Monday, March 16, 2015, 6:00 a.m. – The Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Hear My Voice.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read John 3:22-36 (ESV).
All Are Going to Him
After this Jesus and his disciples went into the Judean countryside, and he remained there with them and was baptizing. John also was baptizing at Aenon near Salim, because water was plentiful there, and people were coming and being baptized (for John had not yet been put in prison).
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness—look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him.”
Some of John’s disciples were envious of Jesus because, according to what they told John, “that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan–the one you testified about,” (NIV) was now baptizing people, and people were following him instead of following John. John’s disciples evidently were concerned that people would stop following John, and would now follow Jesus, and that John, their leader, would lose his following.
Do Christians ever get jealous of one another? Sure they do, though they shouldn’t. Sometimes we get our eyes off of Christ and on to man, and we start looking at what man is doing instead of focusing on what Christ is having us do (See Gal. 5:26; 1 Pet. 2:1). We may even be envious of the wicked because they seem to have all things go well with them while the Lord’s servants seem to go through so much suffering (See: Ps. 37:1; 73:3; Pr. 24:1, 19). When we are tempted to envy, though, we must recognize it as such, and we must resist Satan, flee temptation, and draw near to God in full assurance of faith. We must get our eyes off of humans and/or comparing ourselves with others, and we must accept God’s plans and purposes for our lives, and accept where he has us in life and in stature, and we must value God’s approval of us over the approval of human beings.
Sometimes, in Christian circles, Christians and church leaders may get jealous and envious of other church congregations and their leaders because of their popularity, and because they are taking people away from them, and are grabbing them for themselves. So, there may be a temptation to try to compete for the attention, and/or to try to follow similar methods for drawing in large crowds of people, even if it means compromising convictions, faith, the gospel, and placing humans as the “head” of the body of Christ instead of Christ himself, and thus submitting themselves to the thoughts and ways of humans in place of the ways of Christ and the teachings of his Word. This also may lead to hatred, resentment, bitterness, unforgiveness and discord, because they will struggle to gain for themselves the attention and popularity of others, thinking this will make them happy, but it won’t ever.
Setting the Record Straight
John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.”
So, John set his disciples straight. He reminded them of what he had told them previously – that he was not the promised one to come, but he was merely sent to prepare the way for the bridegroom, Jesus Christ, the promised Messiah. As well, he told them that the bride (Christ’s followers) belonged to Jesus Christ, not to John. John was joyful because the one for whom he had been sent to prepare the way had now come, and so John had completed his mission. Jesus Christ was now to become greater, and John was to become less.
Sometimes, when we are tempted to be envious of others we need someone to “set the record straight” for us, too. We need a dose of reality. We need to hear the Word of God taught and the Holy Spirit within us speak truth to our hearts, because we are being tempted to go away from the truth of God’s word to following after the lies of our enemy, who is a roaring lion seeking those whom he can devour. We have to resist him, stand strong in the faith, flee temptation, and put on the armor of God with which to fight off his evil schemes against us (See: Eph. 6:10-20), and we have to draw near to God in full assurance of faith. We have to accept God’s absolute sovereignty over our lives, submit to his purposes and plans, and surrender our wills to the will of our Father in heaven.
Jesus said that if we are to be his followers we are to deny self, die daily to sin and self and follow him in obedience. He said if we hold on to our old lives of living to please sin and the flesh we will lose them for eternity, but if we die with Christ to sin and self, we will gain eternal life (See Lu. 9:23-25). Satan loves to get “self” to take the throne of our lives again, and he tries to get us self-focused instead of God-focused. He enjoys trying to instill fear within us, getting us to doubt God, and to believe that we have to operate in the flesh if we are going to be successful, liked, or if we are to get anywhere in life. John’s disciples were afraid that people were going to stop following John, and that they were going to follow Jesus, but what they didn’t realize is that was the plan all along. So, they needed that dose of reality to get their minds focused in the right direction. We need that, too, sometimes.
Jesus also said that as his followers we would be hated, persecuted, falsely accused, beaten, mocked, ridiculed, rejected, despised, ostracized, and even killed for our faith in Jesus Christ. So, when that happens to us, we should not let that undo us or feel as though we have gotten a raw deal and that we need to change the way we are doing things so people will like us and accept us. We should not look at this as a bad thing, though many do, but we should praise the Lord, be thankful and be joyful that we are being persecuted for righteousness’ sake. So many Christians have this all backwards. They think popularity equals God’s approval and blessing. It may, but most likely it does not. They think we have to do and say things that will make people like us, feel comfortable around us, and that will make them want to join in with us, but where does it say that in scripture? We are to be separate from (unlike) the world because we are becoming like Christ.
So, don’t let Satan get a foothold in your life by giving way to jealousy of others and their popularity. Be who God created you to be! Stay focused on the task God has set before you.
He is Above All
He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony. Whoever receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for he gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into his hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.
Then John shared with them the crux of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus was from heaven, and he was and is above all, i.e. he was and is God. Yet, he would be, was and is rejected by those to whom he came with his message from God (from heaven). Jesus was killed because religious people and religious leaders were jealous of him. Matt. 27:18 says: “For he knew that it was out of envy that they had handed Jesus over to him,” which is in reference to the Jews handing Jesus over to Pilate to be crucified. Though he spoke and speaks the very words of God, for God gives the Spirit without limit, yet many reject Christ and his gospel of salvation, so all that awaits them is God’s wrath. Yet, for those who do accept Christ’s testimony, they certify that God is truthful. And, for those who believe, obey, and who put their faith in Jesus Christ, they are given the hope of eternal life with God.
We cannot measure success according to worldly standards and measurements. We must measure by God’s standards, and by his alone. Although Jesus was God, and he was sinless and selfless, and he went around doing good for people, he was hated and rejected because he told people the truth about their sin and about their eternal destiny, if their lives were absent of true faith in Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior of their lives. If we also preach the true gospel of Jesus Christ, and we talk about sin, judgment, hell, obedience, repentance and submission to Christ, as well as talk about his salvation, his grace, healing, mercy and forgiveness, we are likely to be rejected, too, because we speak the truth. Saying what is pleasing to people’s ears may gain us friends on this earth, but it will not gain souls for eternity. So, we must be willing to be hated for sharing the truth, so that people will be turned from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, so they can receive forgiveness of sins, and a place among those whom Christ is sanctifying.
Hear my Voice / An Original Work / July 9, 2012
Based off Psalm 27
The Lord is my great salvation.
He’s the stronghold of my life.
When my enemies attack me,
My heart will not fear at all.
Though a war break out against me,
Confident in Christ I’ll be.
Of the Lord, I ask that I may
Live with Him eternally.
Hear my voice, Lord, when I call you.
Merciful to me You’ll be.
Though my relatives forsake me,
My Lord God will receive me.
Teach me Your way, O my Jesus.
Lead me in Your righteousness.
I will sacrifice to my Lord.
I will sing with joyfulness.
I am confident that I will
See the goodness of the Lord.
All the richness of His blessings,
My Lord has for me in store.
He asks me to be of courage;
To be strong and to take heart,
Patiently as I wait for Him,
And from Him to ne’er depart.