This is the longest post ever, it mat take a few a couple times to read it all. I just found this bok, and have added it to the school. 4 chapters only, but what it says....may it speak to all that read it, Christians, Churches, leaders, preachers, all. It is simply the most insightful and profund thing on Humility I have ever read in my life, aside from the bible.
"If my people who are called by my name will HUMBLE themselves ..."
The first of the four conditions is for God's people to humble themselves. This strikes at one of the greatest hindrances to revival — the sin of pride.
All through the Bible, we have a continuous record of how the sin of pride has affected man's relationship with God. It was pride that originally caused Satan to lead the rebellion against God. It was through the temptation to pride that Satan seduced Eve. Most of the prophets speak of pride in one form or another. It is a universal disease. All humanity has been infected. God makes his attitude
towards pride very clear:
"Whoever has a haughty eye and a proud heart, him will I not endure." Psalm
1 0 1 .5
"The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: they will not go
unpunished." Proverbs 16.5
"God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble." James 4.6 and 1
Pride reveals itself in many ways. It can be displayed without saying one word. Certain attitudes and actions can be the result of a proud heart. Some take pride in their appearance, others in their business. Pride may be spiritual, intellectual or social. We can be proud of our possessions or our achievements.
Not only is pride a major blockage to revival, but one of the most difficult of all sins to deal with, because it requires the removal of self, as the centre of our life, and replacing it with God. To do this requires the death of pride and all of us reluctant to give it up.
We may not see it but God knows that a proud church loses its sense of dependence on His power. It becomes self-sufficient and self-centred and thinks more of show and display than the needs of the world around it.
Of the urgent needs that confronts the people of God at present is to look at areas where pride has crept into Church. It is often disguised and, like a cancerous growth, takes root before you realise it.
What are some some areas?
Pride in ourselves
In Revelation chapter 3, the Laodicean church provides us with several symptoms of pride which we see all too clearly people of God today.
"I am rich, I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing" (3 .1 7 )
was their boast. No longer were they trusting in God. Their wealth and affluent life-style had taken their eyes off the Lord and onto things of this world. Their aim now was to get more possessions, greater luxury and enjoy good physical health. In their own eyes, they 'didn't need a thing' but in God's eyes, they were poverty-stricken, lukewarm, ready to be spat out of God's mouth.
I doubt whether there would be a church anywhere that would align itself with the Laodicean church. But a casual visit to an average church service presents a different picture. Sunday, the traditional day of Christian worship, has become the day to show off the latest fashions. How many of us, in all
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honesty, spend more time on our clothes and in front of the mirror than we do getting our hearts ready
for worship? Who really, are we trying to impress by our expensive jewelry and lavish clothes? Is
there not pride in all of this? Have we ever considered what God must think of our fashion parade?
One characteristic of this world listed by John in his first letter is the boasting of what we own and what we do. Sadly, it seems, this trait has crept into the church. Just listen to an average conversation between the people of God and you will soon discover the most important thing in their lives. Jesus
"Out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks." Matt 12:34
That is another way of saying that whatever means most to us in our lives will be the main topic of our conversation. That is why some people only talk about their business. Others talk of making money or of the latest clothes or car they have bought. With others, their main interest centres on their home or their sport.
In view of all this, what do you talk about? Do things of the Lord ever become the topic of
conversation? Does Jesus ever get a mention?
Pride in the Ministry
Pride not only affects the average church-goer, but can reveal itself in those who serve in full-time ministry. I don't like saying it, but many preachers these days like to impress people with their talents. They parade around the platform with all the airs and graces of a celebrity, through their masterful
piece of oratory, you hear the applause of the audience, and the preacher loves it!
They go on relating story after story of how many people they have won, how churches are always wanting them to preach and how many books they have written. They talk of being humble, but on
the side groan when they are overlooked. If there is some success, they talk as if they did it.
The description given of the leaders in the time of Jesus so perfectly many preachers today: "They
loved the praise from men more than praise from God." (John 12.43)
The late Dr A.W. Tozer attended a conference at one time, listening with patience day after day as preachers told of what they had done or how far they had travelled and what building they had opened. Finally, the good doctor rose to preach and fired a broadside at the boasters: "I tired of
coming to conferences to watch men strut!"
