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February 3rd, 2012

The Significance of Stooping Low, are you Humble?

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Significance of Stooping Low

by Jean Jantzen

Dr. Ben Franklin once received a very useful lesson from the excellent Dr. Cotton Mather, which he related in a letter to his son: —“The last time I saw your father was in 1724. On taking my leave, he showed me a shorter way out of the house, by a narrow passage, which was crossed by a beam over head. We were still talking, and as I withdrew, he accompanying me behind, and I turning towards him, he said hastily, “Stoop, stoop!” I did not understand him till I felt my head hit against the beam. He was a man who never missed an opportunity of giving instruction; and upon this he said to me: ‘You are young and have the world before you. Learn to stoop as you go through it, and you will miss many hard thumps.’ This advice, thus beat into my head, has frequently been of use to me. And I often think of it when I see pride mortified, and misfortune brought upon people by their carrying their heads too high.”

So what happens when we carry our heads too high? Just how important is it for us to remain small in our own eyes? Does God think it important?

In the dictionary the word small means minor in influence, power, or rank: operating on a limited scale: lacking in strength: of little consequence. The word humble means: not proud or haughty: not arrogant or assertive: reflecting, expressing, or offered in a spirit of deference or submission [a humble apology]: ranking low in a hierarchy or scale.

Remember when we first came into the Church when called by God. For many of us, that was a long time ago. The scales were ripped from our eyes—we glimpsed the pearl of great price. As we arose out of the baptismal tank, the Babylonian culture dripping from our skin, our bodies still smarting from the pummeling brought about by a loving God that had brought us to this time and this place; we were ripe and ready to change. (Romans 2:4) In other words, we were brought low, where we felt small in our own eyes. God knew we were ready to begin the long road of conversion. We were now babes in truth, young, inexperienced, fresh, eager and willing to listen. We didn’t feel like Bible scholars or spiritual giants. We were small in our own eyes, looking to God to carry us through.

We’re all familiar with the story of David, called by God, the youngest of seven brothers: a ruddy, handsome fellow, a keeper of sheep, small in his own eyes. “Pity me, O Lord, for I am weak, heal me…”(Living Bible Translation throughout. Psalm : 6:2). “Save me, O God, because I have come to you for refuge…I have no other help but yours …” Psalm 16:1,2). “In my distress I screamed to the Lord for His help. And He heard me from heaven…” (Psalm 18:6). “Lead me, teach me: for you are the God who gives me salvation…” (Psalm 25:5).

We, too, as babes in Christ knew we needed God. We, too, cried out to God to save us. We were still walking low. But what happens over time. We lose that freshness, that urgency. We, who have been in the Church for many years, may come to think we know the Scriptures pretty well, lead a “Christian” lifestyle; in fact we might think we’re all-around good persons; going about doing our good deeds, saying our prayers, serving the brethren, not quite so small in our own eyes.

Have we become complacent in our need to cry out to God? Maybe we have forgotten Satan’s devices. Oh, we may have convinced ourselves by rote that we know them. We may admit there is a devil: that he is doing evil in the world; that he is deceiving others, but we’ve got ourselves convinced we’re okay, we’re close to God. It can’t happen to me we might say! But maybe we’ve not had Satan right in our face where there’s no denying he’s out to destroy us personally. When we are deceived by Satan, we don’t know we are deceived.

Let’s see what happened to King David when in his middle age. He had been walking with God since a teenager—at least 35 or 40 years; just like some of us in the Church. I am sure David was well versed, knew the commandment, “Thou shall not commit adultery.” So what happened? He was now King over Israel; maybe he was feeling pretty good about himself, convinced he was a godly man. Let’s face it, he wasn’t as close, nor relying on God as he thought, otherwise he wouldn’t have fallen into that trap—committing adultery, then murder the moment he had a little spare time.

He did repent and had physical consequences for his actions, but apparently he hadn’t learned the lesson with Bathsheba and Uriah thoroughly. He wouldn’t have later numbered Israel if he had. But let’s see why he did. “Then Satan brought disaster upon Israel, for he made David decide to take a census. ‘Take a complete census throughout the land and bring me the totals,’ he told Joab and the other leaders. But Joab objected. ‘If the Lord were to multiply his people a hundred times, would they not all be yours? So why are you asking us to do this? Why must you cause Israel to sin?’ But the king won the argument, and Joab did as he was told…”(1 Chronicles 21:1). Was not David aware of Satan’s devices? He must have been. But there is more to it than that. Was he only performing part of what was required of him? In his own words David tells us he knows the need for humility: “The Lord is good and glad to teach the proper path to all who go astray; he will teach the ways that are right and best to those who humbly turn to him”(Psalms 25:8,9). David also knew what it was like when the spirit of Lord departs from a person. He had seen that with Saul (1 Samuel 16:14,23).

