Day 138: Increasing & Decreasing

Proverbs 28-29; John 3:22-36

Key Verses

Proverbs 29:23
One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor.

John 3:36
“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.”

John the Baptist was not a prideful man. He didn’t aspire to greatness. He didn’t want accolades. He lived in the wilderness, dressed strangely, and ate a poor man’s diet. He understood his role. He was to prepare the way for the King.

When Jesus came, John knew. He must decrease so that the Son might increase. His role was complete. He fulfilled his mission, and God was honored.

John the Baptist was honored because of his place in the redemptive story of Jesus. He had no idea that millions of people would learn of his humble obedience through the gospels. In the same way, we have a place in God’s redemptive story. We have been adopted as His children. We are part of His family.

This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is where we find the strength to decrease so that He might increase… This is our hope. This is our life!

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Day 135: The Lamb of God

Proverbs 22-23; John 1:29-51

Key Verses

Proverbs 22:17-19
Incline your ear, and hear the words of the wise,
and apply your heart to my knowledge,
for it will be pleasant if you keep them within you,
if all of them are ready on your lips.
That your trust may be in the Lord,
I have made them known to you today, even to you.

John 1:32; 34
And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. …And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.”

In today’s New Testament reading, John, the disciple, gives us gives us an insider’s view of Jesus’ first meeting with himself and the other future disciples, Andrew, Peter, Philip, and Nathanael.

When Nathanael first meets Jesus, he says to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” Nathanael’s calling Jesus “King” reveals his expectations that Jesus would overthrow the Roman government and make Israel the most powerful nation on earth. All of the disciples expected this.

But John the Baptist saw something different in Jesus. He says twice in this passage, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” This is an astonishing statement!  By calling Jesus, “The Lamb of God,” John the Baptist was connecting Jesus to the Passover Lamb, which automatically conjured up images of sacrifice and death. Somehow, John the Baptist knew Jesus would be sacrificed as the final Passover Lamb. How else would He “take away the sins of the world” (vs. 29)?

Jesus was not what the Jewish nation expected. We have the luxury of hindsight and know why the Messiah had to suffer and die. We know that He is both the Lion and the Lamb! He established his spiritual Kingdom on earth through his humble Sacrifice. And because He is our King, He deserves our worship and praise!

Day 90: The Rescuer

Judges 1:1-3:6; Luke 7:1-30

Key Verses

Judges 2:11-12
And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals. And they abandoned the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt. They went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were around them, and bowed down to them. And they provoked the Lord to anger.

Luke 7:9
When Jesus heard these things, he marveled at him, and turning to the crowd that followed him, said, “I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

If you need evidence of the darkness of the human condition, look no further than Judges. It is the story of every human heart apart from Christ. Our best efforts to follow and obey lead only to ruin and apostasy. We just can’t make this journey in our own strength. We need rescuing. The people in Judges needed rescuing…

But as we’ll read over the next few days – the rescuers that God sends are inadequate. The people just keep falling further and further away from the Lord and falling deeper and deeper into worshiping the despicable gods of the Canaanites. The book of Judges ends with the people crying out for a king.

Many kings would come – but it would take many hundreds of years for the real King to come. We read of Him today in Luke. From our modern eyes, we don’t understand how odd Jesus’ ministry was to the Jewish nation. They expected a military ruler in similar form as the Old Testament judges or kings – only more powerful and effective!

Imagine their surprise when rumors spread of a man in rags that could heal and bring people back from the dead! But he was so different – even John the Baptist questioned whether he was truly the Messiah.

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19).

Jesus answers by referring back to Isaiah’s descriptions of the days of salvation and then Jesus turns to the crowds and praises John the Baptist. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets and the one who had the highest honor of preparing the way of the Savior… But Jesus says that even the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John! Why?

Because of the Rescuer.

No longer would the people be left to obey a law that was impossible to obey in their own strength. No. When Jesus came and made the ultimate Sacrifice for sin, God instituted a New System. He writes the law on the heart and gives the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus to rescue you, your faith is credited to you as righteousness. We live in the New System, under the New Covenant. We, yes, even we, are greater than John the Baptist because we know the Rescuer. We know the Savior. We know Jesus!

Day 83: The Currency of the Kingdom

Joshua 9-10; Luke 3

Key Verses

Joshua 10:42
And Joshua captured all these kings and their land at one time, because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel.

Luke 3:16
John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”

I love the way God works in today’s Old Testament reading. The people of Gibeon trick Joshua and the Israelites into making a covenant of peace with them. What does God do? He stands by and watches Joshua fail. Did Joshua inquire of God? No.

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live (Joshua 9:14-15).

