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My encounter with an old shoe – James 1:9-11

December 9, 2009

James 1:9-11: Let the lowly brother boast in his exaltation, and the rich in his humiliation, because like a flower of the grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with its scorching heat and withers the grass; its flower falls, and its beauty perishes. So also will the rich man fade away in the midst of his pursuits.

I am being challenged to come into the presence of God, and the more this happens, the more I am starting to see the world from a God perspective.   And this has come about by immersing myself in the Bible, which is starting to affect me, starting to give me a new understanding and perspective of the world around me.

And then I saw a shoe.

This morning as I walked to my office I came across a discarded shoe.  Normally I would ignore a shoe, but this one grabbed my attention.  It had seen a lot of service, it was worn out and battered.  And it had a large amount of black tape wrapped around it, attempting to keep it together.  And I found myself thinking about the person who had worn the show and how poor they must have been to resort to using black tape.  And then a top sports star came to mind who only wears shoes once – a new pair of shoes every day.   Then I walked inside my office and read this passage.

The lowly have little but they have God.  The rich have much and can feel like they don’t need God.  I know this as I am rich.  Not ‘I have a private jet’ rich, but I do live in my own house and have savings, which compared to most of the world, is utter luxury.  And all my possessions make me feel comfortable. And then I read this amazing passage.  Wow.  Ok now I am uncomfortable – good.

Whatever I own means very little in the eyes of God.  God exults and lifts up the lowly: those who are materially poor, but also the greek behind ‘lowly’ refers to those struggling with depression and anxiety.  And God reminds me through James 1:9-11 that seeking to be in the presence of God has very little to do with what I own, in fact if I choose to focus on what I own I will find myself fading away, moving away from God.

Coming into God’s presence is about maintaining my focus on God and not allowing myself to be distracted by material pursuits.  This is really easy to write and very hard to do.  But I am up for the challenge!!

What do you think?

God bless,

Rev Mark

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  1. Christina permalink

    “greek behind ‘lowly’ refers to those struggling with depression and anxiety.”. I believe I suffer with depression and anxiety. This helped so much, it gives me a little hope. Thank you very much for posting this!


  2. jon leake permalink

    This is powerful, im fashionable and i need to remind myself not to forget who gave me all that. the 1 and only GOD!

  3. leeZoraya permalink

    I recently started attending church and getting closer to good by reading the bible and im starting to see things so differently, its GREAT to know that Jesus Loves me unconditionally!

  4. donnie permalink

    I look at people and I think that some have a lot. Then I look at myself and think…I have a lot and am rich compared to those that are homeless. I take to much for granted.

  5. Wow thats an annointhing of God!
    God Bless brother

  6. Elena permalink

    Thank you so much. It is a word in due season.

  7. David permalink

    Wow! God really got me today! All within a few minutes I found myself angry and bitter about returning to work a second time today to top off a 16 hour day again. I turned the radio on to In Touch Organization to hear a sermon about personal storms and God using these storms to clean us and wake us up so we can continue to grow closer. Got me to thinking how we give thanks to him and appreciate what he does. He will fill our lives where it needs to be filled because we know not where that truley is. Let him be in control. Then I read a randomly found verse: Proverbs 11:18 (The wicked man earns deceptive wages, but he who sows righteousness reaps a sure reward.)
    Then I read about the shoe…. I find this amazing that after my thoughts of this in anger and irritation of what I have and don’t have in life, that it’s for a reason I can’t understand but need to follow faithfully. Just wanted to share! God Bless and Thanks… Back to work!

  8. Thank you very much for this . I was getting worried about my Physical needs but reminded me that we have to look unto GOD. he’ll provide everything in His time.

