“He must increase, but I must decrease.” ~ John 3:30
Can you imagine being one of Jesus’ relatives living in His shadow? Especially during His adult years. In fact at one point, some of them thought He was crazy (Mark 3:21). Then when they wanted to talk with Him, He said “Who are my mother and my brothers? …those sitting in [this[ circle… are my mother and my brothers!” (Mark 3:33-34) From their perspective, it must have been hard to watch a member of their family do and say the incredible things Jesus did. Fortunately, the New Testament and church history tell us that some of those in His earthly family believed after His resurrection.
John seems to have been different, though. From the beginning, John had an honest understanding of his role within God’s salvation plan. Jesus had to be front-and-center. “One who is more powerful than I am is coming. I am not worthy to untie the strap of his sandals.” (Luke 3:16) “Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” (John 1:29) John did not seek fame and spotlight. His mission was to be “a voice of one crying out in the wilderness: Make straight the way of the Lord.” (John 1:23)
God, help me have a true understanding of my role within Your kingdom work. Moment-by-moment, day-by-day, help me “lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares [me and] run with endurance the race that lies before [me], fixing [my] eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of [my] faith.” (Hebrews 12:1-2)
“Charm is deceptive and beauty is fleeting, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised.” ~ Proverbs 31:30
A woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. This verse is frequently used in churches on Mother’s Day. In fact it was YouVersion’s Verse of the Day today (Mother’s Day 2017). And we should celebrate our moms. They work hard, some away from home and some in the home. Regardless of where they spend their days, moms are incredible. They are selfless. They are nurturing. They give of themselves when there is nothing left to give.
But Mother’s Day can be difficult for some ladies due to a variety of reasons.
Whether mom or not, a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised. Today I am thankful for the women of faith in my life, including but definitely not limited to:
- My wife and the mother of my children, who loves me more than I deserve and who daily works diligently to pass her faith to our children.
- Susan, the woman I call mom who passed her faith to me by showing me what unconditional love looks like through the way she loves me and my siblings, as well as, the way she loves my dad.
- My Mimi, my mom’s mom who passed her faith down to her daughters.
- My mother-in-law, who passed her faith down to my wife.
- My sister, who works to pass her faith on to communities of people often overlooked.
- My sisters-in-law who love their families and work hard to pass their faith on to their families.
Fixing Our Eyes on Jesus
“Therefore, since we also have such a large cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us lay aside every hindrance and the sin that so easily ensnares us. Let us run with endurance the race that lies before us, keeping our eyes on Jesus, the source and perfecter of our faith.” Hebrews 12:1-2a (CSB)
Think of people you know who have “run the race” of faith well. People who seemingly soared in their growth and devotion to God. These people should be examples to us that an “all in” life for Jesus is not only possible, but living “all in” for Jesus gives us the most satisfying and abundant life we could desire. Following the great examples from the “Hall of Faith” in chapter eleven, the writer of Hebrews issues 3 challenges we should consider for our personal faith race.
1. Lay aside anything that competes to steer your attention away from God, such as sin, fear, inadequacies, etc. Anything that might distract you from loving God with your whole heart, soul, and mind must be relinquished (paraphrased from Matthew 22:37, see also 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Galatians 2:20).
2. Run with endurance. Endurance can be defined as the “strength to continue… despite fatigue, stress, or other adverse conditions.” (http://www.dictionary.com/browse/endurance) Paul said one thing I do: forgetting what is behind I press on to what is ahead (paraphrased from Philippians. 3:13b).
3. Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus. Jesus said we should love Him with ALL we are. He’s not interested in just having the largest compartment of your life; He wants you to filter your life through Him.
God, reveal to me anything that hinders me from loving You with all I am and grant me the strength to lay it aside.