Walking Humbly with God

In the affluent west the idea of humility is sidelined by several notions. Being ‘humble’ suggests being poor or of limited means, such as when we say, “He has a humble dwelling on the edge of town”. Humble means economically disadvantaged.

Humility also represents a place of subservience or inferiority, and in the image and success-conscious west people are striving to be successful or to at least look successful. So appearing humble is a negative in our culture.

We are also expected to be our ‘own person’ and to assert ourselves, including to have things as we want them. We are expected to serve ourselves, somewhat indulgently, making sure we get what we want the way we like it. Being humble means we would not live out that cultural value. We are supposed to know what we want and to demand it, not to be passive or in the background.

By those notions and other influences, humility is not a high value in western society. Yet God, before Whom we have no comparative value, calls us to live a life that is humble.

“He has shown you, O man, what is good. So what does the LORD require of you, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8

God wants us to ‘walk humbly with our God’. To walk is to live, so this is not just something we do during a church service, but 24/7 (24 hours, 7 days a week) as a lifestyle.

While people are pursuing their ideal lifestyle, whether that’s measured in material terms, or in terms of doing what they want as they want it (which is a definition of lust, by the way), few are pursuing a lifestyle of living humbly before God. Yet that is what God asks of us.

Have you seen a group of people chatting about a hot topic and seen the vigorous offering of people’s opinions? That pushing of our point of view, trying to impress others with what we have figured out, or trying to recruit people to our perspective, is not the way a humble person would behave.

Have you seen someone reject something because it’s not what they want the way they want it? People turn their noses up at food, clothes, activities and the like, because it doesn’t suit them. Christians at times go church hunting, struggling to find one they like. They evaluate each one based on how well it fits their personally determined criteria. That demand to be served with what we want as we like it is not the way a humble person would behave.

Have you seen a husband or wife become hard toward their spouse because of failure by the spouse to make them happy the way they want to be made happy? Is that the way a humble person would respond?

Have you seen people upgrade to the latest and greatest technology, or a new house or car, or even change career, because that want to ‘keep up’? A person who puts humility high on their list of values wouldn’t need to keep up with anything.

If you were to meet a person who held a less than impressive job and who had no ambition to claw their way to a higher place, living in modest means and not caring that they are out of fashion and driving a car that looks tired, wouldn’t you have a cultural negative reaction to that? It’s not the modern western way.

If that person was dedicated to serving God and gave their excess to missions or Christian ministry, more concerned about glorifying God than glorifying their own reputation, should we be ashamed of that person or impressed?

Our very culture despises, even if quietly and subtly, the value of humility.

Let me comment here that being humble is separate from being wealthy and powerful. Moses was leader of the whole nation yet he was the ‘meekest man that ever lived’.

“Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all people who were on the face of the earth.” Numbers 12:3

God blessed many of his people with great wealth, including Job, Abraham, Solomon and Isaac. These men were able to be humble before God, despite their great wealth and power. So our western concepts are skewed off course. Humility is not an economic or social issue, but a matter of the heart.

Walking humbly before God is about how readily we pay attention to God and what He wants, as opposed to us and what we want. A godly humble person, no matter how rich and influential, will be willing to do what others might think ridiculous, because they are prompted by God to do it. In fact, we tend to be impressed when a great person stops to pay attention to someone of no significance, as an act of kindness.

A humble person will serve others. They will serve with a servant heart, as Christians are instructed to do in the Bible. We are told to serve each other out of our love for each other.

“You, brothers, were called to freedom; but do not use your freedom to indulge your human impulses. Rather, serve one another in love.” Galatians 5:13

Some people serve our of a sense of duty. Fine as that may be, Christians are asked to have a servant heart. They are to serve out of love for one another, not some duty that they don’t really like having imposed on them. A humble heart embraces the calling to serve others, rather than resenting it.

Our love for fellow Christians and our love for our neighbour, caring about others rather than ourselves, is what will testify to all around us that we are followers of Christ.

