Sermon:  Getting to The Top 

Summary:  Since pride, jealousy, selfish ambition, and envy are a part of fallen 
human nature, what we need to overcome it is God's greater grace which he grants 
to those who submit to him in humility, sorrow, and repentance while resisting 
the Devil.  In this way, it will be God and not pride that lifts you up which 
means you will not be brought low due to pride.

Know:  Pride is one of the biggest barriers to God, humility is what will allow 
us to be transformed, sanctified, and saved by God

Feel:  Both humility and the joy of the Lord

Do:  Reflect on personal attitudes toward pride and how we rationalize it.  List 
and discuss the effects of pride not only on life, but especially on spiritual 
growth and our relationship with God.  Identify the practical expressions and 
demonstrations of humility in one's life.  Evaluate how pride and humility are 
seen in your life. 

Text:  James 4:4-10

Scripture Reading:  Prov 16:18-20

Intro:
1.  Man worked in basement as a gopher in mail room, only bugs lower than him
	a.  About to step on bug, and it says, "spare me and I grant you a wish"
	b.  Wish to be promoted to the 2nd floor.  Next day, strutted to 2nd floor
		- Next day, strutted to work on second floor
		- He was big man on campus now
	c.  Wasn't satisfied with 2nd floor, got promoted to next floor, and next
		- Career filled with astonishing accomplishments and success
		- Got all the way up to 99th floor - Was top person now
	d.  Began to change
		- Began to change, old friends in mail room "beneath" him
		- He was "big man on campus now" - Looked down on people
		- Became filled with pride
		- Higher ups didn't notice, but the gophers did
2.  Was selfishly ambitious, led to pride
	a.  Many do not consider this a serious vice
	b.  Pride is not the most endearing thing, but not a big problem is it?
3.  Text:  James 4:4-10
	a.  v.5 - Difficult to translate - Two possible translations:
		- "With envy he (God) desires/lusts (for) the spirit which he placed 
		   in us."
		- "With envy the spirit which he has placed in us desires/lusts"
		- The first one seems to fit the context of BOTH the verses before 
		   and after it, since it is talking about pride and humility
	b.  This is a reference to our human nature, specifically our fallen nature
		- I say our fallen nature, because we have been affected by sin
		- We have been affected by the original sin, which is pride
		- Do your remember why Adam and Eve disobeyed? 
			= Lust, or envy - Wanted to be like God
			= Pride - Wanted to be independent from God
		- Text says our "spirit" with envy lusts or desires
			= Our very nature has been affected by sin
			= That is why pride seems so natural or normal, but it is not
	c.  What's wrong with pride?
		- Foolish for us, the creature, to be proud before the creator
		- Text says "God is opposed to the proud."  -- That is a problem
			= God was opposed to Pharaoh in all his pride in Exodus
			= God opposed to Nebuchadnezzar in his pride in Dan 4
			= God opposed to proud Herod in Acts 12
			= All of them were brought low, very low
		- But, the text also says God gives a greater grace to the humble
			= Moses was most humble man on earth
			= Daniel was humble when interpreted dreams
			= Our Lord Jesus was humble
		- What does it mean that God gave them greater grace?
			= Does not necessarily mean "unmerited" favor
			= Not talking about God's forgiveness here
			= It simply means "favor"
	d.  Which would you rather have?  God's opposition or God's favor?
4.  How do we go from being in God's opposition to being in God's favor?
	a.  Understand that this is not a lesson on the steps to salvation
	b.  This is a lesson on the attitude to have in order to be saved
	c.  This a lesson on how not to fall out of favor with God after being saved
	d.  This a lesson on the importance of humility.  What does humility mean?

