I am an East Texas resident at this time of my life. After two back-to-back harsh, cold winter storms, I have water again after 36 hours without. I only lost power very sporadically and very temporarily. Just got internet back Sunday afternoon. I see power trucks all around Lufkin. The city water is back up and just, minutes ago, got a message that calls off the city boil-water mandate. I feel extremely blessed to have what I have, and truly lost so little compared to many others. And so many are still without.
You will say in that day: “I will give thanks to You, O LORD, for though You were angry with me, Your anger turned away, that You might comfort me.
“Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid; for the LORD GOD is my strength and my song, and He has become my salvation.”
With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. And you will say in that day:
“Give thanks to the LORD, call upon His name, make known His deeds among the peoples, proclaim that His name is exalted.
“Sing praises to the LORD, for He has done gloriously; let this be made known in all the earth. Shout, and sing for joy, O inhabitant of Zion, for great in your midst is the Holy One of Israel.” Isaiah 12:1-6
A friend sent this chapter of Isaiah to me during the week and all I could do was bow to my Lord and whisper Amen and Amen. He has kept me near, in the cleft of His rock, in the fold of His arms, in the warmth of His love, in His beautiful mercy and grace.
How can I be anything at all when He is so magnificent?
Father, thank You for sending so many (via phone, text, a knock) to check on me no matter how far or near away they live. I am so grateful for their love and care. Please watch over all of those in Texas, Oregon and everywhere else who is without power, water, food, shelter, whether it be a temporary problem or an ongoing concern. Please hold them near and provide their needs, O Lord. I ask that they will come to know Your Son, Jesus, in the midst of all they are going through. May they hear His Name and seek forgiveness, calling upon Jesus. May they know Him as their Lord and Savior. Oh, God, I pray this in Your Son’s Holy Name. I am learning every day what ‘decreasing’ means for it is a real process. In the midst of this process is just where I want to be…decreasing! Yes, I still hold onto lots of parts and pieces of me, but I desire to let go of me even if just a little bit at a time. You are my Guide, my Refuge, my Fortress. During the storm, I stayed in Your hands. You protected me. Thank You, Lord. May Jesus be ever so much while I become ever much less. May He be all of Whom I depend upon each and every day. Praising You and loving You, Lord. In the Mighty Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
Jesus wept. I do not consider Him a cry baby. So what about me?
I was considered a “cry baby” most of my life. Only in my senior adult years have I accepted my vulnerability in emotionally drawn circumstances. It may be the death of someone dear, a friend being treated for cancer, a photo of one starving or a refugee camp in Yemen (seen on the news), the recent mob targeting our nation’s Capitol, a situation that just hits me square in the heart, a person coming to know the Lord, a birth of a child. Much brings me to tears. I have been that way since a child.
My dear mother, whom I had a talk with years ago about this, and have forgiven her long ago, struggled with my tears. She was a strong woman and was not prone to tears, at least not in public or around us kids. I would often be sent to my room to cry. That was her way of dealing with me, those tears running down my face. When Daddy died, I was a month from turning thirteen. When I asked if I could go to his funeral at Arlington National Cemetery, her answer was, “Yes, if you won’t cry.” Well, I knew I would cry because I loved Daddy dearly, so I did not go to his funeral. To this day, when I see a caisson on the news or in a photo, I tear up, knowing I missed that extremely special moment of closure of Daddy’s life. Yes, I have been to his grave a number of times and mourn my loss. My mother’s body is buried in his grave now too. And, yes, I cry every time. I miss them both.
Tears are not a bad thing in my purview. I cry and usually feel relieved, worn out, loved, or a number of other outcomes. These water droplets running down my face from those tiny ducts at the edge of my eyes were a gift from God! God made those tear ducts. God created tears.
to mourn, weep, lament
weeping as the sign of pain and grief for the thing signified (i.e. for the pain and grief)
of those who mourn for the dead
to weep for, mourn for, bewail, sob for one
And when He drew near and saw the city, He wept over it, saying, “Would that you, even you, had known on this day the things that make for peace! But now they are hidden from your eyes. For the days will come upon you, when your enemies will set up a barricade around you and surround you and hem you in on every side and tear you down to the ground, you and your children within you. And they will not leave one stone upon another in you, because you did not know the time of your visitation.” Luke 19:41-44
Jesus wept because:
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Luke: Jerusalem has not improved the day of her opportunities. He wept, and said, If thou hadst known, even thou at least in this thy day, if thou wouldst but yet know, while the gospel is preached to thee, and salvation offered thee by it; if thou wouldest at length bethink thyself, and understand the things that belong to thy peace, the making of thy peace with God, and the securing of thine own spiritual and eternal welfare-but thou dost not know the day of thy visitation, v.44. The manner of speaking is abrupt: If thou hadst known! O that thou hadst, so some take it; like that O that my people had hearkened unto me. How happy had it been for thee! Or, “If thou hadst known, thou wouldest have wept for thyself, and I should have no occasion to weep for thee, but should have rejoiced rather.” What he says lays all the blame of Jerusalem’s impending ruin upon herself.
