Sunday, December 29, 2019

Joy and Grace - A Connection

Today, December 29th is my oldest daughter, Joy's 15th birthday. As I reflect on her life, this post came back to mind. It was good to revisit, I pray it is a blessing for you as well. 

From December 29, 2015 -

December important day in our house - the birthday of our oldest daughter. Today we celebrate Joy's 11th little girl is growing up. Though this is a day of joy and celebration it is also a day that marks another anniversary. On July 29th, our niece, Grace was killed in an accident, so today we've been grieving her loss for 5 months.

I'm grateful God has blessed Joy with another year of life, but we still don't understand why it seems Grace's life was cut short. I know Scripture tells us God knows the number of our days (Psalm 139:16) and I believe that to be true, but in the grieving process we do wonder why. I trust that's why Scripture also tells us to lean not on our own understanding, but to trust God with all of our heart. (Proverbs 3:5)

It's obvious there are many things in this life we don't and won't understand, but as I think about Joy and Grace today I'm reminded of something I've been learning.

The night of Grace's funeral I remember Joy saying to me, "Mom, Grace was like a big sister I never had. I want to play basketball like her. I want to love people like she did. I want to tell them about Jesus like she did."

Death is hard...grieving is a process. And when you're a mom something is added to this - pain for your personal loss and hurt for your kids as they grieve. Joy was 10 and Grace 20 at the time of her accident and Joy did look up to her, enjoyed being with her and liked laughing with her. Grace was a role model, who took the job seriously and included little people in her life. She shared grace and brought joy.

Awhile back as our pastor preached from Philippians, he made this statement, "Joy and Grace aren't cousins. Joy is a sister to grace." He was not talking about two people in my life, but about things you and I both need.

He came to this conclusion by studying the words in original language. In the Greek, the word for grace is "charis" which means grace, favor and kindness. In the same language, we see the word for joy is "chara", which means joy or gladness.

I'm no scholar, but I've dug into this a bit you see how similar these two words are in the old, original language? There is a connection between the two and it's more than a base word or similar spelling. One commentator kept it pretty simple - joy is grace recognized, while another explained joy is being properly aware of God's grace. Ultimately they both come from Him.

Friend, I know death can diminish our joy and Satan will try to steal it, but when we remember God's grace nothing can destroy it. This isn't some superficial, happy all the time joy, but a fruit of the spirit. A joy the world can't offer and doesn't understand. A joy that still sheds tears and experiences all kind of emotions. A joy that comes from the Lord because of God's grace.

Today, on the 29th of December, I remember Grace with Joy. She's a girl we all loved and now miss. We remember gifts she gave and things she said. Joy dreams of doing things she did and living a legacy like hers too. I also remember Grace with joy. Because of God's grace, our Grace is with Him today and one day we'll all celebrate together again.

Until then, I pray God will continue to pour out His grace on us. As we receive it, experience it and share it, I hope we will be filled with joy because of it. Today, we'll celebrate Joy and remember Grace, but I pray all of us embrace God's grace and experience His joy!

"So with you: Now is your time of grief, but I will see you again and you will rejoice, and no one will take away your joy." (Jesus' words in John 16:22)

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance." (James 1:2-3)

"May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:13)

Sunday, December 1, 2019

Afraid of Nothing

Are you ever afraid? Me too. Do you ever wish you could agree with the title of this post and honestly say, "I'm afraid of nothing"? I'm here to share it is possible. I recently learned this, but just this weekend needed the reminder. So, in case you do as well, I'm here to share another story and more importantly a lesson.

I have been afraid of birds for as long as I can remember. I'm not exactly sure when or why the fear began, but I know the fear is real. Sparrows, chickens, it doesn't matter which one, all flying, feathered creatures tend to freak me out. So, needless to say a few weeks ago when my son needed to deliver his turkeys to the butcher, I wasn't the first to volunteer.

Well, life unfolded and I was given the job. And a crazy job it see, because of details you don't need to know and I don't have time to share, we transported them not in our typical farm trailer, but in my oldest son's old minivan. So this bird fearing lady made a 45 minute drive with my two young sons and 14 fully grown monsters, I mean turkeys. My ten year old turkey farmer sat behind me amongst his feathered friends. It took all the courage I had to sit down with just a big piece of cardboard between me and my fear, but I did it and my little guys loved every minute of it.

