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Praying! – Matthew 6:5-15

Praying! – Matthew 6:5-15
By Pastor Lee Hemen
April 7, 2019

When asked what believers need to do the most the answer always is to “pray” and this is good advice. If one’s prayer life is nonexistent their relationship with God is basically nonexistent. As a new believer having been brought up in a faith that taught that prayer was by route, meaningless, and automatic to discover that it was actually speaking with God was amazing to me. It changed my life dramatically. Praying is the heart and life of a Christian’s faith walk with God.

In Luke’s gospel we learn that “One day Jesus was praying in a certain place. When he finished, one of his disciples said to him, ‘Lord, teach us to pray, just as John taught his disciples.’ (Luke 11:1 NIV)” And here in Matthew’s gospel we discover the same prayer being offered by Jesus as part of his sermon. Jesus did not mean for his example to become a formula or a mantra we were to use until it became a mind-numbing chant. Let’s discover what Jesus taught about praying…

READ: Matthew 6:5-15

Jesus’ disciples would learn that prayer for Jesus was a personal thing and not something one did in order to appease an angry deity. Jesus often went off by himself to pray but here we find he includes simple teaching on the subject of praying. The first thing we discover is that…

I. Praying for Jesus was not just gibber jabber! (Vv. 5-8)

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

  1. An individual talking with God had become a real problem with the Hebrew people. From intimate conversations with God like that of Abraham, Moses, and David prayer had now developed into the ritualistic chanting of the Temple. Or worse an outward display for the unwashed crowds to display the Pharisees’ phony piety! So Jesus teaches that “when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.” Instead of a personal conversation between a person and their God prayer had become a sham! Jesus says this kind of prayer is hypocritical! He goes on to lay it out for his listeners, “I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.” Jesus knew God desired a personal relationship with them! And like with their acts of personal giving they were to make their prayer personal as well: “But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen.” God does not need public displays because he knows the individual’s heart already. Prayer is an intimate conversation and Jesus knew that their “Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.” Talking with God is supposed to be give-and-take. Too many folks have never heard God’s voice because they’ve never taken the time to hear him speaking to them! We live in a fast paced society that wants instant results and have forgotten that a deep spiritual relationship is developed not rushed. God is not your personal servant waiting on the sidelines to answer your beck and call when you need him. Therefore Jesus tells them that “when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words.” You cannot expect to know someone intimately if you never spend time with them. Sure God knows what we are going to pray before we pray it but he desires our full attention and he desires us, therefore, “Do not be like [these hypocrites], for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” We come to know God and his will and ways when we spend time talking with him! Praying for Jesus was not just gibber jabber!

  EXAMPLE: We often do not know what God desires to communicate to us because we are so involved in just spewing words at him! I guess some think that God only listens when we pray hard and fast! The other day I was asked by an older gentleman who saw me with my granddaughter if she “talked a lot”. I told him she was sparse with her words but soon she probably would be a chatter box. He remarked that his daughter had been a “little chatter box” who just went on and on about everything. He remarked, “I loved every minute of it and now we have a great relationship where she calls me almost every day to tell me about how things are going.” This is what Jesus wanted his listeners to understand about prayer. Praying for Jesus was not just gibber jabber!

I discovered early on in my marriage relationship that I had better become a good listener to my wife. And I had better be willing to share my day with her as well. Give and take in our relationship is what has made our marriage strong. We spend time talking with each other daily. We discover here that…

II. Praying for Jesus was an intimate thing! (Vv. 9-11)

This, then, is how you should pray: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread.

  1. I have heard this prayer example of Jesus used as a model to pray, as a formula one uses to get to the heart of God, or as some kind of outline for all our prayer. While there may be some validity to some of these I believe Jesus was first and foremost trying to get his listeners to remember what prayer was about and so he bluntly tells them “This, then, is how you should pray”. He isn’t telling them to pray exactly what he prays nor is he giving them an ultimate guide formula to emulate but rather he is teaching them that their prayer should contain some thought. When we speak with friends or loved ones we usually ask them how they are doing or what’s new in their lives. Prayer, being a conversation with a loving God whom we are trying to know better, should be done in the same manner! We are speaking with the Creator of all things who is holy, loving, and far beyond our comprehension! While he loves us and cares for us God is not our “Buddy”, he is a holy God! So we should come before him by reminding ourselves of just who we are speaking to: “Our Father in heaven”! He is a Living God who exists and is not some dead manmade idol of wood, stone, or metal! Also remember Jesus is teaching them how to pray to God that at that time was before he had died on a cross, was resurrected, and ascended back to heaven himself! Jesus is therefore teaching his fellow Hebrews how to reestablish their personal contact with a holy God that they had lost! They had forgotten what Job had known: “Even now my witness is in heaven; my advocate is on high. (Job 16:19 NIV)” We as believers now enjoy our advocate Jesus but we should always remember we are speaking with a holy God and “hallowed” is his “name”! At the core of our existence is to know and do the will of God. We do not seek God because we want things to go our way. How shallow is that kind of relationship? Instead we should be willing to pray to him “your kingdom come, you will be done on earth as it is in heaven”! Believe me Jesus understood that God’s will, would be done no matter what. This is why he would pray in the garden when he was facing the trial of his life, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done. (Luke 22:42 NIV)” And yet we can also ask God for our daily needs for life: “Give us today our daily bread.” It shows our daily dependence on God’s care. It is here we discover that praying for Jesus was an intimate thing!