Oh that my people had hearkened unto me, and Israel had walked in my ways! Psalm 81:13
At eight days of age, Joseph and Mary took Jesus to Jerusalem to be circumcised, as was the Jewish custom. When they entered the temple, Simeon and Anna recognized Him as the Messiah. (See my post of 12/2020 – For My Eyes Have Seen Your Salvation). Now, more than thirty years later, Jesus entered to be crucified. He was not recognized as the Messiah. “Jesus grieved for a people who would not know peace. Jesus grieved for the city that would pay for its spiritual blindness with destruction. Holy grieves.”*
In Luke 6:21, the same Greek word is used in one of the Beatitudes:
“Blessed are you who weep now, for you shall laugh.” Luke 6:21b
Jesus is reminding us that tears do indeed turn to joy at some point.
Restore our fortunes, O LORD, like streams in the Negeb! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:4-6
Then shall the young women rejoice in the dance, and the young men and the old shall be merry. I will turn their mourning into joy; I will comfort them, and give them gladness for sorrow. Jeremiah 31:13
Jesus also wept as He met the sisters of Lazurus, who had died. From the Greek word used in this instance, the tears were most likely silent, running down the cheeks of Jesus, our Lord:
to weep, shed tears, silently
Now when Mary came to where Jesus was and saw him, she fell at his feet, saying to him, “Lord, if You had been here, my brother would not have died.” When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who had come with her also weeping, He was deeply moved in His spirit and greatly troubled. And He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to Him, “Lord, come and see.” Jesus wept. John 11:32-35
from The Commentary on John by John Calvin: “Christ has put on our feelings along with our flesh.” …. “The example of Christ ought to be sufficient of itself for setting aside the unbending sternness which the Stoics demand; for whence ought we to look for the rule of supreme perfection but from Christ? We ought rather to endeavor to correct and subdue that obstinacy which pervades our affections on account of the sin of Adam, and, in so doing, to follow Christ as our leader, that He may bring us into subjection. Thus Paul does not demand from us hardened stupidity, but enjoins us to observe moderation in our mourning, that we may not abandon ourselves to grief, like unbelievers who have no hope for even Christ took our affections into Himself, that by His power we may subdue every thing in them that is sinful.”
In the days of His flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to Him who was able to save Him from death, and He was heard because of His reverence. Hebrews 5:7
But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. I Thessalonians 4:13
“Never weakness to grieve where God is grieving.” *
“No one understood God’s goodness and control more than Jesus, and He still wept. Which means we can too.” *
Do my tears make me less of a person? Weak? Once I felt that they did. I was made to think I was by the actions and words of others. Kids called me “cry baby” because I did. Those two little words hurt. They diminished me. At least I thought they did. I did not have much confidence in myself. I did not think I was very capable of doing various things. I did not believe I could stand up for myself either. I was weak, so I thought. As life moved along, I carried that with me and even as an adult, I allowed injury to my heart due to feeling inferior in so many ways. Many of the teen boys and later adult men treated me as inferior. Not all, I admit. Not all. But enough to keep me thwarted.
But then I met Kenneth who introduced me to Jesus. Jesus showed me His heart through Kenneth. Kenneth and I married. We were each forty-five years of age. I never knew this love from Heaven before. I never knew I could be me and still be loved. Jesus treated me as a whole and beautiful person. Kenneth treated me as a whole and beautiful person. Kenneth and I were married for twenty-five years. He died of cancer June, 2018…just the other day…yet seems like forever ago! I have a Husband. His Name is Jesus. He is with me.
For your Maker is your husband, the LORD of hosts is His name; and the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer, the God of the whole earth He is called. Isaiah 54:5
I know I can cry and be loved unconditionally. I can weep anytime of day or night and still be loved. I am no longer called a “cry baby.”
Weeping may tarry for the night, but joy comes with the morning. Psalm 30:5b
You have kept count of my wanderings; put my tears in Your bottle. Are they not in Your book? Psalm 56:8
Oh sweet Jesus, I love You so. You draw me near as You grow me to be more and more in Your likeness. I am grateful that You took on my flesh so that I can see You be a me, see You weep, see You laugh and love. Growing in You is about reading Your Word and seeing You in that beautiful Book walking, talking, being a human while being God at the same time. I am so grateful that You love me so that You have taken my sinful self and nailed it on that awful Cross. I am sorry You had to go through that for me, others such as me. May we each look to You and know that we are made perfectly in the image of God. One day…that beautiful day…we will see You face-to-face and know…know just how much You love us. In Your Glorious Name, I pray. Amen.
Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. James 3:13
wisdom (higher or lower, worldly or spiritual):—wisdom.
