Sermon: Teaching Called Lowly

Written by Timothy

Not Even Death

Not even death can keep a preacher from preaching. A godly preachers words come from fire in the bones. But if I say, “I will not mention him or speak any more in his name,” his word is in my heart like a fire, a fire shut up in my bones. I am weary of holding it in; indeed, I cannot. (Jeremiah 20:9)

On the first day of the week we came together to break bread. Paul spoke to the people and, because he intended to leave the next day, kept on talking until midnight.

There were many lamps in the upstairs room where we were meeting. Seated in a window was a young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep as Paul talked on and on. When he was sound asleep, he fell to the ground from the third story and was picked up dead.

Paul went down, threw himself on the young man and put his arms around him. “Don’t be alarmed,” he said. “He’s alive!” Then he went upstairs again and broke bread and ate. After talking until daylight, he left. The people took the young man home alive and were greatly comforted. (Acts 20:7-12) 

Do not grumble that my sermons are long. True, long by today’ milk toast Christian standards, but not long when one considers the days are evil and ignorance floods the church. making the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. (Ephesians 5:16)

Preach The Word

I never preached about the Word of God. Rather I was led by the Holy Spirit to preach the Word.

Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage–with great patience and careful instruction. (2 Timothy 4:2)

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What I mean by sound doctrine

A Teaching Called The Lowly
Preached Year 2006

In Isaiah 5:13 God says:

Isaiah 5:13 – Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding;

Now why would God condemn people for being an ignorant group of people? Just because we don’t understand something or because we don’t have some knowledge about it, why would God say that we would go into exile? Because the reason we fail to realize, the reason we don’t have understanding is because our hearts are hard. People like to plead ignorance and we like to say that we don’t understand the things of God and yet what we’ve got to realize is if our hearts are soft and that if we’re really seeking God, we will have the understanding that God wants to pour into our life. How often did Jesus turn to the disciples and say, “Your hearts are hard, that’s why you can’t understand the loaves,” or “You can’t understand this parable,” or “You can’t understand this teaching, because your hearts are hard”? Not because intellectually we can’t take it in but because we are slow to learn and it’s on a heart level, not on a mind level. We can take in all the scriptures and never really have an understanding about those scriptures. So when God comes along in Isaiah 5:13 and says “Therefore my people will go into exile for lack of understanding;” what He is saying is, “My people will go into exile because of a hard heart.” The two go hand and hand. If you have a soft heart toward God He will give wisdom and He will give understanding. In fact, James says that God gives wisdom to all without finding fault. What gets in and confuses all of this is our own thoughts and our own opinions—our self doesn’t want to die. Because in order to accept God’s wisdom what has to go? Our wisdom. And that’s what we don’t want to lose. And that’s what we don’t want to give up. It says:

Isaiah 5:13 – . . . their men of rank will die of hunger and their masses will be parched with thirst.

Those men that are notable, those men that are looked up to and esteemed, He says they will “die of hunger and the masses will be parched with thirst.”

Isaiah 5:14 – Therefore the grave enlarges its appetite and opens its mouth without limit; into it will descend their nobles and masses with all their brawlers and revelers.

I’m thinking from what Isaiah’s preaching here this is not too positive a message. I mean he’s standing before the Israel people. He’s saying, “Because of your lack of understanding, you will die and the grave is opening its mouth up to make room for you. Its appetite is swinging wide open that you might go into this kind of death and this kind of torment.” And the reason is, is verse 15:

Isaiah 5:15 – So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

So we’re talking about self-esteem. And self-esteem is a matter of thinking well of ourselves, of exalting ourselves up. Now it’s sad to say that you can boast today and still seem to be humble. I mean that church we were in, when they said, “Let us please stand for the greatest preacher in the world,” everybody stood up. Nobody even thought that there was anything wrong with that. In fact, they probably literally believed that she was the greatest preacher in all the world. Nobody even thought for a minute that even if she was we don’t stand up for that kind of thing. We don’t exalt men in that way. We don’t even begin to speak it that way. So verse 15 says:

Isaiah 5:15 – So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

And so it’s because of their pride that they’re being sent in to captivity, that they’re being sent into death. It’s because they have esteemed themselves greater than God because we worship whatever we esteem, don’t we? If we had a self-esteem who we worship is self. We esteem ourselves. If we esteem God, if we really do esteem Him all glory we worship Him. We worship whatever we esteem, whatever we like, whatever we want to worship. And God is saying, “I’m going to humble you because of that pride.” And so God is going to take care of those who have a good self esteem. He is going to humble them. Now we have a choice. We can either be humbled now under the grace and loving hand of God or we can do it as we enter the grave.

Isaiah 5:16 – But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice . . .

Again, the emphasis upon God will be exalted and man humbled—don’t we see that? The point that God is trying to make is that you’re ignorant. “You’re ignorant because your hearts are prideful, but I will be exalted, I will be known because I am God and you will be humbled.” So the lower we sink the more God can be exalted. The more we lower ourselves in our own estimation in our own eyes, the more we let the Spirit humble us, the more we will know a God who is exalted and high and is holy.

Isaiah 5:17 – Then sheep will graze as in their own pasture . . .

Only when man humbles himself will we each know a living God, we’ll each have our own pasture that comes from God. But as long as man is exalted, as long as we have a self esteem that is unto us we will not graze in our own pasture, we will go into captivity. We will die of thirst, we will go hungry. But when we lower ourselves and we let God be holy and we let God be what He is, what verse 16 says:

Isaiah 5:16 – But the Lord Almighty will be exalted by his justice, and the holy God will show himself holy by his righteousness.

When He has that proper place, and when we have our proper place, that is lowly servants, things that God has made, without any self esteem, without any esteem for ourselves at all, then we will have our own pasture to graze in. We will graze contently because God will be our Shepherd. We will be simple sheep and God will indeed be our Shepherd. Then we can rest. Then we can be at peace. If we’ll sink lower and lower, if we’ll lose our pride, if we lose ourselves, we will be a blessed people. Let’s read on:

Isaiah 5:17 – . . . lambs will feed among the ruins of the rich.

Whatever they prided themselves in we’ll feed in those areas. God will make it clean; He’ll make it pure. We’ll have our own pastureland; we’ll have enough for food for those who are humble. But now for those who esteem themselves the grave enlarges its mouth that we might go there.