  EXAMPLE: I like mornings in our household during the week because my grandkids come over very early and I get to spend a few moments praying with them and getting them back to sleep. (Mom and Dad work and I get the privilege of being with them before school.) I spend time talking to Jesus with them about their day, their parents, and school. It is a special time. It isn’t hurried. It is kind of cozy in fact. Prayer for Jesus is supposed to be just like this because praying for Jesus was an intimate thing!

When I first learned to pray it was all by formula and in fact we used a prop so that our prayer would become something you could do unconsciously without any thought at all. This is not how Jesus viewed prayer. Yet it is how prayer had become in his day! We learn that…

III. Praying for Jesus was a means for forgiveness! (Vv. 12-15)

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.

  1. The entire reason Jesus came to earth was to fulfill God’s promise to mankind to redeem them back to his self. In order for that to be accomplished a debt had to be paid. We have a tendency to forget that sin exacts a heavy price because it is against the holy nature of God. God does not wink at our sin nor does he laugh at it or excuse it because he sees us as wayward kids. Sin is serious business for God so much so he came as Jesus to sacrifice himself for our sin. Now all of this to say that God sees sin as a debt and this is why he tells his audience that when we pray we have to be willing to ask God, “Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” This is an exacting thing because it requires forgiveness on our part which was something the Pharisees had a hard time with. They believed in an eye-for-an-eye payback, yet we have to forgive. Jesus also knew that being the weak creatures we all are we need all the strength we can get so he relates that when we pray we should ask God to “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.” Jesus knew that God never leads us into evil and the wording suggests we are to ask for him to lead us to his strength. In fact as we look at this sentence knowing it is given to Hebrew listeners we discover that it contains hope because Jesus would indeed deliver us from not only the sting of death but Satan’s influence as well. And then Jesus reminds his listeners that “if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This is a reminder of the fact we reap what we sow and we want to sow the things of God in our lives. It is not the idea of balancing the scales between being good and bad or doing good or bad but that we are accountable for our lives and whether or not they are lived for God or not! Again this would be a tough concept for his listeners and so they needed to be reminded of it. If one wants to draw close to God and speak intimately to him they cannot harbor animosity, anger, or hatred to one of those he came to die for! And we must never forget that praying for Jesus was a means for forgiveness!

  EXAMPLE: A special Scripture for me is 1 John 1:9 – “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 NIV)” Jesus desires that we “walk in the light” of his grace. I am not a perfect person and I often blow it. However prayer has become a time for me to declare my ungodliness honestly and openly before him. I have learned like John did that “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:8 NIV)” And we cannot “walk” with Jesus! Yet if we “confess our sins” he is more than willing to forgive us! John concludes by reminding his readers that “If we claim we have not sinned, we make him out to be a liar and his word has no place in our lives. (1 John 1:10 NIV)” I am overjoyed that praying for Jesus was a means for forgiveness!

Conclusion:

Praying for Jesus was not just gibber jabber! Praying for Jesus was an intimate thing! Praying for Jesus was a means for forgiveness!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Vows, revenge, and enemies! – Matthew 5:33-48

Vows, revenge, and enemies! – Matthew 5:33-48
By Pastor Lee Hemen
March 24, 2019

Foul language, disrespect, arrogance and revengeful attitudes have become a societal norm. So much so you have those who actually think that you can dictate through laws how to make people act respectful toward one another. The Washington State Legislature is considering a law that would enforce rules against bullying in schools. Believe me it will not stop the perceived problem they are trying to solve. Laws are a Band-Aid approach to a deeper problem.

Remember Jesus was trying to get his audience to realize that it isn’t what comes out of a person that matters as much as what is inside a person. Jesus taught that “The good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and the evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For out of the overflow of his heart his mouth speaks. (Luke 6:45 NIV)” That which is “stored up” inside of us is what truly shows the world what we believe when it comes flowing out of us. This is why Jesus now addresses the issues of vows, revenge, and how one treats their enemies…

READ: Matthew5:33-48

For some the old adage “A promise made is a promise kept” still means something while for others it is simply something you say in order to get people to feel good about you. Words mean things. My Dad would teach us that “A man is only as good as his word” and when you make an oath or promise it means something to those you make it to and you keep it. Jesus taught that…

I. Our words should be our bond! (Vv. 33-37)

“Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’ But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black. Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.”

  1. Jesus continues with their distorted view of how they taught the Law: “Again, you have heard that it was said to the people long ago, ‘Do not break your oath, but keep the oaths you have made to the Lord.’” To make an oath meant that you were willing to abide by what you promised to do, however, by Jesus’ time people actually thought that if they did not use God’s name or anything pertaining to him, like the temple, they could get away with breaking their vows. Jesus is relating that nothing could be further from the truth. While the Pharisees were quick to make a vow they were just as quick to ignore them if it no longer suited them and they would deliberately use certain wording so they could not be held accountable when they broke their promises! If it sounds like a lawyer it should because the means of using the right phrase to escape liability was an art form for them! God detested it then just as he does now! They would say things like “By Jerusalem the holy city” or “as heaven is my witness” knowing all along that they were already thinking of how they could break their oath because they had not actually been bound by using God’s real name! It’s kind of like when people use “Jimmie Crickets” or “gosh darn” instead of Jesus’ or God’s name when they swear. Don’t they realize that God looks at the intent? Jesus was not fooled by their turning of a phrase and tells the crowd, “But I tell you, do not swear at all: either by heaven, for it is God’s throne; or by the earth, for it is his footstool; or by Jerusalem, for it is the city of the Great King. And do not swear by your head, for you cannot make even one hair white or black.” Words matter and when you make a promise you should keep it because of who you are and whom you represent: The Lord! This is why Jesus tells them to keep it simple and to not try to fool anyone: “Simply let your ‘Yes’ be ‘Yes,’ and your ‘No,’ ‘No’; anything beyond this comes from the evil one.” As believers our words should be our bond!

