Don't think too high of yourself

Little children rely on their parents for all their needs: love, food, clothing, shelter, a home, security and so much more. They are not yet very capable in doing things, and rely on their parents for help; good parents teach and train them to obey and respect authority, how to do things, and how to live. And so we all must learn to rely on our heavenly Father for all our needs. I do not think too highly of my independent abilities to accomplish much. I believe that most things I do are supported by the spirit world, the real reality. Either a loving and caring almighty Daddy God is my helper or, when I ignore my God and Father, that help will come from Satan and his demons who will gladly make me believe that I am capable and do not need help, and that ultimately will make me prideful and ruin my life.

This Earth and the entire Universe exist for the pleasure of Him who created them. And so are we created for His pleasure to be His children; Genesis says that we were created in His image; we are made with the very same spiritual genes of Himself. And

Father God wants to share it all with us; He is our Daddy, we are His children, so that we may learn from Him how we should live and be happy, free, at peace, full of joy and satisfied. Jesus Himself tells us this in John 15:13-16:

“Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends. You are My friends if you do whatever I command you. No longer do I call you servants, because a servant does not know what his master is doing, but I have called you friends, because all things that I heard from My Father I have told you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you should go and bear fruit, and so that your fruit should remain, that whatever you ask the Father in My name He may give you.”

Also Paul expresses it so well that we are Father God’s kids, Romans 8:14-17 says:

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are the grow-up sons of God, because you did not receive the spirit of bondage to fear again, but you received the Spirit of adoption as sons by whom we cry out: "Abba, Daddy." God’s Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then we are heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, so that we may also be glorified together with Him.”

Jesus calls his disciples little children here in John 13:33-35 when He says to His disciples:

“Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer yet, but afterwards you will seek Me and, as I said to the Jews: 'Where I am going, you cannot come', so now I tell you the same. A new instruction I give you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, you also love one another. If you have love for one another, everyone will know that you are My disciples."

QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS:

  • Do you realize how rich you are if you are God’s adopted child?
  • Do you notice that God wants us to know how rich we become when we choose to live as His children under His care?
  • Jesus knows that we are just little children, but do we know it?

Jesus so much wants us to realize that we are just little children and start acting accordingly, instead of thinking that we are so capable. We need to become humble again as we once were as a little child. Listen to how He says it in Matthew 18:1-5:

“The disciples came to Jesus and ask Him: "Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set it in the midst of them and said: “For sure, I tell you, unless you change and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven, and whoever receives a little child like this one in My name receives Me.”

Little children rely on their parents for all their needs: love, food, clothing, shelter, a home, security and so much more. They are not yet very capable in doing things, and rely on their parents for help; good parents teach and train them to obey and respect authority, how to do things, and how to live. And so we all must learn to rely on our heavenly Father for all our needs. I do not think too highly of my independent abilities to accomplish much. I believe that most things I do are supported by the spirit world, the real reality. Either a loving and caring almighty Daddy God is my helper or, when I ignore my God and Father, that help will come from Satan and his demons who will gladly hide from me so that I will think that I am capable and can do all kinds of things on my own, and that ultimately will make me prideful and ruin my life. Our Father loves to be intimately involved with each one of us, just to enjoy us and have fellowship, and there is no better way than when we come close to Him in trust and confidence. As I think of this, I realize that this is exactly what Proverbs 3:5 talks about. I like to say it here in my own words to better express its meaning:

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not rely on your own intelligence and clever thinking, your own abilities to do things, or think that you understand everything; about all you think to understand or want to do, talk with your Father God and ask for His help, and He will make you succeed in all you do.”

Isaiah 40:31 says it also but in different words:

“He gives power to the weak, and to those who have no might He increases strength. Even the youths shall faint and be weary, and the young men shall utterly fall. But those who wait on the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings like eagles; they shall walk and not grow tired, they shall run and not faint.”

I REPEAT HERE ONE QUESTION:

  • Jesus knows that we are just little children, but do we know it?

Especially the Old Testament is so full of examples of how people so easily think that they are capable and can do things all by themselves, just like my son so often thought while he was yet only two years old or so, when he would say: “I want to do it myself!” I like to go here into a little detail about some men of God.

First I talk about Joseph. God called him to become a king and he started acting like one so that his brothers began hating him. He first had to learn to ask God what God’s plan then was for his life and follow God. But that requires humility that he did not have. He ended up having to spend first 13 years in prison before God was able to begin using him for His plans, not Joseph’s own plans. As a king he then was a humble leader who served his God and people. You can go to lessons 26 through 29 to study more about Joseph.

