“Humility, Crucifying pride – Glorifying God”, Pastor Tom Holliday (Gospel Unity, the Lordship of Christ)

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-this was written just two weeks before our church and community were closed due to the shutdown due to the pandemic. We were to experience a great humbling with a journey that would take us deep into our hearts. The sermon on that day was stirring.- L.W.

I sat in a middle seat, somewhat far from the pulpit feeling nested by the congregation.  As the sermon began my pen was poised just in case Pastor Tom Holliday (of Alexandria Presbyterian Church) said something that I needed to note. Usually, I like to just listen and allow the Holy Spirit to reach my heart. On this day there was much that I wanted to share with you all. The sermon was deeply stirring. It touched upon Humility, Pride and God’s Glory.

The bold message was about the need for the death of pride. Perhaps this is difficult to hear. This is a message that many are timid to teach. I loved it, we need to soak in it not just now but for every time, every generation. 

In the past weeks, one of the overarching themes has been Unity. I have noticed how many times our lack of unity can be traced to pride. It was remarkable to listen to scripture, Philippians 2:1-11 and how Pastor Tom Holliday gleaned the wisdom. Here are some of the quotes (please excuse if they are not perfect, I was writing while listening):

The Sermon was titled “Finding Unity in The Gospel”

“The challenge is really that if you are Christian, you need to crucify your pride.”

“We will not grow if we will not suffer. We will not grow if we don’t see our own pride.”

“Get your act together. Get your eye on the ball. Get it off of one another. Lift it off of the sharp edges that wound others. Can we try not to be so pointy? Not to offend and not to be so easily offended? Not fragile.” (referring to the Philippian church and common problems in today’s churches, all churches)

“Whose Love? Christ’s. All have the same love of Christ in them. Do you know that God has no favorites? He loves the person next to you just as much. ‘In full accord’ means thinking and feeling as one soul. That is how the body of Christ thinks and feels.”

“The Body of Christ vs us. The Body of Christ did not live and die for empty glory. Don’t live and die for empty glory.” (what is empty glory? Pride)

“In Problems of Pride, Augustine considered Pride the root of every sin.”

“Humility is the answer.”

“Some people will try to walk all over a humble person. Shame on that.” (James 2:1-18 “Count it all loss”)

“Jesus left a perfect environment to come to this mess. We know how hard it can be. Sometimes there is no unity in our families, in our communities. We, who are empty of Glory go around seeking to grab Glory anywhere we can. We are fragile. we want to steal. Put the spotlight on Jesus and we will not become Glory Grabbers. Boast in the name of Jesus who humbled himself on the Cross.”

“When you look at how He obeyed, you submit and bow your heart a little bit in a messy relationship, in a messy world. You pray Lord, forgive me, show us Christ who was obedient to the point of death.”

“Help us to know the death of pride, of desire and of will.”

“If you are desiring to be followers of Jesus- will people in your life become uncomfortable with you living under the Lordship of Jesus Christ?”

Phillippians 2:9-11 –Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name,  so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

All of the sermons are archived on the website; this one available on 2.25.20 atAlexandria Presbyterian Church Sermon Archives

I am so glad that today, I was able to listen, to hear and to scribble some notes all at the same time. It was all such a joy. The death of pride is not an easy journey but it is in that same glorious mess that Jesus walks with so closely with us. We see Him before us and confessing that He is Lord is the way to a joy unspeakable, one that nothing in this life can compare to.

L.Willows

“Walking Forward Together in Christ’s Love”, from L.Willows (Justice, Humility, See Jesus, Love)

“Walking Forward Together in Christ’s Love”, from L.Willows

We are called to love one another. I remember many teachings that reminded me that it was no special thing to love the ones in my life that were easy to love. The true measure and test of love was if I could love the ones that were most challenging for my heart. Could I love and include into my faith and prayer, the one that feels like “the enemy”, “the obstacle” , and even “the thorn” that I desire not to experience? ” How can my own heart be love walking forward in unity with all, in the heart of Christ Jesus? 

I am praying with you today that we  walk forward in the love of Christ. I pray for our hearts, that we are not only transformed by love but let forward into a time of deepened hope and unity. How can we get from here to there?

We need to Love One Another Earnestly and with Humility.

According to God’s law, our call is to love, to love more than we ever knew we could. There is no end for love, no moment when the Lord turns away from His Beloveds.

In the fellowship group that I was a part of, we often studied the teachings of Jesus that reminded each of us that love covers a multitude of sins.

1 Peter 4:8 –“Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.”

Initially as I soaked in these words, I thought that it was the sins of the “other” that needed God’s grace. I also thought that must work at loving others more. I thought that the strength of  this kind of earnest love came from me. Effort to love caused our mortal means frameworks in the mind to be our perspectives. We get lost. The way to love earnestly is to lift our hearts to the Godly perspective. We need His Holiness to pour into our hearts. Loving one another earnestly is loving from a Godly perspective.