    Thank you,

  9. Annie permalink

    I’m feeling this same exact way. Is this possible that we are connected? For a little over a year now, I’ve finally come to a point in my life where I’ve decided to follow my faith and God by learning about Him. I’ve ever since been reading but always with pause. My everyday life as a mother, wife and business owner has distracted me in diving into this pool of knowledge that I pray for and forever awaits me. When I do read it;s surreal. I feel as though, He is speaking to me. Even now as I write I think it is happening. God is calling for me to follow and learn what is in my heart. Even through a passage I ran across on facebook. Thank you ❤

  10. salish slangi permalink

    it is awesome that we get to be reminded that we have much to be thankful for every day we are rich – it is sometimes hard to remember when we get into the world and forget to humble ourselves when we need to—I am thankful for all I have—we have to remember to give — and give and give not to count our work and not to expect things —there is only one that matters!!!

  11. Susanna Liew permalink

    Hi Rev. Mark, thank you for this wonderful sharing. Yes many times we feel that we don’t have enough but if we look around us more, you’ll be surprise that they are many more who are in need. I feel myself being so blessed with a secured job and with all that I have. Let us hold on to His Word and reach out to the poor and the needy and let His Kingdom be known. God bless you all.

  12. karla permalink

    Is really funny on how at times we work more than we really need with the excuse that bills need to be paid, but really sometimes we overdue it to amuse ourselves and families with shopping, entertaintment, etc, not only sacrificing our families but the time to spend it to grow and help others grow in Christ because afterall the main purpose in our lives is to glorify the Lord with our lives. This is difficult to do. Help us Jesus to be content!

  13. Rev. Mark,
    Good to see you sounding so positive again.
    Praise the Lord,
    PS : No reply necessary.

  14. I think that you are right on, Mark. When God took away everything I own except for a few clothes, my bed, and my laptop, I was forced to put my attention back on Him, as there was nothing else left for me to focus on. Angry, at first, I now praise Him for the theives He sent to take away all the other gods in my life. God bless you, as you learn to appreciate what He has allowed you to have, while keeping it in perspective. 🙂

  15. Hello Rev. Rick, thank you for sharing about the old shoe. It took me back to my childhood when I had to pin up the sole of my shoe so it wouldn’t flap. We didn’t have any tape. As I grew up the first thing I would do if I didn’t get anything else, I would get shoes. This passage It made me want to share even more. I’m retired but God always provide for my needs. God’s Love for me let me know, as long as I put Him first He will supply all my needs.

  16. So true. God should be our only fokus, every minute and every day. If I don’t cling to Him constantly I feel lost and alone, I need Him despirately, I love Him passionately. Thank you Lord for You. Thank You for this message.

  17. Mick Stimpson permalink

    Jesus told him, “If you want to be perfect, go and sell all your possessions and give the money to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

    This is the most ignored statement in the Bible! Jesus knows that while we have material possessions and wealth we can not fully connect with God, when we resist giving up what we have means we have identified with these things and they become part of who we are. Ask yourself honestly “Can I sell these things? Do I trust Jesus enough to not have more money than I need each day?” if there is resistance, then we have work to do.

    How much money to we need each day? Bear in mind that In the west we are among the top 10% richest people in the world, yes even the poorest among us are richer than around 90% of the world’s population! We judge our relative wealth or lack of it with our peers in our society. A materialistic, non spiritualistic society focused on accumulation of money and possessions.

  18. Cavin Wright permalink

    Nice story, Mark – good conclusions.

  19. 1 Corinthians 7:22 – The Lord’s freeman.

    To be truly free in the life Christ came to give, we must develop a Biblical worldview that let’s us see the world with a new perspective.

  20. Nancy permalink

    I liked your reflection today. I suffer from anxiety and depression for many years and it is God who has gotten me through. With out him I would not be sitting here and writing this.
    The shoe with the black tape is sad. I think God is calling us to give More…..
    So many people are without, now that this is noticed God will show you who to help. God Bless and thank you for sharing.

  21. Alison permalink

    The love of money, of goods, of possessions constantly wars in my soul against my love for God. Whichever one I fix my thoughts on is the one which rules my life.