This word in the Greek can mean either worldly or spiritual wisdom:
wisdom, broad and full of intelligence; used of the knowledge of very diverse matters
the wisdom which belongs to men
spec. the varied knowledge of things human and divine, acquired by acuteness and experience, and summed up in maxims and proverbs
the science and learning
the act of interpreting dreams and always giving the sagest advice
the intelligence evinced in discovering the meaning of some mysterious number or vision
skill in the management of affairs
devout and proper prudence in intercourse with men not disciples of Christ, skill and discretion in imparting Christian truth
the knowledge and practice of the requisites for godly and upright living
supreme intelligence, such as belongs to God
the wisdom of God as evinced in forming and executing counsels in the formation and government of the world and the scriptures
(In the) meekness: πραΰτηςis, prautēs: mildness of disposition, gentleness of spirit, humility
But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth. This is not the wisdom that comes down from above, but is earthly, unspiritual, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there will be disorder and every vile practice. James 3:14-16
From Matthew Henry’s Commentary on James: The order of things here laid down. Envying is first and excites strife; strife endeavours to excuse itself by vain-glorying and lying; and then hereupon ensue confusion and every evil work. Those who live in malice, envy, and contention, live in confusion, and are liable to be provoked and hurried to any evil work. Such disorders raise many temptations, strengthen temptations, and involve men in a great deal of guilt. One sin begets another, and it cannot be imagined how much mischief is produced: there is every evil work. And is such wisdom as produces these effects to be gloried in? This cannot be without giving the lie to Christianity, and pretending that this wisdom is what it is not.
As I live in this world, I can embody myself (as do others around me) a wisdom that I can call my own, and which, in reality, is not true to God Whom I know wants better for me. He does not want me to think I am better than someone else or think I know more than others. I sin. I am a sinner. That is all there is that!!
There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. Proverbs 16:25
I know, O LORD, that the way of man is not in himself, that it is not in man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23
The opposite of worldly wisdom is so beautifully described in the following verses of James 3:17 –
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. James 3:17
Pure: ἁγνός, hagnos: exciting reverence, venerable, sacred, pure from carnality, chaste, modest, pure from every fault, immaculate, clean; spiritual integrity, moral sincerity
Peaceable: εἰρηνικός, eirēnikos: relating to peace, peaceable, pacific, peace loving, bring peace with it, peaceful, salutary, peace promoting
Gentle: ἐπιεικής, epieikēs gentle, moderation, patient; able to be in hard circumstances yet be kind, courteous, patient, having no hatred nor revenge
(Full of) mercy: ἔλεος, eleos: kindness or good will towards the miserable and the afflicted, joined with a desire to help them; of men towards men: to exercise the virtue of mercy, show one’s self merciful; of God towards men: in general providence; the mercy and clemency of God in providing and offering to men salvation by Christ; the mercy of Christ, whereby at His return to judgment He will bless true Christians with eternal life; ability to forgive quickly
(Good) fruits: καρπός, karpos: fruit: the fruit of the trees, vines, of the fields; the fruit of one’s loins, i.e. his progeny, his posterity. That which originates or comes from something, an effect, result: work, act, deed; advantage, profit, utility; praises, which are presented to God as a thank offering, to gather fruit (i.e. a reaped harvest) into life eternal (as into a granary), is used in fig. discourse of those who by their labours have fitted souls to obtain eternal life
Impartial: ἀδιάκριτος, adiakritos: undistinguished, unintelligible; without dubiousness, ambiguity or uncertainty; consistent, unwavering, undivided in commitment
And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:18
Righteousness: δικαιοσύνη, dikaiosynē: in a broad sense: state of him who is as he ought to be, righteousness, the condition acceptable to God; the doctrine concerning the way in which man may attain a state approved of God; integrity, virtue, purity of life, rightness, correctness of thinking feeling, and acting. In a narrower sense, justice or the virtue which gives each his due.
What I find wonderfully curious is that using spiritual wisdom, wisdom from God, in the world can convict heart and minds and souls, including mine!
Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make straight your paths. Proverbs 3:5-6
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire. 2 Peter 1:3-4
Father, Your wonderful Word speaks for itself. I see the difference between the two types of wisdom far more clearly today than when I began. I have barely written any words myself. I pray you use Your Word and the words of Mr. Henry, the definitions from the Bible dictionaries to speak Your Truth to any one reading. I do not boast in myself, but I boast in You, glorify You and love You for all that You are to me for all that You do and will do through me. You teach me daily for which I am ever grateful. May I be bold with mindfulness that I am a tool in Your hands. May I be peaceable and gentle as Your heart is towards me. May I be obedient to You, to Your Truth. May I bear fruit in this world where I sojourn so that others would see the light of Christ in and through me. May these things be so, my Lord. In the Glorious Name of Jesus, Your Son, I pray. Amen.