A few miles down the road, the cardboard started to move. My scream was followed by my boys' laughs. I could see the turkeys flapping their big wings in my rearview mirror as Jed informed me one was sitting on his lap. My heart was racing and my muscles were tight. I simply focused on driving, wanting the trip to end.

About half way there, Jesse says to me, "Look mom, you're afraid of nothing. You're just singing your favorite song." His words had my attention. He was right - in that moment I had peace. Ryan Stevenson's, "Eye of the Storm" was on the radio and I was singing along. More importantly my focus had was no longer on my fear, but the object of my faith. I was singing about the One who remains in control and guards my soul. God is my anchor. He loves me, protects me and has a plan for me. Like Ryan sings, "I find my peace in Jesus' name."

I was so grateful for my little man's observation. I pray it impacts his faith and I know it has strengthened mine. The song had come to an end, but God had my attention. He clearly taught me a lesson and reminded me of an important truth.

Colossians 3:2 says, "Set your mind on things above, not on earthly things."

Hebrews 12:2s tells us to, "fix our eyes on Jesus" while Isaiah 26:3 says, "You (God) will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you."

Clearly, God's Word tells us who and what should be the focus of our thoughts. When we live this out, even in the midst of our fears, we have peace.

As I shifted my focus from the ones with feathers I feared to the all powerful God in whom I have faith, my whole attitude changed. Truths about my heavenly Father came to mind, His Spirit filled me and another verse brought perspective. Hebrews 13:6 spoke to my heart - "The Lord is my helper; I will not be afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?" Surely, God can protect me from turkeys as well!!

I can't say that I'll volunteer for this job again, but the last half of our journey was more enjoyable that the first. I relaxed and appreciated a unique experience with my little boys. I'm pretty sure I'll always remember Jed saying, "Mom, it would be funny if you got stopped by a cop for having too many passengers!!"

Now after sharing the story, I hope I don't forget the truth Jesse helped me see. And friend, I pray the same is true for you. I've wrestled with some parenting fears this weekend and have some health ones as well, but no matter what the storm or fear we face I know God can and will be our anchor. The question is - will we focus on Him or our fear?

Sunday, September 29, 2019

The Power of Worship

Welcome friends! If you read my last post you know I've been dealing with some health issues. I'm grateful for the messages of encouragement and the prayers you've prayed. I am feeling better and we are currently waiting for an appointment with a neurologist. So for now I still rest a lot while we wait for answers and the next step. Today, I was able to leave the house for the first time in two weeks for a place other than the ER or a Dr.'s office. I went to church and it was the place I needed to be.

The message was powerful and truths were shared that went to my heart. I was convicted and encouraged all at the same time. Our pastor spoke on holiness, which is a chapter in my Bible study book. God brought much to mind from the study I had done and reminded me of the importance of spending time studying His Word.

Before we even made it to the sermon though, the Holy Spirit was at work. He brought strength to one who was weak and joy to one whose heart has been hurting. I don't know where life has you, but I'm going to share the songs we sang and just a bit about how they spoke to me. I encourage you to take some time and listen to the words as you worship our Lord. This is one of the things God created us to do; clearly it glorifies Him, but it also impacts us. Worship reminds us who God is and shifts our focus from self to the Almighty.

We began our time together with Brian Doerksen's "The River." Tears filled my eyes not long into this one. The words -

Precious Jesus, I am ready
To surrender every care
Take my hand now, lead me closer
Lord, I need to meet you there.

 really went to my heart. I'll admit in the past 14 days I've wrestled with some emotions, faced some fears and struggled with wrong thinking. I haven't always taken my cares and concerns directly to Him. This song reminded me exactly what I needed to and always. I pray in the days and years, the trials and joys to come I can cast all my cares on Him. Friend, may you and I not just know our Lord and Savior, may we abide in Christ!

Next up was "Blessed Be Your Name" by Matt Redman - one of my all time favorites with many memories tied to it. When it first came out our oldest was just a little guy. Whenever it came on he'd say, "It's our song mom, let's sing it!!" We couldn't sing, but we did it anyway! It was the song God put on my heart the day we found out we were expecting our 3rd child and found out a dear friend lost her dad - God truly does give and take away. A few years later it was a song, and Truth, I clung to as we walked through a miscarriage. It's one that has come to mind as I walk through the unknown.