Isaiah 5:18 – Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit, and wickedness as with cart ropes,

In other words, woe to those who bring sin along, but they bring it along with deceit. That is, when you say that it is proper to have good self esteem nobody thinks there’s anything wrong with that. There’s a deceitfulness about the teaching. In other words, it looks humble to have good self esteem. It looks noble to think well of yourself. You’re drawing along your sin with a cartload of deceit, that is, you’re covering it up so that it no longer look like sin. Look at the next verse:

Isaiah 5:19 – to those who say, “Let God hurry, let him hasten his work so we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come, so we may know it.”

These are a people who are saying they want to know God’s will. These are people drawing along sin but it is with cords of deceit. But look at what they’re saying in verse 19. They’re saying, “Let God hurry.” They’re saying, “Praise the Lord.” They’re saying, “Alleluia,” they’re singing rejoicing songs to God. They’re saying, “Let him hasten his work so that we may see it. Let it approach, let the plan of the Holy One of Israel come so we may know it.” That is, they seem to be a people interested in the things of God, don’t they? They seem to be a people worshipping God, concerned about God’s will. If you were to say to them, “Are you praying about God’s will?” They would say, “Yes. Let us see the plan of the Holy One. Let us understand and know God’s will. We are a people wanting to know God.” They would say that they are humbling themselves. But what they’re doing is what verse 18 says:

Isaiah 5:18 – Woe to those who draw sin along with cords of deceit,

That is, they’re covering up their teaching; they’re covering up their lies with deceit. They don’t see it themselves. And they certainly bring along teachers who will cover it up themselves. So it is noble today to say to have good self esteem. Nobody blushes any more. Nobody thinks that’s a negative thing to do. It’s not even like it crosses our mind that there’s something wrong with that. We think that, “Yes, Jesus died on the cross so that Tim Williams might have a good self esteem.” We think that was the purpose of the blood. To make me feel valuable, to make me noble, to make me feel lovable. So there are these cords of deceit coming along saying, “Well, let God hurry. Let His plans succeed. Let God bless us. Let the Holy Spirit come into our churches.” But God is preparing for people to go into captivity. He’s telling these people here that are saying, “Let God hurry,” that the grave is opening its mouth, that its appetite is increasing to allow you to come into hell. And yet they think they’re exalted. They think they’re a noble people because they do what Isaiah 5:20 says.

Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

Woe to those who take the word of God and switch it all the way around. That it sounds negative, that it sounds bitter, to stand up and say that we are to be a people considering ourselves to be maggots and worms. That causes people to become violently upset at that kind gospel because we have taken what is sweet and we put bitter there and we substitute it and we twist it all around. “Woe to you who call evil good and good evil.” Woe to those who look at good self esteem and say, “That’s good” when it’s really evil. Jesus said, “Be careful that the light within you is not darkness,” but then how great is the darkness. That is, if you look at something, if you look at the darkness and you say that is light, then how great is the darkness. How little God can get through to that kind of people. If what you consider to be good and noble and exalted and holy is really violent, corrupt, and worthy of hell, and you consider that to be good, then how is God ever going to get to you? How is He ever going to open your mind up to see the truth? If having good self-esteem is a noble, holy thing for you to teach and to have and to tolerate how will God ever convince us that that is evil?

Isaiah 5:20 – Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.

And it’s all due to the haughtiness, it’s all due to pride, isn’t it? God again says in verse 15:

Isaiah 5:15 – So man will be brought low and mankind humbled, the eyes of the arrogant humbled.

The problem is pride. The problem is self. The problem is thinking well of ourselves. It is esteeming us. And so we take and we esteem ourselves to be good when we’re evil. And we look at God and His message and call that evil.

Isaiah 5:21 – Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes and clever in their own sight.

To have a good self esteem is to put trust in yourself, I don’t care how you whitewash it, I don’t care how you preach it, I don’t care how much you talk about humility it is an impossible thing to think low of yourself and yet have a good self esteem at the same time. To have a good self esteem is to say that you’re wise in your own eyes and that you’re trusting in your own righteousness and your own self. Let’s go back to 2 Timothy 3:1 and look at it again.

2 Timothy 3:1-2 – But mark this: There will be terrible times in the last days. People will be lovers of themselves . . .

There will come a time when people will look and say you are to love yourself and call that good; “That’s holy, that’s noble, that’s of God, let God’s plan succeed. Let it come about.” There’s a terrible time coming when people will look at those things and they will say it is noble to be a lover of self. To have a good self esteem. Verse 5 says they will have a form of godliness but deny its power. That is, they will say, “Let the plan of God hurry, let it hasten, let it come that we might see it, that we might know the Holy One of God.” They will have a form of godliness, they will have a form of knowing God or saying they want to know God but they deny the power of God. 2 Timothy 3:5 is very clear:

2 Timothy 3:5 – having a form of godliness but denying its power. Have nothing to do with them.

We need to be pleading with other people to have nothing to do with a church or a gospel or any person who is preaching to us to love ourselves or to have a good self esteem or to even get close to that. If they’re not tasting of the humility and brokenness that comes from the cross we’re to have nothing to do with them. If it’s a false humility we’re to have nothing to do with them except to call them to repentance. But there’s no fellowship, there’s no communion, there’s no saying, “We’re one together,” there’s no saying, “We’re brothers and sisters.” We’re opposed to each other. Satan is the one who comes to me and says, “Love yourself and think well of yourself.” And I’m totally opposed to him. Now look at verse 6:

2 Timothy 3:6-7 – They are the kind who worm they way into homes and gain control over weak-willed women, who are loaded down with sins and are swayed by all kinds of evil desires, always learning but never able to acknowledge the truth.