For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom,… 1 Corinthians 1:22
“Keep them and do them, for that will be your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples, who, when they hear all these statutes, will say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’” Deuteronomy 4:6
From the Old Testament, we are able to look at the reasons why the Jews required signs from Jesus. The commandments, statutes, the Law was what they were taught and followed. The Jews expected their Messiah to be a deliverer, a king, a conqueror of all their enemies.
The Greeks were surrounded by philosophers, scientists, teachers who were expounding theories, knowledge, science. Thus the Greeks sought the wisdom of man, worldly wisdom.
from C. H. Spurgeon-A Sermon (No. 132), May 17, 1857: “Now,” says the apostle, “both these objections are untenable and unreasonable. If you suppose that the Jew requires a sign, that sign is given him: Christ is the power of God. The miracles that Christ wrought upon earth were signs more than sufficiently abundant; and if the Jewish people had but the will to believe, they would have found abundant signs and reasons for believing in the personal acts of Christ and his apostles.” And let the Greeks say, “I can not believe, because I require a wise system: O Greek, Christ is the wisdom of God. If thou wouldst but investigate the subject, thou wouldst find in it profoundness of wisdom-a depth where the most gigantic intellect might be drowned. It is no shallow gospel, but a deep, and a great deep too, a deep which passeth understanding. Thine objection is ill-founded; for Christ is the wisdom of God, and his gospel is the highest of all sciences. If thou wishest to find wisdom, thou must find it in the word of revelation.”
Both groups could not see past a man who was dressed in a simple robe, sandals, walked everywhere, died a criminal’s death, carried His own cross much of the way. He looked weak. He did not look, speak, or act like the person of God that they thought He should be. Thus they wrote Him off as a nobody, certainly not their Messiah.
…but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 1 Corinthians 1:23-24
…and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2b-3
Consider the apostles who were preaching the Gospel, teaching Christ, the Cross….fishermen, dressed as Jesus, simple, probably dirty. They were hard to believe by those who considered themselves better than these men.
For Christ did not send me to baptize but to preach the gospel, and not with words of eloquent wisdom, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. For it is written, “I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.” Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. 1 Corinthians 1:17-21
And the Lord said: “Because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips, while their hearts are far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment taught by men, therefore, behold, I will again do wonderful things with this people, with wonder upon wonder; and the wisdom of their wise men shall perish, and the discernment of their discerning men shall be hidden.” Isaiah 29:13-14
For consider your calling, brothers: not many of you were wise according to worldly standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not, to bring to nothing things that are, so that no human being might boast in the presence of God. 1 Corinthians 1:26-29
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians:Ministers should consider themselves sent and set apart more especially to that service in which Christ will be most honoured and the salvation of souls promoted, and for which they are best fitted, though no part of their duty is to be neglected. The principal business Paul did among them was to preach the gospel, the cross, Christ crucified. Ministers are the soldiers of Christ, and are to erect and display the banner of the cross. He did not preach his own fancy, but the gospel-the glad tidings of peace, and reconciliation to God, through the mediation of a crucified Redeemer. This is the sum and substance of the gospel. Christ crucified is the foundation of all our joys. By his death we live. This is what Paul preached, what all ministers should preach, and what all the saints live upon.
I have been crucified with Christ. It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20
The wisdom of the cross is Christ, Christ crucified, died, buried, resurrected. The wisdom of the cross is God’s unveiling of the strength and wisdom of Christ. My sin is forgiven; my foolishness becomes wise in Christ; my filthy rags become clean by the Blood of Christ. I am redeemed, justified, and sanctified (growing in holiness) in Christ Alone. I come to the Cross in humility.
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on 1 Corinthians: To those who are called and saved he is the wisdom of God, and the power of God. Those who are called and sanctified, who receive the gospel, and are enlightened by the Spirit of God, discern more glorious discoveries of God’s wisdom and power in the doctrine of Christ crucified than in all his other works. Note, Those who are saved are reconciled to the doctrine of the cross,and led into an experimental acquaintance with the mysteries of Christ crucified.
Thus says the LORD: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the LORD who practices steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the LORD.” Jeremiah 9:23-24
And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, Who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
Father, I ask for Your guidance and covering upon me as I learn how to walk in the shadow of this glorious and horrific cross. It is both, yet the One Who died upon it rose again and lives for me, for all those He has called unto Himself. I stand before You, Lord, asking for boldness and humbleness in order to preach the Gospel, Christ crucified. I do not want to be a stumbling block to anyone so please help me walk in this world as Your sheep, as Your disciple, as Yours. May the wisdom of the Cross be clearly relevant today. Soften the hardened hearts and open the eyes of those hearts…that they would see You for the Beauty and Holiness that You are. May those opened eyes see the wisdom of the Cross. In the Name of my crucified Christ, I pray. Amen.
