“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.
What makes your life worth living?
Money? Notoriety? Legacy? Family? Job? In 21st Century America there is no shortage of things that vie for our affection.
“But everything that was a gain to me, I have considered to be a loss because of Christ. More than that, I also consider everything to be a loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” ~ Philippians 3:7-8
Oh, how I pray to have this outlook on life!
God, make my spiritual hunger and thirst so strong that I would count everything else in my life as lost in comparison to my satisfaction and purpose in You.
“Jesus answered them, ‘You are mistaken because you don’t know the Scriptures or the power of God.’ ” ~ Matthew 22:29
“But now in Christ Jesus, you who were far away have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” ~ Ephesians 2:13 CSB
What a glorious truth of the gospel! Though we were once far away, Jesus has brought us near. Though we were once foreigners, we are now citizens of the Kingdom of God with unrestricted access to the King.
“Through him we… have access in one spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with the saints, and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the cornerstone.” ~ Ephesians 2:18-20 CSB
“We too all previously lived among them in our fleshly desires, carrying out the inclinations of our flesh and thoughts, and we were by nature children under wrath as the others were also. But God, who is rich in mercy, because of his great love that he had for us, made us alive with Christ even though we were dead in trespasses. You are saved by grace!” ~ Ephesians 2:3-5
What an incredible passage! These verses proclaim the good news of Jesus as clearly as any other passage in the Bible.
For someone who sees no need for Jesus, take note that each of us started on the same side: as enemies of God and children of wrath.
For the Christian, we are reminded that we were dead in our sins but were made alive by the richness of God’s mercy and the greatness of His love. We must not pretend that we are better than those unredeemed. Our redemption came, not from our own efforts or goodness (Ephesians 2:8-9), but from God’s mercy, grace, and love.
May we never lose perspective of the darkness from which we were all brought into light.
Sometimes we reduce our salvation to going to heaven when we die. Of course, heaven is part of our salvation, but the depth of our salvation is vast. Psalm 18 mentions several key attributes of God regarding in our salvation: Rock, Fortress, Deliverer, Refuge, Shield, and Stronghold.
Each of these attributes are meant to be help us as we go through life. Life has a lot of ups and downs, and at different points in life, we have specific needs only God can fill. In difficult times, for example, we rely on God to be our refuge, or when circumstances or people come against us, we need God to be our fortress or deliverer.
Jesus said “I have come to give you life to the fullest.” Other translations say “life abundantly.” Part of God’s plan for giving us abundant life is His provision and protection for us during this life. This shouldn’t be misunderstood, however, as protection from bad things or difficult circumstances. In fact, Jesus said much to the contrary: You will have suffering in this world. (John 16:33, emphasis added) Even here, though, Jesus immediately followed this warning with a victorious statement that should bring peace and comfort to every follower of Jesus: Be courageous! I have conquered the world.
God, help me to rely on You when I face troubled times as my Protector because You have conquered the world.
Years ago there was a song called “He’s Still Working on Me” which said “how loving and patient He must be ’cause He’s still working on me.” (https://youtu.be/AGjrqV-EOfg)
Last week on Good Friday, we celebrated the completed work of salvation in Jesus’ death on the cross. However, His work of sanctification continues on in the lives of Christians all around the world as we are “conformed into the image of [Jesus].” (Romans 8:29-30)
In my daily struggle between a willing Spirit and a weak flesh (Matthew 26:41), I am thankful for the confidence that “He’s still working on me.”
“Jesus said, ‘Everyone who drinks from this water will get thirsty again. But whoever drinks from the water that I will give him will never get thirsty again. In fact, the water I will give him will become a well of water springing up in him for eternal life.” John 4:13-14 (CSB)
Have you ever been really thirsty? Maybe after a long workout or run. Maybe working out in your yard on a hot summer day. Maybe you’ve been oversees or in a desert area of the US. Do you remember what it was like when you finally got that first sip of water? For most of us, that feeling of quenched thirst is an incredible relief. What’s interesting, though, is that as relieving as that drink of water was, at some point afterwards your thirst returned. You needed another drink of water.
Our bodies were created to yearn for water. In fact, water is a necessity for life. It’s no surprise that Jesus used water as a metaphor for Himself, calling Himself Living Water. Ever since humanity’s relationship with God was broken by sin, our spirits deeply yearn to be reconciled with their Creator.
David cries out “God, you are my God; I eagerly seek you. I thirst for you; my body faints for you in a land that is dry, desolate, and without water.” (Psalm 63)
What a picture! For me, too often my spiritual thirst wanes. I long to be close to God, but the things of the world distract my attention away from the only One who can completely satisfy.
God, may my spiritual thirst for You match the intensity of my physical thirst.