Always studying God’s Word, always praying, always studying, always going to one seminar after another seminar but never able to actually sit down and say, “This is the truth.” To acknowledge it by the power of the Spirit, they’re never able to do it. They’re never able to say with joy that it is lovely, that it is noble, that is beautiful to think low of yourself. That it is something grand in God, it is a blessing from God to be totally nothing in your own sight. Always studying, always learning, always going to the Word, always praying, doing all this activity but never able to stand up and say, “This is the truth.” Now we live in that kind of time anyway when people say, “You can’t understand the truth, you can’t ever come to a conclusion, there will always be differences.” They’re always studying, though. You’d think with all this studying, with all this reading of the Word, with all the commentaries we’ve got that somehow there would be some unity in the understanding of the Word. And the reason why that isn’t there is because we are exalted. We’re thinking well of ourselves. We’re depending on our own intellect and our own understanding and so we’re always studying but never able to acknowledge and say, “This is the truth, this is what God’s Word says.” We’re just not able to come to any conclusions because we’re not dependent upon the mind of Christ but upon our own minds. If you study the Word of God under your own intellect you’ll never come to a conclusion, you’ll be tossed back and forth all the time. But to hear from the Spirit we know that Jesus has told us and we know what Jesus has told us. And there’s a spiritual understanding about God’s word. What keeps us from having a conclusion about the Word of God, about understanding what is proper and right and holy in God is our pride. We refuse to humble ourselves before God. What is the whole Bible about anyway but humble yourself before the Lord? And yet we want to talk about our good self-esteem or thinking well of ourselves. Utter nonsense.

Go to Philippians 2:1. If we really want a unity that comes from God then we’re going to have to become lower and lower and lower in our own eyes and before God. We’re going to have to ask for God to give us a humility that only comes from His Spirit. This is not a humility that can ever be achieved by you humbling yourself, because can sinful nature humble itself? The minute the sinful nature humbles itself, what happens? You become self righteous. You become prideful. Only God is able to humble man. Only God is able to break a man. Self is not able to commit suicide by crucifixion; it takes somebody else putting you up on the cross. It’s only the work of the Holy Spirit that is able to do that.

Philippians 2:1 – If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion,

No matter how small it is, if you have but the smallest amount of the Spirit of Jesus Christ. Verse 2 says:

Philippians 2:2 – then make my joy complete by being like-minded . . .

How easily we pass right over these passages. I mean we’re talking about the smallest area of the Holy Spirit. If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if you have any comfort from His love, if you have the smallest of any fellowship with the Spirit, if you have any tenderness and compassion that comes from the Lord, then do what? What is your goal? To be like-minded. To be united in terms of what Scripture is saying, to be united in purpose and love, to be united in all things and understanding, we should be striving for that. That would make the joy of Jesus Christ complete that if we get some comfort from Him then let us strive to be united in one in mind. Look at this:

Philippians 2:2 – . . . having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose.

Understanding what the Word says. Understanding what the gospel has to say. Hearing from the Spirit what the Spirit has to say. But what gets in the way and what keeps this from happening? It’s our good self-esteem—it’s us. Look at verse 3. It says:

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

You cannot consider somebody else better than you are if you have a good self esteem. It’s impossible. A good self esteem will not allow you to consider somebody else to be better than you. Because you have to think well of yourself. You have to guard yourself. You have to protect who you are. You have to be sure that you keep yourself exalted in your proper place. But the minute that I say somebody is better than me I have to lower myself, don’t I? I have to esteem myself a little bit lower, don’t I? Yet, there’s this guardian, this protection in keeping ourselves for who we are. Of trying to keep to keep a good self esteem. “Oh, you’re not any worse than anybody else, right?” How often do we hear that taught? And yet Scripture very clearly says that we are to consider others better than ourselves. And what keeps us from being united in one mind, of having the same love is the first part of verse 3:

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit . . .

A self esteem attitude is nothing more than vain conceit. It’s worthless. Why have it? It’s a vain conceit to look at me and say there’s something noble, there’s good, there’s something lovable about me, because there isn’t. It’s an empty type of conceit, an empty kind of pride. And what keeps us from having the joy that is complete in Jesus Christ from being like-minded is that what we do we do out of selfish ambition, we do out of promote self. You see, it comes back to us. That’s what selfish ambition is. To build up our self esteem, to make ourselves look good, to make ourselves look noble, to make ourselves look godly, to make ourselves look spiritual. And so we lose that love and that like-mindedness. We can’t hear from the Spirit and because of our ignorance we go into captivity.

Philippians 2:3 – Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves.

How very little we know the joy of this, of walking around knowing and saying that that brother or that sister is better than me. Blessed is the Body that can find it to be so where everybody considers everybody to be better than themselves. Now this is a humility that can only come from the Spirit. That is if you let God show you who you are you will indeed look at everybody else and think they’re better than you are because you’ll see clearly who you are, that you are nothing. And only the Spirit can work that, and only in a heart that is soft and desiring will it be given. These are mysteries in Jesus Christ. This is the very heart of God and He doesn’t give it to the haughty and He doesn’t give it to the proud and He doesn’t give it to those who are hard of heart. He gives it to those who want it and desire it, who know what the cross is in terms of its joy. “Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit.” A self esteem is nothing more than a vain conceit. It’s not even worth having. It’s an empty kind of hope. Look at Philippians 2:4. It says:

Philippians 2:4-5 – Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus:

We should have the same attitude, the same heart, the same Spirit as Jesus Christ.

Philippians 2:6-7 – Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing . . .

And how often people come to God and they grasp Jesus Christ to make themselves something. They grab on to Jesus Christ to say, “Well, I’m blessed in Jesus Christ. God died that I might have a good self esteem.” When Jesus grabs hold of God He made Himself nothing. How much more when we grab hold of Jesus Christ, we who are nothing should make ourselves nothing, should not have an esteem that points to anything? Look at verse 7 again.

Philippians 2:7 – . . . but made himself nothing . . .

I don’t know how all this worked out in God but somehow God considered others better than Himself. In other words, there’s a pouring out of Himself. He didn’t want to bring anything back to Himself. Now He knew He was above man. But this goes on to be a servant of other people. Look at this.

Philippians 2:7 – . . . taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.

That is humbling himself. Not saying, “Well, I am somebody.” Or “I have a good self esteem and you ought to look to me.” There wasn’t this kind of vain, selfish conceit that pointed back to Himself but poured Himself out for other people. Our attitude should be the same as that of Jesus Christ. Not grabbing hold of God and saying, “I’m something in God.” But in making ourselves nothing and becoming servants for others, of losing our self esteem. Look at 1 Corinthians 1:26.

1 Corinthians 1:26 – Brothers, think of what you were when you were called.

Now, think about it for a moment. He’s going to remind you of your humility and your brokenness. Think of what you were when God called you to be a part of Jesus Christ.

1 Corinthians 1:26 – Not many of you were wise by human standards . . .

Anybody here have a superior I.Q.?

1 Corinthians 1:26-8 – . . . not many of you were influential; not many were of noble birth. But God chose the foolish things of the world to shame the wise; God chose the weak things of the world to shame the strong. He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are.

