Judges 15:1-20 – Too Much Pride

Read Judges 15:1-20

Samson was a little like a loose cannon, don’t you think? He had gone home to cool down after the wedding fiasco, but it appears he thought he was still married. Imagine his surprise when he found out his wife was no longer his wife. That surprise sparked more destruction of Philistine property. Samson said, “This time I cannot be blamed for everything I am going to do to you Philistines.”

Samson truly believed that he had proper justification to sacrifice those foxes and burn down the grain fields, the vineyards, and olive groves. All over a woman! His pride had been damaged after all. He needed to show who was in control. That did not end well for his wife or her father.

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Proverbs 27:1-16 – No Bragging Allowed

Read Proverbs 27:1-16

The nuggets of wisdom continue. I’m sure if I read this same passage a week from now a different proverb would speak to me. But for this reflection let’s look at verse 2. It says, “Let someone else praise you, not your own mouth—a stranger, not your own lips.” I have always struggled with tooting my own horn. It’s also hard for me to accept praise from others. What about you?

Do you have a hard time accepting compliments or praise? We all know people who don’t seem to have any trouble telling others how awesome they are. In fact, you may even be picturing a few of them this very moment. It’s not attractive is it? When we see others applauding their own success it can be intimidating, too. It’s much more acceptable when another person is praising them for their good deeds.

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Mark 14:53-65 – Fake Trial

Read Mark 14:53-72

Jesus is on trial, but what a laughable trial.  No preparation, only jealous rage. So much perjury. But, I suppose you can’t lie under oath if you don’t swear an oath in the first place. Where did all these witnesses come from? And, when truth was spoken by Jesus, it was deemed blasphemy. Jesus was in no way insulting God, his Father!

How does it make you feel to knowing how our Lord spent his final hours on earth? He warned us, as the prophets had, it wouldn’t be pretty. Despite the heads up, it’s still hard to imagine.

Meanwhile, the text says, Peter was sitting outside in the courtyard of the very house where Jesus was being assaulted. It sounds like he just sort of cozy-ed up to the guards to keep warm by the fire. Did he think he’d go unnoticed? What was he thinking? That could be the topic for a whole devotion in itself.

Then it happened. Jesus’ prophetic words came true. Peter must have had an evil spirit overtake his words on his final, very strong, denial of being associated with Jesus. Almost like a dream where you see yourself saying or doing something, but you’re only watching from a distance. But it wasn’t a dream. Jesus was right. Peter denied him and the despair at the thought left him sobbing.

Have you ever had a moment like Peter just did? Have you said or done something for which you would give anything to take back? Maybe you’ve wished for a do-over? We’ve all done those things. And, we all sin and fall short of the glory of God. It happens, yet we don’t like it.

God doesn’t either, and that’s exactly why he sent Jesus to die for us. Jesus is the bridge that brings us back to the father when we are separated by our sin. It’s better to focus on what God is doing for us, loving and forgiving us, then to dwell on the bad stuff. Ask for forgiveness, and be done. Forgive others, and be done. Simple but not easy.

Do you feel separated from God right now, or are you on fire and burning bright? Maybe somewhere in between? Doesn’t matter. God’s got your back. Relish this true with a grateful heart.

Let’s pray. Lord I don’t like when I feel apart from you but I know that you are always there to reel me back in. Forgive my heart when it is selfish and self-serving. I don’t want to be caught up in the world’s trap. Restore my servant heart. May it beat along with yours. Guide my steps this day, and I thank you for your protection. I am safe in your arms, and safe as I fall at your feet. What peace you give. May I spread your peace in this world for you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

Philippians 2:1-11 – Attitude Check

Read Philippians 2:1-11

Watch this video (taken from Message paraphrase) here.

You’ve probably been asked, “Are you in Christ?” If not that question, you’ve likely heard references to being “in Christ”. To put it simply, this means we belong to Christ, we are his. Chapter 2 starts out with this very phrase. Paul is asking us to think of the benefits we enjoy from belonging to Christ and being in him. There are many benefits, he has listed only a few. What are some of the benefits you have experienced?

Paul goes on to say, well then, okay, then show it! Have unity, not division. That’s not to say you have to agree on everything, but love each other and care for one another.

When that is hard for us, we need to look at our brothers and sisters and remember they, too, are abundantly loved by God. With that same heart, we will despise disunity. We will all bond together for the common goal – spread the gospel!

Paul gives us warning of what will mess up our attitudes — selfishness. Think on that for just a moment. It is human nature to be looking out for our own interests, right? If we don’t, who will? But selfishness goes beyond self-sufficiency and enters into a dark, sinful place of disregard for others. We should always be thinking how our words, our actions will be interpreted by others. Don’t let yourself get in the trap of projecting your own feelings and way of thinking on others. We are not the same. Being unselfish is difficult when done right.

Other translations have this as selfish ambition. Ambition is our desire to succeed, and we need to take care that our desires are in line with God’s will for us.

Our attitude check continues with humility. Are we humble? Or are we pumped up on our own self importance and pride?  What are our motives when it comes to our actions? I love this quote from C.S. Lewis -“Humility is not thinking less of yourself but thinking of yourself less.”

Finally, are we self-centered? Is it all about “me?” When we are little, it certainly is. As we grow and develop, we begin to see ourselves in a big world, and what is comfortable is when the focus is on us, and we are getting what we want. Think of a little toddler that you know. This kind of behavior works for a child, but as an adult, not so much. Martin Luther described fallen humanity as “man curved in on himself.” Malcom Muggeridge spoke of the “tiny dark dungeon of the ego.”

We are called to look to the interests of others and how we can use our gifts to help. That’s what Jesus modeled for us. He never avoided an opportunity to serve, heal, teach.

Today’s reading concludes with Paul painting a picture of Jesus’ sacrifice for us. This reminder should help us to fall in love with Jesus all over again. It truly puts in perspective the immensity of God’s love for us. Please join with me and other saints, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue declare that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

Let’s pray. Lord, help me get my attitude straightened out. Help me to be more in tune with the needs of others and how I might help them. Use me and my business to reach people that need a word from you. Wash away my fears and doubts that I am not good enough to deserve your love and provision. I stand on your promises and know that all my power comes from you. Help me to rely on that today. In Jesus’ name. Amen.