★ Back to the Basics – The Unsung Hero of the Trinity – Part 2 ★

In yesterday’s post, I shared John Piper’s article and sermon “The Holy Spirit: Author of Scripture” in which he said that:

“The Holy Spirit is the divine author of all Scripture.  If this doctrine is true, then the implications are so profound and far-reaching that every part of our lives should be affected.”

I wholeheartedly believe that there should be evidence in your life that you are pursuing God.  Another way to refer to it is “fruit.”  If we are truly pursuing God and trying to be more like Jesus, then we should see The Fruit of the Spirit manifested in ever-increasing amounts.  Galatians 5:22-25 (NASB) says:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.  Now those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  If we live by the Spirit, let us also walk by the Spirit.”

Each weekday I have the privilege to be a part of Bible Studies in which I try to challenge the men at the table to press in and seek to gain knowledge about the faith that they profess.  I have been having conversations with them in the past 6 months asking, “What do you think of the Holy Spirit?”  The answers have been quite amazing and revealing on how the devil has blinded believers in regards to the Holy Spirit’s role in our life.  God has been stirring in my heart that belief in the Trinity is paramount to the health of the church and the growth of each believer.  I recently finished a devotional from Max Lucado in which he made this point about the Holy Spirit:

“If you want to see believers hem, haw, and search for words, just ask, “Who is the Holy Spirit?” Most believers understand the Father and the Son, but they are perplexed about the role of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  It’s as if they’ve settled for a two-thirds God.”  (From the YouVersion reading plan ‘Unshakable Hope: Building Our Lives On The Promises Of God’.)

What do you think?  Do you believe 2 out 3 is enough?  “Are you settling for a two-thirds God,” that loving God and accepting Jesus as your Lord and Savior is enough??  It’s almost like people are living with an understanding of 1 Corinthians 8:6 (NLT) only:

“But for us, There is one God, the Father, by whom all things were created, and for whom we live.  And there is one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things were created, and through whom we live.”

While belief in the Father and Son is critical, we must learn that about the 3rd person in the Trinity who is equally important.  In the post called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Whose Body Are You A Part Of? ★, we unpacked that the church is ONE body and that we are all baptized by one Spirit into one body, (see 1 Corinthians 12:12-13).  The Holy Spirit is part of the Triune or Trinity; consisting of God the Father, Jesus and the Holy Spirit who are all omnipotent (all-powerful), omniscient (all-knowing), and omnipresent (ever-present always).

It would be good to read that post in tandem with this one as we will not cover the “Gifts of the Holy Spirit” at all as we covered that already in that post, other than to say how important it is that we operate in them!  (See 1 Corinthians 12:7-11 for the list of gifts available).  But I think that there are many who claim to know the Holy Spirit yet are living a life of powerlessness.  Francis Chan referred to the Holy Spirit as the “Forgotten God.”  He said:

So, the first question I have for you…Do you know that the Holy Spirit is a person?  He is not some vapor or an “it,” as were some of the responses to my question.  Some guys straight out said they did not know much about the Holy Spirit at all.  And some beliefs expressed were not biblically based but rather what a denomination taught them.  The Holy Spirit really is the Unsung Hero of the Trinity.  Now you may think that that is a leap but by the end of this series I pray that your mind will be opened to how amazing the He is.  There are so many instances that the Holy Spirit does not receive the praise for all that He does in our lives and worse than that, He is oftentimes called an “it” or stiff-armed or rejected as something “weird” and to be avoided.  The funny thing is, if people just opened the Bible, they would see how many references that clearly show that the Holy Spirit is indeed a person.  For me, I love John 14:15-17 (NLT) when Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to the His Disciples:

“If you love me, obey my commandments.  And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth.  The world cannot receive Him, because it isn’t looking for Him and doesn’t recognize Him.  But you know Him, because He lives with you now and later will be in you.” 

Look at how many times Jesus references the Holy Spirit as “He” or “Him.”  I was just reading the first book of the Bible and look at WHO is mentioned in verse 2!

In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. The earth was formless and empty, and darkness covered the deep waters. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the surface of the waters.”  Genesis 1:1-2 (NLT)

I have read those verses over and over and until now I have never noticed that the Holy Spirit is mentioned at the very beginning of The Account of Creation!  And then in Genesis 1:26a (NLT) it says:

“Then God said, “Let us make human beings in OUR image, to be like us.””