How does God choose to pour His grace out on? Those who don’t have a good self esteem. Those who are lowly, those who are nothing, receive the grace of God. Not those who are wise, not those who are intellectual, not those who have all kinds of talents. How many times have I heard people boast and say, “Well, God gave me the talent to be a doctor,” or a lawyer, and they’re puffed up in that, really pointing to themselves? But God has chosen the lowly things, the things that are not, the things that are not anything in terms of this world to demonstrate that man is nothing. To nullify the things that claim that they are.

1 Corinthians 1:28-30 – He chose the lowly things of this world and the despised things—and the things that are not—to nullify the things that are, so that no one may boast before him. It is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus, who has become for us wisdom from God—that is, our righteousness, holiness and redemption.

In other words, we were nothing. God chose the things that were nothing, He chose the things that were lowly and Jesus Christ has become the wisdom from God, that is our righteousness. Jesus is our esteem. Jesus is our righteousness. Jesus is our holiness and our redemption. That is, all esteem, all glory, all honor goes unto Him. And no, God does not choose those with self esteem to receive Christ. God does not choose the things that are exalted and lift themselves up to receive the grace of God. He chooses. God looks down upon the lowly to receive Christ, the things that are not receive Christ, not the things that are.

1 Corinthians 1:31 – Therefore, as it is written: “Let him who boasts boast in the Lord.”

So if you’re going to boast, if you’re going to say something is something, if it’s not you it’s the Lord. No longer am I going to be totally ignorant and a brute beast before God and say, “I am something, I have a self esteem, I am valuable.” If I will boast, I will boast only in the Lord. And I will say and I will testify that God did not choose the wise things. In fact, I haven’t had any public speaking training; I haven’t had any Bible school training. God chose the lowly things, “the things that are not to nullify the things that are.” God chose as the weak things, the low things, the people who humble themselves in order to receive grace from God. If you want power, if you want a relationship with God, if you want the joy that comes with it, if we want a fellowship that is united one in heart and mind, then we have to become lower and lower—there isn’t any other way. And let God work it and He’ll bring it about.

Go to Luke 18:9. The problem is we’re not willing to humble ourselves. We’ll talk about it now, we’ll study about it, we’ll let other people teach us about it, but how few of us will allow it to happen in our lives. God comes along and He humbles us in millions of ways. There’s no way I could even fathom the ways that God seeks to humble us and to make us lowly but He’ll do it. In John 15 Jesus says every branch that bears fruit He trims back so that it will be more fruitful. God seeks to lower us time and time again. I mean Paul got to the point where he despaired even of life so that he might depend upon God and not on himself. There’s a lot of ways that God seeks to humble us, in the body, through His Word, through the Spirit, through convictions, through circumstances, in millions of different ways but few of us respond to that discipline. How many people blame the Devil for all of their problems? They get convicted or something comes against them and they immediately blame the Devil without realizing that God is just seeking to humble them.

Luke 18:9 – To some who were confident of their own righteousness . . .

To some who were confident of their own self esteem, their own worthiness, their own valuableness, of who they were to their own righteousness.

Luke 18:9 – . . . and looked down on everybody else, Jesus told this parable:

You can’t have a self esteem and not fail to look down on everybody else. It’s an impossible thing to do. It’s a false humility, it’s a vain conceit. For me to automatically say that I have a good self esteem is immediately looking down on everybody else. To think that I am something is to say that I am above everything else. Now you can whitewash that all you want and you can dance all around that with all kinds of conversations and words but the truth is ultimately it comes down to you think you’re something. You’re evaluating yourself with somebody else.

Luke 18:10-11 – Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood up and prayed about himself:

What did he say? The Pharisee prayed about what? Himself. Everything centers around himself.

Luke 18:11-14 – “God, I thank you that I am not like other men—robbers, evildoers, adulterer—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.” But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, “God, have mercy on me, a sinner.” I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Everyone who says they have a good self esteem, everyone who thinks well of themselves, those who exalt themselves even in Jesus Christ or in the name of the Lord will be humbled. “And he who humbles himself will be exalted.” There has to be a purpose and a direction. There has to be a hunger and a thirst for righteousness. There has to be a saying that we want to be a humble people. And not just praying that, and not just putting it out but honestly allowing God to work it. And if you let God work it you know what’s going to happen? You’re going to be beating your chest. You’re going to be weeping and praying on the floor. You’re going to be seeing who you are. You’re going to have to experience what this tax collector experiences. And few of us are willing to allow God to do that kind of work in our life.

We’ve had a lot of people come to this body with the attitude that they were going to teach us something. That’s not that I won’t learn from them something. We get a lot of people that come and go. They come here with that attitude, they’re already exalted up, they’re already puffed up. Now granted that can come with some humility but that’s not what they came with. Because the minute they started to get challenged, I mean if they start to become corrected where did they go? They left. Of course they accused us of being unwilling to learn. He who exalts himself will be humbled but those of us who actually seek and desire and love to be humbled will be given grace. Will we desire it? Verse 14 again.

Luke 18:14 -I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.

Now watch out for those who twist that last part. They say, “I’ve humbled myself before God therefore He’s exalted me.” That’s not what that means at all. You won’t be exalted. You’ll be crucified; you’ll be put to death. You’ll be exalted in the sense of giving righteousness and power and grace and forgiveness. That’s true exaltedness. Of having a relationship with Jesus Christ.

So what’s the key to a close walk with God? Go to John 3:26. Because John chapter 3 summarizes for us the whole walk with Jesus Christ. A brother shared this passage with me just this week and that’s why I decided to preach on self-esteem again. John 3:26, because this is just a pivotal passage. It says:

John 3:26-28 – They came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—well, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” To this John replied, “A man can receive only what is given him from heaven. You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Christ but am sent ahead of him.’”

Now verse 29 and 30 are going to tell you how to walk with joy in this world with Jesus Christ. Twenty-nine and thirty are going to tell us how to be a blessed people in God. And we have need not to just hear it this morning but to go back in the prayer closet and ask God to write this in our heart. If we do this we’ll be glad to lose self esteem, we’ll be glad to be humbled.

John 3:29 – The bride belongs to the bridegroom. The friend who attends the bridegroom waits and listens for him, and is full of joy when he hears the bridegroom’s voice. That joy is mine, and it is now complete.