Today our pastor introduced the song with Job 1:21 - "And he said, 'Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The LORD gave, and the LORD has taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD." In a way I feel like the last 2 weeks have been taken away; I've missed more of our kids' events in 14 days than I probably have in 10 years. For 8 days, I barely left my bed. Things were taken away, but yet in it all God was still giving. What He gave didn't necessarily replace what it felt I lost, but He gave us meals and help, He provided time for me to be still and know Him. I blessed His name today and it was good. Do you feel something has been taken away? Like Job are you facing the unthinkable? Like Job will you bless the name of the Lord? I pray you will friend. 

Our 3rd song was another special one from the past - "The Family Prayer Song - As For Me and My House." Eighteen years ago it's one we had sung at our wedding and believe it or not our wedding has come to mind a few times these past couple of weeks. More specifically our vows...I'm so grateful Job is a man of his word. He is sticking with me in sickness. Back then I didn't expect to one day have 5 children, but the words are true - we need each other. My crew is standing strong and helping out as well. We often think of serving the Lord as outside work, but it starts in our home. I'm so grateful we are committed to doing that and am thankful for the perspective check of where the important kingdom work must begin. Have you chose to serve the Lord? Will you do it where you are? 

The final song is a newer one, but speaks of a powerful age old Truth - CityAlight's "Only a Holy God." No matter how our life looks, what season we're walking through or what trial tempts to overtake it's important to remember who God is - a holy God. As we set our mind and fix our eyes on Him our focus shifts, our perspective changes and we remember Truth. It's a reality life is hard. Pain hurts. Life isn't not always fun, or easy. But God. God doesn't change. He is forever holy. He is always good. Forever Faithful. Powerful. He is my rescuer, my redeemer and my Father. Is He yours? 

Friend, I hope I'm not painting a fake rosy picture because trust mind still drifts. We're still living with many unknowns. I want to know what happened in my body, but there's even fear in that. And lots of what if's too. I don't know if the future I had planned will come to fruition. In all honesty, that was true before this health scare, but the past weeks have opened my eyes. Which really is why I write. 

I'm still here and my greatest purpose is to share the faith I know will save me when I no longer am. I know God and have accepted His Son...this Truth brought peace in the moments when my pain led my baby boy to ask, "Mom, are you dying?" We honestly didn't know, but thankfully we know the One who can save us. The One who can heal us. The One who is providing for us. The One who is our peace, our provider and our joy. The One we will worship. Do you? 

Dear Heavenly Father, thank you for the power of worship. Help us make it a part of our daily life. May we always lift your name on high. Help us surrender our cares. May we bless your name, when you give and when you take away. May we choose to serve you and may we know you, our Holy God and good Father more and more. Help us do what you created us to do no matter how our life looks. Thank you for being all we need. Meet each of us right where we are. In Jesus' Name, Amen. 

Monday, September 23, 2019

The God I Know

Writing has always played a part in my life...a way God works in my heart as I put words on paper. The messages I share always go to my heart before they show up on your screen. As I write about the Truth, God inscribes it on my heart, which is why I'm here now.

This past week has been a bit different on the Beran family farm. Here's the update I shared last Thursday via Facebook -