  EXAMPLE: “Don’t make a promise you can’t keep” my father once told me. He was correct because a person is only as good as their word. In our day we have forgotten just how important our words can be. Teenagers have learned that a few snarky words posted online can destroy one’s reputation. Far too often we hear politicians using words to escape taking a stand on issues or to be held accountable. I have even seen and heard this in Christian churches where folks are nice to one’s face but use hurtful words when describing the person to others. “Bless their hearts.” Jesus boldly taught that as his disciples our words should be our bond!

Revenge has become something to be admired in movies, video games, books, and TV but in real life it can get you jail time. The latest mass shootings are a form of revenge perpetrated by their attacker on people they seek to do harm against in order to justify their distorted worldview. In a further discussion on favorite sayings concerning the notion of revenge we find Jesus teaching that…

II. Personal payback should be replaced by compassion! (Vv. 38-42) 

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”

  1. We think we’ve got it bad when our Internet goes down or our cell connection drops and we want someone to be responsible for it! Recently millennials were asked what they thought was the worst thing that could happen to them and most said not getting any “likes” on a personal post! We say that bullying has no place in our society yet we have fostered it by allowing bullies to not suffer the consequences of their actions. Instead of allowing for payback Jesus teaches us something quite radical. He again reminds his listeners, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’” Jesus was referring to several Old Testament passages: “Show no pity: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot. (Deuteronomy 19:21 NIV)” They were called the lex talionis, the law of retaliation. This law was given to protect the innocent and to make sure retaliation did not occur beyond the offense. The Pharisees used this as a means to extract vengeance on those that disagreed with them or those they disliked for whatever reason. Jesus however dramatically changes this by relating, “But I tell you, do not resist an evil person.” He could not be serious, could he? Jesus’ disciples had to be different than the rest of the world. Pay back or vengeance was not to be a part of their lives. God’s children are to be changed and practice his righteousness, compassion, and humility. So Jesus continues by telling his astonished listeners, “If someone strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.” What Jesus is asking his followers to do was humanly impossible for them to do without the presence of Jesus in their lives. Any Roman soldier could enlist anyone to carry his pack for a certain distance and now Jesus is telling them that they should actually carry it even further without being asked!? Yes and even farther! Jesus also wanted them to not lend money or anything else to one another but instead give freely from their heart! Personal payback should be replaced by compassion!

  EXAMPLE: There is a famous scene from the movie Princes Bride where Spanish pirate Inigo Montoya longs to find the mysterious six-fingered man who scarred his face and murdered his father. He has spent his entire life training to be a master swordsman, endlessly rehearsing the words he will speak to the murderer when he finds him. Montoya’s moment arrives when he encounters the sadistic Count Rugen, the six-fingered man. Over and over, he says the words: “Hello! My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die!” He kills his nemesis but realizes he can’t have his father back by doing so; Jesus teaches us that personal payback should be replaced by compassion!

I find it astonishing that it seems easier for some folks to go around the world than across the street to be neighborly. In the continuation of Jesus’ discussion concerning oaths he faces head on his society’s idea of who constituted their “neighbor” just who they should consider being friendly with or doing something for. Interestingly we do the very same thing. We discover Jesus teaching us that…

III. Our adversary should become our prayer concern! (Vv. 43-48)

“You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

  1. The Pharisees had taught contrary to what God commanded to hate their enemies so Jesus reminds his disciples, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’” They had either forgotten or deliberately neglected what God had actually told them: “Do not seek revenge or bear a grudge against one of your people, but love your neighbor as yourself. I am the LORD. (Leviticus 19:18 NIV)” Instead of getting angry, wanting retribution, or hating their enemies God desired something extraordinary: “But I tell you: Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven.” His disciples were to be like him! If they were to be the children of God they needed to act like his children but this was impossible without Jesus in their lives! It was totally inconceivable for the Pharisees to care about anyone else but their own but God was not like them. He loves everyone even when they do not love him! In fact “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.” So Jesus begins to ask them a series of questions to make them think about whom they really followed, their ungodly teachers or would they listen to him? “If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? And if you greet only your brothers, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?” The Pharisees could not even think they were to be kind to tax-collectors or their enemies! Yet Jesus relates that even the unbelieving pagans could be kind and compassionate to their enemies unlike the Pharisees! Jesus’ followers were to be different than the Pharisees! They were to be better and in fact they were to “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” Of course it was impossible until they gave their faith and trust to Jesus but when that happens, Jesus is tacitly teaching us that our adversary should become our prayer concern!

