Pastor Mark’s Devotions, April 4

“Stay Humble”

“All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another.” 1 Peter 5:6

When Dr. Fauci was asked how long this Covid19 crisis will last and how far this virus will spread, he responded, “We must stay humble!” He continued to express our need to stay open, flexible and teachable because there are so many moving parts to this pandemic. Watching our fair share of alpha males wrestling on the mat of our government these past few weeks, it’s a wonder where humility can find its place.

Peter encourages the young and the old in 1 Peter 5:5, “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ‘God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.’” Humility has a hard time finding its way among us because it is seen as weakness. In our society of winners and champions, often at whatever cost, humility is something to be crushed and destroyed. Yet the Bible tells us that the ultimate victor is the humble of heart – he/she is the one who will rise and be honored.

Does anyone even know how to define humility in a healthy way? Someone might toss out a picture of one who is needy and has low self-esteem. Yes, it can be defined as someone who thinks of themselves as insignificant, but it’s not that simple. Healthy humility holds a tension between; not thinking to highly of oneself, while also not thinking too lowly of oneself. Humility can be described as one who honestly understands that they are in need, yet not needy. Humility requires the ability to take an honest, inward assessment. A person of deep character has humility but it requires raw honesty. Many humble people have found their way the hard way. Hitting rock bottom through some kind of addiction or crisis they are forced to do that kind of honest investigation. Most of us don’t want to look too closely because we are afraid of what we might find – it’s human nature.

Peter encourages us to take an honest inventory without the crisis. He tells us that we will receive grace from God when we recognize our honest need for him. Maybe the picture that needs to pop up in our mind is that of the Prodigal Son. The humbled son, who recognizes his need and acknowledges being unworthy, returns to his Father. The Father receives him with grace. Not only that, but the Father lifts him up as his son and restores him to honor. Peter affirms this picture as he writes, “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time.” (1 Peter 5:6)

Yes, the Prodigal Son is a picture of humility but then again, it is just a parable. St. Paul, in his letter to the Philippians, gives us a picture of a person who is the real deal. Humility is found in chapter 2, in its ultimate form. Paul writes,

               “Jesus, who being in very nature God; did not count equality with God something to be grasped (selfishly held on to) but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man (human), he humbled himself and became obedient to death, even death on a cross. Therefore, God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name above every name.”  

Jesus humbled himself. Jesus became fully human. Jesus became fully in need of God; but not needy. Jesus became in need of God for our sake. He let go of eternity and took on flesh. This is why he understands human battles and struggles. Jesus, himself, at times, needed encouragement, help, strength, guidance -and that can be seen as he returns from the temptations in the wilderness and as he climbs the mount of Transfiguration. His Father meets him in his time of need, sends ministering angels, and strengthens him. In due time, Jesus is lifted up and exalted after the humility of the cross.

Healthy humility is waiting for us. It passes through recognizing our need for God and hits the bullseye  in the person of Jesus Christ.  We don’t have to be needy. Let us not be arrogant. But let us truly acknowledge the sacrifice made on our behalf. This picture of Jesus Christ, in our mind’s eye, will keep us humble. And in due time, He will lift us up!


Pastor Mark

Pastor Mark’s Daily Devotion 3/24/2020

“Little by Little”

“The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you little by little.” Deuteronomy 7:22

Israel spent 40 years wandering in the wilderness. Moses passed the baton of leadership to Joshua. The next generation of Israelites followed Joshua into battle. They first destroyed the city of Jericho. More accurately, we need to acknowledge that Yahweh was the One who brought down the fortified walls of Jericho. Yes, Israel was on the move. It was time for them to take the land. God promised to drive and deliver Israel’s enemies into their hands. And the Israelites were to defeat and destroy them. God said, “Make no treaty with them, and show them no mercy.” These words sound uncharacteristic from the Heavenly Father we know whose nature is love. But not fully understanding the culture, climate and times – God’s words require a step of faith as He explains, “For they will turn your hearts away from following me to serve other gods.” We must trust that God, our Father recognized the existential threat these nations posed toward his people and his plan for salvation. In some similar way, perhaps how the Nazi war machine of World War II posed a physical threat to the lives of the Jews.  Yahweh continues, “Do not look on them with pity and do not serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” He goes on, “You may say to yourselves, ‘These nations are stronger than we are. How can we drive them out? But do not be afraid of them: REMEMBER WELL what the LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt.” The Hebrew word, “zakar”, to remember, also means “to recollect” or “to reflect deeply upon something or someone”, in this case, namely Yahweh Almighty. God is telling his people to “take seriously to heart” the mighty power of God over those pagan nations.

Finally, God says, “The LORD your God will drive out those nations before you little by little. You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once.” Why does God say, “Little by little”? He explains, why, in the next verse, but don’t you hate, “little by little”. It would have been so much easier if God would have just cleaned the land of Canaan all at once. The Israelites could have washed their hands of the whole mess and could have moved on with drinking the milk and eating the honey that was promised. But in the end, the children of God were going to have to continue to wash their hands – over and over and over again, trusting in God to deliver.

So often, in our own lives, we wish troubles, fights and challenges could just be washed away all at once. But more times than not, they are overcome, little by little. The truth is, we are called to trust God in the little things and to wash our hands, over and over again until the job is done. Just as we are called to do today in getting rid of that nasty Covid19 virus! So wash! So too, think of the Allies in World War II. They had to advance little by little as they re-captured village after village in France and “Island Hopped” across the Pacifc.

God says to Israel, “You will not be allowed to eliminate all the nations at once, or the wild animals will multiply around you.” God is going to move Israel through Canaan in a step by step process in order to protect them. What kind of protection? He mentioned the multiplication of wild animals but perhaps that also meant protection against sickness and disease. However far reaching, God was going to protect his people through the process.

Today, our wish is that this coronavirus could be wiped and washed away all at once. But more than likely it will be a step by step process. Little by little, day after determined day, researchers, scientists and practitioners will discover how to destroy this invisible enemy, this pagan disease. Perhaps not on our preferred time schedule. But trust that this WILL take place! Why do I say this? Because God continues to be sovereign over all things and his plan of salvation is still being brought to completion. REMEMBER WELL, the Rock of our salvation. He is our Champion. He is our Victor! And He shall surely do this!            

In Christ, Pastor Mark