April 26, 2015

The Path of the Upright

Posted in Humility, Teaching tagged , , , , , , , at 8:51 pm by tclickenger

Proverbs 15:19

The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns, but the path of the upright is paved.”

The inspired words of the Lord are so beautiful and rich with meaning and truth.  In Hebrew the phrase “… but the path of the upright is paved.” is only three words.  But, my goodness, the depth of meaning contained in just those three words is incredible.

In Hebrew it reads, “v’orach yisarim s’lulah.”  “Yisharim” is the plural form of the word “yashar.”  So literally it would be upright ones.  Samson Raphael Hirsch, a 19th century Jewish rabbi, describes an upright one as “an individual whose thoughts and will are directed exclusively upon the aim which has been set for him by his sense of duty and destination.”  Now compare his words with those of the writer of Hebrews.

Hebrews 12:2

“Looking upon Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”

I’d say according to that definition, Jesus would definitely qualify as an upright one.

“Orach” means path or way.  The upright ones, their path or way of life  is “s’lulah” or always even, going continuously straight and upwards.

The upright one is contrasted with the lazy man.  A lazy man completely shuns this sense of duty.  When difficulty comes, he gives up.  When the difficulty he faces is just the fact that he doesn’t feel like it, he has the laughable faculty for inventing excuses to shirk responsibilities.  “There is a jackal in the way, a lion in the street.”  Because of this way of living, the lazy man’s life is increasingly difficult.  Like trying to walk a path through nothing but hedges of thorns.

The upright one is a person of fierce resolve.  When the real difficulties come, and they will come, he overcomes.  Difficulties become increasingly easier to conquer.  Laziness is always in the way, no matter what you wish to do for yourself or for other.  It is a hindrance that God, as your loving Heavenly Father, will chasten you to overcome.  Are you having difficulty in your life?  Does it feel like you are trying to walk a path through the briar patch?  Do some inventory.  I am not saying that you are certainly being lazy but we (me included) need to consider the possibility.  We are called to disciplined spiritual work.  And even if you are physically a hard worker, you could be spiritually lazy.  Are you studying your bible?  Are you being disciplined in your prayer life?  If you are going to my church right now, you are being exhorted to pray more and pray with more understanding.  Get your thoughts and will directed, resolved on this aim.  If you’re having trouble disciplining yourself, find a partner.  Meet together every morning until you have the discipline to continue on your own.

Ecclesiastes 4:9

“Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.”

Remember, “Nothing of eternal consequence (eternal significance) happens apart from prayer.”

Prayer is but one spiritual activity we can be lazy in.  There are others to consider while you are doing inventory.  Prayer is meaningful spiritual work though and must not be neglected.

My Father and my King,

I pray that I am ever reminded of the duty and destination set before me.  Help me to maintain a fierce resolve, keep my undistracted attention on my example, Jesus, so that one day where He is, I will be also.  Help me to overcome the hindrance of the flesh and it’s tendency to be lazy.  May I rest when you tell me to rest and be active when you desire me to be active.  Help me to realize the rewards of: rest for my soul as I yoke myself with Your Son; a way of life that is always even, going continuously straight and upwards; and the privilege to hear you say, “Well done My good and faithful servant.”

Amen

March 7, 2015

Do You Hunger and Thirst for Righteousness

Posted in Teaching tagged , , , , , at 5:33 pm by tclickenger

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness for they will be filled.” Matthew 5:6

I love how detailed and specific God is throughout scripture. Jesus, being one with the Father, is just as specific with His words. God is not slipshod with what He says. With the knowledge and wisdom He has concerning all things He is masterful in using words to mean so many things at the same time and all of them being true. I don’t know about you but I have a tendency to gloss over the details of scriptures. In the past, as I was reading this scripture, I would unconsciously read “hunger and thirst” and kind of combine them as “strong desire” because I thought that they both express strong physical desires. Looking at the details though, God could have expressed this with either “hunger” or “thirst” but He chose to use both. This begs the question, “Why?”

While Jesus was expressing spiritual longings, He is using desires that we are physically familiar with. So, to answer why, lets explore what hunger means to us physically and what thirst means to us physically. This may sound shocking to you but hunger is not really a desire. When our body is in need of food it produces the feeling of hunger to make us aware of this need. We then desire, seek out and consume food to relieve this feeling. The same goes for thirst. Our body is in need of water and so it produces the feeling of thirst to make us aware of this need.

