John 13:3-8 – Highs and Lows

John 13:3-8
Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God;
He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.
After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded.
Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet?
Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.
Peter saith unto him, Thou shalt never wash my feet. Jesus answered him, If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me.

-Pride would say that we should not have to condescend to the lowest forms of service, yet Jesus (who is the Highest) shows that no one is above any kind of service.  There is another form of pride at work in this instance however; the pride that disguises itself as humility.  Peter thought that his feet were no place for his Lord and Master and while that may make sense to the natural mind, who are we to question God? (Romans 9:20)  It takes the power of God both to be abased and to abound because our tendency will be to act high when God wants us low and act low when God wants us high.  The key is not to do anything to make yourself out to be high or low but rather to simply follow the Shepherd through the peaks and the valleys.

1 Samuel 15:22 – To Obey is Better Than Sacrifice

Psalm 51:16
 For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

1 Samuel 15:22
 And Samuel said, Hath the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams.

-We naturally tend to overcompensate for our weaknesses and deficiencies in life.  This can be a good thing depending on the situation, but how often are we guilty of trying to overcompensate in our spiritual lives?  What I mean is how often do we make choices that we know God does not approve of, then try to justify ourselves by casting light on some other area of our life where we are doing well.  In essence we are attempting to offer something to the Lord in exchange for holding onto certain sins.  Overcompensation does not work in God’s economy because God never wanted our sacrifices to begin with; only our obedience.  Not only are we not fooling God when we trade one for the other, we are in fact widening the gap between us and the Lord.

Proverbs 9:8-9 – Rebuke and Instruction

Proverbs 9:8-9
 Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.
Give instruction to a wise man, and he will be yet wiser: teach a just man, and he will increase in learning.

-Look at the simple test laid out in Scripture regarding the difference between the wise and the foolish.  The wise will appreciate guidance and even rebuke and will love the person who thought enough of them to try and help.  In contrast, the foolish will hate reproof and will hate the one doing the reproving.  Don’t look at this as a test to determine what manner of person with whom you might be interacting when you give advice; rather, look at this as a test sent from the Lord that we can use to examine ourselves.  How do you react when someone offers advice or constructive criticism?  Do you consider that advice and see if there may be something worthwhile in it?  Are you thankful that someone took the time to be a help?  Or do you get self-righteous and indignant when that person shows up with their advice?  Now of course there are nuances to this when you start dealing with people who may be giving bad advice and the like, but again, don’t look to the Bible as a means to judge those around you, only to judge yourself.

Psalms 101:6 – The Eyes of The Lord

Psalms 101:6
Mine eyes shall be upon the faithful of the land, that they may dwell with me: he that walketh in a perfect way, he shall serve me.

-The Bible teaches that “the eyes of the LORD are in every place, beholding the evil and the good.” (Proverbs 15:3)  We learn here in Psalm 101 that even though the Lord sees everything, He is looking for those He can call faithful.  Every day He searches and no doubt finds those who forget Him, distrust Him, or downright blaspheme Him.  Whether the Lord can find a faithful person anywhere is a very important question, but a more important question is what does the Lord find when He looks in on your life?  “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” (Luke 18:8b)

Luke 18:16-17 – As a Little Child

Luke 18:16-17
 But Jesus called them unto him, and said, Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God.
17 Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.

-What does it mean to receive the kingdom of God as a little child?  Think about how a child accepts any new information they are given; they don’t try to rationalize the things they are told or reshape them to fit their own worldview as an adult would.  They either choose to accept something or refuse it.  This is the kind of trust the Lord wants to receive from us.  We don’t need to fit God’s existence into a neat little box in order to accept that He’s there.  We don’t need to feel like a sinner to believe that “all have sinned and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).  You don’t have to know all the books of the Bible or understand the nuances of doctrine; trusting in the Lord is simply of matter of believing that He’ll do what He says He’ll do.  It’s so easy a child can do it.