Another typical example is Moses. God had big plans for his life and prepared him for that purpose since the moment he was born. He became educated by the best teachers Egypt had available so that he might become a quality political leader in Egypt. God also kept him bonded to his own mother as she loved, breastfed, and nurtured him as a baby and little boy. So he would always be drawn back to her and could hear who he really was, and what God’s plan was for Israel; that God was going to bring Israel out someday soon. Then Moses tried to lead Israel in his own way, but it made him a murderer, and God could not use him. God had to send him away in the desert for forty years so that he might become humble, and learn to be a gentle and patient shepherd leader besides having all the leadership skills he had been taught in Egypt. And when God then finally called him he amazingly clearly knew that he had no abilities of his own at all. It was then that God finally could begin to use him, and teach him to let himself be led and directed by God at all times. Go to lessons 30 through 36 to study more about Moses.

Then I think of Joshua who was told by Moses to go and fight the Amalekites who were attacking Israel while they traveled in the wilderness. Moses must have learned God’s lessons for his life very well and have lost any high expectations of his own abilities. He told Joshua to find a few good men to fight the Amalekites. Would we have done that?  Why not ask him to put a large contingent of fighters together? And you know what Moses then did? He went to the top of a rock and prayed there all day long with hands raised to heaven. As long as he could keep them raised Joshua was winning, but when his arms got tired and dropped, Amalek took the lead. Then Moses assistants Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms until the battle was won. Do you see here how both Moses and God taught Joshua and the people that it is not by our might, but by God’s Spirit that victories are won? I do not think that God ever lets His people forget that, and we must learn this lesson also very well. Here is how the prophet Zechariah prophesied it to the temple builder Zerubbabel in Zechariah 4:6:

“Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit', says the Lord of hosts.” That would be the only way Zerubbabel could rebuild the temple with so many enemies around him.

And think of the young man David who Samuel had to anoint to become king over Israel? His father had not even called him home to present him to the prophet. His father Jesse thought that God must use strong and capable men like David’s older brothers, but God can use the weak just as easily, even better if they are humble and know their weaknesses and strengths in God. Could David’s older brothers defeat Goliath? NO. Could David defeat Goliath by himself? NO. But he defeated him because he knew that the Lord could and would do it through him.

Jeremiah is my fifth example. God told him to be a prophet for God to the Nations, as He spoke to him in Jeremiah 1:5:

"Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you to be a prophet to the nations."

Notice now Jeremiah’s answer to God in verse 6:

“Then said I: 'Ah, Lord God! See, I cannot speak because I am so young.'"  

God can use Jeremiah because he has humility and knows that he needs help; but even Jeremiah may not yet have fully understood then how great his inabilities were as he refers here only to his age.

“But the Lord said to me: "Do not say: 'I am a youth', because you shall go to all to whom I send you, and whatever I command you, you shall speak. Do not be afraid of their faces, because I am with you to deliver you." Then the Lord stretched out His hand, touched my mouth, and said to me: "See, I have put My words in your mouth.”

Do you know that Jeremiah spent also a lot of time in jail and even a long time in a deep but dry old water-well? It is not easy to serve God; there will be lots of rejections and persecutions by people, often lots of sufferings for those who truly serve God, but there will also be an increasingly powerful awareness of God’s closeness to you and His special care for you because you choose to serve Him with all your heart.

I now give you a New Testament example of this principle in the Apostle Paul, and this one has even a more spiritual twist to it. In 2Corinthians 12 he has been explaining to the Corinthian Christians that they should not take Paul’s words too lightly as he has a true calling directly from God and has even been very close to God in the third heaven fourteen years earlier. And then he realizes that these people may see this as bragging by Paul. He actually then expresses here his concern that he might become spiritually arrogant when he writes in 2Corinthians 12:7-10:

“To prevent that I might become arrogant above measure because of the abundance of the revelations given me, a thorn in the flesh was given to me, a messenger of Satan to attack me. And I have pleaded with the Lord three times that it might depart from me. But God said to me: "My grace is sufficient for you Paul, (and here comes what I want you to hear well) because My strength is made perfect in your weakness." Therefore, I Paul, most gladly prefer to boast about my infirmities so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ's sake, because when I am weak, then I am strong.”

QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS:

  • Why was Jesus born of the poorest of parents, and in a cave; why was he not born in the palace of King Herod? Afterall He was a king Himself, wasn’t He?
  • Have you ever said it, or heard a child say: “I want to do it myself”, and you smiled?
  • Do the above examples not make it clear how easily we think the same way, and that we also so often feel that we can do things without God?
  • Do you notice in the above examples that God tries to show us that we must trust Him to become successful through His help?
  • As we walk through life, does Father God want us to learn to do all things by asking Him to hold our hand, and will doing so keep us from becoming prideful or arrogant?
  • Are you willing to ask God forgiveness for having tried so often to do so much on your own?

I end this lesson with a final and powerful example of how God wants to prevent pride in us for thinking that we did something big, while in fact we only succeeded because of Him. We find it in the story of Gideon from Judges 6:11-8:35:

“Now the Angel of the Lord came and sat under the terebinth tree which was in Ophrah, which belonged to Joash the Abiezrite, while his son Gideon threshed wheat in the winepress, in order to hide it from the Midianites, and said to him: "The Lord is with you, you mighty valuable man!" Gideon said to Him: "O my lord, if the Lord is with us, why then has all this happened to us, and where are all God’s miracles our fathers told us about, saying: 'Did not the Lord bring us up from Egypt?' But now the Lord has forsaken us and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites." Then the Lord said to him: "Go in your might, and you shall save Israel from the hand of the Midianites. Do I not send you?" Then Gideon said to Him: "O my Lord, how can I save Israel? My clan is the weakest in Manasseh, and I am even the least in my father's house." And the Lord said to him: "Surely I will be with you, and you shall defeat the Midianites as one man." Then Gideon said to the Lord: "If now I have found favor in Your sight, then show me a sign that it is You who talk with me. Please, do not go away from here until I return to You and bring out my offering and set it before You." And He said: "I will wait until you come back." Gideon went in and prepared a young goat, and unleavened bread from an ephah of flour. The meat he put in a basket, and he put the broth in a pot; and he brought them out to Him under the terebinth tree and presented them. The Angel of God said to him: "Take the meat and the unleavened bread and lay them on this rock, and pour the broth over it." And he did so. Then the Angel of the Lord put out the end of the staff that was in His hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened bread and fire rose out of the rock and consumed the meat and the unleavened bread, and the Angel of the Lord disappeared from his sight. Then Gideon perceived that He was the Angel of the Lord and he said: "Alas, O Lord God! Woe on me, because I have seen the Angel of the Lord face to face." Then the Lord said to Him: "Peace be with you; do not fear, you shall not die." And Gideon built an altar there to the Lord and called it The-Lord-Is-Peace.”

QUESTIONS TO DISCUSS:

  • Do you notice that God again chooses a man from a small tribe and a younger one as well.
  • Can we be independent of our God and be successful? Or are our purposes successfully fulfilled as we serve Him?
  • Did Gideon choose his own work for God, or did God choose Gideon for His purposes and plans?
  • “Go in your might”, God told Gideon; does our Lord then mean that Gideon can do the task on his own? Or is God talking about His might working through Gideon?
  • Does God need physically strong men to succeed, or faithful and totally obedient men?

“The same night the Lord said to him: "Take your father's young bull, the second bull of seven years old, and tear down the altar of Baal your father has, and cut down the wooden image that is beside it, and build an altar to the Lord your God on top of this rock in the proper arrangement. And take the second bull and offer a burnt sacrifice with the wood of the image you have cut down." Then Gideon took ten men from among his servants and did as the Lord had said to him. But because he feared his father's household and the men of the city too much to do it by day, he did it by night, and when the men of the city arose early in the morning, the altar of Baal was torn down and the wooden image was cut down, and the second bull was being offered on the altar which had been built, and they said to one another: "Who has done this?" And when they had inquired they said: "Gideon the son of Joash has done this." Then the men of the city said to Joash: "Bring out your son so that he may die, because he has torn down the altar of Baal, and because he has cut down the wooden image that was beside it." But Joash said to all who stood against him: "Would you plead for Baal? Would you save him while he is a god? Let the one who would plead for him be put to death by morning! If Baal is a god, let him plead for himself, because HIS altar has been torn down!" Therefore on that day Joash called Gideon Jerubbaal, saying: "Let Baal plead against Gideon because he tore down his altar." Then all the Midianites and Amalekites, the people of the East, gathered together and crossed over the river Jordan and encamped in the Valley of Jezreel. But the Spirit of the Lord came upon Gideon and he blew the trumpet and the Abiezrites gathered behind him. He sent messengers throughout all Manasseh, from where the men gathered behind him. He also sent messengers to Asher, Zebulon, and Naphtali, and they came as well to meet them.”

