HE MUST INCREASE – – Part Two…


John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  NASB

In the last devotional we discussed that Jesus must Increase in our Living if we are to embrace and enjoy the Abundant Life that He promised to bring.  There are a few more thoughts that I’d like to present about that dimension of His Increase.

He Must Increase in Our Minds (Thoughts).  There must be an increase of the mind of God in our minds.  2 Corinthians 10:5 instructs us to “bring into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.”  Romans 12:2 instructs us to “be transformed by the renewing of our minds.”  Philippians 4:7 prays, “And the peace of God, which passes all understanding keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”  That is powerful and important. 

Our thought lives or our minds must be fully submitted to Him.  That is especially powerful considering Proverbs 23:7 in which we discover that “as he thinks in his heart so is, he.”  We are not necessarily what we think we are, but we are a product of what we think!

He Must Increase in Our Decision Making.  As His presence, will, and influence increase in our decision making our actions, attitudes, motives, ambitions, and goals are altered.  When He is in control and His influence is elevated in our lives our carnal appetites diminish.  His Increase decreased the self-life and increases life to His abundance.  We become filled with His peace, His joy, and His love.  We become men and women who are “after His own heart.” 

When He Increases the self, becomes secondary.  Matthew 6:33 gives the directive from Jesus as to how we are to live.  “But seek first His kingdom, and His righteousness; and all these things will be added to you.”

HE MUST INCREASE IN OUR LOVING.

How could we ever move beyond the power and provision of John 3:16 when we consider Love?  His love was a giving love.  His love is sacrificial, He gave us His Son.  His love is without prejudice, He gave for the entire world.  His love is unsolicited, it is freely given. 

He Must Increase as the Object of Our Love.  We are instructed in Matthew 22:37, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.”  We are instructed in Deuteronomy 5:7, “You shall have no other gods before Me.”

As He Increases as the Object of Our Love, He Increases our capacity to love and live.  We are enabled to love as He loves, without prejudice.  We are able to love those He loves, everyone!  We are able to love with an unsolicited and sacrificial love.  He Must Increase But I Must Decrease!

Divine Love is Incredible and Powerful.  Divine Love displays patience of incredible duration.  It is not envious or given to jealousy.  It is never proud, conceited, arrogant or filled with pride.  It is not rude.  It does not insist upon its own way or rights.  It does not harbor grudges and seeks revenge or vengeance.  It is not touchy, fretful or resentful.  It is never happy when another person is hurt.  It is ready to believe the best in others.  It never fades or dies.  God, please grant us an infusion of Your Divine Love.  He Must Increase in our Loving!

I want to address this one more time and hope that I am not belaboring the point.  I pray that the LORD will help each of us seek His Increase in our Living and Loving. 

God bless you as you enjoy His provisions on this beautiful day!

HE MUST INCREASE…


       

John 3:30 – “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  NASB

I suggest that you read verses 25-30 for the full context and then couple that with Acts 3:1-16 for the extension of this attitude and empowerment by God.  In my view, this is an incredibly powerful verse and expresses a foundational principle in our relationship with God.  “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  He cannot be more than He is, but He can be elevated in importance in my life. 

John had a successful ministry.  He is highly regarded by virtually everyone and even kings had a healthy respect and even fear of him.  He had developed a significant following and countless lives were being impacted positively by his ministry.  In today’s view, the message to John would be, “Expand your ministry, John.  More campaigns, more outreach, and thereby more followers.”

John said, “It’s not about me.  He must increase!  I realize that for Him to increase in the view of others, I must decrease and point to Him.  He is the anointed one.  He is the Messiah.  He holds the keys to life.  HE MUST INCREASE!”

Jesus said in John 12:32, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto Me.”  There is a natural law that reveals that for one vessel to be filled with one thing it must be emptied of another.  For example, if a room is to be filled with light it must be emptied of darkness.  If a container is to be filled with water, it must be emptied of air.  An increase in one area demands a decrease in another.  For a room to be filled with heat it must be emptied of cold or vice versa. 

The increase of Christ in our lives brings about a decrease of self.  John understood with whom the Hope of Life lay.  He knew that he (John) was only a voice, he was only the introduction, the prelude.  He knew he was temporary, the forerunner, the messenger, not the message.  He realized what each of us needs to acknowledge and embrace – God is to be First in All Things and at All Times in our Lives!

