One of the hardest things is not being so stuck on myself. From the moment we begin life, we are all about self. We look out for ourselves. We want to be fed. We want to be rested. We want to be comfortable. When we learn to talk, we share about ourselves. Self. Self. Self.
When we have conversations, we go from our youthful days of asking questions and trying to learn to enjoying conversations where we talk about our day, our thoughts, our life. We don’t ask questions so much. We don’t fully listen in conversations. Instead we dominate the conversation and only listen to respond.
The Bible tells us to take an interest in others and to want the best for them. This starts with getting to know the heart of a person. Spend time with the person. Listen to them. Build a relationship. Invest in the person. Get to know about the person and be a part of their life. Relationship building is intentional. As you read the Gospel, you will note that Jesus took interest in people. He invested in people. He didn’t look out for His own interests. He sought out the very best for others, all while walking in faithful obedience to the Father. Today, take an interest. Invest. Love others.
“Don’t look out only for your own interests, but take an interest in others, too.” – Philippians 2:4 [NLT]
There is something so awesome and indescribable, the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. People fall on their knees before Him. When soldiers encountered Him in the garden, and He said, “I AM He,” they fell to the ground. When the wise men heard of His birth, they traveled a great distance to fall before Him and worship. Yet, the Bible tells us to clothe ourselves with this presence of the Lord—to clothe ourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ.
Instead of indulging own evil desires, instead of allowing our sinful heart to control our path, we are to clothe ourselves with Him. How can you be clothed in the Presence? How can someone like you or I be clothed in Jesus? It is because He freely, willingly, purposefully died for us that we can do this. It is because He did not die, but He died and rose again, that we have this great hope. It is because of the Resurrection that we are clothed in His righteousness.
It is because of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit among all believers that we have the power to put on His righteousness. When our deceitful hearts try to lead us, the Spirit moves freely within us and we can instead, clothe ourselves with Him. We let go of control. We let go of selfish desires. We let go of our will and say, “Your will be done.” As we are Spirit led, we will not only be clothed in Christ Jesus on the inside—but we will be light bearers to the dark world as an overflowing unto the outside. We will take the presence of the Lord wherever we travel. Today, check to see if you are clothed in His Presence before you start your day.
“Instead, clothe yourself with the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ. And don’t let yourself think about ways to indulge your evil desires.” – Romans 13:14 [NLT]
As I was reading about Lot and his journey from sinful Sodom, I couldn’t help but note the interesting plea Lot made to his escorts who led him away from the area. God was destroying Sodom. Because of Abraham, Lot was saved. As he and his family were exiting, Lot’s wife looked back and lost her life. The group traveling onward included Lot and his two daughters.
As they continue onward, rather than go where he was being led, Lot begs to go to Zoar. He sees this small village. It’s nearby. It seems like an easier place to stop and find shelter. Instead of going onward, separating himself further from Sodom, he asks to remain in this “small village nearby.” But then what happens? Not so much further along in the text, we read that he “left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there.” He begged to be somewhere and yet had to leave in fear.
Imagine where he may have been led. Imagine if he would have not begged to stay in this small nearby village. We often think our plans are best. When we get an idea in our head, that’s what we want. God has something better. Perhaps we want the small village but He wants to bless us with a larger one. Perhaps we want a small thing, but He has something much bigger in mind. Today, look at the nearby villages you continue to beg for God to provide. Consider He might have something else for you. Consider the moments you drag your feet to stay near where you already are, and the possibility that God wants to move you further then you ever imagined.
“’See, there is a small village nearby. Please let me go there instead; don’t you see how small it is? Then my life will be saved’… Afterward Lot left Zoar because he was afraid of the people there, and he went to live in a cave in the mountains with his two daughters. – Genesis 19:20, 30 [NLT]
Humility is so important for each of us. We live in a society that tells us to reach for the top, to be the best, to win, to achieve and to look out for self. Pride can become a big problem. As we continue to focus on self, we start to believe we are “in control of our destiny” and we can “do anything.” We hear these phrases again and again.
I love the calling of Jeremiah. The Lord came to Jeremiah and said he would be a prophet. Jeremiah said that he was too young. He was only a young boy. He didn’t know anything. He recognized he couldn’t do much on his own. He understood that by his strength, it was impossible. But God said that He would be with him and He would tell him what to say to the people.
Today I pray that you will recognize you are in need of God, that you cannot do life alone. I pray that you can humbly reach out to Him and forget all the hogwash that points you to focusing on being the best you for yourself. How about being the best you for God’s Kingdom? Did you know God has holy plans for you too? He does. May you humbly seek Him and listen closely as He directs your path. He will be right there with you. He will show you the way. He has such an awesome plan for you.
“’Before I shaped you in the womb,
I knew all about you.
Before you saw the light of day,
I had holy plans for you:
A prophet to the nations—
that’s what I had in mind for you.’
But I said, ‘Hold it, Master God! Look at me.
I don’t know anything. I’m only a boy!’
God told me, ‘Don’t say, ‘I’m only a boy.’
I’ll tell you where to go and you’ll go there.
I’ll tell you what to say and you’ll say it.
Don’t be afraid of a soul.
I’ll be right there, looking after you.’
-Jeremiah 1:5-8 [MSG]
The other day I was asked to keep the fruit snacks out of the bag as I processed an order. I was sure to comply with the request but it was not good enough. The fruit snacks I kept back were for the one child; however, the other child also had a box of fruit snacks. Something very trivial to me became a very loud scene.
The children had to have their own boxes of fruit snacks. A big tantrum proceeded—where there was no respect, no discipline, nothing but blame passed to me for not keeping both boxes of fruit snacks out. Each box of fruit snacks contains ten pouches. One would assume children would share. I never heard of children both needing to have their own. But what was worse, was that the mother blamed me for an error when the error wasn’t bagged fruit snacks. The children caused such a scene with people shaking their heads at the selfishness, the disrespect, etc.
I don’t want to criticize bad parenting. I mess up often. But today I want to remind you all of something very important. We have an amazing Father—a PERFECT FATHER. He doesn’t give us everything. Some things we aren’t meant to have because it would spoil us. So why do we insist on giving our children everything? There is a reason for discipline. There is a reason for tough love. There is a reason for restrictions and guidelines. When something is spoiled, we say it’s “rotten.” Let us not raise up rotten children. Let us raise up God fearing, respectful, loving children.
“Whoever spares the rod hates their children, but the one who loves their children is careful to discipline them.” – Proverbs 13:24 [NIV]