Self-Importance

Nehemiah 6:15-16
So the wall was completed on the twenty-fifth of Elul, in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard about this, all the surrounding nations were afraid and lost their self-confidence, because they realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.
Self-importance is a victory-stealer. I think we spend too much time thinking about ourselves and not enough time thinking about how God feels about things. The wrong kind of introspection is a weary walk down the road to misery. Don’t throw away your victory by trusting in yourself instead of trusting God.

Reading Nehemiah’s story can build courage in us for our tasks. He was focused on the job. If Nehemiah had spent a lot of time thinking about things he’d rather be doing, the wall wouldn’t have been completed. He didn’t worry about whether he was comfortable or if the task seemed too difficult. He just persevered.

What would happen if we kept an eye on ourselves this year in order to remove habits of self-pity, self-centeredness, self-doubt, self-righteousness, and self-aggravating selfishness? If I were to stop discouraging myself, stop being my own joy-robber or hope-thief, stop making myself miserable with pressure to avoid sin on my own (without God’s help), stop disquieting myself with guilt if I found sin in my life, and stop undermining my own successes by telling myself it’s just too hard, then I would find victory.

I can rely on God to help me remove sin when I recognize the opportunity. My job is to have a sin-free mindset and ask God to help me keep the sin out of my life. He doesn’t mind helping us if we’re not lazy.

I like the story of Nehemiah’s stubbornness in getting the wall rebuilt. He had many opportunities to give up, but he kept at it. His enemies tried to discourage him, intimidate him, and trick him into quitting. Nehemiah knew God was with him, so he didn’t give up.

Do you have any God-given goals you are tempted to give up on?

If you’ll read the first six chapters of the book of Nehemiah and learn from Nehemiah’s example, you can trust God to deal with your enemies. Fight against self-importance. Fight for your right to obey God. Fight for your victory. Keep working until you’ve completed the task.

Who is Worthy?

Psalm 24:7-8
Lift up your heads, O you gates; be lifted up, you ancient doors, that the King of glory may come in. Who is this King of glory? The Lord strong and mighty, the Lord mighty in battle.
I’ve been thinking about how to honor the Lord this year. There are things you can do to honor Him, and there are things you can refrain from doing to honor Him.

Honoring the Lord is not something you have to work at. It isn’t so difficult that you frequently break a sweat over it. It is something that comes naturally to those who love Him with all their heart.

When you love someone, you want to speak their name in a loving way. You want to tell people the things you like about the one you want to honor. It’s easy to think of ways to honor someone you cherish in your heart.

But when you think of God as a Mighty Judge who waits to catch us in some minor sin, you don’t give Him credit for being the God who is Love. It’s hard to honor someone you’re scared of.

In order to honor God this year, we can think about how we treat Him in our one-on-one relationship. Can He see us as the child who loves Him? Is that how we treat Him?

Are we treating Him as if He is worthy to be honored?

No doubt, he is the Lord strong and mighty. And I honor Him because this strong and mighty King of glory has my back. He is love, and He’s watching out for me.

Deceiving Yourself

Numbers 25: 17-18

“Treat the Midianites as enemies and kill them, because they treated you as enemies when they deceived you…”

I think many people will agree that sin is an enemy. If you catch yourself committing a sin, you should put that sin to death. Don't think that if you ignore the sin, it will also ignore you.

When you deceive yourself by rationalizing your situation until the new spin on your own sin is more pleasing to your conscience, wake up and stop it.

Stopping a habitual thief or a murderer makes sense. We don’t want murder and stealing to become commonplace. But catching ourselves before we sin seems to be difficult. We don’t want to think of ourselves as sinners. We want to rationalize until we find a decent excuse for our sin.

We want to hide from the thought that we could commit sin. We’re good people. Right?

If we’re such good people, we should be on the lookout for that ugly sin that wants to make itself right at home in us. We can protect ourselves by confronting our sin.

A good way to confront sin in our own lives is to find an example of sin in the Bible and look for our version of that sin hiding in our attitudes and actions. How can we confront sin in anyone else’s life when we have that much or more in our own lives?

We can put to death the sinful attitudes in our own lives when we catch ourselves thinking about slipping into the comfortable sin we’re so used to. If you and I are going to honor the Lord this year, we have to get rid of our sin. We have to adjust our comfort level so we don’t become complacent and apathetic toward our own sin.

Be on the alert. Keep an eye on yourself this year as you try to protect yourself from self-deceit.

Honor the Lord

Numbers 25:13
“He and his descendants will have a covenant of a lasting priesthood, because he was zealous for the honor of his God and made atonement for the Israelites.”
The verse was speaking of Phinehas son of Eleazar, the son of Aaron, the priest. When sin was again rampant in the camp, Moses heard from God about how to stop the sin epidemic. Moses told Israel’s judges what to do, but they didn’t stop all of the men from dishonoring God. Phinehas went to a man’s tent and stopped the man from ever sinning again. It was a drastic remedy for a problem that got out of hand. But finally, after some of the men of Israel died, the epidemic of sin stopped and the people turned back to their God.

Who will live a life that honors the Lord this year? And for how long? Will we give up and go back to our sinful ways after one failure or two?

Will we call ourselves the people of God and turn away from Him to worship fleshly pleasures? Will we put our hope and trust in ourselves instead of in Almighty God?

Can a people who only worship God in times of disaster come together to worship God in a time of peace?

I put out a challenge to myself and my own family as well as to anyone who reads this and accepts the challenge. I challenge us to make whatever change is necessary to bring honor to God this year.

Have we allowed God to be dishonored in our homes? Have we made Him less important than temporary pleasures?

I would hope that we take into consideration that God is always among us and will hear our every thought. He rewards those who acknowledge Him. Those who have faith in Him will speak accordingly.

My goal this year is to put to death the godless thoughts of self-pity and give life to thoughts of encouraging others. I plan to do away with self-focused speech and promote the honor of God.

My guess is that when I stubbornly hang onto these goals, I will accomplish more than I’d ever imagined.