He Must Increase – He is the one upon whom we depend.  He is all-powerful.  He alone has the power to save.  We Must Decrease – We are the ones in need.  We are weak and frail.  We need salvation.  Jesus is the Hope of Humanity.  He is the solution to every problem.  He is the remedy.  Yet, for Him to increase (and He must if we are to enter into the abundant life He came to bring), we must decrease!  Jesus is building a church, a body, an army that the gates of hell cannot prevail against.  He has called us to be a Marching Army filled with His Spirit and Power! 

There are numerous areas and aspects of our lives that He Must Increase, and I ask you to consider those with me as we proceed.  Let me address the first thought I have in this devotional.

HE MUST INCREASE IN OUR LIVING.

John 10:10 brings us the words of Jesus, “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  That is incredible!  What a Promise and what a Potential for us.  If we are to enjoy and possess the fullness of that life – He Must Increase.  He must fill my life in an ever-increasing capacity.  He must increase in our lives to the greatest capacity possible.

He Must Increase His position in my priorities.  He Must Increase His Position in my desires.  He Must Increase His Position in my Commitment.  He Must Increase His Position in my Pursuits.  He Must Increase and His will must supersede mine in all things!  I must “Seek Him First…”

I will pause here and allow you time to digest what I have suggested based on His Word and John’s revelation.  We will address this more in the next devotional and I pray that God will help you have an increased desire to decrease so He can increase in your life.

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE – Part Two…


Luke 17:32 – “Remember Lot’s wife.”  NASB

Let’s rehearse some things about Lot’s wife before we proceed.  She Perished Although She was the Wife of a Righteous Man.  She Perished Although she was warned of the impending danger. 

SHE PERISHED – Although She Made an Effort to Be Saved.

She heard the warning and partly believed it.  She ran well for a short time but stopped short of full deliverance and salvation.  She looked back and perished.  She could not ‘forget the things that were behind and press on to the future.’  Like Simon the sorcerer her heart was not fully right with God. (Acts 8:21) Doing the best we can apart from steadfast faith and surrender to Jesus will result in coming short of God’s Glory and perishing by the way.

SHE PERISHED – Although She Was Physically Separated from the Sodomites.

Her body was outside the city, but her heart and affections were where they had always been.  The commandment of God was, “Escape for your life and do not look back.”  She was not as tainted as the citizens of that city, but she was fatally in love with the world.  She could give lip service to God and even offer praise to God that she was not like the citizens of that city, but her heart was held by what she had.

SHE PERISHED – She Disobeyed and in her Disobedience Rebelled.

Her sin was unbelief and that unbelief manifested itself in a disobedient look back.  The command was run for your life and do not look back.  People perish because of the sin of disobedience which is rebellion against the commandments of God.  She failed to keep her eye on the prize and her heart longed to go back to what she had and what she knew and that in which she felt secure.

Do you recall in Luke 9, when our LORD called to men to follow him?  One asked to go bury his dead and the other asked to go back and say farewell to the family.  Jesus responded in Luke 9:62 – “…No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.”  In Hebrews 10:38 we read, “But My righteous one shall live by faith; and if he shrinks back, My soul has no pleasure in him.” 

God’s offer is full deliverance and full salvation.  His offer is confirmed by the Blood of Jesus on the Cross.  If we try to hold on to God and the world at the same time, we will find the impossibility of that situation and the great danger is we will go back.  Jesus said that we cannot serve two masters at the same time.  Matthew 6:21 reveals, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” 

God will not accept our being partially in and partially out.  Some are saying, in essence, “LORD, I will follow you, but…”  God says, “Remember Lot’s Wife!”  Her love for the world and her disobedience cost her eternally.  Jesus says, COME!

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

REMEMBER LOT’S WIFE…


Luke 17:32 – “Remember Lot’s wife.”  NASB

That short statement is inserted in the discourse of Jesus’ teaching regarding the coming Kingdom of God.  It is incredibly impactful and instructive.  There are some very solemn reasons for remembering Lot’s wife.  That is especially true as we come nearer and nearer to the time when Jesus will return.

