One Year Bible Reading Plan and Devotional
Today’s Bible Reading: January 11
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Pride Goes Before the Fall
A good beginning
Last year about this time, we watched as protestors stormed the capital. If you’re like me, you probably thought, “This doesn’t happen in America. We’re not a third-world country. We’re the United State of America.” As a nation, our founding fathers built America on Christian principles and the Word of God. It was a good beginning. But arrogance and pride is an infecting stench in our nation that is tearing us apart.
The founding fathers were mostly men with Christian backgrounds who had studied the Word of God and incorporated the truths of the Bible into the very fibers that wove our country together. You will find those fibers in our Constitution, the Declaration of Independence, and the laws that govern our nation. Those fibers were strong, sturdy, a sure foundation. A rock-solid foundation to withstand the test of time and the storms of life. Jesus said in Matthew 7:24-25 that “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.”
The problem is that for years we’ve heard the words of God, but we’ve not done them. We’ve become complacent and comfortable within the walls of our churches. It’s past time for Christians to wake up and take action! Not a political one, although we should be spending time in prayer and God’s Word before heading to the polls. Not by storming the capital or other violent means. The action we need to take is on our knees – praying for this nation.
A not so good beginning
We’ve come a long way since since our founding fathers were willing to give their lives for the dream of a free nation. Since then we have withstood wars, the Great Depression, scandals and all the “storms” of our history. The one thing that got us through it all was that humble foundation our founding fathers gifted to us: a nation built on God. They built this nation on the Rock of Jesus and His eternal Word.
However, unfortunately, there is one thing we’ve never learned – unity. Today, we are as far away from united as we can be. We’re divided by race, religion, politics, and class and that has been true from the beginning. It makes you wonder why we’re called the “United States of America,” doesn’t it?
Yet the Bible is clear that God wants us to live in unity. Consider these verses:
From the Old Testament
- Psalm 133:1. How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!
- Ecclesiastes 4:9-10. Two are better than one, because they have a good reward for their toil. For if they fall, one will lift up his fellow. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and has not another to lift him up!
- Amos 3:3. Do two walk together, unless they have agreed to meet?
From the teachings of Jesus
- Matthew 18:20. Where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
- John 13:35. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.
- John 17:11. And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one.
- John 17:23. I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me.
From Peter and James
- 1 Peter 3:8. Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.
- James 3:16. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice.
- Philippians 2:3. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves.
- 1 Corinthians 1:10. I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another in what you say and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly united in mind and thought.
- 2 Corinthians 13:11. Finally, brothers and sisters, rejoice! Strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, live in peace. And the God of love and peace will be with you.
- Galatians 3:28. There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
- Romans 14:19. Let us therefore make every effort to do what leads to peace and to mutual edification.
- Colossians 3:13-14. Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
- Ephesians 4:2-6. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. 3 Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. 4 There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; 5 one Lord, one faith, one baptism; 6 one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.
- Romans 12:16. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be proud, but be willing to associate with people of low position. Do not be conceited.
Division within the Church
Despite what the Bible says about unity, even among Christians, we’re divided by denominations and religious beliefs. To this, the words of Paul stretch down through time to say, “I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.” (1 Corinthians 1:10)
We may worship the same God and read the same Bible, but we — mere humans – attempt to interpret the words and meanings of the Sovereign, Almighty God and have the audacity to believe that we are the only ones who’ve interpreted it correctly. Satan has us so busy drawing lines in the sand and picking sides while arguing with those on the other side that it is impossible for us to carry out the mission Jesus gave to the church – to be “salt” and “light”, to be “fishers of men,” to disciple the saints and evangelize the lost. We can be guilty of being more concerned with who is correct in doctrine than who is lost and on their way to hell. All while the rest of the world is watching. What testimony do we give to the world if this is their view of us?
The result is what we are seeing unfolding in our nation now. Racism. Protesting. Rioting. Anger. Hatred. Murder. Division. Jesus said in Mark 3:25, “If a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.” These words are true for our individual homes, the House of Representatives, the Senate, Congress, the White House and our nation as a whole. And the division we see in all of these is great indeed. You see, Satan wants nothing more than to stir up divisions so that we fall. And if we are so busy picking our battles, drawing lines in the sand, refusing to work together – this nation built on God will cease to be blessed by God.
The foundation our founding fathers established for our nation has been traded out for the sinking sands of political gain, financial gain, fame, and success. Our leaders have tossed out the Word of God. Demolished the Biblical foundation. And we – the Christians – in our complacency, have sat back and allowed it to happen. We’ve kept our voice quiet. We didn’t go out to vote. We’ve neglected our prayer closets. We’ve not raised up spiritual leaders. And now, our children, marriages, homes, and government are suffering.
