Devotional Tribute: Where Is God? By Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

The Lord is my light and the one who saves me. So why should I fear anyone? The Lord protects my life. So why should I be afraid? Evil people may try to destroy my body. My enemies and those who hate me attack me, but they are overwhelmed and defeated. If an army surrounds me, I will not be afraid. If war breaks out, I will trust the Lord (Psalm 27:1-3, NCV).

Friend to Friend

I remember exactly where I was and what I was doing when the phone rang and my husband said, “Honey, you need to turn on the television – right now.” It was the middle of the day. I was busy cleaning house, doing laundry, and trying to cram in an hour of study time, but the sadness and dread in my husband’s voice stopped me in my tracks. Something was very wrong. Still, I was totally unprepared for the horrific scene that played out in vivid reality on the television screen before me.

I stared in shock at the surreal images of two airplanes flying into the Twin Towers of the World Trade Center in New York City. Both towers collapsed – killing thousands of innocent people – and forever changing life as we know it.

Why bad things happen to good people is a question we have been asking since time began.

I have been a Christ follower for many years. I am a Christian author and speaker and the wife of a pastor. Over the years, God has brought me out of more pits than I can count, and I have literally attended church since the day I was born. My faith in God should be unwavering, and I should never doubt or question Him or His plan. But sometimes I do.

You may be offended at my next statement, but if I am brutally honest, my faulty human mind and sin-tainted heart can almost – almost come to grips with such horrendous circumstances happening to someone who is evil and has turned their back on God.

Bad things should happen to bad people, and good things should happen to good people. Sounds logical and fair – right?

You and I both know that life is not fair and that our human logic is a shallow substitute for God’s sovereignty. We are broken people living in a broken world. Bad things do happen to good people while those who mock God seem to prosper, and it’s been that way for a long time. Take Job for example.

The LORD said to Satan, ‘Have you considered my servant Job? There is no one on earth like him; he is blameless and upright, a man who fears God and shuns evil.’ ‘Does Job fear God for nothing?’ Satan replied. ‘Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face.’ The LORD said to Satan, ‘Very well, then, everything he has is in your hands, but on the man himself do not lay a finger’(Job 1:8-12).

Don’t miss the important fact that God not only allowed Satan to test Job, but dictated how Satan could test him. Job went from having vast wealth to great poverty, losing everything he and his wife had, including their ten children. Job’s wife urged her husband to turn away from God, curse Him, and forsake the very faith that had blessed her and Job for so long.

Job stood firm. And so can you!

Don’t miss my next devotion to find out how!

Let’s Pray

Father, I am sorry for doubting You when life is hard. Forgive me for questioning Your plan when it seems to make no sense. I want to be a woman of faith who trusts You no matter what happens. Help me cultivate the kind of faith Job had, and strengthen me for every trial ahead. Today, I choose faith over fear and trust over doubt.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Righteousness? Is That Possible?