from C. H. Spurgeon: A Sermon (No. 132) Delivered on Sabbath Morning, May 17, 1857, by the REV. C.H. SPURGEON at the Music Hall, Royal Surrey Gardens. “Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”– 1Cr 1:24
“The Wisdom of the Cross” Photo with 1 Corinthians 1:23-24 @ CrossMap
The Book of Proverbs a book of wisdom. Proverbs 8 is where I have landed this week. What is wisdom? Wisdom is that which we are to learn from it:
“I, wisdom, dwell with prudence, and I find knowledge and discretion.” Proverbs 8:12
O simple ones, learn prudence; O fools, learn sense. Proverbs 8:5
Take my instruction instead of silver, and knowledge rather than choice gold, for wisdom is better than jewels, and all that you may desire cannot compare with her. Proverbs 8:10-11
I have counsel and sound wisdom; I have insight; I have strength. Proverbs 8:14
what is right
Hear, for I will speak noble things, and from my lips will come what is right, for my mouth will utter truth; wickedness is an abomination to my lips. Proverbs 8:6-7
All the words of my mouth are righteous; there is nothing twisted or crooked in them. They are all straight to him who understands, and right to those who find knowledge. Proverbs 8:8-9
what is just
the way of righteousness
By me kings reign, and rulers decree what is just; by me princes rule, and nobles, all who govern justly. Proverbs 8:15-16
I walk in the way of righteousness, in the paths of justice, granting an inheritance to those who love me, and filling their treasuries. Proverbs 8:20-21
So, why does wisdom seem such a far reach for me at times? Well, much of the time! It seems easier just to walk as the world walks which may include being wise, yet it is usually a worldly wisdom. But that is not my goal. I do not want to be as the world. I want to be as Christ. These verses (along with the entire Book of Proverbs) teach us what wisdom can teach us as well as what we might be learning from this world (thus should be walking away from).
The deep truth of this wisdom from God is that Christ is Wisdom.
And because of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, righteousness and sanctification and redemption, so that, as it is written, “Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.” 1 Corinthians 1:30-31
And the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, the Spirit of wisdom and understanding, the Spirit of counsel and might, the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD. Is 11:2
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on Proverbs: “Wisdom here is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge; it is Christ in the word and Christ in the heart, not only Christ revealed to us, but Christ revealed in us. It is the word of God, the whole compass of divine revelation; it is God the Word, in whom all divine revelation centres; it is the soul formed by the word; it is Christ formed in the soul; it is religion in the purity and power of it. Glorious things are here spoken of this excellent person, this excellent thing.”
The last half of Proverbs 8 tells all about Christ and wisdom:
22 “The LORD possessed (fathered/created) me at the beginning of His work, the first of His acts of old.
23 Ages ago I was set up, at the first, before the beginning of the earth.
24 When there were no depths I was brought forth, when there were no springs abounding with water.
25 Before the mountains had been shaped, before the hills, I was brought forth,26 before He had made the earth with its fields, or the first of the dust of the world.
27 When He established the heavens, I was there; when He drew a circle on the face of the deep, 28 when He made firm the skies above, when He established the fountains of the deep, 29 when He assigned to the sea its limit, so that the waters might not transgress His command, when He marked out the foundations of the earth, 30 then I was beside Him, like a master workman, and I was daily His delight, rejoicing before Him always, 31 rejoicing in His inhabited world and delighting in the children of man.
32 “And now, O sons, listen to Me: blessed are those who keep My ways.
33 Hear instruction and be wise, and do not neglect it.
34 Blessed is the one who listens to Me, watching daily at My gates, waiting beside My doors.
35 For whoever finds Me finds life and obtains favor from the LORD, 36 but he who fails to find Me injures himself; all who hate Me love death.” Proverbs 8:22-36
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace. James 3:17-18
…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in Whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:2-3
Growing to know Christ better through reading His Word, the lessons taught by Wisdom show me the character traits of Jesus the Christ. They are of the One Whom I worship and adore. They are Him!
Lord, I pray that my mind and heart be open to You and the lessons which You desire to teach me. I want to know You better. I want to grow to be more like You while at the same time, this ‘Linda’ wants to diminish while You increase. I desire that Your character traits become such a part of me that when others look at me, they see You. I pray for the wisdom of the You, Lord. May Your Holy Spirit show me, grow me, guide me, guard me. Thank You for loving me, Lord. Thank You for drawing me to You as You teach me all about Yourself. I love You, Lord. In Your precious Holy Name I pray. Amen.
Decrease (Verb): signifies “to make less or inferior, in quality, position or dignity;” “madest… lower” and “hast made… lower.” It is used in the Middle Voice, in John the Baptist’s “I must decrease,” indicating the special interest he had in his own “decrease,” i.e., in authority and popularity.