It is frightful thought to be found unfit at His return.  That would be most tragic!  The account of Lot’s family holds many significant and interesting truths for us today.  In considering this verse we must go back to the record of God’s deliverance of Lot and his family from the incredible wickedness of Sodom.  I suggest that Lot’s family and the families of today are similar in many ways.

Lot’s family had a religious orientation.  They knew about and believed in God. There were interested in their own self-betterment.  If you question that, think of the division between Abraham and Lot and Lot’s choosing the better land for himself.  They had settled down and were planting their roots.  They were establishing themselves in the community.  His daughters were marrying men from that town.

The City of Sodom had become their home and to live there required them to turn a blind eye to some of the activities of the inhabitants.  Not unlike today, the world insists that we accept in order to be accepted.  They lived near the corruption living in such a manner as not to become offensive to the inhabitants of that city.  Can you see a parallel and comparison to many in today’s world?

Their lives and roots were being established in a city of gross wickedness.  They found security in their surroundings and possessions. Their lives had been invested in their society and they did not appear willing to risk it.  Their philosophy appears to be that they could live amid gross wickedness and still maintain their faith. In today’s world, some believers are so tied to their possessions and positions, they are unable to see the wickedness and evil destruction until it is too late!

It is a clear message of the Bible that Lot’s wife had a love for what she had in Sodom.  It is also clear that her love for things, position, prominence, and acceptance was more powerful than her faith or desire for deliverance!  Thus, Jesus says, “Remember Lot’s Wife!”  She looked back and lost!

I want to walk through several things and hope that it helps us to realize the dangers of trying to cohabit with evil and why the Bible would tell us to “come out from among them and be separate.”  Also, why the Bible would tell us to ‘shun the very appearance of evil.’  Lot’s wife perished, that is a fact.  She perished despite some things, many believe qualify them for acceptance by God.

SHE PERISHED – Although She Was the Wife of a Righteous Man.

I am not suggesting that Lot was a saint, but he was righteous because 2 Peter 2:7-8 calls him, “just and righteous.”  She was also related to Abraham, the man of faith and the friend of God.

SHE PERISHED – Although She Was Warned of the Danger.

Consider her situation and that of her family.  A special message and messenger from God had come to the city to enable them to escape the destruction.  How is that applicable to us today?  Consider John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.”    We too, have a special warning to flee the wrath to come and an invitation to enter the family and kingdom of God.

I want to continue this and will rehearse what we have covered and take it one step beyond in the next devotional. 

God bless you as you enjoy this wonderful day in Him!

THE WAY TO SUCCESS…


Genesis 6:1-8 – “Now it came about, when men began to multiply on the face of the land, and daughters were born to them, 2 that the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful; and they took wives for themselves, whomever they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, “My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, because he also is flesh; nevertheless his days shall be one hundred and twenty years.” 4 The Nephilim were on the earth in those days, and also afterward, when the sons of God came in to the daughters of men, and they bore children to them. Those were the mighty men who were of old, men of renown. 5 Then the LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great on the earth, and that every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. 6 And the LORD was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart. 7 And the LORD said, “I will blot out man whom I have created from the face of the land, from man to animals to creeping things and to birds of the sky; for I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”  NASB

A key to understanding is the declaration in the last verse, “But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD.”  That is powerful beyond words.  Almost everyone wants to be a success, or at least, they are interested in knowing how to get on the road to success.  The criteria for success differs with different people.  Success can be defined in a thousand different ways with a thousand different people.  For some it is money, for others it is power, there are those who see it as position or fame and the list goes on. 

The success story found in our text is an incredible success.  Noah was a righteous man living in the midst of a people so evil and corrupt that God said that He regretted making man.  That is descriptive of the depth of depravity man had descended.  In verse 8 we read that Noah found Grace of Favor in the eyes of the LORD.  That is contrasted to the disfavor of the rest of humanity.  One man stands alone in exhibiting righteousness when everything around him is plunging deeper into the darkness.

Mankind had become so corrupt that God could not stand his own creation.  God vowed to destroy man from the earth and yet amid that stench in the nostrils of God, there was a sweet aroma of righteousness in Noah.  My question immediately becomes, what was the Secret of Noah’s Success?  What was it about Noah that pleased God, and can we achieve and attain that status today?