I would only ask my brethren in the ministry: Who really are we trying to impress? Who are we
fooling? Certainly not God. It appears we have forgotten the words of God Himself:
"I am the Lord, that is my name! I will not give my glory to another."' (Isa 42.8)
If we are looking for the reason why revival seems a long way off, you have one answer right here. Man has stepped into the spotlight. He has taken centre stage. You hear it all the time: 'Give so-and-so a big hand' is the call to bring in the modern day preacher or singing group. We give a standing ovation with thundrous applause for their performance. Oh, they sang about God, they preached about God, but somehow, we failed to get the impression that God was there. (In fact, I wonder how many
would have attended if the only attraction were God!)
We came away thinking how good the music was, how tremendous the preacher and the singing group was so talented. It was all so entertaining. But what of God and HIS greatness. What thoughts were left in our minds of the power, the splendour and the holiness of the Almighty? Did we gain any concept of God and his presence? All too often, we would have to say sadly, none at all, because the pride of man wants the glory and praise all for himself. To say we give all the praise to God means nothing when by our very actions, words and attitudes we have already taken all the glory.
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What praise we do give to God is so often just hollow words. I sometimes wonder how much praise
and honour we really do give to our God.
In the life of Evan Roberts, the man so greatly used of God in the Welsh revival of 1904, there occurred an incident which highlights clearly the pride in the ministry and giving glory to God. It was
written by one who knew Mr Roberts personally. He says of him:
"He was willing to pay any price to see his Lord glorified and was often criticized for it. Others misunderstood him and his motives were misjudged; however, he was dead to such things when the glory of the Lord was at stake. While on the Island of Guernsey, he went one Sunday morning to a service at a large church. Someone recognized him and sent a note to the pastor. This dear brother allowed himself to be puffed up at having such a listener. When the message was over, the pastor solemnly declared himself and the church highly honoured to have such a man of God present. He then asked Mr Roberts to lead them to the throne of God in prayer. Everyone stood and waited. There was silence.
"The pastor, thinking that perhaps his request was not clear, repeated it. Everybody waited and there was silence again. The pastor repeated the request more loudly. Still there was no response. Someone spoke up, "Pastor, Mr Roberts left!" This simple lesson of giving all the honour to the Lord and his unwillingness to encourage human pride accomplished more (as I was told several times on that island,) than any
sermon he could preach or any prayer he could offer."
Recently I read of an incident which occurred in the life of Henry Morehouse, a young minister greatly used of God to bring souls to Christ. He preached with great power in revivals in England and
America. The writer continues:
In one of his meetings, however, everything was at a standstill. He gave himself to earnest prayer. "O God," he implored, "why am I not preaching with unction and power? Why are the people so unresponsive? Why are souls
not being saved?"
God gave him the answer to his questions as he walked down a street. On a
billboard, he read some flattering words about himself:
"Hear the most famous of all British preachers — Henry Morehouse!" God
seemed to say to him, "That's why there is no revival."
He went immediately to those in charge of the meeting and said "No wonder we can't have a revival. No wonder the Holy Spirit cannot work. You have advertised me as the greatest this and the greatest that. The Spirit is grieved because we have not magnified the Lord Jesus Christ and ascribed all glory to his mighty name. He is the wonderful One. I am only a voice saying 'Behold
the Lamb of God!"
It seems this problem of pride and self is not a new characteristic of God's servants. Back in 1945, L.E. Maxwell (a former Principal of the Prairie Bible Institute) saw the problem clearly. In his book
"Born Crucified" he wrote:
"The Church world is full of Christian professors and ministers, Sunday school teachers and workers, evangelists and missionaries, in whom the gifts of the Spirit are very manifest and who bring blessing to multitudes, but who, when known 'close up,' are found to be full of self. They may have 'forsaken all' for Christ and imagine they would ready, like the disciples of old, to die for their Master; but deep down in their hidden private lives, there lurks that
dark sinister power of self."