I have always read verse 26 as God and Jesus, BUT how can you ignore that the Holy Spirit is mentioned long before Jesus is.  We are made in the image of the Holy Trinity, including the Holy Spirit.  When we push away the Holy Spirit or refuse to invite Him into our life, it is just like rejecting God the Father or God the Son because we were made in God the Holy Spirit’s image too!  Why is this important?  Because when we push away Holy Spirit, we are disconnecting ourselves from the power source.  In Acts 1:8 (NLT), just before Jesus ascended to Heaven, He said to the disciples:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you.  And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere—in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

The Holy Spirit is a gift to us from God the Father for us to help us to tell everyone about Jesus to spread the Good News.  Before Jesus left He also said in John 16:7-14 (NLT)…

“But in fact, it is best for you that I go away, because if I don’t, the Advocate won’t come.  If I do go away, then I will send Him to you.  And when He comes, He will convict the world of its sin, and of God’s righteousness, and of the coming judgment.  The world’s sin is that it refuses to believe in me. Righteousness is available because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.  Judgment will come because the ruler of this world has already been judged.

There is so much more I want to tell you, but you can’t bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own but will tell you what He has heard. He will tell you about the future. He will bring me glory by telling you whatever He receives from me.”

Advocate means “a person who pleads on someone else’s behalf.”  The Holy Spirit intercedes and works on our behalf to help understand God’s Will for our life.  Robert Morris said it this way:

Jesus said in John 14:26 (ESV)…

“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.”

The Holy Spirit offers so much to anyone who will just ask.  Unfortunately, so many Christians are ignorant of all that He can provide and have believed the lie that then enemy saturated the church into believing that you should stay as far away as possible because the Holy Spirit is “out there” for those crazy believers.

Jesus taught about prayer in Luke 11:1-12, after His disciples asked Him to teach them how to pray.  Part of that teaching is a prayer referred to as “The Lord’s Prayer” which is a great model prayer for every believer to go to the Father.  Interestingly though as we have seen time and time again, the Holy Spirit is quickly mentioned right after Jesus concludes with the prayer in Luke 11:13 (ESV)…

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Right there it shows that we need to Go to God the Father and ask for the Holy Spirit in our life!  I will close with this last thought.  If you were to survey Christians with this question, “What is your purpose here on Earth?”  Some common responses may be:

  • To glorify God in all that I say and do.
  • To seek first His righteousness above all else!
  • To become more and more like Jesus.
  • To make a difference for the Kingdom of God.

I dare say that all of that can be can be accomplished by asking the Holy Spirit to be a vital part of your day to day life.  My word for 2019 that I felt impressed upon me was “Transformed.”  As we were going through 2 Corinthians in December with one of the Bible Studies, we came up Chapter 3 verses 17-18 (NLT)

“For the Lord is the Spirit, and wherever the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.  So, all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.  And the Lord—who is the Spirit—makes us more and more like Him as we are changed into his glorious image.”

That is so good!  What great insight to see the significance that the Holy Spirit plays in accomplishing God’s Will while honoring Him and witnessing to the world.  Do you want to know how we become more like Jesus?  Well the Apostle Paul just showed us, though the Holy Spirit!  My prayer for 2019 and I hope yours to is to be changed more and more into His glorious image!  I want the faith I have in God to spread far and wide!  Lord may I be a useful conduit of your love, grace and forgiveness to flow to everyone I encounter!  Holy Spirit please give me power to be more and more like Jesus!  Amen!

Click Here for Part 2 for the culmination of our series into the Holy Spirit and what we must do!

★ ★ ★ DIG DEEPER ★ ★ ★ 

Check out this related post:

★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Plug or a Conduit? ★

 

To help you grow in your knowledge of the Holy Spirit check out this 6-part series called the “God I Never Knew” by Robert Morris along with the description.

Who Is He? | Sermon 1 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert begins The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Who Is He?” where he teaches us about the character of the Holy Spirit.

Is He a Person? | Sermon 2 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Is He a Person?” where he shows us through Scripture that the Holy Spirit has a mind, will, and emotions.

Is He Pentecostal? | Sermon 3 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Is He Pentecostal?” where he defines the word “Pentecostal” and explains what happened on Pentecost.

