To all those that fight injustices,
to all those that battle evil
to all those that suffer in silence
to all those that are sad
To all those that are lonely
To all those that are in pain
To all those that find it hard to continue
To all those in despair
look inside yourself, because therein lies hidden the hero, the hero that will bring you through, the hero that will help you raise your head again, because ultimately, when all is said and done, you and you alone deserve to be called a hero, because that is who you are.
That is the mantra that typifies our American culture. Man is his own measure and his own god. He seeks to control his own destiny and insure his own future. According to Pew Research, a survey found that 81% of 18-25-year-olds said that being rich was their top goal in life. The second closest top goal in life for this age group? Being famous!
Self-promotion and self-gratification define man’s greatest desires. What a contrast to hear the God’s greatest dream for man. Jesus says it in Matthew 18:4: “Therefore, whoever humbles himself as (a) little child is the greatest in the kingdom of Heaven.” A little later Jesus adds in Matthew 23:12, “And whoever exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” The Apostle James tells us that we should “Humble (ourselves) in the sight of hte Lord, and He will lift us up.”
And I don’t know of any time in our history when our nation needed to be lifted up by God more than it does today. I don’t know if you’ve been noticing or not, but, we’ve got problems. One website I visited this week listed the top five. Want to hear what they listed?
The #5 problem: Government size and spending. In the last year alone, the government has spent 1.1 trillion in bailouts and is on tap so spend trillions more in new programs. And guess who is holding $740 billion of that debt? China, the strongest communist country in the world.
But the picture nationally only mirrors our problems personally. One reason the government stepped in to bailout banks was because you and I had borrowed so much that we could never hope to repay That’s our #4 problem: Individual fiscal irresponsibility.
This website listed our #3 problem as the decline of morality in the Media. We’ve watched that decline for years. The open approval of homosexuality and the promotion of agendas that contradict biblical standards is rampant.
Problem # 2 was listed as the decline of literacy and education. America spends more to educate than many other countries in this world and gets less for its money. Because we have laden teachers with bureaucratic expectations and robbed them of the necessary tools of discipline we as a society often expect the impossible. Without morality and the support of parents teachers have an absolutely impossible job, no matter how much money you may throw at the problem.
Which leads us to the #1 problem: The decline of the Traditional family. Those who helped to pass proposition 8 in California which recognized marriage as being between one man and one woman has been castigated in the press and its defenders demonized, harrassed, and, in some cases physically attacked.
The revelation that 17 teenage girls in Massachusetts made a “pregnancy pact” and were “high-fiving” in the school clinic when their pregnancy tests came back positive was a sobering revelation of just where we are as a nation. By the way, do you know what the school nurse’s recommendation was upon learning of the pact? She recommended that birth control be prescribed to any student regardless of parental consent.
Well, those are surely big problems, but I really don’t think they are the biggest problem with our country. No, I believe the biggest problem with our country is not what some nurse wants to do in some school clinic in Massachussetts. Our greatest challenge is a lot closer to us than that.
God describes it when speaking to King Solomon in 2 Chronicles 7. He says, in v 13
When I shut up heaven and there is no rain, or command the locusts to devour the land, or send pestilence among My people,
In other words He’s saying, “When you have sinned and fallen. When you have backslidden and you suffer the consequences of your own sin.” In our day it would sound something like this, “When you’re children are having children because of your sexual promiscuity; When millions of your babies are dying, not to disease, but because you are taking their lives through abortion; When your prosperity is wasted on extravagance instead of used to reach to the needy; when your own greed drives you to borrow what you do not have to buy what you cannot afford and lands you in slavery to your lenders.” Then, 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 I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land.
You see, some have said that the answer is political. They say, “Well, the Republicans ran things for eight years and look what a mess they made. It’s time to give the Democrats a chance.” And others answer, “NO, we’ve got to vote those dastardly democrats out of office before they ruin the country.”