  22. MARILYNN permalink

    My Dear Pastor Brown,
    For many are called but few are Chosen, I thank you for being one of the Chosen and stepping up to the plate Soldier. I am stepping up on the front line as needed right at this moment, I had taken a few weeks off to do other things, but the shoe reconfirmed in me that it’s not vacation time away from the world or the word because there’s an ever increasing duty here and we need to be out on the highways and byways compelling those who are in dire needs to come and focus on the one who can and will provide all of their needs according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior and yes I too am rich and ready for his calling so I just would like to say at this time of the Season it’s time to Arm up Soldiers there’s a war going on and we got to stay on the front line so we can see all who are in need. Forever Peace and Blessings
    Sister Marilynn

  23. Megan permalink

    Just what I needed today! I had been “struggling” with this issue for weeks…and now I have my answer! I knew it all the time… had to show me! Thank you! God Bless…keep up the good work!

  24. I am lowly, I have no home of my own, I am away from my children .I have God in my presence and my journelssssssss 24/7… I am almost a nun and pretty close to being Monk.
    christmas has always been my favorite time of year. I have no tree and no presents for my kids.
    i am so very blessed to have God in my life , oh and I am so blessed to have food stamps, most in Etheopia go without.
    I go so ” deeply” into Gods word that I can read the bible backwards , disect the words , circle and highlight then do it all over again the next day… I have over 200 note books of prayers Hundreds of Christian books as well as stacks of CD’s and bible study work books and that is just this year , I throw them away yearly because I get a little frustrated .I stay at a
    meditative state of awareness almost all day ….
    And everybody just watches , and I don’t get a hug or a thank you, or any kind of help except bottles of medicine that don’t work.
    I do not like this verse, and yes I know it well.
    I have tried to negotiate with God for a little help with some comfort …via material things and maybe a warm body preferably one that would love me.
    Any suggestions ?

  25. rose permalink


  26. Antje permalink

    You have put in a nutshell what i have been pondering about for quite some time now. When I watch tv and see the poverty in this world than I feel bad that I have so much. According to the world I am poor but according to poor I am rich. I also have a house, a car, a good job, food to eat and medical insurance. Most people in this world do not have this. I came in this world naked and will leave this world naked. What I have comes out of the good hand of God and not because anything I did to deserve it. When I stand on my verandah looking over the ocean praying to God asking what did I do to have all this. Why did I receive all these blessings and the other person has nothing. I know it is all by the grace of God it really humbles me because so many people are suffering so badly. I want to cry and I agree with you seeking to be in the presence of God has very little to do with what I own, in fact if I choose to focus on what I own I will find myself fading away, moving away from God. Yes that is so true. Coming into God’s presence is about maintaining my focus on God and not allowing myself to be distracted by material pursuits. This is really easy to write and very hard to do. But I am up for the challenge!! Please God help us to stay focused on you and to help those who are in need.

  27. Ann permalink

    If I were to die tomorrow, what would I be able to take with me? Not my car or house, or bank account, or material items. Only thoses treasures I hold dear in my heart will pass this world with me. What better treasure than to have Jesus in my heart? I am truely blessed that his foot prints will be going with me.

    • Dear Ann, Your short message struck me the most. Perhaps, it’s because I can relate much to what you have shared. I am not at all worried for I have God with me, if ever I would die this very moment. Of course I still have a lot of plans…that of sharing God’s graciousness, of letting others know how wonderful it is if you would prefer God better than material wealth. I just regret that others are still so attached to material things which would not matter at all come dooms day. How I wish others find this fact the soonest possible time. How I wish they also possess the same perspective as most happy and content Christians do. Thanks to you Ann and Mr. Brown, for being God’s instruments. May your faith in God never dwindle till the very end. God bless !

  28. Ekika permalink

    I know that life is rough for you now but I have lived most of my life where you are. In recent years God slowly began to bring me and my family out but when you are going through tramatic times they seemed to be unending. God can and he will deliver you. You are unconsciously learning a lot about yourself, and about God. You can’t see it now but in time you will see it and understand it better. Patience is not natural to mankind, but it is a fruit of the spirit and hard trials teaches you patience and also how to trust, and believe in God. We think we know these things until we are put to the test. Then we find out how little we actually know. I will be praying for your strength and for God to bring you through this fiery trial that has come to try you. Don’t be weary God see you and He knows where you are. It is all going to be alright and it want be very long.