James 3:16 – There is Liberty

James 3:16
 For where envying and strife is, there is confusion and every evil work.

2 Corinthians 3:17
 Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.

-Notice the different spirits that can be at work around us and the results of those spirits.  In the presence of carnal emotions such as envy and strife, there can only be confusion and ungodliness.  God doesn’t have liberty to move in such an environment; not because He is limited, but rather because we have limited our ability to receive Him.  But if the Lord is able to show up and work, He brings liberty in abundance.  God’s Word can be made real and the Holy Ghost can bring conviction.  Confusion and evil works will only keep people in bondage, but “if the [Lord Jesus Christ] shall make you free, ye shall be free indeed.” (John 8:36)

1 Kings 20:28 – I Am The Lord

1 Kings 20:28
And there came a man of God, and spake unto the king of Israel, and said, Thus saith the Lord, Because the Syrians have said, The Lord is God of the hills, but he is not God of the valleys, therefore will I deliver all this great multitude into thine hand, and ye shall know that I am the Lord.

-The Lord had given His people a great victory over the Syrians.  From this, the Syrians concluded that God was simply a god of the hills; if they could get Israel into the valley, God would be powerless to help.  How often do we fall into this line of thinking in our own lives?  Victories can be easy to find on the mountaintops, but when we get into the valleys, we suddenly fear that God is powerless to help.  As the text reveals, God went on to give His people another great victory- this time in the valleys.  What’s the lesson?  God is not God of the hills, neither is He God of the valleys.  He is The Lord, and there is no place to which He cannot go and no place from which He cannot deliver.

Matthew 9:11-13 – Calling to Sinners

Matthew 9:11-13
 And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners?
12 But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. 
13 But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance.

-First, just so there is no confusion, let’s just say for the record that apart from Jesus Christ there is no such thing as a righteous person.  Jesus here is not speaking to the condition of the Pharisees’ souls, but rather the nature of their attitudes.  These men believed that their works and their lifestyles made them good and clean and it is that very belief that puts them beyond the help of Jesus; the same belief that prevents millions from accepting Jesus even now.  Human pride simply will not allow a person to admit that they are rotten sinners marching straight to Hell.  Think about it, would you go to the hospital unless you believed something was wrong with your body?  Would you call in a plumber unless you believed something was wrong in your bathroom?  Likewise you wouldn’t come to Jesus unless you believed that something was wrong with your life.  For the sake of those who have never heard it declared plainly before; if you haven’t repented of your sin and accepted Jesus Christ then THERE IS SOMETHING WRONG WITH YOUR LIFE.  But don’t let the truth leave you feeling hopeless; there is nothing wrong with you that Jesus can’t fix.  Pride would be a terrible reason to miss out on salvation.  Don’t let it rob you of your chance.

Romans 5:20 – Much More

Romans 5:20
 Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

-Much more; that is the overriding theme of God’s Grace.  Where sin exists, Grace is there much more; we have all fallen short of the Lord’s glory, but Grace makes up much more for it; although we deserve only condemnation, Grace gives us much more than we deserve; God has never owed anything to anyone, yet He still paid much more than He ever should have to give us Grace (1 Peter 1:18-19).  If you ever need to ask what the Lord is willing to do for you, the answer is always much more.

Philippians 2:5-8 – The Foundation

Philippians 2:5-8
 Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.

-In Isaiah 28:16, Jesus Christ is called a “Sure Foundation”; a foundation by definition is the lowest load-bearing part of a structure.  Think about this; in order for Jesus to be our foundation, He had to get lower than all of us. He became human, but that wasn’t low enough; He lived a life of humble service, but that wasn’t low enough; He ultimately endured the sin of man combined with the wrath of God when He died on the cross- it doesn’t get any lower than that.  That means no matter who you are or how low you are, you are still not so low that the Lord cannot lift you up.  “The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms.” (Deuteronomy 33:27)