  EXAMPLE: When was the last time you prayed for your enemy? Not the coined phrase whereby we try to escape the requirement of compassion and pray, “Lord, you have your will with them” but rather where you earnestly and deliberately pray for those who seek to do you harm. When was the last time you went out of your way to help someone you dislike? Have you ever given someone money without ever expecting anything in return? We all want recognition for the help we give or the money we lend but Jesus says we should not. In fact Jesus related that our adversary should become our prayer concern!

Conclusion:

Our words should be our bond! Personal payback should be replaced by compassion! Our adversary should become our prayer concern!

This article is copyrighted © 2019 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Persevere! – Jude 1:17-25

Persevere! – Jude 1:17-25
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 20, 2018

Recently a lesbian couple went on vacation with their six adopted children; the couple got drunk and drove off a California coastal highway into the Pacific Ocean at 90 miles an hour killing all of them. They left Minnesota when they claimed one of their children was threatened by the Ku Klux Klan, and moved to Oregon, and finally Washington. Actually they fled Minnesota after bruises were discovered on a preschooler and the “mother” received a three-month suspended jail sentence and a year of probation. The Harts later moved to Oregon and began homeschooling their brood, but relocated to rural Woodland, Washington when Oregon began to suspect them of abuse. They fled their Woodland home after CPS workers tried to contact them about starving and neglecting their children.

The warning signs were all over the place concerning this couple but few responded fast enough to rescue innocent children. Sadly many of us face warnings every day we refuse to respond to. We have forgotten that every day following the ascension of Jesus we are living in the end times. Each day brings us closer to his return. We think that because it has been a long time that we do not need to persevere and remain strong in our faith. Nothing could be further from the truth. Let’s find out what Jude writes concerning how believers should persevere…

READ: Jude 1:17-25

Recently a centenarian, someone who lives to be 100 years old, was asked what he did to live so long. He quipped that he just faced “each day as it came and kept on keeping on!” As believers we learn that…

I. Jude warns us to persevere! (Vv. 17-19)

But, dear friends, remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ foretold. They said to you, “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.” These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.

1. Jude begins with reminding his readers that they are his “beloved” or “dear friends”. All believers share a common bond in Jesus Christ. Jude then continues by relating the basics by reminding them that in order to keep on keeping on in their faith they needed to “remember what the apostles of our Lord Jesus foretold.” The early church did not have the luxury of being able to read their Bible anytime they wanted. They were verbally taught and they had to remember what they were taught. Therefore the teachings of those who had actually walked with and who were taught by Jesus himself were extremely important to learn and know. Paul had warned Timothy, “For the time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn their ears away from the truth and turn aside to myths. But you, keep your head in all situations” (2 Timothy 4:3-5 NIV). In fact he had told Timothy to “Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction” (2 Timothy 4:2 NIV). Jude now reminds his readers that “They said to you, ‘In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires.’” We now live in those “times”! There is a concerted effort to not only weaken Christianity but to make it sound like another myth and “unscientific” and many young people have fallen for these ungodly heresies. Sadly there are even those who say they believe in Jesus but have reduced him to just a nice guy who taught good truths to live by. Jude direly warns that “These are the men who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” And that is the problem with the world today – it does not have the Spirit of God. Jude warns us to persevere!

EXAMPLE: Two little boys were fishing on the side of the road. They made a sign saying “The end is near! Turn around now before it’s too late!,” and showed it to each passing car. One driver that passed didn’t appreciate the sign and shouted, “Leave us alone you religious little nuts!” All of a sudden they heard a big splash. One turned to the other and asked, “Do you think we should just put up a sign that says: ‘Bridge Out’ instead?” Sometimes warnings aren’t heeded simply because folks do not know the truth. In a world where many ignore the truth we as believers need to remain faithful and Jude warns us to persevere!

Warnings can go unheeded because folks simply do not believe the warning. In a world that seems to want to feel faith instead of know the truth of their faith it can become frustrating. Thankfully we discover that…

II. Jude tells us how to persevere! (Vv. 20-23)

But you, dear friends, build yourselves up in your most holy faith and pray in the Holy Spirit. Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life. Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.

1. Again, Jude writes to his “dear friends” in order to encourage them to persevere. Knowing we should keep on keeping is one thing but it sure is helpful when we are told what we can do in order to persevere. Jude remarks that first of all we need to “build [ourselves] up in [our] most holy faith”. We can do this as we “pray in the Holy Spirit”. Now Jude is not endorsing speaking in tongues as some rather odd folks would have you believe but rather he is referencing the fact of our “most holy faith”. That faith comes when we trust Jesus as our Messiah and Lord. Salvation is found only in him alone. We pray in the Holy Spirit when we know Jesus. Secondly Jude writes “Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.” Notice our perseverance is not a one and done kind of thing but rather it is a lifelong walk. We “keep” ourselves in Jesus by walking closely with him through our prayer, study of Scripture, and fellowshipping with other believers in worship, study, prayer and friendship. Paul wrote “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. (Colossians 2:6-7 NIV)” Lastly, Jude goes an extra step in that he writes that believers should “Be merciful to those who doubt; snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” Christians are not to be in bed with or develop affection for those who disdain Jesus. We are to be “merciful” to those who are weak in their faith and if we have to we should drag them out of the fire of hell they are attracted to! However we are to hate even the very clothing of those who are “corrupted” by the world of unbelief! Jude writes that believers should literally “show mercy mixed with fear” in other words disdain anything that teaches us anything other than Jesus is the only means of mankind’s salvation. Praise God that Jude tells us how to persevere!