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Pride in OUR Church
Pride may not only be a personal thing, it can also be denominational. We can become proud of the accomplishments of our church. We like to think that our particular denomination has a unique role to play in the spiritual life of Australia. After all, are we not one of the few remaining churches that hasn't lowered its standard and still holds the Bible as the only authoritative Word of God? We may think that God has raised up our church to bring revival to this country. And that might be so. But I wonder if we become proud of it.
We be ever so careful of regarding ourselves as the custodians of New Testament Christianity, or of feeling of importance in being the only ones through whom God can bring a revival.
The late Dr Sangster, a Methodist leader in England for years, wrote these challenging words in 1957:
"We have boasted — in all denominations — of our traditions. 'Ours' is the only church which really goes back to the Apostles. 'Ours' is the established church. 'Ours' is the church which revived religion in the 18th century. 'Our' church is truly Bible-based. Is there nothing of pride in all this? Are we implying that we are more dear or near to God than his other blood-bought
In her account of the Welsh revival, Jessie Penn-Lewis tells how God laid it on the heart of one man,
Rev. Seth Joshua, to pray for a chosen instrument of God to lead a revival. She writes:
"In the brake that morning on the way to Blaenanerch, Mr Joshua told how it had been laid upon him four years before, to ask the Lord definitely to take a lad from the coal mine or from the field, even as He took Elisha, to revive his work in Wales.
He prayed God to raise an instrument whereby human pride might be humbled — not one from Cambridge, lest it would minister to their pride, nor one from Oxford University, lest it would feed the intellectualism of the Church.
Not once had this prayer been mentioned until this morning and it was then revealed, little knowing that the very instrument chosen of God was listening
to the words."
When I read that, the thought came to mind: How would we really feel if God should choose a cleaner or a taxi-driver to be his chosen instrument to lead a revival in this country and seemingly bypass all the College-trained people, the clergy and other Church leaders? And what if God should choose someone who wasn't even a member of my denomination? It is easy to say we would rejoice, but deep down, we are hoping it will be someone from our church or denomination, and almost without
realising it, pride has crept in!
Pride in Spiritual Experiences
We live in a time when a great deal of emphasis is being placed on obtaining a religious experience.
Thousands are se'eking the gift of speaking in tongues. Many go from church to church looking for a
'touch from God' . One of the disturbing trends of these seekers is the 'spiritual pride' that is so often
the result. There is a feeling of superiority or 'I have arrived' type of attitude. Those who haven't had such experiences are looked down on as second-class Christians.
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The comments made by Paul Smith in 1953 on 'spiritual pride' bear repeating. He says:
God cannot use the Christian who has begun to look down upon other Christians. There is no greater hindrance to revival than the man who feels he has attained spiritually and now stands head and shoulders above his brethren in the Lord. The man who has a consciousness of his own superiority in the things of the Spirit is a powerless Christian. The Christian
who is proud is not spiritual and the Christian who is spiritual is not proud."
Enough has been said to indicate that pride has become a major obstacle to revival in the church. Like Peter of old, our eyes have shifted from the Lord to the world around us. Jesus himself warned that we were to be in the world but not of it.
We must admit though, that we have allowed the world to come into the church. Not only are we
proud in ourselves, but of our abilities, our homes, our possessions, our churches and our past.
It has affected the whole spectrum of the Christian Church, from the leadership down. We must face
the question, How could God, honestly, use a people who have become so full of themselves?
The truth is - He won't, until they learn to humble themselves!
"God opposes the proud,
but gives grace to the humble."
But what does it mean 'to humble yourself'? How do we humble ourselves?
The Humility of Jesus
My mind went to the example of Jesus referred to by Paul in Phil 2.2-8. Here was the great Creator who made Himself nothing, literally 'emptied Himself' to become a man. Here is a humility that stripped the Son of God, the Creator, of the glories and splendour of heaven. My mind dwelt on the words 'emptied Himself'. Is this the sort of humility that God requires of me, to be brought to a point where I am totally emptied of all the things that I consider mine, emptied of selfish desires and ambitions, emptied of the right to do as I please? What does Paul say? "Your attitude should be the
same as that of Jesus."
Paul continues: 'Taking the very nature of a servant." We know very little of servanthood in this country. A servant or slave had no rights of his own. He was totally the property of his master. He had to obey his master in every respect. It was to this status that Jesus came, the lowest of humanity.