Lower (Adjective, and Verb, to Make), Lowest: denotes “to make less” (elatton, “less”), and is used in the Active Voice, “Thou madest (Him)… lower,” and in the Passive, “was made… lower,” “(I must) decrease,” (lit., “be made less”).
to make less or inferior: in dignity
to be made less or inferior: in dignity
to decrease in authority or popularity
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
Who do I think I am? ~ Am I an important person, or do I think I am? Am I desiring or needing praise for things I do, how I act, what I look like or do not look like? Do I look for attention from those around me? Do I need to be the center of attraction? I can answer, “No” to some of those questions but certainly not all.
God sees me for who I am. He sees who I am becoming. He desires to see more and more of Christ in me. When I am in the world, I am not to be of it…only in it. The light of Christ should be emanating from me, reflecting Him to the world. There is work to be done. It is not about me giving things up in order to decrease or be less of me. It is about me being obedient to the One Who created me. There will be humbling, teaching, guiding, and more obedience. God calls for my heart and spirit to be His. In order to come to Him, my spirit needs to be broken and contrite (crushed) so that I may be made new.
For You will not delight in sacrifice, or I would give it; You will not be pleased with a burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart, O God, You will not despise. Psalm 51:16-17
And you shall remember the whole way that the LORD your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that He might humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. And He humbled you and let you hunger and fed you with manna, which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you know that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by every word that comes from the mouth of the LORD. Your clothing did not wear out on you and your foot did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the LORD your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God by walking in his ways and by fearing him. Deuteronomy 8:2-6
Yes, decreasing is not something I can or will do alone. I must depend upon the One Who will be increasing to help me. I will need discipline for my ego will mostly likely get in the way. Things of this world will get in the way. I think of Alice in Wonderland shrinking to go down the rabbit hole. I cannot know exactly where I am going but I actually want to go there. There will be testing, and hunger, and fear, yet I will have the arms of the Lord wrapped around me when I trust Him. He will be with me, will be providing the manna all along the way. He will be quenching my thirst. He will be keeping my feet from swelling on this journey. Worry should not be anything for me when I trust Him to hold me near as He guides me. Yes, I must take one step at a time in a forward motion towards “decrease.” That is my goal. I will need to learn more about humbling, being obedient, reading the Word more regularly, being in prayer consistently, knowing that He will hear me no matter how small I become.
from Matthew Henry’s Commentary on John: He (John) owns it highly fit and necessary that the reputation and interest of Christ should be advanced, and his own diminished (:30):He must increase, but I must decrease. If they grieve at the growing greatness of the Lord Jesus, they will have more and more occasion to grieve, as those have that indulge themselves in envy and emulation. John speaks of Christ’s increase and his own decrease, not only as necessary and unavoidable, which could not be helped and therefore must be borne, but as highly just and agreeable, and affording him entire satisfaction.
[1.] He was well pleased to see the kingdom of Christ getting ground: He must increase. You think he has gained a great deal, but it is nothing to what he will gain.’ Note, The kingdom of Christ is, and will be, a growing kingdom, like the light of the morning, like the grain of mustard-seed.
[2.] He was not at all displeased that the effect of this was the diminishing of his own interest: I must decrease. Created excellencies are under this law, they must decrease. I have seen an end of all perfection. Note,
First, The shining forth of the glory of Christ eclipses the lustre of all other glory. The glory that stands in competition with Christ, that of the world and the flesh, decreases and loses ground in the soul as the knowledge and love of Christ increase and get ground; but it is here spoken of that which is subservient to him. As the light of the morning increases, that of the morning star decreases.
Secondly, If our diminution or abasement may but in the least contribute to the advancement of Christ’s name, we must cheerfully submit to it, and be content to be any thing, to be nothing, so that Christ may be all.
Father God, Mr. Henry says what I have tried to say so very eloquently. I want to be a light in this dark world. I want to shine in order that others might see the light of Jesus the Christ in and through me. Show me Your way, O Lord. Show me Your way. Teach me what it is to “decrease” so that Christ may “increase” … to be all that others see when they are with me in the physical sense. I bow before You and ask Your forgiveness for the times that I will be disobedient, not be humble nor teachable, nor revere You as You so deserve. Show me the way. Help me to learn from the tests and lessons taught, the struggles and sufferings which I will face. Help me to see Your gifts. I desire to be all who You want me to be. I need You, O Lord. Thank You, now. In the blessed Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
I have not made resolutions for many years. I never kept them for long so gave that whole idea up. In 2007, I happened upon “One Word 365” and decided to pick one word that I could study in God’s Word, thereby seeking His face as I desired to draw closer to Him. I chose “love” that year. I rowed steadily on this annual river until 2016. I found that after ten years, I was moving into a similar “resolution” stream so I called a halt to this when it was time to pick a 2017 word. Four years have passed and I am very ready to begin again. I am choosing “decrease” as my 2021 word from which to dwell, ponder, study, seek guidance. I pray that my wings will spread and that I will draw nearer to my Christ in the process.