  29. Jenny permalink

    Thank you so much for sharing you helped me to dig deeper .

  30. well rev mark i can say what i have is because god blessed me and my family we don’t have a big bank acct and don’t want one god blesses us with what we need some people get money and they for get the true reason for this life that is the love of god and i don’t want nothing take my mind from god and the love that is true there is no other love truer then god’s well i love your words as always and i have to say we are thankful to god for what we have and we love it just the way it is we don’t have much but we have more then our mom and dad had so god is blessing us and i love to be a blessing to others around me well thank you rev mark and god bless you and your the burdette boy’s

  31. Wynelle permalink

    I have always considered myself “rich” due to the fact that I have what I need and I have a wonderful family. I never knew that the “lowly” in this verse was refering to those who are depressed and anxious. I definately struggle with that on a daily basis. Could this be refering to the fact that if we are struggling that we should boast in the Lord and focus on what we have because we are His children? I challenge those reading this to Boast in what the Lord is doing in your life right now. I will start. I can boast because as I mentioned, I have my family and what I need for daily living! I can boast because I am a child of the King, adopted into His kingdom and am counted as His adopted child!

  32. evelyn permalink

    This word is true and God has really being faithful to his children and from all these comments Ive read so far Ive gotten a good lesson which i really needed and I’m grateful to all of u for sharing cos now i no i shouldn’t complain abt anything i do not have anymore but focus on Wat God has given to me. i want to use this opportunity to urge others u;ll be reading this later to always look back on their lives and try to count all the things God has done for them that way they’ll realize that he is forever faithful to the very end. and remember: “don’t give up on God cos he wont give up on you hes able” God continually bless u Rev. mark

  33. THELMA MAY SEDDON permalink

    “O that we would have a longing and thirsting for Him that is so intense that others would feel the heat of our desire for Him!” I copied this from Our Daily Bread–Marvin Williams wrote this—Oh! that I would have that kind of thirsting for Him

  34. Patt Landes permalink

    I was really touched by your message. I know the importance of reading God’s word daily. I send out devotionals with much Scripture because I know how God has taught me through His word.

  35. christian smith permalink

    thank you so much!
    i have been focusing on what im getting and what i want and have not relized there are people out there in this materalistic world that dont have as much as i, i wish there was an easy button to being close and being with god.. but i guess you could say that if you want something bad enough then you have to work hard for it. i have just recently started my walk with christ and i find it very easy to step off on the wrong pathways.. i am in a relationship and i want it to be a christian relationship and be devoted to god in this relationship and focus on him and not lust and other earthly desires but it is hard and i was wondering if you had any advice on this..
    i love all the post!
    keep doing what your doing and stay strong.
    please reply. need the advice! thank you!:)
    god bless!

  36. awesome mark. my thought is that old discarded shoe could have belonged to me before CHRIST and if you think about it we were old discarded shoes before CHRIST. his grace, mercy and forgiveness are just mind blowing to me. tahank you so much for your pursuing the WORD OF GOD and sharing your insight with us. PRAISE GOD.

  37. Pat mc Guire permalink

    Have you ever thought about your journey up to this present moment?
    If you have, and are perfectly honest, all the bad things happenned when we thought we knew best. We never considered anything other than ourselves. When the good things happenned, we thought we were responsible for it. We weren’t. This is when God took over to show his love for us. Now think about what you are going to make happen tomorrow. Now think about what will happen if you are not here to make it happen. God will be here every tomorrow and every now. By accepting Jesus as our Lord and saviour, we will be with God and every now and tomorrow will be shared with God’s plan. It will be the end of our earthly world, Judgement day.