“A new commandment I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so also you must love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” John 13:34,35

Sadly there are churches where people think their best testimony of being godly is to show that they have deeper theological knowledge, or that they live by stricter standards, or that they are holier than others, or that they look rich and happy. Jesus did not commend those things as evidence of our spirituality. We shine as Christ’s disciples because of our love for one another. That love shines when we are humble enough to put others ahead of us, and not to push them out of the way while we seek what we want, the way we want it.

Take a moment to ask yourself the question, ‘How much evidence is there to onlookers that I have humbled myself before God in the past day, week or month?’ Could you convince others that you have done that? Or would they only see you living for yourself, demanding things the way you want them, rejecting things God puts in front of you because they don’t suit you and doing your own thing?

I call you to recognise that your lifestyle is to be that of Walking Humbly with God.

Free From Fear of Death

Emergence of the Coronavirus in early 2020 brought great fear to many people. The idea of a pandemic makes normally safe things dangerous. Just being in a crowd could be a terrible risk. Underscoring people’s concerns is the Fear of Death. 

If you are attacked by the Fear of Death, and disease or accident scares you, you need to become free. So let me help you find freedom from fear today.

Fear of Death is based on our self-preservation instinct. We automatically step back from danger, and that’s a good thing. If we were ignorant of danger we would suffer much injury. Automatic reflex pulls us back from flames, bites, cliffs, sharp and spiky things, wild animals, speeding cars and much more.

Staying alive is a logical desire for us. God gives us life and we are to protect life as a precious gift. If we die we cannot continue to do the things we need to do. Life allows us to bless and meet the needs of our loved ones, and serve and glorify God.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going.” Ecclesiastes 9:10

“Turn, O Lord, and deliver my soul. Save me because of your loving kindness. For there is no remembrance of you in death. Who can praise you from the grave?” Psalm 6:4,5

At the same time the Fear of Death becomes a terrible curse for us and is used by Satan to lock up our whole life in fear. We are told that the devil holds people in slavery for their whole life, through the Fear of Death.

“Jesus shared in humanity so that through his death he might destroy him who holds the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver those who through fear of death were all their lives kept in bondage.” Hebrews 2:14,15

While self-preservation is a perfectly reasonable instinct, the Fear of Death is a devil’s curse. It locks us into terrors and slavery that hold us trapped as long as we live. 

That creates a problem for us. How do we balance natural concern for our welfare with the danger of the Fear of Death?

One way is to completely trust our life to God. We have a lifespan on earth that will come to an end, one way or another. By putting faith in Christ and making Him our Lord and Saviour, we are given eternal life with God. When we pass from this life we pass into God’s presence.

So death, leaving this life, is a stepping stone to a much more wonderful life. The glories of heaven are too wonderful for us to comprehend.

“The sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which will be revealed in us.” Romans 8:18

“For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21

When the Apostle Paul was faced with death he knew that what is ahead for him is much better than his earthly existence.

“I am hard pressed between the two, having a desire to depart and be with Christ, which is far better.” Philippians 1:23

Paul explained that at death our human body is clothed with an indestructible body. Our mortal life is clothed with immortality and we step into wonderful new life.

“For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable and the mortal with immortality, then what was written will come to pass, Death is swallowed up in victory.” 1Corinthians 15:53,54

Because what waits for us is so much more wonderful than we currently experience we can look forward to leaving this life. We can get on with living for God and obeying Him, without anxiety about this life. That’s what Paul did.

“None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear to me, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry which I have received from the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.” Acts 20:24

Paul did not seek death, but got about life Free From the Fear of Death. He wasn’t foolish or rash, but he was Free. He was not made a slave to fear and his life was not bound up by fears. He could get about life, obeying and glorifying God, because he wasn’t desperate to stay alive.

