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Posts Tagged ‘humility’

We have an enemy.  He is smart and clever, very crafty.

Torn-Apart

He knows the Scripture: “So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall!” And he uses it well.

So he comes against strong servants of God, attacks where they don’t even know they are weak, and they crumble and fall.  Families are torn apart, God’s people are confused and oh so hurt, and the name of God is slandered.

That enemy also knows that God says oneness among His children is a sure sign that the Father sent Jesus to redeem us.

So he comes among friends and coworkers and sows mistrust and conflict. (more…)

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On the first Monday of each month when my children were in high school, I wrote a letter to them describing a secret of success in life.  Recently I compiled a year’s worth of secrets into a small book. Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success is a great gift for graduates and a practical study for youth groups.  To give you a glimpse, I posted Secret #6 here.

Humility is one of the most important and most attractive qualities a person can have. Humility can be defined as having a right view of God, yourself, and others.

1. Have a right view God.

Like most of us, you may have much too small of an understanding of who God is. He is the most high God (Daniel 4:24, 34); the Almighty One (Genesis 17:1); the Creator of everything (Genesis 14:19, 22 and Colossians 1:16). He is your loving Father, but He is also the all-powerful Ruler of the universe.

2. Have a right view of yourself.

Each of us is actually a paradox. Compared to God you are nothing. Yet you are also of incredible value because you are made in God’s image and worth the price of Jesus’ life. Despite your high value, God clearly wants you to walk in humility, not pride. The Bible warns about pride (Matthew 23:2; Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 16:18; I Peter 5:5) and commands you to humble yourself (I Peter 5:6;

Colossians 3:12; Ephesians 4:2). Scripture promises many benefits when you walk in humility: grace (Proverbs 3:34), guidance (Psalm 25:9), wisdom (Proverbs 11:2), honor (Proverbs 15:33), and many more.

3. Have a right view of others.

Success in life depends on success in relationships. Nothing will contribute more to successful relationships than being humble, respectful and loving toward others. God desires you to consider others better than yourself (Philippians 2:3-4), to honor others above yourself (Romans 12:10), and to treat others as you want to be treated (Matthew 7:12).

My prayer is that you will increasingly find joy, friendship, and success as you walk humbly before God and others.

What about you? Do you need work on your views?

c2011 Judy Douglass

Letters to My Children: Secrets of Success is available from New Life Resources.

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It was joy for this mother’s heart!  My younger daughter, Michelle, opening gifts at a shower for her first baby.  My older daughter, Debbie, mother of three boys, warmly giving words of wisdom for her sister.

And words of wisdom for the rest of us.  Here are a few of the thoughts Debbie shared with Michelle:

This child will grow in many ways over the next year/years.  You will not automatically become a selfless, joyful mother.  It will be years of becoming.  You will daily be given a choice to fully embrace this gift by giving fully of yourself in order to be filled again by the Lord.  Or you can daily move backwards in selfish frustration. (This is a choice everyone faces, not just mothers.)

Some pathways to selflessness, still being learned 6 ½ years in:

Prayer—seeking time alone when possible, praying often–especially in the crazy times.

Thanksgiving—seeing each child, each event as a gift, and giving thanks as an act of worship.

Joy—making music in my heart, laughing, singing, playing, having fun with my children

Not only do you get to raise a child in the Lord and get to be transformed to be more like the Lord, but in a way that is a mystery to me, you are bringing glory to God.

Debbie really touched and challenged me with this poem from Hind’s Feet on High Places by Hannah Hurnard:

Song of the Water

Come, oh come, let us away—lower, lower every day

Oh, what joy it is to race, to find the lowest place

This the dearest law we know—“It is happy to go low.”

Sweetest urge and sweetest will, “Let’s go down lower still.”

Hear the summons night and day, calling us to come away.

From the heights we leap and flow, to the valleys down below.

Always answering to the call, to the lowest place of all.

Sweetest urge and sweetest pain, to go low and rise again.

That’s what being a mother calls for all the time—going without sleep, getting the last of dinner, foregoing my plans to be part of their plans,  giving up my time to read a book to a child.  It’s about sacrifice, unselfishness.  It’s about going low.

And that’s also the life Christ lived and called us to:

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves,  not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. (Philippians 2:3-4)

 

What about you?  What has helped you to “go low”?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I should have known it would happen.  It almost always does.

The problem with writing and speaking and teaching is that God seems to want to check me out:  Do I really believe this?  Do I live this way?

So last week I wrote about “What I Do When Someone Hurts Me.”

And Sunday night my husband and I taught at church on unselfishness and humility in relationships.

So why am I surprised that today I got to live them both out together?  I suppose I should be grateful He combined them into one opportunity for me to know if I am being authentic—walking my talking.

Someone who matters to me hurt me yesterday.  Today I went through all five of my actions to take when I am hurt.  One by one:

1.  I told God my real feelings about it all.  No holding back.  Raw emotion.

2.  I thanked Him–by faith–that He was in this situation.

3.  I looked for some glimpses of good, and I actually found some—at least the potential for good.

4.  I forgave the person who hurt me.  Not hard to do.

5.  I spoke blessings over this loved one.  Also not hard.

Then I realized that I—in my selfishness, my holding on, my grasping—was part of the problem.  I needed to humble myself, ask forgiveness and open my hand to the Lord, so He could give or take as He chooses.    So I did, rather reluctantly.