In fact, if we take an honest look, the division in our nation has become a gaping, infected wound, and the life of our nation is pouring out of it. As with every wound, something has to be responsible for inflicting the wound. We need to identify the knife that created the wound.
PRIDE: The Knife that Divides
Division doesn’t just happen – something has to be cut in order to be divided. The same is true when we look at the division tearing our nation apart. It goes by several names. Ego. Self-centered. Narcissistic Personality Disorder (yes! It’s so prevalent that the DSM has a diagnosis for it!). And, as it is more commonly known and called in the Bible: PRIDE.
The problem with pride is that pride is unbending. It is only concerned with my wants, my needs, my desires. It thinks that I know better than anyone else. That I am the only one that is right. I am all that matters. It refuses to see a point from someone else’s perspective. It is demanding, controlling, unyielding, and it rips apart relationships, homes, governments, and countries.
At the center of the word, “pride” is the letter “I” and when our focus is on “I” we cease to care about others. We become the knife that divides this nation.
Pride refuses to “Love Your Neighbor?”
No matter how we might try to get around it, Jesus expects us to love each other. In Mark 12:31, Jesus said we are love our neighbors as we love ourselves. In Mark 5:44, He said we are to even love our enemies. So, there’s no way around it. We are supposed to love others. All others. Not just those who look like me, think like me, dress like me, or vote the same way I do. But everyone.
Love your neighbors. Love your enemies. Not just tolerate or accept each other. Not pretend on the outside that we love them and then stab them in the back when no one is looking. Love doesn’t run their name through the mud on national television just to win a vote. It doesn’t cut them off in rush hour traffic because you’re the only one on the planet with a long list to get done today. It doesn’t turn away the vulnerable and hurting for materialistic gain or personal recognition or professional advancement. Nor does it slant the news story to make your favored candidate look good. Love does not raise your hands in worship at church then go home and verbally bash the pastor over lunch. That’s not love.
How are we to love others? We can find at least three ways in the Bible that can be a healing salve:
1. Love fervently with a pure heart.
1 Peter 1:22 tells us, “See that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently.” A pure heart does not seek the harm of others. It doesn’t dig up dirt on others, sling it over national television without any thought to the opponent’s family members or their children who have to go to school the next day with all their classmates who heard the trash (true or false) about their parent.
A pure heart also doesn’t participate in such actions by reporting it or talking about it with others. Rather it recognizes that doing so stirs up strife.
A pure heart means no guilt can be found in how we love others.
This verse also says we are to love others fervently. Not just a little bit – but intensely with a whole lot of pure love.
2. Love in truth
1 John 3:18 says, “My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.” In other words, you don’t go around saying you love someone, but then your actions speak differently. Your deeds should match your words if there is any truth to them. It’s the old saying of “actions speak louder than words.”
Loving in truth also means that we can’t veil our true thoughts and motives behind false words of love. In other words, statements such as, “I’m only telling you this because I love you, but….” and then your words are anything but loving and the motivation behind them isn’t love.
Sometimes it is necessary to confront others, but that should also be done in love and only truth should be spoken. Ephesians 4:15 tells us to speak the truth in love. Therefore, this verse tells us that bashing others with our words in wrong. We can’t speak the truth in love when we’re slinging their name and character through the mud. Instead, we point out the truth of what’s wrong, point them to God’s Word, and lead them to Jesus where they can discover His grace, mercy, forgiveness and love. We have a responsibility to speak the truth of God’s Word, but we are just as responsible for doing so in love.
3. Love like Christ
Jesus said in John 13:34-35, “A new commandment I gave unto you, That ye love one another; as I have love you, that ye also love one another.” Jesus also said, “Greater love hath no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) It is easy to love those who love us – but what about those who are different than us? What about those who think different than us? We don’t get to choose who we will love. We are called to love everyone the way that Jesus loves them. What about it Christian? Do you love others as Christ has loved you – unconditionally, sacrificially? If love were measured on a meter, would your meter register in the “Christ-like love” category for both your neighbor and your enemy?
Let all that you do be done in love
1 Corinthians 16:13-14 tells us, “Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.” We must be watchful because Satan, the father of lies, will deceive us so that we stumble and fall into sin.
We counter his attack the same way Jesus did – by standing firm in the faith. You can’t stand firm in the faith if you don’t have a clue what the Bible says. So, you need to be in the Word of God every day, treasuring it and hiding it in your heart so that it will be a light unto your path and to keep you from sinning against God.
