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Self-flattery

There is no fear of God before his eyes. For in his own eyes he flatters himself too much to detect or hate his sin. Psalm 36:1b-2

 

Self-flattery is foolish. It has no fear of God. Self-flattery follows a false faith that is forged out of convenience, not commitment. Self-flattery sees itself as the center of attention instead of Almighty God. It is enamored with itself. It defines and executes its own agenda. It is soft on sin. However, God-fearers see their sin and flee from its presence. It is not invited into their circle of influence. Furthermore, a person who flatters himself has neither a proper view of God nor any respect for Him. Respect for God flows from fear of God but self-flattery demands respect. They need to know that others hold the same high opinion of themselves as they do.

Self-flattery heaps praise on itself in substitute for penance. This is dangerously absurd. Even the silliest bird does not set a trap for itself. Smoothing over our conduct or soothing our conscience may set us up for failure. We can justify anything, but we had better be ready to suffer the consequences. There is a limit to our self-congratulation. Eventually, God and others grow impatient with our obnoxious ways. Our inability to own up to our actions—or lack thereof—lowers our standing with God and man. Self-flattery is a losing proposition. It loses respect instead of gaining respect. It grows discontent instead of being content. It feels worse instead of feeling better. Self-flattery fails.

There are many forms of self-flattery. When we think we are smarter than God, ignoring the principles laid out in His word, we flatter ourselves. When we think we have hope in heaven but we act like hell, we flatter ourselves. When we live for today as if death were a million miles away, we flatter ourselves. When we treat others with contempt, then expect them to follow our ways, we flatter ourselves. When we say we trust in the Lord, but borrow money and presume on the future, we flatter ourselves. Self-flattery longs for approval, but it is denied from those who really matter. There is a better way. The better way rises above self-flattery’s deception. It needs awakening from its slumber, as did the church Jesus spoke about (Revelation 3:17).

The road away from self-flattery is self-denial. Self-denial refrains from flattery. It is determined to know God. It is sensitive to sin and loves the Lord. The fear of God is in the forefront of those who deny themselves for the cause of Christ. Self-denial keeps God in holy awe, keeping self away from unhealthy admiration. It makes much of God and little of self. When we see God we admire Him and cease to flatter ourselves. Knowing God allows us to really know ourselves and discern between the two. The wisdom of God instructs us to place proper weight on what God wants versus what we want. Self-denial sends us into a whole other mindset, away from self-flattery. Its focus is being who God wants us to be and doing what God wants us to do. Self-denial serves others, deferring to them and what they value. It thinks more highly of God and His children. Self-denial replaces self-flattery with faith in God. Faith in God frees us to be secure in Him. Our identity is in Christ. We do not have to impress others or ourselves. He is all that matters. Replace self-flattery with faith in God. Faith in Him energizes an eternal self-esteem.

Taken from Reading #25 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”…

Strength in God

Photo Credit: Wilfred Sussenbach

“And Saul’s son Jonathan went to David at Horesh and helped him find strength in God. 1 Samuel 23:16

 

Strength in God is significant, as it is our stronghold when we are in serious trouble. It is our source of encouragement and motivation to persevere. Strength in God is easily accessible and always available. His strength is an unlimited reservoir of resolve. It may see us through the dying and death of a loved one. It lubricates the grinding grief of our heart and keeps us from total despair. The Lord’s strength is what gives us hope when our financial fortunes are tentative at best or have been swept away altogether. But His strength will see us through a maze of money mishaps.The sovereign strength of God is strong, unbending, and unyielding. Our confidence may be crumbling, our health may be hemorrhaging, or our relationships may be a complexity of confusion. Perhaps you discovered someone is not who he claimed to be. He lives two lives. Now the truth is unfolding and it is not pretty. In fact, he is coming after you because you are a threat to his secret life. So lean on the Lord, drawing your strength from your Savior. Prayer to the Almighty positions you to receive His power, so punctuate the power of God in your life with faith-filled prayer.

Moreover, God’s instruments for infusion of His strength are His people. Invite the encouragement of the Lord’s angelic agents. They are His ambassadors of goodwill and their righteous aura reflects His strength. These are special friends who remain true when challenging things happen to you. Stick with the ones who stick with you and do not be embarrassed to lean on others during these lean times. Like a transfusion of blood, you may need a transfusion of faith. Your prayer platelets have fallen below what’s normal to a level of dangerous discouragement. Ask for prayer so that God will strengthen you and keep you focused in the middle of your own gnawing needs. Ask in prayer to be an encouragement to those who have encouraged you. Do not deny others the opportunity to strengthen you with their presence and prayers.

