Author Archives: Pastor Tommy

About Pastor Tommy

Pastor Tommy is the senior pastor of Cross Community Church (PCA) in Deerfield Beach, FL. Rev. Tommy Boland is his official title. Pastor Tommy often seems too formal. Most everyone calls him "Coach".

God Is Not Ashamed of You

God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared a city for them. (Hebrews 11:16)

Today we are looking at a passage from what is often called the Hall of Faith chapter in the Bible—“Hall of Faith” being a play on words from the sports phrase “Hall of Fame.” In Hebrews 11 we read about the great faith of many of the Old Testament saints of God, from Abel to Abraham, and contained within that chapter are the incredible words of comfort and challenge given in today’s verse. Because God’s saints were walking with God by faith and not by sight, longing for their heavenly home, God says this about them:

I AM NOT ASHAMED TO BE CALLED THEIR GOD!

Let me be perfectly clear here: The reason God is not ashamed to be called their God is not because these great saints of God did not do any shameful things. You will remember that Abraham twice tried to save his own skin by telling both Pharaoh in Egypt and King Abimelek of Gerar that his beautiful wife Sarah was his sister (Genesis 12:13, 20:2). One such lie would have been cowardly enough, but the man whom Scripture calls the father of the faithful did this twice! That’s pretty shameful don’t you think?

After Noah’s staggering act of faith—building a huge ark on dry ground—we find him so drunk that he was passed out naked in his tent. And both Noah and Abraham look like children at play when one considers that gross misdeeds of David, called by Scripture the man after God’s own heart, who seduced a married woman and then directly orchestrated the death of her husband to cover up his own sin. More shameful events in the lives of God’s people! Yet God is not ashamed to be called their God. Why? Because they were His by faith, blemishes and all, just as you and I are His.

Isn’t that a word of comfort? But this is also a word of challenge for you and me. Why? Because no matter how badly we fail, no matter how many times we fall short of the mark God has set before us, no matter how many times we behave shamefully, we can be sure that He still loves us and is not ashamed to be called our God.

Think about the last time you really fouled things up . . . I mean, you totally blew it. No matter how you or others felt about what you did or failed to do, God is not ashamed to be called your God. Knowing that God will not look shamefully at you, no matter what mistakes you make, should motivate and empower you to strive to be all He is calling you to be, regardless of the cost or circumstance.  

Shame and embarrassment can stifle our desire to respond to God’s call for fear of failure and rejection. Remember, every great saint listed in the Hall of Faith failed God and failed Him badly, frequently on more than one occasion. Yet God is not ashamed to be called their God. The sure and certain knowledge that we serve a God who will always look upon us with love, a God who will never leave us nor forsake us, provides the solid foundation upon which we are to build a life that attempts great things for God, because whether we accomplish those things or not, God’s love and acceptance never wavers. God is never ashamed to be called our God . . . and therefore we should never be ashamed to act as His servants and emissaries to a lost, broken, and hurting world.  This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN

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ODD GOD – Calling Zacchaeus

When Jesus reached the spot, he looked up and said to him, “Zacchaeus, come down immediately. I must stay at your house today.” (Luke 19:5)

Today we will conclude our four-part series of articles on the unusual, unique, and even “odd” ways of God when He calls and commissions His people into His service. As always, my prayerful intent is that these messages will provide you with biblical hope and encouragement, but I also I hope that this “Odd God” series will motivate you to do two things: First, to look back and prayerfully consider how God has worked in your life; and second, to look ahead to make sure you do not miss something special God might be doing in your life right now.

Today we will look at the calling of the tax collector in a tree, a calling every bit as odd as the callings of Moses, Gideon, and Jonah. Zacchaeus was despised by his fellow Israelites because he was a Jew who had sold his services to the hated Roman occupiers, who levied heavy taxes on Israel and all the nations under their rule. The Israelites hated paying taxes to the pagan Roman government, but when those who collected those taxes were their own countrymen, they hated those tax collectors even more. Men like Zacchaeus were regarded as traitors at best and heartless thieves at worst, because they were allowed to collect as much tax money as they could get, just as long as they paid the agreed-upon tax to their Roman overlords. Thus many of these tax collectors had become very wealthy on the backs of their fellow Israelites. Luke’s gospel is careful to point out that Zacchaeus “was a chief tax collector and was wealthy” (Luke 19:2). Oh, there was a lot about this man to dislike!

