January 20, Monday

The AMI QT Devotionals for today and tomorrow (new) are provided by Phillip Chen who serves as the College Pastor at Kairos Christian Church in San Diego.

 

Devotional Thought for This Morning

“He must Increase, I must Decrease”

Mark 1:4-9 (ESV)

John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And all the country of Judea and all Jerusalem were going out to him and were being baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

I don’t know if you personally struggle with this, but I believe we are tempted to conflate our accomplishments and our identity. We want to present our best self at all times and often have a problem showing our weaknesses. Think about it. When you go to an interview and the question “What are some of your weaknesses” is asked, what would your response be? The classic advice that is given is for you to be real about your weakness, but not too real – because you don’t want to be too much of an open book. 

Though there is nothing wrong with wanting to present yourself in a good light, I think the reality of wanting to promote ourselves more than we actually are comes from a place of insecurity. We long to be significant, to matter, and we loathe the idea of being discarded, disregarded because we are not important. 

When I look at the ministry of John the Baptizer, I see a ministry that is marked by security. He is comfortable and secure being the messenger of God and nothing more, nothing less. He is comfortable with his role in the Kingdom of God. He is comfortable with His assignment. I think one thing that we often forget is how incredibly popular John was. It says that the entire Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem went out to him. All of the country folk and all of the city folk are coming out to see John the Baptizer and hear what he had to say. In fact, it’s worth mentioning that Mark seemed to think that it was important to make it clear that John the Baptizer was simply the messenger that came to prepare the way for Jesus. He was not the main event. Perhaps he had to make this clear because people were mistakenly thinking of John as the Messiah. They had not heard a message as one that he had been preaching. They had not seen a charisma like his before. He seemed to be the one who was able to mobilize people and there was clearly a move of God that accompanied him. People were flocking to him in droves. People were confessing their sins. People were getting baptized. There was revival that was not only happening on a personal level, but seemingly on a national level. 

This was a man that was at the pinnacle of his ministry with the most fruit and the most influence he could ever have, yet in the midst of all of this, he remembers his role as a messenger. He could have presented himself as more than he actually was, but he did not.

In the Gospel of John, John calls himself the friend of the bridegroom – and his delight is to see the bridegroom receive his bride. He doesn’t try to pretend to be the bridegroom even as people are starting to leave him to follow Jesus. In fact, his response is “He must increase and I must decrease.” May that be our response as well. 

Prayer: Father God, help me to be secure in my identity in You. I confess that many times I make things about my glory rather than Yours, but oh that I would be like John, to declare boldly and come into agreement with this statement: You must increase and I must decrease. I pray that in my life, in my witness, in my ministry, in all that I do, there would be an earnest desire to see You increase. May that come from a place of understanding that I am Your beloved. In Jesus’ name I pray, amen.

Bible Reading for Today:  John 21


Lunch Break Study

Read Acts 20:18-24 (ESV): And when they came to him, he said to them: “You yourselves know how I lived among you the whole time from the first day that I set foot in Asia, 19 serving the Lord with all humility and with tears and with trials that happened to me through the plots of the Jews; 20 how I did not shrink from declaring to you anything that was profitable, and teaching you in public and from house to house, 21 testifying both to Jews and to Greeks of repentance toward God and of faith in our Lord Jesus Christ.[c] 22 And now, behold, I am going to Jerusalem, constrained by[d] the Spirit, not knowing what will happen to me there, 23 except that the Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not account my life of any value nor as precious to myself, if only I may finish my course and the ministry that I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.

Question to Consider

  1. What is Paul’s conviction in regards to his past ministry? 
  2. What is Paul’s conviction in regards to his future ministry?
  3. What would you consider to be your ministry that has been assigned to you?

Notes

  1. Paul says he did not shrink from declaring anything that was profitable. His ministry is (in my opinion) marked by faithfulness to what was given to him; what was entrusted into his care. He wanted to remind them of his genuine love and care for them. 
  2. Paul knows that there are many trials and afflictions in regards to his assignment from God. However, his conviction is that he would be able to fulfill the ministry that has been assigned to him. He knows that it is only by the grace of God that he will be able to finish well. 
  3. Personal Response.

Evening Reflection

John the Baptizer was “successful” in his ministry and he did not shy away from that success. At the same time, he did not allow that success to get to his head and cause him to pursue things that he wasn’t called to pursue. He knew his assignment and was content to do what was assigned to him. In what ways do we need to streamline what we pursue? D.L. Moody says “our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at something that doesn’t really matter.” Come before God and ask Him to clarify once again what you really ought to pursue.

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