Lastly, be quick to strengthen others in the name of the Lord. Write a note of encouragement to a friend or leave an encouraging prayer on a coworker’s voicemail. In some creative way, let those who are struggling know you are thinking of them. Prayer retains employees and engages friends. They will never forget those who reached out to them in their time of need. Each day, seek someone you can strengthen in your Savior’s name. In a sense, you are strength coaches for those you come in contact with on behalf of Christ. Your goal is to get them to God. His strength will stretch their faith way beyond your initial encouragement. Strengthen your family in the Lord and you will be strong. Strengthen your peers in the Lord and you will find eternal energy. Unselfishly strengthen others in the Lord and you will find strength for your soul.

The Bible says, “Wealth and honor come from you; you are the ruler of all things. In your hands are strength and power to exalt and give strength to all” (1 Chronicles 29:12).

Taken from October 12th reading in the 365-day devotional book, “Seeking Daily the Heart of God”…

A Life Well Spent

 

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under the heavens.” Ecclesiastes 3:1

 

There is enough time to do God’s will, thus He desires your stewardship of time. Just as money can be overspent, so can time. The twenty-four hours in a day, the seven days in a week and the fifty-two weeks in a year need budget restraints. Some days may go by slowly, but years seem to fly by quickly. A life well spent and prayerfully invested pays dividends for a lifetime and into eternity. But, a chronically reactive life wakes up one day, weary, wondering what have I done.

Therefore, we are wise to lay out a life plan and adjust it over time. We prayerfully modify our calendar regularly so over commitment does not overcome us. It is much better to have fewer obligations than to find ourselves emotionally and physically spent—unable and unwilling to follow through. Time is a treasure from heaven that needs close attention and protection. We number our days, so at the end of each day, we are satisfied that we were successful for God.

“Teach us to number our days, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” Psalm 90:12

Time can torture us or reward us. It can be a blessing of margin or a curse of busyness. Our life can feel like a boring treadmill of monotony, or a focused life of fulfillment. How do you budget your time? Do you invest time with Christ each day to hear His voice? Prayer is a time saver. Intimacy with your Lord Jesus gives you courage to say no to the unnecessary and yes to the necessary. The Holy Spirit’s discernment fills your mind when you spend time in quiet reflection.

Furthermore, create boundaries that protect you from yourself. The enemy of the best is good opportunities. Your flurry of activity can easily facilitate fatigue and broken promises. Perhaps you review your calendar each week with your spouse or accountability partner. Invite another objective eye to monitor your appointments. Perhaps you wait to look at email or answer calls until after lunch. Use your mornings for creative thought, writing, reading and exercise.

Avoid going into spiritual, emotional and physical debt for lack of attention. You have to be whole before you can help others become whole. Take care of yourself so that you can take care of others. Like a crisis on a plane; place the oxygen on yourself first so that you can assist others. Your relational accounts may be overdrawn; if so, quickly pay the penalty of aloneness with honest and vulnerable conversations. Spend your time wisely with prayer and planning. By God’s grace manage your calendar or it will manage you. Trust the Lord to lead you along His timetable.

“I am the LORD; in its time I will do this swiftly.” Isaiah 60:22

Prayer: Heavenly Father, my desire is to steward well each day along Your timetable.

Related ReadingsJob 14:5Psalm 39:4Luke 1:20Acts 17:26 

~Culled from Wisdom Hunters Devotional~

Called to Wait

 

“So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David… “David came to Saul and entered his service. Saul liked him very much, and David became one of his armor-bearers.” 1 Samuel 16:13, 21

 

The calling of God includes seasons of waiting in faithful service. David was anointed and experienced the power of God, but it was over twenty years before he became King. Public responsibilities require private experience and success. The Lord’s calling starts with a thorny crown of commitment and grows into a shiny crown of respect. The flesh wants to influence the masses prematurely, but the Spirit is patient to pay the price of wise waiting, before proceeding.

We have the opportunity to be faithful where the Lord has us. His power is prevalent through our humble prayers and our quiet acts of random kindness. Jesus doesn’t discount small deeds done in His name. Thus, whatever we do, we do all for the glory of God. We visit the elderly, we care for the dying, we rescue the unrighteous, we carry one another’s burdens and we shepherd the flock of God—all for Him. We win while we wait, because Christ is positioning us for influence.

