Hugging the Homeless.
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I have a friend that demonstrates humility in such a beautiful way it makes me want to be like her. One day while going in to a convenience market she saw a very dirty smelly homeless guy. Her first thought was to lock her car and stay far from him.  When she had time to really look at him she recognized him from her high school days. She remembered how he was and how no one would ever guess he would be where he is now. The truth is we could be in his shoes, or at least I could. There have been times in my life that if I had lost my job, we would have been on the street. Thankfully God has always supplied our every need through blessing me from one job to the next.  

When she got in her car to leave the market she was driving away when the Lord told her to go back. She tried to reason with the Lord with excuses why she shouldn’t or couldn’t but the Lord persisted. She turned around went in the store, purchased a drink and snacks and took them to the man and said “These are for you!” He was very appreciative. They talked for a few minutes and then they hugged. She said he smelled really bad and his smell got on her but it was the best smell in the world because of what she was able to do for Jesus. I am not sure I would have responded that way, but I hope that every time Jesus tells me to love on people I will and I won’t worry about the smell.

Loving on people and not putting ourselves higher than them is a constant struggle with our flesh. One we can't win with our own strength. It requires us to see people the way Jesus sees them, to lean into His strength.

When Jesus washed the disciple’s feet he was humbling himself before them. Why would this clean perfect man bow down and wash their nasty feet? Because he saw their worth. Jesus sees our worth, not in what we have, what we have done or even where we live - Jesus sees our worth in what we can become through his strength. The call, the challenge, is to pick this up and model Jesus' humility to others.

Think about: What can you do to humble yourself and serve others? For all of us who exalt ourselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted. 

Prayer: Lord Jesus may we be humble and kind in a way that is pleasing to you. Not for our own gain but for your kingdom purposes. Help us to see others with your love and not our puffed up world view of who we think deserves love. Lord you love us all and you say we are to love all, not just the pretty ones, the clean ones but ALL. Jesus help us to do that. In Jesus name I pray.

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Rita Reagan is a mother of 3 grown children and Nana to 7 grandchildren. An Education Coordinator for a healthcare  company, Rita loves to laugh and is compassionate about helping people in need. A widow herself, Rita mentors single women and desires to leave a legacy of serving her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

River Community Church
Empty Handed.
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“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”

Matthew 5:3

Over the past few months, I have been meditating on the truths above. I am empty-handed. I am poor in spirit and this is good news for I have learned that God accepts me just as I am. I don’t have to show him any good deeds to gain his approval or acceptance. What liberation! At times I have wanted to celebrate or rejoice in my sinfulness but even as I write that I find it indecent or erroneous. Rather, I want to celebrate the knowledge that I am a sinner. Denying or minimizing my sin kept me trapped into thinking I was healthy when I was in fact sick with sin. I needed humility to guide me there.

Pride causes us to have an excessively high opinion of ourselves. Pride tells us that we are righteous when we are not. Pride fools us into thinking that we can rest in our achievements and our good works to gain God’s approval. Pride denies our sin and convinces us that we are not really that bad. Pride damns us. 

Humility, on the other hand, takes a good look at self and realizes with Isaiah that we are all infected with sin and our best offering of righteousness is nothing more than a filthy rag (Isaiah 64:6.) Humility brings us to realize our true condition, that we are empty handed. Our pithy offering of righteousness is not enough to gain God’s favor and our abundant sins condemn us.

Humility helps us to see that we are poor in spirit. It is from this vantage point that we see the cure. We realize that God accepts us just as we are, without anything to offer. He meets us there and offers us the kingdom of heaven. He made a way of salvation for us through Jesus. Jesus offers us his righteousness in exchange for our sin. He offers us an eternally clean slate. He gives us all his good deeds and takes all of our bad ones. But there is a catch. We have to come clean. We have to put our pride away and humbly accept that we are empty handed sinners. 

Today, where are you in this journey? Are you letting pride swindle you into thinking you are more righteous than you are or have you allowed humility to do it’s work and show you your true condition? Are you still leaning on the meager offering of good you have in your hand to gain God’s favor or have you accepted your sinfulness and the provision for it through Jesus? 

Let us stop denying our sin. Let us stop resting on our own accomplishments. Let us humble ourselves and confess our sins. Let us exult in what Christ has done. Let us rejoice that we are poor in spirit. In this we will find freedom and entry into the kingdom of heaven. 

Prayer: God, we thank you for Jesus. We confess that we are lost and incapable of good apart from you. Please root out sins in our lives and help us rest in the freedom you give.

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C. Smith became a member of the River in 2006 and very quickly began volunteering in a variety of ministries. A little over three years ago, she moved to Central Asia. These days she enjoys the Central Asian communal aspect of sipping tea while having good, long conversations with friends. You can read more about her adventures at https://lookingforthegreenergrass

River Community Church
A Lego Lesson.
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There is nothing more humbling than apologizing to your child. Sometimes my children leave me jagged, knife-like presents all over the house. In the light of day it’s a common lego or a humble action figure, but when I’m tired and barefoot these are the weapons of my destruction. I step on them, flat-footed and lumbering, bearing my full weight on these plastic piranhas and I yell. I yell because it hurts. I yell because I’m mad. I yell because I’VE TOLD THEM A THOUSAND TIMES TO CLEAN...sorry. There I go again.

After I’ve roared my greatest roar, beat my chest, stopping short only of throwing all their toys away, I look down. I look down and I see my sweet daughter. She’s scared, sorry, and crying. That knocks the wind out of me as I kneel to the ground. I get on her level. I offer my hands if she’ll take them. I look her in the eyes and say, “Honey, I’m so sorry. I got really mad when I hurt my foot, but I never should have reacted like that. I’m sorry and I hope you can forgive me.” And with the swift mercy only a child can give, she does.

I’m so thankful that my Heavenly Father doesn’t react to my mistakes the way I sometimes do with my children. He always comes low. He continually humbles himself and bends down to my level, takes my hands, and explains what needs to happen next. He never intends to crush me, even though he should, but he holds me and builds me up again.

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:
Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!

Philippians 2:5-8

Think about: How can we imitate Christ’s humility with the ones we love?

Prayer: Lord, teach me to me humble and show me what it means to have the mindset of Jesus. Thank you for bending down to me. May I always humble myself and consider others better than me.

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Jimmy is a songwriter, music producer and also the Worship Pastor here at the River. He and his wife Kim have two beautiful children.

River Community Church