EXAMPLE: I have had folks tell me “keep the faith” but what in the world does that mean? I know Jesus never leaves me nor forsakes me and that I am safe and secure in him, but how do I “keep the faith”? Keeping the faith is more than trying our hardest to be nice people. As a believer in the Lord Jesus Christ I am to walk daily with him. I am to trust him with my life. Paul would write, “Do you not know that in a race all the runners run, but only one gets the prize? Run in such a way as to get the prize. Everyone who competes in the games goes into strict training. They do it to get a crown that will not last; but we do it to get a crown that will last forever. Therefore I do not run like a man running aimlessly; I do not fight like a man beating the air. No, I beat my body and make it my slave so that after I have preached to others, I myself will not be disqualified for the prize. (1 Corinthians 9:24-27 NIV)” I am grateful that Jude tells us how to persevere!

I have shared before about several men who had a huge impact on my spiritual life. Brother Mac was one such man. In his nineties he was still very active in serving the Lord. When he would say good-bye to his friends he would use these final verses of Jude. I was glad to call my friend and he often prayed Jude’s prayer to me. I have since learned that…

III. Jude prays for our perseverance! (Vv. 24-25)

To him who is able to keep you from falling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy–to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen.

1. Jude was certain of his faith and who had saved him and this is why he closes his letter to his “dear friends” in the Lord by writing them “To him who is able to keep you from falling”. Jude absolutely knew that if you had trusted Jesus you were his forever! No one and nothing could cause you to “fall” out of his grasp. But even more than that the promise of Jesus was more than a here and now kind of thing it was a forever promise! Jesus keeps us from falling but he also will “present [us] before his glorious presence without fault and with glorious joy” in heaven! Jesus is happy to do it! He willingly gave himself as a sacrifice for our sins and so he is overjoyed to present us to himself in heaven! WOW! Paul understood what Jude is expressing here. He would declare, “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:6-8 NIV)” The apostle John would write that “This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. (1 John 4:9-10 NIV)” Jude was totally blown away by this fact and it is why he continued: “to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore!” What a wonderful thing to know that Jude prays for our perseverance!

EXAMPLE: James teaches us that “The prayer of a righteous man is powerful and effective. (James 5:16 NIV)” Prayer is never the last thing we can do nor the only thing we can do but it is the most powerful and precious thing we can do. As a pastor I could not do my job without your continued and consistent prayers for me. Your prayers provide me with strength, encouragement, and protection to preach the word and be the pastor I need to be. Paul would pray for those he cared about: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge–that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:16-19 NIV)” This is why I believe that Jude prays for our perseverance!

Conclusion:

Jude warns us to persevere! Jude tells us how to persevere! Jude prays for our perseverance!

This article is copyrighted © 2018 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7

Pray for all people! — 1 Timothy 2:1-7
By Pastor Lee Hemen
October 15, 2017

As I’ve mentioned before, prayer is our conversation with the Creator of the universe. However I often wonder not only what should I pray for but whom should I pray for as well. Now there are few of us who would not think it beneficial to pray for politicians but this is what I mean; we are faced with the conundrum of what we should pray! Now Jesus never suggested who we should or should not pray for but rather his encouragement was that we simply pray as often as we should.

Paul faced a lot of harassment for his faith. There were his old Jewish cronies who wanted to see him simply to shut up about his faith and then there were the kings, potentates, and pundits of his day that wanted him silenced as well. Yet Paul could not be quiet because he realized that the gospel message of Jesus was for all people everywhere. Paul however did not have the luxury of deciding who he should or shouldn’t pray for because he knew he was commanded to pray for all people. Let’s discover what he writes Timothy…

READ: 1 Timothy 2:1-7

A few months ago, a Regent graduate asked people to send her prayers for President Donald Trump and they poured in from all over the world, enough to fill a book titled “Prayers for the President.” With that in common, about five dozen of these prayer warriors felt it’d be a good idea to gather in Washington and actually meet each other in person and pray for the President. They called the event “Tea at Trump’s” which took place in the new Trump International Hotel. Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

I. Pray for potentates and politicians! (Vv. 1-4)

I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone–for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness. This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.

1. Because Paul knew believers could be easily swayed from following the truth by those they had looked up to in life and that there were those like “Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom [he had] handed over to Satan to be taught not to blaspheme”, he realized the importance of prayer. So he writes Timothy, “I urge, then, first of all, that requests, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for everyone”! Some have seen a difference between each of what Paul listed here and have tried to say that this is a inventory of examples of prayer. “Requests” are supplications or pleas, “prayers” is literally the “breath” of the petitioner to God, “intercession” is the entreaty of the one praying, and “thanksgiving” is the gratitude expressed by the one praying to God. Therefore the believer is to plead, cry out, intercede, and thank God “for kings and all those in authority”! Say, what? Everyone means everyone including those who are our national leaders. The Christian, Paul writes, is to pray for those in charge “that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness”! So is Paul asking Timothy to remember to pray for those in charge so we might enjoy their non-interference in our lives or is he asking Timothy to pray for them that the nation we live in would enjoy peace and quiet? Both work for me. Who wants any politician, whether a king or an elected official prying into one’s affairs? However our attitude about praying for those over us reflects in our spiritual condition as well: “in all godliness and holiness”! But shouldn’t believers desire that those in charge do a good job of leading? Yes but more than that, Paul wanted all people to come to a knowledge of Jesus and he writes that “This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all men to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.” When we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