"And being found in appearance as a man." Just imagine the great and all powerful God who has always existed, whose greatness extends beyond the universe, this God, confining Himself to a human body, which was also a product His creation. A body that got tired, hungry and thirsty. A body that was beaten, whipped and finally crucified on a cross. All this because Jesus humbled Himself. And it was all voluntary.
Then Paul adds:
"... and became obedient to death, even to death on a cross."
Here is the climax in the humility of our Lord. To condescend, not only to die, but to the most brutal and degrading of all tortures ever conceived in the minds of men, a punishment for the worst of slaves and criminals, crucifixion, nailed to a cross and then left hanging there to die. This is
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Is this level of humility impossible? Is it beyond us? Notice the words 'humble yourselves". God
would not have required such a response unless it were possible.
The Crucifixion of Self
The humility that God requires can be seen in the act of crucifixion. To be crucified in New Testament times must have been the most shameful and humbling of experiences known to man. Just to walk through the street carrying your cross, with crowds of people mocking and hurling insults, knowing full well that this was the end of your life. There was no escape now, no way out. You had to go through with it. You had to endure the agonising pain of huge nails being hammered through your wrist, watching your own blood pour out on the ground. Then you were lifted up, with the whole weight of your body hanging on those nails. And there you stayed, with no relief, no pain killers, no getting off that cross at the end of the day.
Crucifixion is ghastly in anyone's language. The person is humiliated beyond description, for it is a humility that ends in death. And yet, this is the humility that God requires of us — death of self.
The apostle Paul wrote in Galatians 6.14:
"May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, through which the
world has been crucified to me and I to the world."
In Paul's eyes, the world had been executed on a cross. All the attractions, the excitements and the things this world has to offer were all crucified. As far as Paul was concerned, they were dead. How do we respond to this? Do we still want the things of this world? How much do they mean to me? Lots of clothes in the latest fashion, all the latest things for the house etc. For Paul, everything in this world
had been crucified. But then he adds:
"The world has been crucified to me and I to the world."
Paul is saying here: "I am dead to all the desires, the attractions, the pleasures, the possessions and standards of this world." The world could still entice, it could still advertise all the latest in fashions, entertainment, pleasures and possessions, but it was offering all this to a crucified man. How could he respond? He was hanging on a cross! He's finished! To the world, Paul was no better than a dead man. All his desires, ambitions, possessions, everything, had been nailed to the cross with him.
In the final analysis, the question we all have to face is: how much of this world have I died to? Are we dead to praise? Some people love to hear their name mentioned. It reminds them of what they have done.
Are we dead to fashion? Whenever we see the things of this world being advertised, is there a longing for the latest dress, or the latest model car or the latest gadget for the house? To the crucified person, there is no longing after these things, because they have died and dead people have no desires. Are we
dead to opinion? What about the time when we were criticised? Did we react?
Are we dead to recognition? Do we feel uneasy or hurt when someone else gets the praise? Did we get annoyed when we were overlooked? Paul regarded himself as dead. "I have been crucified with Christ" (Galatians 2.19) A dead man has no ambitions, so Paul had nothing to be jealous about. A dead person has no possessions, so Paul had nothing to worry about. A dead person has no desires, so Paul had nothing to be anxious about. But is it possible for us to come to the point where we have
been crucified to the world and the world crucified to us?
It is not only possible, it is the very thing our Lord Himself required for any who would be his followers.
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"If any would come after Me, let him deny himself, take up his cross and f o l l o w Me." (Matt 16.24)
The late Dr A. W. Tozer wrote on one occasion of a young believer who approached an older
Christian with the question, "what does it mean to be crucified?"
"To be crucified," replied the mature believer, "means three things ...
1 The man on the cross is facing only one direction ...
2 He is not going back and ...
3 He has no further plans of his own ..."
Think about these three things. First, a crucified man is facing in only one direction. Too many Christians are trying to face two directions at the same time. They are divided in heart. They want heaven, but they are in love with the world.
Second, a crucified man is not going back. The cross spells finish for him. The drama is over. That is the finality of crucifixion. And the man who is crucified with Christ is not going back to his old life. It is over with, for ever.