Failure is often the precursor to success. I think Joshua learned from his failure… because Chapter 10 describes many battles and many victories!

But listen closely… They didn’t win because of their great numbers. They didn’t win because of their experience in battle. They didn’t win for any earthly reason. Rather, they won “because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42).

This is the way of the Kingdom. God gets the glory when He works through lowly (yet willing) vessels.

Another example of God working through a lowly vessel is found in today’s passage in Luke…

John the Baptist lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. His dress and diet were typical of a poor desert dweller. His fiery words wouldn’t score him any popularity points! John was not rich in the things of this earth, but he was “strong in SPIRIT”(Luke 1:80).

John the Baptist was no earthly good, yet God used John… MIGHTILY to prepare the people for repentance and faith in Jesus.

Don’t you love the way God works?

This is so typical of God’s Kingdom. The economy is different. Money, power, and fame don’t get you very far in God’s Kingdom. His currency is humility, compassion, and obedience. Which leads me to wonder… How rich are we in the currency of the Kingdom?

Day 80: With Us

Joshua 1-2; Luke 1:57-80

Key Verses

Joshua 1:9
Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.

Luke 1:68-74
“Blessed be the Lord God of Israel,
for he has visited and redeemed his people
and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of his servant David,
as he spoke by the mouth of his holy prophets from of old,
that we should be saved from our enemies
and from the hand of all who hate us;
to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant,
the oath that he swore to our father Abraham, to grant us
that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies,
might serve him without fear.”

Joshua. Rahab. Zechariah. Elizabeth. John the Baptist.

Everyone was faithful. Joshua exhibited great leadership. Rahab showed courage and faith. Zechariah showed understanding and praise. Elizabeth was obedient and John the Baptist prepared the way.

And God… He was there. He was with each of them. He led Joshua. He showed grace to Rahab. He gave insight to Zechariah. He blessed Elizabeth and He gave John a special calling. 

Their stories are rich because they are part of the grand story – the overarching story of God redeeming a people to call His own. We are privileged to be swept up in the same story. And we can say, along with  Joshua and Rahab and the rest – that God is with us.

Day 78: Source of Life

Deuteronomy 31-32; Luke 1:1-25

Key Verses

Deuteronomy 32:46-47
“Take to heart all the words by which I am warning you today, that you may command them to your children, that they may be careful to do all the words of this law. For it is no empty word for you, but your very life.

Luke 1:13; 20
But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. […] And behold, you will be silent and unable to speak until the day that these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their time.”

Idolatry. It is the most grievous of sins – and it would be Israel’s downfall. Moses tries to safeguard the people from falling into idolatry by commanding the people to read the law regularly…

At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing (Deuteronomy 31:10-11).

For the most part, this generation would stay faithful, but that could not be said of the subsequent generations. They failed to remember God’s law – they forgot God’s word.

Deuteronomy is a mixture of warning and exhortation. Moses warns the people against idolatry. But he doesn’t leave them helpless. He equips them with God’s law and exhorts them to remember God’s word.

Reading God’s word every day brings life to our hearts. It brings life to the weary heart, the apathetic heart… even to the defiant heart! The Spirit uses this word as a catalyst in our hearts for change. It is slow and deep – and sometimes takes months or years to manifest visibly in our lives… yet it’s real. As we take God’s word into our hearts, we are better able to guard our hearts against idolatry.

This slow change is evident in Zechariah’s life. In today’s reading from Luke, he hears the word of the Lord from the angel Gabriel (that his barren wife would conceive), but he is slow to believe… Zechariah suffers immediate consequences for disbelieving God’s word and is made mute until his baby is born. When Zechariah speaks again, it is obvious from his words that he has changed. God’s word made his way into his heart and rooted and grew until the fruit of belief and faith were born. The change was slow, but it was real.

We have much to learn. The time we are investing in studying His word is not wasted. Rather, it leads to real change and ultimately gives life.

Day 138: Increasing & Decreasing

Proverbs 28-29; John 3:22-36

John the Baptist was not a prideful man. He didn’t aspire to greatness. He didn’t want accolades. He lived in the wilderness, dressed strangely and ate a poor man’s diet. He understood his role. He was to prepare the way for the King.

When Jesus came, John knew. He must decrease so that the Son might increase. His role was complete. He fulfilled his mission, and God was honored.

One’s pride will bring him low,
but he who is lowly in spirit will obtain honor (Proverbs 29:23).

John the Baptist is honored because of his place in the redemptive story of Jesus. He had no idea that millions of people would learn of his humble obedience through the gospels. In the same way, we have a place in God’s redemptive story. We have been adopted as His children. We are part of His family.