Paul also said, “act like men” [or women]. We are not to act like spoiled brats demanding our own way, but mature children of God who reflect His character wherever we may go and to whomever we may encounter.
We also must be strong because the battle we fight is a spiritual battle so we must go to God who is our strength and our refuge. God gave us spiritual armor and we must put it on if we are going to fight spiritual battles. Only then can we overcome pride so that we are able to do everything in love.
Pride has made America “the all about me” society
We sing “America the beautiful” but the reality is more like “America: the all about me society”. Put that way, it doesn’t sound very beautiful. Proverbs 16:18 warns us that, “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.” In Psalm 10:4, the psalmist wrote, “In the pride of his face the wicked does not seek him; all his thoughts are, “There is no God.” The problem with saying “There is no God” is that you will also believe God’s Word is irrelevant. Therefore, loving your neighbor can just be thrown out and you just simply love yourself. No one else matters but you.
Pride says “There is no God“
Doesn’t that seem like the cry of our world today: “There is no God.” Why? Because if there is no God people can go on living anyway they want and not worry about retribution and judgement from God. However, Proverbs 16:5 warns us that, “Everyone who is arrogant in heart is an abomination to the Lord; be assured, he will not go unpunished.” And so, people do not acknowledge the existence of God. If they did, then they just might have to also acknowledge the possibility that COVID is a punishment for our arrogance and pride that believes we don’t need God.
Is COVID God’s punishment?
Is COVID a punishment? Only God can truly answer that question. But over and over again in the Bible God punishes nations for their wickedness, pride and refusal to turn back to him. We find in the Bible where the world became so full of sin that God regretted creating people. Only Noah found grace in the eyes of the Lord and God saved him and his family from the flood. From Sodom and Gomorrah, to Nineveh, to even his own chosen nation of Israel. Assyria, Babylon…and on down the pages of history.
Nations have come and gone when their sin became so great that God said, “Enough!” But we also know that Nineveh experienced a revival when Jonah went to preach to them, and God relented in His decision to destroy them. So, we know that when nations turn back to God, He does stop his judgement. But when they refuse to repent, the nation is destroyed.
Pride demands Independence and Control
There’s another reason people do not acknowledge the existence of God. Pride says, “I don’t need anyone or anything. I can do it my way.” But if we acknowledge God, then we know that we are dependent upon him for every single thing we have in life.
Pride also wants to be in control. We do not like it when we feel like we can’t control what’s happening around us. It stresses us out, makes us afraid. When a pandemic happens and our entire lives are changed all at once, it’s scary. Acknowledging God means that I have to accept that even with COVID, God is in control. This world is His creation and nothing happens without Him knowing it. He’s never caught by surprise at what happens on earth. We may not understand why some people – good people, pastors, children, and Christians — die from COVID and some do not. But if COVID is God’s judgment on the world, it will not end until God’s judgment is completed. We don’t like that. It’s out of our control.
God exists whether we acknowledge Him or not.
Choosing to say “there is no God” doesn’t mean he doesn’t exist. God is real whether a person chooses to acknowledge him or not. Quoting Isaiah 45:23, Paul wrote in Romans 14:11, “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me and every tongue shall confess to God.” You can choose to say there is no God today – but one day you will stand before Him and confess that He is God. And if you deny Him in this life, you will reap His judgement of eternity in hell.
Pride is determined to Stamp out God
Not only do people choose to not acknowledge His existence, but people have been trying to stamp God out of this nation, little by little, for generations. Prayer was removed from schools. Abortions became legalized murder, wiping away an innocent’s child’s right to life and discrediting God as the creator of life. The Ten Commandments were removed from government buildings. Some would have us remove the motto “In God we Trust” from our money and any other thing it is stamped on. Marriage was “re-defined” and same-sex marriages became legal. In a nation that claims freedom of speech and freedom of religion, we’ve seen Christian business owners receive retribution from the government for denying services to homosexual couples.
Yes – our world today wants to cry out, “There is no God.” Because they believe if they can stamp out God, then they are safe from God’s judgements. Do we need to even ask, “Is there just cause for God to judge America?”
A Putrefying Stench
Because people continue in their stubbornness and pride, the division of our nation has become a gaping wound with a putrefying stench. When left untreated a wound develops bacteria that causes an infection. Infections often stink and the greater the infection, the greater the stench. If left ignored and untreated the wound turns to gangrene and the only way to save the life is amputation.