But then Jesus showed up. When Jesus entered Jericho, huge crowds gathered to see the son of David, whom many believed had come to overthrow the hated Roman rulers. Zacchaeus wanted to see this Man, but due to his short stature, Zacchaeus climbed a sycamore tree so that he could get a better look at Jesus as He passed by. But to his great surprise, Jesus stopped directly under his tree, looked up, and called Zacchaeus out of the tree and into the Truth.

Naturally, the people watching were not happy that Jesus would even speak to this loathsome traitor to the Jewish nation, but Jesus was not done yet. The next thing He did was invite Himself to Zacchaeus’ house. And at that meal, Zacchaeus’ surprise turned into sold-out submission and surrender to his Savior.

Zacchaeus stood up and said to the Lord, “Look, Lord! Here and now I give half of my possessions to the poor, and if I have cheated anybody out of anything, I will pay back four times the amount.” (Luke 19:8)

As you look back in your life, has Jesus been calling you down from any “tree” to in order to move you from spectator to servant? Perhaps, like Zacchaeus, you have been “out on a limb,” more concerned about meeting your own needs than the needs of others? Perhaps our loving Lord is reminding you to love your neighbor as yourself?

Remember, our “Odd God” is in the business of calling His people into service in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Be on the lookout for His call on your life! And when you hear that call, I pray that you will eagerly respond, just as the little man with the big heart for God did.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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ODD GOD – Calling Jonah

The Lord provided a great fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was inside the fish three days and three nights. (Jonah 1:17)

We are in the midst of a series of articles that I’ve titled “Odd God” . . . “Odd” in the way that He calls people into the service of advancing His kingdom. We’ve looked at the callings of Moses and Gideon; let’s spend today some time with the course correction that our Lord provided for Jonah.

God called Jonah to go and preach destruction to the Ninevites if they did not change their ways. But when God told Jonah to go, Jonah said no because he hated the Assyrians, who had cruelly oppressed Israel, and Nineveh was the prosperous capitol city of Assyria. Unlike Moses and Gideon, who tried to talk God out of calling them into service, Jonah hopped a ship headed in the exact opposite direction of where God had called him to go.

Jonah’s attempt to avoid his calling didn’t work out so well. God sent a violent storm that terrified the sailors on the ship, who woke Jonah from a sound sleep and pressed him to call on his God to save them. Next, the sailors cast lots to see who was responsible for the storm and the lot fell on Jonah. (You’ll recall that Proverbs 16:33 informs us that “The lot is cast into the lap, but its every decision is from the Lord.”)

I try to picture the looks on the sailors’ faces—anger and terror struggling for supremacy—as Jonah explained that he was running away from God’s call on his life. Rather than suggesting that the ship redirect to Nineveh, Jonah told the sailors to throw him into the sea and the storm would subside. The sailors tried to row the boat back to shore, but when the storm grew even worse, they cried out to God, asking that they not be held accountable for the life of Jonah, and threw him into the sea. The storm immediately subsided.

Now here’s the really “odd” part: Jonah spent three days and nights in the Hotel Huge Fish. At checkout time, the great fish spit Jonah out onto the shore . . . and now Jonah was ready to fulfill God’s call on his life!

What happened next can only be explained by the power and grace of God. Jonah preached perhaps the shortest sermon in recorded history: “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overturned” (Jonah 3:4), and 120,000 pagans, including the king of Nineveh, repented in prayer and fasting. It was the kind of response that any itinerant preacher can only dream of, and our gracious God relented from sending the calamity on Nineveh that He had threatened.

Sadly, there was one itinerant preacher who was not delighted by God’s amazing grace: our reluctant prophet Jonah. Jonah sulked and grumbled –

O Lord, is this not what I said when I was still at home? That is why I was so quick to flee to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live. (Jonah 4:2-3)

In looking back in your life, can you see any “great fish” that God used to provide course correction when He was calling you into His service? Perhaps, like Jonah, you sensed God’s call on your life and your response was, “No way!” Were you headed in one direction and suddenly found yourself going in another? Remember, our “Odd God” is in the business of calling His people into His service in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Be on the lookout!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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ODD GOD – Calling Gideon

Gideon said to God, “If there is dew only on the fleece and all the ground is dry, then I will know that you will save Israel by my hand, as you said.” (Judges 6:37)

In Monday’s blog I asked if you have ever considered how strikingly unusual, unique, and even “odd” are the ways God when He calls and commissions His people into His service. Throughout this four-part series of “Odd God” articles, I would like to offer you encouragement by looking at some of these unusual callings. In addition to providing encouragement, I hope to motivate you to do two things: First, to look back and prayerfully consider how God has worked in your life; and second, to look ahead to make sure you do not miss something special God may be doing in your life right now.