Now follows a part of the story that is so very much human like we all are. Gideon has met the Lord, and he knows it, but we now will see that he yet does not dare to trust his God. Is that caused by a guilt ridden heart that has so long dishonored God by worshipping a false demon-god, Baal?

“Gideon said to God: "If You will save Israel by my hand as You have said, look, I shall put a fleece of wool on the threshing floor, and if there is dew on the fleece only, and it is dry on the ground around it, then I shall know that You will save Israel by my hand, as You have said." And it was so when he rose early the next morning. Then Gideon said to God: "Do not be angry with me, but let me speak just once more: Let me test just once more with the fleece; let it now be dry only on the fleece, but on all the ground let there be dew." And God did so that night; the fleece only was dry, but there was dew on all the ground.”

It is often so difficult to know for sure that we have heard God’s voice correctly; we are not free of the risk of becoming deceived. Do you notice here that God is willing to confirm to Gideon that indeed He was the one who spoke those words to him? I have sometimes believed that I heard God and put out a fleece to Him. Once I felt so unsure of what to do while in my heart I felt that I knew God’s will, and I asked Father for a “fleece”: I will do it for You if by tomorrow morning I am totally healed from a serious bronchitis I had that moment; and it was miraculously so. He is such a patient and good God if we just earnestly, in love, and in deep respect listen and ask Him.

God saves so often, and then after a while people forget Him again.  What a kind of hopeless and helpless people we are: we keep on turning away from our God.  One generation is allowed to experience revival and serves Him and is blessed, but two generations later people again believe that they can do everything all by themselves and life falls apart.  Father God, help us to stay faithful to You, You deserve all our thankfulness, appreciation and praise; You are so good.  Thank You Lord God, our Father.  Amen!

“The Lord said to Gideon: "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel claim glory for itself against Me, saying: 'Our own hand has saved us. 'Therefore tell the people: 'Whoever is fearful and afraid, let him depart at once from Mount Gilead.'" And twenty-two-thousand of the people returned, ten thousand remaining. But the Lord said to Gideon: "The people are still too many; bring them down to the water, and I will test them for you there.” So Gideon brought the people down to the water. Then the Lord said to Gideon: "By the three hundred men who lapped with their hands I will save you, and deliver the Midianites into your hand. Let all the other go, every man to his place." And Gideon sent away all the rest of Israel, only keeping those three hundred men. Now the camp of Midian was below him in the valley.”

We close this history by reading small portions of how the Lord indeed always saves as we ask Him for his help:

“Then the Lord said to Gideon: "If you are afraid to go down now to the enemy, go there with Purah your servant, and you shall hear what they say and your hands shall be strengthened to go down against the camp." Then Gideon went down with Purah, and they overheard a man telling a dream to his companion: "I have had a dream: To my surprise, a loaf of barley bread tumbled into the camp of Midian; it came to a tent and struck it so that it fell and overturned, and the tent collapsed." Then his companion said: "This is nothing else but the sword of Gideon the son of Joash, a man of Israel! Into his hand God has delivered Midian and the whole camp." When Gideon heard this he worshiped and returning to the camp of Israel he said: "Arise, for the Lord has delivered the camp of Midian into your hand." Then he divided the three hundred men into three companies, and he put a trumpet into every man's hand, with empty pitchers, and torches inside the pitchers. And he said to them: "Look at me and do likewise; watch, and when I come to the edge of the camp you shall do as I do: When I blow the trumpet, I and all who are with me, then you also blow the trumpets on every side of the whole camp, and shout: 'The sword of the Lord and of Gideon!'"  When the three hundred blew the trumpets, the Lord set every man's sword against his companion throughout the whole camp; and the army fled, and the men of Israel gathered together from Naphtali, Asher, and all Manasseh, and pursued the Midianites.”

QUESTIONS:

  • Did Gideon not fear the enemy and have lack of trust in his God, yet he obeyed God and sent all men but three hundred away?
  • Did you notice that Gideon after that again got great trouble trusting God, but God did not mind and came to his aid?
  • Is Father God willing to also give us faith if we ask Him for it to do his will?

God saves so often, and then after a while people forget Him again.  What a kind of hopeless and helpless people we are: we keep on turning away from our God.  One generation is allowed to experience revival and serves Him and is blessed, but two generations later people again believe that they can do everything all by themselves and life falls apart.  Father God, help us to stay faithful to You, You deserve all our thankfulness, appreciation and praise; You are so good.  Thank You Father God, Lord and King.  Amen!