But that verse doesn’t say, “If my people who are called republicans will register themselves and vote, and call their senators and congressmen.” It doesn’t say, “If my people who are called Democrats will call conservative talk shows, and complain and call on everyone to support the president.” It doesn’t say that. The answer is not political.
And the answer isn’t economical. Some are saying, “Things are so bad in this country that we have to tax and spend our way out of this recession.” Others are saying, “Things are so bad, we’ve got to cut the country’s budge to the bone so that we can balance our budget.”
But that verse didnt’ say, “If my people who are called economists will sharpen their pencils, vote through a new bailout package, print money and give it all away.”
No this verse says, “If my people, who are called by my name will HUMBLE THEMSLEVES AND PRAY AND SEEK MY FACE AND TURN FROM THEIR WICKED WAY.”
You see the biggest problem with America, quite frankly, sits right here in this room. The biggest problem with this country is not its politicians, its media, its bank, its debt, or its poor educational system. The problem is its churches. God says if my people will humble themselves.
Which just brings me this question: How? How do you humble yourself? If real revival comes when I humble myself, how do I do that? What is involved in biblical humility?
Let me give you two quick steps: If I am to humble myself, I must first of all
DIV 1: UNDERSTAND THE REASON FOR HUMILITY
Just why should I care so much about humility. Why is humility such a big deal? Well in the first place its because God values it so highly. Look at one other place in Scripture where humility is spoken of. Its over in 1 Peter 5:5. There it says:
Likewise you younger people, submit yourselves to your elders. Yes, all of you be submissive to one another, and be clothed with humility, for “God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, 7 casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.
Do you see the reason right there in v 5? The reason Peter tells us to humble ourselves in v 6 is because he tells us in v 5 that God “resists the proud.” Time after time in scripture you see it. God hates pride. In Acts chapter 12, Herod the King heard the people shouting one day that he was like a god to them and because he did not stop them, the Bible says that God struck him and that very day he was eaten with worms and died. What that means exactly, I’m not sure, but I’ll tell you, it wasn’t good! God hates pride! If you want to pray and get nothing; if you want to work your heart out only to end in disaster; if you want to try and try and fail and fail, just strike out in your own pride. I tell you, GOD WILL RESIST YOU! God resists the proud, but gives His grace to the humble. God values humility.
And because He values it, he also inspires it. He inspires it through his own power. V. 6 says, “Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God. . .” That phrase is closely connected with the power God showed the Children of Israel when He brought them out of Egypt. You see, my humility is inspired when I realize just how big He is and how small I am.
But God inspires our humility in another way: He inspires it through His ultimate reward. V 6 says that we should humble ourselves soi that “He may exalt us in due time.” IN other words, when I humble myself, I have the promise that one day, God will take me from my humbled position and lift me up. He inspires my humility through His ultimate reward.
And He inspires my humility through His constant concern. V 7 says that I am to cast all of my care on Him becuase “He cares for me”. You see, I am willing to humble myself because I unterstand that God values humility so much that He inspires it through His power, His reward, and His constant concern.”
One commentator writes that there was a successful business man who came to see him one day. He was a Christian who was quite active in the community though not in the church. He had founded a breakfast group of Christian business man and served as the president. He was the typical, high-powered, “type-A” leader who dominated his business, his breakfast group, and his family.
Still, he came to see the commentator secretly and out of sheer desperation. He faced an uncontrollable problem in his life and didn’t know what to do about it. He couldn’t control it; he couldn’t reason it away and he couldn’t overlook it because its presence was doing a number on what he thought he believed.
The commentator introduced him to 1 Peter 5:5-7, letting Him know that he didn’t have to carry the problem all by himself; Christ wanted to carry it for him. He needed to cast it on the Lord.