Today we will look at the calling of Gideon, which was every bit as odd as the calling of Moses. It can be summed up as the wet fleece on the dry ground and the dry fleece on the wet ground. Read on and be encouraged today!

God was calling Gideon to rescue His people out of the hand of the Midianites. But, like Moses, Gideon was fearful and tried to get out of his calling. God promised Gideon that he would go in the strength of the Lord, but Gideon’s fear caused his faith to flee. So Gideon asked God for a sign to confirm it really was God calling him into this position of leadership. Enter Gideon’s “faith-building” fleece.

After making the request we saw in today’s passage, Gideon got up the next morning, squeezed the fleece, and wrung out enough dew to fill a bowl with water. But even that was not enough confirmation for Gideon, so he asked God for another miraculous sign.

“Do not be angry with me. Let me make just on more request. Allow me one more test with the fleece. This time make the fleece dry and the ground covered with dew.” That night God did so. Only the fleece was dry; all the ground was covered with dew. (Judges 6:39-40)

How odd that God would use a wet fleece on the dry ground and a dry fleece on the wet ground to convince Gideon that it was indeed the Lord calling him into service. Stranger still, God reduced Gideon’s fighting force from 32,000 men to 300 . . . just to make it clear to everyone, including Gideon, that when Gideon went into battle against the Midianites and won the day, that it was God who had secured the victory. For this is the word of the Lord Almighty: “Not by might nor by power, but by my Spirit” (Zechariah 4:6).

As you look back in your life, can you see any “wet fleeces on dry ground” or “dry fleeces on wet ground” that God used to speak to you in calling you into His service? Has there been a time when you felt utterly unequipped to serve . . . yet it was impossible to deny that that is exactly where God wanted you to serve? Remember, our “Odd God” is in the business of calling His people into His service in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Be on the lookout!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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ODD GOD – Calling Moses

Moses saw that though the bush was on fire it did not burn up. (Exodus 3:2)

Have you ever considered how strikingly unusual, unique, and even “odd” are the ways of God when He calls and commissions His people into His service? Today’s message is the first of a four-part series of articles, all of which are designed to offer you encouragement by looking at some of these unusual callings. In addition to offering encouragement, I hope to motivate you to do two things: First, to look back and prayerfully consider how God has worked in your life; and second, to look ahead to make sure you do not miss something special God might be doing in your life right now.

Today we will look at Moses and the burning bush. Moses spent the first forty years of his life in the palace of the Pharaoh of Egypt, a place of great power, prestige, and privilege. Yet Moses knew his heritage as a Hebrew, and when he saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew slave, he defended his Hebrew brother and killed the Egyptian. However, far from being appreciative of what Moses had done, one of the Hebrews mockingly called him out for what he had done. Fearing for his life, Moses fled into the desert and spent the next forty years in obscurity.

Now, at the age of eighty, God had Moses right where He wanted him; while Moses was tending his father-in-law’s flock in Midian, God appeared to Moses from within the flames of fire that engulfed a bush that did not burn up. The sight was so unusual that Moses was intrigued, and he drew near to take a look. And then the Lord called out to him:

“Moses! Moses!”

And Moses said, “Here I am.”

“Do not come any closer,” God said. “Take off your sandals, for the place where you are standing is holy ground.” Then he said, “I am the God of your father, the God of Abraham and the God of Jacob.” (Exodus 3:4-6)

God went on to tell Moses that He has heard the cries of His people, who were in bitter distress in their bondage in Egypt, and that it is now time to deliver them. That, of course, is exactly what Moses had tried to do forty years earlier, but the problem back then was that Moses had tried to do it in his strength, not God’s.

Then God said something quite unexpected, “So now, go. I am sending you to Pharaoh to bring my people the Israelites out of Egypt” (Exodus 3:10). Stunned by this enormity of the task that lay ahead, Moses made up every excuse imaginable to keep from answering his call, but to no avail. God sent Moses with his brother Aaron down into Egypt to confront Pharaoh, and the rest, as they say, is His-story.

