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But God gives us even more grace, as the Scripture says, “God is against the proud, but he gives grace to the humble.” James 4:6 (NCV

I have a friend I’ll call Jim. Jim is one of the most kind, gentle and wise men I know. He’s got a very demanding job and even though it gets stressful, I’ve heard him comment on the struggles of his job, but never the people he serves. I’m guessing from the way I see him interact with his wife of 30 years that he’s a good husband. They still hold hands, still talk openly of their love for each other, still respect the opinions of each other. Looking at his children, he must be a good dad. Family time is frequent and even though they all have families of their own, joint family vacations are an annual event. Watching the glee with which his grandchildren scramble to him, he’s a good grandpa too.

On a spiritual plane, Jim not only knows the Bible, he has the uncanny ability to take some of the most complicated truths of God’s word and bring them to a level even a child could understand. He’s a great teacher in his words as well as his actions. He doesn’t get into meaningless arguments and when he speaks, his words are hard to refute.

So why to I give you all this information? Because Jim is constantly talking about his need for grace and how undeserving he is of God’s love! I still shake my head on that one. He’s the most humble and faultless man I know. Sure he’s human, but compared to some others I know (especially me) he’s the most deserving person I know to receive God’s grace.

Human logic would agree with me that people like Jim are deserving of grace and receive more grace because of the way they act. James 4:6 would even appear, on the surface, to support that notion.

The problem with that argument is that God has given each of us the full measure of his grace available. People that are humble don’t receive more grace, they are more aware of their need of grace.

Too often people confuse being humble with being humiliated. To be humiliated means that my opinion of myself, or the opinions others have of me tells me that I’m completely worthless and hopeless. I have no future. I am of no earthly value.

Being humble, on the other hand, means I’m well aware of my inability to live the life I desire apart from the power of God. I have worth. I have ability. I have gifts and talents the benefit mankind. But I have them simply because of God’s grace. Humility simply means we realize our need.

The more humble we are, the more we realize our need for forgiveness and the effect our weaknesses have on our relationships with God, others and ourselves. The more we realize our need for forgiveness the more willing we are to forgive those who don’t deserve our forgiveness. The more we realize our need, the more patient we are with the faults and shortcomings of others.
Does God favor the humble more than others? Certainly not! The humble person favors God more because he realizes that without God he can never realize the potential he has through God.

The more we realize our need for God’s grace, the more that grace becomes available to us.

PRAYER: Lord God, I thank you for who I am. I thank you for my gifts, my talents, my abilities. I thank you that I am your masterpiece. But most of all, I thank you for your grace that empowers me to live to my fullest potential through your power, not my own. Help me live grace-fully in the presence of others so they are drawn to you. Amen.

I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you. Very truly I tell you, no servant is greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them. John 13:15-17

Imagine I gave you a gift and told you it was a jig-saw puzzle and I wanted you to put it together. You unwrap the gift and find nothing but a plain brown box. Inside are several hundred (by your guess anyway) small pieces of weirdly shaped puzzle pieces. No doubt your first question would be, ‘Where’s the picture?’ My response would be, ‘Oh, there’s no picture. Just work at it awhile. It will come to you.’

I’d then go on to tell you that I have no idea how many pieces are in the puzzle or what the picture will be when you get finished. BUT, you must do the puzzle and each piece must fit exactly right or it won’t work.

Even if you were a master puzzle assembler, the task would be immense and frustrating. Most of us have a hard time putting together puzzles even if we have the picture and I would guess a fairly large number of puzzles are never finished do to lost pieces or lost interest.

One day Jesus had just finished washing the feet of His disciples. This was an act of huge humility, especially for a respected teacher such as Jesus. The washing of the feet was the dirtiest and lowest of all jobs during Jesus’ time.

He dried his hands with the towel around His waste and looked at His disciples. All of them with clean feet and, no doubt, confused looks on their faces. None of them that day sensed the significance of the act just performed.