All okay now?  No. Not yet.  But better.  It is a process, a journey.  Tears return.  God has tissues.  The open hand already wants to hold on tight.  God’s grace entreats me to  let go of my rights, my desires, my needs—and trust Him.

People say I’m known for my realness.

I guess God wants to hold me to that.

What about you?  Has someone hurt you?  Are you holding on to that hurt?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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This is the ninth and final in a weekly series of mini-devotionals on GRACE, which is the theme of the 2012 June 2 Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

 

We have prayed for Jon over the years. He has been estranged, then reunited with his dad, Louis. He and his girlfriend had a baby. Then they moved back to where he had lived previously. He returned to drugs and alcohol.

One day, high on drugs, he drove erratically down the highway. And caused a crash in which a woman was killed. He will probably spend the rest of his life in prison.

Louis was devastated. How could this happen? Heartbroken. Is there no future for my son?

But days and weeks on his knees and in the Word, and Louis found peace. He writes:   “God’s majesty shrinks at no one’s behavior. Everything we know is for God. He uses every last thread of our lives. How he uses it? We only get to participate, not know exactly his will at any particular time… “

God’s grace was sufficient for Louis.

But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)

God’s grace is enough.

These brief nine devotionals have perhaps (hopefully) opened up some new aspects and understanding of God’s grace for you. We looked at some definitions of grace, at who qualifies—those with no alibi, at how amazing it is, and how grace stoops to serve. We considered the voice of grace, the forgiveness of grace, the scandal of grace, and the grace-full Father.

We have barely scratched the surface on the height and width and depth of God’s grace. I have not intended to be exhaustive on this incomprehensible topic. But there are a few more things I want to mention.

Grace is an undeserved free gift, undeserved favor, and undeserved love.

And it is more than enough for any person, circumstance, tragedy, need.

God’s grace has made His love and salvation and provision—everything He offers—available to us. There is a catch. In order to live in it, we must receive it. And he gives us a little understanding of who will be able to truly access and experience that grace:

Those who are humble.

But he gives us more grace. That is why Scripture says: “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6)

This truth is repeated several times, and it is the first step toward accepting God’s grace–to understand that you don’t deserve it.

But that grace is abundantly sufficient.

We are saved by grace

For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

God freely gives the grace that save us—we can not earn salvation. And it is that same freely given grace that will save our prodigals. Keeping the rules, doing the right things, not doing the wrong things—none of this will save us or them.

Only grace is sufficient to save us.

Grace enables good works

And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work. (2 Corinthians 9:8)

The good works, doing the right thing, not doing the wrong thing—these all matter and are desirable. But we can’t live that perfect life ourselves.

Only grace is enough to enable us to live like Jesus.

And today, when my son told me of another marriage conflict, my emotions took over. And at first I didn’t access that grace to speak kindly and to believe the best. Then God reminded me of what I had just been writing—the words above…

And His grace was more than enough.

What about you?  Where have you found God’s sufficient grace?

c2012 Judy Douglass

If you would like more information, to request prayer for a prodigal, or to join our full-of-grace community, please write to prayerforprodigalsatgmaildotcom with your questions or names, or for an invitation. June 2 is our Worldwide Day of Prayer for Prodigals.

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Debbie, Josh, Michelle

I have received many wonderful Mother’s Day Gifts from my three children—and I have been grateful for each one.  But they have given me gifts they didn’t even know, and those have been the best of all.  I’m sure I could think of dozens, but here are 7 life-changing presents from my two daughters and my son.

1.  Gratitude

I never get over that God would entrust these little lives to me.  As Debbie and Michelle were born, and as Josh came as a 9-year-old, I have found myself overwhelmed that God gave me such gifts.   And as they have grown up, I have realized what transforming gifts they have been.  Thank You, Lord.

2.  Humility

I knew parenting would be challenging, but I had no idea how totally inadequate I was.  On the days of their births, and every day since, I have been over my head.  So humbling.  Gratefully I have had family, friends and books to help.   But most of all, God has been there every step of the way, giving wisdom, encouragement, strength, love and everything else I have needed.  The humility, of course, is still in process.

3.  Selflessness

I had children later in life, and I thought I had, for the most part, grown out of my adolescent self-focus.  But when I took Debbie, my lovely first child, home, I discovered I knew nothing about selflessness.  Any newborn takes more time, attention, care, patience—everything—than you can imagine.

But Debbie had 24-hour colic and rarely slept.  She required all of me.  For several months there was almost no opportunity for me to focus on myself.  Thank you, Debbie, for taking me giant leaps forward in learning to get over my self-centeredness.  Still growing, of course.

4.  Forgiveness

We all make many mistakes in our parenting.  I have made more than my share.  A few years ago my husband’s radio program was doing a surprise program on our family.  They asked  each of our children what they had learned from us.  Michelle said, “From my mom I learned to ask for forgiveness.”