An update on the week-
Sun night I had a headache...not alarming.
Mon I realized it wasn't a typical migraine.
An early Tues morning trip to the ER brought a little relief.
A full Weds in the hospital brought some answers. Bloodwork and CT Scan ruled some things out, but a spinal tap brought some direction. They believe I'm experiencing a positional headache because of/with low pressure and a spontaneous spinal fluid leak. I came home with meds and am on strict bed rest. With follow up appointments coming. We're grateful for what we know and I'm thankful the pain is less.
I've had lots of time to think...believe me it hasn't all been good. I've worried and faced fears. I've felt like a failure and battled some guilt. (Anyone going to the Riceville game tomorrow, cheer a little extra for me please.)
I also know God is teaching and reminding me of Truth. A few lessons-
He doesn't change, even if my life does.
He doesn't move, even when my mind drifts.
He's given insight into each of our kids and the special way they care and serve.
He's reminded me of the blessing of a husband who is faithful, loving and selfless and also points me to the Truth and helps keep perspective.
Plus given me friends and family who are concerned and care from near and far.
No matter what life brings...pause for a moment and acknowledge our great God.
Thanks again for the prayers. They are felt and needed. If you have a request, share it please - that's something I can still do!!
Back to today - my days of strict bed rest and pain medicine have come to an end. I'm able to sit up for awhile without pain, but yet there are questions without answers and life is still quite different. As I rest and reflect, pause and pray I'm faced with a choice. Do I fear the future or trust the Lord? Do I waste my time or treasure this season? Do I worry about what if or cling to God's unchanging promises? Do I isolate myself or ask for help? Do I put on a mask and pretend all is well or be real and admit this is kind of hard? Do I say I know God or get to know Him more?
My computer time is limited so I'll wrap this up. First of all in all honesty, I don't always choose well. But more importantly, the God I know is drawing me close. He is working. He is reminding. I hope He is healing. 
As I watch others do the things I typically do, I'm reminded I'm not in control. God is. When life is good, it's easy to say God is my strength. When all is well, it's simple to say He is my joy. But friend, when trials come and the future is unknown we get a better view of who God is. May this song remind you He is God of EVERYTHING. 

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Willing to be a Walk-On

Well, our focus on HUMILITY is coming to an end and as we wrap this up, I pray this post serves as a bit of a pep talk for you! These words from nearly 3 years ago hold Truth that can transform. As I continue to be involved in athletics, I see the utter importance and great need for humility. Friend, this isn't just true in the games we play, but it's essential in the life we live! May we each humble our hearts today!

From November 14, 2016 -

You could say it was the weekend of the walk-on here in Iowa. Friday night my girls and I traveled to Ames to watch the ISU Cyclones; the teams did not disappoint. It was my basketball loving girls first time in a big arena so watching them was about as much fun as watching the games. Their eyes got big and their dreams grew bigger. We had much to talk about, but today I want to share one thought that went a bit deeper. 

Have you ever thought much about walk-ons? If you're not a sports fan, your answer will be a quick "no". And even if you enjoy the game, walk-ons probably don't have much of your attention, but this weekend my girls and I spent time talking about this important role and I've spent even more time thinking about it. I pray you will do the same, but first I want to ask you a question - "Are you willing to be a walk-on?" 

As you think about this question, let me share a few more thoughts...

Like I told my girls, a walk-on has an important role. It's said that a team is only as strong as it's weakest player. A walk-on may not get much time on the floor when the lights are on and stands are full, but they are vital when it comes to practice. They help the starters get better. Though people don't know or flock to these players like they do the All-Americans or even know their name like some of the starters and key reserves, they still have skills. Walking on is not something just anybody can a way coaches choose these players too. 

My daughters understood this, but their little competitive selves struggled with the idea of sitting on the bench. They are only in 4th and 6th grade but already love to play the game and had a hard time imagining doing all that work, going to all the practices and just sitting on the bench. After hearing their thoughts, I reminded them of the importance of teamwork and the fact that playing basketball has to be about something bigger than themselves. Walk-ons are truly athletes who love the game, have the desire to be part of a program and are often humble. They are willing to give up the glory and must make a financial sacrifice to follow a dream.

This conversation continued and went deeper as we talked about being a walk-on for a team other than the Cyclones. Let me add to the question I asked earlier, "Are you willing to be a walk-on for Christ?" 

Will you lay down your dreams and desires so He can get the glory? Are you willing to work behind the scenes while other brothers and sisters get the spotlight? Will you sacrifice financially and personally to follow where He leads? Are you willing to work hard, put in extra time even if nobody ever knows your name? Will you humble yourself, play your role and trust God's plan? 

Friend, those are all simple questions to state, but can be challenging to really answer honestly. I know my girls aren't the only ones with big dreams and desires...we're all human, our flesh wants to be noticed, some of us are competitive and we want to play. But in all of this we must remember God is good...He is a coach who has chosen us. He doesn't have 5 star recruits and walk-ons, His team consists of sons and daughters. He knows our name, our role and our potential. Trust Him, "play" for Him. 

A few thoughts from His Word to support this thinking - 

"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don't need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don't need you!' Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Corinthians 12:21,27)
Friend, every member of a basketball team is important regardless of stats and in the same way every member the body of Christ is important regardless of roles. 