“He must increase, but I must decrease.” John 3:30
Now a discussion arose between some of John’s disciples and a Jew over purification. And they came to John and said to him, “Rabbi, He who was with you across the Jordan, to Whom you bore witness—look, He is baptizing, and all are going to Him.” John answered, “A person cannot receive even one thing unless it is given him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, ‘I am not the Christ, but I have been sent before Him.’ The one who has the bride is the bridegroom. The friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears Him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is now complete. He must increase, but I must decrease.” He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He Who comes from heaven is above all. John 3:25-31
Oh, to understand this, to acknowledge this Truth, to walk this out not just for 2021 but for the remainder of my days, to love the outcome no matter the trials and pain, no matter the joy and beauty in this journey.
Blessed be His glorious name forever; may the whole earth be filled with His glory! Amen and Amen! Psalm 72:19
Father God, may the things of me, my selfish ways, my need to be in charge, all of me that shades out Christ from view to this world, that places His light in me under a bushel basket, may all that and much more decrease in me in order that You may increase. May Your holiness overwhelm me that I will glorify You, O Lord. May all of You become all of me. May my light be Your’s in this ever so dark world. I pray all in the Name of Jesus. Amen.
P.S. I will purpose to write of my journey with “decrease” once a month.
Weaving by ~ lindawoven; photo and graphics by ~ linda
Weaving by ~ lindawoven; photo and graphics by ~ linda
Up and Down arrows: Wikimedia (graphics added by me)
When Advent is celebrated and pondered in the Christian church, it is as though we are waiting for the appearance or arrival of Christ, for His birth. And we are also waiting for His second coming. For us today, we also praise God for His Presence with us this day by the Holy Spirit. Advent is a time of preparing ourselves spiritually.
Two people we find in the Bible at the time of Christ’s birth had been preparing, seeking, praising God for His promise of the Messiah well before the actual arrival of Jesus the Christ.
When Jesus turned 8 days old, his parents took Him to the temple to be circumcised, as was the custom of the law of the Israelites. So we turn to that eighth day in the life of Jesus. When Mary and Joseph arrived at the temple that day, they experienced two beautiful people, Simeon and Anna, who were waiting. Waiting for their Christ, yet did not know He was about to appear.
Now there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon, and this man was righteous and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel, and the Holy Spirit was upon him. And it had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came in the Spirit into the temple, and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the Law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your Salvation that You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, a Light for revelation to the Gentiles, and for glory to Your people Israel.” And His father and his mother marveled at what was said about Him. And Simeon blessed them and said to Mary His mother, “Behold, this child is appointed for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is opposed (and a sword will pierce through your own soul also), so that thoughts from many hearts may be revealed.” Luke 2:25-35
And there was a prophetess, Anna, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was advanced in years, having lived with her husband seven years from when she was a virgin, and then as a widow until she was eighty-four. She did not depart from the temple, worshiping with fasting and prayer night and day. And coming up at that very hour she began to give thanks to God and to speak of Him to all who were waiting for the redemption of Jerusalem. Luke 2:36-38
Simeon had asked God to reveal His Salvation to him before he died. God did. Simeon came in the Holy Spirit Who told him that this was Whom he had asked. Anna knew that this Child was from God and was the redemption of Jerusalem. Anna had been waiting also for such a time as this.
Are you still waiting? He has come. He was born a baby, leaving Heaven to come to Earth as a human being. He walked this earth for thirty-three years spreading His message of deliverance from our sin. He performed miracles. He showed kindness, grace, and mercy to many. He died a terrible death on a cross. He was buried and then arose three days later. Jesus lives this very day. He is waiting for you. He waited for me for 45 years until I kneeled and called Him my Lord and Savior. I read His Word, desiring to become more and more Christlike and to spread His light through my life.
Are you still waiting? Call upon Him. Call His Name. He waits. He will never stop waiting for you. He is our salvation from the sins of this world. I have seen my salvation through the eyes of my heart. I have heard my salvation through the ears of my heart. I pray for each and all of you who need the Lord.
For to us a Child is born, to us a Son is given; and the government shall be upon His shoulder, and His name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Isaiah 9:6
This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you, the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:11-12
Lord, I thank You for waiting on me for 45 years, for drawing me near, softening my heart 28 years ago. Thank You for calling me Your child now. Although I am still a sinner and always will be while I walk this earth, You have forgiven me with Your beautiful mercy and grace. You sacrificed Your Only Son to die on the Cross for one such as me. As I walk my life through, I desire to be obedient to Your will for my life. I do not want to sin, yet I am human. I am sorry when I fail You. Guide my steps, Lord, and guard my heart that I would continue to be filled with Your light that shines into this dark, dark world. So many need You NOW Lord. Draw them close, speaking Your Truth into their physical ears and into the ears of their hearts, shining Your Light into their physical eyes and into the eyes of their hearts that they would hear and see You … only You, Lord Jesus. Oh, such a blessing You have been and continue to be to me every moment of my life. Thank You, Father, for sending Jesus, Your Son, into this world to draw many unto Him. And thank You for the many disciples who hear Your call to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ. May I walk in the steps of Your will for my life all the remainder of my days on this earth. May I continue to grow to look more and more like You, Lord Jesus, my Christ, my Messiah, my Salvation. In the Name of Jesus, I pray. Amen.
