Devotionals · God's Word · OneWord365 · Pondering

Decrease – One Word 2021

For he grew up before him like a young plant,
and like a root out of dry ground;
he had no form or majesty that we should look at him,
and no beauty that we should desire him.

He was despised and rejected by men,
a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
and as one from whom men hide their faces
he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
Isaiah 53:2-3

Then the seventh angel blew his trumpet, and there were loud voices in heaven, saying, “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ, and He shall reign forever and ever.” Revelation 11:15

Isaiah prophesied about Jesus Who seems to resemble very little of interest to us in the world then. Yet, by the time God reveals Jesus to John (the Book of Revelation), Jesus is everything. Interesting to me is that during those thirty-three years that Jesus walked this earth, He was the One Who was sent to save us all. He healed; He taught; He prayed. He became so much to so many in actually three years of His thirty-three. And He is All to all if we would only seek His face. He came with the answers to all of our needs and concerns. Oh, that it took me forty-five of my seventy-four years to desire Him as my Lord and Savior. I sought one such as the Israelites were seeking: the king, the rider upon a horse to rule and reign, their Messiah. Most missed Him then as I did for so many years. My seeking was longer than Jesus’ lifetime. Yet, I praise Him NOW and for always for He is worthy of all praise.

In this final month of 2021, I am reminding myself of the word I chose to ponder upon for this year. My writings have been sporadic yet the word never departed from my lips, nor my mind.

He must increase, but I must decrease. John 3:30

I have chosen to be less of me so that He can be more of who others see in me. I do not want my family nor friends or strangers passing by to see this Linda of the world. I want less of the world in me and more of Jesus to shine upon these others.

Oh, that this may continue to be so.

This has not been an easy year by any means. So much has been about me: selling a home, moving to another state, establishing a new place to live, reacquainting with my cousin, Donna. All amidst COVID-19. Yet my desire has been to decrease despite all of this.

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. He bears witness to what He has seen and heard, yet no one receives His testimony. Whoever receives His testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For He Whom God has sent utters the words of God, for He gives the Spirit without measure. The Father loves the Son and has given all things into His hand. Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. John 3:25-36

Jesus calls us to new heights as we decrease. Oh, YES, He does.

Upon taking a break while writing this, I picked up John Pavlovitz’s Advent Devotional, “Low.” This very day, Week 3/Monday, the title is “The Lowest Places.” God has orchestrated such wonder in my heart, mind, and soul. Here is a piece of this day’s devotional:

“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19

…. Jesus has a way of stretching us. Over and over again in the gospels, the message he has for those who would emulate him in the world, is, in essence, “I want to show you something new. Whatever standard you once used for how to live and treat people and find meaning, I’m asking you for more–(or rather, for less).” Regarding anger or motive or religion or revenge or comfort, he continually invites us to the low places: to a greater humility, to a deeper forgiveness, to a shrinking ego, to a bigger generosity. We almost always resist such things because initially they feel like loss, like we’re giving up too much, like we’re letting someone else get away with something. But we always find a better version of ourselves in the low places and that is why we need to keep going there.” *

Father, I am humbled by Your love and Your guidance in and through my life. This 2021 word has resonated more with me than most. It has, indeed, stretched me and rocked me as well. It has allowed me to grow closer to You for which I am filled with gratitude. How could that be when the worldly Linda wants the opposite? But this woman, headed Heavenward, wants to draw near to You more than anything, Lord. I desire to pursue You and be diligent about it in this coming year. I want to be steadfast in my ways of searching You in Your Word. Thank You, Father, for being my God. In the Precious Name of Jesus, I humbly pray. Amen.

As the year comes to an end, 2022 is just beyond that corner. Those of us joining with Lisa @ Lisa Notes, we are announcing our new word for this new year. For many of us, this one word replaces New Year’s Resolutions. I am finding that it plus the community accountability has really helped me focus on what God has in store for me over each year via this One Word study/challenge. May God grant us each and all a willingness to persevere, be challenged, and be grown as we study, pray and meditate upon this new word.

One Word 2022 and ‘decrease’ graphics: by ~ linda @ BeingWoven.org

* Pavlovitz, John, “Low, An Honest Advent Devotional,” ChalicePress.com, 2019, 9780827221932. JohnPavlovitz.com

John 3:30 Greater Than @ Pinterest

“diligence” One Word 2022: photo @ pixabay; graphics by me done on Pixlr photo editor

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

To Bear Witness About the Light

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 people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to 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

God’s messenger

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.   