"You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit - fruit that will last-so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you." (John 15:16) When it feels like the world forgets us we must remember the bigger picture - God has chosen us!! He has work for us to do and even if it doesn't look like we expected or dreamed about we must give Him our all and our best!!

"For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted." (Luke 14:11) Like I said it takes humility to be a walk-on. A friend's son is currently experiencing his freshman year as walk-on and I have to guess this is not what his dream looked like as a child - sure he dreamed of being a D1 player, but we don't dream about sitting on the bench. Thankfully as we mature our understanding grows and so does our willingness to accept reality. He is grateful for the role God's given him on this team and I pray we all feel the same as we humble ourselves and embrace our role on God's team. 

A few final encouraging words - these words from God's Word are true. Friday night Stu, the beloved walk-on at Iowa State, enjoyed a few minutes on the court. The crowd cheered when he took the floor and then erupted when he scored. He's put in his time, accepted his role and found some success. Then on Saturday night, another walk-on here in Iowa, was given time in the national light. Keith Duncan, a freshman walk-on kicker for the Hawkeyes, nailed the game winning field goal to knock off the mighty Michigan Wolverines. 

Friend, when you and I humble ourselves for our Father in Heaven He will give us more than success on the basketball court or football field. He will bless our obedience and give us eternal rewards. And like all walk-ons know more importantly than individual success, God will get the glory and His kingdom will grow!!!

Dear Heavenly Father, 
Lord, thank you for the opportunity to be on your team. Help each and everyone of us embrace the role you give to us. Help us die to self so that we can live for you. May we surrender our dreams and pursue your plans. Transform our thinking and renew our minds. Equip us to live for you and you alone. Lord, humble our hearts and let your perfect plan unfold. May we always remember the privilege it is to be used by you. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Word of the Week - Humility

Our look at humility continues! I pray you think this is a good thing! May these words about our word for the week speak to your heart and encourage you to do what God is calling you to! 

From March 11, 2014 -

Nearly 10 days ago, one of the key words I wrote down as I took notes at church was humility. This is a concept that is connected to faith quite often, but that day I didn't reflect on it too much. Then two days later I found myself struggling with insecurity...doubting my voice mattered and thinking my role wasn't that important. I knew this thinking was wrong, so in attempt to correct my thoughts I pulled out my Bible and journal. 

I came across the word - HUMILITY and was reminded this type of thinking was not humility. There was a time in my life when I considered my insecurity a form of humility, but I've learned that is not the case. Friend, we can be prideful in a quiet, dangerous way. Insecurity is a form of selfishness and that is never a type of humility!

So in that moment, I was reminded to let go of my insecurities and tune out the lies I was listening to so that I could humble myself before God. As I did this, He led me to believe His thoughts more than my own. He reminded me I was created for a purpose, I have a voice that matters and He was in control. 

Then He lead me into a situation I never expected and had left me anxious, but as I surrendered my will and trusted His plan (and listened to my husband's encouraging words) He filled me with peace. I was in a place where I couldn't do it, but looking back I know that is exactly where I needed to be because then God can!!

God did what He needed to do and showed me this "situation" was about so much more than it outwardly seemed...I trust God spoke through me, but more than that He spoke to me. He showed me I still struggle with insecurity and truly living as the one He created me to be. For the last 5 years, He's led me on a journey to discover who I am and has put it on my heart to share the story.

I have a book proposal, two notebooks full of scripture and stories, but I also have a heart overflowing with  doubts. I've told myself, "There are plenty of books on this topic...mine isn't needed. I don't have time. I don't have the skill. I don't have the platform." The reasons are endless and they do explain why I haven't written, but as I humbly sat with this before God I was reminded they don't excuse my disobedience.

If I want to live as a humble servant of Christ, I need to do what He asks. Even when it doesn't make sense. Even when nobody else knows. Even when it seems impossible. Friend, humility is at the core of Christianity and it is essential if we want to live in obedience. Not just when it comes to writing a book or Bible study, but especially as we live our lives!!

The day following this heart to heart with God I received a new book and I did what I always the acknowledgements and then turn to the last few pages. On the final page I read this, "Jill, humble yourself so that..." and the tears started to fall. The word I'd scribbled on my sermon outline was now cemented on my heart. 