EXAMPLE: When asked to pray during a local veterans meeting for their Congressmen one old gentleman stood up, leaned on his cane, and prayed, “Lord, give us strength, compassion, and patience but especially with those in Congress. Let them stop being such nincompoops who go on TV spouting all kinds of nonsense and promises they will never keep until you just want to smack them across the head with a bag full of quarters – which by the way is change I can believe in!” I’m not sure this is what Paul had in mind when he wrote what he did to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for potentates and politicians!

When a lady who was a known prayer warrior was asked if it was hard for her to pray for people she did not necessarily like, she responded, “I just remember what the Apostle Paul wrote the Roman church: ‘Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.’” (Romans 12:12 NIV) Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to…

II. Pray for the wayward of the world! (Vv. 5-7)

For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men–the testimony given in its proper time. And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle–I am telling the truth, I am not lying–and a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles.

1. Now one might ask “Why should we pray for those who ruin our lives, enslave us through governmental regulation, and generally make our lives miserable?” — meaning of course politicians. Yet our prayers are to be made for “everyone” including and especially for those who rule over us! Whether you voted for an Obama or a Trump you should be in prayer for both! They need Jesus too! But we must never lose sight of what our message is, namely that “there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men”! Peter told the crowd in Jerusalem the undeniable truth that “Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12 NIV) Not Buddha, Mohammed, or Joseph Smith can save any man, only Jesus can save, because Jesus “gave himself as a ransom for all men”! The “testimony” of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection was “given in its proper time”. Paul would marvel that “You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous man, though for a good man someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:6-8 NIV) Even politicians! Paul would remind Timothy that “for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle”. Paul was not like those who wanted to lure or lie to new believers in order to confuse them about their faith but in fact he was “telling the truth” and he was “not lying” to them like others had done. Paul was “a teacher of the true faith to the Gentiles” and to all people! Paul teaches us that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

EXAMPLE: There are few folks who absolutely knew what they wanted to be when growing up. For those who did it has always kind of mystified me. It wasn’t until I was much older that I realized God was calling me into the ministry. If you would have asked me when I was younger I did not have a clue what I wanted to be and I tried several different things. The reason I mention this is that the world at large often does not realize its need for a Savior. While many may profess some kind of belief in God, few can relate to you what that means. This is why we are told to go into all the world teaching them to obey the commands of Jesus. It is also why Paul related to Timothy that when we pray we are to pray for the wayward of the world!

Conclusion:

Pray for potentates and politicians! Pray for the wayward of the world!

This article is copyrighted © 2017 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The Answer for Your Nation’s Future

The Answer for Your Nation’s Future
By Pastor Lee Hemen
November 11, 2016

I know that some of you have encouraged caution and understanding toward those who are mentally unraveled because of Trump’s win, but to be honest it is getting harder and harder to do as each day pass and when another liberal screed is shoved at us from the liberal elites.

I was reminded by a very thoughtful personal friend that the rioting of the Vietnam era actually solidified moderates, independents, and conservatives to vote for Nixon and later Reagan. The riots today are actually doing the very same thing. Already several folk I know who voted for Sanders or Hillary are now completely dismayed at what they are hearing and seeing. One commented that she was now glad Trump won and hoped only the best for him and the Nation. When I asked her why the change she remarked “Look at those who are now rioting or sending hateful messages; that’s not me nor does it represent who I am. I am appalled.”

While I understand someone’s depression when their candidate lost, I do not understand their vitriol, contempt, or hatred. You would not have seen the same actions from those of us who voted for Trump if he lost. You did not see it from us when Obama won twice. Yes we wrote about his inability to lead, but we never encouraged violence, hatred, or murdering him. Now I am not talking about the ultra-conservative lunatic fringe. And what we are seeing now from the left is too often tacitly condoned by the media and others.

Actress Lea DeLaria found herself in hot water after she wrote on Instagram that she wanted to “take out” Republicans and Independents with a baseball bat. Only she used vulgarities that I will not include in this post. Others have done the same thing and many going so far as to ask that someone shoot Trump with a sniper rifle.

Fashion designer Andrew Warren has had to come to the defense of his longtime friend Tiffany Trump following a barrage of hateful posts and death threats against her and her family. And he has had to suffer vulgar hate-filled messages from his friendship with her.

The CEO of Grubhub, an online food delivery service, sent a company-wide email strongly suggesting employees who agree with President-elect Donald Trump’s behaviors and his campaign rhetoric should resign. It was a worded threat to those who voted for Trump.

