Humbly Pray

The Pharisee was a fine gentleman, who spoke well and had the respect of the entire community.  He was the sort of fellow we would all like to invite over for dinner. A man with a good testimony; he followed the law without fail and made sure to give a tenth of his income to the temple. There was one problem with the Pharisee, he was proud. He thought he was better than everyone else. (Luke 18:9-12)

There was also a tax collector and as expected he was not very popular. No one wanted to have him over for dinner. All tax collectors were suspected of cheating and cheating the poor of Israel.  They were seen as traitors since they collected taxes for Rome. Some considered tax collectors to be simply the worst. Well it’s not like tax collectors are any more popular today. (Luke 18:13-14)

They both came before God to pray. The Pharisee came before almighty and holy God and thanked Him for making him so wonderful. He was proud of how good he was. Perhaps he simply wanted to remind God. God was not impressed.

The tax collector understood his condition. He was completely aware of God’s holiness and how far sin had taken him from God’s presence. He approached God with all the reverence God deserved and all the humbleness his state required.  Jesus explains that he could not even lift his head and beat upon his chest on account of his guilt, shame and pain. God was pleased.

Jesus explained that the tax collector was forgiven or justified and the pharisee would not be. (Luke 18:14) We must be careful to come before God in reverence, and humility, understanding that we are sinners and He is holy. We are in need of forgiveness. This is the very reason why Jesus gave His life, that we may be forgiven, if we simply believe.

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Faith and humility is required

Our wonderful Savior would never ignore us, would He? It appears that is exactly what Jesus did to a Canaanite woman. Was Jesus prejudice or insensitive? The woman came chasing after the disciples and Jesus. The bible specifically says “Jesus did not answer a word.” (Matthew 15:23) The disciples then complained to Jesus “Send her away, for she keeps crying out after us” (Matthew 15:23)

Jesus finally responds to her and it doesn’t seem very nice “I was sent only to the lost sheep of Israel” (Matthew 15:24) Are we to assume that Jesus would only help fellow Jews? In actuality Jesus provided many miracles for those who were not of the nation of Israel. There was the centurion who had great faith (Matthew 8:5-13) and the one leper who came back (Luke 17:11-19). Jesus also told a parable where the central character and hero was the “Good Samaritan” (Luke 10:25-37). He also taught that God’s purpose was to bring salvation to the whole world. (John 3:16)

The woman then begs again “Lord help me!” Jesus then says what some might consider insulting “It is not right to take the children’s bread and toss it to the dogs.” (Matthew 15:26) Was this Jesus or an impostor?

Then the woman said some very special words “Even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their master’s table.” (Matthew 15:27) The woman from the beginning showed desperation, due to her great need, as anyone would. However desperation does not move the hand of God. Faith and humility moves the hand of God. When we truly believe and yet understand that we are not worthy, God is willing to act. This is when we understand that it is not our will but his will that matters. Upon hearing these words Jesus immediately grants her request and confirms the importance of her faith when he says “Woman, you have great faith! Your request is granted.” (Matthew 15:28)

Although desperation may cause us to seek God, God is waiting for us to truly believe and humble ourselves. We must realize the sovereignty of God and accept that it is His will that will be done.


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1 prophet vs 1 king, 3 captains and 150 soldiers

Sometimes learning can be difficult and can take several lessons. Take Ahaziah king of Samaria for example. He was king during the time of Elijah the prophet. Surely he had seen and heard of some of the mighty works of God performed by the great prophet and yet did not understand who was the true God. When he got sick he decided to send a messenger to Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron, to ask if he would recover. Why not ask the true God and send a messenger to Elijah.