Third, a crucified man has no further plans of his own. He is not dreaming of a bigger house or a better car. He is finished with this life.
Another way that God speaks of the humbling that needs to take place is by the word 'broken'. Usually, when something is broken, it loses its value and usefulness. Broken dishes, broken bottles, broken windows are all thrown away. But this isn't so in the spiritual realm. Before God can fully use a person, there must be this 'brokenness'.
"The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;
a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise."
But what does it mean to be broken? When Jesus held the last supper with his disciples, we read: "The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, took bread and when He had given thanks, He broke it and
'This is my body which is (broken) for you.' (1 Cor 11.23-24)
The breaking of the bread was to represent the breaking of Christ's body on the cross, meaning the suffering and death of the Lord Jesus. The death of Christ was essential for an atonement for the sin of this world. And in a similar way, before God can use a person totally, there must be this brokenness, this death of self.
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In his challenging book 'The Calvary Road', Roy Hession says:
"To be broken is the beginning of Revival. It is painful, it is humiliating, but it is the only way ... the Lord Jesus cannot live in us fully and reveal Himself through us until the proud self within us is broken. This simply means that the hard, unyielding self, which justifies itself, wants its own way, stands up for its rights and seeks its own glory, at last bows its head to God's will, admits it was wrong, gives up its own way to Jesus, surrenders its rights and discards its own glory, that the Lord Jesus might have all and be all. In other words, it is dying to self and self attitudes.
As we look honestly at our Christian lives, we can see how much of this self there is in each of us. It is so often self which tries to live the Christian life. It is self, too, which is often doing Christian work. It is always self which gets irritated, envious, resentful, critical and worried. It is self which is hard and unyielding in its attitudes to others. It is self which is shy, self-conscious and reserved. No wonder we need breaking. As long as self is in control, God can
do little with us."
Humbleness in our Relationship to others
One of the visible effects of this death of self and humbleness of heart can be seen in our relationship with others. A major hindrance to revival is not opposition from outside the church, but disunity and dissension within. In church after church, people are openly critical of each other. Sunday dinner is frequently a meal of 'roast pastor'.
Members' meetings often end up an open forum for verbal attack, instead of a time of prayer and planning together. We talk of being united, but in reality it is only a dream. I have heard of some churches where the members refuse to even pray together. How Satan must be delighted with such
churches! All the energy and attention of the people is taken up with infighting and squabbling.
How often has God's work come to a standstill because of the wrong attitudes of Christians toward each other. There is no way revival will ever come to a church where such attitudes persist. It seems we have forgotten the teachings of Jesus on forgiveness and acceptance of others. You hardly ever hear the words 'I'm sorry' or 'Forgive me' these days.
One of the unmistakable features of revival, whether big or small, is when God's people not only get right with their God, but get right with each other. This is what brings in the true unity that is spoken of in the New Testament. On the three or four occasions in my life where I have seen this happen, the congregation was greatly humbled before God and each other. Resentments and ill-feelings, some of which had been there for years, were gone in a flash. Members who couldn't get along or even speak
to each other would be seen embracing in tears of confession and forgiveness. This was God at work.
Notice carefully the wording in 2 Chronicles 7.14:
"If ... my people ... will humble themselves ..."
This is a clear command of God for something WE must do. And even though we can't do it without Him, God does not do it for us. It is our response that determines whether we are humbled or hardened.
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Throughout God's Word, this requirement is seen time and time again:
In 2 Chron. 32.25-26 "But Hezekiah's heart was proud and he did not respond to the kindness shown to him ... then Hezekiah repented (AV humbled himself) of the pride of his heart, as did the people of
2 Chron 34.27 "Because your heart was responsive and you humbled yourself before God when you heard what He spoke against this place and its people, and because you humbled yourself before Me and tore your robes and wept in my presence, I have heard you," declares the Lord.
Luke 14.11 "For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be
James 4.10 "Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up."
1 Peter 5.6 "Humble yourselves therefore under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due
God cannot work where pride exists
And until we meet this first condition, no individual or church will experience the blessing of God. For revival to come there has to be this humbling, this death to self.
There is no other way.
May God forgive us for the pride in our hearts and grant us grace to change our ways and our attitudes until we are truly humbled before Him.