Perhaps one of the best responses was by Jennifer Lawrence and while I totally disagree with her political views I believe what she wrote should be embraced by those who are struggling. The actress responded to President-elect Donald Trump’s victory, in an essay posted Thursday morning that she wrote for Broadly, Vice’s women’s interest channel. She wrote that “I want to be positive; I want to support our democracy, but what can we take away from this? It’s a genuine question that we all need to ask ourselves,” writes the Oscar-winning actress. “We shouldn’t blame anyone, we shouldn’t riot in the streets. We should think strongly and clearly about what to do next because we cannot change the past.” And concluded her remarks by writing “Do not let this defeat you — let this enrage you! Let it motivate you!” Lawrence added. “Let this be the fire you didn’t have before. If you are an immigrant, if you are a person of color, if you are LGBTQ+, if you are a woman — don’t be afraid, be loud!”

What Ms Lawrence is encouraging is exactly what those who voted for Trump went door-to-door for him and what they did to get him elected. Many Americans, me included, are not totally overjoyed at Trump being President but we could not stand by and let the same old thing happen again and have a completely corrupt individual who disdains her own Nation’s security be President.

Just remember as there is zany and unrealistic rhetoric to succeed from the Union, violent riots, and vulgar Facebook posts and Tweets you can throw the bum out in four years! Do what you encouraged us in middle class America to do the past eight long and frustrating years: Pray for your Nation, your leaders, and yes the President, because whether you want to believe it or not we did.

As believers we are to show compassion and encouragement to those around us, and we are to pray for the lost and our Nation.
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This article is copyrighted © 2016 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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The Humble Life! — James 1:9-15

The Humble Life! — James 1:9-15
By Pastor Lee Hemen
May 4, 2014 AM

I was just wondering about how we have sold our souls to the societal notion of Christianity. We no longer have a clue what it means to be humble before the Lord. At Age 32, Elizabeth Gilbert faced a life crisis of personal conscience – she did not want to be married anymore to her devoted husband or to have his children. Locking herself in the bathroom of her upscale home she began to pray over and over, “I don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t want to live in this big house. I don’t want to have this baby.” A voice, her own, answers her and tells her to go back to bed. Thus, begins her own self-focused “spiritual” journey. She goes through a dreadful divorce, moves in with an uncaring lover, and begins a self-ingratiating spiritual quest. Her final theological epiphany ends the way it began, from hearing her own voice speaking to her she concludes her highest religious dogma and theology is “to honor the divinity that resides within me” and to worship at the feet of the God within. Gilbert wrote, “Eat, Pray, Love.” A hedonistic spiritual journey wrapped in cultural selfishness.

The old time country singer Mac Davis sang, “Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way!” This is where the likes of Gilbert self-worship leads. In our Christian culture today, sadly, we have sold our souls to the notion of desiring what our spirit wants for us in the moment. After all the heart wants what the heart wants! We have emotionalized our spirituality. Oprah Winfrey would say we need to know we are “creation’s son… creation’s daughter” and that we are “ultimately I am Spirit come from the greatest Spirit. I am Spirit!” Not much humility found there. However, James knew what it meant to find oneself, it meant to lose oneself in Jesus. We forget Jesus taught that we are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and everything in life follows after that. The book of James teaches us all about the humble life…

READ; James 1:9-15

We learned last time that if we lacked the wisdom we needed in life to live for God all we had to do was ask him! The problem comes when we do not ask or we ask inappropriately, seeking only to satisfy our selfishness instead of wanting to know the wisdom of God for our lives! We fall into the pit of thinking we need to experience God through feeling rather than reason. James knew that…

I. Godly humility understands the eternal view! (Vv. 9-12)
1. Pride can be found in the poor as well as the rich. The impoverished may be too proud to accept help when needed and the rich may ignore the plight of those in need! In fact, we may be so caught up in our own lives, whether rich or poor that we neglect what is truly important — eternity! Paul understood that what a person goes through today is not reflective of what God is doing or will do in their lives for eternity, he wrote, “For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all!” (2 Corinthians 4:17 NIV) James reminds us that “The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position.” He does not mean we should be prideful of being poor, but rather we should realize our position before the Lord! There are those who would insist that God desires you to be rich, but in reality God does not care if you are rich or poor only his. The poor should grasp their high position in Christ, perhaps because they are unencumbered by wealth, while the “rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower!” Here today and gone tomorrow! The wealthy have a low position because their wealth, just as poverty, is meaningless as far as eternity is concerned! When James reiterates, “For the sun rises with scorching heat and withers the plant; its blossom falls and its beauty is destroyed. In the same way, the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business.” He knew this was just as true for the poor person! For James the deeper truth, the undeniable truth of life was eternity and that eternity for the believer meant, “Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him!” When Peter whined that they had “left everything” in order to follow Jesus, he responded by telling Peter, “everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life!” (Matthew 19:29 NIV) This is what James was referring to, namely that Godly humility understands the eternal view!
EXAMPLE: We are no longer “Bound for the promised Land” of our forefathers. We do not have to “long to see it afar” because our land, that is fairer than day, is in the here and now. We live in a world where most of us have never experienced the hardship of trying to feed ourselves on a daily basis, going without heat, shelter, or clothing. It is foreign to us. James, however, was speaking to an audience that had to strive for daily sustenance and death from famine, disease, or war was around every corner. We have so insulated ourselves from the consequences of our lives that we give no thought to where we will purchase our groceries, the doctor we visit or simply the glass of water we drink from our tap. We have become a society that has become enamored with ourselves. Our faith practice as believers often reflects this common conceit. We are shocked when someone close to us dies or dozens of folks are slain in an instant. We light candles or place plastic flowers by the roadside. The words of Paul should startle us back to reality, “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2 NIV) Paul, like James, understood that Godly humility understands the eternal view of things, do you?