Looking back in your life, can you recall any “burning bushes” that God spoke to you from in order to call you into His service? Was there ever a time when you said, “Lord, I can’t do this!” and God replied, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible” (Matthew 19:26)? Remember, our “Odd God” is in the business of calling His people into His service in unexpected and unprecedented ways. Be on the lookout!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN

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Faith-Filled

faith of a child

Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.  (Hebrews 11:1)

There are many layers to the biblical understanding of faith. I have discussed the faith that saves on many occasions, both here in Grace for the Race and from the pulpit: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Today, however, I would like to encourage you with a brief word on the biblical faith that sanctifies.

In his Exposition of Hebrews, the English pastor A. W. Pink spoke about the kind of faith that fills: “It is not a blind reliance on the Word of God, but an intelligent persuasion of its veracity, wisdom, and beauty.” I believe Pink said this because he knew that the faith that fills is the faith that fixes its eyes on the Author and Perfecter of that faith. A faith that fills persuades us of the truth of Jesus, the wisdom of Jesus, and the beauty of Jesus. And in so doing, it fills us to overflowing in every aspect of our lives. We walk through the details of life, knowing that He who began the good work in us will also bring it to a faith-filled completion.

In our passage today, notice these two words: sure and certain. The faith that fills is absolutely sure and certain because of the One who has given us the gift of faith. All of the promises of God are “Yes” and “Amen” in Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21). When God says something, that settles it! You can take His word to the believer’s bank and cash it.

Regardless of how circumstances may look in the world around us or even in your personal life right now, God is in control of all things. And yes, that includes all of your things. And if that isn’t enough to fill you with faithfulness, God has promised to work all things for your ultimate good . . . perhaps now . . . perhaps tomorrow . . . perhaps not until you enter glory . . . but you can be sure and certain that ultimate good will come to pass.

I love the way the Amplified Bible describes the faith of Abraham, who is the spiritual father of all who have trusted in Christ:

No unbelief or distrust made him waver (doubtingly question) concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong and was empowered by faith as he gave praise and glory to God, fully satisfied and assured that God was able and mighty to keep His word and to do what He had promised. (Rom 4:20-21 AMP)

Remember, God’s gift of faith keeps on giving after it saves us; it continues throughout our lives to conform us more and more into the image and likeness of Christ. And it will stop at nothing short of perfection. You have His Word on that!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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No Leftovers For the Lord

charcuterie table

I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God – this is your spiritual act of worship.  (Romans 12:1)

Have you ever wondered why the Bible instructs us to examine ourselves? I think it is because, in our natural, sinful nature, we are self-absorbed, which means we put ourselves first in our thoughts and actions, rather than our Lord. This is the sad reality of most of our lives, but read on; I hope to inspire and encourage you today!

In the Old Testament, God commanded His people to give the first and best of their crops—the firstfruits—as an act of worship. In other words, God’s people are not to give “leftovers” to the Lord. And yet we all have a tendency to do this, which is why we must regularly examine ourselves. Our Lord does not want our leftover time, our leftover talent, or our leftover treasure. He wants and deserves our first and our best of everything we have received from Him . . . which is everything! For “What do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7).

Think about it this way: Imagine that Jesus was coming to your home for dinner tonight. Would you serve Him what you have left over in your fridge, or would you spend the day preparing the best possible meal you could serve? The answer is obvious. No one would go to the fridge, pull out some Tupperware, nuke it for two minutes, and plop it down in front of our Lord. So the question really comes down to this: Who is Number One in our lives? We can answer that question directly and honestly, simply by identifying who or what gets our firstfruits.

Is this giving of the firstfruits the confession of our lives? When it comes to our time, do we give God a few spare minutes at the end of the day? Or do we set aside some dedicated time to be with Him? When it comes to our talent, do we give God the best of the abilities He has given us to expand the cause of His kingdom? When it comes to our treasure, do we pay God first? Or does He get whatever is left over after everyone else has been paid?

