resistance-fighters’ and we will have the victory!

God favors the humble who feel the need for His help, welcome His teaching, and desire Him as a friend. He will give them the grace they need so they can be saved. But who can teach someone who is so full of himself that he thinks he knows it all? If he feels no need for grace, he will receive no grace. The heart has to be humble before it can be saved. God favors and honors those who are lowly in their own opinion. But He also gives them enough grace to overtake and destroy their worldly lusts and corruptions.

The heavenly Father invites all who are humble to come boldly before His throne, where they will find grace for help in time of need. But they must come with a lowly spirit, knowing that He resists the proud.

If we judge ourself first, He will freely give us His grace. He gives more grace to the humble because they recognize their need for it. We need to conduct ourselves in a way that will glorify God, the One we belong to and should always serve. He stands ready to give us the strength we need to resist and rise above the attraction of the world.

Why should we want to humble ourselves? Reflect for a moment on what our sin and failure cost God and His Son. He had to die on the cross to free us from both. He had to offer Himself up as a sacrifice to the judgment of God because of our iniquity. Is there really anything for any of us to boast about in comparison with what He had to go through to set us free? God calls us to humble ourself before Him; then He will exalt us. Do this once and for all, as a done-deed, not an ongoing process.

So continually watch and pray. Remain ready to submit to God, who will calm our spirit and give us His grace. If we humble ourselves before Him, we will never be left ashamed. We need to rid ourselves of the fighting attitude that is intent on putting other people down in order to lift itself up. The humble ones in the end will inherit true glory, long after worldly fame has tarnished. Let’s freely submit ourselves therefore to God, humbly obeying His commands, with a sense of how empty, weak, and in need of His grace we really are. Let’s bow ourselves before Him and yield totally to His will. Then we will find the path to peace and joy forevermore.

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Enamored With Our Self

I love me graphic

Stan just stood there, staring at the edge of the lake with a gaze of uncertainty, almost to the point of daydreaming. “Hey, Stan!” he heard his friend shout, “The bus is coming just up the road.”

“Uh, yeah,” Stan replied, with some hesitancy. “I’ll be right there!” He reluctantly wandered back to the bus stop, his dream-like state having been interrupted like a burst balloon.

“Stan, what are you doing? Staring at yourself again?” his friend cynically called out. As Stan got on the bus, he happened to spot his reflection in a mirror. He just couldn’t seem to break himself away from the sight of himself.

“Let’s move it; I’ve got a schedule to keep!” the driver of the bus growled. Stan eventually managed to slip into a seat by a window, two seats down from his friend, who was now really beginning to wonder about him. By this time, the sun was almost gone for the day and the interior lights of the bus began to take on more prominence than the sunlight on the surface of the window, or even much of the activity outside the bus. Now Stan could see himself more clearly in the window’s glossy surface.

Harriet had gently warned him long ago about getting lost in his own reflection. She was always the guiding force in his life, or, at least, that was how he thought of her. That gently curling hair of auburn persuasion, those captivating azure eyes—it seemed like it was just weeks, not years, since he had first become enraptured with her comely looks and radiant disposition.

“We are now approaching the stop for Twelfth Avenue and Rey Street,” a computerized voice interrupted through the intercom of the bus.

Stan’s eyes were now attracted to the change in his reflection, due to the distortions of the window surface of this bus. After a brief stop, the bus jolted as it started to move forward again. Stan sat intrigued by the way his left ear seemed to detach itself as he moved his reflection back and forth over the irregularities of the window’s tinting.

“We are now approaching the stop for Materfell Street Station,” the computerized voice abruptly alerted again, a short time later. Stan was still sitting enamored with his own reflection when he felt some small objects pelting the side of his neck.

“Stan, you daydreamer, this is your stop!” his friend, who had now turned around in his seat, hollered out. Stan suddenly remembered that he and his friend had agreed earlier that they weren’t going to get off at the same stop. Stan was relieved at this crude interruption since the bright exterior lights now moving into view were making his reflection dissipate, and he prepared to leave the bus. While standing at the exit door as the bus came to a stop, Stan glanced in the direction of his friend, waved to him, and then saw his reflection staring back at him again from the mirror above his head. He completely missed the second step on his way out. The driver hurried down the steps with reluctant sympathy, and helped Stan get up from his painfully crumpled position straddled between the curb and the steps of the bus.

