Friday, June 29, 2018

Quiet Retreat: Take the Lowest Place

Another common phrase rolling around in my mind lately is about choosing the lowest place. We live in a culture where fame is praised and being known is sought after. Again and again this idea of choosing the lowest place, choosing the smaller place comes to mind.

Again, this really is a seeking first of His kingdom, seeking His honor and not my own. Seeking what serves His kingdom not what elevates myself.

Seeking first His kingdom is really rooted in humility, worry comes from pride and insecurity.

Look at Luke 14:7 - Jesus noticed how guests picked the places of honor. What is the motivation? How do I perceive honor? Stop right here: how are my decisions influenced by the perceived or real honor they will or will not bring? Who would this honor come from? How could I choose for His honor?

When we choose the lowest place, there is always room for honor - but when we choose the more honored place, we open ourselves up to pride, humiliation and embarassment.

So, what is my measuring stick for choosing a place of honor? What characterizes this honor I desire? Where do I place the value of honor?

What does it look like to choose the lowest place in my daily life?

I have turned to 1 Peter several times today in looking up cross-references and I want to just jot down things that come as a result of choosing the lowest place and/or in seeking Him first:

1:3 - Christ is praised
1:3 - new birth for ourselves
1:4 - eternal inheritance
1:5 - shield of God's power
1:7 - genuine faith
1:8 - joy
1:9 - salvation
1:10 - grace

1:12 - opportunity to serve
1:12 - insight
1:13 - coming grace
1:14 - obedience
1:15 - holiness
1:16 - holiness {He is holiness in us!}
1:17 - reverent fear
1:19 - redemption
1:21 - faith and hope in Him
1:22 - purification by obedience
1:22 - sincere love
1:23 - imperishable

2:2 - crave spiritual milk, growth
2:5 - built into a spiritual house
2:6 - no shame
2:7 - precious stone
2:9 - being chosen
2:9 - declaring His praise
2:10 - being His people
2:10 - receive mercy
2:12 - live as a testimony
2:15 - by doing good, silence the ignorant talk of the foolish
2:16 - live as His servant
2:17 - show respect, love fellow believers, fear God
2:18-19 - submit with respect, bear up under injustice
2:20 - suffer for doing good
2:24 - healing

3:4 - inner beauty, unfading beauty of a gentle, quiet spirit
3:6 - do what is right and do not give way to fear
3:9 - repay evil and insult with blessing
4:2 - live not for earthly desires but for the will of God
4:7 - be clear minded, self-controlled, pray
4:8 - love deeply
4:9 - offer hospitality
4:10 - use whatever gift I've received to serve others which administers God's grace in various forms
5:2 - be willing, eager to serve
5:5 - clothe myself with humility, "put on"
5:7 - again humility is contrasted with anxiety
5:9 - stand firm
5:10 - restoration, strength, firmness and steadfastness

Why? For HIS glory - this is mentioned specifically in several verses:
1 Peter 1:3, 2:12, 4:11 and 5:11 at least.

Choosing the lowest place really means that in earthly standards, I humble myself so that He is glorified.

It is setting aside my preferences and embracing what He has for me, which really is His very best and a place of honor.

I Thessalonians 4:11-12, "... and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life: You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody."

Psalm 115:1, "Not to us, Lord, not to us but to your name be the glory, because of your love and faithfulness."

Isaiah 41:20, "... so that people may see and know, may consider and understand, that the hand of the Lord has done this, that the Holy One of Israel has created it."

A few days later as I look at these pictures I'm reminded at how nature even takes the lowest place naturally. There is no flower shouting at us for attention and fame. It draws this attention naturally by just being a flower. No one calls from the fuzzy pod at the end of a stem or from baby turkeys waddling along in the grass. Creation praises Him because it is His artwork, His handiwork on display. 

A bird singing a beautiful song on a small branch, a small flower in the crack of the sidewalk, a birds nest found fallen in the grass, a butterfly fluttering across the creek and up the bank - each of these things just exists in their created nature - to bring beauty, to do the things that each was created to do and to bring praise to our Creator. Let it be so for me as well - though it is so much harder for beings with souls and minds and sin nature. 

How will choosing the lowest place bring Him honor and glory in and through our lives?



Mom said...

Lovely thoughts and lovely photos! As I read this post, I was reminded of this line from the hymn "Father, I Know That All My Life" - "content to fill a little space, if Thou be glorified."

Julia said...

I love this! So much wisdom. Reminds me of the quote "It's amazing what you can accomplish when you don't care who gets the credit."

My dad, who went to heaven in 2013, was the BEST at this. God blessed my parents financially because of my dad's work ethic and integrity. But my parents were so giving--and always doing it anonymously and without recognition. Each Christmas, they chose a family in our church. My mom did all the shopping and wrapping for them and then they would pile all of us kids in the car and we'd go at night, drop off the gifts on the front porch, ring the bell, and speed away. It was so much fun to hear them give testimony about God's provision, knowing we had blessed them but that my parents didn't care that the family knew who it was. For years, my mom bought baby formula every week for a family in our church who couldn't afford it. Each week, she would take the formula to them, quietly and without fanfare my parents met that need for them. Years later, my dad was able to give a large amount of money to our then church and also to my college alma mater. His only stipulation was that no one knew who had given the money. The college requested to put his name on a plaque and he refused. My dad understood well that God should receive the glory--not him. And my dad exemplified this not only financially but with his actions.
We had dear friends who lost a young son to cancer when I was in middle school. My parents spent hours driving them back and forth to the hospital and just sitting and praying with them. My dad served our church and christian school on the board and in leadership--quietly and never needing to be recognized or loudly "heard". He had integrity and character--which are so much more important than any dollar he ever earned and gave. He taught his family well, and I know when he entered heaven, he heard "well done". I am so blessed to have that heritage and example. Your children will be blessed as well.

Blessing to you and your sweet family.

Simply Handmade Farmhouse said...

What a beautiful post of truth. What beautiful photo's as well. To God Be All The Glory and Praise!