Loving One Another Earnestly is Loving from a Godly Perspective

After time, and prayer, I realized that God’s Holy Love had to pour through my heart first before I would be able to “give it” gracefully and generously to someone else. The sins that His love covers needed to wash me first. I needed to be a recipient of purification and forgiveness so that I was more able to love others more. This ability to love could not come from my own effort or works. It was given by the power of God’s grace. He is the transformer of our hearts. We respond with actions that display the fruit of that transformation. I Pray that we each live in ways that bear the fruit of actions that display Christ’s love in our hearts.

When love “covers” a multitude of sin, it means that we become covered by Love. To be covered means to conceal, to be blanketed by- here we allowing God’s love to conceal all trace of an offense. It is the generous grace. We “keep loving one another earnestly”…honestly and with hope that as Christ covers our own sin with His Love and calls us into repentance, we in turn lovingly cover the sins of others.– I Pray with you, that we live each day longing that Christ inspire our hearts to forgive as we have been forgiven.

We Love One Another and Forgive as We have been Forgiven by God.

John 13:34-35 —A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. 35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”

After a season of living in isolation from COVID,  I was anticipating summer. I longed for reunions with friends and the opening of church doors. Yet by early June, it was clear that this was not the way it was going to be in the region that I live in. This has been a new season of protest, of calling out injustice and of unrest. There are no in-person fellowship gatherings and the church doors are still closed.

We hear calls for justice in our times. We gather and listen in new ways.

Crowds have poured onto the streets in protest of injustice. I have witnessed a motion towards change that is historic.  We are caused to review our hearts, revisit perspective and even search the stories that we carry from the past before walking into the future. We learn to listen attentively to others with humility. As it says in 1 John 3:23, “God abides in us and his love is perfected in us”.  When God’s love is perfected in us, we see our own lack of perfection. As we listen to the Heart of God, we are called to repentance and led into purification by His Holiness. 

As we listen to the Heart of God, we are drawn into a deep Listening. Our hearts are Humbled.

 We are imperfect beings with hearts that are being transformed into God’s nature which is a love that shines with His Glory upon all.  We have all been stirred by the isolation of the Pandemic. We need to listen to the lament of the suffering and broken-hearted of the world. The love of Christ is one that is humble and it is one that listens. It is anointed with His Spirit.I Pray with you, that we each submit to the spirit of humility and are anointed by the Spirit of the Lord.

Luke 4:18 –The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim liberty to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed.

Throughout all, I am certain that God’s plan is for good. I look back and forwards trying to imagine that I am a bird in the sky that can fly in time through many years. God’s Plan is for Good, His Love pours into our lives for Good. We can take refuge in that.

God’s plan for good. It a plan for His Grace; a plan that all come to know His Love, to enter His Kingdom and accept the invitation to know Him. God’s Good is all that is aligned with His purpose. His good is the fulfillment of His will. As His will is fulfilled, Love pours abundantly for good. We can take refuge in that. — I Pray with you, that we soak our hearts in our faithful refuge in God’s Good, that we seek His will and long for His purpose each day.

1 John 4:11-13 –Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us. By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.

I am learning each day, new ways that I need to continue to learn to love others and that God’s love abides in my own heart. This walk with the Lord is one that is ongoing and constantly being “perfected” in me. It is the journey of sanctification. Even as life offers strong challenges-  we are given new tests and the ability to “see” parts of our own hearts that need deeper exploration. God’s Spirit, the Holy Presence is there to guide us and give our hearts deeper strength, faith and promptings so that we can walk according to God’s purpose and make our paths straight.

We are flawed, imperfect being molded and refined by the Refiner’s fire. We still have much to learn and we are humbled. Our hearts, as 1 John 4:11 says, “ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.”– I Pray with you, that we find our treasure in the inexpressible values of Life with, near and for Jesus Christ- seeing Eternity and His Love as Near and dearly in our Heart’s Grasp.

We join together walking forward in love because of the riches of Christ’s love for us.

I pray with you, that we join in a fellowship of love for one another, able to listen and able to renew heart perspective in the unity of God’s Spirit.

I pray that we see Jesus in our midst, leading us forward as our Great Shepherd whose compassion sees each heart and hears every cry for mercy and justice.

May the Lord lead the way to healing and restoration.

I pray for the children of God, that they know themselves named “Beloveds” and hear His call.

May their hearts be filled with His love and His peace.

May we all, the Children of God, walk forward together in Christ.

© 2020 Linda Willows

“Humility, The Beauty of Holiness”, Andrew Murray, Pastor and Author (humility, the root of grace, see Jesus)

GodandourHumilityBeloved

“Humility, the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all”

-Andrew Murray, Pastor, and author of Humility: the Beauty of Holiness (2016).

I would like to offer the first Chapter of this special book (emphasis, mine; LW)

Chapter 1 -Humility: The Glory of the Creature

“They shall cast their crowns before the throne, so saying: Worthy art Thou, our Lord and our God, to receive the glory, and the honor and the power: for Thou didst create all things, and because of Thy will they are, and were created. ” –Rev. 4:11

When God created the universe, it was with the one object of making the creature partaker of His perfection and blessedness, and so showing forth in it the glory of His love and wisdom and power. God wished to reveal Himself in and through created
beings by communicating to them as much of His own goodness and glory as they were capable of receiving.