Hunger then is the awareness of our need for one thing and thirst is the awareness or our need for another thing. The reason Jesus said that “Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness” is because in order to achieve righteousness we must recognize our spiritual need of two separate things. Once we become aware of our need, a desire is produced within us to satisfy that need. We seek out and make that thing we need apart of what we are.

Hunger is a spiritual picture of the awareness of our personal need for knowledge and understanding. In order for us to be righteous we need to have an understanding of what righteous ways are. We long for to know God’s will. The word, the truth, the extension of Himself that clearly shows us life as it truly is, not as the world misrepresents it. Through our study of the word of God, the bread of life; through seeking out shepherds who provide proper nourishment for our level of growth and development, we gain knowledge of the principles that put order to our activity, relieving our longing for spiritual food.

Thirst is a spiritual picture of the awareness of our need for active obedience. In order for us to be righteous we also need to be obedient to the ways we know to be right. The book of Psalms speaks frequently about thirst. I believe David had a very deep awareness of his need for obedience when He wrote in Psalm 119:131, “I open my mouth and pant, longing for your commands.” I believe that David is keenly aware that it is not the commandment that satisfies his thirst but the obedience to the commandment that brings satisfaction. God was also communicating the truth of this principle when He inspired David to pen the words in Psalm 63:1, “My soul thirsts for You, my flesh yearns for you, in a dry and weary land where there is not water.” This world that we live in is a dry and weary land. There is very little obedience to God’s ways in this world.

In the physical, both food and water are vitally important for life, but our need for water is more urgent than our need for food. We can generally survive 40 days or greater without food but we won’t last more than a week without water. The spiritual truth attached to this physical reality is that knowledge, understanding of truth, belief, or faith that we are not actively obedient to, or in other words, without works is dead, as James so poignantly put it. When we walk in submission to God’s will for our life, according to His word, we are drinking from the “spring of the water of life” (Rev. 21:6) and our life also becomes life giving. Inspiring other toward obedience and thereby “streams of living water (then) flow from (us)” (John 7:37).  Our life then is filled and overflowing.

God, my Father and King, I am thanking you for the wisdom you gave us through your Son, our anointed salvation, who with just 14 words could express volumes to His disciples. Thank you for the words of instruction for full satisfaction of the needs of my soul. That I may live and not die and be life giving to this world. In this world where bitterness is in the mouths of all who revel in sin and shallowness, I am thankful of “How sweet Your words are to my taste! Yes, sweeter than honey to my mouth.” (Psalm 119:103). I am also thankful for the Godly legacy passed to me from the words of my grandfather. Thank you for the divine arrangement that placed his bible and his words into my hand, mind and heart. I thank you and give you praise for giving those seeds to me, for causing them to grow and blossom. I pray that all these words would work in the lives of all who read them, giving practical application, giving life to the reader and flow waters of life to others around them.

Amen

January 8, 2015

Better is the end of a thing…

Posted in Humility tagged , , , , , , , at 7:42 pm by tclickenger

Ecclesiastes 7:8, “Better is the end of a thing than the beginning thereof: and the patient in spirit is better than the proud in spirit.”

In a day and age when start-ups, innovation and creativity is heralded as something to be noticed, the Word of God says that the start of something is not that impressive compared to its conclusion.  Many times we see things have such bright and promising beginnings but when all is said and done we often see them fall and fail and become corrupted (not necessarily in that order).  We look at the results or aftermath and just say, “How sad.” Read the rest of this entry »

January 3, 2015

Advantages of Humility

Posted in Humility tagged , , , , , , , , , , , at 6:46 pm by tclickenger

So, this is post #4 in a series dealing with pride and humility.  So far I have share four benefits of humility, listed the major dangers of pride and looked at the favorable sense of pride.  In that first post I casually mentioned that along with the four benefits listed there are many more.  Today I want to share a few of these additional advantages that God has made inherent in humility.

  • God hears and responds to the humble.

Daniel 10:12, “Then he (the angel) said to me, ‘Fear not, Daniel, for from the first day that you set your mind and heart to understand and to humble yourself before your God, your words were heard, and I have come as a result of your words.'”

  • Humility gets God’s attention.

2 Chronicles 16:9 ISV, “The LORD’s eyes keep on roaming throughout the earth, looking for those whose hearts completely belong to him, so that he may strongly support them.”