Why then was he such an easy target, that Satan could, in fact, deceive him. Hadn’t he been walking with God for most of his life by now? We have to address the question — Is there more danger when one has been walking with God over a long period of time? Had David forgotten to stoop low when walking this walk? Or had he held his head too high?

Where would we be today if Jesus had held his head too high; had refused to stoop, or hadn’t taken seriously the very real danger from the god of this world? We see from Jesus’ example that “He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief… (Isaiah 53:3-5) What did Jesus have to do in order to endure His rendezvous with the devil? (Matthew 4:1-10) Now if our Saviour and Lord had to humble himself in order to overcome the devil and then to die upon the cross, what must we do? See (Philippians 2: 1-8) Not only did He have to cry out to God daily, and many times “with strong crying and tears”, He had to humble himself by fasting. (Hebrews 5:7-9). Also see (1 Peter 5: 5-8). Jesus knew he did not have the strength to overcome the devil on his own. Should we expect to do anything less?

We too, in our long walk with God, may have forgotten why humility is so very important to our eternal life. It was the one characteristic lacking in the great archangel, Lucifer and led to his downfall. It could be the one characteristic that we lack also. Maybe that is why God reminds us: “Yet I will look with pity on the man who is humble and of a contrite heart…” (Isaiah 66:2). For as long as we are small in our own eyes we will remain close to God. We will know we cannot get by a single day without crying out for His help against Satan [this master manipulator of our minds and hearts] to keep us from being puffed up in our own eyes, and sin against God. I bet Satan goes around looking for those who are not stooping low. So, let’s remember to stoop low and avoid getting our heads knocked off!

January 31st, 2012

Pain Prompts Change

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Injury or ill health produces pain. But pain is not the enemy; it is not a bad thing unless we ignore it. Today, I encouraged my husband to go and see the physiotherapist. Being the typical male he was planning to stoically “wait and see” and ignore his painful arm as much as possible. Yet, in seeking help from a skilled professional, he was given some helpful treatment, good instruction about the nature of the problem, and sound advice as to what he needs to do to remedy his “tennis elbow.”
Pain is our early warning system. Whether it is physical pain, mental anguish, or the emotional pain of anger, fear, doubt, or remorse. Pain has a purpose to alert us to the reality that all is not well. Yet in the age of the “quick fix” many view pain as the enemy that they try to eliminate at all costs. The initial folly in this “kill the pain” approach is that we are only treating the effect, the pain. The cause has not been unearthed and the problem is still there, but the person taking the painkiller is now no longer aware of it’s existence. Talk about willful blindness. More

January 31st, 2012

Jesus and the Pharisees: Avoiding the traps of the religious

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Too many people assume that Jesus was “against the Jewish religious sect of the Pharisees”, but a reading of the scripture tells a more complete story and provides a warning for all people who consider themselves to be religious. Jeff Patton shows you the nature of the attitudes that are “traps” for those who claim to be Christians.

January 22nd, 2012

Holy Days – God’s Annual Sabbaths

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God’s Annual Sabbaths

The Feasts of the Lord – Not of the Jews

 

Passover and Unleavened Bread:

Zachi Evenor

Zachi Evenor

Passover in the spring of the year is rich in symbolism relating to our covenant relationship with God and helping us to see the need for self-reflection, a sacrifice for our sins, and a Saviour to restore a right relationship with God and deliver us from Egypt – a symbol of life cut off from God’s wisdom and guidance.

Videos and Youth resources

Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our Passover lamb, has been sacrificed. 8 Let us therefore celebrate the festival, not with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. 1 Corinthians 5:7-9 ESV

 

Pentecost/Feast of Weeks:

Pentecost: Perfecting the SaintsPentecost celebrates the awesome power of the voice of the Eternal delivering the covenant from Mt. Sinai amidst the thunder and lightning. It also commemorates the giving of the Holy Spirit and the establishment of the Church of God, after the resurrection and ascension of Jesus, the Messiah. It is an annual Sabbath rich in meaning for all those who believe in the hope of the resurrection.

