Hidden Pride

Pride…a word that doesn’t have a very positive connotation in our society today whether we are a Christian or not. Nobody I know goes around saying “I am so full of pride! I just love that I am a prideful person!” Do they?

Now some may beg to differ that pride can actually have a positive implication. For example, when someone takes pride in their work or takes pride in belonging to a particular group… they are proud of or take satisfaction in what they have done or where they belong. I will comment on this later.

Pride is defined in the dictionary as…

…“a high opinion of one’s own importance or superiority, whether as cherished in the mind or as displayed in bearing, conduct, etc.”

…“pleasure or satisfaction taken in something done by or belonging to oneself or believed to reflect credit upon oneself;

… “a sense of one’s own worth, and abhorrence of what is beneath or unworthy of one; loftyself-respect; noble self-esteem: elevation of character.”

…“a feeling that you are more important or better than other people; arrogance, conceit”

Clearly, pride has a number of definitions…most of which don’t appear real “pretty”…as a woman I like “pretty”…but unfortunately in our world pride takes on a somewhat “ugly” look.

Not only does pride appear “ugly” …the Bible says that God hates it!

Ok now, there is only one place in the Bible that I am aware of where pride is translated in such a way that it appears good…and that is with King Jehoshaphat.

He took great pride in the ways of the LORD and again removed the high places and the Asherim from Judah. 2 Chronicles 17:6 NASB

And actually the Hebrew translation here says that “his heart was exalted” …meaning that he was excited about the ways of the Lord. This however is not our normal meaning of pride and the common meaning of the word pride used in the Bible is someone having a superior attitude toward others.

And this brings me back to the point I mentioned above about having pride in your work or pride in belonging to a group. These forms of pride reflect our self-image because taking pride in these things makes us feel better about ourselves or who we are associated with.

We cannot have a positive self-image apart from God. God gives us our worth and value…not our accomplishments or associations!

Ok, so God hates pride? Hate is such a strong word…but it’s true! Stay with me!

When God says he hates something ….our ears should perk up! Shouldn’t they? And yes…the Bible says there are 7 things that God hates…well 6 and one He detests…and pride leads the pack.

There are six things the LORD hates, seven that are detestable to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked schemes, feet that are quick to rush into evil, a false witness who pours out lies and a person who stirs up conflict in the community. Proverbs 6:16-19 NIV

The Message translation says… Here are six things God hates, and one more that he loathes with a passion: eyes that are arrogant…

Pride…haughtiness…arrogance…is found in a number of scriptures in the Bible.

To fear the LORD is to hate evil; I hate pride and arrogance, evil behavior and perverse speech. Proverbs 8:13 NIV

When pride comes, then comes dishonor, but with the humble is wisdom. Proverbs 11:2 NASB   A man’s pride will bring him low, but a humble spirit will obtain honor. Proverbs 29:23 NASB   For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. 1John 2:16 NASB

But he gives us even more grace to stand against such evil desires. As the Scriptures say, “God opposes the proud but favors the humble. James 4:6 NLT

God hates pride because He knows that pride can…prevent us from giving Him all the glory and gratitude that He deserves…prevent us from developing our self-image based upon the worth and value that God places on each of our lives…prevent us from growth in our faith and trust in Him…and prevent us from receiving help from Him.

Pride seeks to promote self…rather than God.

Pride is the very reason we have an enemy today…Satan…the devil! Satan…who was actually named Lucifer…was a beautiful angel in heaven. But he became prideful and his attitude drove him to lift himself up above everyone else…including God.

But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north. I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High. Isaiah 14:16 NASB

Furthermore, the Bible is full of examples of people who allowed pride to get in the way of their relationship with God. Eve, Saul, King Uzziah, the Pharisees…to name a few.

There are obvious aspects and signs of pride in our society and possibly in our own lives…

But the one aspect of pride I would like to challenge you with today…the one aspect of pride that is not so obvious…the one aspect of pride that can be hidden in our lives…

Is our impatience with God and His timing. Ouch!

This was hard for me to swallow when I first came to understand and realize that when I don’t trust in God’s timing…in whatever aspect that is in my life…I am demonstrating pride. Why?