I’d like to make an analogy that may be a bit of a stretch, but bear with me. In a sense Jesus said this to His disciples. “Life is like a jig-saw puzzle with thousands of pieces, each designed to fit perfectly together. I’m the picture on the box. If you look at me and all the things I’ve done with you, the pieces will fit together perfectly. It won’t be an easy task. Life is made up of many little pieces that come together to make a complete picture. I have your picture all completed. The pieces are there. You must find how they fit together. I’ll send my Holy Spirit to help you, but the responsibility is yours to put them together.”

Too many times we look at the big picture and try to get there without putting in place all the little things that make life complete. Too many times we struggle to find pieces that will interlock without looking at the picture that Jesus has for us.

Jesus didn’t give us rules to follow for that would be nothing more than religion and people had enough of religion in His day. He gave principles of living because relationships aren’t built on rules, they are built on principles, on love.

My silly little analogy of life falls short in one way. Remember the gift I gave you? Theoretically, if you tried hard enough and had a mind for puzzles and unlimited time, you could assemble that puzzle. Without Jesus as our example, the pieces of life will never fit together perfectly. Oh, people have tried through out time. They’ve tried science, they’ve tried social awareness, they’ve tried ‘new, improved, people friendly religions’, but all those things are like putting a puzzle together with a hammer. If you hit hard enough the pieces will fit together to form….’something’. Maybe even something that looks half-way acceptable. But nothing can match the picture Jesus has in mind for the puzzle pieces He’s given you. Follow His example in making your live complete.

PRAYER: Dear Jesus, sometimes life is as confusing as a puzzle with no picture. Seems I’ve spent my life trying to make pieces fit together that have no business fitting where I’ve put them. Forgive me for not looking to you. Empower me with your Spirit to see how to put my life together in the way you want. In Your name I pray, Amen.

The LORD upholds all those who fall and lifts up all who are bowed down. Psalm 145:14

What a marvelous promise from God! In verse 13 the Psalmist reminds us that the Lord is the same from generation to generation. The older I get the more I’m amazed at the amount of change going on around me.

When I was growing up portable phones were the sizes of suitcases and had a range of a few hundred feet. Now we can talk anywhere on little boxes that you can slip into your pocket. Not only that but our ‘phones’ surf the internet, take pictures, do business and most anything else you can imagine.

With all the change going on around us there is one constant. We serve a God that never changes. Technology changes. Political regions change. The environment changes. Relationships change. But God never changes, yet at the same time He remains relevant and in touch with everything that we see around us. He’s the only one that not only keeps up with technology, he’s ahead of the game!

When David wrote this song of praise he was writing to us, to believers and followers of Jesus Christ. He tells us that God ‘upholds all those who fall’. The word picture here is meant for those of us who struggle with life. We are tired. We are weak. We find ourselves doing the same destructive things over and over again.

The message is clear. When we fall, when we can’t seem to get the ‘Christian life’ right, He is there to hold us up. Our past can’t keep us down. Our human weakness can’t hold us back from following after Christ. We have a God that supports us.

The second message of this verse is that God ‘lifts up those who are bowed down’. He lifts those who are struggling under the burdens placed on us by others. He picks up the weary, the abused, the battered, the homeless and the grief stricken.

We serve and awesome, loving, compassionate God. The enemy would have you to believe you can’t go on. He’ll remind you of your mistakes. He’ll throw temptation and worry in your way. He’ll constantly try to keep you bound by guilt, shame and remorse. Don’t listen to the enemy’s lies about you. You are a child of the King! Adversity and failure will come, but God will always be there to lift you up.

Lean on your Heavenly Father. Feel His strong, loving arms lift you up. Rest in the promise that because of Him you are free. Truly free!

PRAYER: Heavenly Father. I think of what this verse really means and I’m humbled, yet at the same time so encouraged. You know my weaknesses. You know the pain I’m under. You alone know the feelings I have of failure, guilt, and shame. I ask that you would help me to lean on you during the hard times. Help me feel your arms of love lifting me up when I can no longer stand alone. Thank you for Jesus love and forgiveness. Amen.

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