How much of our ambition is for the glory of Jesus Christ, and how much is for our own glory !
And yes preachers and singers need to ask ourselves prayerfully that question at least as much as others should
Are we content to fade into obscurity if that best honor Jesus Christ. Here is the observation of John the Baptist on that issue, “He must increase, I must decrease.” These were unselfish spoken sincerely. Yet when John was thrown into prison (and later murdered) , he was so discouraged that he sent his disciples to ask Jesus if he really was the Messiah or should they look for another!
Did Jesus use this opportunity to criticize John? No. He reminded John of the miracles he had done, and said the person who is not offended in him is blessed. Do we sincerely want to be blessed by God? Then we must seek glory for our selves. Does that mean we should not look for a spouse, a job, health, or better ways to serve God?
This is where the holy spirit should be invited into the situation, Because the Bible is not specific about any of these matters for me or you.
How much we should increase and how much we should push for our gifts and abilities to be valued should be on ongoing matter of prayer. Frankly , I try to “pray through” about such matters of great importance. This means to pray until we have the peace (or lack of peace). of God regarding a particular person or circumstance , and how and where we should proceed.
David in the Old Testament and Paul in the New Testament got that kind of guidance time after time. So have I and many Christians regarding a wife or about taking a particular pastorate or not, etc.
How good it is to get other sincere and Godly people to pray with us about matters that are very important to us, when possible. Then God will either give us the grace/favor from Him to endure the situation, or he will lead us into a more pleasant one. In my own life, as with John the Baptist and probably all followers of Jesus , I am sure that very difficult circumstantiates have caused me to draw closer to him and more dependent on him.
The Russian writer Solvents said he blessed his prison walls, for there he became a Christian. As we draw neat to Jesus for the first time or more deeply , our ambition will be that, our ambition will be that he may increase, whether we increase or not in the sight of others!
“Let your gentleness be obvious to everyone. The Lord is near.” Philippians 4:5
We don’t hear much talk about gentleness these days. We do however hear far more about toughening up, sucking it up and never letting them see you sweat. What does gentleness really mean? Society has pared gentleness with weakness and in so doing we often miss the beauty and strength found in the gentleness of Jesus Christ. To be gentle is to have a temperament that exudes kindness, tenderness, compassion, and a calm presence. It is not harsh or severe in actions. Jesus, by His kind and quiet nature, set an example of gentleness. Sure there were times that Jesus exhibited zeal and righteous indignation. We see this in Matthew 21:12-13.
Jesus’ ministry centered on the calling and drawing of people to Himself, through forbearance and gentleness. In Paul’s letter to Titus, he instructs Titus “Remind the believers to be subject to rulers and authorities, to be obedient and ready for every good work, to malign no one, and to be peaceable and gentle, showing full consideration to everyone. (Titus 3:1-2).
Jesus calls us to learn from Him, the Master of gentleness. “Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me; for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:29). Jesus gives us a place of rest where we can learn from Him and obtain godly wisdom for living life. In man’s pursuit of wisdom however the lines can become blurred. James 3:17 clarifies this for us,”But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peace-loving, gentle, compliant, full of mercy and good fruits, without favoritism and hypocrisy.” There’s the word again; gentle. Gentleness is not a vice but rather a virtue. It is named among the fruits of the Spirit, “gentleness and self-control” (Galatians 5:23).
Our Lord Himself is gracious and gentle and aren’t you glad He is? Jesus comes to us in power, yes, but also in love and gentleness. Look at the action/reaction in Philippians 4:5: Action: Let your gentleness be obvious to everyone. Reaction: People will see that “The Lord is near.” Never underestimate the power of gentleness and its ability to point others to the saving grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Gentleness brings unity and power, not weakness. “As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” (Ephesians 4:1-2). Do not fear showing gentleness to others. Remember, you are in good company.
make me more like You. Let my heart be gentle,
my words graced with kindness and my life be a witness to Your faithfulness and lovingkindness,
in Jesus’ Name, amen.
1) Talk to God. Don’t bemoan the collapse of an investment; ask God to help you. Don’t pace the floor of the hospital waiting room; pray for a successful surgery. ‘Casting the whole of your care [all your anxieties, all your worries, all your concerns, once and for all] on Him’ (1 Peter 5:7).
