REPOST Today’s AMI QT Devotional, provided by Pastor Ryun Chang (AMI Teaching Pastor), was first posted on February 21, 2014.
Devotional Thought for This Morning
“Would You Name Your Son After John, But Which John?”
Malachi 3:1, 4:4-6
“See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,” says the Lord Almighty; 4:5-6: “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their fathers; or else I will come and strike the land with a curse.”
Many children are named “John” by Christian parents, but which John? There is the apostle John, who, as one of Christ’s top three disciples, wrote five books of the New Testament. He is also believed to be the only disciple who died in his old age while in exile. Very impressive!
Then there is John the Baptist whose coming was prophesized by Malachi and of whom Jesus said, “He is the Elijah who was to come” (Matt. 11:14). Wearing clothes made of camel’s hair with a leather belt, he looked more like Fred Flintstone than a prophet. He preached in the desert, not in a building. He didn’t write any books. Even so, many were attracted to his no non-sense message, some even becoming his disciples.
That all changed when Jesus, whom John described as “more powerful than I” (Matt. 3:11), showed up; and John the Baptist was no match for him. While Jesus performed many miracles, “John never performed” even one (Jn. 10:41). While the people were so amazed at Jesus’ teaching, saying, “What is this? A new teaching—and with authority!’” (Mk. 1:27a) John’s message was predictable: Repent! So, he probably wasn’t surprised when told, “Everyone is going to [Jesus]” (Jn. 3:26), which included his disciples (Jn. 1:37).
Ultimately, John’s uncompromising message—this time, rebuking the badly behaving King Herod (Lk. 3:19)—landed him in jail. His lonesome stay there abruptly ended when Herod beheaded him to grant a young dancer’s wish. John was still in his early 30s.
So, which John would be named for your boy? Before you decide, know this: Of the one who died early, lonely, and broke, Jesus said: “Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist” (Matt. 11:11). Now which one? At the end, the only opinion of us that matters is what God thinks and John the Baptist was highly esteemed by God.
How about you? If you covet God’s high opinion of you instead of man’s, while you don’t need to dress and talk like the Baptist, you do need to obey God like him, regardless of the cost. So, what is one area in your life that you need to obey God, now?
Prayer: Dear God, as I’m your holy presence, I confess that I have yearned for man’s approval more than yours; I have craved after man’s validation than yours. I know all too well that this is going to be a lifetime battle, but this is one battle that I must win. Through your strength I must live to honor you by obeying you. Lord, strengthen my will and resolve to live like John the Baptist, giving my all for your glory. Amen.
Bible Reading for Today: Joshua 21
Lunch Break Study
Read John 3:26-8, 30: “They came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, that man who was with you on the other side of the Jordan—the one you testified about—look, he is baptizing, and everyone is going to him.” 27 To this John replied, “A person can receive only what is given them from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah but am sent ahead of him’. . . . 30 He must become greater; I must become less.”
John 1:24-6: “Now the Pharisees who had been sent 25 questioned him, ‘Why then do you baptize if you are not the Messiah, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet?’ 26 ‘I baptize with water,’ John replied, ‘but among you stands one you do not know. He is the one who comes after me, the throngs of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie.’”
Matthew 11:2-3: “When John, who was in prison, heard about the deeds of the Messiah, he sent his disciples 3 to ask him, ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we expect someone else?’”
Questions to Consider
- How would you characterize John as a person?
- I would imagine John the Baptist to be a rugged and tough individual (someone who lived in a desert, eating locust and honey). But while he was locked up in prison, he had a very human moment. What was it? Can you relate to it?
- What can you learn from the example set by John the Baptist?
- First, he was a very humble person; second, he was very clear about the purpose for which he was born; third, he knew what his role (an opening act but not the act) was and readily accepted it.
- While being locked up, he had some doubts as to whether Jesus was the true Messiah that the Old Testament had prophesized. He was a mere human after all. So, if John experienced a period of uncertainty, we shouldn’t be surprised if others, perhaps even you, go through something similar. But John didn’t linger in his doubt too long. Christ’s firm response allayed his doubt.
- The Baptist seems like a guy who was at peace with himself, not needing to possess too many things (including a big following) to feel secure or significant. He knew his role and accepted its limitations. He could have badmouthed Christ to get his people back (like what the Pharisees did), but he didn’t because his worth didn’t come from who or how many followed him; it came from knowing God.
How was your day? What made today more significant and meaningful for you? Did you experience anything similar to what John the Baptist did when his “competition” (Jesus) was gaining on him? Pray.