Because when I am impatient I am not trusting God’s timing! I am basically saying that what I think…my idea of timing …is above and greater than His timing.

What are you waiting for today? Is your idea of when things need to change in your life above God’s idea of when things need to change in your life?

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts”. Isaiah 55:8-9 NIV

And please don’t misunderstand me…I am not saying we shouldn’t keep praying and crying out to God for our needs…but after we have presented our requests…submitted our needs and desires to Him…we need to understand that God’s timing is not our timing and he will answer according to the proper time…the right time…the best time…His time.

So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you. 1 Peter 5:6-7 NLT

God showed me this new perspective regarding pride a number of years ago when I was single and waiting for Him to bring me my husband. I had finally left my old life…my old relationships and my old dating habits behind. I was a new creation…the old was gone and the new had come.

I had a great desire to be married and trusted God that He had an amazing Godly husband for me. But as the years went by there were certainly times I grew impatient…felt “ready” to be married…and questioned God’s timing.

If after we pray, we find ourselves impatient…murmuring…and complaining we need to do a self-check and really question if we are trusting God fully…and His timing!

And we need to consider the pride that we may have allowed into our hearts.

After having those moments and questioning God’s timing about bringing my husband, I can now say that His timing was absolutely perfect.

He is never early, never late, but always on time!

Reflection Points:

  1. What are you waiting for today?
  2. After praying and submitting your requests and desires to God, do you grow impatient when your prayers haven’t been answered according to when you think they should be answered?
  3. Do you question God’s timing in answering your prayers?
  4. Can you see how your impatience demonstrates a lack in trusting God’s timing….and thus leads to pride?

Action Points:

  1. Study God’s word and review the scriptures about pride.
  2. If you grow impatient and find yourself questioning God’s timing, humble yourself…pray… and repent of pride. Ask God to strengthen your faith and trust in Him and His timing!

 

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The Veil Was Torn!

With Easter quickly approaching us, Easter eggs and Easter bunnies have flooded the displays at the local grocery and craft stores. And how about the ridiculous assortment of candy from jelly beans….to chocolate eggs and bunnies…to marshmallow peeps? …Leaving my 2 little boys salivating and quite impatient for their Easter Egg Hunt at their school! And my ever-increasing quest of decreasing their sugar in-take is challenged once again!

With Good Friday and Easter coming up this weekend, many will be flooding into churches to reflect and celebrate the death, burial, and resurrection of their Lord and Savior Jesus Christ as this Easter holiday is the very reason we as Christians can receive forgiveness of our sins and eternal life.

While listening to the radio this week, I heard a beautiful song that was sung at my wedding called “At the Cross” by Hillsong. And I noticed that many songs by very talented and gifted musical artists as Hillsong, Mercy Me, David Crowder Band and Chris Tomlin have written and produced songs reflecting the very pain and suffering…the shedding of blood…that Jesus endured and experienced for us. And many of these songs have also included the line “the veil was torn” in their lyrics.

These words actually come from the Bible scripture in Matthew 27:50-51.

And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split. Matthew 27:50-51 NASB

I believe an understanding of these scriptures can help us further appreciate what Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection represents for us today.

The mere fact that the scriptures record the occurrence of this veil being torn at the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath of life…releasing His spirit… certainly demonstrates something quite significant.! And most likely why it has been included in so many Christian artists’ lyrics too! Don’t you think?

What does “the veil was torn” really mean and why is it so important for us to understand its significance? And is there significance in the fact that the veil was torn in two from top to bottom?

Before we can grasp what the veil being torn symbolizes…we need to explore the purpose and background of this temple veil.

During Jesus’ lifetime, the Holy Temple in Jerusalem was the center of Jewish religious life. The temple was the place where animal sacrifices were carried out and worship was followed faithfully…according to the Law of Moses.

In the temple, a veil…sometimes called a temple curtain…separated the Holy of Holies (the earthly dwelling place of God’s presence) from the rest of the temple where men dwelt. (Hebrews 9:19) The veil was a symbol of the separation of God from sinful mankind and therefore marked the boundary between God’s holiness and the wickedness of mankind. It was not possible to go beyond the veil because our sins have separated us from a Holy God.