John 1:7 photo by: Hunt On Photos Studio @ Pixabay – https://pixabay.com/users/hunt_on_photos_studio-1547933/?tab=popular&pagi=2 (graphics added to photo by me)

“A Voice Cries” photo/graphic: https://www.kevinhalloran.net

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Make Ready A People Prepared

In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah, of the division of Abijah. And he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. And they were both righteous before God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and statutes of the Lord. But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and both were advanced in years. Now while he was serving as priest before God when his division was on duty, according to the custom of the priesthood, he was chosen by lot to enter the temple of the Lord and burn incense. And the whole multitude of the people were praying outside at the hour of incense. And there appeared to him an angel of the Lord standing on the right side of the altar of incense. And Zechariah was troubled when he saw him, and fear fell upon him. But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah, for your prayer has been heard, and your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you shall call his name John. And you will have joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great before the Lord.  And he must not drink wine or strong drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit, even from his mother’s womb. And he will turn many of the children of Israel to the Lord their God, and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  Luke 1:5-17

Zechariah prays.  God hears his prayer.  He sends an angel, bringing great and yet unbelievable news to Zechariah and Elizabeth.  God’s Truth comes to pass for He said it.

And his father Zechariah was filled with the Holy Spirit and prophesied, saying, “Blessed be the Lord God of Israel, for he has visited and redeemed his people and has raised up a horn of salvation for us
in the house of His servant David, as He spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from of old, that we should be saved from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us; to show the mercy promised to our fathers
and to remember His holy covenant, the oath that He swore to our father Abraham, to grant us that we, being delivered from the hand of our enemies, might serve Him without fear, in holiness and righteousness before Him all our days. 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 people in the forgiveness of their sins, because of the tender mercy of our God, whereby the sunrise shall visit us from on high to 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 1:67-80

John was to “…make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”

As I prepare for Christmas this year, I am mindful of being drawn closer to Christ Jesus, my LORD, with each day, each passing minute, even seconds.  God gave John a calling to draw people to the LORD Jesus even before He became known.  He was to prepare a people for the coming of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah.  In our own day, we, too, can prepare for His coming as He enters our hearts with newness each year, each Christmas, but also each and every day, each and every moment.  Christ brings cleansing and wholeness to us with each breath.  

May we then be prepared ourselves and turn to prepare others. May we be sensitive to those whose hearts are hardened to Christ, not desiring to know Him, not thinking they need Him. May Your words come out of our mouths to touch those hard hearts and soften those hearts towards Your Son. May the soil be made ready for the seeds to be sown, to sprout, to send down roots, to grow and be fruitful. Prepare us, O LORD.

Father God, I seek You and call upon You to prepare my heart in this Advent season.  I wait.  I wait, Father, for Your Son comes anew although He has been, has gone, rose again, and yet lives in me today through Your Holy Spirit for I am one who had to be prepared for His coming.  I believed.  But I believe today, not in the past tense, for “believing” is ongoing and for always.  Father, breathe in me afresh daily that I would be able to continually be prepared so that I then may prepare others for His coming.  I praise You, Father, for You gave us the Only Gift we would ever need.  Nothing else matters.  Nothing…for until I knew You, nothing meant anything.  I thought ‘things’ meant something to me, but they really did not.  Knowing You, Your Son, Your Holy Spirit, the Trinity, is All that makes a difference in my life.  I know that Your Son is the Redeemer for He redeemed me…yes, even me.  Praise You, LORD.  You are the Holy One of Israel. And He will come again to take believers to His Heavenly Home. Open my mouth, guard my steps, make my life a light to others that I may share the wonderful Truth of Jesus. Make me ready, please. I pray in Your Wonderful Name.  Amen.

Fear not, you worm Jacob,
you men of Israel!
I am the One Who helps you, declares the LORD;
your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel.  
Isaiah 41:14

Winter Image by Ina Hoekstra from Pixabay

Image with Luke 1:17: https://www.freeimages.com/photo/mountains-1562932 / danieloo fiatod

Devotionals · God's Word · Pondering

Make Ready

touchbible-verse-image-net-luke-1-17_5

“… and he will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children, and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  Luke 1:17 ESV

Many versions read:

“… so as to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” NASB

“… to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”  NKJV, NIV

… placing “the Lord” at the end.

