Pride goes before Destruction….

Proverbs 16:18-19 “Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall. Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, than to divide the spoil with the proud.”

I Peter 5:5-7 “Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble. Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he cares for you.”

Pride goes before the Destruction…

Pride sounds like a good thing but is very dangerous. Wrongful pride has us depend on self over God. “There is a proud heart in every person. The pride that was in Adam and Eve’s hearts is the same as is in his sons and daughters. That is us. Pride is sin, and from there arises this overinflated and self-controlled opinion of our spiritual state and condition. It is ok to feel good about what God is doing through your life, but it is sin to credit that good to our own abilities and strengths.

Luke 18:11 “The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican.”

This is the unsaved person’s motto. A proud man has an eye to see his beauty–but not his deformity. He sees his abilities–but not his spots. He sees his seeming righteousness-but not his real wretchedness.

Proverbs 14:12 “There is a way which seems right unto a man, but the ends thereof are the ways of death.”

It is only by God’s work of grace that we see our lack of humility. The haughty eye looks inward–but the humble eye looks upward for strength, and therefore this is the believer’s motto, ‘I am the least of saints–and the greatest of sinners!’

Luke 18:13-14 “But the tax collector stood at a distance and dared not even lift his eyes to heaven as he prayed. Instead, he beat his chest in sorrow, saying, ‘O God, be merciful to me, for I am a sinner!’ I tell you, this sinner, not the Pharisee, returned home justified before God!”

Compromise and Soul Erosion…

Psalm 4:5, “Offer right sacrifices, and trust in the Lord.

Numbers 32:23b “…and be sure your sin will find you out.”

Compromise and Soul Erosion…

Some great places have been really damaged by the slow process
of erosion. So have some great people. That’s why you’ve got to make the
choices that will stop the erosion in your life.

And we’ve all got a powerful example for that in the Word of God in
the Book of Daniel, chapter 1, beginning with verse 5. Daniel is one of a handful
of promising Jewish young men who have been taken to Babylon after
King Nebuchadnezzar’s invasion of their land. The king includes them with
some of his own Babylonian “first-round draft picks” in a leadership
development program that will ultimately propel them to greatness in the kingdom.

Everything was fine until the king, “assigned a daily amount of
food and wine from the king’s table.” This was a special “training table
diet” designed to make them into the best physical specimens possible. But
that kind of food was totally out of bounds for Jews back then, as defined
by the laws of their God. A tough choice here! You’re on your way to
greatness, and right here at the beginning you’re being asked to
compromise a little. At stake could be your whole future and maybe even
your life if you defied the most powerful man in the world.

But the Bible says, “Daniel resolved not to defile himself with
the royal food and wine, and he asked the chief official for permission
not to defile himself this way. Now God had caused the official to show
favor and sympathy to Daniel. This official was afraid he might be
executed if Daniel and his Jewish comrades ended up looking worse than
the others. So Daniel persuaded him to allow a ten-day test of an
alternate diet of vegetables and water. Long story short, Daniel and
company,  the Bible says, “looked healthier and better nourished than
any of the young men who ate the royal food,” and “the king found none
equal to Daniel” and his friends.

God may be asking you to risk everything right now on what
looks like a very expensive faithfulness. It could really cost you to do
what’s right, to hold to your convictions, to refuse to compromise your
integrity or your purity. You’re risking everything on the faithfulness
of our God. It’s tempting to give in to get ahead … to get that need
met … to get out of that jam. But with your compromise goes a huge
piece of you and the blessing of Almighty God. Resist that eroding tide.

And remember that God’s favor is for God’s faithful. You may,
like Daniel, find yourself in different environments, pressured by
different expectations, but you’ve got to be sure that it’s always the
same you. You have to “resolve not to defile yourself” – to build an
uncompromising wall against even the first step that would take you
outside the ways of your God.

Mat 6:33a “But seek first of all His kingdom and His righteousness…”

Joshua 24:15 “And if it seems evil to you to serve the Lord, choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve, whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the River, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”

Theology, Grace, Mercy and Donuts…

John 15:13a “Greater love hath no one than this…”

Theology, Grace and Mercy and Donuts…

There was a certain Professor of THEOLOGY. We will name him Dr Smith, a studious man who taught at a small college in the Western United States. Dr. Smith taught the required survey course in Christianity at this particular institution. Every student was required to take this course his or her freshman year regardless of his or her major.