I finally am starting to grasp this! Righteousness cannot be determined by our actions. The apostle Paul mentioned in a letter to the Galatians that, “If being right with God depends on how we measure up to the law, then the Anointed’s sacrifice on the cross was the most tragic waste in all of history!” –Gal 2:21. We beat ourselves up all the time! We think and strive, how can I be better? Believers and non-believers struggle with these thoughts but in terms of Christians we think how can I keep bettering myself for God? What is it that I can do? Okay I won’t go to the movies and I’ll stay in and read my bible. No I shouldn’t be hanging out with those people. I can’t drink one ounce of alcohol. NO! It’s not about actions! No matter what we do or do not do we cannot change our righteousness with God. Maybe this is my personal opinion but this is what I am gathering. We have righteousness through Jesus and in him. It is not on our own and with that it’s him through us who has it, we just reap the rewards because of him and his sacrifice for us. I don’t know if that’s making sense? We are humans born into sin and we cannot obtain it fully. God did not allow us to let our salvation rest upon the mere human actions of ourselves. That’s why he gave us Jesus! We needed him and still and always do because no matter what good we try to do it’s not good enough. There’s nothing anyone born into sin can do to ever be good enough to save us all and that’s why we need Jesus! My spiritual father told me that righteousness is like being the perfect Christian, the perfect human being. My response: “so Jesus then?” No one is perfect and no one is ever going to be perfect. The only one who was ever so was Jesus and hello! That’s why we NEED him! I feel like that person where a joke is told and it goes over my head and I get it like 5 minutes later! That’s the impact I feel right now. I guess better late than never! Bottom line is that it’s okay go to the movies but make time for scripture as well. It’s okay if you forget to read the Bible today, God knows where your heart is, it’s not the end of your life and your salvation isn’t going to be stripped away from you because of one human flaw. God is a forgiving God but he is all knowing. He knows who you are, how you are, what you’ve done, everything! It’s okay to have a beer. It’s okay to hang out with non-believers. The thing is you need to be that example. How else are you going to be a good representative for Christ if you are not out living in the world? We live in this world but we are not of this world. Yes sometimes we feel like aliens living in a place where no one gets us. No one fully understands the truth or the power behind what Jesus is and stands for. He is the same though yesterday, today, and tomorrow. He won’t change but you need to. I’m not telling you to stop being the person you are unless you’re some kind of murderer or have a lifestyle that is truly damaging yourself and others. I think we all need tweaking. We all need work. Like I said no one is perfect and never will but thank God that we don’t need to carry around that burden of having to be perfect and feeling like we can’t measure up because Jesus carried that burden around for us. All we need to do is submit. Submit and surrender. In doing so let Jesus guide you in making the right changes for you. Do I still have a drink here and there? Yes. But do I want to go out and make an ass of myself and abuse it where it starts controlling me and not me controlling the alcohol, no. I don’t think so. These are things we learn but I would never understand it or grasp it if it wasn’t for the gospel. No one single pastor, minister, reverend, brother or sister in Christ or church changed me and who I am or what I believe so enough of the blame game. The one and only thing that changed me and who I am is Jesus Christ himself and the truth of who he is and who I am in him.

I Want The Answers NOW! by Karen Ehman

I Want all the Answers Now
KAREN EHMAN

“Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold.” Psalm 106:12-13 (NIV)

My son Mitchell was a curious child. When he first learned to talk he often repeated the same three phrases to his dad and me: “Why?” “How?” and “When?”

His sparkly green eyes were often wide with wonder. As I cooked, he would drag a kitchen chair over to the stove and stand on it next to me. His inquiring mind needed to know the reason behind every ingredient I tossed in the pot. Why was I using brown eggs and not white ones? Why was I adding potatoes but not carrots? And speaking of carrots, why were they orange and not blue?

Even when playing alone, he had questions. He wanted to know how his toys were made. What did the factory look like that made them? Who invented the toy and why?

During the rare times he was quiet, he was still deep in wonder. If I asked him a question, he often replied, “Not now. I’m figuring.”

As he grew older, the questions continued. Soon after his feet hit the floor each morning, he wanted to know how the day would unfold. If we had planned an outing as a family, he wanted all the details. If we were planning a picnic for our church small group, then who would host it? What would they have to eat? Would they play flag football? Would they let him be the quarterback?

I couldn’t possibly answer all his questions. All I could do was remind him he always had fun, no matter how the events unfolded. He just needed to trust that we had planned pleasant things for him to do.

I didn’t want to squelch his inquisitive spirit, but sometimes I wished he’d just relax and enjoy the ride instead of always having to know all the details of that day.

Sometimes I am no different when it comes to my own life. I want God to tell me what’s going to happen next. Explain how my life will unfold. I’d love it if He’d spiritually skywrite the answers to all my whys, hows and whens.

The ancient Israelites had this same mindset. Sometimes they trusted the Lord and stood on His promises. But they often wobbled and lost their footing. They had to know how. And when. And — most importantly — why?

As today’s key verse tells us “Then they believed his promises and sang his praise. But they soon forgot what he had done and did not wait for his plan to unfold” (Psalm 106:12-13).

Scripture teaches us to believe the promises of God. He is faithful. He has a future full of hope planned for us. He will protect us and provide for us. He knows what He is doing even if at times we are certain He does not. And yes, even at the times when He seems to be silent.

Psalm 145:13b says throughout all generations, “The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does” (NIV). It doesn’t say that He’ll always let us in on the play-by-play. We aren’t promised detailed descriptions, only that the final outcome will be for our good and His glory.

By God not giving us explanations at each turn, it builds our faith. We can go to Him in prayer asking Him to calm our anxious hearts. We can ask Him to increase our faith so we aren’t consumed by the questions, and help us trust that He — the ever-wise parent — has good in mind for us.

It is God’s job to unfold our future. It is our job to trust and glorify Him as He does. Let’s stop asking Him to spiritually skywrite all the answers and let’s write His promises on our hearts instead. And then? Let’s live like we believe them.

Dear Lord, help me each day to not seek explanations, but to seek a closer walk with You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 145:13, “Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. The LORD is trustworthy in all he promises and faithful in all he does. (NIV)

Hello Faith Are You There? It’s Me Marita.

     One might ask how do I know I have faith? Some of you might have already read my previous writing about Faith asking what is it. Well now I am answering the question that I even ask myself…how do I really know if I have faith? Is it something I took and now it’s mine never to be stolen. Do I have to keep up with it? How did I get it? How do I strengthen it? What if I loose it on accident? What about doubts? Those suck! Did lingering poisonous doubt come into my mind and rob my faith? Well if you have asked yourself any of these question, guess what? So have I! I have been thinking about these questions a lot. I’ve been praying or meditating about it and thinking. Faith can be a confusing thing! Especially since we cannot see it. Even MORE confusing we cannot FEEL it and that is what I am going to get into and shed some light on. I think to myself uh faith; I don’t feel it at the moment. I know what I know but do I really know? I don’t feel anything at the moment that confirms this…welcome to the world of feelings led by doubt! I hate feelings! Did I mention they suck? I could do a whole article on feelings but that’s for another day. Today I am discussing faith and how we know we have it. How we strengthen it, and how we keep it. Now bear with me because I’m talking myself through this too! Haha

     If you are like me you know what it’s like to be an anxious or worrisome person. You know those people who are constantly freaking out about things out of their control or stuck in the domino effects of worrying about one thing that leads to the next thing to the next and so on until you’re in one big pile of worry that seems to be suffocating you and you cannot get out from all this weight on top of you? Those of you who don’t I envy you! Haha I know I shouldn’t say that, envy is a monster of it’s own and I kid! In some aspect though you know what it’s like to have worry and feel like there is no ridding it. I’m going to go back and define faith like I did in a previous article I wrote. Faith is such a huge thing that the Bible actually gives an exact definition of what it is in Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen”. Interesting…I have to think about that one a moment.

     The best way for me to understand this concept of having faith without feelings attached was when I was thinking about this concept deeply and I started asking myself questions. Along with the feelings aspect I stared wondering well how do I maintain and increase my faith and keep it strong. How does that happen? I did get some great advice from a spiritual father of mine and he told me simply, it’s confirmation that strengthens your faith. Wow interesting I didn’t think of it that way! Of course it is though! I guess I just needed confirmation! HAHA! Now I believe along with my spiritual father’s advice sparking my train of thought it was truly the Holy Spirit guiding me through this thought process after the fact. I thought to myself okay Marita think about it this way as in a relationship. You are with Anthony. How do you know he loves you and cares for you? Yes he tells you but he shows you and by showing you you have confirmation, which in itself strengthens your beliefs in knowing he cares about you. Well the same applies to God and Jesus in our lives. Say we are dealing with an issue as we most of the time are haha and we pray and pray about it and nothing we do on our own is helping. Then one day something happens and it’s the answer to your prayers. The answer you’ve been looking for. No one else knows about your personal struggle aside from you sharing it with God and even so he knows what you need. This answer or blessing I should say stops you dead in your tracks. Ever have those moments when you think oh my this is exactly what I needed, the answer to my prayers and you just know. You know it’s a God thing. What is that? It’s confirmation that God hears you. It’s confirmation that not only does he hear you and give you exactly what you need, most importantly it confirms that he loves you, cares for you, and that you have been given blessings poured upon you. Then once you recognize that and know it’s a God thing. That right there strengthens your faith. It increases your trust and belief that God is with you and for you. It increases your faith in him. Now don’t get all jaded thinking oh I’ve prayed many times and God never gives me what I want. Okay that’s the problem right there. First off it’s what he wants not what you want and the sooner you realize that and humble yourself the sooner you will reap the rewards of his love. Submit to him and he will give you what you need and bless you with the rewards only set to stow upon his children. Confirmation is in the Word of God. It’s not only personal experiences and testimonies. Testimonies are some of thee most powerful confirmations in the world but God’s written Word is right there as proof as well but the way I like to look at it is that your testimony and experiences in life is the Word of God in action in your life. That’s confirmation.