 

But many other translations read:

“… to make ready for the Lord a prepared people.”  CSB, DBY

“… to make ready for the Lord, a people prepared.”  YLT

 

Whichever way the Bible reads, I have been looking closely at the two phrases in this small portion of Luke 1:17.

“…, to make ready …” 

ἑτοιμάζω

hetoimazō

STRONGS NT 2090

to prepare:—prepare, provide, make ready (G2090 refers to internal fitness)

 

“… prepared.”

κατασκευάζω

kataskeuazō

STRONGS NT 2680

to prepare thoroughly (properly, by external equipment; whereas G2090 refers rather to internal fitness); by implication, to construct, create:—build, make, ordain, prepare

 

to make ready for the Lord a people prepared.”  Luke 1:17 ESV

In reading this verse, my first thought was that both “make ready” and “prepare” meant the same thing and they do in a general sense.  Where the divide comes is when the definitions distinguish between external and internal preparedness.

The external layer of a person is prepared:

John the Baptist was sent by God to turn hearts to see their sins, be grieved over them, come to repentance and be baptized in preparation for the coming of Jesus.  Each one to repent can be prepared through this process of repentance.  We will be convicted and cleansed.  Through this conviction and repentance, we are being prepared.

Then, the internal person must be made ready to meet the Lord:

Because of the initial preparation, our hearts and minds are open and welcoming towards the Lord Jesus.  Our souls will find joy and comfort as we hear the gospel even as we are challenged and confronted by the Truth.  We are being transformed in the process and come to know His grace and are able to receive His mercy.  As we walk in obedience to His Word and His will we are being made ready for His coming.

large_1x_spotty_flowers

I recall so clearly the moment when I repented of my sins.  I grieved over the many times I hurt God by my actions and words.  I was being prepared for I wanted to be right with Jesus.  I asked Him to be my Lord and Savior.  From that very moment, I knew that things changed inside of me.  I received a grace that I had never known.  I was washed clean and then washed clean again… hundreds or thousands of times since.  Each time, I have grown deeper in my walk with Jesus.  I was made ready in my admission of my sinful ways.  I was then able to accept my salvation in Christ by faith.  I am continually made ready as I read God’s Word, as I pray, as I learn to walk closely to my Savior.

M. Henry says in his Commentary, We must be prepared by grace in this world for the glory in the other, by the terrors of the law for the comforts of the gospel, by the spirit of bondage for the Spirit of adoption.

The bud is made ready to become a blossom from the inside-out.  The blossom is prepared to glorify the Lord with its outward beauty.

white-apricot-blossoms-and-red-flower-buds

Am I ever done being made ready while here on earth?  I have met my Savior by faith.  One day, when I meet Him in the clouds, will I no longer need to made ready?  I believe not!  Christ is so beautiful to me now.  I desire that He would be all I need while here on earth, but I must admit that things of this world do draw me in.  I wish that were not true, but it is.  As I age, I can say that things of this world are less and less important and I do have more peace.  I pray that He will be all I need or want on the other side.  Hallelujah!!!

large_1x_spotty_flowers

Heavenly Father, I thank You again, knowing that when I called out asking for Your forgiveness for the many ways in which I wandered aimlessly, sinfully, and disrespectfully towards You, Your immediate forgiveness of me rained peace upon this woman.  I am so grateful, Father.  I became prepared.  As I began to understand You and Your Son and the Holy Spirit, I was made ready to receive Your Son as my Lord and Savior.  The Holy Spirit has come to dwell in me and continues to grow me in Your Word, in grace, and in love.  I am just overwhelmed by Your love and hope and peace…gifts only You can give me.  Oh my!  I am filled with a welling up inside of me.  You are my All in all.  Your Son is precious to me and I pray in His Holy Name.  Amen. 

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Graphic of Luke 1:16-17https://www.touchbible.net/image-browser/?version=1&book=42&chapter=1&verse=17

Spotty Flowers: https://dryicons.com/vector/spotty-flowers

Photo of apricot blossoms: http://www.photos-public-domain.com/2012/05/08/white-apricot-blossoms-and-red-flower-buds/