2) Slow down. ‘Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for him’ (Psalm 37:7). Jesus’ first miracle took place at a wedding. They had run out of wine, which was a social disaster in those days. Mary could’ve blamed the host for poor planning, or the guests for overdrinking, but instead she took the shortage to Jesus and He solved her problem. You can do the same. Assess the problem, and then take it to the Lord in prayer.
3) Don’t let your anxieties get the best of you. When a mosquito lands on you, you don’t say, ‘I’ll take care of it in a minute.’ No, you kill it before it can bite you. Be equally decisive with your worries. The moment they surface, deal with them. Before you rush to diagnose that mole as a cancer, have it examined. Instead of assuming you’ll never get out of debt, consult a financial expert. Be a doer, not a stewer.
Horace Bushnell said, ‘Anxiety is a word of unbelief or unreasoning dread. We have no right to allow it. Full faith in God puts it to rest.’ The crosses we bear over anxiety concerning the future aren’t crosses that come from God. So give your anxiety to God, and leave it with Him!
Author Dianne Neal Matthers: I’ve never liked the dark as a little girl, I often lay in bed at night with my imagination running wild. I visualized all sorts of scary things lurking around me. May be that explains why I love that God’s first command during the creation of the world called for light. He commanded light to shine and then separated it from the darkness. One day God fashioned the sun, moon, and stars to light up the sky and divide day and night.
Later, Jesus arrived on the scene and lit up the world in a new way. He proclaimed, I am the light of the world. Who ever follows me will have a life filled with light and will never live in the dark ” (John 8:12,). Jesus offered love, grace, and truth to people living in the darkness of sin and fear of death.
Jesus also said that those who follow Him are to let their light shine for others to see’ If I claim to know him people should see something distinctive and the difference my behavior in my conversation, and my life. My character should demonstrate the difference between living for Jesus and living apart from Him-A difference as big as day and night.
These days I typically wake up way too early, sometimes two hours or more before dawn. As I wait for the sun’s rays to chase away the darkness of night. I feel thankful that God created the lights in my heavens. And during troubled times in my life, I’m grateful for the light who lives in me. I know His light is great enough to help me find my way through any darkness.
But I trust in your unfailing love, my heart rejoices in your salvation. Psalm 13:5
Author: Rebecca Barlow Jordan: In the past, I usually divided my new goals into categories each year: Home, Personal, Marriage and Family, Spiritual Growth, to name a few. But several years ago when my husband retired, something changed. I wanted to accomplish things for Jesus but, I had left my workaholic drive behind. I enjoyed all of life and it’s activities but my goals and lists had already shrunk in recent years. Still the conflict between complex and simple, good and best, battled at times . I wanted to spend more time with my husband during his retirement, yet still fulfill God’s personal calling on my life.
So I began asking Jesus more intentionally ::What were His plans for me?..Did it really manner what I did as long as I tried to honor Him? Was there something I need to start? Complete? How could I find the right balance in my life? I needed- wanted- answers. I wanted to hear a personal word from Jesus.
Jess often answers with principles in His Word, rather then specific instructions with principles in His Word, rather than specific inspirations use the power of choice and discernment. But within days of my prayer, He directed my eyes toward a Scripture verse that had my name on it.One that-promised He would reach me what was best for me…and direct me in the way I should go. And Jesus has been faithful to do that.
When you read the story of the New Testament Church, you tend to get caught up in its explosive growth and amazing miracles. But here’s a component you shouldn’t miss: ‘No one claimed that any of his possessions was his own, but they shared everything they had…There were no needy persons among them…those who owned lands or houses sold them, brought the money…and it was distributed to anyone as he had need’ (vv. 32-35). You say, ‘If I just had more money I’d be happy.’ You might feel more secure and have fewer worries, but you wouldn’t necessarily be happier. In the Journal of Happiness Studies, researchers looked at what distinguished quite happy people from less happy people. One factor consistently separated those two groups. It’s not about how much money you have; it’s not about your health, security, attractiveness, IQ, or career success.
What distinguishes consistently happy people from less happy people is the presence of rich, deep, joy-producing, life-changing, meaningful relationships. Social researcher Robert Putnam writes: ‘The single most common finding from a half-century’s research on life satisfaction, not only in the U.S. but around the world, is that happiness is best predicted by the breadth and depth of one’s social connections.’ But you can know a lot of people without really being known by any of them, and end up lonely.
Those folks in the New Testament Church got it right: it’s in sharing with one another spiritually, emotionally, financially, and relationally that you achieve your highest level of joy.
Prayer Heavenly Father,
thank You for putting into my life people I am able to share life with.