But what about you? If you are attacked by the Fear of Death, and disease or accident scares you, you need to become free. So take these steps to break from fear in your life and move into freedom.

Fear is driven out of our lives by God’s Love. God’s love is perfect love and that’s the kind of love that overcomes fear.

“There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear.” 1John 4:18.

Receive God’s amazing and wonderful love for you. God loves you, not because you deserve it, but because He chooses to love you. God wants what is best for you, despite the cost to Himself. So God sent Jesus to die for your sins so you can be forgiven and made God’s child.

That’s amazing Love. That’s perfect love in action. Receive that love by accepting Jesus as your saviour and becoming God’s child. Step into relationship with God through Christ. Then allow God’s love to be poured out inside you by the Holy Spirit.

“God’s love is poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” Romans 5:5

“Because you are God’s sons, God sent the Spirit of His Son into our hearts, crying out, Abba (Daddy), Father!” Galatians 4:6

As you receive God’s love into your life you can take a stand against the devil and his fears. You can also affirm that you don’t need to fear death, as it is just a stepping stone into being with God for eternity. Nothing on earth is more precious than those eternal blessings.

Here is a prayer you might like to pray: “Lord God, I receive Christ into my life and I receive Your perfect love poured out inside me. Lord, deliver me from fear and especially the Fear of Death. Set me free from the devil’s slavery. Thank You for eternal life. I know that the blessings waiting for me in Your presence are far more precious than this life and all it offers. I release myself from a love of this life and any fear of losing my life, since to be with You is so much better. I now repent of allowing fear into my life and I forgive those who have helped me feel fear. I also renounce and break the power of fear off my life, in my mind, emotions, personality, will, spirit, soul and body. I reject fear, I rebuke it and I resist the work of fear in my life. I command the enemy to take all fear out of my heart and mind, and to let me go from all slavery to fear. Now I humbly give all my fears and all the impact of my fears to God. I lay that rubbish down at Jesus’ feet and I ask You, Lord, to take it all from me and set me completely free, for Your glory. I ask all this in the lovely and powerful name of Jesus. Amen.”

Friends, keep pressing in for complete freedom from all fear and may you be blessed as you live your life for God, completely Free From the Fear of Death.

Eyes that See

Not everyone sees what is in plain sight. Many people see what they want to see. Many people are blind and even deluded and impose things into what they see, or ignore things they don’t want to see.

People do this for various reasons. I recall a Body Language talk pointing out how we turn a blind eye to things we find uncomfortable. The example used is that a child tends to ignore evidence that their father is afraid. The child’s world anchors on the belief that ‘Daddy will keep us safe’. If Daddy is afraid it suggests the child is not safe. Children don’t want to see that signal so they tend to excuse, ignore or re-interpret signs that Daddy is afraid.

People usually ignore their faults or weaknesses. “It can’t be true” is people’s way of saying, “I don’t want it to be true”. We have an inbuilt rejection of things we don’t like. It was true in Bible times too.

“They have closed their eyes, lest at any time they should see, and hear, and understand with their heart, and be converted, and I would heal them.” Matthew 13:15

People often ignore signs they are sick, especially of a life-threatening disease.
A skin cancer expert I once worked with had a photo of a man with massive ulceration covering most of his back. The man kept putting off going to the doctor. It seems the man was afraid the giant ulcer might be serious and kept applying lotions, hoping it would heal.

We each have eyes that do not see. Often our eyes are veiled by things we are taught. If we have an idea of how something is meant to be we read into the evidence what we expect to see.

In the 2019 Australian Election, as an example, polls indicated a landslide win for the Labor Party, removing the incumbent Liberals. When vote counting began commentators read into the numbers what they expected to see. I saw in the early counting a reporter identify the swing to Labor in multiple seats. By late that evening it was clear there was a landslide against Labor, not for it. The incumbent was returned and pundits were embarrassed. Observers began seeing what they expected to see, and it was hard for them to give up their expectation as evidence piled up.

