Lessons Of A Lifetime

SUNDAY OCT. 21, 2018

Scripture To Consider:
“After these things Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea, and there He remained with them and baptized. Now John also was baptizing in Aenon near Salim, because there was much water there. And they came and were baptized. For John had not yet been thrown into prison.”

“Then there arose a dispute between some of John’s disciples and the Jews [religious leaders] about purification. And they came to John and said to him, ‘Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you testified, behold, He [Jesus] is baptizing, and all are coming to Him!’”

“John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven. You yourselves bear me witness, that I said, “I am not the Christ,” but, “I have been sent before Him.” He who has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom’s voice. Therefore this joy of mine is fulfilled. He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.’” John 3.22-30

Something To Consider:
After these things, after the festivities of the Passover week, after Jesus turned water into wine at a wedding, after His late night born again discussion with Nicodemus, Jesus and His disciples came into the land of Judea. Judea was approx. fifty-five miles long, from Bethlehem to Beersheba, and about twenty-five to thirty miles wide. The borders of Judea stretched from the edge of the Dead Sea towards the Mediterranean Sea, of which nearly half of the land was desert.

Much of this area was waterless. But in the midst of this waterless wasteland God had provided Aenon which means springs, and Salim which means peaceful. It is God’s nature and pleasure to provide peaceful springs in the midst of the dry desert-like wastelands of our earthly lives by way of His Word.

David was a man who was made to wander in the wilderness on the run from an unprovoked assassination attempt by King Saul, and again when his son Absalom tried to overthrow David’s God given position as king over Israel. David knew well what it meant to wander in a waterless wasteland. In Psalm 107 David wrote of God’s divine provision, and God’s withdrawal of that provision due to wickedness.

According to David beginning with verse 33, David said of God; “He turns rivers into a wilderness, and the water springs into dry ground; a fruitful land into barrenness, for the wickedness of those who dwell in it. He turns a wilderness into pools of water, and dry lands into water springs.” David knew of both the provisional and correctional hand of God. Have we also known of the provision and willingness of God to correct us?

David continued his narrative in verse 36 of Psalm 107; “There He [God] makes the hungry dwell, that they may establish a city for a dwelling place, and sow fields and plant vineyards, that they may yield a fruitful harvest. He also blesses them, and they multiply greatly; and He does not let their cattle decrease.” For the wicked and unrighteous God turns rivers of waters into dry waterless wilderness. And yet, for the righteous God feeds them, shelters them, and blesses them mightily in the land of their dwelling. These lessons of a lifetime are to be remembered and spoken of often in the midst of the coming end time upheaval that the Word of God declares is coming!

Something Else To Consider:
How similar are the waterless wastelands and dry desert like conditions of our own circumstances and situations that come to us without warning and are well beyond our control. And yet, God graciously provides us with the refreshing streams of living water from His Word as often as we choose to drink from it. Not only are we refreshed from the sand driven winds of this world, but the washing of the water of His Word is like torrents of cleansing cascading waterfalls that wash over us as we travel the wasteland of this world’s system. But, we are rapidly coming to the closing of the history books of man’s evil rule!

Many people came to Jesus and John the Baptist to be ceremonially cleansed by baptism in response to the preaching of repentance. They came to the peaceful springs to be baptized for the remission of their sins. It is also important for us to understand another leadership lesson of a lifetime that is portrayed here just below the surface of our text. Jesus, as the disciples’ leader, remained with them and baptized. What is important is that Jesus remained with them. So many so-called leaders lead by delegation only.

Many so-called religious leaders lead as if from an ivory tower or hidden away in the obscurity of a distant office far from the front line of the battle of the Father’s business at hand. But Jesus remained with those He was leading. He was willing to stay in the trenches even though He greatly outranked them and everyone who will ever follow Him. As leaders in training, let us learn this lesson of a lifetime from our commander and chief cornerstone. And let us come often to the peaceful springs of the water of God’s Word. It is a most important part of His preparation process, and a lesson to learn for the coming perilous times.

Something More To Consider:
Until this time John the Baptist had been the center of attention. Until this time the preaching of John the Baptist was the main attraction in all the land of Judea. And John’s disciples noticed that all were now coming to Jesus. Maybe the decline in John’s popularity among the people concerned John’s disciples enough to bring it to John’s attention. Someone has rightly said, “There is no limit known to man, to what could be accomplished for Christ and the kingdom of God, when the people of God were no longer concerned about who was to get the credit.”

As leaders in training we must learn this most important kingdom principle; “He [Jesus] must increase, but I must decrease.” John declared, “A man can receive nothing unless it has been given to him from heaven.” This statement raises a few interesting questions. What about the cruel, self-seeking, dictatorial leaders who have risen through the religious and political ranks of power in the past and in the present? What about those of the same persuasion who will rise to power in the future end times?

If a man can receive nothing unless it is given to him from heaven, does that mean a self-proclaimed leader can or cannot take by force, by fortune, or by false pretense, a place or position of power over other people? Does this mean that God sanctions authority gained through usurped leadership? These are all certainly important questions to be considered, therefore, I am still personally praying about them all!

As taught in our text today, the ultimate test of a true leader who has been given authority from heaven; is their attitude and response when the time comes for that leader to decrease, and the time comes for Jesus Christ to increase. The false leader or wolf-like leader leaves his or her place or position of power only after much kicking and religious screaming.

The true spiritual Christ-like leader responds to his or her need to decrease as did John the Baptist, with much humility and great exceeding joy, as if attending a wedding celebration. Just the sound of Christ’s voice and the sight of His coming caused John to acknowledge with all his being, that Jesus must increase and His servant must decrease.

A Few Final Words:
Responsible leaders do not hesitate to remain in the trenches with the troops, in order to share the burden of the battle and experience the glory of gaining spiritual ground. And yet, as important, is that the wise and humble leaders must learn that it is much better to decrease and be lifted up in due time, than to fall from a high place because of personal pride!

Just think of the many religious, political, and military leaders over the centuries that have fallen prey to pride and the millions of innocent bystanders who have paid the price of their pride and arrogance. Let it not be named among the true spiritual leaders enlisted in the Christian army of the Lord in these last days.

What will be our decision when the time comes for us to decrease and for Jesus to increase? If that time has not yet come, we might ask ourselves why not? If Jesus is both Lord and Savior, then He must increase and we must decrease. If we do not decrease then is He really Lord, or are we fooling ourselves to think He is our Savior without first becoming our Lord? He should be both, and if He is not, why not? Why would a true child of God hesitate to decrease, and not desire Christ to increase His influence in us?

Our Father in heaven, wash over our wasteland-like parched souls as we travel this wilderness life, and help us to be willing to decrease. In Him Always, Amen!

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