  38. It doesn’t happen until we open our eyes and see that, God is always trying to teach us 2 things. A: We are bless because of Him. The bible said all good things come from above. B: He bless us to bless other (bless in the greek) means empowered to prosper. He has give you the ability to prosper because He loves you and He wants to use you. He gave His son because He wanted us to porsper John 3:16 God Gave His son, John 10:10 Jesus said I come that you may Have life, and enjoy your life in abundance to the full, until it over flows. That’s the loving and compassionate God we serve.

  39. Mary permalink

    Thank you Mark. I’m up for the challenge, but it is not an easy one. We spend so much of life focusing on the wrong things and this busy world we live in requires so much of us. The more I focus on the Word of God I am strengthened and the easier it is for me to step out of “the world.” I read and enjoy your posts, though I don’t usually comment…but I wanted you to know I am accepting the challenge because it is extremely important that as Christians we make His Word the focus of our daily life. God bless you.

  40. Faranisisi permalink

    Well this is great, thanks Mark for sharing this blessing about the Word of God. I was someone who never had anything flash in life. Lost parents in earlier life and thought I had the worst and life was meaningless after I lost my mother. Then I came to God and loved His Word so much, it was a completely differet picture when I was on this journey in the Word of God.

    I still needed things, I needed my parents yet I came to understand who God is when seek Him day in and day out in His Word. I cried out these words God help me and never able to explain what help I needed except I was emotionally suffered from so many things.

    Finally, the Kingdom, knowledge and understanding of God opened up in His Word. Wow, joy that words cannot explained, freedom and peace that money can’t buy. My lack of worldly treasures makes me determine to seek help in God. Treasures of the world are good because after all, God blessed us with it. However, we need His wisdom and knowledge to direct how we use them.
    Yes poor in this world and rich in joy, peace and freedom, these are the things money can’t buy. So in other words the poor are rich in these heavenly treasures providing they have the heart to seek after God, not other things e.g. drugs, robbing and etc.

    An example, I found a staple job and started to enjoy its worldly benefit, however, my love for the Word of God started to fade. Not because of the treasure, but my lack of comittment to read and communicate with Him.
    Now that is my challenge, is to get back on Word of God that was so much a centre of my life before.

    So how much more if rich people in this world also rich in heavenly treasures. Wow imagine how much will it be.Their worldly treasures can do more for them in the Kingdom of God if the heart is in the right place and direct by God.

    In all, I now have this challange to go back and fed on His Word. So, worldly treasure do not provide real happiness, peace and the freedom we human long to have. What we get from money is only a shorterm fix. Athe end of the day, we seems to ended back in need of another or the same thing again.

    The joy, peace and freedom that comes from feeding on the Word of God whis the fullfilment we yearn to have. And only in Jesus which is the Word we find this fullfilment.

    I feel this is enough to add to what many have experienced about the Word of God. Tim 3:16.

    God bless you all.

  41. Examples of two such perfect praises by one lowly and another rich are Mary (Luke 1: 46-56) and Zacchaeus (Ibid, 19: 1-10), respectively. Season’s Greetings to all!

  42. patricia permalink

    i am asking for pray. and will like to join the group.god bless you brother mark keep up the good work.all god richest blessing to you and all the best.

  43. Lisa permalink

    I join in your journey. I to love the Lord. My passion is to please Him. I know I fall short but I thank God for His wonderful grace when I do. I love spending time with God thru His word, which is God. I am enjoying reading the amplified Bible right now and it gives new depths to the rich word of God. I started with King James for years first though. I have learned that the amplified has a closer difintion of the orignal Greek & Hebrew words have different meanings so it gives a clear understanding. Please agree with me in the following prayer. Heavenly Father, I pray that everyone that joins this will have all their family, friends, love ones ,and one they know and the next thousand generations of all included will be saved in Jesus name, Amen and Amen.
    I am glad God lead you to do this. I have been unable to attend my church for a good while and this is just what I needed to add to the church I attend by way of tv. I spend hrs there, but miss the fellowship. This is a great solution. I will also pray for all of you that subscibe and ask you do the same. The word says when 2 pray its as a 1000…wow I wonder what we would multipy out in the power of prayers.

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