Saturday, September 12, 2015

HE Must Increase; I Must Decrease (into a shrinking sistah)!

 "He must become greater; I must become less." 
John 3:30

So how am I doing as a shrinking sistah? I think I look smaller, right? Hey, this decreasing of self is an ongoing process, ya know. Life-long actually. 

Anyone who is a true disciple of the Master Teacher Jesus Christ knows His school of Higher Education never closes. Nope. His creation is our classroom and His Word is the only textbook we need to "grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18). 

Of course, this is a life-long process for those of us who follow Jesus. We never "arrive" in this life but we have a magnificent graduation ceremony in heaven! 

But until then we humbly "study to show ourselves approved to God, a workman who does not need to be ashamed" (2 Timothy 2:15), by faithfully seeking Him in His Word, praying daily with the help of His Holy Spirit, worshiping Him wholeheartedly,  and bringing Him glory with everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31)!

His teachings are in total opposition of what the world teaches. Jesus speaks in a spiritual sense. He told Peter, "Get behind me Satan! You do not have in mind the concerns of God, but merely human concerns" (Mark 8:33). However, the world is obsessed with only the physical, the material. The world teaches that a self-centered life is what makes a person great, while the Bible speaks to people’s hearts with a Christ-centered focus and says “humility and the  fear of the LORD bring wealth and  honor and life” (Proverbs 22:4).  

This Biblical instruction and lifestyle was simplified  for us when John the Baptist said these words about Jesus, "He must increase I must decrease" (John 3:30). BAM! It's not about us.

If we are humble-spirited and faithful to follow the teachings of Jesus,  we will gladly take ourselves off center stage and joyfully point others to Christ as the main attraction: “...Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts” (Isaiah 26:8).

The world insists that we must achieve our own greatness by being power hungry and to feed ourselves on greed, manipulation and little white lies to get what we want. But Scripture says our Divine Instructor must become so great in our hearts and minds that there will no longer be room for selfish behavior, idolatry, and deceit. Nope. Instead, we're taught, "He must become greater...". 

You know, we were created to glorify God and enjoy Him forever. Are you truly enjoying Him? You know, spending time with Him and allowing your affections to increase toward Him?

When God sent Samuel to find the next king of Israel He told him, ‘“The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart'” (I Samuel 16:7).  

John the Baptist knew of Jesus’ greatness because He knew Jesus and that He came to earth to save sinners as the Son of God! John said,  “After me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry” (Matthew 3:11). 

One of Judah’s kings, Jehoshaphat, also honored the greatness of God. When he was faced with a massive army of his enemies ready to attack he prayed to God, “For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you” (2 Chronicles 20:12). He was totally dependent on God and their enemies were defeated!

 This is how we live out John 3:30, by acknowledging God's greatness and our total dependence on Him -- because He is so very great! 

Several years ago God put it on my heart to host a county-wide women’s conference.  I knew I needed His help and guidance. I knew the idea was from God because I could see the path He was blazing for me to encourage women in the Lord. He had given me marketing skills, a network of Christians in the marketplace and a passion to encourage women with the word of God. But there still was so much I needed to learn! He began to teach me and guide me. It was amazing. His Holy Spirit prompted me to memorize three verses to carry in my heart so I could faithfully follow His leadership. 

1--“I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).
2--“Apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:15). 
3--“He must become greater; I must become less” (John 3:30).

God was opening my eyes and heart to His unending greatness. I understood He was speaking this message into my heart: “Keep acknowledging to the world that I have given you the idea, the provision, the protection and the blessings and I will help you every step of the way.  Don’t make this about how great you are for doing this; make this conference about My Greatness. Give Me the glory.”  Yep. I really didn't know what I was doing as the conference founder. I just knew I was supposed to lead it. 

Pride is sin. Pride is worldliness. Pride is our enemy. I understood. It had to be all about God: His leadership. His agenda. His purpose. His glory. And yep, and overflow of His favor began! It was gushing from all the prayers and the labors of love from: the local Christian school and staff who provided the location, the ladies' ministry from my church who prepared a gourmet breakfast,  and the support and excitement of the women in the community, all of whom provided help.  The local conference was richly blessed in every way!

I was thrilled to give God all the glory! I learned from my Master Teacher that He is not only very great, but He is “faithful in all He does" (Psalm 33:4).

Jesus is not only LORD and Savior but He is the Ultimate Teacher who blesses His students with His greatness and His love. "I know that the LORD is great, that our Lord is greater than all gods." (Psalm 135:5).

