James had this advice about selfish ambition:
Who is wise and understanding among you? He should show his works by good conduct with wisdom’s gentleness. But if you have bitter envy and selfish ambition in your heart, don’t brag and lie in defiance of the truth. Such wisdom does not come down from above, but is earthly, sensual, demonic. For where envy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every kind of evil. But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy. And the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.
(James 3:13-18 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)
Once when Jesus was traveling, his disciples were arguing about which of them was the greatest. Jesus interrupted them. Instead of correcting them about their ambitions to be great, though, He instructed them on how to be the greatest.
Be the last of all, and the servant of all (Mark 33-35).
Amy Carmichael served Jesus faithfully and effectively in India until 1951. She knew Him well and shared that knowledge with all who would listen. Some of her knowledge of Him includes:
“You can give without loving, but you cannot love without giving.”
“Satan is much more in earnest than we are – he buys up the opportunity while we are still wondering how much it will cost.”
“If a sudden jar can cause me to speak an impatient, unloving word, then I know nothing of Calvary love, for a cup brimful of sweetness cannot spill even one drop of bitter water, no matter how suddenly jarred.”
“If I can easily discuss the shortcomings and the sins of any; if I can speak in a casual way even of a child’s misdoings; then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“All along, let us remember we are not asked to understand, but simply to obey…”
Amy Carmichael was born in Ireland in 1867, and died in India in 1951. She understood that difficulties in life are our trip with Jesus through the desert of preparation. The more we take advantage of the difficulties as opportunities to be with Him, the more they make us like Him. This poem of hers is called “No Scar?”
- Hast thou no scar?
- No hidden scar on foot, or side, or hand?
- I hear thee sung as mighty in the land,
- I hear them hail thy bright ascendant star,
- Hast thou no scar?
- Hast thou no wound?
- Yet I was wounded by the archers, spent,
- Leaned Me against a tree to die, and rent
- by ravening beasts that compassed Me, I swooned:
- Hast thou no wound?
- No wound, no scar?
- Yet as the Master shall the servant be,
- and, pierced are the feet that follow Me;
- But thine are whole: can he have followed far
- who has no wound nor scar?
You need me on days. And I need you.
The two ways we can find in the teachings of Jesus on getting rid of sight-limiting items in our eyes are:
- If its a log, remove it yourself
- If its a speck, get some help from another believer
“Why do you look at the speck in your brother’s eye, but don’t notice the log in your own eye? Or how can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take out the speck that is in your eye,’ when you yourself don’t see the log in your eye? Hypocrite! First take the log out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to take out the speck in your brother’s eye.” (Luke 6:41-42 Holman Christian Standard Bible®©)
He usually tells us about our logs in private and offers to help get rid of them. If we don’t listen, He’ll send someone who loves us usually to confirm the information. If we don’t listen to them either, He next sends someone who doesn’t like us. Finally, if we are just impossible, He sends something unclean to be a steel wool pad that cleans us up.
Co-operate with the Holy Spirit and make it easy on everyone involved.
Matthew 3:16 – When Jesus was baptized by his cousin John in the river, Heaven opened and the Spirit of God came down on Him. The Holy Spirit then did something that He loves to do after He baptizes someone: He drove Jesus out into the wilderness.
In the place of lack and pain and threats of more, Jesus encountered misery and exile. He began to suffer the things through which He learned obedience. Finally, He heard the voice that His first man Adam and his partner Eve had heard much earlier, because in this place, as a man, He encountered the thief and the deceiver.
Jesus was prepared. Adam and his Eve were not.
Because He knows each person’s calling or destiny in the Kingdom of Heaven, the Holy Spirit knows what preparation is required for a human to stand in the place where the God Who breathed out worlds and stars calls him or her. He is perfectly aware of which weaknesses are present, and which strengths are missing, and He is a genius at preparing educational and transformational experiences that are perfectly capable of producing the exact changes that are needed for each person.
Because Jesus trusted Yahweh to be protecting and preparing Him, and because He had no thoughts that His Father might intend to harm Him, His journey through the Place of Preparation took 40 days. It was a place of victory and of anointing for purpose. Contrast this with the journey through the Place of Preparation the descendants of Israel experienced, which took 40 years, and was only a successful experience for 2 men out of millions of men and women.
Jesus was prepared partly by His knowledge of what God had said. When He was confronted with deception and with temptation to fail, He knew Yahweh’s character and intentions. He overcame His enemy in the Place of Preparation by quoting God properly. He had been with the Father from eternity, so He knew every word that had been spoken. He knew every thought. His successful method of overcoming evil would have been available to every descendent of Israel, though. It was written.
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Many portraits of Jesus exist. At least, many portraits of what people have imagined Him to look like exist. John knew Jesus well. When he saw Him revealed in glory – when he saw what He really looks like, though, he fell on his face like a dead man (Revelation 1:12-18).