Biblically there is a condition referred to as having a veil over the eyes. The veil stops people from seeing what is true and keeps them locked into their set of beliefs. 

“The minds of the Jews were closed. To this day the same veil remains at the reading of the old covenant. …. Even to this day when the writings of Moses are read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away.” 2Corinthians 3:14-16

Another Bible term for this is being ‘blind’. The Jews of Jesus’ day did not recognise Him as Messiah. They were blind. And once the Church was birthed on the Day of Pentecost the Jews could not imagine pleasing God by faith instead of the law.

“Partial blindness has happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles comes in.” Romans 11:25

When James and John offered to torch a Samaritan village Jesus rebuked them, saying they did not realise the kind of spirit motivating them. They were blind to something that should have been very obvious, that killing people for rejecting Jesus was opposite to the gospel.

“Jesus rebuked them, and said, You don’t know what manner of spirit you are of.” Luke 9:55

People very close to Jesus could still be blind to things. That includes Peter who was sure he would never deny Jesus, rejecting Jesus warning he would deny Jesus three times. So blindness is something we should not be surprised to find in ourselves.

This blindness or veiling is where people are blind because it suits them. This blindness has people convinced there is no God, because they don’t want to admit being wrong or being accountable to God. That’s the blindness Apostle John talked about when he said people preferred darkness to the light.

“This is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” John 3:19,20

There is another type of blindness or veiling of the mind. It’s blindness imposed by our culture and the messages we get through life. It is where we are held by useless thoughts (vain ideas) we are sure are correct.

An example is a woman whose husband recently died. In her church death is celebrated religiously, involving specified times for repeated reminders of the death, such as lighting candles, visiting the grave and so on. This preoccupation with death imposed greater concern about duties to the dead than relationship with the living.

The woman was losing contact with and becoming angry with her children and grandchildren, because of obsession with her religious duties to the dead husband. It is as if a veil has come over her and she has lost sight of the impact of what she is doing. Religious duty blinded her.

Interestingly Solomon pointed out that a living dog is more valuable than a dead lion. A lion might be a mightier creature than a dog, but once it is dead it is of far less capacity than the dog. 

“There is hope for the one joined to all the living: for a living dog is better than a dead lion.” Ecclesiastes 9:4

That woman’s obsession with the dead reflects a host of areas where we become too preoccupied with things to see the reality around us. Such as a man so obsessed with work he fails to see he is losing his family. Or the person so determined to succeed at sport, or some endeavour they don’t see all the better possibilities they ignore. Or chasing money when we are not going to spend it anyway, or becoming an expert in some irrelevant branch of knowledge, and so on.

In such cases the person’s mind is veiled and they can’t see straight until the veil has been pulled off. Maybe it’s to remove ‘rose coloured glasses’ or blinkers. Maybe it’s to let them see and appreciate things that have always been around them but which they have never noticed, as when people can suddenly ‘smell the roses’.

You don’t know what you don’t know. You can’t see what you can’t see. You don’t understand what you don’t understand. But God does know and God does see and God does understand. To be sure you are not living with a veil over your eyes, or with eyes that don’t see and ears that don’t hear, or with spiritual blindness, I urge you to humble yourself before God and ask Him to show you what you need to see.

“Open my eyes, Lord. I want to see Jesus. I want to see what You see. I want to see myself for who I really am, and I want to see Your power and grace on my behalf and how to fully apply it in my life. I want to see where what I am doing is vain and empty, and how to change anything and everything about my life so I am living in the light of the gospel and seeing clearly. I ask You to do these things in me. In Jesus’ powerful name, Amen.”

And so, my friends, may you have Eyes That See.

Rise and Be Healed

We have accounts in the Bible of people who were ready to claim or receive God’s miracle grace in their lives. The examples of these people instruct our hearts about how to respond to God.

One example is a crippled man who heard the Apostle Paul on one of Paul’s missionary journeys. It seems Paul was preaching in the marketplace, so not to a group of believers, but to the general public. A crippled man, hearing the message of Christ, responded with faith in Christ. Paul recognised that response in the man, maybe by the look on his face or possibly by spiritual discernment.

“In Lystra sat a man, crippled in his feet, who was born lame and had never walked. He listened to Paul’s words. Paul looked intently at him and saw he had faith to be healed. Paul called out loudly, Stand on your feet! The man jumped up and began to walk.” Acts 14:8-10

Paul basically said the man “Rise and Be Healed!” And the man did exactly that.

A similar example had already taken place in the ministry of the Apostle Peter. Peter was visiting the Christians when he came across a man who had been paralysed for eight years.  

“In Lydda Peter found a man named Aeneas, who had been paralysed and bedridden for eight years. Peter said, Aeneas, Jesus Christ heals you! Get up and put away your mat. Immediately Aeneas got up, and all who lived in Lydda and Sharon saw him and turned to the Lord.” Acts 9:33-35

Peter basically said to the man “Rise and Be Healed!” And he did.

In the ministry of Jesus there are examples of blind men who came to Him for healing. They believed Jesus could heal them and claimed that healing.

“Two blind men followed Him, crying, Have mercy on us, Son of David! After Jesus entered the house the blind men came to Him. Do you believe I am able to do this? He asked. Yes, Lord, they answered. Then He touched their eyes and said, According to your faith be it done to you. And their eyes were opened.” Matthew 9:27-30

Later in Jesus’ ministry a blind man named Bartimaeus cried out for healing. He head the crowd and learned that Jesus was nearby, so he called, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!” Jesus called him over.

“What do you want from Me? Jesus asked. Rabbi, he said, I want to see. Jesus said Go, your faith has healed you. Immediately he received his sight and followed Jesus along the road.” Mark 10:51,52

Among this list of healings, consider the first miracle in the church age, when Peter and John healed the lame man at the temple. The man cried out like a beggar, for coins.

“Peter and John said, Look at us. The man looked to them, expecting to receive something. But Peter said, I have no silver and gold, but what I have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk! Peter took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankles were strong. Then leaping up, he stood and began to walk, and entered the temple with them, walking and leaping and praising God.” Acts 3:4-8

In these examples we see people responding in faith, open to believe that there is healing and blessing through the name of Jesus. In each case they did not walk away saying it was too hard to believe, but they were hopeful and expectant.

That state of mind is the posture of faith, where people put aside their current reality (blindness or being crippled) and expect that they can be radically changed, by the truth they are hearing, the gospel of Jesus Christ.

In each case faith and the yielding of people to a posture of believing repeatedly brought miracle results.

Yet in Jesus’ time we also see the inverse: people who refused to believe and gave priority to their doubts and misgivings, such as when Jesus went to Nazareth. When people refused to believe, the flow of God’s divine miracles was choked.

“Coming to His hometown, Jesus taught in their synagogue, and they were astonished. Where did this man get such wisdom and miraculous powers? they asked. Isn’t this the carpenter’s son? Isn’t His mother Mary, and aren’t His brothers James, Joseph, Simon, and Judas? Aren’t all His sisters with us as well? Where then did this man get all these things? And they took offence at Him. But Jesus said to them, Only in his hometown and in his own household is a prophet without honour. And He did not do many miracles there, because of their unbelief.” Matthew 13:54-58

We see then, that our experience of the power of God has a lot to do with how we respond to Jesus. It is not the only consideration, as the disciples found when they tried to cast a demon out of a boy. Jesus said that prayer and fasting were required for such a miracle. So I am not intending here to put it on people that if they have not received we should scorn them for their lack of faith.

What I want to point out is that with the spark of faith the miraculous flow of God’s divine power was opened to people in Bible times and that same principle operates today. If you are in need, or you want to receive more of the miraculous impact of God’s Kingdom in your life, family and situation, then determine in your heart to believe and receive the Word of God. And be ready to Rise and Be Healed!

