Trust the process

After saying of those born of women, none is greater than John, Jesus says, in Matthew 11:11~Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has arisen no one greater than John the Baptist. Yet the one who is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he. (ESV) John the Baptist is a spiritual giant, but his role was unique in human history. No one will ever again do what he did. However, in the kingdom of heaven, the most insignificant person will be greater. John is only an announcer of the coming kingdom, brought to us by the advent of our Lord. Why tell us this? Probably because believers who live after the Cross can give a more profound explanation of Jesus than John could since he was martyred before the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. 

John never saw Jesus’ miracles because he was imprisoned early in Jesus’ ministry. While the least of Jesus’ followers were actually seeing His miracles, and hearing the testimonies of lives changed. John was in a damp, dark, dismal dungeon. In His sovereignty. God did not allow John to be a participant in or even be an eyewitness to Jesus’ miracles. John had to take it all on faith. That is why we talk so much about faith because not many have seen the blind eyes opened, the deaf hear, or the withered made whole. Jesus said in John 20:29~Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed. (NIV) The great commendation of John the Baptist was, that God owned his ministry, and made it wonderfully successful.

God always has a plan, He always has a purpose. John is an example of what God says in Isaiah 55:9~As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (NIV) Life must be lived, by faith. So I ask again, What do you See and Hear? How has it impacted your life? Jesus understands our doubts, and so He draws our attention to reflect on the faithful who have served God in so many ways. I am so grateful that God took the time to fashion a work of grace for each of us to participate in doing good for the Kingdom of God. What will you do today, for the Lord?

Prologue, And God…Proper Worship — Genesis 4:1-26

Ever asked, how to properly                        God? We must understand that sin has                        our relationship with God. Genesis 4:1~Adam made love to his wife Eve, and she became pregnant and gave birth to Cain. She said, With the help of the Lord I have brought forth a man. (ESV) Recognizing God is the                        of life Eve understands that divine activity was involved in Cain’s birth. If you’ve ever felt like you don’t get how everyone in the family is so different from you or said how do I belong in this family? Take comfort for the Bible reveals how Cain and Abel, from the same parents, same home are very different, in many ways. Proper Worship has three requirements they are: Sacrifice, Sorrow,                     .

1) The Right Sacrifice (4:3-5a) Apparently,                        were given as to the time, place, and type of sacrifice God desires. Cain’s offering of the fruit of the ground is a sign of the                        &                        he has given. While Able sacrifices the                        of his flock, indicating he trust God to continue to be faithful and provide. Genesis 4:4b-5~And the Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but for Cain and his offering he had no regard. So Cain was very angry, and his face fell. (ESV) Cain’s offering represents those who try to work their way to heaven. Sin requires the shedding of blood and Jesus has paid that price for us at Calvary. Romans 12:1…offer your bodies as a                     sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God, this is your true and proper worship. (NIV)
2) The Right                        (4:5b-16) Cain’s anger reveals how shallow his                        to God really is. If his true desire was to please the Lord, he would have humbled himself and                        of his sin. Again God tries to lead Cain to repentance asking: Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? (4:6) Confess and let’s talk, so we can move forward. Cain is stuck so, God says hears the deal. Genesis 4:7~If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is                        at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it. (ESV) Bring the right offering, be accepted. Here we discover the seeds of pride are                        &                        . Again the Lord asks in Genesis 4:10~…What have you done? (ESV) 2 Corinthians 7:10~Godly sorrow brings                        that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death. (NIV) All Cain does is complain, refusing to repent of his sin.

3) The                   Spirit (4:17-26) Cain’s punishment is to lead the life of a vagabond. The people of earth have a growing population and like all sinners Cain desires legitimacy. Cain will                        . If you are asking how? Just as Israel’s children grew from                        in Exodus 1:5 to                        men on foot in Exodus 12:37, there will always individuals who would thumb their nose to God.  Take Lamech, the 7th from Adam who will introduce the world to            . We are to train up our children in  the  Lord’s  way. (Proverbs 22:6) Psalm 116:17~I  will                        a thank offering to you and call (קָרָא qara’) on the name of the LORD. (NIV) Take-A-Step:                                                                                        

Powerful Moments

Today, let’s take a moment to reflect on John the Baptist and the life he lived in faith. Before being put into prison, John the Baptist preached in the wilderness, make straight the highway of God. Once he is imprisoned John’s disciples will one day go ask Jesus some questions to help John who is doubting and struggling in his faith as we are all prone to do on occasion. When they seem satisfied seeing and hearing they leave and return to John. Then Jesus asks the crowds three questions. #1—What kind of man did they go into the wilderness to see? Matthew 11:7~As they went away, Jesus began to speak to the crowds concerning John: “What did you go out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken by the wind? (ESV) Jesus was making a connection here that a reed like a person who was shaken by the wind was an individual who was without moral fiber. They were easily swayed. A person who vacillates. James 1:8~he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways. (NKJ)  Obviously, John was anything but that. 

The second question Jesus asks #2—Were you looking for a soft clothed man? Matthew 11:8~What then did you go out to see? A man dressed in soft clothing? Behold, those who wear soft clothing are in kings’ houses. (ESV) Jesus says I am a man of the people. I’m not self-indulgent, materialistic, rather I’m rugged like John. Remember his attire and lifestyle described in Matthew 3:4~ John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. (NIV) I think I actually saw that episode on what not to wear. What? I watch TV with my wife, as any good husband should. How else would you have known what frumpy means? John’s life, like Habakkuk, Ezekiel and many of the prophets, was a visual protest against the materialism and self-indulgence of the corrupt Pharisees and Jewish leaders of his day. 

The third question: #3—What have you seen? Matthew 11:9~What then did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (ESV) John’s disciples did consider him to be a prophet of God Matthew 21:26~But if we say, Of human origin–we are afraid of the people, for they all hold that John was a prophet. (NIV) Jesus declares John the Baptist is more than a prophet as He quotes Malachi 3:1~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. (NIV) (Matthew 11:10) John the Baptist is the forerunner who heralds the Way—Messiah—Jesus Christ. Can you think of a more glorious honor than to speak thus saith the Lord?

I bet you have plenty of questions…Questions about the past, present or future, like a sea of why who, how, that will roll onto the shore of your mind. And this is what I want you to remember, God called you to speak to others the glorious news of Jesus Christ. When we take an active role in sharing the Gospel, we have an easier time hearing and seeing all that God is doing. This brings encouragement into our lives and shifts our focus off of ourselves and back on to the King and His Kingdom. Take the opportunity before you today, share your faith.