Jesus informed some lawyers one day that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were about Him (John 5:36-40). Paul wrote to Timothy that the Scriptures of the Old Testament were sufficient reading to equip us to find Jesus (2 Timothy 3:10-17).
If you want to know what Jesus looks like, read the Bible a few more times. Allow it to transform you.
He also told them a parable: “Can the blind guide the blind? Won’t they both fall into a pit? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is fully trained will be like his teacher.”
(Luke 6:39-40 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)
Surrender your life and your property and your relationships to Him. Love Him with all your heart and soul and strength and mind. Love your neighbor as you love yourself. Then look in the mirror. That’s what He wants to look like to the people around you.
When Moses entered the tent, the pillar of cloud would come down and remain at the entrance to the tent, and the Lord would speak with Moses. As all the people saw the pillar of cloud remaining at the entrance to the tent, they would stand up, then bow in worship, each one at the door of his tent. The Lord spoke with Moses face to face, just as a man speaks with his friend. Then Moses would return to the camp, but his assistant, the young man Joshua son of Nun, would not leave the inside of the tent.
(Exodus 33:9-11 Holman Christian Standard Bible® ©)
What does it take to be positioned so that Yahweh looks on us as friends? Solomon wrote in Proverbs 17:17 that a friend loves at all times. Is that it? Does loving our God make us His friends? Is there more? Spending time with Him? Loving His company and nearness?
Whatever the path is to that desirable place, it is the best place. Living in it means living in the Presence of revelation and comfort and provision and protection. The smaller pups in a pack live well when they stay close to the big dog. Sucker fish eat well when they stay close to an active shark.
The hindrances to friendship with Yahweh are all on our side. He wants to walk with us and reveal His plans and His heart with us as sons and daughters who are closer than brothers – friends. Press past everything that He shows you is in the way of friendship with Him. Ask Him what is the next hindrance to be removed.
The place most safe and blessed, the position most protected and provided for, is the place of being completely surrendered to the ownership and leadership of the King of kings. The sphere where His lovingkindness rules is a place of life and peace and joy in His Spirit.
The Kingdom of Jesus is that place – it is the place where He is obeyed. The more clear we are on what He desires for us and of us, and the more our minds and hearts and imaginations and actions are submitted to those desires, the greater our lives will be.
We won’t exist above challenge or danger or temptation, but we will be freed to decide to accept His blessing in those places, turning them into encounters with Him. Being in that proximity to Him is the power that transforms us in very recognizable ways into being clearly His family members .
Read Psalm 91. Even better, enjoy memorizing it.
The descendants of Eliphaz, Bildad, & Zophar all have websites and YouTube channels. These fountains of information are filled with water that has been poisoned with presumption, deception, and misinterpreted experiences.
They would like to advise me on health, car repair, recipes, investments, and preparation for the end of the world. Many of them can prove they are right by presenting evidence that “the Bible says…”
The Bible says, “Can a man be of any use to God? Can even a wise man be of use to Him? Does it delight the Almighty if you are righteous? Does He profit if you perfect your behavior?” (Job 22:2-3); “…curse God and die” (Job 2:9); “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should make his soul enjoy good in his labour…” (Ecclesiastes 2:24); “Whoever has been born of God does not sin, for His seed remains in him; and he cannot sin, because he has been born of God.” (1 John 3:9).
How to take all of that advice and interpret through it what the Spirit is saying to me at any given moment is beyond human ability. I can only understand the situations I face, the advice of others (even believers), or the words in the Bible, if the Holy Spirit is opening my ability to understand.
Listen to Him. If something is not clear, ask Him. Then listen to Him. When He speaks, obey.
On days, we react to opportunities and dangers, and to situations that we cannot identify as either. Sometimes we clearly sense the leadership of the Holy One to answer in a certain way. Other times, we respond with no thought at all about anythings but our rights, our feelings, or our fears.
Even after some of our greatest errors in those responses, we are ignorant of the mistake until the Spirit has struggled long enough to finally have our attention. Then He shows us the sin.
How to make things right when we have offended someone? How to reestablish a relationship that we closed (or slammed) the door on? How to respond to the Spirit when He breaks our hearts over having broken someone else’s?
Getting a response right to begin with is the work of the Holy Spirit by influencing our hearts and minds with what Paul called His fruit (Galatians 5:22,23). If we are under His power by being anointed with His fruit, the people we interact with will experience having been with Jesus.
For the times we didn’t ask or wait for that empowerment and influence, and responded to situations with what Paul called the works of the flesh (Galatians 5:19-21), the next step is just another opportunity to do what we should have initially – be influenced by the fruit of the Spirit.
Having your heart and mind enlightened by those powerful influences will open you to the additional blessing of receiving revelation about how to proceed; how to repair, how to heal, how to bless those you have injured or neglected.