     I touched on confirmation, well what about feelings? Can you tell I save that for last? Feelings get in the way and trick you. I could feel like not going to church but is it what’s best for me? No. Then what happens I go to church and feel amazing afterwards! So feelings are misleading sometimes and can be used against you and against fulfilling God’s will in your life. I’ll save you the lecture on feelings though and cut to the point. I find that one of the hardest things to acknowledge is this: “For we live by faith and not by sight” -2 Corinthians 5:7 It’s hard but what’s harder for me is how can I not be lead by feelings. You would think that feelings should dictate your life. Oh I feel too tired to go to church so I won’t go because my feelings must be the most important thing to follow. Oh I’m bored with reading scripture and I need something more interesting. Oh I don’t feel like forgiving that person because they hurt me. Oh I feel like yelling and being violent with that person because they insulted me. Do you see where feelings can get out of control? I could keep going but I think you get the point. Well it’s the same thing with what some might think are minor feelings about minor things such as feeling something is right or wrong. Just because something feels right doesn’t mean it is. What if it felt right for you to punch that other person in the face because they did something that upset you? Does two wrongs make it right? My point here is that feelings should not dictate our faith and determine its strength. Here is another example. Back to Anthony and I. Now I know Anthony loves me. How do I know this? Because of the confirmation we just talked about but let’s take it a step further. Do I have to feel something to know something? No. I know Anthony loves me. I know he is my boyfriend. Do I have to feel head over heels giddy all day long and every single time someone asks me if he’s my boyfriend to confirm that he is just based on my feelings? No. I know because of the confidence I have and the relationship I’ve built and the confirmation in my life that tells me he is. I do not need to feel giddy every time I confirm with someone he’s my boyfriend to confirm that. I guess the best point I am trying to make here is that I do not need to feel something all the time to confirm what is true. Truth is the truth and regardless of how I “feel” in that present moment, it is not going to change the truth. So faith is not determined by feelings and how I feel one day and how I feel the next. I know things to be true but I don’t need feelings to confirm what I already know. This may be a confusing thing and believe me it is! We live in a world where we live in the flesh. Our lives are controlled with how we feel. It’s confusing! It’s how we were brought up but thank God for Jesus and the word of God and his teaching! Then thank God for the blessings of knowledge and wisdom that he pours onto us when we ask because we need it!

     Overall the key thing to remember about Faith is that it cannot be determined by feelings alone. It is a God thing and confirmation from God and the building of that relationship with him is what makes your faith stronger. Look for those confirmations in your life. It may be subtle little things. It may be huge in your face things. Regardless confirmation is confirmation and no matter the size of it, it strengthens your faith. Remember after all, Jesus did say, “The mustard seed is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree.”…”If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, nothing will be impossible for you.” –Matthew 13:31, 17:20

fear…YOU SUCK! By Lsya Terkeurst

There is No Such Thing as a Perfect Decision
LYSA TERKEURST

“In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” Proverbs 3:6 (ESV)

Recently I surveyed people through Twitter and Facebook with this question: What do you think is the biggest reason people struggle to make decisions?

Overwhelmingly, fear was the answer.

