Saturday, August 12, 2017

Daily reading assignment – John 3-4

In the midst of our scripture reading for today are some of the most beloved verses in the Bible.

The answer to the inquiry of Nicodemus, a ruler and elder of the Pharisees, who came seeking Jesus and was told, “Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God” (John 3:3).  Undeterred by the truths he did not understand, he asked, “How can these things be?” (John 3:9); to which Jesus spoke the words that have brought multitudes to saving faith and eternal life:

John 3:16 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

 John 4 gives us the story of the Samaritan woman who, to avoid the mocking of those who knew her life was a scandal of sin and immorality, came to the public well in the heat of the day where she met Jesus (John 4:1-42).

For today’s brief devotional, I invite you to consider a portrait of humility embodied in the example of Christ’s forerunner, John the Baptist (John 3:22-36).  While the name and ministry of Jesus was increasing in Israel, it was inevitable that His ministry and that of John the Baptist would intersect.  Humanly speaking, one would anticipate a rivalry to rise between these two titans of faith and miracles.

Hearing Jesus had come into Judaea and was baptizing, John’s disciples came to him and said, “He that was with thee beyond Jordan, to whom thou barest witness, behold, the same baptizeth, and all men come to him” (John 3:26).

John’s response is one every preacher, teacher and their followers should mirror when the temptation to compete arises between churches and ministries.  We read, “John answered and said, A man can receive nothing, except it be given him from heaven” (John 3:27).

John went on to express a truth ministers and teachers should follow; he was not “the Christ” and was not seeking his own followers (John 3:28-29).  John’s task was not to build a spiritual entourage; his task was to prepare the way and point men to Jesus Christ!   John continued, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:39).

One of the great failings of Christianity in the late 20th and now 21st century is too many Christians identify with “big name” preachers, teachers, and institutions rather than find their identity in Jesus Christ alone.   Book publishers, radio stations, Christian magazines and now the internet has perpetuated the bent and contentious nature of being followers of men!

The apostle Paul addressed the same sinful propensity in 1 Corinthians 3 when he writes, “For while one saith, I am of Paul; and another, I am of Apollos; are ye not carnal? 5  Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man? 6  I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:4-6).  Sadly, some Christians are so enamored with their favorite preacher or evangelist; they abandon all discernment and follow them into their errors and sin!

Friend, I hope you are not numbered among those who stoop to be followers of men and institutions rather than followers of Jesus Christ!

Copyright 2017 – Travis D. Smith