Don't Overlook A Helping Hand
Boasting can backfire. Boasting opens the door for the natural response of others to remember (or remind them) of their failures. God will forgive and forget. Some people may forgive, but do not forget. Some people will not forgive or forget. Many, While being totally blind, or living in denial of their own issues (Matt. 7: 3 - 5), live for the day or opportunity to tear others down.
Public opinion can change very quickly. A crowds hailed Jesus on Psalm Sunday. Days later, a crowd was calling for His crucifixion.
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"Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before stumbling (Prov. 16: 18 NASB)."
Boasting about oneself is not of God (1John 2: 16).
"Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world. The world is passing away, and also its lusts; but the one who does the will of God lives forever. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh and the lust of the eyes and the boastful pride of life, is not from the Father, but is from the world (1John 2:16 NASB)."
Note that one can have a strong desire for things (when kept in their proper place of priority) that are good. It is when such things take us outside of the plan of God, that the strong desire becomes the type of lust spoken of in 1John 2: 16.
If one is going to boast, let him/her boast about what God has accomplished in and/or through him/her. For in the spiritual realm, NOTHING can be accomplished without Him (John 15: 5).
"Thus says the Lord, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the Lord who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the Lord (Jer. 9: 23, 24 NASB)."
No matter how well or how poorly we handle the opportunities and challenges of life, there will always be those who can it better, and there will always be those who can not do it as well. Comparing ourselves with others does not elevate our own accomplishments; nor does it justify our failures.
Comparing and conforming ourselves to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8: 29) is what accomplishes the goals that God has in mind. An advancing disciple WILL be given all that he/she needs to accomplish God's plans (Phil. 4: 19).
The mistake many Christians make is they come to God with THEIR plans, expecting God's help and support.
Acknowledging the part that God and others play in "our" accomplishments will provide us with the necessary humility needed to avoid the trap that pride can set for us, while enabling us to make the most of our opportunities.
God has a specific (1Cor. 12: 11) spiritual gift and accompanying (1Cor. 12: 7) ministry (area of service) in mind for every born again, Church Age believer. This does not mean that we are not to receive help from others in order to accomplish the work that God has given each one of us to do. In fact, it's the collective benefits that the Church receives from the different spiritual gifts of it's members that causes the local assemblies and ministries to function most efficiently.
The spiritual gift and ministry that we are given is NOT for our own benefit, but for the benefit of others (1Cor. 12: 7).
Moses made use of skilled craftsmen for the construction of the Tabernacle (Exodus 36: 2). Solomon, contracted the expertise of lumberjacks, stone cutters, and craftsmen to provide for the construction of the famous Old Testament Temple (2Chron. 2: 7, 8).
Moses took the advice of his father-in-law Jethro and established a court system delegating judicial authority to others, leaving only the more significant or difficult cases for him to address (Exodus 18: 13 - 23).
Peter saw the need to establish the office of deacons to assist in the management of logistical service and programs so that he (and future pastor-teachers) could focus their time on the studying and the teaching of the Word of God (Acts 6: 1 - 4).
Keep in mind that if it were not for God (who creates the soul - John 3: 6b) and our biological parents (who produced our bodies - John 3: 6a), we would have never come into existence, let alone do anything with the life we were given.
Our biological parents may or may not have had a baby in mind when what later became our humanity was conceived. God, other hand, had full knowledge of what His choice would encompass when He created our soul and placed it in the body of His choosing.
That body, with all it's pluses and minuses is the perfect body for the plan that He had in mind for the individual involved.
If it were not for the atoning work of the Lord Jesus Christ, the fallen human race (and every one of us) would have nothing after departing this world, but the lake of fire (Rev. 20: 15), being permanently separated from God for all of eternity.
Throughout the course of human history, God has and will continue to use angels Gen. 19/2kings 6: 17/ Rev.15/Rev. 16/Heb. 1: 14/Heb. 13: 2), people (John 3: 6), and circumstances (Romans 8: 28) to help us carry out His master plan and His individual plan for the members of the human race.
All of us needed the help of others (e.g. John 3: 6) to come into this world. All of us needed the help of others to feed and to provide us with logistical support until we were old enough to take of these functions and responsibilities for ourselves.
Most of us will need the help of medical attention, practical services, and logistical help from others along the way and/or at the end of our Earthly pilgrimage.
We all need the protection and services provided by our government, military, and public safety personnel.
God's logistical provisions (Phil.4: 19) often come to us through the human input of other people.
God calls us (Heb. 3: 15) and causes our spiritual growth (1Cor. 3: 7), but often uses people to sow, plant, and to cultivate His "garden."
In keeping with the Great Commission (Matt. 28: 19, 20), born again believers who become disciples sow the seeds of the Gospel Message (encapsulated in John 3: 16, 18/Romans 8: 1) for the salvation of OTHERS.
In keeping with the Great Commission, born again believers who become disciples via example and words, sow, plant, and cultivate Bible Doctrine, incorporating the application of Bible principles in their own lives, and in the lives of OTHERS.