Is He Charismatic? | Sermon 4 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message titled, “Is He Charismatic?” where he describes the different gifts of the Spirit.

Does He Baptize? | Sermon 5 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert continues The God I Never Knew series with a message called “Does He Baptize?” where he covers the three scriptural baptisms.

Does He Speak in Tongues? | Sermon 6 | The God I Never Knew Series | Robert Morris

Pastor Robert concludes The God I Never Knew series with a message called “Does He Speak in Tongues?” where he explains the scriptural basis for having a prayer language.

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★ Thought for the Day – Are You a Parasite? ★

In our last post called ★ “Back to the Basics” – Pursuit #2 – What Are You Feeding On? ★, we discussed the importance of reading the bible if we want to grow in our walk with God.  And that what you feed your mind is what you will become.  My daughter reminded me of the movie we saw a year ago called “Tomorrowland” (which was really awesome and is on Redbox now.)  In the movie they had a quote about an Old Cherokee Proverb that within everyone is two wolves fighting a battle…I looked up the background and thought it was a great illustration of what we all face…

A99 - Daily Dependence - Tomorrowland - 2 Wolves Quoten old Cherokee was teaching his grandson about life. 

“A fight is going on inside me,” he said to the boy.

“It is a terrible fight and it is between two wolves.  

One is evil – he is anger, envy, sorrow, regret, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, resentment, inferiority, lies, false pride, superiority, and ego.”  

He continued, “The other is good – he is joy, peace, love, hope, serenity, humility, kindness, benevolence, empathy, generosity, truth, compassion, and faith. 

The same fight is going on inside you – and inside every other person, too.”

The grandson thought about it for a minute and then asked his grandfather, “Which wolf will win?”

The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”

WHICH WOLF ARE YOU FEEDING?  

I love that answer to the question “Which wolf will win?”…“The one you feed.”  There is such truth in that statement that if we could grasp it today, our lives could be forever changed!  In the Bible, Romans 8:5-6 (NLT) supports this truth:

“Those who are dominated by the sinful nature [or ‘flesh’ as other Bible translations call it,] think about sinful things, but those who are controlled by the Holy Spirit think about things that please the Spirit.  So letting your sinful nature [flesh] control your mind leads to death.  But letting the Spirit control your mind leads to life and peace.”

We always have a choice about what we will feed, our flesh or our spirit…Today I would like springboard off of our last post and speak to those who have been walking with God and reading the Bible to pose the question, are you a parasite?  Strange question huh?  When you hear the word parasite a few nasty examples come to my mind like tapeworms, fleas, and barnacles.  I read somewhere that Tapeworms attach themselves to the insides of the intestines of animals such as cows, pigs, and humans.  They get food by eating the host’s partly digested food, depriving the host of nutrients.  Gross huh?  Vocabulary.com had this definition for what a PARASITE is:

“A creature that lives off another organism is a parasite. The parasite might not hurt the host, but it doesn’t do anything to help it, either.”

Can you think of an example of a creature that feeds off of another but doesn’t hurt the host?  I will give you a hint…you may have some living in your home…babies of course!  But we hardly would consider them a parasite right…right?  Hahaha!  There is nothing more beautiful than a nursing baby.  After all it was God’s design that a woman’s body would transform to be able to provide nourishment for her child BUT as the baby gets older, it is time to transition to solid food.

The question…Are You a Parasite? Was intended to get your attention but maybe a less graphic way to start the dialogue would be to say, are you doing anything with what you are reading in the Bible or are you in a perpetual feeding mode?  I heard a quote from a country preacher named Vance Havner who said:

99 - Daily Dependence - Vance Havner - How Far You've Come
“How long you’ve been a Christian only tells how long you’ve been on the road.  It doesn’t tell how far you’ve come.” Vance Havner

When I first heard of this quote I thought of it in comparison to 1 Timothy 4:12 about not letting anyone “think less of you because you are young.”  But recently I have thought it more along the lines of not believing you’re mature just because of how long you’ve been calling yourself a Christian.  Do you consider yourself mature?  Or should I say are you continuing to mature in your faith?  I an article from Albert Mohler he quoted researchers George Gallup and Jim Castelli who said:

“Americans revere the Bible–but, by and large, they don’t read it.  And because they don’t read it, they have become a nation of biblical illiterates.”  How bad is it?  Researchers tell us that it’s worse than most could imagine.