“David said to the Philistine, “You come against me with sword and spear and javelin, but I come against you in the name of the Lord Almighty, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied.” 1 Samuel 17:45

Do you face a giant obstacle that threatens to derail you from God’s best? Have you forgotten why the Lord has taken you through this trial? His call for you to wait is an opportunity to understand where to go next. In this parenthesis of time, He has prepared or repaired your integrity, so you can engage intense encounters with the enemy, without compromise. Jesus works out His will while you wait. He grows you to grow bold in your belief in Him.

Furthermore, heed His call to wait, so you can create a sustainable schedule of activity. Jesus has not called you to be everyone’s friend. Everyone’s friend is nobody’s friend. Relationships that are an inch deep and a mile wide die a shallow and slow death. But when you go deep with a few, you grow loyal and lifetime friendships. Create significant space in your calendar, so you can respond to Christ’s call. Budget your time, as you budget your money. God’s call to wait is your opportunity to become humble and wiser. Work faithfully while you wait and watch Him work!

“We wait in hope for the LORD; he is our help and our shield.” Psalm 33:20

Prayer: Heavenly Father, grow me in humility and wisdom as I wait on Your next step.

Related ReadingsPsalm 130:5-6Proverbs 20:22Isaiah 26:8Lamentations 3:24-26Jude 1:21

He’s got you!

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer ~Corrie Ten Boom~

If we never go through trials, how can our faith in God be exercised? Hold on…Have faith…Trust God…He’s working behind the scenes in your favor! He’s got you!

AFH

“Then he (Herod) questioned Him with many words, but He answered him nothing.” Luke 23:9

One way or the other, we all have been through some form of financial, emotional, relational, or even spiritual pressure. What holds true in all the above is this: It’s a SUFFOCATING feeling physically. Your body reacts negatively to stress and you may find yourself hyper-ventilating or constantly worrying and churning up different scenarios in your mind. At that point in time, there’s nothing you want more than for the “pressure” to go away and life as you know to return back to normal.

Herod had been salivating to meet Jesus. When he “saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad…because he had heard many things about Him, and he had hoped to see some miracle done by him.” Luke 23:8. Herod questioned Jesus with many words, yet He (Jesus) remained silent. It soon got to a point where Herod, the chief priests and scribes treated Christ with contempt and mocked Him…and yet, He remained silent.

In the midst of chaos, Christ knew that the agenda of His father was the most important thing. Our salvation and reconciliation to God depended on Him. That’s why He was silent; That’s why He didn’t play games with his enemies. If the Lord has allowed some discomfort in your life, then He has an agenda planned for you. Don’t be sucked in the whirlwind of your difficulty and be tossed around like one who has no hope. Remember that He holds you in the palm of His hands has plans of good and not evil intended for you.

Bumps in your life should draw you closer to the lover of your soul. He might be using them to work on your character, strengthen your faith, or lead you away from trouble. In all, like Christ did with Herod, be silent and delve into His presence. Don’t let your outside circumstance dictate the conditions of your eternal promise and hope in God. He’s got you!

“But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people.” 1 Peter 2:9a

AFH

In the Lord I take refuge. How then can you say to me: “Flee like a bird to your mountain.” Psalm 11:1

There is a time to stand steadfast and there is a time to flee. Make sure your motive for either is based on trust. Do not allow others to persuade you to run and hide when you need to stand and fight. Having faith in God may mean engaging in some uncomfortable activities. Don’t run off just because you are afraid of being roughed up. Anybody can leave, but trust in God implores you to stay. Be aggressive with your agitators. Let them know that you will not be intimidated by false promises or bad advice. Beware of people whose counsel sounds right, but is wrapped in selfish motivations. They may want you to move on so they can move in. Others vie for your power because they lust for its influence. So stand steadfast in your Savior. Trust Jesus with this temptation to flee.

One of Satan’s schemes is distrust. If he can get us to lose faith in our heavenly Father, he can influence our decision making with foolish thoughts. Satan is patient. He knows a little incremental doubt can lead to a large amount of distrust. Bad advice can be deceptive while looking good on the surface. It may even sound like your counselors have your best interest in mind. After all, with a tinge of sincerity, they communicate “worry” over your safety or your reputation. But in reality, they are really mocking you and God. Why would someone want you to run away from trusting God unless they had something in mind for themselves? This moment of decision is an opportunity for your faith to intersect with God’s faithfulness. If you run you will miss refuge in Jesus. Therefore stand steadfast.

Stability comes from standing steadfast with your Savior. Anybody can run and hide in the face of difficult people or challenging circumstances. Like the religious leaders who made fun of Jesus, some may say, “He trusts in God. Let God rescue him now if he wants him…” (Matthew 27:43). Some may blame God for the undeserved outcome they are experiencing. But this unfair criticism only emboldens a strong faith that stands steadfast. Of your critics, consider the source. Do their lives reflect total trust, or is their faith one of convenience?