But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God. And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear. Isaiah 59:2 NASB

Because man was separated from God by sin…only the high priest was permitted to pass beyond this veil once each year to enter into God’s presence for all of Israel and make atonement for their sins.

But only the high priest ever entered the Most Holy Place [Holy of Holies], and only once a year. And he always offered blood for his own sins and for the sins the people had committed in ignorance. Hebrews 9:7 NLT

Atonement means “satisfaction or reparation for a wrong or injury; amends.”

At the very moment that Jesus breathed His last breath, the temple veil was torn. So what is the significance of the veil being torn?

The veil being torn symbolized that mankind’s separation from God had been removed by Jesus’ sacrificial death on the cross. The tearing of the veil at the moment of Jesus’ death dramatically symbolized that His sacrifice…the shedding of His own blood…was sufficient atonement for man’s sins…forever!

Furthermore, the fact that the veil was torn from top to bottom was also significant. Why?
Well, first of all, this temple veil or curtain was not a simple curtain you would hang above your window in your home. This temple veil was 60ft long and 30ft wide and was one inch thick! It was so massive that it took 300 priests to manipulate it!

Therefore, no one could simply tear the veil themselves! It would take more than human strength to tear it.

The analogy is that it took the mighty hand of God Himself to tear it supernaturally. And this tearing which represents the removal of the separation of God and man could not be done by humans. It had to be done by God alone…and that’s why it is so significant!

No one can remove our separation from God but God Himself!

He himself is the sacrifice that atones for our sins–and not only our sins but the sins of all the world. 1 John 2:2 NLT

All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:8 NIV

The fact the veil was torn in two from top to bottom…which stood some 60ft from the floor where humans clearly could not reach it…shows that God was the One that caused the veil to be torn. He was the initiator of the veil being torn.

The significance of the veil being torn from top to bottom and just the fact that it was torn is that Jesus’ sacrifice makes it possible for us to come to God our Father. Our sins no longer separate us from Him.

On Good Friday at approximately 3pm, Jesus took His last drink…spoke His last words…and breathed his last breath. He gave up His spirit that day and the veil was torn.

When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. John 19:30 NIV

Jesus Christ through His death…removed the barriers between God and man…and now we may approach Him with confidence and boldness!

Jesus Christ through His resurrection…destroyed the power of death…and now we as Christians may receive forgiveness of our sins and everlasting life!

Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-that is, the devil-and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death. Hebrews 2:14-15 NIV

As we reflect and celebrate this Easter weekend, my prayer and hope is for us to not only gain a greater perspective as Christians in understanding the significance of the “veil [being] torn” but also that many others who don’t even have a relationship with Jesus will come to him and accept Him as their Lord and Savior!

Let’s all come together in prayer that God will begin moving on the hearts of those who don’t know Jesus today in our communities…in our country…in our world!

Happy Easter! Thank you so much everyone for your continued support of Sweeter Than Honey Blog!

 

 

 

In Spirit and In Truth

In our Women’s Bible Study at my church, we began an amazing new study and last week we learned in great depth about the story of the Samaritan woman in John 4:1-26. This passage is truly remarkable and reveals many biblical truths…far too many to discuss here…but I certainly encourage you to read and study it for yourself!

As we began to discuss this passage illustrated by a conversation between Jesus and an unnamed woman…known to us only as the Samaritan woman or the Woman at the Well…oh and a conversation that is considered the longest one on one conversation recorded in the bible…pretty significant don’t you think? Ok sorry to side track…

As we began to discuss this passage…John 4:24 caught my attention. I felt my curiosity nudging me to explore this scripture further to grasp a deeper understanding of its meaning.

For God is Spirit, so those who worship him must worship in spirit and in truth. John 4:24 NLT

What exactly does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth?

Well, in order to understand what this scripture implies…we must first define the word “worship.”

The term “worship” means “worth-ship”…to attribute worth to an object. Therefore, to worship God is to attribute worth to Him.

John 4:24 begins by stating God is Spirit. This means that God is not a physical being limited to one place. He is present everywhere…omnipresent!

Why is this important?

Well, because if God is Spirit, His worship is not limited to a physical or geographical location. His worship is not limited to a place or the performance of a ceremony. He can be worshipped anywhere…at any time!