Elijah under God’s direction intervened and stopped the messenger. He sent the messenger right back to his king with a message from the one true God. (2 kings 1:3)

“Is it because there is no God in Israel that you are going to inquire of Baal-zebub, the god of Ekron? Now therefore thus says the LORD, “You shall not come down from the bed to which you have gone up, but you shall surely die.”” (2 kings 1:3-4)

The King obviously disturbed insisted on having a word with Elijah. He planned to bring in the prophet by force. Shouldn’t he know by now that nobody’s force compares to God’s force. The king sends a captain and fifty soldiers to bring in one lonely unarmed prophet.

The force shows up and the captain demands that Elijah come with him. Elijah said “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” (2 kings 1:10) Then immediately fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty. Did the king learn his lesson?

The king sent another captain and another fifty soldiers. This captain said the same thing. Elijah said, “If I am a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and consume you and your fifty.” (2 kings 1:12) Then immediately fire came down from heaven and consumed the captain and his fifty. Did the king learn his lesson?

The king sent a third captain and another fifty soldiers. The king may not have learned anything, but the last captain apparently had become aware of the situation and approached Elijah with all the fear and respect a man of God deserves. He also recognized the power of the true God. On his knees he begged Elijah for mercy. (2 kings 1:13-14) God directed Elijah to go with him and the captain and his men were spared. As for the king, he died as Elijah said he would.

Recognizing the power of God definitely has its advantages! There is no greater force than our God! He will surely fight our battles.


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God likes rejects

Being rejected is a painful experience. When you are rejected by strangers I suppose it is a little easier to live with. Even rejection at the hands of friends, neighbors or coworkers is a pain we can overcome. But when your own family does not want you it can really leave a deep wound that does not heal. Such was the case of Jephthah who was driven out of his home in Gilead. He was the son of a prostitute. His half brothers wanted nothing to do with him, as if it was his fault. They told him “You shall not have an inheritance in our father’s house, for you are the son of another woman.” (Judges 11:2) They cast him out of his home and he went to live with men of questionable character, the bible called them “worthless fellows” (Judges 11:3). No doubt being rejected led to these unfortunate circumstances. But God apparently likes rejects, even the ones birthed by a prostitute, out of wedlock, due to adultery.

Jephthah had one thing going for him; he was recognized as a great warrior. When the Ammonites made war with Israel, they went looking for the reject. Jephthah was wise enough to strike a deal. Jephthah told the elders of his tribe, “If you bring me home again to fight against the Ammonites, and the LORD gives them over to me, I will be your head.” (Judges 11:9) Out of desperation they agreed. Then Jephthah humbly asked God for his assistance, thus recognizing that he could not obtain victory on his own. (Judges 11:30-31) Jephthah conquered 20 cities. God gave Jephthah a complete and total victory. Under Jephthah’s rule of Israel they would not have to fear the Ammonites again. He ruled until his death and was buried in Gilead as a hero, where he was originally rejected and driven out.

God does not seek the approval of men. He does not admire the most popular, the most beautiful or the strongest. He admires those that humbly seek Him and obey Him; those that are not too proud to accept that sometimes life is too hard, the problems too great and the task too important to overcome alone. These men and women find strength in God for “we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”(Romans 8:37)

A few more verses to consider.

1 Corinthians 1:27-29

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:

29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.

 Psalm 28:7

The LORD is my strength and my shield; my heart trusted in him, and I am helped: therefore my heart greatly rejoices; and with my song will I praise him.

Psalm 27:1

The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? the LORD is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid?

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Acting inappropriately

Then David danced before the Lord with all his might…2Samuel 6:14

Making a good impression is really important, we all have been told. We try our best to act and dress appropriately given the circumstances. Whether it’s wearing a nice suit for a wedding or wearing that power tie for the interview. The hair, the accessories and for the ladies the makeup, has to be just right. We do this even if it makes some of us t-shirt and jean guys, uncomfortable. We do all this to be appropriate. However, King David taught us something different, when to be inappropriate.