• Fear of the unknown
• Fear of failure
• Fear of getting hurt
• Fear of what others will think
• Fear of rejection
• Fear of missing out on something better
• Fear of making the wrong decision

I absolutely understand all these fears. I wrestle with them myself. And some wrestling with fear is good. It can keep us from making poor choices. For example, my kids’ fear of being restricted often keeps them from missing curfews.

That kind of wrestling with fear is good. But then other times I can still feel like I’m wrestling with fear to the point where I’m paralyzed from moving forward.

Do you have a decision to make right now where uncertainty is making you feel stuck?

I often get analysis paralysis trying to figure out which choice is the perfect decision. And if I can’t discern the perfect choice I feel paralyzed.

Here’s the thing that keeps me from staying stuck: There is no such thing as a perfect decision.

Perfection is an illusion.

Are there good choices and bad choices? Yes, of course. But at this point in my life, I’m not getting tripped up as much in the good versus the bad decisions.

More often now, I find myself stuck between a good choice and another good choice, trying to figure out which one is perfect.

Should I let my girls take dance lessons they would love but that would require us to eat on the run? Or tell them no so we can have family dinners at home? Good and good.

Should I teach that Bible study every Tuesday night at church or be at home to help my kids with their homework? Good and good.

Should my 20-year-old daughter go on a date with the guy from our church or just keep things between them on a friendship level? Good and good.

What about bigger good and good things?

Should I go on a mission trip or to a marriage conference? Good and good.

Should I quit my job to start that ministry I keep talking about or bring more of a ministry-heart into my existing job? Good and good.

These good and good decisions happen every day. But here’s a secret answer you must know when trying to pick the perfect choice: There is no choice that will turn out perfectly in every way.

As long as you desire to please God with your decisions, no decision you make will be completely awful. Nor will any decision you make be completely awesome.

Every decision is a package deal of both.

In other words, since there is no perfect choice, I don’t have to be paralyzed by the fear that I’m not making the exact right decision.

Again, I want to please God with this decision. Our key verse, Proverbs 3:6, promises that He will make our paths straight if we acknowledge Him in all we do. So I also want to demonstrate my trust in Him by actually making a decision — having made peace with the fact it won’t all be perfect.

There is no perfect job.
There is no perfect school.
There is no perfect spouse.
There is no perfect church.
There is no perfect way to raise kids.
There is no perfect decision.

Each of these choices will have just enough imperfections to make them some combination of good and not so good.

So here’s where the certainty is: My imperfections will never override God’s promises. God’s promises are not dependent on my ability to always choose well, but rather on His ability to use well.

Dear Lord, I trust You beyond any fear I have of making the wrong decision. Today, I hand over all my uncertainties to You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Psalm 56:3, “When I am afraid, I put my trust in you.” (NIV)

Release! By Lysa Terkeurst

God, I’m Worn Out

LYSA TERKEURST

“When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Psalm 142:3 (NLT)

Have you ever had one of those late night come-to-Jesus moments where the weight of regret lays heavy across your chest?

For me, it usually happens because in the hectic pace of the day, I blew up at one of my kids, I brushed past a moment of connection with someone God put in my path, or I rushed through all the moments without stopping to enjoy any of them.

I’ve discovered a great source of stress, distraction and exhaustion in my life. I say yes to too many things. I take on too many good things, which causes me to miss my best things. It’s so hard to say no and let go of opportunities that come my way. But if I don’t learn the gift of release, I’ll wrestle with a lack of peace.

I saw this visibly a few years ago when I traveled to visit a friend. As soon as she picked me up from the airport and we started driving, I saw the fallout from the storm she’d tried to describe. A massive 20-inch snow in the middle of fall.

But it wasn’t the amount of snow still on the ground, or the snowmen proudly standing that grabbed my attention.

It was the broken trees. The branches were piled everywhere.

House after house. All down the street. Disastrous piles of limbs — big piles of trees — all still clinging to the leaves that hadn’t dropped yet. And because the leaves hadn’t dropped, the trees broke.

That’s what happens when a snow comes early. The trees weren’t designed to face snow before releasing their leaves. They weren’t made to carry more than they should. And neither are we.

