After every time of exaltation, we are brought down with a sudden rush into things as they really are, where it is neither beautiful, poetic, nor thrilling. The height of the mountaintop is measured by the dismal drudgery of the valley, but it is in the valley that we have to live for the glory of God. We see His glory on the mountain, but we never live for His glory there. It is in the place of humiliation that we find our true worth to God— that is where our faithfulness is revealed. Most of us can do things if we are always at some heroic level of intensity, simply because of the natural selfishness of our own hearts. But God wants us to be at the drab everyday level, where we live in the valley according to our personal relationship with Him. Peter thought it would be a wonderful thing for them to remain on the mountain, but Jesus Christ took the disciples down from the mountain and into the valley, where the true meaning of the vision was explained (see Mark 9:5-6, Mark 9:14-23).
“If you can do anything….” It takes the valley of humiliation to remove the skepticism from us. Look back at your own experience and you will find that until you learned who Jesus really was, you were a skillful skeptic about His power. When you were on the mountaintop you could believe anything, but what about when you were faced with the facts of the valley? You may be able to give a testimony regarding your sanctification, but what about the thing that is a humiliation to you right now? The last time you were on the mountain with God, you saw that all the power in heaven and on earth belonged to Jesus— will you be skeptical now, simply because you are in the valley of humiliation?
The true position of assurance
By: Charles Spurgeon
‘In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.’ Ephesians 1:13
Suggested Further Reading: 1 John 3:14–24
We know that God is true because we have proved him. Sometimes this comes through the hearing of the Word—as we listen our faith is confirmed. But there is doubtless besides this, a special and supernatural work of the Holy Spirit, whereby men are assured that they are born of God. You will observe in one place the apostle says that the Spirit ‘beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God;’ so that there are two witnesses—first, our spirit bears witness, that is, by evidences: I look at my faith, and see myself depending upon Christ, and then I know, because I love the brethren, and for other reasons, that I am born of God. Then there comes over and above the witness of evidence, faith and feeling, the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit. Have you not felt it? I cannot describe this to you, but you who have felt it know it. Did you not the other day feel a heavenly calm as you meditated upon your state and condition in Christ? You wondered where it came from. It was not the result of protracted devotion, but it stole over you, you knew not how it was, you were bathed in it as in sunlight, and you rejoiced exceedingly. You rejoiced in Christ—that was the basis of confidence, but that confidence came through the Spirit bearing witness with your spirit. And this has occurred sometimes in the midst of sharp conflicts just when dark despair seemed ready to overwhelm you. You may have enjoyed this comfort under peculiar trials, and losses of friends, and you may expect to have it when you come to die. Then, if ever in your life, you should be able to say, ‘I will fear no evil: for thou art with me.’
For meditation: We must not regard the Holy Spirit as a loose cannon giving us feelings, experiences and revelations which are nothing to do with the Scriptures. But he can confirm personally in our hearts what God has said in his Word and done in our lives (Romans 8:14–16; Galatians 4:6; 1 John 3:24; 4:13).
By: Amy Meyer Allen
“Watch what God does, and then you do it, like children who learn proper behavior from their parents. Mostly what God does is love you. Keep company with him and learn a life of love. Observe how Christ loved us. His love was not cautious but extravagant. He didn’t love in order to get something from us but to give everything of himself to us. Love like that.” Ephesians 5:1-2, The Message
In our world, there are many imitators, but few true leaders. Kids, even adults, want to “be somebody” so they follow the most prominent example they see: Hollywood stars, pro athletes, singers, etc. But unless these people are following a greater example themselves, they are doomed to fail and disappoint us someday. Those of us watching and imitating may go right along with them.
For example, just a few months shy of my 30th birthday, my world came crashing down around me when my husband, one of the people I had looked up to and followed as an example, betrayed me. His betrayal shook my whole world. Until it happened, I hadn’t realized I had put him on a pedestal and was following his lead in regards to how I lived my life. It has been said that true character is revealed by what someone does even when no one is watching. I discovered he was leading a double life. Suddenly, I had no desire to be anywhere near him, let alone follow him.
Thankfully, during that devastating time in my life, God stepped in and showed me His character through His Word. Over time, as I learned more about Him, I realized that He is the one I should be following, imitating, because His character is perfect. His love is perfect; so is His peace, His joy, and His compassion.
The Bible is full of examples of Jesus’ character and how He lived:
He always sought to do God’s will and not His own. (Luke 22:42)
He did the work His Father gave Him to do. (John 17:4)
He found time to be alone with God and pray. (Matthew 14:23)
He used God’s Word as His authority and offensive weapon. (Matthew 4:1-11)
He loved unconditionally. (Mark 10:21)
He gave everything He had. (John 19:30)
He didn’t retaliate, threaten, or seek His own justice. (1 Peter 2:23)
He was humble, obedient and made Himself a servant. (Philippians 2:5-8)
By imitating Jesus and not people, God changed my character. He did the same for my husband. Over time, we have learned to love each other sacrificially, just as Jesus does with us.
I want to follow Jesus and let Him change me from the inside out to be more like Him. I’m tired of imitating people who are just fellow sinners like me. I want to set my sights high and strive to be more like the One who created me!
Father, help me to look to Jesus as my example. Show me my sin and areas of my life and character that need improvement. Help me imitate You.