Never forget that God gave us His very best by giving His only Son to die in our place so that we might have eternal life. And on that first Easter morning, Jesus rose from the dead as the firstfruits of our salvation (1 Corinthians 15:23), which means that we too shall rise from the dead when He returns. Let that truth remind all of us that there is no place for offering leftovers to our Lord! May we be obedient to the command of Scripture and offer our hearts and our lives as living sacrifices of thanksgiving and praise.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Divine Dress Code – Patience

shadow

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.(Colossians 3:12)

We have reached the conclusion of this series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. We began by taking an extended look at the compassion our Lord commands us to wear, we moved through examinations of kindness, humility, and gentleness, and today we will look at the final wardrobe item in our divine dress code: patience.

You’ll often hear someone say, “You saved the best for last!” Well, I can only say that I believe Paul saved the most difficult command for last, and I’m sure most readers will agree! Patience is rarely a problem for us when the sky is blue, the clouds fleecy, and the sun brightly shining. But when the storm winds begin to blow, we often find ourselves running out of patience very quickly. And for many of us, that “storm” need not be particularly strong to knock us completely off our precarious perch of patience. It might be nothing more than a traffic jam, a long checkout line, or a whiny child, but many of us are all too quickly transformed into impatient, irritable people by even the smallest thing that runs counter to our preferences.

The cure for our sinful impatience is to remember that biblical patience is not exhibiting some kind of passive tolerance in the face of difficulties. When the Bible tells us to “run with patience the race set before us” (Hebrews 12:1 KJV), we can clearly see that sacred Scripture is not suggesting that we merely “grin and bear it.” Rather, patience is persevering and progressing toward the desired outcome God has set before us: to be conformed to the likeness of His Son.

James tells us that our trials are one of God’s ordained ways to perfect our patience (James 1:3 NKJV, KJV). We see this truth embodied in the lives of all the great biblical characters, and the reason these men and women had such great patience is because they continued trusting in and depending on God. They understood that God is in complete control of all things, even those things they did not understand, and so they continued looking to God, who would ultimately work all things for the good of those who love him (Romans 8:28). Remember that “all things” includes those things that try our patience . . . even long checkout lines!

When someone is bearing up under great difficulty, you’ll often hear it said of that person that he or she is exhibiting “the patience of Job.” You’ll recall that Job endured the unimaginable storm losing his health, his wealth, and all ten of his children; on top of all that, his wife ridiculed him and his three friends falsely accused him of wrongdoing. Yet we read that Job never sinned against God. Job did not understand what was happening to him, but he was absolutely sure his God could be trusted. You and I are all called to exhibit the faith of Job, knowing that God has promised never to leave us or forsake us. We are to echo Job’s confident assurance that “My Redeemer lives, and that in the end he will stand upon the earth: (Job 19:25). And when that glorious day comes, you and I will be finally and fully patient, for when we see Him, we shall be like Him. As John said, “Everyone who has this hope in him purifies himself, just as he is pure” (1 John 3:3).

Paul wrote that “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently” (Romans 8:23-25). I believe if Paul was here with us today, he might simply tell us, “Be patient, brothers and sisters; God is not done with you yet!”

And so, dear believer in Christ, regardless of what you may be dealing with today, let me encourage you to put on the divine dress code of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. The more we look to Jesus, the more fully we will be clothed in His divine qualities, however imperfectly we may wear them, and the better we will show Christ to a world that desperately needs to know Him.

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race.  NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Divine Dress Code – Gentleness

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

We are moving through a series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. One week ago, we took an extended look at the compassion our Lord commands us to wear; this week we have examined kindness and humility. Today we will move on to the fourth article in our divine dress code: gentleness.

Gentleness is the exact opposite of harshness and belligerence, something that, sadly, many are losing sight of in our world today. Too many people are living by the maxim, “Might makes right,” no matter who gets hurt along the way. Yet the Old Testament prophets told us that gentleness would be one of the marks of the coming Messiah:

  • He will not shout or cry out, or raise his voice in the streets. A bruised reed he will not break, and a smoldering wick he will not snuff out. (Isaiah 42:2-3)
  • See your king comes to you . . . gentle and riding on a donkey. (Zechariah 9:9).

To be sure, there were times when dealing with the self-righteous Pharisees that we do not see a “gentle” Jesus. But with those who were hurting, broken, and desperate for deliverance, we do see the gentle Jesus who “took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows” (Isaiah 53:4).