And you shall count for yourselves from the day after the Sabbath, from the day that you brought the sheaf of the wave offering: seven Sabbaths shall be completed. 16 Count fifty days to the day after the seventh Sabbath; then you shall offer a new grain offering to the LORD…And you shall proclaim on the same day that it is a holy convocation to you. You shall do no customary work on it. It shall be a statute forever in all your dwellings throughout your generations. Leviticus 23:15-21

Related Videos:

Youth Activities:

Paul had decided to sail on past Ephesus, for he didn’t want to spend any more time in the province of Asia. He was hurrying to get to Jerusalem, if possible, in time for the Festival of Pentecost. Acts 20:16

Feast of Trumpets/Yom Teruah:

shofar_sunrise_smThe beginning of the fall festival season and the final harvest of ingathering is heralded by the blowing of trumpets. This Holy Day has multiple historic and prophetic meanings. This holy time is the beginning of the ten days of national repentance and reconciliation called the Days of Awe that are completed on the Day of Atonement. It begins the 15 day ascent to Jerusalem, memorialized in the Psalms of Ascent, as the people journeyed up to Jerusalem to celebrate the Feast of Tabernacles (Succoth). And it looks forward to the coming of the Messiah, to destroy those who destroy the earth and to bring peace and justice to all who look longingly for His return.

Related Videos:

Day of Atonement

The fast  on the Day of Atonement is rich with meaning for the Christian, as it points us to the sacrifice of Christ as a propitiation for our sins, and the sins of all people. As we afflict our souls through fasting we gain a deeper understanding of our need for God, and his plan to forgive our sins so we might live in covenant with Him. We also anticipate that time of peace when the adversary will no longer influence humanity and a jubilee will sound announcing the restoration of the inheritance to the people of God.

Feast of Tabernacles and Last Great Day

The final harvest festival of God pictures the peace and prosperity of  the world that will be transformed under the reign of the Messiah, after the return of Jesus Christ as King of Kings. It is a time of spiritual renewal for the people of God, a time to rejoice before our Maker and praise Him for his wonderful promises and the hope we have in the coming of the Kingdom of God to rule all nations. It is a time for children and families to be encouraged by God’s word and praise God with song. It is a time for rehearsing the biblical stories of our fathers in the faith who  observed these days, and to garner the lessons of scripture to apply to our lives today.

January 22nd, 2012

Everlasting Covenant – Refreshed Part 7

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Traditional Christianity has become ineffectual in part due to a replacement theology that fails to grasp the nature and purpose of the Everlasting Covenant. Jeff Patton wraps up this series on the covenant with an inspiring study of God’s objectives in the covenant relationship as applied to individuals and nation. He demonstrates how the covenant was refreshed or renewed through Christ’s death and the changes that ensued as a result of this ultimate sacrifice.

January 17th, 2012

Are You Listening?

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What keeps us from listening to what God has to say? Jeff Patton gives some powerful scriptural admonitions and insights into the subject of active listening, and relates the consequences of failing to listen when the fate of a nation depends on hearing sound advice.

January 15th, 2012

Health Advice – Who Do You Listen To?

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Who do You Listen To?
I’ve been thinking a lot about listening this week, and how it impacts our health. It started with a particularly difficult couple of days with my students who were not listening. When asked why they would not listen to someone, I was a little surprised by their answers, as they really had little or no desire to listen to anyone but their peers or their entertainment idols. Then on the other hand I had a homestay student who adamantly believed that, “If it is written in a textbook it must be true,” and what made me laugh in incredulity was that even if you showed him two texts that disagreed he believed they both must be correct! How he managed those mental gymnastics I don’t know, but the cognitive dissonance was too much for me. It made me think about the bigger questions of, “Who should we listen to, and when, and why should we listen.” Jeff took up the theme in his message this week and talked about why we should listen to God.(sermon) Obviously, God tells us to listen to Him, because He loves us and has our best interests at heart and perhaps more importantly, He has the knowledge and experience to know what works! Therefore, His word should always be the first thing we listen to, and He provides a basic knowledge of many fundamental health principles if we are willing to listen. More