A new entry was made in my journal and God kept speaking to my heart through His Word. Perhaps He has something to say to you -

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others. Philippians 2:3-4

For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 14:11

In the same way, you who are younger, submit yourselves to your elders. All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because,“God opposes the proud, but shows favor to the humble.” 1 Peter 5:5-6

Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. 1 Peter 5:6

Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Ephesians 4:2

Friend, I'm not sure if HUMILITY needs to be your word this week, but let me encourage you to consider thinking about it. Insert your name in this blank "_____________, humble yourself so that..." Pray about this and God will give you plenty of opportunities to live it out!! And if you've mastered this, I invite you to pray for me!! Thank you friend! It's a joy to humbly walk through life with you!!

"If you are humble, nothing will touch you, 
neither praise nor disgrace, 
because you know what you are." 
Mother Teresa" 

Monday, September 9, 2019

A Lesson in Humility

Hello friends! Last week I shared a post and devotional about humility and it got me thinking. This is a topic I've studied before, but it seemed it was one God wanted me to revisit, so I did. For the next three days, I'll be sharing a bit more about the topic. I invite you to join me! I pray God uses my stories and teachings to draw you into His Word!!

                                                     From November 4, 2015 -

This picture is not real clear because it's a picture I didn't want to take. Actually I didn't take it, because it's a vision of something I'd like to forget, but my husband did capture the moment on his old cell phone and for the sake of this post, I'll share it with you.

Last week, I offered to go with my husband as he took wagons from our farm to another field. Once we arrived he decided to fill the wagons and we enjoyed a little uninterrupted conversation in the combine. All was going well. Then he suggested I drive the tractor while he combined so we could unload on the go. We were finishing up and he told me to pull the wagons on the road and pick him up on the other end of the field. Sounded simple enough.

I turned out of the field onto the end rows, glanced back and saw the tire crack off. It seemed to happen in slow motion, but there was nothing I could do as I next watched the wagon tip and bushel upon bushel of corn flow out. I was sick. My husband was heading the opposite way, so he saw nothing. I didn't have my phone so I couldn't call him. So what did I do? Sat there and cried for awhile.

I felt terrible. I'd made a huge mess. I glanced out the tractor cab and saw dollars on the ground instead of corn. Eventually, I saw Job start making his way towards me. I got out of the tractor and saw everything up close and started to cry again. I walked to him sobbing and shaking.

"Just relax. It's going to be OK," were his first words to me. He assured me it wasn't something I had done and was a mishap he'd actually experienced before. At this point, the rain started to fall and his brother was on his way with the skidloader, our kids and shovels.

We jumped in the combine and my stomach continued to churn as I remembered I was supposed to lead Titus24U that evening and share about humility. I told Job, "I'm going to call Jackie and tell her I can't do it." He assured me it would be fine and that I would be going.

Once we met up with the clean-up crew I felt terrible all over again. Here I'd made the mess, but they were sending me home to lead Bible study while they would get soaked scooping up grain. My little Jaylyn saw the distressed look on my face and reminded me, "Mommy, it's not your fault."

As I headed home much went through my mind..."Sometimes God humbles us in our humility." "It takes humility to receive grace." And "If we want our kids to be humble, we'd better live out humility." Friend, we do need to humble ourselves in order to die to self and obey God.

I'd been knee deep in study of this topic that is broad and deep and He used this experience to continue the lesson. Friend, let me ask you - what is humility? What does a humble person look like? I think we can all give general answers and examples, but Biblically this is a big, important topic that can be somewhat hard to understand.

Prior to my study, I would have said humility is the opposite of pride. It's NOT that cocky NFL player who is all about me. This is true, but there is so much more. Andrew Murray said, "Pride is the lack of humility," which I thought was an interesting perspective. Especially when I connect it with a Susie Larson quote - "Insecurity is a form of selfishness, which is pride."

Now for someone who's battled insecurity for most of my life this quote hit home. For years, I at times labeled my insecurity - my shyness, my lack of confidence, my fear of speaking up, my worry about what others thought, as humility. And friend, that is SO wrong.

Humility is all about God, not me. Humility is an emptying of self. Being humble requires confidence, in Christ. Humble people focus on God, not self. When we're humble we acknowledge God as Creator and remember we are simply His creation. In Greek, humility means to submit self, a meek, gentle and lowly state.