Although Dr. Smith tried hard to communicate the essence of the gospel in his class, he found that most of his students looked upon the course as nothing but required drudgery. Despite his best efforts, most students refused to take Christianity seriously.

This year, Dr. Smith had a special student named Steve. Steve was only a freshman, but was studying with the intent of going on to seminary for the ministry. Steve was popular, he was well liked, and he was an imposing physical specimen. He was now the starting center on the school football team, and was the best student in the professor’s class.

One day, Dr. Smith asked Steve to stay after class so he could talk with him. “How many push-ups can you do?”

Steve said, “I do about 200 every night”.

“200? That’s pretty good, Steve”, Dr. Smith said.

“Do you think you could do 300?”

Steve replied, “I don’t know… I’ve never done 300 at a time.”

“Do you think you could?” again asked Dr. Smith.

“Well, I can try,” said Steve.

“Can you do 300 in sets of 10? I have a class project in mind and I need
you to do about 300 pushups in sets of ten for this to work. Can you do it? I need you to tell me you can do it,” said the professor.

Steve said, “Well… I think I can… yeah, I can do it.”

Dr. Smith said, “Good! I need you to do this on Friday.
Let me explain what I have in mind.”

Friday came and Steve got to class early and sat in the front of
the room. When class started, the professor pulled out a big box of donuts.

Now these weren’t the normal kinds of donuts they were the extra fancy BIG kind, with cream centers and frosting swirls. Everyone was pretty excited it was Friday, the last class of the day, and they were going to get an early start on the weekend with a party in Dr. Smith’s class.

Dr. Smith went to the first girl in the first row and asked,
“Cynthia, do you want to have one of these donuts?”

Cynthia said, “Yes.”

Dr. Smith then turned to Steve and asked, “Steve, would
you do ten push-ups so that Cynthia can have a donut?”

Steve said, “Sure,” and jumped down from his desk to do a quick
ten. Then Steve again sat in his desk. Dr. Smith put a donut on Cynthia’s desk.

Dr. Smith then went to Joe, the next person, and asked, “Joe, do
you want a donut?”

Joe said, “Yes.” Dr. Smith asked, “Steve would you do ten
push-ups so Joe can have a donut?” Steve did ten push-ups, Joe got a donut.

And so it went, down the first aisle, Steve did ten pushups for every
person before they got their donut.

And down the second aisle, till Dr. Smith came to Scott. Scott was on the basketball team, and in as good of a condition as Steve. He was very popular and never lacking for female companionship. When the professor asked, “Scott do you want a donut?”

Scott’s reply was, “Well, can I do my own pushups?”

Dr. Smith said, “No, Steve has to do them.”

Then Scott said, “Well, I don’t want one then.”

Dr. Smith shrugged and then turned to Steve and asked,
“Steve, would you do ten pushups so Scott can have a donut he doesn’t want?”

With perfect obedience Steve started to do ten pushups.

Scott said, “HEY! I said I didn’t want one!”

Dr. Smith said, “Look, this is my classroom, my class, my desks, and these are my donuts. Just leave it on the desk if you don’t want it.”

And he put a donut on Scott’s desk.

Now by this time, Steve had begun to slow down a little. He just stayed on the floor between sets because it took too much effort to be getting up and down. You could start to see a little perspiration coming out around his brow.

Dr. Smith started down the third row. Now the students were beginning to get a little angry.

Dr. Smith asked Jenny, “Jenny, do you want a donut?”

Sternly, Jenny said, “No.”

Then Dr. Smith asked Steve, “Steve, would you do ten more pushups so Jenny can have a donut that she doesn’t want?” Steve did ten, Jenny got a donut.

By now, a growing sense of uneasiness filled the room. The students were beginning to say “No” and there were all these uneaten donuts on the desks. Steve also had to really put forth a lot of extra effort to get these pushups done for each donut. There began to be a small pool of sweat on the floor beneath his face, his arms and brow were beginning to get red because of the physical effort involved.