“Man, you can’t be doing this,” the driver barked. “You is gonna get killed!”

As the bus pulled away, Stan slowly made his way back to his apartment a few blocks away. In spite of all the clatter of activity stirring around him, he found himself thinking about Harriet again, and his friends, and his family. But his thoughts always seemed to somehow gravitate back to himself. He thought of the many hours he’d spent in front of mirrors fixated on his own appearance. Harriet had often finished long before he did whenever they were getting ready for a date. His meals at his parents’ place frequently needed to be reheated. His employers had regularly scolded him for focusing on himself more than their clients. It seemed like self was more important to Stan than anything or anyone else.

Being caught up with our selves has always been a part of mankind, ever since the fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

“And the Lord God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die…And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed” (Genesis 2:16, 17, 25).

Prior to eating of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Adam and Eve were not aware of the appearance of their physical selves. They had no need to know how they looked, because being in the presence of their Heavenly Father was all they needed.

“And when the woman saw that the tree [of the knowledge of good and evil] was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat. And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons” (Genesis 3:6, 7).

When they disobeyed their heavenly Father, then sin had the legal right to enter and take its course in their lives. Since they did not ask their Father for forgiveness, and did not repent of what they had done, they took their eyes off of their Heavenly Father and suddenly became acutely aware of their own selves. Because of sin they no longer were in God’s presence, and He no longer provided a covering for them. They allowed pride and self-righteousness to take root, which eventually led to the conclusion that they had no need for God, hence the pitiful covering of fig leaves. Initially, they were fearful, but later on, they and their descendants became complacent and began to love themselves more than God their Father. This permitted evil to multiply exponentially.

“And God saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every imagination of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually” (Genesis 6:5).

When we become enamored with our self, we then feel like we no longer need God. As a result, God lets us go our own way. He allows us a chance to try to find our “real” self. He even allows us to love our self, though it grieves and hurts Him greatly. But when we come to the end, our end, we go right back to the very thing we were created from—the dust of the earth. In our condition of pride and love of our self, we think that we are something great, something superior to all creation (even of our own kind). Yet, in God’s eyes, we are really nothing. In the book of Job, God asked him, “Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding” (Job 38:4). The heavenly Father was essentially saying that, if we think we are so great and wonderful, if we know so much and consider ourselves to be so superior, then where were we when He created everything, including us?

God created us to love Him, not our self. He wants us to put Him first in our lives. He placed within us a free will so that we could choose Him and love Him of our own accord. He will never force us to love Him. When He put forth the commandment in the Garden of Eden to not eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, He did this not to tempt or tease man, but rather to test or try us in our love for Him. He loves us, and He wants us to make the effort to love Him in return. He wants us to stop loving our self, and to love Him instead.

There is one detail, though, that we dare not miss. We can’t just freely come before God because He is holy, and He absolutely will not allow any sin to come before Him, including self-love, pride, etc. But the good news for us is that God made a way for anyone who really desires to, to come to Him. His Son, Jesus Christ, is the way.

Jesus freely left His Father and came to this earth as a sinless human being. He fulfilled all of the requirements for the cleansing of sin that God His Father had laid out hundreds of years prior to His arrival. These requirements couldn’t be completely fulfilled by sinful man himself. But the ultimate requirement was for Him to sacrifice His life on the cross (even though He was totally innocent of any wrongdoing whatsoever) for the sake of every man, woman and child who ever lived, or is living now, or has yet to be born. He paid the horrible price for sin (that we all actually owed and deserved because of our sins) which is death.

When He shed His blood at the cross, it symbolically covered our sins. Now all we have to do is acknowledge to God that we have sinned, and be willing to turn completely from our sinful ways. Then we need to accept and believe in faith that the sacrifice and shed blood of Jesus at the cross was made in order to cover and cleanse us of our sins. Finally, we need to surrender our life to Him completely, and let Him come in and clean us up from our sinful ways.

For more information on the way to God click here.