NOAH OBTAINED GOD’S PLAN – – (Genesis 6:13-21)

In verse 13 God told Noah that the end of all flesh had come before Him and in verse 14 He gave Noah the plan for the preservation of humanity through one family.  He gave him the plans for the Ark of Safety and the Ark of Life.

There can be no success without a plan.  Success rarely happens by chance.  That is especially true in the things of God.  God has a plan and gives man that plan and it is incumbent upon man to follow that plan.  Psalms 127:1 gives a wonderful truth to be remembered in our walk.  “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it…”   I have often been reminded and reminded others that either way the house is built but one way is successful and the other is in vain.

Years ago, I read about the Great Clock at the Strasbourg Cathedral in France.  In addition to the regular features, it has a combination of moons and planets moving through the days and months with the accuracy of the heavenly bodies.  It was built in the 14th Century but this clock could not exist without a plan.

The beauty of God’s Plan is that it is totally fool-proof.  Noah realized that God had all in His control and was faithful.  He maintained his relationship with God even in the face of difficult circumstances and his faithfulness resulted in God’s favor and the revelation of God’s Plan.  That plan led to his success and our survival as a race!

I have only begun to lay this simple foundation for the Secret of Success and will address a bit more in the next devotional.  Until then, may the LORD be with you and guide your footsteps and life.

Blessings abundant as you enjoy this day in Him!

DO NOT BE AFRAID…


Luke 12:32 – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  NASB

Fear is a tormenting destructive element in life.  Through fear, faith is made empty and void.  Through fear, lives are ruined and made miserable.  Are you aware that the most frequently given command by God in the Bible is “Fear Not!”  It is issued approximately 84 times in the Bible.  If we are afraid it gives the appearance that we do not trust God and God says, Fear Not!

What are we to fear?  In Luke 12:5 Jesus declares, “But I will warn you whom to fear: fear the One who after He has killed has authority to cast into hell; yes, I tell you, fear Him!”  That brings me to the question, “What is the source or origin of fear?  Where does it come from?”  I also must entertain the question, “What does fear do?” 

In Luke 12:6-7, we are shown God’s knowledge and power as well as the worth of man, “Are not five sparrows sold for two cents? And yet not one of them is forgotten before God. 7 “Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear; you are of more value than many sparrows.”  

In Vv. 8-10 we discover God’s Plan for man, “And I say to you, everyone who confesses Me before men, the Son of Man shall confess him also before the angels of God; 9 but he who denies Me before men shall be denied before the angels of God. 10 “And everyone who will speak a word against the Son of Man, it shall be forgiven him; but he who blasphemes against the Holy Spirit, it shall not be forgiven him.” 

In Vv. 11-12 we see God’s promise of guidance for those who Trust Him, “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not become anxious about how or what you should speak in your defense, or what you should say; 12 for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say.” 

God’s Command is FEAR NOT!  I suggest that you reread the parable of the rich fool in Vv. 16-21. He trusted the arm of flesh in contrast to God’s provisions and promises.  He failed to recognize how temporal life is and how much we need to be totally dependent on God. 

In Luke 12:31, we find God’s desire for man, “But seek for His kingdom, and these things shall be added to you.”  We are to seek Him above all else and enjoy His abundant supply.  In v. 32 we find God’s Promise to man, He wants to give us the Kingdom.  God is in control and it brings Him joy and pleasure to care for us. 

Fear says, “Though I have heard the Promises, I am not fully persuaded that I can trust those promises or the God of those promises.”  Fear is Doubt.  God says, in Luke 12:32 – “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has chosen gladly to give you the kingdom.”  In v. 31 He gives the instruction of how we receive and enter into that Kingdom.  It is through putting Him first in everything and seeking Him with our whole heart.  God is in control; therefore, we can trust Him and the step out on His Promises and expect them to be realities in our lives.” 

I conclude by asking where is your faith?  I pray that it will be in God, His Word, His Character, His Covenant, and His Promises. 

May you have a great day today in Him!

WHERE IS YOUR FAITH?