The object of worship will continue still the same, God, as a Father; but an end shall be put to all differences about the place of worship. Reason teaches us to consult decency and convenience in the places of our worship; but religion gives no preference to one place above another, in respect of holiness and approval with God. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

When the Samaritan woman interjects about worshiping God in a specific location, Jesus directs the conversation to a more important point…not so much the location of worship but the attitude of worship.

Sir,” the woman said, “I can see that you are a prophet. Our ancestors worshiped on this mountain, but you Jews claim that the place where we must worship is in Jerusalem.” John 4:19-20 NIV

Woman,” Jesus replied, “believe me, a time is coming when you will worship the Father neither on this mountain nor in Jerusalem. You Samaritans worship what you do not know; we worship what we do know, for salvation is from the Jews. John 4:21-22 NIV

True worship of God is not physical worship in a physical location…it is spiritual worship.

Historically, physical worship meant that worship was limited to going to one particular place and physically acting in certain ways (like going up on top of a mountain or to the Temple in Jerusalem)

However, true worship is spiritual…not physical. It is worship of your inner being and is not found in the outward actions of the flesh.

Now don’t get me wrong…even though outward physical actions can be connected to worship ie. singing praises to God, lifting your hands in surrender, offering financial gifts…

True worship is not to be found in the outward physical actions but in the inward condition of the heart. It is an inward attitude of reverence and exaltation in which outward actions can be associated, but not required.

Spiritual affections, as shown in fervent prayers, supplications, and thanksgivings, form the worship of an upright heart, in which God delights and is glorified. Matthew Henry’s Concise Commentary

So what then does it mean to worship God in spirit and in truth?

In Spirit

To worship God “in spirit” means that our worship must engage our whole heart…therefore, the condition of our heart is important. Worshiping God “in spirit’ is directed by our love for Him.

And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength. Mark 12:30 NLT

To worship God “in spirit” means to worship him with an attitude of …

1. Passion and Zeal

Praise the LORD. I will extol the LORD with all my heart in the council of the upright and in the assembly. Psalm 111:1 NIV

2. Understanding

I will pray with my spirit, but I will also pray with my understanding; 1Corinthians 14:15 NIV

3. Reverence and Respect

In the council of the holy ones God is greatly feared; he is more awesome than all who surround him. Psalm 89:7 NIV

4. Sincerity

And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in real knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve the things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ; Philippians 1:9-10 NASB

5. Glorifying Him.

Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness. Psalm 29:2 NIV

In Truth 

To worship God “in truth” means that our worship must be consistent with God’s Word.

To worship God “in truth” means that our worship must be consistent with the revelation of who God is…His attributes, actions, character, and conduct. Unless we have knowledge of the God we worship, there is no worship “in truth.”

Both are necessary in satisfying God-honoring worship. Spirit without truth can lead to a shallow overly emotional experience that could be compared to a high. Truth without spirit can result in a dry, passionless encounter that can lead to a form of joyless legalism.

The best combination of both aspects of worship results in a joyful appreciation of God…informed and motivated by God’s Word.

The more we know about God…the more we appreciate Him. The more we appreciate Him, the deeper our worship. The deeper our worship, the more God is glorified!

When we worship God in spirit and in truth…we exemplify the kind of worshiper that God seeks!

But the time is coming–indeed it’s here now–when true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and in truth. The Father is looking for those who will worship him that way. John 4:23 NLT

 

Reflection Points:

  1. What does worship mean?
  2. Do you associate worshiping God with a specific place …like a church?
  3. What does it mean to worship God in spirit? What is the condition of your heart?
  4. What does it mean to worship God in truth? Is your worship consistent with God’s Word and who He is?
  5. Are you worshiping God in both spirit and truth?

Action Points:

  1. Read the passage about the Samaritan woman and observe their conversation about worshiping God in a specific place.
  2. Review above the characteristics of worshiping God in spirit.
  3. Continue to study and read God’s word to gain more knowledge and understanding. Then you will fully appreciate God and worship Him in truth.

 

Boxed In

A year and a half into our marriage, my husband Billy and I went through very difficult financial circumstances. The down-turning economy greatly affected our business…we were losing our house….we had to sell my car…and I was 7 months pregnant with my first child.