Now how can people say that their joy is complete in Jesus Christ? And the reason we can’t say that is because we are something. Because we’re looking to ourselves. But our joy is to wait for Him to get to us. And once we see Him who is worthy of all our esteem and all of our glory and all of our praise, our joy is complete. Once He is given the glory and the honor and the rejoicing and the things that are His, my joy is complete. Because look at verse 30.

John 3:30 – He must become greater; I must become less.

That’s how John lived his life. That’s what he longed for. That’s what he couldn’t wait for. He says, “You know that I testified that I am not the Christ, that I am nothing. You need not look at me for anything. I baptize you with water but He’ll baptize you with fire. He has far more. I am not worthy to untie His sandals. I am indeed nothing.” “I must become less that he might become greater” is the secret to a joyful walk with Jesus Christ. The more you become less, the more you lose your own life, the more you lose that esteem, the more Jesus will be greater in your life. The more power and the more joy you’ll have in relationship with God. But as long as you hold on to your pride, as long as you hold on to self, as long as you hold on to that self esteem you are greater and Jesus is less. Every time you are something you lose a piece of Jesus Christ. Do we want the joy that is full? Do we want the joy that John had? Then do what verse 30 says. “He must become greater; I must become less.” Say it every single morning when we get up. I will become less. I will humble myself. I will lay myself low before God. I will lose all things and Jesus will become greater until finally one day we are nothing because we’re transformed like He is. Who made Himself nothing. In John 15:5 Jesus says:

John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.

You are nothing. I am nothing. And God chooses the lowly things of this world and He humbles those who are prideful. What will it be for us? Will we be an exalted people in Jesus Christ, in His name? Will we substitute evil and call that good? Will we say that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter? Will we get everything totally backwards? Will our darkness be light and so we miss the grace of God? Paul says in Philippians 3:7:

Philippians 3:7 – But whatever was to my profit I now consider loss for the sake of Christ.

Whatever was to me, whatever points to me I now consider loss. I throw it away. Whatever gives any glory to Tim, whatever points to me I now consider rubbish and garbage. It’s utter folly to say something like, “Let us stand up for the greatest preacher in the world.” A lot of people will condemn that but in their own hearts they do the same thing every single day.

Proverbs 16:5 – The Lord detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished.

The Lord detests those who are prideful in heart. And they will indeed be punished.

Let’s go to Daniel 4:28. It can’t be said enough that you can’t humble yourself, there’s no way. There’s no way that when I was baptized in Jesus Christ that I just sought to humble myself. God had to do that work. Daniel 4:28 shows a man who had a very good self esteem about himself. Now listen, the smallest of pride in ourselves is equal to this. Don’t deceive yourself and say, “Well, he’s awful puffed up in himself,” when if we have a little bit of measure of ourselves and who we are we’re just like him. There’s no difference.

Daniel 4:28-33 – All this happened to King Nebuchadnezzar. Twelve months later, as the king was walking on the roof of the royal palace of Babylon, he said, “Is not this the great Babylon I have built as the royal residence, by my mighty power and for the glory of my majesty?” The words were still on his lips when a voice came from heaven, “This is what is decreed for you, King Nebuchadnezzar. Your royal authority has been taken from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes.” Immediately what had been said about Nebuchadnezzar was fulfilled. He was driven away from people and ate grass like cattle. His body was drenched with the dew of heaven until his hair grew like the feathers of an eagle and his nails like the claws of a bird.

What does Ecclesiastes say? That God tests man that he might know that he’s like the animals, that he’s like the beasts of the field.

Daniel 4:34 – At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.

Do we realize that if we look toward heaven and see who God is we’ll have the sanity that is in Jesus Christ? That’s why Paul writes in Corinthians, he says, “I’m out of my mind to talk like this.” He who boasts like the world does proves that he’s an insane man. But once we look toward heaven and once our eyes are upon Jesus and on who He is, once we see who God is our sanity is restored to us. And there are people who are saying they have a good self-esteem. Know this, they’re insane. They’re worthy of being put in a mental institution, given some drugs and electroshock to come to their senses. And until they look to heaven, until they seek His glory, until they see who they are, they will never have the sanity that is in Jesus Christ.

Daniel 4:34 – At the end of that time, I, Nebuchadnezzar, raised my eyes toward heaven, and my sanity was restored.

“I now see things as they really are.”

Daniel 4:35 – Then I praised the Most High; I honored and gloried him who lives forever. His dominion is an eternal dominion; His kingdom endures from generation to generation. All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.

What did it say in verse 35? “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing.” We are indeed nothing and if we will look toward heaven we will have the sanity that is in Jesus Christ. We will no longer be a people out of our minds. It says:

Daniel 4:35-36 – He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: “What have you done?” At the same time that my sanity was restored, my honor and splendor were returned to me for the glory of my kingdom. My advisers and nobles sought me out, and I was restored to my throne and became even greater than before.

You see there’s not this law that says to be a humble man you have to walk down with your head bowed and hunched over and you wear sackcloth and ashes and never have anything. You can be humble and live in a palace. The point is to be humbled and to be lowly. And there’s no guarantee that you’re going to prosper because you’re lowly, we know that’s nonsense. But let’s not fall into law; let’s not fall into that self that tries to lower itself. Well, we’ll go out here and we’ll sell everything and we’ll live in cardboard shacks and we’ll prove to people we’re humble. That’s a false humility that comes from self effort. We’re talking about humility that only comes by the power of the Spirit, that comes because God has humbled us. Regardless of what situation you live in, whether you live in a palace or you live in a shack, it doesn’t matter, we’re to be a lowly people. But only God can work that humility. It is a power and a work only of the Spirit, not of self. You are not able to humble yourself even if you tried. The minute you try to do so you will puff yourself up in self righteousness. You’ll be proud of your humility. You’ll be proud that you’ve humbled yourself.

Daniel 4:37 – Now I, Nebuchadnezzar, praise and exalt and glorify the King of heaven, because everything he does is right and all his ways are just. And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.

