Humble Yourself

‘I… lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me.’ Daniel 4:34 NKJV

God always responds in love to a humble heart, and He always rejects a proud one. One moment King Nebuchadnezzar was boasting about having built the world’s most advanced civilisation. The next he’d lost his mind and was crawling on all fours, eating grass like an animal.

But when he repented (and it took him seven years to do it), God restored his mind and his throne. He said: ‘I, Nebuchadnezzar, lifted my eyes to Heaven, and my understanding returned to me… Now I… praise… the King of Heaven, all of whose works are truth, and His ways justice. And those who walk in pride He is able to put down.’ (Daniel 4:34–37 NKJV) To fall is bad. But to fall and not cry out for help is worse. To fall and refuse to repent of your sin is worse still.

Maybe you’re ashamed to let anyone know you’ve fallen. Is your public persona or social media mask so important that you’re willing to continue what will inevitably prove to be a pathetic deception? Do you think you can go it alone without God? Sorry, but we’ve got to be brutal here: stop being so proud! That’s what caused your fall in the first place!

Pride is dangerous because it forces you to pine needlessly in a helpless state for… well, sometimes …years. The truth is, if we ask for help quickly we can get up and move on with life. But the good news is—it’s never too late to repent and acknowledge our need of God. When Nebuchadnezzar did that, his reason and understanding returned, and he was restored to his kingdom. The same can happen for you.

SoulFood: Is 63–66, John 8:1–11, Ps 99, Prov 29:11–14

word4today an adaptation of The Word For Today is authored by Bob and Debby Gass and published under licence from UCB International Copyright © 2018

Today’s Readings

Isaiah 63–66

63:1   Who is this who comes from Edom,
    in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
  he who is splendid in his apparel,
    marching in the greatness of his strength?
  “It is I, speaking in righteousness,
    mighty to save.”
  Why is your apparel red,
    and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
  “I have trodden the winepress alone,
    and from the peoples no one was with me;
  I trod them in my anger
    and trampled them in my wrath;
  their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
    and stained all my apparel.
  For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
    and my year of redemption had come.
  I looked, but there was no one to help;
    I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
  so my own arm brought me salvation,
    and my wrath upheld me.
  I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
    I made them drunk in my wrath,
    and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

  I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,
    the praises of the LORD,
  according to all that the LORD has granted us,
    and the great goodness to the house of Israel
  that he has granted them according to his compassion,
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
  For he said, “Surely they are my people,
    children who will not deal falsely.”
    And he became their Savior.
  In all their affliction he was afflicted,
    and the angel of his presence saved them;
  in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
    he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.
10   But they rebelled
    and grieved his Holy Spirit;
  therefore he turned to be their enemy,
    and himself fought against them.
11   Then he remembered the days of old,
    of Moses and his people.
  Where is he who brought them up out of the sea
    with the shepherds of his flock?
  Where is he who put in the midst of them
    his Holy Spirit,
12   who caused his glorious arm
    to go at the right hand of Moses,
  who divided the waters before them
    to make for himself an everlasting name,
13     who led them through the depths?
  Like a horse in the desert,
    they did not stumble.
14   Like livestock that go down into the valley,
    the Spirit of the LORD gave them rest.
  So you led your people,
    to make for yourself a glorious name.

15   Look down from heaven and see,
    from your holy and beautiful habitation.
  Where are your zeal and your might?
    The stirring of your inner parts and your compassion
    are held back from me.
16   For you are our Father,
    though Abraham does not know us,
    and Israel does not acknowledge us;
  you, O LORD, are our Father,
    our Redeemer from of old is your name.
17   O LORD, why do you make us wander from your ways
    and harden our heart, so that we fear you not?
  Return for the sake of your servants,
    the tribes of your heritage.
18   Your holy people held possession for a little while;
    our adversaries have trampled down your sanctuary.
19   We have become like those over whom you have never ruled,
    like those who are not called by your name.
64:1   Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down,
    that the mountains might quake at your presence—
   as when fire kindles brushwood
    and the fire causes water to boil—
  to make your name known to your adversaries,
    and that the nations might tremble at your presence!
  When you did awesome things that we did not look for,
    you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence.
  From of old no one has heard
    or perceived by the ear,
  no eye has seen a God besides you,
    who acts for those who wait for him.
  You meet him who joyfully works righteousness,
    those who remember you in your ways.
  Behold, you were angry, and we sinned;
    in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved?
  We have all become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment.
  We all fade like a leaf,
    and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
  There is no one who calls upon your name,
    who rouses himself to take hold of you;
  for you have hidden your face from us,
    and have made us melt in the hand of our iniquities.
  But now, O LORD, you are our Father;
    we are the clay, and you are our potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
  Be not so terribly angry, O LORD,
    and remember not iniquity forever.
    Behold, please look, we are all your people.
10   Your holy cities have become a wilderness;
    Zion has become a wilderness,
    Jerusalem a desolation.
11   Our holy and beautiful house,
    where our fathers praised you,
  has been burned by fire,
    and all our pleasant places have become ruins.
12   Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD?
    Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?

65:1   I was ready to be sought by those who did not ask for me;
    I was ready to be found by those who did not seek me.
  I said, “Here I am, here I am,”
    to a nation that was not called by my name.
  I spread out my hands all the day
    to a rebellious people,
  who walk in a way that is not good,
    following their own devices;
  a people who provoke me
    to my face continually,
  sacrificing in gardens
    and making offerings on bricks;
  who sit in tombs,
    and spend the night in secret places;
  who eat pig's flesh,
    and broth of tainted meat is in their vessels;
  who say, “Keep to yourself,
    do not come near me, for I am too holy for you.”
  These are a smoke in my nostrils,
    a fire that burns all the day.
  Behold, it is written before me:
    “I will not keep silent, but I will repay;
  I will indeed repay into their lap
    both your iniquities and your fathers' iniquities together,
      says the LORD;
  because they made offerings on the mountains
    and insulted me on the hills,
  I will measure into their lap
    payment for their former deeds.”
  Thus says the LORD:
  “As the new wine is found in the cluster,
    and they say, ‘Do not destroy it,
    for there is a blessing in it,’
  so I will do for my servants' sake,
    and not destroy them all.
  I will bring forth offspring from Jacob,
    and from Judah possessors of my mountains;
  my chosen shall possess it,
    and my servants shall dwell there.
10   Sharon shall become a pasture for flocks,
    and the Valley of Achor a place for herds to lie down,
    for my people who have sought me.
11   But you who forsake the LORD,
    who forget my holy mountain,
  who set a table for Fortune
    and fill cups of mixed wine for Destiny,
12   I will destine you to the sword,
    and all of you shall bow down to the slaughter,
  because, when I called, you did not answer;
    when I spoke, you did not listen,
  but you did what was evil in my eyes
    and chose what I did not delight in.”
13   Therefore thus says the Lord GOD:
  “Behold, my servants shall eat,
    but you shall be hungry;
  behold, my servants shall drink,
    but you shall be thirsty;
  behold, my servants shall rejoice,
    but you shall be put to shame;
14   behold, my servants shall sing for gladness of heart,
    but you shall cry out for pain of heart
    and shall wail for breaking of spirit.
15   You shall leave your name to my chosen for a curse,
    and the Lord GOD will put you to death,
    but his servants he will call by another name,
16   so that he who blesses himself in the land
    shall bless himself by the God of truth,
  and he who takes an oath in the land
    shall swear by the God of truth;
  because the former troubles are forgotten
    and are hidden from my eyes.

17   “For behold, I create new heavens
    and a new earth,
  and the former things shall not be remembered
    or come into mind.
18   But be glad and rejoice forever
    in that which I create;
  for behold, I create Jerusalem to be a joy,
    and her people to be a gladness.
19   I will rejoice in Jerusalem
    and be glad in my people;
  no more shall be heard in it the sound of weeping
    and the cry of distress.
20   No more shall there be in it
    an infant who lives but a few days,
    or an old man who does not fill out his days,
  for the young man shall die a hundred years old,
    and the sinner a hundred years old shall be accursed.
21   They shall build houses and inhabit them;
    they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit.
22   They shall not build and another inhabit;
    they shall not plant and another eat;
  for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be,
    and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
23   They shall not labor in vain
    or bear children for calamity,
  for they shall be the offspring of the blessed of the LORD,
    and their descendants with them.
24   Before they call I will answer;
    while they are yet speaking I will hear.
25   The wolf and the lamb shall graze together;
    the lion shall eat straw like the ox,
    and dust shall be the serpent's food.
  They shall not hurt or destroy
    in all my holy mountain,”
      says the LORD.