Dr. Smith asked Robert, who was the most vocal unbeliever in the class, to watch Steve do each push up to make sure he did the full ten pushups in a set because he couldn’t bear to watch all of Steve’s work for all of those uneaten donuts. He sent Robert over to where Steve was so Robert could count the set and watch Steve closely. Dr. Smith started down the fourth row.

During his class, however, some students from other classes had wandered in and sat down on the steps along the radiators that ran down the sides of the room. When the professor realized this, he did a quick count and saw that now there were 34 students in the room. He started to worry if Steve would be able to make it.

Dr. Smith went on to the next person and the next and the next. Near the end of that row, Steve was really having a rough time. He was taking a lot more time to complete each set.

Steve asked Dr. Smith, “Do I have to make my nose touch on each one?”

Dr. Smith thought for a moment, “Well, they’re your pushups. You are in charge now. You can do them any way that you want.” And Dr. Smith went on.

A few moments later, Jason, a recent transfer student, came to the room and was about to come in when all the students yelled in one voice, “NO! Don’t come in! Stay out!”

Jason didn’t know what was going on. Steve picked up his head and said, “No, let him come.”

Professor Smith said, “You realize that if Jason comes in you will have to do ten pushups for him?”

Steve said, “Yes, let him come in. Give him a donut.”

Dr. Smith said, “Okay, Steve, I’ll let you get Jason’s out of the way right now. Jason, do you want a donut?”

Jason, new to the room hardly knew what was going on. “Yes,” he said, “give me a donut.”

“Steve, will you do ten pushups so that Jason can have a donut?” Steve did ten pushups very slowly and with great effort. Jason, bewildered, was handed a donut and sat down.

Dr. Smith finished the fourth row, and then started on those visitors seated by the heaters. Steve’s arms were now shaking with each pushup in a struggle to lift himself against the force of gravity. Sweat was profusely dropping off of his face and, by this time, there was no sound except his heavy breathing, there was not a dry eye in the room.

The very last two students in the room were two young women, both cheerleaders, and very popular. Dr. Smith went to Linda, the second to last, and asked, “Linda, do you want a doughnut?”

Linda said, very sadly, “No, thank you.”

Professor Smith quietly asked, “Steve, would you do ten pushups so that Linda can have a donut she doesn’t want?”

Grunting from the effort, Steve did ten very slow pushups for Linda. Then Dr. Smith turned to the last girl, Susan. “Susan, do you want a donut?”

Susan, with tears flowing down her face, began to cry. “Dr. Smith, why can’t I help him?”

Dr. Smith, with tears of his own, said, “No, Steve has to do it alone, I have given him this task and he is in charge of seeing that everyone has an opportunity for a donut whether they want it or not. When I decided to have a party this last day of class, I looked at my grade book. Steve, here is the only student with a perfect grade. Everyone else has failed a test, skipped class, or offered me inferior work. Steve told me that in football practice, when a player messes up he must do pushups. I told Steve that none of you could come to my party unless he paid the price by doing your pushups. He and I made a deal for your sakes.

Steve, would you do ten pushups so Susan can have a donut?”

As Steve very slowly finished his last pushup, with the understanding that he had accomplished all that was required of him, having done 350 pushups, his arms buckled beneath him and he fell to the floor.

Dr. Smith turned to the room and said. “And so it was, that our Savior, Jesus Christ, on the cross, plead to the Father, into thy hands I commend my spirit.’ With the understanding that He had done everything that was required of Him, he yielded up His life… And like some of those in this room, many of us leave the gift on the desk, uneaten.”

Two students helped Steve up off the floor and to a seat, physically exhausted, but wearing a thin smile. “Well done, good and faithful servant” said the professor, adding “Not all sermons are preached in words.”

Turning to his class the professor said, “My wish is that you might understand and fully comprehend all the riches of grace and mercy that have been given to you through the sacrifice of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, who spared not the only Begotten Son, but gave Him up for us all for the whole Church, now and forever.

John 15:13 “Greater love hath no one than this, that he lay down his life for his friends.”