Certainly not what I had planned or envisioned to be a part of what should be considered such a joyful time with my first pregnancy!

As Billy and I looked at all our options and turned in every direction to find a way to save our home…we couldn’t see a way out. I prayed and pleaded…petitioned and desperately cried out… to God to help us in our financial stress.

I felt boxed in…trapped…with no hope in our circumstances.

What are we going to do? Where are we going to go?

Have you ever felt this way? Boxed in…trapped…with no way out…with no hope in your circumstances?

“Boxed in” can be defined as “enclosed in or as if in a box; trapped.”

I felt boxed in…but the problem was that I boxed God in with me…and I just couldn’t see past the walls of my enclosed box…my enclosed circumstance.

It became so clear one morning…after I had prayed and prayed and prayed….when God reminded me that…

Even though I felt boxed in…He was not.

Even though I boxed God in with me…He was not in my box.

Even though I was limited by the six walls of my box…He was not limited…by ANYTHING!!

Even though I was feeling “There is no way!”…He was saying “I am the way!”

God took me that day from desperation to hope.

Hope in a God who loves and cares for me so much…more than I will ever know or understand. Hope in a God who is omniscient…omnipresent…omnipotent!

And check this out! …The prefix omni means “all; without limits”.

Omniscient…All-knowing

Omnipresent…Present in all places at all times

Omnipotent…All-powerful

A God who is…

Without limits in His knowledge…Without limits in His presence…Without limits in His power. Truly Amazing!!!

Omniscient

O LORD, you have searched me and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O LORD. 5 You hem me in–behind and before; you have laid your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me, too lofty for me to attain. Psalm 139:1-6 NIV

Omnipresent

Where can I go from your Spirit? Where can I flee from your presence? 8 If I go up to the heavens, you are there; if I make my bed in the depths, you are there. 9 If I rise on the wings of the dawn, if I settle on the far side of the sea, 10 even there your hand will guide me, your right hand will hold me fast. 11 If I say, “Surely the darkness will hide me and the light become night around me,” 12 even the darkness will not be dark to you; the night will shine like the day, for darkness is as light to you. Ps 139:7-12 NIV

Omnipotent

Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Ephesians 3:20-21 KJ

God knows what needs to be done…Omniscience!

He has the power to do it…Omnipotence!

He is always wherever He needs to be to do whatever needs to be done…Omnipresence!

God pulled me out of my box that day and gave me hope.

18 So God has given both his promise and his oath. These two things are unchangeable because it is impossible for God to lie. Therefore, we who have fled to him for refuge can have great confidence as we hold to the hope that lies before us. 19 This hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God’s inner sanctuary. Hebrews 6:18-19NLT

We did lose our house…we did sell my car…and we struggled financially for the coming years after.

God didn’t work things out the way I may have wanted him to…but as I look back I can see, feel, and know his love and concern for me and my family every step of the way…every step from then to right now at this moment.

He will continue to be your hope in and through every circumstance in your life. Do not underestimate His “omni” nature…His unlimited nature…in His knowledge, presence, and power!

He is your all-knowing…all-present…all-powerful God!! Praise Him today for this hope that cannot be taken away…especially when you feel “boxed in.”

Yes…we lost our house…we sold my car…and we had a beautiful healthy baby boy 2 months later…

Yes… God knows what needs to be done… He has the power to do it… and He is always wherever He needs to be to do whatever needs to be done!

Reflection Points:

  1. Have you ever felt boxed in…trapped…with no way out…with no hope in your circumstances? Do you currently feel this way?
  2. Have you placed God in your box…like I did?
  3. Do you know the “omni” nature of God? His omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence?
  4. Do you believe that God is all-knowing…all-present…all-powerful?

Action Points:

  1. Realize that God is not limited by your circumstances. He doesn’t operate in the natural…He is supernatural!
  2. Meditate on the “omni” nature of God. Read and study bible verses that demonstrate these attributes.
  3. Place your hope in a God who loves and cares for you so much! Trust in His plans…even when you may not understand them. (Proverbs 3:5-6, Jeremiah 29:11, Romans 8:28)