According to data from the Barna Research Group, 60 percent of Americans can’t name even five of the Ten Commandments.  “No wonder people break the Ten Commandments all the time.  They don’t know what they are,” said George Barna, president of the firm.  The bottom line?  “Increasingly, America is biblically illiterate.”

And from another article I saw these statistics…

99 - Daily Dependence - The State of the Bible - 6 Trends for 2014 - Barna Reserach
“The State of the Bible: 6 Trends for 2014” – Barna Research

What a sad reality!  Would you consider yourself illiterate when it comes to your knowledge of the Bible?  Just like you cannot become mature just by the number of years you are a Christian, just owning a Bible is not enough, we need to read and know it!  This lack of maturity is not a new phenomenon.  In approximately 55 AD, the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 3:1-3 to encourage the Corinthian Church to grow in their faith.  They were not ready for the deeper truths that he wanted to share with them…In verse 2, Paul said:

“I had to feed you with milk, not with solid food, because you weren’t ready for anything stronger.  And you still aren’t ready,”

For the purpose of this Thought for the Day, I am going to assume that we are all “within the 37% who read the Bible more than once a week” that the Barna Research Group found.  And with that baseline, I want to challenge you to look within and ask yourself…Does that 1 Corinthians 3:2 statement describe you?  Have you been on the path for decades, reading God’s Word, going to church, attending Bible Studies and yet you still are not ready to move on to solid food?  Hebrews 5:12 (NLT) gives this stark wake up call!

99 - Daily Dependence - Hebrews 5-12 - Milk to Meat
“You have been believers so long now that you ought to be teaching others. Instead, you need someone to teach you again the basic things about God’s word. You are like babies who need milk and cannot eat solid food.”

Convicting huh?  It was definitely true of me!  I accepted Jesus as my savior in August of 1998 and though I would describe myself as “being on fire for God,” my development was far from that.  I attended church yes but did not read the Bible.  It was not until 12 years later that one conversation with Todd McIntyre, the Men’s Pastor at Gateway Church changed everything!  In the post called ★ Back to the Basics – Silencing the Noise ★, I shared how he helped me see the need to reconcile my relationship with my estranged father and also opened my eyes to the need to develop the spiritual discipline of reading the bible daily which has paid dividends!  I have grown more in the last six years then I did in the preceding 12!  It is interesting to think how one conversation changed the whole trajectory of my life!  But that would not have happened unless I actually listened to Pastor Todd’s counsel and put it into practice!  James 1:22-25 (NLT) says:

99 - Daily Dependence - James 1-22 - Be Doers of the Word“But don’t just listen to God’s word. You must do what it says. Otherwise, you are only fooling yourselves. For if you listen to the word and don’t obey, it is like glancing at your face in a mirror. You see yourself, walk away, and forget what you look like. But if you look carefully into the perfect law that sets you free, and if you do what it says and don’t forget what you heard, then God will bless you for doing it.”

In our Wednesday night Lifegroup, we have been going through a Bible Study by Francis Chan on RightNowMedia from the Book of James.  In the third lesson (which was based on James 1:19-27,) Francis Chan nailed it as he pounds on the truth of this passage…He said,

“Satan is thrilled when believers pack out churches to hear the Word of God and then they walk away and do nothing and yet feel like they’ve accomplished something.  Their deceiving [themselves], they’re doing Satan’s job for Him!”

Amen?  We need to be DOERS of the Word not just HEARERS.  Too often that people say “I am not being fed,” so they move on to another church, never realizing that maybe it has nothing to with the Pastor or the church but with them.  You cannot grow without putting in the work yourself.  Being a parasite can also be by living your life only on the basis of someone else’s faith.  Maybe it’s someone who brought you to Christ in the first place, like a parent who dragged you to church every Sunday, or a friend who made you feel obligated to accept Christ.  You never really developed a personal relationship with Christ but rather you are going with the flow of someone else’s faith.  

99 - Daily Dependence - Milk to Meat - MaturingSo then how do we go from MILK to MEAT, and mature as a believer?  I am glad you asked…Stop being a parasite.  Stop leeching onto others for your growth.  Stop depending on others or the Pastor/Church for your spiritual development.  You have to take responsibility for your own development.  Just like you cannot survive on one meal a week, you cannot depend on 1 hour on a Sunday morning to be the only source of nourishment that you give your Spirit!  It must happen daily.  If you don’t apply the knowledge that you hear than you will never grow and you will remain stagnant.  I say this all the time but it’s so true…Nothing changes if nothing changes!  Today decide to…Feed Yourself!