But this communication was not a giving to the creature something which it could possess in itself, a certain life or goodness, of which it had the charge and disposal. By no means. But as God is the ever-living, ever-present, ever-acting One, who upholdeth all things by the word of His power, and in whom all things exist, the relation of the creature to God could only be one of unceasing, absolute, universal dependence.

As truly as God by His power once created, so truly by that same power must God every moment maintain. The creature has not only to look back to the origin and first beginning of existence, and acknowledge that it there owes everything to God; its chief care, its highest virtue, its only happiness, now and through all eternity, is to present itself an empty vessel, in which God can dwell and manifest His power and goodness.

The life God bestows is imparted not once for all, but each moment continuously, by the unceasing operation of His mighty power.

Humility, the place of entire dependence on God, is, from the very nature of things, the first duty and the highest virtue of the creature, and the root of every virtue.

And so pride, or the loss of this humility, is the root of every sin and evil. It was when the now fallen angels began to look upon themselves with self-complacency that they were led to disobedience, and were cast down from the light of heaven into outer darkness.

Even so it was, when the serpent breathed the poison of his pride, the desire to be as God, into the hearts of our first parents, that they too fell from their high estate into all the wretchedness in which man is now sunk. In heaven and earth, pride, self-exaltation, is the gate and the birth, and the curse, of hell.[1] Hence it follows that nothing can be our redemption, but the restoration of the ‘lost humility, the original and only true relation of the creature to its God.

And so Jesus came to bring humility back to earth, to make us partakers of it, and by it to save us. In heaven He humbled Himself to become man.

The humility we see in Him possessed Him in heaven; it brought Him, He brought it, from there. Here on earth “He humbled Himself, and became obedient unto death”; His humility gave His death its value, and so became our redemption.

And now the salvation He imparts is nothing less and nothing else than a communication of His own life and death, His own disposition and spirit, His own humility, as the ground and root of His relation to God and His redeeming work. Jesus Christ took the place and fulfilled the destiny of man, as a creature, by His life of perfect humility.

His humility is our salvation. His salvation is our humility.

And so the life of the saved ones, of the saints, must needs bear this stamp of deliverance from sin, and full restoration to their original state; their whole relation to God and man marked by an all-pervading humility.

  • Without this there can be no true abiding in God’s presence, or experience of His favor and the power of His Spirit; without this no abiding faith, or love or joy or strength.
  • Humility is the only soil in which the graces root; the lack of humility is the sufficient explanation of every defect and failure.
  • Humility is not so much a grace or virtue along with others; it is the root of all, because it alone takes the right attitude before God, and allows Him as God to do all.
  • God has so constituted us as reasonable beings, that the truer the insight into the real nature or the absolute need of a command, the readier and fuller will be our obedience to it.

The call to humility has been too little regarded in the Church because its true nature and importance has been too little apprehended. It is not a something which we bring to God, or He bestows; it is simply the sense of entire nothingness, which comes when we see how truly God is all, and in which we make way for God to be all.

When the creature realizes that this is the true nobility, and consents to be with his will, his mind, and his affections, the form, the vessel in which the life and glory of God are to work and manifest themselves, he sees that humility is simply acknowledging the truth of his position as creature, and yielding to God His place.

In the life of earnest Christians, of those who pursue and profess holiness, humility ought to be the chief mark of their uprightness. It is often said that it is not so. May not one reason be that in the teaching and example of the Church, it has never had that place of supreme importance which belongs to it?

And that this, again, is owing to the neglect of this truth, that strong as sin is as a motive to humility, there is one of still wider and mightier influence, that which makes the angels, that which made Jesus, that which makes the holiest of saints in heaven, so humble; that the first and chief mark of the relation of the creature, the secret of his blessedness, is the humility and nothingness which leaves God free to be all?

  •  I am sure there are many Christians who will confess that their experience has been very much like my own in this, that we had long known the Lord without realizing that meekness and lowliness of heart are to be the distinguishing feature of the disciple as they were of the Master.
  • And further, that this humility is not a thing that will come of itself, but that it must be made the object of special desire and prayer and faith and practice. As we study the word, we shall see what very distinct and oft-repeated instructions Jesus gave His disciples on this point, and how slow they were in understanding Him. Let us, at the very commencement of our meditations, admit that there is nothing so natural to man, nothing so insidious and hidden from our sight, nothing so difficult and dangerous, as pride.

Let us feel that nothing but a very determined and persevering waiting on God and Christ will discover how lacking we are in the grace of humility, and how impotent to obtain what we seek. Let us study the character of Christ until our souls are filled with the love and admiration of His lowliness.

And let us believe that, when we are broken down under a sense of our pride, and our impotence to cast it out, Jesus Christ Himself will come in to impart this grace too, as a part of His wondrous life within us.

Source:  Andrew Murray, Humility: The Beauty of Holiness