I have also learned when I take my eyes off of (my)self ("but whataboutme, whataboutME??") and I earnestly seek Him and exalt Him in my heart and mind, I have so much joy and peace. It's because I'm reminded that in His greatness He rules over all things with His love and His wisdom. 

And I'm reminded, "God's got this." And "God's got that, too!" I am honored and thankful to continue to receive loving, wise instruction from the Greatest Teacher in the universe!

"Great is the LORD and most worthy of praise; His greatness no one can fathom." (Psalm 145:3).

For HIS glory alone... and for the love of my sistahs!
Polly :)

This post is an updated version of a devotion from my third book, Totally Devoted 3. I'm in the process of preparing my entire trilogy of devotionals into Kindle editions, Lord willing! Prayers always appreciated! 

Polly's Author Page on Amazon 

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Flapping Scripture Pages. Wings. Feathers. It's Time to Soar, Sister!

My usual way of starting my personal devotion with Jesus in the early morning is to read one or two of the Psalms aloud.Yep. Whether I'm on my knees or just sitting on the floor I'm there with my Bible, my journal (in case inspiration pops in my head),  and my freshly brewed cup of organic coffee. I regularly read my Bible out loud because I know His Word has unlimited power and the Holy Spirit inside of me is going to respond to the hearing of God's Word. Don't believe me? Please look at Isaiah 55. 

"So as the rain and the snow come down from heaven, 
and do not return to it without watering the earth and 
making it flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower
 and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth; It will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it." 
Isaiah 55:10-11.

Reading Psalm 139 aloud brings me into a sense of His presence even before I finish reading the 24 verses,  and I begin to worship Him and be comforted by the Word. Women who follow Jesus have His Holy Spirit living within us and we can't help but be tenderly, eternally touched by the Word. Whew. Yep.

And while I was still reading Psalm 139, thoughts started to flow. I was sensing how the reading of Scripture was stirring up my heart and comforting it. I began to think about the power of Scripture as well as the blessings of God's promises in it to provide, protect, and love us unconditionally!

Then a phrase popped in my head, "...if you make the Lord..." and I knew it was part of an actual verse but I didn't know where it was in Scripture. I quickly researched and found it in Psalm 91:9-11! Which says, 
"If you make the Most High your dwelling--even 
the LORD, who is my refuge--then no harm will 
befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 
(v.11) For He will command His angels concerning 
you to guard you in all your ways."

And I began to get a fresh perspective as I took a much closer look at Psalm 91. We're living in violent, dark days and people are getting more and more desperate.

And you know what? God keeps telling us, "do not fear" and "I am with you always" and yet we're fearful and anxious.

I see in a new way we are too distracted to listen to God and hear Him tell us He is a refuge and will take care of us! 

But we have to go to Him and see for ourselves like the woman with the "issue of blood" (Mark 5:25) who said, "If I can just touch His cloak I"ll be healed." After she touched Him -- actually drew close to Him -- "she felt in her body she was healed."

But we won't and don't go to Him that dramatically. You know, we rarely will ignore everything and everyone around us and just go to Him. We fret instead. We're afraid of what people might think! 

But Scripture, oh, Scripture, points us to our Savior and shows us there really is only one place to go for safety and security. Psalm 91 paints the picture for us!
This Psalm talks about God being our Shelter (v.1), our refuge, and our fortress (v.2), that He'll cover us with His feathers and under His wings we'll find refuge (v.4)!
He'll command His angels concerning us to guard us in all our ways (v. 11)!
And as I was continuously turning pages of my Bible back and forth in my studying,  I was thinking how much it was like the flapping of wings. You know, like when a large group of people are looking up verses in their Bibles and you hear that fluttering sound of the pages! It's like the flapping of angels' wings! Such a beautiful sound!

And all of this led me to the question of: "Why in these troubled times are we not 'resting in the shadow of the Almighty' instead of freaking out?  Why aren't we letting Him cover us with His (metaphorical) feathers?

This was a new way to see that our wings of refuge are only found in the pages of Scripture! 

Jesus is the Word. 
("In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God, He was in the beginning with God." John 1:1-2.)

The Word teaches us truth. 
("I am the truth." John 14:6)

 The truth sets us free.("Then you will know the truth and the truth will set you free." John 8:32.)

 The truth of Scripture gives us wings to soar above our circumstances because we have made the "Most High our dwelling" and and we have "rest in the shelter of the Almighty!"

Yep. And not only that...then we can freely worship Him, "Because You are my help I sing in the shadow of Your wings." (Psalm 63:6)


4 HIS glory,

Copyright 2015 totally devoted #4 by Polly Balint