I.  Submission to God
	A.  You cannot be completely submissive without humility
	B.  We must submit to God's will in all things all thing time
		1.  To be favored of God, need to give 100% loyalty
		2.  Your baptism is a graphic demonstration of this, Rom 6
			a.  You confess faith in Jesus as savior AND LORD
			b.  You die and are reborn
			c.  Old self died, you are now slaves of righteousness
			d.  Dying is a total commitment
		3.  Slaves on Sunday, AND slaves on Monday
			a.  Makes no difference where you are
			b.  Makes no difference what day of the week it is
		4.  The text has some descriptions of those who do
			a.  Hypocrite - Not in this text, but found elsewhere
				- Word used for actor, pretending
				- Put on a mask, and pretend
				- When not committed, we are wearing masks
				- God wants heart, not a mask
			b.  Adulteresses - Stronger word.  Why this word? 
				- Adultery is when you are unfaithful
				- Supposed to be committed to spouse only
				- Think about it this way - Married man with ring
					= Goes to an event full of singles
					= Removes wedding ring
					= Doesn't want people to know he is married
					= Pretends to be single - is that hypocrisy?
				- When we friends of world, we cheat on Jesus 
			c.  Double minded man - Why this description?
				- Sounds like schizophrenia
				- Like having multiple personalities
				- Need to be single minded, not double minded 
	C.  ILL:  Parable of Jesus' Room - 
		1.  Jack decide to become a Christian and invite Jesus into his life
		2.  Made up a room for Jesus at end of the hall, told his this was his
		3.  Next morning, went to work
			a.  Got into all kinds of trouble, demoted, pay cut
			b.  Got into a bad car accident on the way home
			c.  Came home, and realized house broken into
			d.  He had days like this several times in the week
		4.  How could this be?  Had Jesus. Did Jesus leave?
			a.  Went to his room and knocked.  
				- Come in, Jesus said.
				- Yes, he was still there, on bed reading a magazine
			b.  Jesus, why haven't you given a blessing?
			c.  Jesus said, "I have."
				- You gave your room to me, and I have blessed it
				- Everything here is blessed
				- It has been under my care & leadership
			d.  Jack replied, "What about the rest of my life?"
				- Jesus said  "You didn't give me the rest of our life"
				- All you gave me was this little compartment
				- If you want me in your life, you need to turn it all 
				  over to me
	D.  We accept Jesus as Lord, or don't accept him at all
		1.  Do we ever say this outside of church/religious settings?  
		2.  Jesus is my leader, my master, my Lord
		3.  Jesus is our Lord at home, work, church, vacation, etc.
		4.  That means we follow his blueprint for ordering our life
			a.  When choosing a career, college, job
			b.  To determine how you do your work
				- Honesty, integrity, work hard
				- Respectful, honorable
				- Don't lie, cheat, fudge, even if it is expected
			c.  In motivation for what you do - To serve & please God
				- Keep the equipment running for God
				- Design things to the glory of God
				- Lead people in a godly way
				- All activity is to be for God

II. Draw Near to God
	A.  Our ultimate longing should be for God
	B.  Drawing near to God has to be single-minded
		1.  Cannot be near God AND near the world at the same time
			a.  That is adultery to God
			b.  That is hypocrisy
			c.  That is being double minded
		2.  Text contrasts the two:
			a.  Draw near to God, resist the Devil and he will flee
			b.  Draw near to God, friendship with world is hostility to God
		3.  To draw near, have to be a friend of God, not world
		4.  To draw near, have to resist the Devil
	C.  ILL:  These are two opposing sides, can't have both
		1.  ILL: - God on one side, Devil on the other, I in the middle
			a.  Devil will not move toward God, God not toward Devil
			b.  I cannot draw near to both
			c.  I will draw near to one and repel the other
			d.  Cannot straddle the fence, the Devil owns the fence
		2.  ILL:  They are like magnetic poles
			a.  I cannot be attracted to both at the same time
			b.  If oriented the right way, will attract to one, repel the other
		3.  Have to do both - attract to one, repel the other
		4.  To do so, I have to be oriented toward God, not the Devil
	D.  How do I orient to God and not to the Devil?
		1.  To be oriented to Devil, you can come any way you want
			a.  You don't have to grovel, Devil not want you to 
			b.  You can come on your own terms, make own rules
			c.  You can come, tall and proud
			d.  Devil will not humiliate you
		2.  To be oriented to God - It has to be on your knees
			a.  Remember that God is opposed to the proud
			b.  To be attracted to God and repel the Devil have to have 
			     humility
			c.  Need to be humbly obedient to God, resist the Devil	
		3.  ILL:  Picture a spiritual magnet
			a.  Not N and S poles...
			b.  God's Pole is "H" for humility, Devil's is "P" for pride
			c.  Humility attracts to God, Pride is repelled by God
		4.  Drawing near to God has to be on your knees...