I know the weight of carrying more than I should. And usually it’s because I’ve refused to release something before taking on something else. If I want to choose a Best Yes, it’s crucial I make room for it first.

Otherwise, a Best Yes can quickly become a stressed yes. And a stressed yes is like snow on a tree that refuses to release its leaves. It causes cracks and breaks at our core.

If we refuse to release before we add, we will get overloaded.

We see how refusing to release gets people in trouble all throughout the stories in Scripture.

Eve refused to release the forbidden fruit. And because she became hyperfocused on that one thing, she missed out on the best things in paradise.

Esau refused to release his urgent need for some stew. And because he became hyperfocused on eating that soup, he missed out on his birthright.

Moses refused to release his fear that just speaking to the rock as God commanded wouldn’t actually bring forth water. And because he struck the rock twice, he missed out on entering the Promised Land.

Each of these people paid a high price for their refusals to release — to let go of their ways so they could walk in the amazing way of God.

It wasn’t God’s desire for any of these people to suffer the consequences they did. Each of us has a free will, which means we have the freedom to make choices.

God tells us the right way to go, but we have to make the choice to do so. Choices and consequences come in package deals. When we make a choice, we ignite the consequences that can come along with it.

It was true for Eve, Esau and Moses. And it’s true for you and me. Refusing to release often means refusing to have peace. I trade my peace for a weight of regret.

Release is a gift to a woman weighed down, grasping her leaves in the midst of a snowstorm, so desperate for help. She can feel the twinges and hear the creaking sounds of a splitting break about to happen.

She knows she can’t take much more. She remembers Psalm 142:3, “When I am overwhelmed, you alone know the way I should turn.” Tears well up in her upturned, pleading eyes. “God help me. It’s all too much. I’m tired and frustrated and so very worn out.”

The wind whips past her, trailing a whispered, “R-e-l-e-a-s-e.” She must listen or she will break. Her tree needs to be stripped and prepared for winter. But she can’t embrace winter until she lets go of fall. Like a tree, a woman can’t carry the weight of two seasons simultaneously. In the violent struggle of trying, she’ll miss every bit of joy each season promises to bring.

I think sometimes I’m resistant to release because I fear missing out. But, in an effort to hold on to too much, I wind up stressed, exhausted and at my breaking point.

Release brings with it the gift of peace. There are some opportunities I need to decline today. There are some things I need to say no to in this current season. There are good things I need to let go of so I can make room for the best things. Then and only then can my beautiful, bare winter branch receive its snow. When we release in peace, we signal we’re now ready to receive.

Receive what’s next. Receive what’s best. Receive what’s meant for this season, right now.

I don’t know what you have to release right now. But I suspect you know. Just like I do in a few areas of my life.

So let’s release. With release comes more peace. I see that now. I believe that now. And soon, I pray you will too.

Dear Lord, only You can help me with this release. My heart seeks to obey You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

TRUTH FOR TODAY:
Isaiah 26:3, “You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast, because they trust in you.” (NIV)

Pride: The Spiritual Cancer! By Mary Southerland

Today’s Truth

God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble (James 4:6).

Friend to Friend

I hate cancer! I have lost many loved ones to this dreaded disease and have come to despise its very existence. I need to feel the same way about spiritual cancer.

C.S. Lewis called pride a “spiritual cancer” that devours love and contentment. Pride is a sign of our own insecurity and feelings of inferiority. Pride and inferiority are actually opposite sides of the same coin and are both sin, a preoccupation with self that leaves little room for God’s spirit of humility. Spurgeon poetically warned us not to be proud of “race, face, or place.”

We all struggle with pride, and must constantly battle the tendency to measure every circumstance and relationship against the narcissistic viewpoint of “What’s in it for me?” Pride has no place in the life of a Christian because pride steps between God and us. To think that God stands in opposition against prideful people is a strong and sobering statement that should send us all running to the place of humility. Because He is a loving Father, God opposes pride, in part, for what it does to His children.