Now look at this last sentence. “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” God is able to do it. If we give ourselves to this loving God He is able to humble us long enough to do so. If God did this to a man who did not want to be humbled how much more will God do it to His children who ask to be humbled? Now be prepared for your prayers to be answered, all right? A lot of you you’ll realize in the middle of the week, “Hey I just prayed on Sunday that I wanted to be humbled. This is not what I had in mind. I didn’t really want to be humbled this way.” But know this, if you get in the prayer closet and say, “God, I want the humility that is in Jesus Christ,” God will work it. He will humble you because He is able to do it. It is the work of the cross; it is the glorious work of the Spirit to make us nothing. It is the very new nature that lives within us that’s to teach us to be nothing. I must become less that He might become greater. “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” Talk to some people who have given themselves to God to allow this to happen and they’ll testify to you that He will work this and He will seek to work this time and time again until we are nothing.

Look at Jeremiah 17:5. The reason I can’t plead with you enough to allow God to do this is because our hearts are so deceitful. Jeremiah 17:5 says:

Jeremiah 17:5 – This is what the Lord says: “Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord.”

Cursed is the one who has a good self esteem because he is depending upon himself. It’s as if they lose their self esteem they lose all things. You ever notice that? It’s like they can’t function without a good self esteem. What are they depending on? What is really what they’re relying on but themselves? If they were to lose themselves it seems like they couldn’t function. They wouldn’t have any peace, they wouldn’t have any joy, they wouldn’t have any sense of any life. And they hold up self esteem really as the cure-all in Jesus. Verse 6 says:

Jeremiah 17:6-8 – He will be like a bush in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes. He will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives. But blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. He will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes . . .

Because see, he’s not dependent upon himself. You know, depending upon his own esteem and who he is. He does not fear when the heat comes.

Jeremiah 17:8 – . . . its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.

Because they’re not depending upon themselves but upon God. They are lowly, they’re empty branches hooked into the vine. They are nothing until God is able to live through them. It doesn’t matter what heat is around them, it doesn’t matter what circumstances. You can get up and call me the vilest of things and I might acknowledge those to be true, and it won’t be dependent upon me because I already know that I am those things. The reason people don’t want other people sharing their sins within the church, you know you have somebody come to you and say, “Let me tell you this, but don’t tell anybody else.” Because they have to protect themselves and who they are. Listen, if I confess it to you, everybody else already knows it anyway. But if a brother were to stand up and share with you all of my sins, I should stand up and say those things are true. I am nothing and I will repent of those things. It’s not something to hide and protect but to share and get out in the light and to be cleansed from. If we want to protect ourselves, hold our own esteem; want to make ourselves look good then we seek to protect ourselves. Let’s read on.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure.

You think of the worst false prophet you can think of on the face of the earth and your heart is more deceitful than that false prophet. You think of the worst teaching and the worst heresy that is being preached today and your heart is far more deceitful than any of those things. Think for a moment. God is coming to each of us and saying that our hearts are deceitful above all things, and look at this: “and beyond cure.” You cannot cure your heart. To look at your whole life you’re going to appear humble. To look at your own heart you’re going to say, “I’m teachable.” To look at your own heart you’re going to say, “I understand the things of God.” To look at your own self-esteem you’re going to say, “That’s not a prideful self esteem, that’s a good self esteem, that’s a humble self esteem, it’s a proper self esteem.” “The heart is deceitful above all things.” So noble we think we are, how close we think we are to God, and yet our hearts deceive us in everything that we do. And Scripture says it’s beyond cure. It’s like God is trying to give us a sense of who we are, we have hopeless kinds of hearts. The only reason our hearts can be changed is because God is God. There is no remedy for your heart. There is no prayer that will cleanse your heart. There is nothing you can do. It is totally beyond cure. Nothing short of God dealing with our lives and humbling us will we ever be humbled.

Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

It takes someone greater than us to humble us. It takes God coming to us to show us our secret pride and how we really do esteem ourselves. It takes God whispering in our ears to tell us why we are doing what we do. God weighs the motives of our hearts. When we look at our own hearts and look at our own motives they’re all pure, they’re all clean, they’re all noble. They’re all humble, they’re all lovely. No doubt those people thought when they stood up for the world’s greatest preacher that they thought what they were doing, that that person was humble so they deserve that exalting. There’s always a way to twist it around to make it look good, to be proud of ourselves. But God is able to humble us. What did it say in Daniel? “And those who walk in pride he is able to humble.” God is able to break us if we give ourselves to Him for that to be done.

Look at Zephaniah 2:1.The thing that’s got to happen is we’ve got to become ashamed of a self esteem gospel. Ashamed. How many times people get indignant about things in the church, and there are things to be indignant about but not these things to be indignant about. PTL for instance. Everyone is indignant because of all the money and the way it was used, but they’re not indignant about what’s important. I could have told you ten years ago that it would have ended this way. I mean the whole thing, the beginning of the thing, the process itself wasn’t dying. We’re indignant about the wrong things. If we’re going to deal with things and deal with things that are false let’s deal with the root cause. We need to become a people that ashamed of our loathe conduct, of our pride in ourselves, and people preaching that.

Zephaniah 2:1 – Gather together, gather together, O shameful nation,

There must be an acknowledgment that we are a shameful people. There must be a coming together and saying, “This is wrong.” There must be a standing up with all of the fire the Spirit can work with in us and say, “These things are wrong.” To have and to preach a good self esteem is shameful conduct in the Lord, to say the very least. Verse 2:

Zephaniah 2:2 – before the appointed time arrives and that day sweeps on like chaff, before the fierce anger of the Lord comes upon you, before the day of the Lord’s wrath comes upon you.

Now verse 3 tells us what?

Zephaniah 2:3 – Seek the Lord, all you humble of the land . . .

God does not dwell with those who are haughty. God does not dwell with those who have a good self esteem. God dwells only with the humble. Now look at this:

Zephaniah 2:3 – . . . you who do what he commands. Seek righteousness . . .

And what else does it say?

Zephaniah 2:3 – . . . seek humility . . .

Seek it, pursue it, love it, treasure it. Jesus said, “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, you will be filled.” Seek and pursue humility. Lowliness of spirit. Run and cling to the cross and let us pray with all of our heart, “God, make me broken, make me humble. Take self away from me. Deliver me from me.” Say with David in the Psalms where he says, “Lord, deliver me from willful sin.” Let no sin rule over me. Cure this incurable heart. Deal with the heart that is deceitful above all things.