66:1   Thus says the LORD:
  “Heaven is my throne,
    and the earth is my footstool;
  what is the house that you would build for me,
    and what is the place of my rest?
  All these things my hand has made,
    and so all these things came to be,
      declares the LORD.
  But this is the one to whom I will look:
    he who is humble and contrite in spirit
    and trembles at my word.
  “He who slaughters an ox is like one who kills a man;
    he who sacrifices a lamb, like one who breaks a dog's neck;
  he who presents a grain offering, like one who offers pig's blood;
    he who makes a memorial offering of frankincense, like one who blesses an idol.
  These have chosen their own ways,
    and their soul delights in their abominations;
  I also will choose harsh treatment for them
    and bring their fears upon them,
  because when I called, no one answered,
    when I spoke, they did not listen;
  but they did what was evil in my eyes
    and chose that in which I did not delight.”
  Hear the word of the LORD,
    you who tremble at his word:
  “Your brothers who hate you
    and cast you out for my name's sake
  have said, ‘Let the LORD be glorified,
    that we may see your joy’;
    but it is they who shall be put to shame.
  “The sound of an uproar from the city!
    A sound from the temple!
  The sound of the LORD,
    rendering recompense to his enemies!

  “Before she was in labor
    she gave birth;
  before her pain came upon her
    she delivered a son.
  Who has heard such a thing?
    Who has seen such things?
  Shall a land be born in one day?
    Shall a nation be brought forth in one moment?
  For as soon as Zion was in labor
    she brought forth her children.
  Shall I bring to the point of birth and not cause to bring forth?”
    says the LORD;
  “shall I, who cause to bring forth, shut the womb?”
    says your God.
10   “Rejoice with Jerusalem, and be glad for her,
    all you who love her;
  rejoice with her in joy,
    all you who mourn over her;
11   that you may nurse and be satisfied
    from her consoling breast;
  that you may drink deeply with delight
    from her glorious abundance.”
12   For thus says the LORD:
  “Behold, I will extend peace to her like a river,
    and the glory of the nations like an overflowing stream;
  and you shall nurse, you shall be carried upon her hip,
    and bounced upon her knees.
13   As one whom his mother comforts,
    so I will comfort you;
    you shall be comforted in Jerusalem.
14   You shall see, and your heart shall rejoice;
    your bones shall flourish like the grass;
  and the hand of the LORD shall be known to his servants,
    and he shall show his indignation against his enemies.

15   “For behold, the LORD will come in fire,
    and his chariots like the whirlwind,
  to render his anger in fury,
    and his rebuke with flames of fire.
16   For by fire will the LORD enter into judgment,
    and by his sword, with all flesh;
    and those slain by the LORD shall be many.

17 “Those who sanctify and purify themselves to go into the gardens, following one in the midst, eating pig's flesh and the abomination and mice, shall come to an end together, declares the LORD.

18 “For I know their works and their thoughts, and the time is coming to gather all nations and tongues. And they shall come and shall see my glory, 19 and I will set a sign among them. And from them I will send survivors to the nations, to Tarshish, Pul, and Lud, who draw the bow, to Tubal and Javan, to the coastlands far away, that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. 20 And they shall bring all your brothers from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD. 21 And some of them also I will take for priests and for Levites, says the LORD.

22   “For as the new heavens and the new earth
    that I make
  shall remain before me, says the LORD,
    so shall your offspring and your name remain.
23   From new moon to new moon,
    and from Sabbath to Sabbath,
  all flesh shall come to worship before me,
  declares the LORD.

24 “And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”

John 8:1–11

8:1 but Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. 10 Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” 11 She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”]]

Psalm 99

99:1   The LORD reigns; let the peoples tremble!
    He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake!
  The LORD is great in Zion;
    he is exalted over all the peoples.
  Let them praise your great and awesome name!
    Holy is he!
  The King in his might loves justice.
    You have established equity;
  you have executed justice
    and righteousness in Jacob.
  Exalt the LORD our God;
    worship at his footstool!
    Holy is he!
  Moses and Aaron were among his priests,
    Samuel also was among those who called upon his name.
    They called to the LORD, and he answered them.
  In the pillar of the cloud he spoke to them;
    they kept his testimonies
    and the statute that he gave them.
  O LORD our God, you answered them;
    you were a forgiving God to them,
    but an avenger of their wrongdoings.
  Exalt the LORD our God,
    and worship at his holy mountain;
    for the LORD our God is holy!

Proverbs 29:11–14

11   A fool gives full vent to his spirit,
    but a wise man quietly holds it back.
12   If a ruler listens to falsehood,
    all his officials will be wicked.
13   The poor man and the oppressor meet together;
    the LORD gives light to the eyes of both.
14   If a king faithfully judges the poor,
    his throne will be established forever.

Thu 09 November, 2017


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