99 - Daily Dependence - Feed Yourself

 

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★ Thought for the Day – Five Truths That Will Change Your Life! ★

69 - Daily Dependence - 5 TruthsI know this is a bold claim but I believe it is true if you will have an open mind to what you are about to read. Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary defines truths as:

1. Sincerity in action, character, and utterance
2. The state of being the case :  fact
3. A transcendent fundamental : spiritual reality

Truths are indisputable facts that transcend what the latest thought that is trending on Twitter. They are black and white, that are constant and do not change as a passing fad. In this fast pace, pleasure driven, my way or the highway world we live in, beliefs in absolute truths have become the exception, rather than the norm, but if you accept these 5 Spiritual Truths, I promise your life will be forever changed!
I have shared in previous posts how remote God was in my life, not because of Him but as a result of being hurt by people in the church.  As I think of my self absorbed teenage years and early twenties, God was way, way down on the list…if He even was on there.  Except for the obligatory Easter and Christmas Mass, I never was present in church.  But Jesus gives us our first truth in Matthew 6:33 (NLT) of what will happen if we do place a priority on God…

God and what He cares about should be ahead of everything else, if we do, everything else will be added to us.  Too often we have it backwards, we chase after everything and God comes last, if at all.  Part of Jesus’ famous sermon on the mount, Matthew 6:33 is a great scripture to stand on.  I have always loved this verse, but the Message translation of this passage has opened my eyes to see this bit different…

“Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.” 
 

When God is first, He promises to meet our needs!  Where else do you get that kind of guarantee??
69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #2 - Realize that You are NOT a Good Person????
Ouch, that ones hurts doesn’t it??  But it’s true, (that includes me also.)  John 3:16-17 (NLT) says,

“For this is how God loved the world: He gave his one and only Son, so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. God sent his Son into the world not to judge the world, but to save the world through him.”
 

Until you realize that you are a sinner in need of forgiveness, and accept Jesus, as payment for your sins, your life will remain in brokenness and you will be separated from God.

If you want to learn more about this and how to have a relationship with Jesus, check out the post called,  ★ Thought for the Day – I Hate Religion and I’m a Christian… ★

Francis Chan breaks down our second truth why “being good” just doesn’t cut it…Watch it!

 

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #3 - Life is Not Always Going to Be Easy
Amen??  I don’t have to say much to convince you of that right?  Even if you have accepted truth #1 and #2, that does not make you immune from trouble or pain. Are you suffering today?  Aching from being hurt by someone’s betrayal or persecuted for something you did not do?  You are not alone, the Bible recounts in Genesis how Joseph was betrayed by his brothers and sold into slavery, only to then be wrongly accused of attempted rape and thrown into prison…BUT God used these horrible betrayals that people inflicted, and elevated Joseph to second-in-command of all of Egypt.  Our #3 Truth comes from Genesis 50:20 (NLT),

69 - Daily Dependence - Genesis 50-20 - God Intended it for GoodI love that, what was “intended to harm me,” was used by God to “save the lives of many people.”  We cannot see the whole picture, God is always working and you never know how God will turn a bad situation around.  What is interesting is that early on in Joseph’s teenage years, he was given incredible dreams of what God’s plan for his future was going to be, but he had to go through a season of struggle first before he was able to step into his destiny that God had planned for him.  Psalms 105:19 (NLT) gives us insight into Joseph’s life.

“Until the time came to fulfill his dreams, the lord tested Joseph’s character.”

Genesis 50:20 is one of my favorite verses that illustrates that even in the worst circumstances God can use the pain to produce something great!  It is the Old Testament parallel verse to the often quoted passage from Romans 8:28 (NLT),

69 - Daily Dependence - Romans 8-28“And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them.”

God can bring something good out of any situation.  He causes everything to work together for the good.  Trust Him to use your current situation to mold you into something beautiful!  God can and will turn any trial into a triumph!!!