Isaiah 66:2, “…But on this one will I look: on him who is poor and of a contrite spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

  • Humility brings honor

The word for honor in the Hebrew language also means respect, dignity, greatness, weight, purpose and glory.  All of these words are represented in the word honor and all are achieved through humility.  I want you to keep this in mind and exchange the words as you read these scriptures.

Proverbs 29:23, “A man’s pride will bring him low, but the humble in spirit will retain honor.”

Proverbs 22:4, “In the wake of humility comes the fear of the Lord, even riches, and honor, and life.”

  • God saves the humble

Psalm 18:27, “For you will save the humble people, but bring down haughty looks.”

2 Samuel 22:28, “You will save the humble people; but Your eyes are on the haughty, that You may bring them down.”

  • Humility is essential (prerequisite) for wisdom

Proverbs 11:2, “When pride comes, then comes shame; But with the humble is wisdom.”

Proverbs 22:4, “In the wake of humility comes the fear of the Lord…”  Proverbs 1:7, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge, but fools despise wisdom and instruction.”

  • God’s presence dwells with the humble

Isaiah 57:15, “For thus saith the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy, ‘I dwell in the high and Holy place, with him also that is of a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'”

Psalm 34:18 NIV, “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.”

  • Humility brings joy

Isaiah 29:19 NKJV, “And those who suffered (Hebrew word anahvim – the humbled ones) shall increase their joy in the LORD, and the impoverished people shall rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.”

  • Humility brings discernment

Psalm 25:9, “He guides the humble in judgement (discernment), and He teaches the humble His way.”

Psalm 25:14, “The secret counsel of God is with those that fear Him; it is His covenant to let them recognize it.”

There are two more bonuses of humility that I will be presenting.  In my view, they are of the highest degree and quality.  They are both the gift and goal of our faith.  They are also more difficult to describe than all the others together so I will make a post dedicated to them alone.  Check back to find out what they are.

As we begin this new year I pray that each of you meditate on the rewards that come with humility and that you work to rid yourself of pride and emphasize the humble nature of Christ that has been born into you.  You will be amazed at the changes all around you as you do.

Amen and God bless you.

Tim Clickenger 

Additional posts in this series: In the wake of humility…The Dangers of PrideIt’s Time to Hurt Your Pride, …but there are times when pride is a good thing and the follow up post to this one, Humility Fosters Peace and Unity.

December 4, 2014

In the wake of humility…

Posted in Humility, Unity tagged , , , , , , , at 7:27 pm by tclickenger

I love this phrasing of Proverbs 22:4

“In the wake of humility comes the fear of the Lord, even riches, and honor, and life.”

Humility is such an extraordinary quality. The Word tells us of many wonderful things that come to us as a result of humility. This verse alone tells us of four: fear of the Lord, riches, honor and life; and other scriptures reveal that there are so many more benefits.  On top of that, through practicing humility we avoid all the negative consequences of a prideful life.  Here’s the rub though, we assume that we already know what humility is and that we are already a humble person (or am I the only one who has done that). That is presumption and the ironic thing is that presumption is a symptom of pride in our life.  Humility is by far the most misunderstood and easily compromised virtues a human being can long for.

I’m sure you already know this but the fact is that we don’t have divine thinking. God even reminds us of this when He says through His prophet Isaiah (55:8-9), “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.” So maybe our thoughts, insights and perceptions of humility are not quite right compared to the Source of humility.

The only way I know of that brings my understanding in alignment with God’s understanding is through study, prayer, meditation (a.k.a. thinking, thinking, thinking, thinking) and just a seed investment of humility, acknowledging that we don’t have it figured out and would like to be led to a true, deep, connected understanding.

So, in the next few posts I’m going to share some insights I’ve come to through the previously mentioned process; study, meditation, prayer, observations, introspection, reflection and life experiences that bring brokenness. Of course, I still I have a lot to learn, so I would love to hear your insights. Please comment, good or bad, in agreement or disagreement.

God, my father and my king, I pray for you to continue to bring humility and it’s many spiritual blessings into my life. I also pray for the ones who respond to this message in their heart. Hold their hand through the pains as humility is birthed into their being. I pray for their humility because I love them and wish to see honor in the completion of their life. I pray these things in the name of Your first born, the One who is humble and exalted, the name of Jesus, Yeshua, Savior. Amen

Additional posts in this series: The Dangers of PrideIt’s Time to Hurt Your Pride, …but there are times when pride is a good thing, Advantages Of Humility.