And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call His name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. And the Lord God will give to Him the throne of His father David, and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end.” Luke 1:30-33
So much happens in these four verses:
He speaks to Mary
She has found favor
and with God, no less
She will conceive a son
The angel gives her the name to call this boy
He will be great
He will have the throne of David
He will reign over the house of Jacob
There will be no end to His kingdom
He tells her about her coming son, words that any mother would be proud to hear, but would wonder if all of these things could be true.
Beautiful and amazing is this young woman who is to be the Christ’s mother, innocent and gentle in her spirit. She had questioned the angel, and then graciously accepts those deep and powerful words by responding thusly:
And Mary said, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to Your Word.” And the angel departed from her. Luke 1:38
As I wait in this Advent time, I ponder the magnificence of this proclamation. Would I be able to understand and accept these words had they been spoken to me? Could I grasp the future that these words speak? An angel naming my baby? Me, a young and vulnerable woman, having a baby of God’s, not of man? How could this be? To me, if I were Mary…I don’t know. I just don’t know. Yet, when Mary went to visit and stay with Elizabeth, there was immediate confirmation by and through Elizabeth:
And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1:41-45
I do understand something though. God can do anything for He created everything. He is Omniscient, Omnipresent, and Omnipotent. The angel says in Luke 1, verse 37: “…For nothing will be impossible with God.”
Could I? Would I? Oh, God, grant me a heart that so beautifully wraps around Your Truth; accepts the words of Your messengers; opens myself to Your will. Would I? Could I? I pray so, my LORD. I pray so. I pray with my whole heart and every ounce of my being. I pray with my heart’s ears and eyes open to You, to You alone. Thank You for giving us the most wonderful gift of all. O LORD, in Your Son’s Holy Name, the Son of the Most High, I pray. Amen
God’s plans are perfect. He gave an old man and an old woman a child, to be named John, not Zechariah after his father. God had prepared the path for this “John.” On the day of circumcision, this child would be named by a father who had lost his ability to speak during his wife’s pregnancy as he had not believed the words of Gabriel, the angel of the LORD.
And he asked for a writing tablet and wrote, “His name is John.” And they all wondered.And immediately his mouth was opened and his tongue loosed, and he spoke, blessing God.And fear came on all their neighbors. And all these things were talked about through all the hill country of Judea,and all who heard them laid them up in their hearts, saying, “What then will this child be?” For the hand of the Lord was with him.And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied,…. Luke 1:63-67
Part of this prophesy was: And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;for you will go before the Lord to prepare His ways,to give knowledge of salvation to His peoplein the forgiveness of their sins,because of the tender mercy of our God,whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on highto give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,to guide our feet into the way of peace.”And the child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the wilderness until the day of his public appearance to Israel. Luke 1:76-80
John, the Apostle, writes in John 1: There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.He came as a witness, to bear witness about the Light, that all might believe through Him.He was not the Light, but came to bear witness about the Light.The true Light, which gives light to everyone, was coming into the world. John 1:6-9
God prophesied through others about John and Jesus: “Behold, I send My messenger, and he will prepare the way before Me. And the Lord Whom you seek will suddenly come to His temple; and the messenger of the covenant in Whom you delight, behold, He is coming, says the LORD of hosts. Malachi 3:1
A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD;make straight in the desert a highway for our God.Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Isaiah 40:3-5
“And you, child….”
“What then will this child be?” ~
prophet of the Most High
Christ’s harbinger…a preparer of the way, for Who is to come
a guide for our feet into the way of peace
a giver of knowledge of salvation by the remission of sins
to bear witness about the Light
strong in spirit
The tender mercy of God prepared John for this calling. John’s obedience and abiding with God would allow him to go before Jesus.
Jesus said this about John: “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.” Matthew 11:11
Father God, You are the Holy One. I am at peace this day as I wait in this Advent season, seeing the ministry of John who came before Your Son. John had so much to be and do but You were always with Him for You gave him Your Holy Spirit from the womb. He was obedient to You. He abided in You always. Thank You for these lessons to my spirit. When I stand upon Your holy ground, I am called to follow You in all ways. May my sight be focused upon You and my hearing towards Your voice as well…that I would know Your will for my life, the path which I am to walk. Father, I meander and get lost, but You never lose me. I am so grateful for Your strong hand upon me always. Keep me on the straight and narrow highway that is Your Way. My heart is Yours. I pray, in the Name of Jesus. Amen.