Connecting with God – Humility

Connecting with God!
James 4:6-10
January 14, 2018
I’ve said it before, I don’t make new year’s resolutions.  And I still don’t . . . but I’m kinda sorta making an exception, maybe making a little change.  Maybe this will become an annual event for me.  I’m not sure, we’ll just see how this year goes.
What am I talking about?  Well, there’s a leadership consultant and speaker named Jon Gordon.  Jon has written lots and lots of books and talks to lots of business and sports teams.  Every year Jon encourages people to choose one word which they want to work on for that coming year.  You study it, pray about it and hope to grow in whatever word you’ve chosen.  I’ve read about this for a number of years and I’ve never chosen that one word.  Partly because I always feel after about 2 weeks, I’ll forget what my word is and I’ll feel foolish at the end of the year.
Well . . . . something, actually, a quote struck me.  I read this quote about a week ago, and it resonated with me.  At the Organizational Meeting earlier this week, I used this quote as a spring board for what I would like to see happen to us as individuals and as a church.
So, let me give you the quote, then we’ll take off from there as we seek to Follow God on that Great Adventure.  The quote is from Kobe Bryant.  He said this ~
My deepest fear is not using what God blessed me with to its full potential. ~ Kobe Bryant
It’s a pretty simple quote.  Yet, when I think about it, when I let those words filter into my heart and spirit . . . there is so much truth and power to what Bryant said.  So, I’m not choosing 1 word, I’m choosing a 2 word phrase – – FULL POTENTIAL
That’s what I want for us . . . I want you and me to reach our FULL POTENTIAL in 2018.  Then I want us to reach a little deeper and higher in 2019.  I don’t ever want anyone to say of me, “man that Deutsch, good guy, but he never became what he could’ve been, he was full of potential.”  That’s pretty cruddy to think that way.
When I coach kids, there are some who are full of potential, but you look at the way they carry themselves, the way they practice, the way they play, and you know, unless something changes, that’s never happening for them.  I’ve encouraged them, I’ve told them they could be leaders, but . . . they choose otherwise.
Maybe as you look at yourself, you’re thinking I’m not there.  I could never get there.  I’m just not good enough, I never will be, or maybe you think time has passed you by, so there’s no hope.  Here’s the beauty of reaching your FULL POTENTIAL . . . and this may be the most important thing I will say this morning.  So, listen carefully – – – reaching your full potential is different for each person.
For example, I may take voice lessons from Joni . . . and I may improve, but not get very good, and it’s not because I didn’t give it my best effort.  Yet someone else takes voice lessons with her, and they sound like an angel.
It’s OK!  The question is really – – are you doing all you can to grow, or are you settling for mediocrity, for average, for good enough?  Too often we settle for a less than life, instead of a more than life.
Well, all of that is leading into a couple of passages I want to talk about.  As we seek to reach our FULL POTENTIAL, I believe the call from God is for you and I to get off our pedestal – – where we think we’re God – – – and allow God to be God.  That’s not always very easy to do.  This is part of the growth process, as we seek to follow Christ as we grow in Him.
We are called to humble ourselves.  In James 4:6, James tells us ~
6 God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble. – James 4:6
We don’t really like to be around people who are arrogant, cocky, conceited.  We appreciate people who demonstrate humility.  A couple of weeks ago, at the Rose Bowl, Georgia came from behind and upset Oklahoma, who had a QB who was pretty arrogant.  His name is Baker Mayfield and in fact he won the Heisman Trophy for being the best player in football.  Yet after the game, watch what one of the Georgia players yells . . .
He’s yelling HUMBLE YOURSELF!  Isn’t that an amazing statement!  He should be celebrating, but he was focused on the other QB.  Now, that wasn’t the time to say that.  But nobody wants to be around them.
It’s good advice for all of us.  If pride is the first sin, then humility is the first virtue.  Here’s a great spiritual truth . . . He’s God and we’re not. How’s that? Our spiritual growth starts with this truth.  Until we grasp what it means, we’ll be forever stalled.
James 4:6-10 helps us better understand what it means to humble ourselves before God.  There are a number of ways for this to happen.
Would you like to know God better?  Humble yourself!
Would you like to receive God’s approval?  Humble yourself!
Would you like to break through to victory?  Humble yourself!
Would you like to reach your full potential and have a closer walk with God in 2018?  Easy answer . . . Humble yourself!
6 “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.  7 Submit yourselves therefore to God.”  – James 4: 6-7
Humility doesn’t come naturally to most of us.  The great 19th century Pastor, Dwight L. Moody used to pray, “Lord, make me humble, but don’t let me know it.”  Sometimes when you think you’re humble, you’re really not!
No one likes being told what to do.  We would rather be in charge of our lives, and that’s why surrendering our pride to the Lord sounds strange.  But there is no other way to grow. There’s no other way to be forgiven.  There is no other way to find a new life.