David had become King in Israel and had made Jerusalem his strong hold and capital. It was there that the temple of God would be built. David desired to bring the ark of God to Jerusalem and knew it would be a great blessing. The ark had been kept in obscurity in the house of a Levite, named Abinadab. The ark was not brought in a simple way, for the ark represented the presence of God, the provision of God and the liberation of God. Its importance was indescribable. It was brought to Jerusalem with music, dancing and singing. The bible says it was brought up with “all the house of Israel” (2Samuel 6:15). It’s as if the entire nation had come out to party.

David as king should have been leading the way. You could almost imagine the leaders of today dressed up in the finest clothes. They would have been placed in the finest cars and they would in a very dignified way, simply wave and smile. Perhaps the women in power would throw a kiss or two, but that would be all. The whole thing would have been proper and dignified. But David loved God. He really loved God! It’s the kind of Love that makes you run into the arms of someone, twirl around and kiss. You get the idea. David could not contain himself. When we worship God it can be exactly like that. When you truly love God it can be difficult to contain yourself. There can be crying and shouting and even dancing. David experienced this, thousands of years ago and nothing has changed. When you love the Lord you just have to let it show.

The bible relates that David was somewhat underdressed and began to dance. Perhaps he took off some of his kingly garments that inhibited him and then he got started. When his wife complained, David explained “It was before the LORD, who chose me instead of your father and all his house, to appoint me ruler over the people of the LORD, over Israel. Therefore I will play music before the LORD. And I will be even more undignified than this, and will be humble in my own sight….” (2Samuel 6:21-22).

David was not concerned if some thought him “undignified.” He was not concerned with making an impression as a king. He wanted to worship his God with all his might. He did all he could to express the gratitude and love he felt so strongly for his God. May we all remember to worship our God with the same sincerity and might. Even if others think it is a bit too much and inappropriate.

Try these Verses on worship

Humility is required

And he returned to the man of God, he and all his aides, and came and stood before him; and he said, “Indeed, now I know that there is no God in all the earth, except in Israel… 2 kings 5:15

He was a mighty warrior known throughout the ancient world, respected by everyone, feared by his enemies and loved by his countrymen, and King. The bible described him as a mighty man of valor who even God seemed to favor. He was General Naaman, commander of the Syrian army. He had been successful against Israel and had taken at least one captive that the bible mentioned, a young servant girl.

Naaman had one terrible flaw, that was rather disgraceful. He was a leper. A terrible disease that attacked the skin, destroyed limbs and eventually killed its victim. Naaman needed help. How humiliated he must have felt, but it was about to get worst. His lowly Hebrew servant girl showed compassion and revealed the only solution possible, a miracle from the God of Israel.

Naaman would have to admit that the Syrian gods and their priests were of no use and instead went to the King of Israel, his enemy, in search of a man of God, a true prophet. Apparently, for God, this was not humiliating enough.

When Naaman finally does track down the prophet Elisha, he goes right to the front of his home, and most likely expects an honorable greeting. He was after all General Naaman. Naaman may have thought Elisha would fear for his life and grant him anything. However Elisha does not even leave his home to say hello. Perhaps he doesn’t have the time or was too tired to make the effort. Elisha simply sends his servant with a prescription for Naaman.

Naaman was outraged at first. However to Naaman’s credit, perhaps showing why he was such a great general, heard the servant and took his advice. It was not going to be easy. Elisha through his servant told Naaman to go and wash himself seven times in the filthiest river in Israel, the Jordan.

This mighty general humbled himself and obeyed the orders. Seven times he went into those dirty waters and when he was done he was miraculously healed. Naaman went a step further and recognized that the only true God was the God of Israel.

Naaman discovered many lessons that we all need to understand. First God is powerful and can supply our needs when no one else can. Second God often does not do things the way we want it to be done. Naaman wanted Elisha to wave his hands and be instantly healed. Third God may want us to take an action on behalf of our faith, as Naaman did when he took seven baths. Lastly Faith may not be the only requirement for a miracle. God may also want humility. These are a few lessons for us to consider the next time we ask God for a miracle.