Think about it for a moment. Our brothers and sisters come to us and how we justify ourselves and how we make ourselves look good. It’s not until they come to us again and again that we finally open our eyes and see. If we’re that hard toward each other how little we can hear from the Spirit. You see, a good measurement of how well we hear from the Spirit is how well we hear and receive things from one another. I don’t say you have to accept everything because they may be wrong in what they bring. But when they’re right how quick do we receive and how quick do we see it? How much do we seek humility? Seek righteousness, and look at this, “perhaps,” there is not a definite here, is there? There’s an urgency here where the Lord is saying:

Zephaniah 2:3 – perhaps you will be sheltered on the day of the Lord’s anger.

Now we know that we will be, but there has to be a thing “perhaps.” In other words, I really need to seek humility. I mean I really need to seek the righteousness that’s in Jesus Christ. I mean I really need to become a lowly person. But how few of us consider our greatest goal in Jesus Christ to seek humility? We’ll seek tongues, we’ll seek prophecy, we’ll seek all the miraculous things that point to us, won’t we? We’ll seek lively music; we’ll seek all those things but anything but humility. I’ve yet to walk into a church where I’ve walked out knowing that the number one goal is humility. And those were a people, that’s what they treasured above everything else. Tongues will pass away, wisdom will disappear, prophecy, all those things will cease, but do you think humility will cease? Not at all because it’s who Jesus is. It’s what love is. To seek His righteousness and His humility.

Go to Deuteronomy 8:1. Let God humble us and rob from us our self esteem and let us plead with other people to allow and it’s the greatest blessing in Jesus.

Deuteronomy 8:1 – Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today . . .

If we were a humble people we would be able to obey the word of the Lord. We would. If we were a humble people we would have the wisdom to obey God’s Word because He gives grace to the humble. And what does grace teach us to do? What does Titus say grace teaches us to do? To say no to ungodliness. If we would let God humble us and do that work on a daily basis we will be given grace to live a righteous life in this present age, Titus says.

Deuteronomy 8:1 – Be careful to follow every command I am giving you today, so that you may live and increase and may enter and possess the land that the Lord promised on oath to your forefathers.

And verse 2 says what?

Deuteronomy 8:2 – Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert these forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands.

To do what? To humble you. We’re not yet in the Promised Land. We’re in the desert. And what is the purpose of the desert? To humble us. The one great lesson that is in Jesus Christ is to humble us so that we can possess the land, so that we can go into glory. But if we’re refusing the humbleness that God wants to bring into our lives we won’t enter. We won’t have grace to live with joy this Christian walk with God. Blessed is the man who finds it a joy to beat his chest every day and to say that he is a sinner. He’ll be given grace to live the Christian life. Now let me tell you, that’s not a pleasurable way to walk. When I look out at the Christian world out there I think I’m really missing something. I mean they have every answered prayer; they have more miracles happen in one day than I’m ever going to see in a lifetime. I’ve walked away from watching and listening to sermons saying, “What in the world am I doing wrong?” It’s like to hear them tell it we are missing every single thing that is in Jesus Christ. We don’t have numbers, we don’t have miracles, we don’t have answered prayer. We don’t have all the things that we desired. I mean we’re barely getting by on anything that we do. And to hear them God provides miracles for every single thing that they do. They’re not being a humble people but an exalted people. And to hear it be told we would think that to be bitter is a sweetness in the Lord. Don’t taken in by it. The desert is to teach us to be humble.

Deuteronomy 8:2 – Remember how the Lord your God led you all the way in the desert those forty years, to humble you and to test you in order to know what was in your heart . . .

God knew what was in their heart, didn’t He? The point He’s trying to make is know what’s in your heart. When God brings things against us, when He brings situations to us is to show us to obey His commands, to humble us. How many times has God put me in a situation knowing I’m going to fail? How many times I’ve walked away knowing I should have shared the gospel with somebody. I’ve walked away knowing it and I let it go by. God’s trying to teach me to humble myself that I might have the grace to do what He calls me to do. So often we walk away to justify ourselves or to make ourselves feel good and we never learn the lessons God wants to bring. And we’re not full of joy. We’re not saying, “I want to become less that He might become greater, my joy is full. When I hear His voice that’s where my joy is. When Jesus dwells there that’s my joy.” But He only dwells with the humble. He says:

Deuteronomy 8:2-3 – . . . to test you in order to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commands. He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna . . .

God’s purpose was that they would become hungry. God’s purpose was that they would be in want. God’s purpose was that they would be without in order to humble them to be dependent upon God. And how many times God stretches us beyond human effort and human endurance. God stretches us beyond our prayers and beyond what we’re able to do. Beyond our righteousness in order that we might be dependent upon Him. Manna from heaven. Not earthly food. Not the meat that comes from this world. Not the strength that comes from the armor of flesh. Not the strength that comes from religion but to stretch us beyond where we cannot go. To put us through trials in order to teach us that it is not your joy that sustains you but My joy. It’s not the amount of prayers that you pray but it’s My righteousness in your life. It’s not the flesh doing anything but it’s My grace.

Deuteronomy 8:3-5 – He humbled you, causing you to hunger and then feeding you with manna, which neither you nor your fathers had known, to teach you that man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. Your clothes did not wear out and your feet did not swell during these forty years. Know then in your heart . . .

Know then in your heart”! Not in your mind, not with intellect, not because you can answer a test question, know that in your heart.

Deuteronomy 8:3 – . . . that as a man disciplines his son, so the Lord your God disciplines you.

And Hebrews tells us that no discipline seems pleasant at the time but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness for those who have been trained by it. Know that in your heart God disciplines you out of love because He loves you. So if we pray to be humbled, God will work it. If we pray, “God, teach me to obey Your Word,” He’ll teach us to do it. He’ll spur us on. He’ll light a fire under us so that we will do it. But are we willing to give ourselves to God? Do we really treasure the cross? Do we find it to be that kind of joy?

Deuteronomy 9:4, God again reminds them of how lowly they need to think of themselves. Deuteronomy 9:4 does away with this concept that surely I had somewhat of a noble heart for me to receive grace from God. It says:

Deuteronomy 9:4 – After the Lord your God has driven them out before you, do not say to yourself, “The Lord has brought me here to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.”

Whether that’s a twist that says, “My righteousness is in Jesus” or not, do not even begin to say to yourself that it is because “I am righteous in Jesus,” or whatever, that God has given you this land or given you this promise.

Deuteronomy 9:4 – . . . No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.

It has nothing to do with your righteousness. It has nothing to do with any of those things. It only has to do with the plan of God.