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #4 - Put on Your Armor
Wars are won or lost based on your defensive capabilities, so we need to make sure we are equipped for the battle.  Spiritual warfare is very real! You don’t have to live too long on this earth before you’ll find out that there will be trouble from those around you.  People will hurt you, betray you, cheat on you…you name it.  There is evil in this world and we need to be aware of it.  (You can read more about this in the post called ★ Thought for the Day – All the Time in the World ★.)  There is a war is occurring in the “unseen” realms as our #4 Truth warns us that we need to put on “The Whole Armor of God.”  Ephesians 6:10-12 (NLT) says, 

There is a battle raging on the enemy of our souls, the Devil will use every weapon in his arsenal to take us out.  The challenging part is to realize the attack as it is happening.  The Devil is a deceiver and master of lies, so often the attack will come in the form of voices in our own mind, that will lead us to believe the wrong thing.  Bob Hamp said made this powerful statement,

“Spiritual Warfare is the battle in which you choose which voice to listen to in the midst of your experiences.”

So what voice will you believe?  The lies screamed by Satan or the still small voice of God?  I encourage you to continue to read Ephesians 6:13-17 that goes into all the Armor of God (which one day I will write a Thought for the Day on.)

69 - Daily Dependence - Truth #5 - There is hope!
The things we go through in this life are temporary, but Jesus promises us that we can have peace because of what He did for us on the cross.  John 16:33 (NLT) says,
69 - Daily Dependence - John 16-33 - Oval Alt

We all go through different storms in this life, whether relational, financial or physical health, but no matter the storm, the answer, and the solution are the SAME… Lean into God and rely on His strength.  Arm yourself with Bible verses that you can speak out loud and pray, when doubts and worries creep in.  If you want to read more about God’s presence in the midst of the storm, check out this post called ★ Thought for the Day – The Storms of Life ★.

Draw close to God and He will draw close to you.  I promise you will never be disappointed that you did! 

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★ Thought for the Day – Don’t Settle For First Place ★

As the winter doldrums are upon us, and frigid weather wreaks havoc across our nation, I think to myself, how can anyone work outside in such cold weather.  When the thermometer reads below freezing and it has been nothing but gloomy for weeks, it’s hard for me to get motivated to leave the house to go to my heated office.  As the stream of consciousness flows, I start to think about how incredible the athletes are who compete in the Winter Olympics.  I must confess, I don’t watch the Winter games as much as the Summer ones.  My personal favorite, (along with the rest of the world,) is American swimmer, Michael Phelps who holds the all-time record for Gold medals, and is the most decorated Olympian of all time!  My reason though is because I was a swimmer back in the day, and marvel at his superhuman skills!  But I digress…back to the Winter games…In looking for a “winner’s box” photo, I stumbled across this photo from February 12, 2014 of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia which really caught my eye.

The article that it was associated with was titled the “Best of Sochi: Day 5 at the Olympics,” (having not seen it, I will take their word,) but what got my attention was not the celebratory leap from Gold medalist Eric Frenzel of Germany, but rather the expressions and body language of silver medalist Akito Watabe of Japan (L) and bronze medalist Magnus Krog of Norway (R).  It is clear that Akito and Magnus were not as thrilled with their accomplishments as Eric was!  As each of these athletes stepped onto the winner’s box and received their medal, you know, a sea of emotions and thoughts were flooding their minds from “I can’t believe I placed” to…”How did I only come in second (…or third place).”  It is so easy for us to go from celebration to condemnation and that’s the pitfall of comparison!  One of my favorite quotes from Theodore Roosevelt is,

“Comparison is the thief of joy.”  

STOP!  Go back and read and ponder on that incredible truth!  “Comparison is the thief of joy.”  When we compare ourselves to others, we open ourselves to disappointment.  Have you ever felt like Akito Watabe that you are “Mr. 2nd Place?”  Are you tired of never making gold?  Though he is an incredible athlete, and has competed in two Winter Olympics, Akito has never brought home the gold!!  Are you always ending up second in line, playing second fiddle, or being runner-up?  Regardless of what you label it, second place can be very frustrating for sure, especially when you have put in the work!  For me, I have always finished 5th or 6th place…(out of 8), when I competed on the High School Varsity Swim Team; a very different league from “Mr. 1st Place” Michael Phelps..  Now before you start feeling bad for me, I am way over the agony of the defeat. Hahaha!  I learned long ago that nothing good ever comes comparing my accomplishments with others.