Our nation has a bacteria infecting it. We don’t like to call it by its name because it both convicts us and condemns us. It’s a tiny, little word but holds our nation in its grips. Like the word, “pride”, it also has the letter “I” at the center. It is this one little word that is the whole crux of the problem. The bacteria infecting us is…Sin. Proverbs 21:4 tells us, “Haughty eyes and a proud heart, the lamp of the wicked, are sin. And wherever you find pride you will find sin. And wherever you find sin, you find the work of Satan.
1 Peter 5:8 tells us, “Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour.” Right now, he is trying to devour our nation – and we Christians are sitting back within the walls of our pretty churches and allowing it to happen. Our complacency is our sin. We’ve been complacent as the world attempted to stamp God out of our nation and we’ve been complacent in acknowledging the true state of this nation. As long as what happens in the world doesn’t reach within the bubble of our homes and families, we’ve looked the other way as we shake our heads and regretfully say, “Well, bless their hearts.” Then we go on with our lives. We have failed to be vigilant. We have failed to be salt and light to the world. And we have failed to be witnesses. We have not stood up when our government would change the laws so they go against the Bible. We’ve allowed Satan to sneak in and steal away the firm foundation of this nation. Yes! Our sin is one of complacency.
The Problem with Complacency
The problem with complacency in Christianity is it destroys the effects of being “salt and light” to the world that Jesus commanded us to be. In Mark 16:15, Jesus told his disciples to “Go ye into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. But after he ascended into heaven, we find in Acts 1 that the disciples stood around staring up into the sky. Two angels had to come to them and say, “Why are you all standing around here gazing up into heaven?” (My paraphrase). They could not both “go into all the world” and stay there staring into heaven at the same time. God had to send the angels to say, “Get to work!” (Again, my paraphrase) Likewise, we can’t stay within the walls of our church and effectively be salt and light to the world.
It’s time we wake up from our complacency and get out of our churches and go into all the world and bring the love of God to a world who so desperately needs Him.
The Second Problem with Complacency
There is a second problem with complacency. It nauseates Christ. We find in Revelation 3 that the church at Laodicea had a complacency problem. Jesus told them they were “lukewarm” – neither hot nor cold. In verse 17, Jesus said, “For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked.” As a result, Jesus says that he will spew them out of his mouth.
It comes back to pride again. Pride fools us into believing we are better than we are and keeps us from realizing just how wretched we are. Isaiah 64:6 says, “We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.” We have to stop comparing ourselves to the next person and saying, “I’m not as bad as them.” When we do, we fool ourselves into thinking we’re okay and we can’t see that even our best righteous deeds are just filthy rags.
How then do we heal the wound of division caused by the sin of pride?
If we are to rebuild the biblical foundation of this nation, it starts with the church. 2 Chronicles 7:14 says, “If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.” If we want to see our nation healed, we must wake up out of our complacency. It is up to the people who are called by God’s name – that’s the Christians. The children of God. Those who have acknowledged God and accepted Jesus as their Savior. It’s the Church’s responsibility – our God-given assignment.
We need a revival!
What is wrong in our nation is not going to be fixed by politicians. A stimulus check won’t fix it. COVID vaccines won’t heal it. What our nation needs is revival. Christians need to return to our prayer closets with fasting and prayer. We need to get rid of pride and humble ourselves before God. We need to seek His presence. And we need to ask the Holy Spirit to reveal the wicked ways within us (not in our spouse, children, co-worker, boss, neighbor or enemy) and seek God’s forgiveness. Will you be the wise person that hears and does the words of God? In Matthew 7, Jesus says this kind of person builds his house upon the rock so that when the storms come, the house will stand.
It is time for the people of God to cry out the words of the Psalmist, “Will you not revive us again, that your people may rejoice in you?” (Psalm 85:6) We invite you to join us in praying for revival. Start by memorizing 2 Chronicles 7:14:
“If my people who are called by my name will humble themselves and pray,
and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways,
then will I hear from heaven, forgive their sins, and heal their land.”
A Call to Action
Choose a set time this week to set yourself apart from the world to fast and pray. Get alone with God and His Word. Then commit to praying daily with an attitude of humility and repentance. Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal to you any sin in your own life and seek God’s forgiveness. Pray for God to send a revival, to forgive the sins of this nation and to heal our land. Then go out and invite others to pray and fast with you. If within every Christian church in America the people of God joined together to pray, fast, and on call on the Name of God with humble hearts of repentance – we will experience revival. Will you be the one in your church?
Lord, send a revival to America, and let it begin in me.
#ReadYourBible #Genesis #Matthew
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