“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 “(John 3:36).

This is the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. This is where we find the strength to decrease so that He might increase… This is our hope. This is our life!

Day 135: The Lamb of God

Proverbs 22-23; John 1:29-51

John gives us gives us an insider’s close-up view of Jesus’ first meeting with himself and the other future disciples, Andrew, Peter, Philip and Nathanael.

When Nathanael first meets Jesus, he says to Him, “Rabbi, you are the Son of God; you are the King of Israel.” He expected Jesus to overthrow the Roman government and make Israel the most powerful nation on earth. All of the disciples expected this.

But John the Baptist saw something different in Jesus. He says twice in this passage, “Behold, the Lamb of God!” This is an astonishing statement!  By calling Jesus, “The Lamb of God,” John the Baptist was connecting Jesus to the Passover Lamb, which automatically conjured up images of Sacrifice and death. Somehow, John the Baptist knew Jesus would be sacrificed as the final Passover Lamb. How else would He “take away the sins of the world” (vs. 29)?

Jesus was not what the Jewish nation expected. We have the luxury of hindsight, and know why the Messiah had to suffer and die. We know that He is both the Lion and the Lamb! He established his spiritual Kingdom on earth through his humble Sacrifice. And because He is our King, He deserves our worship and praise!

Day 90: The Rescuer

Judges 1:1-3:6; Luke 7:1-30

If you need evidence of the darkness of the human condition, look no further than Judges. It is the story of every human heart apart from Christ. Our best efforts to follow and obey lead only to ruin and apostasy. We just can’t make this journey in our own strength. We need rescuing. The people in Judges needed rescuing…

But as we’ll read over the next few days – the rescuers that God sends are inadequate. The people just keep falling further and further away from the Lord and falling deeper and deeper into worshiping the despicable gods of the Canaanites. The book of Judges ends with the people crying out for a King.

Many kings would come – but it would take many hundreds of years for the real King to come. We read of Him today in Luke. From our modern eyes, we don’t understand how odd Jesus’ ministry was to the Jewish nation. They expected a military ruler in similar form as the Old Testament Judges or Kings – only more powerful and effective!

Imagine their surprise when rumors spread of a man in rags that could heal and bring people back from the dead! But he was so different – even John the Baptist questioned whether he was truly the Messiah.

And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” (Luke 7:19).

Jesus answers by referring back to Isaiah’s descriptions of the days of salvation and then Jesus turns to the crowds and praises John the Baptist. John was the last of the Old Testament prophets, and the one who had the highest honor of preparing the way of the Savior… But Jesus says that even the least in the Kingdom of God is greater than John! Why?

Because of the Rescuer.

No longer would the people be left to obey a law that was impossible to obey in their own strength. No. When Jesus came and made the ultimate Sacrifice for sin, God instituted a New System. He writes the law on the heart and gives the power of the Holy Spirit.

If you have placed your faith in Jesus to rescue you, your faith is credited to you as righteousness. We live in the New System, under the New Covenant. We, yes, even we, are greater than John the Baptist because we know the Rescuer. We know the Savior. We know Jesus!

Day 83: The currency of the Kingdom

Joshua 9-10; Luke 3

I love the way God works in these passages in Joshua. The people of Gibeon trick Joshua and the Israelites into making a covenant of peace with them. What does God do? He stands by and watches Joshua fail. Did Joshua inquire of God? No.

So the men took some of their provisions, but did not ask counsel from the Lord. And Joshua made peace with them and made a covenant with them, to let them live (Joshua 9:14-15).

Failure is often the precursor to success. I think Joshua learned from his failure… because Chapter 10 describes many battles and many victories!

But listen closely… They didn’t win because of their great numbers. They didn’t win because of their experience in battle. They didn’t win for any earthly reason. Rather, they won “because the Lord God of Israel fought for Israel” (Joshua 10:42).

This is the way of the Kingdom. God gets the glory when He works through lowly (yet willing) vessels.

Another example of God working through a lowly vessel is found in today’s passage in Luke…

John the Baptist lived in the desert until he appeared publicly to Israel. His dress and diet were typical of a poor desert dweller. His fiery words wouldn’t score him any popularity points! John was not rich in the things of this earth, but he was “strong in SPIRIT”(Luke 1:80).

John the Baptist was no earthly good, yet God used John… MIGHTILY to prepare the people for repentance and faith in Jesus.

Don’t you love the way God works?

This is so typical of God’s Kingdom. The economy is different. Money, power and fame don’t get you very far in God’s Kingdom. His currency is humility, compassion and obedience. Which leads me to wonder… How rich are we in the currency of the Kingdom?