Humility is needed to learn and teach, lead and follow, give and receive, help and be helped, share and listen, receive criticism and rightly confront, serve and be served, ask and offer. Humility is necessary if we want to be like Jesus...the one who was HUMBLE.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 
who being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God 
something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing 
by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. 
And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself 
by becoming obedient to death - even death on a cross!" 
Philippians 2:5-8

Friend, there is so much more I could say, but I believe it will mean more if God is the one talking, so I'm going to do something a bit different and leave you with some homework. Everytime I sat down to search the Scriptures and dig into God's Word on this topic, He spoke to my heart...and convicted it too. That's not necessarily an easy thing, but let me assure you it is a good thing. 

If you're up for the challenge, here's some notes from our local Titus24U gathering that will get you started. I encourage you to humble yourself and ask God to teach you and transform you! I pray your lesson won't include a mess like the one I described above!! Feel free to print this out. I'd love to hear what God teaches you, so be sure to comment. I believe this lesson in humility will last a lifetime, so if we can learn from each other, we perhaps can avoid some humiliation and grow in our humility!

A Short Study on Humility
Words From Others
“Humility isn’t thinking less of yourself, it’s thinking of yourself less.” C.S. Lewis
“Humility is the proper estimate of one’s self.” Charles Spurgeon
“The level of our faith matches the depth of our humility.”
“Lack of humility often is the cause of much of our difficulty.”
“Pride is refusing to accept God’s gifts or taking credit for what God has done; Humility is accepting the gifts and using them to praise and serve God.” (Bible notes - Luke 1:48)

Words from God
As you read these Scriptures think about these questions - "What do they tell you about humility? Where does humility come from? What does it lead to? Is it necessary for a believer? Why?"

Proverbs 3:34, 11:2, 13:10 29:23  
Jeremiah 6:16-19
Psalms 25:9        
Isaiah 57:15
Philippians 2:3-11        
1 Peter 5:5-6
Colossians 2:18-23, 3:12                
Ephesians 4:1-2

Examples of Humility
As you read of these influential people, take note of the role humility played in their life.
Abraham - Genesis 18:27-32
Jacob - Genesis 32:10
Moses - Ex. 3:11
Joshua - Joshua 7:6
Job - Job 42:2-6
Elizabeth - Luke 1:43
Jesus - Matthew 11:29
Paul - Acts 20:19

Humility Homework
Define humility -

Describe a humble person -

Think about your roles - What does humility look like in each of them?

Humility is a matter of heart…take some time and examine yours -
Am I humble?
Do I serve with joy?
Do I compare myself with others?
Am I jealous? Do I envy?
Do I strive for praise? Long for approval?
Do I react wrongly when others are praised?
Do I forgive? Do I accept forgiveness?
Do I judge?
Am I humble in seemingly insignificant daily tasks?
Do I desire to be more humble?
How can I grow in humility?

Write a Prayer for Humility (Verses to consider- Ps. 26:2, 51:10, Jer. 18:6, Is. 66:2, 1 Peter 3:3-4)

Friday, September 6, 2019


Welcome to those of you joining me from The Encouragement Cafe where I am again sharing about humility. If you'd like to read my devotion titled, "What is that?" click HERE.

This piece from the past was timely for me once again, so I dug a bit deeper and found a few more on humility. If it's a topic you'd like to learn more about I invite you to read my next few posts from the past - 

As I wrote, we must understand humility if we are going to live humbly. Though I wrote the words in the devotional months ago, God recently taught me a lesson about this...last weekend to be exact.

My husband, Job, is an elder at our small county church, which means once every few months he is in charge of setting up communion. This role means I am responsible for making a loaf of bread...something that is NOT a gift of mine.

By Saturday afternoon, I had successfully made two loaves of bread...the kids were thrilled to enjoy one for supper and I did what every mom of hungry kids would do with the other - hide it! Time came for baths and the bedtime routine, so I set the bread out on the counter knowing it'd be easy for Job to find when he left to set up.

With baths over I dressed Jesse, my 3 year old, and sent him off; then I did the same with Jed, my 5 year old. As I finished cleaning up I heard Jed, "Mom, come quick, Jesse eatin bread!!!!"