“Pride will destroy a person; a proud attitude leads to ruin. It is better to be humble and be with those who suffer than to share stolen property with the proud” (Proverbs 16:18-19).

Learning to deal with pride is an important and essential part of spiritual growth.

Pride prevents us from seeing others as God sees them.

Pride holds us back from laying down our rights in order to reach out to those who cross our path.

Pride slowly erodes the humble spirit God so wants to see in His people and in their relationships.

I suspect a good dose of humility would cure many of our failing marriages, broken family relationships and struggling friendships. Then the question becomes, how can we rid our lives of pride and prevent it from carving out a destructive stronghold from which relationship problems arise? The answer is found in a passage of Scripture written by the apostle Paul and directed to the church in Rome.

Romans 12:3 -6; 10 “For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you. Just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. We have different gifts, according to the grace given us. Be devoted to one another in brotherly love. Honor one another above yourselves.”

Paul certainly understood what it meant to struggle with pride. Before his encounter with Christ, Paul had been a man of great arrogance. After all, he was a power broker in the Roman government as well as a highly regarded and chief persecutor of anyone following Jesus Christ. Paul had no idea what the road to Damascus held for him that day when God interrupted Paul’s life with His blinding love. Everything changed. Paul became a humble man, the walking definition of a servant, delighting in his new role of striving to be last among the least. Paul understood that he was a trophy of grace; that his heart had been captured by grace and his life completely transformed in the process. God’s grace was Paul’s starting place and finish line and the very reason Paul was so humble and so powerful. God says that in order to be strong we must choose weakness, and in order to be first, we must be content to be last.

The amazing truth is that grace is ours for the asking. God stands ready to pour His priceless grace into every heart and soul. His grace then produces an unexplainable peace, eternal life, unending joy, and freedom from sin through His unconditional love. Grace offers us the riches of God, at the expense of Jesus Christ and His death on the cross.

Pride’s goal is to make us independent of God, duping us into believing that we are in control of our own fate and are able to call our own shots. What audacity we possess as humans to think we can live life on our own when, whether we admit it or not, we are totally dependent on God. Pride convinces us that we can play God, worshipping ourselves while erecting false idols shrouded in rebellion and sin. Pride is the universal religion of hell and a deadly poison.

A friend recently told me about a new product she found listed online. “Disposable Guilt Bags” first appeared in a few select stores to test the market. I could have told the creator that guilt exists in abundance and that people will go to any lengths to assuage their guilt. My friend explained that you could buy a set of Disposable Guilt Bags, ten ordinary brown bags on which were printed the following instructions: “Place the bag securely over your mouth. Take a deep breath and blow out all of your guilt. Close the bag and dispose of immediately.” The amazing part of this story is that the Associated Press reported that over 2500 kits had sold immediately at $2.50 per kit.

Nothing on this earth is powerful enough to erase guilt. We try to “fix” ourselves but fail. The only power that makes it possible to be forgiven is God’s grace. “In Christ we are set free by the blood of his death. And so we have forgiveness of sins because of God’s rich grace.” (Ephesians 1:7) When our lives are lived against the backdrop of grace, pride will die from a lack of attention.

Let’s Pray

Lord, please forgive my arrogant heart. I am so sorry for the pride I see in my life. Today, I ask You to search my heart and destroy the strongholds of pride and ego. Help me to recognize prideful thoughts and actions in my life. Give me the discernment to be honest and transparent before You and with others. I, too, am a trophy of grace. Help me to live like one.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

Now It’s Your Turn

Read the following verses and answer each question:

Psalm 10:4 (NIV)“In his pride the wicked does not seek Him; in all his thoughts there is no room for God.” How does pride affect our relationship with God? Is this true in your life?
Proverbs 16:5 (NIV) “The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.” What is God’s attitude toward those who are proud?
Psalm 40:4 (NIV) “Blessed is the man who makes the LORD his trust, who does not look to the proud, to those who turn aside to false gods.” How does pride encourage idolatry? Do you have any idols in your life? Name them and eliminate each one.
What decision do you need to make today in order to choose grace over pride? What would that look like in your daily life?