If we deny ourselves, pick up the cross and follow Christ (Matt. 16: 24), there WILL be times when we are given the opportunity to share the Gospel Message with unbelievers and to share principles of Bible Doctrine with fellow believers.
We are commanded (not an option) to be prepared (1Pet.3: 15) to HELP others by giving answers/explanations to those who (should) see a difference in our outlook, priorities, and day to day decisions.
Note that the unspoken testimony of our daily lives often precedes such opportunities. Our difference(s) do not go unnoticed.
The Great Commission is the primary job/work that Jesus commissioned His Church (and every individual member of it) to do.
Like a runner in a torch relay race, one can not pass along to others what he/she has not first received him/herself. Sad to say, but in many cases, the Great Commission has become the Great Omission. In this the devil is well-pleased.
The devil will tolerate, and in some cases approve, of the humanitarian, environmental, social, and political campaigns sponsored by the Christian Community, to the extent that it makes his (Luke 4: 6) world a better place to live.
It's when the proclaiming the Gospel Message and promoting Biblical principles are incorporated into such activities that the devil draws the line.
Self-reliant, worldly-sucessful, strong-willed, prideful, individuals often have the greatest problem acknowledging their need and/or receiving spiritual help (Rev. 3: 17 NASB).
Many such person's live in denial or ignorance of their need. Not seeing a problem, such persons will see no need for a solution.
"Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are (spiritually) wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, (Rev. 3: 17 NASB parentheses mine)."
Others fear what they will lose out on something if they deny themselves and truly follow Christ. It is much easier and "prosperous" to check in for an hour or so once a week (sometimes), and then get on with the remaining 167 hours, living for oneself. Discipleship is a 24 - 7 lifestyle.
Note that this Rev. 3: 17 divine message was not sent to the "dens of iniquity," but to the ancient local assemblies (church) in Sardis. It still has a relevant message for many in the local assemblies (church) of our day.
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In His DEITY, the Lord Jesus Christ had no needs.
But when functioning in His humanity, He had the same needs and limitations (Matt.4: 2/John 19: 28/John 4: 6) (Heb.4: 15) as you and I would have in similar circumstances.
He suffered the same physical pain of beating, scourging, exhaustion, thorn piercing, and crucifixion, as would you and I would under the same circumstances.
There only difference was that He chose not to allow His feelings or circumstances to cause Him to sin (Heb. 4: 15).
In addition to the physical pain, He also experienced and suffered the spiritual pain and separation associated with spiritual death when the sin debt of the entire world (1John 2: 2) was placed on His atoning humanity in our place!
Most of what He accomplished, He did within the Self-imposed (Phil. 2: 6 - 8) limitations associated with His humanity. Acknowledging this fact will generate a greater sense of all that He went through to provide for us with the means of salvation.
On the way to what His enemies saw as His execution, He received and accepted the human help of Simon, who carried His cross (Luke 23: 26).
In the preceding twelve hours or so, He had suffered great distress in the Garden the night before (Luke 22: 44); been betrayed by one (Luke 22: 48) and deserted by all (Mark 14:50); went through an illegal (middle of the night) hearing headed by Caiaphas that falsely convicted Him of blasphemy. At daybreak, He was handed over to Roman authorities, as they (the Jews) did not have the authority to put Him to death for His alleged blasphemy.
The conviction of blasphemy was replaced with accusations of being an enemy of the state (Rome) after Pilate declared Him not being guilty of anything worthy of death under Roman Law (Luke 23: 14).
He was paraded back and forth between political rivals (Luke 23: 6 -12); been beaten (Matt. 26: 67); pierced by a crown of thorns (John 19: 2); scourged (Matt. 27:26); and handed over to soldiers to crucify Him as an enemy of the state (Matt. 27: 26).
While enroute to the execution site, Simon helped Him when he was forced to help Him carry His cross, but He still had six hours (9am - 3pm) of agonizing physical and spiritual suffering to go, after being nailed to the cross. This He had to do on His own.
Like Jesus, there will be times when God will send help to us through angelic and human beings, but there are other times when we will have to do it without the help or support of other people (2Tim. 4: 16).
I'll close with an old joke that hits the nail right on the head.
There was a Christian living in an area in which heavy rains were weakening the integrity of a up-river dam. It got to point that secular authorities were evacuating the down-river residents. When a National Guard truck pulled up to the Christian's home, he refused the transportation, stating that God would take of him. When the rain waters reached the first floors, a rescue boat pulled up to the Christian's home, he again, declined the service, stating that God would take care of him. Hours later, the waters reached the second floor, forcing the Christian out onto the roof. A rescue helicopter spotted him, but in his determination to demonstrate his faith, the Christian was waving off the rescue attempt when the dam broke. Almost immediately, the waters washed away the house and the Christian drowned.
Upon arriving in Heaven, the Christian thanked the Lord for his salvation, but had to ask the Lord about his earthly departure.
"I don't understand it. I was taking a public stand, telling everyone that You would take care of me, but yet I drowned," the Christian told God.
God replied, "Who do you think sent you the truck, the boat, and the helicopter?"