III.  Be miserable
	A.  Text says, "be miserable, mourn, weep"
		1.  Sounds wrong doesn't it?  Who wants to be miserable?
		2. Prevailing wisdom today is that guilt feelings are BAD
		3. Solution is to deal with the feeling, get rid of the feeling
			a. Is guilt just a feeling?  No!
			b. If you are guilty, then you are going to feel guilty
		4. Solution is to deal with the guilt, not the feeling 
			a. We feel pain & discomfort for physical problem
			b. We also feel it when there is a spiritual & moral problem
			c. Making the feeling go away does not remove the problem
			d. If deal with only the feeling, the guilt remains
	B.  How do you deal with guilt?  Begin with mourning and weeping. Why?
		1.  It is a sign of humility
		2.  It is a step to true repentance - Done on knees, godly sorrow
		3.  It is needed for a life of submission
	C.   What is the result of this?
		1.  Isa 6; Rev 1 - Example of Isaiah and John- fell flat on their face
			a.  Isaiah said, "Woe is me!  I am a man of unclean lips"
			b.  John fell as a dead man before them
			c.  In both cases, the Lord raised them up
			d.  Humble selves in sight of God and he will lift you up
		2.  (Lk 18:9-14)
			a.  Two men, one righteous, the other a sinner
			b.  The one who not even lift up his eyes was justified
			c.  God is opposed to the proud, gives grace to the humble
		3.  Humble, repentant, submissive sorrow only lasts for the night
			a.  Weeping may last for the night, but joy in the morning
			b.  If sun is to come out, you have to allow the rain
			c.  If humble self, God will lift you up
		4.  God won't lift up one who already lifted self up - only the humble	
	D.  Only God can truly lift you up
		1.  If God is one who lifts you up, you will find reconciliation/forgiven
		2.  If God is one who lifts you up, joy of the Lord is your strength
		3.  If God is one who lifts you up, you cannot be taken down
		4.  If you life yourself up, you will be taken down
	
Concl:
1.  The gopher that started out in the mail room learned this
	a.  Had been promoted to the top floor, enjoying success, notice stairs up
		-There is something higher?  Wanted to be at the top, so went up
		-Found himself on the roof
	b.  Saw a person on the roof praying. 
		- What are you doing?  He asked
		- Praying, answered the man on the roof
		- To who?  He asked
		- Praying man point up.  There was something higher?
	c.  Consulted the bug again - How could he get higher?
		- Wanted to know how he could get even higher
		- Said, "I want to be where God would be if he were on this earth"
	d.  Next day, came to work as a lowly gopher in the mail room
		- Pride goes before the fall
		- God exalts the humble and humbles the exalted
2.  If you lift yourself up, you will be brought down, but if God lifts you up, nothing 
    will bring you down
	a.  God only lifts up the devoted, humbly, submissive heart
	b.  Are you ready to submit to God in humility? (inv)
3.  If you are full of pride
	a. Watch out, you will be brought low.
	b. Humbly submit to God, and he will lift you up, bring you everlasting joy
	c. Don't let pride lift you up, in humility allow God to lift you up
4.  Title of sermon:  Getting to the Top - Only way is on your knees


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Small Group Notes:  Getting to The Top 

Summary:  Since pride, jealousy, selfish ambition, and envy are a part of fallen human 
nature, what we need to overcome it is God's greater grace which he grants to those who 
submit to him in humility, sorrow, and repentance while resisting the Devil.  In this 
way, it will be God and not pride that lifts you up which means you will not be brought 
low due to pride.

Open:
- When have you felt most humbled?  Most proud?


Explore:  (James 4:4-10)

1.  Describe the problems associated with pride?  Why might God be opposed to the proud?

2.  Why is humility important for spiritual growth and daily living?  How would pride 
affect spiritual growth?

3.  Describe what part does being miserable, mourning, and weeping should have in the 
Christian life.  Why should this have a part in the Christian life?

4.  How would being miserable fit in with rejoicing always in the Lord (Phil 4:4)?  Are 
they contradictory?  Explain.

5.  Discuss the difference between pride lifting you up and God lifting you up.


Apply:

6.  In what ways do you see personal pride in your life?  What are some tempting ways to 
rationalize personal pride?

7.  What effects does personal pride have on you, your relationships, and especially your 
relationship with God?

8.  What are some practical demonstrations and expressions of humility in your life? 

9.  What do you find difficult about "resist the Devil?"  What are some better ways you can 
"resist the Devil?"


Prayer: