Tag Archives: John the Baptist

He Paved the Way – A Poem

John the Baptist did not care
What people thought of his wild hair

Repent and be baptized his hue and cry
Messiah is coming, His kingdom is nigh

John the Baptist lost his head
But because of Jesus he is not dead

John paved the way for eternal life
Found in the Son who gave His life

Content with his place in history
John showed the Way for you and me

Jesus increased in wisdom and power
John decreased at the proper hour

Jesus now reigns as King of kings
To our Lord and Savior we sing

John is an honored martyred soul
Under God’s altar for his prophetic role

So now we find our identity in Christ
Who gave His life and paid the price

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I’d Rather Be the Moon

Many people desire fame. They want to shine brightly like a star and they will do almost anything to chase the lure of fame. Just look at “reality TV” and you will see the ridiculous things some people will do for fame. Movie stars, sports figures, politicians, scientists, and novelists all seek fame and the fortune that sometimes accompanies it.

But it takes a lot of energy for a star to shine brightly and eventually every star will use up its available fuel and die out. For human “stars” the length they will shine varies. For some fame lasts a lifetime, but it is a lifetime of stress and misery being hounded by paparazzi and fans. For others it amounts to only the proverbial “15 minutes of fame” before they fade into oblivion.

Last weekend on our drive down the Columbia River Gorge to visit family for a belated Christmas celebration, the full moon shone brightly in front of us in the night sky. Occasionally it would go behind a dark cloud but would always emerge on the other side still shining brightly and beautifully. I realized as I gazed up at it that I’d rather be the moon than a star, even a star as bright as our sun. The moon doesn’t use energy to generate light, but rather reflects the light generated by the sun. This is most evident during a full moon, but even during a new moon when we cannot see it, the moon is reflecting the light of the sun on the opposite side.

Rather than have fame of my own, I’d rather reflect the glory and light of the Son of God. If my name be known, I want it to be known as one devoted to Christ, one who reflects His love and mercy into this dark world. His is a light source that will never die and I will be able to reflect that light for much longer than 15 minutes—I can reflect His light for an eternity.

The Word gave life to everything that was created, and his life brought light to everyone. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness can never extinguish it.

God sent a man, John the Baptist,to tell about the light so that everyone might believe because of his testimony. John himself was not the light; he was simply a witness to tell about the light. The one who is the true light, who gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:4-9 (NLT).

This is my goal for 2013—to reflect the Light of the Son of God into the world, believing that the darkness can never extinguish it.

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That the Blind Might See

My church is putting together an Advent devotional for this coming Advent season. I was asked to write two of the devotions for the booklet. I am really looking forward to seeing what the other contributors wrote. I always like reading through a devotional for Advent and I think it will be extra special this year because I know all of the people who are writing them.

I finished one of my two assigned devotions yesterday. It is based on Isaiah 35:3-7 and Luke 7:18-30. I was limited to 250 words for the devotion section and the assignment called for also including a thought to ponder or Challenge, and a prayer. It was really hard for me to only write 250 words. I had to go back and cut some, but the final devotion was 249 words. I decided I wanted to share what I wrote here, but add back in some of the thoughts I didn’t have room for.

Devotion

Isaiah gave us many prophecies of the first Advent of our Lord Jesus. Many of those prophecies serve also as a promise of Jesus coming into the life of each believer as well as of His Second Coming. Isaiah admonishes us to not be afraid because we know the Lord will bring forth His promised blessings of sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, and youthful agility to the lame.

John the Baptist continued the prophetic message of Isaiah, but unlike Isaiah he saw the fulfillment of God’s promises in Jesus. Not only did he hear his disciples’ recounting of the great healing work of Jesus, John saw it with his own eyes. What John witnessed was that the blind could see, the deaf could hear, the lame walked, the sick were made well, and the Good News was real.

Today Jesus continues to fulfill the prophecies about Him as He give spiritual sight to those who believe in Him and are baptized in His name. The Holy Spirit gives wisdom and hope to those who trust in Jesus as their promised savior.

But like the Pharisees and experts in the law, many people today reject God’s purpose in their lives because they have not believed in the saving grace of Jesus. They try to do what is right in their own eyes and by their own power. They try to live by the letter of the law, but they do not see the truth of God’s love and the wonder of His mercy. These people are spiritually blind.

We must not forget that we were once spiritually blind, too. Our place is not to judge, but to remember that Jesus came to give sight to such as these. He came to save the whole world if only they will believe. He came to remind us of our purpose, which is to be in relationship with our Creator. He came that we would have no need to fear.

Thought to ponder/challenge

Just as John the Baptist was a messenger paving the way for the first Advent of Jesus, we are called to share the Good News of how Jesus gives sight to the spiritually blind and purpose to everyone. “He has made us competent as ministers of a new covenant—not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” 2 Corinthians 3:6 (NIV). How will you share the Good News today?

Prayer

Heavenly Father, bring to final fulfillment Your promise to bring spiritual sight to all who are still blinded by this world and who reject Your purpose for their lives. Give us wisdom to be as John the Baptist, preparing Your way into the hearts and lives of those around us.

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He Must Increase

Have you ever known a Christian leader who was less than perfect? Even if you don’t know one personally, you’ve surely heard of Jim Bakker or Ted Haggard. Sometimes Christians will leave the faith because they are discouraged by the fall of a charismatic leader in the church. Often non-Christians cite the downfall of such leaders as evidence that Christianity is a fraud.

In church last Sunday we had a guest speaker, Jeff Zehnder, spoke on John 3:22-36. This is the story of the transition of power from John the Baptist to Jesus. When his disciples asked him about Jesus baptizing people, John the Baptist said, “He must become greater; I must become less.” John 3:30. Although he was a charismatic leader and had many disciples, John knew that his role was to point people to Jesus. John couldn’t save anyone or forgive their sins; only Jesus could do that.

Unfortunately, pride and power get the better of some Christian leaders. They are only human, after all. They find they like the attention and forget that their role is to point people to Jesus.

Jeff Zehnder reminded us that we need to always remember who we owe our allegiance to. We need to always look to Jesus alone and not rely on a charismatic leader, or any other Christian for that matter. If we always keep our eye on Jesus then we will not lose faith because another Christian falls. More importantly, if we keep our eye on Jesus, we can help our fellow fallen Christians to get back up again. Jesus is the only one who lived a perfect life and gave up that life to pay for our sins.

Paul warned the Philippian church about this very danger, and that warning is important for us still today: 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.

 Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: 
 Who, being in very nature God,
      did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, 
 but made himself nothing,
      taking the very nature of a servant,
      being made in human likeness. 
 And being found in appearance as a man,
      he humbled himself
      and became obedient to death—
         even death on a cross! 
 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place
      and gave him the name that is above every name, 
 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow,
      in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 
 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord,
      to the glory of God the Father. Philippians 2:3-11.

It is only by the name of Jesus that we are saved. Do not be led astray from the faith because of the actions of any human leader. They need a savior just the same as you and me.

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The Priesthood of All Believers

Yesterday was Pentecost, considered the birthday of the Christian Church. The events of the first Christian Pentecost are recorded in Acts 2. However, Pentecost was a Jewish celebration of the Festival of Weeks, which is why the first disciples were gathered together on this day.

In church yesterday, our visiting pastor preached on the priesthood of all believers, which is a teaching that comes out of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on all the believers of Christ at the Pentecost gathering. He pointed out that although the early church did have apostles, there were no pastors, bishops, priests, or cardinals mentioned in the Acts 2 account. The Holy Spirit came upon all who believed — upon each the same as on the apostles. This was something new and different from what occurred in the Old Testament.

In the Old Testament, the tribe of Levi was set apart as the priests, and only they could sacrifice the lamb on behalf of the people for the forgiveness of their sins. But when Christ came, that changed. When John the Baptist first saw Jesus, he said, “Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!” John 1:29. No longer would the priests sacrifice the lambs for the people’s sins, for the sacrifice of the Lamb of God would take the place of the repeated sacrifices by the priests.

Interestingly, on the way to church yesterday, I was listening to a song that fit the sermon topic perfectly. It’s by a band called The O.C. Supertones and it’s called “The Shepherd is the Lamb.” The chorus is:

The Shepherd is the Lamb
Do you understand
That God became a man?
The Shepherd is the Lamb

I wonder, do you understand? God is both Shepherd of the flock and the Lamb that is slain to atone for our sins. In the background of the song, at the beginning and in the middle, is a person speaking, and he says:

The incarnation is God’s grace made evident and obvious. People matter. Life is sacred. Men, women, and children are worth the greatest sacrifice, the supreme effort, the ultimate gift.

It is the amazing manifestation of His unshakeable love for the unloved and the unlovely, the weak, the base, the unworthy and the unwarranted, the rebels and the sinners. . . . You and me.

In the Old Testament, the Israelites had to go through the priests, the Levites, to communicate with God. In the temple, God resided in the Holy of Holies, the inner chamber of the temple where the Ark of the Covenant was stored. Only the High Priest could enter there and there was a curtain several inches thick that hung in front of the opening to the place where God was. The unclean — the unloved and the unlovely — had no access to God because they could not even approach the temple courts.

But when Christ died, the curtain in front of the Holy of Holies was torn in two, as recorded in Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45. The barrier between all believers and God was ripped away so that we became the priesthood of all believers. We are all called to show others the Way to forgiveness and reconciliation with God. We are all, whether pastor or lay person in the church, called to serve one another in love. No longer are we separated from God and in need of another, of a priest or pastor, to do something to atone for our sins. We need only Jesus, the Lamb of God, who takes away all our sin. Like John the Baptist, we are called to point to Jesus and say to others, “Look, the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

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