Use this time of turmoil to trust the Lord even more. His calling has not changed. Stand steadfast. Stand steadfast in Him and you will stand steadfast in your marriage. Stand steadfast in Him, and you will stand steadfast in your vocation. Stead steadfast in Him, and you will stand steadfast in your purity. Stand steadfast in Him, and you will stand steadfast in your friendships. Stand steadfast in Him, and you will stand steadfast in your church. It is easy to leave when everyone else is fleeing from the carnage. Nevertheless, we are convicted to stand steadfast and trust Him, even if we are the last one standing. Even those we respect may run, but we remain ever vigilant. Stand alone with the Almighty. Others will return, and you will be there to graciously greet them. People need a rock of reason. Therefore, stand on the rock of Jesus for their sake.

Taken from Reading #7 in the 90-day devotional book, “Seeking God in the Psalms”…

Hot Pursuit

“Flee the evil desires of youth and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.” 2 Timothy 2:22

The Lord pursues His own with His irresistible love and grace. He is not passive in His pursuit because He knows how aggressively evil engages individuals. Like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—God searches to see how His children are doing. He looks out for those He loves, longing to lead them into a growing relationship with His son Jesus. Indeed, the Lord’s pursuits are not trivial, but practical concerning love for His own.

Thus, we are motivated to pursue the One who pursues us with eternal energy. How can we ignore romancing Righteousness? How can we chase dreams that leave out the Dream-giver? Wise are we to call on Christ out of a pure heart in pursuit of what He cares about: righteousness, faith, love and peace. This foursome of wisdom plays close to Jesus’ heart. He knows the fruit of wise pursuit propels us toward understanding His will. We pursue the Lord, and in the process His Spirit transforms us into godly followers.

“The LORD detests the way of the wicked, but he loves those who pursue righteousness.” Proverbs 15:9

Moreover, we pursue righteousness because evil is hot on our heels. Better to turn our back on sin and flee toward faith in our Savior Jesus. When we look for love, we learn how to love. Indeed, we become what we focus on. A life that looks at how Jesus loves begins to love like Jesus loves. If our desire is peace, then we sit at the feet of the Prince of Peace and receive His tranquil trust. We acquire peace by being at peace with God.

Lastly, you hunt down heaven’s agenda, because you know what’s best for you and your family. Engaging the eternal is as simple as a moment of meditation on one Scripture verse, an hour of worship, Bible study at church, or a quiet weekend secluded with your Lord Jesus. Be intentional with integrity in little things and you will become a person of integrity in big things. Initiate love and you become loving. By faith integrate righteousness, love, and peace from a pure heart and enjoy Christ’s affirmation.

“Trouble pursues the sinner, but the righteous are rewarded with good things.” Proverbs 13:21

“Now then, my sons, listen to me; pay attention to what I say.” Proverbs 7:24

Pay attention. There are some people who want to help you, but some want to hurt you. Pay special attention to those who seem to say the right things, but have a hidden agenda in their heart. Not everyone can be trusted; not everyone is trustworthy. The sooner you discern a man or woman’s motive, the quicker you will know how to manage your time.

If conversation is all about them, watch out for poor behavior. Pay attention to the path people want you to take, so that you can protect your reputation. Moreover, you have limited emotional capacity and mind share, so make sure the Lord is leading you to get involved. Even good people and compelling causes can lead you astray. Pay attention, learn to say ‘no’, so you can say ‘yes’ to God’s best.

“But let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No.’ For whatever is more than these is from the evil one.” Matthew 5:37, NKJV

I struggle with saying ‘no’ because I want to please people. However, pleasing people is not the best motivation. Faith in my Heavenly Father is a much nobler goal. Learning to say ‘no’ is how we gain peace and contentment over the long haul. When you say ‘no’ to someone or something, you can trust your Savior Jesus to take care of the need, and to take care of you. Your ‘no’ opens the door for someone else to be blessed by their ‘yes’.

In some cases saying ‘no’ requires more faith than saying ‘yes’. Therefore, pay attention and be prayerful before you commit your time and resources. Certainly, as you encounter temptation, do not entertain the slightest hint of ‘yes’. It is better to say ‘no’ to his or her advances and lose a friendship, than to say ‘yes’, losing your good name and gaining regret. Pay attention and say ‘no’ to earthly impulses, so you can say ‘yes’ to heaven’s best.

“Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:2

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