Instantly, I knew exactly what had happened. I entered the kitchen to find this...

A flood of thoughts entered my mind, but it all came down to, "What are we going to do?" Minutes later Job  came in and his first reaction was far different than mine...he laughed, which only added to my frustration. At 8:30 I put the kids to bed and then returned to the kitchen.

Thankfully I had one more loaf of frozen bread dough; I found the directions and moved forward with the fastest baking plan. At 11:30 PM I opened the oven and found what I called, a "Humpty Dumpty" loaf of bread...I don't know what happened, but it looked bad.

Honestly I wanted to cry, but the tears wouldn't fall. I knew there was nothing I could do so I went to bed...a short time later Job came in from a late night in the field. He saw the bread, didn't say a word and then I asked him, "What are we going to do?" He assured me it would be alright.

I went to sleep asking God to work it out...I wasn't sure how that would happen - I'd already contacted my three bread making friends, we are an hour from the nearest store that would have a loaf of homemade looking bread and church was at 8:30. Yet there was a part of me that knew it would be alright.

At 4 AM I woke up and knew I was to get up and try again. This time I found a recipe for my bread machine, prayed as I added the ingredients and returned to bed asking God to do it. By 6 I was back up, put the dough in pans and let it rise. During this time, my brother-in-law stopped by and asked for the communion bread...Job had asked him to take it to church. I wrapped up the "Humpty Dumpty" loaf and Satan reminded me I wasn't cut out to be an elder's wife.

Time kept ticking away as I did the dishes, while I stood at the sink I thought about the devotions I was sharing this week - both were on the topic of humility. I specifically got to thinking about what humility really is and more specifically what it should like in the situation I was in. God had me, a recovering people pleaser with a life long approval addiction, on this one. "Why was I making another loaf of bread?" was the question He put on my heart.

I would like to say it was because communion is important, it's a holy sacrament and something I want to do right to honor God. I also remembered the widow how didn't give much, but gave all she had and wondered if God was telling me my messed up loaf was enough. Friend, those things are all true, but I know I was also worried about what others would think.

So when my daughter looked at the nice freshly baked loaves of bread and asked, "Which one are you going to take to church?" I simply responded, "I might not take either one." She, the girl who inherited a bit of my addiction, was shocked and asked, "Why?"

I told her what God had been showing me about humility and how I really didn't know my answer to His question. Then I explained how our actions might look humble, but if they come from a prideful heart it's not humility at all. She looked at me a bit confused and then left to get ready for church.

After our conversation, I had peace about the whole situation and was prepared to leave it in my husband's hands...thinking he'd say it wasn't a big deal, nobody would notice and we didn't have time to switch it anyway.

He came in from chores, entered the kitchen, and called to me in the other room, "Why don't you run this loaf down to the church right now." I didn't ask any questions and then did what he said...I knew submitting to my husband was the humble thing to do.

Time for church came and after a powerful sermon we took part in the breaking of the bread. As our pastor echoed Jesus' words from the last supper and lifted the loaf of bread...I had peace. I had heard God's voice at 4 AM, followed His directions and made the bread for Him. I gave Him the best of what I had and He was pleased with my perseverance.

He wants and deserves our best...friends that's not always easy and rarely does it come without trouble, but if we humble ourselves it is possible. When we do this He will bless our obedience and be glorified by our actions.

Friend, I pray you are encouraged to really think about what humility is...may we never forget that it is directly connected to the fear of the Lord. May we move past worrying about what others expect and focus on giving God what He deserves. What does God deserve from you today? Your obedience, your praise, your thankfulness, your heart, your time, your money, your 5th loaf of bread? I don't know, but God does - ask Him and then pray for the humility to make it happen!

A few more thoughts on humility -
"God created the world out of nothing, and as long as we are nothing, He can make something out of us." Martin Luther

"Nothing sets a person so much out of the devil's reach as humility." Jonathon Edwards

"I used to think that God's gifts were on shelves - one above another - and the taller we grow, the easier we can reach them. Now I find that God's gifts are on shelves - and the lower we stoop, the more we get." F.B. Meyer

"He who humbles himself will be exalted." Luke 14:11

" grace to the humble...Humble yourselves before the Lord and He will lift you up." James 4:6,10

"Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that He may lift you up in due time." 1 Peter 5:6