You see, Michelle approaches life differently than I do, and too often I tried to squeeze her into the mold of my life.   So I often had to ask her for forgiveness.  Which she generously gave.  Thank you, Michelle, for forgiving and for teaching me to ask for that mercy.

5.  Perseverance

Rearing children is a long process.  Though supposedly we have completed our assignment in 18-22 years, those of us beyond that know we never really stop being mothers.  There are many normal days, frequent times of celebration and rejoicing, and always some difficult days.

Because Josh came to us from a difficult situation, he brought with him many challenges.  His challenges, of course, became ours.  We and he had many hard days and hard years as he grew out of that troubled boyhood into the man he has become.  Thank you, Josh, for helping me to learn to never give up, to be tenacious, to persevere.

6.  Prayer

I knew how to pray.  I had been a child of God, and serving in ministry, for many years when my first child was born.  Of course I knew how to pray.

But as each child revealed my inadequacy and my weaknesses, as their needs required more wisdom than I had, as life for all of us included pain and trial, I have learned to go to my Father.  To tell Him how I feel, to express what I think I—and my children—need, to pour out my heart, to beg and plead, to thank Him.  I find my prayers are best prayed with open hands—not holding on to my demands, but allowing God to take out and put in His best answers.  Thank you, Debbie, Michelle and Josh, for teaching me to really pray.

7.  Love

Of course we love our children.  As we carry them for 9 months, when they are first placed in our arms, or if they come to us some other way, we are amazed at the intensity of the love we feel for them.

But life tests that love.  Especially when they aren’t always lovable.  When they are whiny and crabby.  When nothing you do satisfies.  When they are disobedient, even defiant.  When they make increasingly bad choices.  And especially when they yell hateful words at us and reject us and what we stand for.

When those things happen—and they did—God reminded me that unconditional love , by definition, keeps loving no matter what they say or do, or even if they don’t love in return.  Thank you, my wonderful children, for being God’s instruments for me to learn to receive and live out His unconditional love.

Debbie, Michelle and Josh, thank you for being God’s good gifts to me.  And as each of you has entered into this wonderful parenting and journey, may God surprise you with the transforming gifts those children will be to you.  I love you.

What about you?  What gifts have others given you?

C2012 Judy Douglass

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I’m hanging out with my grandboys this weekend—so fun.

I am reminded once again that living with children is a never-ending effort to help them learn how to treat other people:

“What do you say?” “Please.” “Thank you.”  “I’m sorry.”  “Let’s share.”

It doesn’t come naturally for people—we have to be taught.

Scripture is filled with instructions on how we are to relate to other people.  Romans 12 especially focuses on how we treat the “one anothers” in our lives.

Here are five key relationship encouragers:

1.  Love one another.

Romans 12:9,10a:  Love must be sincere…. Be devoted to one another in love.

Jesus told us we should love God and others.   Paul says our love must be sincere—genuine, without hypocrisy, the real thing.  Real love is unconditional:  You can’t earn it, you can’t lose it, you can’t stop it and you don’t have to return it.

Of course, when it’s real love, you want to receive it and return it.

  

2.    Prefer one another

Romans 12:10b,16:  Honor one another above yourselves…. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position.  Do not be conceited.

Not just “honor one another” but “above yourselves.”  How much we are willing to put the interests or recognition of others above our own speaks loudly about our pride or humility.  Do we care who gets the credit?  Is the most popular?  Are we happy when others do well?

3.    Serve one another

Romans 12:11-13:  Never be lacking in zeal, but keep your spiritual fervor, serving the Lord. Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.  Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

Jesus reminded us on the night before he died for us that He was our Lord and our Teacher, but also that He was a servant.   He reminded us that we should follow His example and serve others—and that we would be blessed if we do.

I am so grateful for—and a little envious of—those with serving gifts.  I am truly blessed by their service, but I wish it came so easily for me to serve.

My experience is that God will give us plenty of opportunities to practice and grow.

 

 

4.    Bless one another

Romans 12:14,15,17:  Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse.  Rejoice with those who rejoice; mourn with those who mourn.  Do not repay anyone evil for evil.

I used to think “blessing” was kind of old fashioned, for little old ladies.  Notwithstanding my age, I now think it is one of the most important things I do.  It’s great to “be a blessing to someone,” but even better to be intentional about blessing others.

The hardest and best is to bless your enemies—those who hate, or mistreat, or hurt or even just irritate you.  Bless them.

 

5.    Be at peace with one another

Romans 12:16,18:  Live in harmony with one another…. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.

Watching children helps us to see how easy it is to be at odds with someone else.   The slightest little thing leads to anger or tears.  Unfortunately, we are often not very different from children.

So many times I have said to my children—and to myself:  You can’t control what others do or say.  You can only control yourself.

And in that choice, we can make the difference between war and peace.

 

Jesus sums up how we should treat the “one anothers” in our lives two other ways:

     Treat others the way you want to be treated.

     Treat others the way I did—laying down my life for them.

I am so grateful He sent His Spirit to live in me and enable me to live in this challenging, selfless way with the people of my life.

Which of these “one another” instructions is the most challenging for you?

c2012 Judy Douglass

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