The world we live in is filled with bruised people who need us to reflect that same gentleness to them. Indeed, we are commanded to “Let your gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). And that includes being gentle with those we might think don’t deserve our gentleness. Those who wrong us or disagree with us are included in that “all” of Philippians 4:5, and we simply do not get a vote. We are to let our gentleness be evident to all, especially when we would rather not. Does this not reflect the gentleness of our Lord, who was “pierced for our transgressions,” who was “crushed for our iniquities,” and who took “the punishment that brought us peace” (Isaiah 53:5)—He who died on a cross for us even when we were alienated from God and enemies of His in our minds (Colossians 1:21)?

One of the best ways to manifest this gentleness is to consider all the ways in which God is gentle with us, especially when we know we do not deserve it. So important is gentleness to God that church leaders are admonished to continually reflect it, being “not violent but gentle” (1 Timothy 3:3) to those God has placed in their care. If we are speaking the truth in love, we will speak with gentleness, and our message will be far better received than browbeating others into accepting it.

Here is what we must remember: If anything about us is offensive, let it be the message of the Gospel itself, not the way in which we share it with others. This attitude was beautifully exemplified by John the Baptist, who said, “He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30). When Jesus is increasing in our lives, we will be decreasing, and our divine dress code of gentleness will become more and more evident to all those we come in contact with in the words we speak and the actions we perform. We will “the aroma of Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:15) to people who desperately need to know that sweet Savior!This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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Divine Dress Code – Humility

Clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. (Colossians 3:12)

We are in the midst of a series of articles on what I call “the divine dress code,” as we read it from the inspired pen of the apostle Paul in his epistle to the church at Colossae. In the first two articles in this series, we took an extended look at the compassion and kindness our Lord commands us to wear; today we will unpack the third article of our divine dress code: humility.

Let me begin by making it clear what humility is not: it is not “weakness,” as the world would have us believe; humility is actually one of the greatest of all biblical strengths. Humility was the mark of our Lord –

Who, being in very nature God,

did not consider equality with God something to be grasped,

but made himself nothing,

taking the very nature of a servant,

being made in human likeness.

And being found in appearance as a man,

he humbled himself

and became obedient to death —

even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:6-8)

Humility was also the mark of arguably the greatest man who lived prior to the time of Christ: Moses, whom God chose to lead His people Israel out of their centuries-long bondage in Egypt. Scripture describes Moses as “a very humble man, more humble than anyone else on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3).

I think we can all agree that “weakness” is not a word we would use to describe either Moses or Jesus. True humility is reflected in a courage that allows you to occupy a lower place in the eyes of others because you are content to remain totally dependent upon God. Humility is the opposite of pride. It forsakes self-confidence and looks to the source of true, unshakeable confidence: Jesus Christ our Savior. Humble people find their identity in Christ; their meaning in life is derived through expanding the cause of His kingdom; and their greatest joy comes from serving others. They are modeling Christ to the world, He who told us that “The Son of man did not come to be served, but to serve and give His life as a ransom for others” (Mark 10:45).

Humility acknowledges that the ground is level at the foot of the cross. Every person, having been made in the image of God, has dignity, value, and worth. When we see life through this biblical lens, we never look down on anyone . . . and when we are not looking down, we rightly are looking up to the One who was humility personified—He who, in one of the greatest acts of humility imaginable, washed the feet of His disciples on the night He was betrayed, a task normally performed by the most lowly slave.  

I write all these things, but I will also readily admit that this Christlike humility is extremely difficult for us to develop and even harder to maintain. Our sinful, human flesh clamors to exalt self. We are very much like the enemy who desires to destroy us, who once crowed, “I will raise my throne above the stars of God . . . I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High” (Isaiah 14:13-14). Our flesh is weak, and it is very much a part of our old nature to magnify self and minimize God.

Jonathan Edwards once said, “We must view humility as one of the most essential things that characterizes true Christianity.” One of the best ways to put on the godly garment of humility is to remember that humility is not thinking less of yourself—for you too are made in the image of God—but it is thinking of yourself less. As you keep your eyes fixed on Jesus and ask Him to give you eyes that look on others with His compassion and kindness, you will develop true biblical humility, and you will model, however imperfectly, the character of Christ.

So . . . on a scale of one to ten, with ten being the greatest demonstration of humility, how would you rate your current level of humility? How would those closest to you rate you? What one change do you need to make in order to enhance your “divine dress code” of humility? This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!

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