“So He told a parable to those who were invited, when He noted how they chose the best places, saying to them: “When you are invited by anyone to a wedding feast, do not sit down in the best place, lest one more honorable than you be invited by him; and he who invited you and him come and say to you, ‘Give place to this man,’ and then you begin with shame to take the lowest place. But when you are invited, go and sit down in the lowest place, so that when he who invited you comes he may say to you, ‘Friend, go up higher.’ Then you will have glory in the presence of those who sit at the table with you. For whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.””
Luke 14:7-11 NKJV
We are living in a time of exaltation, when mere mortals are put on pedestals, high among others. People pour all of their lives into gaining status.
Even in the church, there are those who desire renown in the eyes of the world. They want to be at the head of the table, receiving all honor. Christians have played along, running out and buying the books of all the celebrated pastors.
Some, having run afoul of those who elevated them, have been toppled due to some indiscretion. A hidden sin, come to the surface, or some word or thought that brings offense.
Such is dangerous for the follower of Jesus.
During a teaching, called “Rekindled Hearts”, I heard something that overwhelmed my life. The teacher asked us: “If you were a flower on top of a mountain that only God could see would you still worship Him.”
When I read the passage in Luke this morning, I was taken back to that statement, especially in light of the life the Lord has given me. In a very real sense I have been made that flower that only the Lord could see, for as He has worked in me, He has made me more His own.
The Lord has shown me my place. These days, I am living in a state of constant reflection, for my days are numbered. When I look back at my life, I see all the broken places, all the situation that have defined for me my status in this world. I was born of undesired hue, oft rejected by those with brighter skin. I was humbled from near the beginning as the sins of others had great impact on my life.
My childhood was marked by abject rejection by many, for I did not fit into the approved box the culture had for me. My adult years were marked by solitude, for I had a habit of making people feel uncomfortable, for I exceeded their lowered expectations. I was one that they could not ignore, for I had a voice that could rightly define the truth.
Midway through the journey of life, Jesus found me, saved me from my sins, and laid His mark upon me. I was no longer my own. My nature drives me to seek the peak of all that I set my mind to. If I read the Bible, I want to know all that all it says, whether it be the comforting or the afflicting. I want to know what the words mean. I want to know the God of the Bible.
One would think that such a hunger would make one well thought of, or even revealed. But it has not been so, for it has proved to be one more thing that has set me apart, driving me more into solitude.
Looking back I have come to realize that all that the Lord has taken me through has prepared me for such a time as this: when prayer for the saints would be essential.
Then the refinement began.
A multitude of health issues has broken me, made life less than what I would have wanted. But through it all, I have the fellowship of the Lord.
Over there years, I have had a lot of learning opportunities, where the Lord has taught me things that I would need along the way.
There are times when I wonder why I have not been exalted. But then, the Lord reminds me.
“But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; You are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, Nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the Lord your God, The Holy One of Israel, your Savior; I gave Egypt for your ransom, Ethiopia and Seba in your place. Since you were precious in My sight, You have been honored, And I have loved you; Therefore I will give men for you, And people for your life.”
Isaiah 43:1-4 NKJV
As an inheritor of the blessings of Israel, through the sacrifice of our Lord Jesus Christ, I am adopted into the beloved. The Lord is fully aware of me, not because of my worth, for I am but a wretched sinner, but because of His grace. Because of His love, He is aware of me.
Brothers and sisters, we are living in a world that seeks to exalt the unworthy, and as a result we have been programmed to be seek the higher places. We must always remember that our ways are not God’s ways, and He views the world from the bottom to the top.
Our Lord Jesus came as an example of humility, for He laid aside His glory He knew with the Father to live as one of us. Because of this we know that we have One who is aware of our weakness, but did not sin.
“Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
Hebrews 4:14-16 NKJV
I tell you the truth, in the coming days, weeks and months, we will be humbled, for we will be maligned and slandered for things we have not done. We will be called all manner of things, as the world turns against us. We will no longer be able to lean on our respectability as Christians, for that title will no longer have the cache it once did.
Soon, it will be tantamount to calling oneself the most vile of villains. In the midst of these times, let us be mindful that we are flowers of the Lord, for He sees us, and as the world seeks to shame us, He will exalt us in due time.
Know my people, that He is aware of us, and He cares for us. The coming times will be tough, and when the dark days come, evil will come at us like water. But we know that God is for us, for He is with us, and if we are born again, He is in us. There will be man y who seek to harm us for being followers of what is good.
“And who is he who will harm you if you become followers of what is good? But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you are blessed. “And do not be afraid of their threats, nor be troubled.” But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear; having a good conscience, that when they defame you as evildoers, those who revile your good conduct in Christ may be ashamed. For it is better, if it is the will of God, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil.”
I Peter 3:13-17 NKJV
Let us keep our eyes on the Lord, always looking to Jesus, for He is the One who will; exalt us in due time. We know that our Lord is faithful, for He has been for so many who have gone before us.
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”
Hebrews 12:1-2 NKJV
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