Tapping into the Anointing

Natural human experience encounters life on the natural plane, without awareness of spiritual realities. I have addressed this situation a number of ways and here I want to particularly focus on God’s ‘anointing’ as one of those things unknown by non-believers.

In the Old Testament we learn of various people who were endued with supernatural capacity when God’s Holy Spirit came on them. That experience of having spiritual capacity come on them was outside their natural capacities. It was dependent on God speaking to them, empowering them, or otherwise working through them, such as with words of prophecy.

In modern Christian usage we talk about people who have an ‘anointing’ as those who God seems to use to bring something of the heavenly realm into the human sphere. That might be by bringing the peace that passes understanding into hearts that would otherwise be fearful. It might be by causing people to become sensitised to worship of God, or humility before God. It might be that an ‘anointed’ preacher brings the Bible alive in a way that is beyond natural exhorting or exposition. There are many other ways that an anointing might be experienced.

In Churches where it is not uncommon to experience a heightened sense of the divine and where various people might from time to time enhance the spiritual openness of the congregation by what we call an ‘anointing’ or an ability to bring the anointing, then there is an understanding of how sweet it is to enjoy that experience.

In such churches there is also a greater awareness of that which is from man’s energies (maybe called soulish) compared with that which is prompted by God’s Spirit. If you have not tasted an anointing on preaching, prayer, praising God, music, or fellowship, then you would not understand what I am trying to explain here. Let me continue, nonetheless.

A friend told me of the revival style Bible College his father attended many decades ago. Young men were trained in the Bible but also helped to encounter the power of God in their lives. They were each then given opportunity to preach from time to time in a daily morning devotion. Each young man would have his turn stepping to the pulpit and beginning to speak the word of God in a meaningful way to the body of students. The Bible College lecturers sat in the front row and listened. If within a few minutes the lecturers did not sense that the preacher was speaking with God’s anointing he was interrupted and told to sit down.

That sounds terrifying, and it seems horribly stern, but it was probably nothing more than a great commitment to the importance of men of God not doing their own thing, or relying on their natural talents or impressing people with human techniques. It was probably a way of reinforcing to all the students that the Word of God was too precious to be robbed of its potency by man’s tampering with the preaching.

I recently caught up with some ministers who strongly upheld the value of the ‘anointing’. They lamented that in many churches people are too ready to chase what is popularised, such as the latest Christian songs, or what is humanly very impressive, such as a fancy preacher everyone wants to hear, or what has a sense of newness and innovation, rather than things tried and true.

A dear man of God was being discussed who had maintained in his church a constant commitment to finding the anointing. Churches around town were the places to go for the latest songs, or to hear speakers who had the latest popular message, or to keep up with the latest Christian trends. But the man of God turned off to all those things and kept doing what he knew would bring people into the presence of God and to encounter the power of the Word of God, the gospel and the Holy Spirit.

The popular songs came and went and the pop topics passed out of fashion too. Churches with the latest and the greatest had to compete with other churches that tried even harder to be on the cutting edge. But this faithful pastor kept seeing people saved, lives transformed and radical evidence of the power of God in people’s lives, because he valued the anointing.

What characterises such men and women of God is that they put aside their human value system, of what is high standard, impressive, emotionally captivating, or whatever, and they focus on that which brings people into the presence of God.

In the discussion about the man of God I mentioned someone said, “His key was that he kept tapping into the anointing.”

That got me thinking about how often I have allowed myself to be distracted by the story that sounds amazing, the song that sounds impressive, the big name preacher who has the huge following, the book that has become a best seller, and so on. All of those things are human yardsticks for significance. The alternative is to have and enjoy that which God is blessing, even if most people ignore it.

I challenge you to respond as I felt challenged to do, in determining that my life and ministry is about Tapping into the Anointing.