People who know You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen
The above devotion was written/compiled from multiple sources by
Tim Hetzner, President of Lutheran Church Charities and author of WORD Bible Studies.
The day before she went to the hospital for surgery, her spirit seemed nearly depleted. “what am I going to do!”she said thinking about the demanding week ahead of her. “How will I find the strength?” That evening I found myself doodling on my drawing board thinking of Betty. Soon I was sketching a loaf of bread. A simple homemade loaf. Then I put it aside and went to bed. But during the night I had the most curious dream . Betty was siting at a table before a loaf of bread eating a single piece.
The next morning when I came upon my drawing, an idea began to stir in my thoughts. I reached for the Bible I will rain down bread from heaven” (Exodus 16-4 and found the verse, remembering that God sent nourishment from heaven while his people wandered in the wilderness. There was always just enough for each day. They simply had to trust him for tomorrow’s.
I penciled the verse beneath the sketch of bread and carried it to Betty’s hospital room. It was to face what comes our way and reminds us both….when we walk in difficult places, God sends the strength and nourishment to face what comes our way, not all at once, but day by day..
Author…Sam Adriance: My grandmother Gaia fell at Emily’s and my wedding rehearsal dinner. The X-ray showed Gaia’s pelvis was cracked, but she wouldn’t require surgery, just a stay in rehab for a while.
Gaia is one of the most amazing women I have ever met. She never liked receiving help, always cherishing her independence and freedom. She and my Dad fought every summer as he tried to hold her arm when she walked along treacherous Maine beaches. So how would she cope now?
You can imagine my surprise when I saw her one month later with her new walker and letting my dad guide her, but smiling as brightly as ever. She told me that her rehab was going well, and she looked better than I had anticipated. “I have learned so much,” she said. “Your father and I have fought these last few weeks. But I’m staring to learn that I can’t do everything myself anymore, and I’m letting him take over for me. And you know what? The more I let him take over and trust him, the more free I feel.”
….I know dear Lord, that we are only free when we submit ourselves to something higher- to YOU. Sam Adriance
The above Scripture may be the best loved- and most disliked verse in the Bible. Often offered as a pat answer, there it stands promising that God works everything together for good. Sometimes that’s hard to believe. When I was a young mom with three preschoolers, I fell in love with Jesus and wanted to please Him. I’d finishing listening prayers by listening and at times in the silence I’d think of something I should do.
Once I was moved to write an encouraging letter to a friend, so I did. I stamped it and set it by the door. The next morning I tucked the letter safely in the car’s glove box….where it stayed, forgotten for weeks until I opened the box again. I cried when I saw the letter. I’d been so sure I needed to write to my friend.
I did my best and failed. I came close to throwing the letter out, but I mailed it any way. We don’t always know the ends of our stories, but this time I heard back from my friend within two weeks. She hit a rough patch in her life a day or two before receiving it. She had prayed, “Lord I need to know You care,” on the way to the mailbox, where she found the letter from me, delayed just long enough to have arrived at the perfect time.
Fear is the untamed monster that rears its ugly head and compels otherwise peaceful people to react in ways contrary to their rational beliefs. Take for example a crowded room where someone shouts “fire!” Even in the absence of flame and smoke, people have a panic reaction and start bolting for the nearest exit. It’s natural to fear and sometimes even necessary. It’s when fear becomes our modus operandi that we begin to filter life events through a faulty method causing our decisions and reactions to run amuck.
God never intended for us to be dominated by fear; fear is the devil’s playground. How can we overcome the debilitating effects of fear gone wild? Psalm 56:3 offers an answer. When you are afraid: 1) Trust in the Lord: God’s sovereignty controls all that touches your life. You are not a victim of your world but rather a blood-bought child of God, a child of the Most High King. The same God whose eye is on the sparrow has set His eyes on you. (Matthew 10:29-31). 2) Worship the Lord:Praising God in worship dispels the darkness, refocusing your spirit and mind on the kindness of the Savior. (Isaiah 12:2). 3) Rejoice in the Lord: The Psalmist asks, “What can mere man do to me?” You are not bound by the constraints of man. You have been redeemed and made a conqueror; and not just an ordinary conqueror but more than a conqueror in the Name of Jesus Christ. (Romans 8:37).
Don’t let the fear of man, the shift in culture or the instability of world events freak you out! When you are tempted to fear, to doubt the goodness and sovereignty of God, remember Paul’s encouragement to the church; “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39).