–James Pangburn

Cities – the epitome of man

“And it came to pass, as they journeyed from the east, that they found a plain in the land of Shinar; and they dwelt there. And they said one to another, Go to, let us make brick, and burn them throughly. And they had brick for stone, and slime had they for morter. And they said, Go to, let us build us a city and a tower, whose top may reach unto heaven; and let us make us a name, lest we be scattered abroad upon the face of the whole earth.” Genesis 11:2-4

I’ve always enjoyed watching time-lapse videos. What never ceases to amaze me is how much occurs unobserved over time. In my spare time, I’ve tried creating a few short segments of my own. But, as with any time-lapse work, the emphasis in such work is on the word timelots of time. A typical two- or three-minute video could contain as much as ten or more hours’ worth of image captures [not including the many hours of editing work to be done afterward)! That is, only if it is done right the first time; some videos could be the result of several reshoots of the same scene. As a result, someone could end up spending twenty to thirty hours editing the same two- or three- minute video!

Returning to my original thought: As an avid nature lover, I particularly enjoy watching time-lapse scenes of clouds and storms, rural countryside vistas, birds, animals, waterfalls and mountain streams, as well as sunsets and sunrises. But, at the same time, I’ll also gladly watch time-lapse videos of urban or suburban areas and other non-nature material.

Recently, while I was watching time-lapse videos of Dubai (UAE) and Doha (Qatar), as well as New York City, Detroit, and Toronto, God began to point out to me how cities are the epitome of man’s work. Man can’t actually create something out of nothing himself; he can only build or work with what has already been created.

From the tower of Babel in the Old Testament, to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai (tallest building in the world as of this writing), man has been continually attempting to meet God by his own efforts.

He will never succeed in doing this, because God is a spirit, and man, in spite of all of his impressive structures, is only fleshly or physical.

City panorama in daytime

I began to compare videos of God’s creation with those of man’s efforts. Then it was easy to compare the tranquility and congruity of God’s efforts as opposed to the dissonance and disparity of man’s. A storm commands much fear and respect and awe in its magnitude; yet the urban landscape inspires much defiance, resistance, and anxiety. Man expends so much effort perfecting something that will not last. There is much boasting and pride, yet, when all is boiled down and refined, nothing of real eternal consequence remains. There is never total satisfaction or peace; man continually has to build and build, always attempting to grow greater, larger, or taller.

“There is a way that seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death” (Proverbs 16:25).

Man, in his sinful ways, has always had his focus on self.
“Look at what I did.”
“Look at me.“
“Isn’t what I did wonderful?”
I’m going to reach Heaven myself.”
I need nobody; I’m self-sufficient.”
I don’t need God; I’m perfectly capable of managing myself!”
Yet God is impressed with none of that. He views our attempts as nothing more than dirty rags!

“But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away” (Isaiah 64:6).

As long as man tries to reach God his own way, as long as man continues with sin in his life, he will never obtain peace with God. He cannot, because God is holy and can never, ever, coexist with sin. If God permitted just one microscopic fraction of a piece of the smallest known item in the universe (there are really no words ever known to anyone to describe this tiny amount) of sin in His presence, then He could no longer be God. That’s how awful sin is to God!

city at night

Of course, man, in his defiance, pride, and self-deception, will continue to build bigger, better, and taller structures and metropolises. Meanwhile, God, in His grace, mercy, and long-suffering, will permit man to do so, until man finally reaches the breaking point of either capitulation or death (prayerfully not the latter). God is not like an evil tyrant, nor a perpetually angry parent. He is not One to set everything in the cosmos in motion and then never interact with it again. He is a loving Father who desires to see everyone with Him in His heavenly home, not being wayward and headed for destruction.

He loves us so much that He sent His only Son to pay the price and make the sacrifice that we could never, ever pay, for all of our sins committed against Him (see the book of John chapter 3 verses 16 and 17).

And the best part is that, due to His love and grace, all we have to do is believe in faith that His Son Jesus died on the Cross for us, and that we therefore have died (spiritually) through Him. As a new creation in Him, we will also be resurrected from the grave like He was. Now we need to let Him, instead of our own sinful self, reign on the throne of our hearts.

Do you want to continue in defiance of God with this hopeless world, and go with it into death and Hell eternally? Or do you want to experience peace with God and life eternally?

–James Pangburn

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