Deuteronomy 9:5 – It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity that you are going in to take possession of their land . . .

It’s not your integrity. It’s not your self esteem, it’s not who you are that you get any possession in Jesus Christ.

Deuteronomy 9:5 – . . . but on account of the wickedness of these nations, the Lord your God will drive them out before you, to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

It is just merely the plan of God. And praise God that you’re somehow in His grace. I don’t know why God chose me. All I can do is be thankful. But I know it was not because of any righteousness or any valuableness or anything about me. It wasn’t because of any softness of heart I had become altogether worthy. I don’t know how God chose to pour grace into my life. It’s beyond me. It’s too wonderful for me to imagine. All I’m going to do is praise God that He chose me and pray that He chooses other people. All the wisdom that He does is that. Verse 6 again:

Deuteronomy 9:6 – Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stiff-necked people.

The best of us in the Lord, the most full of the Holy Spirit, whoever we might be, are stiff-necked. If you sit down and honestly look at who you are and how easily the Spirit works through your life you’re going to say, “I’m stiff-necked.” I know it in my life that God has to start convicting me at least three or four days ahead of time to do something before the situation gets there or I won’t do it. It’s like I’m so full of doubt I can’t hear what He has to say or I’m stubborn and don’t want to do it. It’s like God has to box me in the corner most of the time. I know that I’m stiff-necked. There are very, very few things that I do in an effort in hearing from the Spirit. I’m just not that surrendered or that lowly, but I want to be there. The best of us, even in our lowest moments are stiff-necked. And the more we realize that the more we’ll be given grace from God. Let’s finish up with Psalm 138.

Psalm 138:1 – I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart . . .

I think we could stop just right there because how many of us say we live that? When we come together to worship before the Lord, now this isn’t measured in terms of emotion, but how often I’ve wanted to praise God with all my heart and to discover and taste just what that means. I think to a certain degree and by the power of the Spirit I’ve tasted that but to know that on a daily basis, I will praise You, Lord, with all my heart.

Psalm 138:1-5 – . . . before the “gods” I will sing your praise. I will bow down toward your hold holy temple and will praise your name for your love and your faithfulness, for you have exalted above all things your name and your word. When I called, you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted. May all the kings of the earth praise you, O Lord, when they hear the words of your mouth. May they sing of the ways of the Lord, for the glory of the Lord is great.

You want to be strong in battle? How many of us would love to wake up every single morning with verse 3 in our lives? “When I called you answered me; you made me bold and stouthearted.” I mean just to wake up to be strong against sin, to be a bold people. I know that I haven’t tasted a hundredth of the boldness that’s in Jesus. But I want that and how can we have that? Verse 6 tells us.

Psalm 138:6 – Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.

Who does God pour grace out on? The lowly, the humble, those who are nothing, the things that are not. The despised things, the lowly things of this world, “but the proud he knows from afar.” The minute you have a good self esteem, the minute you even treasure that God doesn’t know you very close at all. The voice you hear is not the voice of the Spirit. The gifts you have are not used in conjunction with the Spirit of the Lord. God does not know the proud closely. He does not dwell with those who have a good self esteem. God dwells with those who esteem only Him. Verse 7 says:

Psalm 138:7 – Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me.

Do we want that promise in our lives? Only to the lowly is it given. Only to the humble is it given. Only to the things that are not does God give that promise. Verse 8 says:

Psalm 138:8 – The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.

Do you sense the lowness of spirit in him? He says, “o not abandon the work of your hands.” In other words, when I look at my life in Jesus Christ, from the time Jesus took hold of me, and I think I’ve been a Christian ten years, and I see how little progress the Lord has made. I have to say to God, “Don’t abandon me. Don’t abandon the work of Your hands. Continue to work, continue to persevere, continue to strike, work against my sin and how I willfully move into sin.” You see there’s that sense of knowing that though I’ve been in the Lord ten years He has made so little progress. That I have surrendered so little that I’ve said, “God, don’t leave. Don’t abandon me. Don’t give up. Keep persevering, keep strengthening me.” And that’s his prayer. That’s what he’s saying. This is a lowly man. This is David saying, “Don’t despise the work of Your hands, don’t give up on me. Do not turn Your face from me.” Verse 8 says “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.” God will only fulfill the purpose for the lowly. The proud He will not. He will lower them, He will humble them, He will break them. The grave enlarges its appetite to receive those people. Those who refuse this wisdom from God, this lowly wisdom that comes from the cross of Jesus Christ, the grave says, “You’re welcome.” And that’s how they’ll be humbled. What will it be for us?

Psalm 138:6 – Though the Lord is on high, he looks upon the lowly, but the proud he knows from afar.

Let’s use lowliness and the low road. Let’s ask God to put that desire in our hearts. Then we can claim all the promises that are in Jesus Christ and still at the same time say, “Do not despise the work of Your hands. Just don’t give up on me.”

Let’s pray:

Father, do give us the humility that’s in Jesus. Do, Father, what we cannot do. The heart is deceitful above all things and totally beyond cure. But, Father, we know that what is impossible with man is possible with God. Let us learn from Nebuchadnezzar, Father, that You are able to humble the prideful. Though, Father, we might be driven away from men and though we might eat the grass of the field, though our hair become long and our nails become like claws, though we eat grass like cattle, what a blessing that man had. Because, Father, You have not always dwelled with people. There are those, Father, who pray for humility and do not even experience what Nebuchadnezzar had. We’re able to look toward heaven and have sanity return. And very, very few men are out there, Father, they can live in castles and they can have all the blessings in Jesus Christ and still be humble. See of us, Father, that if You answered all the prayers we pray and if You opened all the ministry doors that we desire, and if You brought and baptized a thousand people how few of us could remain humble, Father. How few us, Father, if You met every physical need we have in Jesus, all the money that we so desire to give to the poor, and all the money that we wanted, Father, to use for Your glory, how few of us wind up using it for Your glory. Make us such people, that though we live in castles, Father, though we live surrounded in a palace, Father, with many things, that we would be a lowly people. Teach us, O God, when we are in high circumstances to take pride in our low position as James said. Let’s be a people, Father, blessed by You as we seek humility. In Jesus’ name we pray, amen.


This transcription has been edited to a reader friendly format. Every effort has been made to be true to the speaker’s original message. Any mistranslations are unintentional.


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Host of The Consider Podcast
Examining today’s wisdom, madness, and folly.

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