We can fight the Lord, or we can surrender everything to His control.
When we fight, we lose.
When we surrender in faith, we win.
It’s a reminder as much as we might want to be God, we aren’t, we never were, and never will be.
The proud person must constantly remind themselves of how great they are.  They brag because they want people to notice them and praise them.  If you have to tell me how great you are, how great could you possibly be?  The proud person over-estimates their own value!
The word humble in Greek means this – – – – an inner lowliness describing the person who depends on the Lord rather than self; being God-reliant rather than self-reliant.
The humble person doesn’t brag because the truth speaks for itself.  They leave their reputation in the Lord’s hands because it doesn’t matter what others think.  Their main goal or purpose is to glorify and honor God.  That’s it!
Walking in humility means you confess your sins, you forgive your enemies, you admit your mistakes, and you don’t brag about how great you are.  You serve others, not yourself.
“God opposes the proud.”  He resists them.  Don’t let that happen to you!
“But God gives grace to the humble.”  So pray for the grace you need.
Ultimately, we’re called to give God control of our lives.  To be subject to Him, which fits right in with calling Jesus our Lord!!  When someone is your Lord, they are over you, they are your Master and you are their subject.  That’s exactly what we have when we call Jesus our Lord!  He is over us, He is our leader, our Shepherd, our Redeemer, our Healer!
In the second part of verse 7, James tells us ~
7 Submit yourselves therefore to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. – James 4:7
This is both a command and a promise.  This is all contingent on submitting ourselves to God.  If we don’t do that, then fleeing the devil, fleeing evil will be done on our own power, and that usually fails us.
So, by submitting to God, we can be certain that when we resist the devil, he will flee from us.  We don’t have the power source within us to resist the devil.  Yet, when we use God’s power to fight off the devil, he has no power against us.  By ourselves, we can’t win; with God’s help, we can’t lose.
The word “resist” is a military term.  It means you strongly resist your opponent by taking a strong stand and fighting.  It means YOU don’t run away!!  The devil will throw temptation our way and will make that temptation look really, really good and inviting.
satan is like a football coach who studys the opposing team.  He has “game film” on us, he knows our weaknesses and our strengths, and he uses what he knows against us.  If you tend to get discouraged easily, he knows your weakness.  If you quickly get angry, there you go.  If you give in to addictions, he looks for openings.  He’ll use whatever he can to destroy you.
We are to flee temptation, but we are to fight against the devil.  Again, we don’t do that on our own.  This is why Paul told us to put on the full armor of God, so that we can withstand the attacks of the devil. (Ephesians 6:10-17).
Don’t be surprised when he hits you out of the blue.  Fight back!
Don’t be surprised when he comes to you with a seductive temptation.  Fight back!
Don’t be surprised when he whispers in your ear in a moment of weakness.  Fight back!  Jesus tells us in John 8 ~
44 He was a murderer from the beginning . . . for he is a liar and the father of lies. – John 8:44
he’s a murderer and a liar.  He’s always against us.  But we can combat the temptations.  We have the weaponry if we choose to use what’s at our disposal.  And what is at your disposal?  The power of the Spirit of God.  As the church in Corinth was struggling with a number of issues, Paul instructed them ~
13 No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. 
Understand what Paul is saying, temptation is common, and whatever you are experiencing . . . don’t think you’re the only one going through it.  People have endured the same temptations.  He then added ~
God is faithful, and He will not let you be tempted beyond your ability,
Paul reminds us and this so important and powerful . . . God is faithful to you and I and He will not let us be tempted beyond what we can handle.  Because He gives us the ability to handle whatever comes our way, again, if we are submitting to Him.
Paul concluded that verse by saying ~
but with the temptation He will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.
And here’s the beauty of it all.  When we are tempted, God will always, let me say that word again . . . God will ALWAYS provide the escape, that way we can endure whatever comes our way.
Usually, to be honest, the easy answer is usually a 2 letter word NO!  It almost sounds so simple, but we give in to the temptations because we are not submitting to God, we are not putting on the armor of God and too often we are too full of ourselves to humble ourselves and submit to God.
The devil seeks to destroy your career, your marriage, your family, and anything else he can get his hands on.  We have to stand and fight.
Fight back with the Word of God.
Fight back by singing powerful Christian songs.
Fight back by praying.
Fight back by leaning on your brothers and sisters.
Fight back by confessing Christ openly.
Fight back by coming to the Lord’s Table.
Fight back by fleeing every temptation.
Stand and fight – – – – Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
That’s just the start.  It’s the start of what we need to do to grow in Christ as we seek to Follow Him on this Great Adventure.  What would you like to see happen in 2018?  For me, it’s growing and reaching our FULL POTENTIAL!

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