Luke 8:22-25 – “Now it came about on one of those days, that He and His disciples got into a boat, and He said to them, “Let us go over to the other side of the lake.” And they launched out. 23 But as they were sailing along, He fell asleep; and a fierce gale of wind descended upon the lake, and they began to be swamped and to be in danger. 24 And they came to Him and woke Him up, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” And being aroused, He rebuked the wind and the surging waves, and they stopped, and it became calm. 25 And He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were fearful and amazed, saying to one another, “Who then is this, that He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey Him?”  NASB

The topic of Faith is a fascinating one.  Some people have Faith in Action and some have Faith in the Wrong Thing or Wrong Place.  The subject of Faith frightens some, fascinates some, and infuriates others.  We speak of Faith as though it were some mystical and lofty thing that only the select of the elect can possess.  I hear people say, “If I just had faith” and lament the absence of mountain moving faith in their lives.

This account stands out as Jesus speaks to the disciples and basically says, “You guys thought I was sleeping but was it Me or your faith that was asleep?”  He said, “You say, where is the LORD?  But I say, where is your faith?”  That leads me to my title question, “Where Is Your Faith?”

I would contend that it is not a matter or a question of having faith.  Romans 12:3 declares, “…as God has dealt to every man the measure of faith.”  Everybody has faith, faith in something or someone.  We exercise faith daily and multiple times each day.  Faith is a basic requirement in life. 

Rather than it being a question of having faith, it is a question of where we placed that faith.  I find it amazing how frequently people put their faith in secondary causes rather than the first great source – God. 

These disciples, many of them fishermen by vocation and probably from long habit began to watch the clouds, winds, and waves and fear gripped their hearts.  Their faith was weak because it was in their ability and their small boat.  Too often we trust the means as though everything depended on the means. 

I know some people who have relationships (friends) that they hang on to that person as though that individual had sole and total control of their life and was the source of their significance.  I have witnessed farmers view the weather as if it were God.  We have all seen politicians shift with the winds of public opinion or partisan pressure.  They put their faith in the opinion of others.  Their faith is in second causes rather than the first source – God!

So, “Where Is Your Faith?”  Matthew 21:22 declares, “And all things whatsoever you shall ask in prayer, believing, you shall receive.”  The simplest definition of that verse is, “Believe that it will happen, and you will see it happen but if you believe it will not happen it will not.”  Obviously, you cannot make it that simple but that is the condensed version.  So, “Where Is Your Faith?” 

Are we headed in the right direction in faith?  Is our faith in God’s Word, His Promises, and His Person?  Faith, as God designed and intended it is to be simple.  Man complicates it with doubt, formulas, and religious conditions that God never imposes.  We infuse our ‘sense knowledge, human reason, and human logic’ into the equation.  We somehow feel that we must understand it all for it to work.  That is somewhat amazing because we will trust a Doctor with our lives and not understand all about the disease, diagnosis or medicine.  We will hire an attorney because we do not understand the Law.  Then, we Do Not Trust the One who made us to Heal Us, Guide Us, and Care for us, because we do not understand it fully. 

It is a matter of Trust.   If God made us, He surely knows how to care for us and guide us.  I heard an illustration, years ago about Stonewall Jackson and his sister-in-law being ferried across the boiling torrent, just below the American Falls at Niagara.  They were in a small boat that shifted and rocked frighteningly.  Jackson’s sister-in-law panicked and was dangerously near causing the boat to capsize.  He grabbed her by the arms and turned to one of the oarsmen and asked, “How often have you made this crossing?”  The man said, “I’ve been doing this daily for twelve years.”  Jackson asked, “Have you ever capsized?”  The man said, “Never!”  He asked, “Have you ever lost a life in these waters?”  The man said, “No, sir!”  He then turned to her and said, “Do you hear what the boatman said?  Unless you think you can do better, sit still and trust him as I do.”

God can therefore unless we think we can do better than God, we need to trust Him!  Where is your Faith?  Is it in your ability, circumstances, conditions, other people or in God?  Faith is not feeling.  It is not seeing.  It is not touching.  It is not tasting.  It is not smelling.  It is not hearing.  IT IS RESTING IN HIM!

Hebrews 11:1 declares, “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.”  You can trust God with your Body, your Money, your Life, and you can trust Him with your eternal soul.  Where is Your Faith?

God bless you as you enjoy this day in Him!