The writer said:
I will never forget his response. He sat in complete silence for several moments as he contemplated the possibility of committing his problem to Christ. He was a strong, handsome, self-made man, and his will was not broken easily. Then his lower jaw began to tremble. Next tears began to form in his eyes. He tried to deny them, but they would not cooperate. Suddenly he broke into uncontrollable sobbing. The dam had broken!
That day was a turning point in his life. He gave his problem to Christ—but he did much more than that. He heeded the counsel of God’s Word as shared by Peter. He began to love in submission to Christ and to his brothers and sisters in Christ; he humbled himself before the Lord and cast his cares upon Him. What a remarkable difference took place in his life, and what a remarkable difference will take place in our lives as we cast our cares upon the Lord and begin to live with the confidence that He cares for us.
You see, this humbling ourselves, it’s not a negative thing. Yes, it will destroy our pride, and bring us to an end of ourselves, but O the great power we will find there! The first step to humility is this: You must simply understand the reason for it. Then you must
DIV 2: APPLY THE TRUTH OF IT
Now, I want you to really listen here, because what I’m about to say is the key to the whole thing: You can know the why, but if you don’t apply the what, you’ll get nowhere. There are two actions that you take to pursue humility. The first one is so obvious that it is sometimes missed. Here it is:
If I am to pursue humility, I must accept my responsibility. What is that responsibility? It’s right there in v 6: I must humble myself. I must intentionally kill my pride and place myself under the mighty hand of God. I must be willing to lower me and raise Him. I must kneel in complete brokenness and openness to whatever He wants in my life. I must decide to humble myself under His mighty hand.
But there is something more that I can do. You see, there is a very specific act of humility that we often don’t think about when we talk about being humble. You find it in v 7. Notice that we are told to “cast” all our care on Him. Literally that means to “throw upon.” That is exactly what we are to do. Take all of our anxiety, all of our requests, all of our sin, all of our rebellion, all of our worry and care and make a big ball of all of it and “throw it upon the Lord.”
Will you also notice that the “casting” in v 7 is a participle. Now for those of us who are grammatically challenged, let me remind you that a participle modifies another verb. Here, the verb modified is “Humble yourselves.” So casting all your care upon God is actually the way in which I humble myself. Simply put, the way I humble myself is kneel down before the Lord, acknowledge Who He is throw all of my care on Him.
I read a story in the L. A. Times a long time ago. A guy goes to the house where he grew up and knocks on the door. Because he hadn't been there for 20 years, he finds himself getting sentimental. He asks the owners if he can walk through the house, and they let him. While in the attic, he finds an old jacket of his. He puts it on, reaches into the pocket, and pulls out a stub. It's a receipt from a shoe repair shop. He realizes he had taken a pair of shoes there twenty years ago, and in the midst of the move, he had never picked them up. On a whim he decides to go to the shoe repair shop. Just to be funny, he takes the receipt out and hands it to the guy behind the desk, saying, "Are my shoes ready?" The guy goes back to the workroom for a minute, comes back to the counter, and says, "Come back a week from Thursday."
I’m afraid that’s how we view our praying: We say in essence, “I know I need to pray. I know I need to humble myself, and seek God’s face, but I’ll just come back a week from Thursday.”
Listen, today is a week from Thursday. God has promised to heal our land. He has promised to forgive our sin if . . . if we will humble ourselves, pray, seek His face, and turn from our wicked ways.
So that’s what we’re going to do this morning. I’m going down to the floor and I’m going to kneel right here at this altar. I’ve asked three men to come and lead us in prayer. The first is going to pray for our country and its problems; the second is going to pray for the world and for our church as we reach out to spread the gospel around the world; the third is going to pray for our families and for God’s protection and power to be manifested in them.
I’m going to kneel here. As many of you as will, I ask you to join me here. Start moving now. If you are there at your seat and you can’t move forward, you can just make an altar right there at your seat. You can kneel right there. Whereever you are, however you are. Right now, let’s humble ourselves. Let’s cast all our care on Him. Let’s humble ourselves.