Paul was so geared toward the eternal he would write, “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (Philippians 1:20-21 NIV) I suspect many of us would not be as confident if we knew we would die tonight. Some of us still fear death because we know the life we are living now is not what God would desire. James continues his theme on humility. He knew that…

II. Godly humility understands the consequences of sin! (Vv. 13-15)
1. We often fail to place the proper perspective on our lives. We think we have an unlimited number of days to live; add to that the narcissistic notion that nothing bad should ever happen to us, and therefore when we do face hard times it can be total shock to us! We certainly cannot blame ourselves for the mess we face — it must be God’s fault! This faulty thinking is nothing new however because the Jews of James’ day thought that if you were going through persecution or tough times, it must be because of personal sin in your life. James confronts this head on by stating, “When tempted, no one should say, ‘God is tempting me.’ For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone!” James offered a sharp rebuke to those who find an easy excuse to blame God for their sinning. There is nothing in a good holy God to which evil can make an appeal. Jesus sympathized with the temptations we go through because he, in his willingness to walk this earth as a man, had “been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15) James knew the truth that “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed.” It is our choice, our desire, our ungodliness that drags us away and not God! Like sexual relations that often result in pregnancy, “after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.” The results are not joyous in this instance but horrendous! “The biological imagery is vivid. The lust or desire conceives and from this conception sin is born… The grotesque child, sin, then matures and produces its own offspring, death. The steps are all too clear: unchecked lust yields sin, and unconfessed sin brings death.” (The Bible Knowledge Commentary) Just as the correct response to our trials or the bad things we go through can result in our growth to full spiritual maturity, so a wrong response to our willful lust will result in spiritual decay to abject spiritual poverty and ultimately to death itself! Paul wrote, “What benefit did you reap at that time from the things you are now ashamed of? Those things result in death! But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 6:21-23 NIV) James knew Godly humility understands the consequences of sin!
EXAMPLE: A young couple moves into a new apartment, only to be surrounded by peculiar neighbors and occurrences. When the wife becomes mysteriously pregnant, paranoia over the safety of her unborn child begins controlling her life. Thus begins the 1968 American psychological horror film written and directed by Roman Polanski, based on the bestselling 1967 novel Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin. Now it is being made into an NBC miniseries. The plot, while being extremely farfetched, smacks of the truth of ill-conceived sin in the lives of Christians. We willingly sin, make excuses for our sin, and then when the consequences of our sin catches up to us we blame God! Many of today’s believers have so impregnated their lives with societal acceptance that they no longer can distinguish what is truly sinful. The Hebrews of James’ day had done this as well, they excused their excesses with the notion that God was blessing their lives and when the consequence snowballed into full-blown trials they blamed God! The ungodly spawn we produce are ungodly lifestyles that we think and claim are spiritual! We are dying spiritually from the Rose Mary’s Baby we have conceived! James would say, “Don’t be deceived, my dear brothers.” (v. 16) He knew Godly humility understands the consequences of sin!

Conclusion:

Humility understands the eternal view and humility understands the consequences of sin!

This article is copyrighted © 2014 by Lee Hemen and is the sole property of Lee Hemen, and may not be used unless you quote the entire article and have my permission.

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Just Wondering…

Just Wondering…
by Pastor Lee Hemen
May 2, 2014

The brother in humble circumstances ought to take pride in his high position. But the one who is rich should take pride in his low position, because he will pass away like a wild flower. (James 1:9-10 NIV)

I was just wondering about how we have sold our souls to the societal notion of Christianity. We no longer have a clue what it means to be humble before the Lord. At Age 32, Elizabeth Gilbert faced a life crisis of personal conscience – she did not want to be married anymore to her devoted husband or to have his children. Locking herself in the bathroom of her upscale home she began to pray over and over, “I don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t want to be married anymore. I don’t want to live in this big house. I don’t want to have this baby.” A voice, her own, answers her and tells her to go back to bed. Thus, begins her own self-focused “spiritual” journey. She goes through a dreadful divorce, moves in with an uncaring lover, and begins a self-ingratiating spiritual quest. Her final theological epiphany ends the way it began, from hearing her own voice speaking to her she concludes her highest religious dogma and theology is “to honor the divinity that resides within me” and to worship at the feet of the God within. Gilbert wrote, “Eat, Pray, Love.” A hedonistic spiritual journey wrapped in cultural selfishness.

The old time country singer Mac Davis sang, “Lord, it’s hard to be humble when you’re perfect in every way!” This is where the likes of Gilbert self-worship leads. In our Christian culture today, sadly, we have sold our souls to the notion of desiring what our spirit wants for us in the moment. After all the heart wants what the heart wants! We have emotionalized our spirituality. Oprah Winfrey would say we need to know we are “creation’s son… creation’s daughter” and that we are “ultimately I am Spirit come from the greatest Spirit. I am Spirit!” Not much humility found there. However, James knew what it meant to find oneself, it meant to lose oneself in Jesus. We forget Jesus taught that we are to “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness” (Matthew 6:33) and everything in life follows after that. Perhaps we have lost what it means to live in humble circumstances, not poverty, but spiritual humility. Makes one wonder…

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