Do you know that there was one guy in the Bible who truly was “Mr. 2nd Place?”  This guy had a huge following, with many disciples and more and more converts coming to be baptized every day…but when the #1 guy showed up on the scene, people flocked to Him instead…that of course was John the Baptist, who very well could have been the originator of the “I Am Second” campaign…Just look at his response to the critics when the people left to go to follow Jesus…he said:
 65 - Daily Dependence - I Am Second - John 3-30
“He [Jesus] must become greater and greater,
and I must become less and less.”  John 3:30 (NLT)

See John the Baptist understood what his purpose was, that he was not the star…Jesus was!  Galatians 6:4-5 (MSG) says,

“Make a careful exploration of who you are and the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.  Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.  Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”

I love how the Message Translation puts it, “make a careful exploration of who you are,” once you know who you are, then what other people do or say will not affect how you think about yourself.  But it is very easy to get sidetracked looking outward versus inward, as a result of Social Media.
65 - Daily Dependence - Social Media Summary
Though it has revolutionized our lives, allowing us to share our interests, lives, and make new connections, whether you Pin It, Tweet it, Facebook it, Instagram it, Google+ it, or Link In with people.  But with every great thing, there is always a flip-side.  Steven Furtick has a new book called “Crash the Chatterbox” which is all about hearing the voice of God over all the other voices in our mind that try to tear you down causing us to be discontent and insecure with ourselves.  He said,

"One of the main reasons we struggle with insecurity: we're comparing our behind-the-scenes with everybody else's highlight reel." Steven Furtick

Wow!  If you struggle with insecurity, this truth should set you free right now!!  Receive that today!

The next part of Galatians 6:4 says that we should make a careful exploration of “the work you have been given, and then sink yourself into that.”  See just like John the Baptist knew who he was in God, he also set himself to the task at hand to “prepare the way of the Lord” in the desert, see Mark 1:1-8 for the full story.

Oh that we could “sink ourselves into the work that God has set before us.”  Francis Chan made this sobering statement what are we really succeeding at…

65 - Daily Dependence - Francis Chan - Our Greatest Fear

“Our greatest fear should not be of failure, but of succeeding at things in life that don’t really matter.”

Where are you at?  As you compare your lives to others, trying to “Keep Up With the Jones,” I urge you to make that careful exploration!

As Galatians 5 continues, “Don’t be impressed with yourself.  Don’t compare yourself with others.”  You think if you were the forerunner to the Savior of the World, you would have a big head but, John the Baptist’s response that “I must become less and less” should be our modus operandi.  Jon Acuff made this profound statement,

65 - Daily Dependence - John Acuff - Comparison

Again, nothing good comes from comparison!  Finally the last portion of Galatians, “ Each of you must take responsibility for doing the creative best you can with your own life.”  I will go back once more to “Mr. 2nd Place” for fulfillment of this directive, in Mark 1:4, 6 (ESV) the gospel writer says this,

“John appeared, baptizing in the wilderness and proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and wore a leather belt around his waist and ate locusts and wild honey.”

Now that is creative indeed!  But you don’t need to go to the desert, clothed with camel’s hair, eating locusts and wild honey to be creative for Christ, but what I think Apostle Paul is saying in this passage is that we need o be BOLD FOR CHRIST!  Amen?

I close this Thought with this final point about the Bible’s “Mr. 2nd Place,” recognizing that Jesus Christ is the hero, the main character of the story, numero uno, will change everything. Humility is the key to everything.  In fact, Jesus Christ’s first character trait that he showed us, was humility when he was born in a manger. All through the bible it talks about how God opposes the proud and exalts the humble, and that is what happened for John.  ( I posted this blog recently, ★ Re|Engage – Humility ★ talking all about Humility if you want to read more about this.)  John the Baptist’s attitude of humility lead to the Son of God, the Savior of the World, Jesus Christ to say that John the Baptist was the greatest man who ever lived, (see Matthew 11:11 and Luke 7:28)…and that was because he knew his place and accepted it!

Can the same be said of you today?

So if you find yourself that you are always coming in second place or runner-up is your lot in life, consider yourself blessed to be in the same company of the greatest man who ever lived who also was second.  Don’t Settle For First Place!

“Comparison kills contentment in our lives.” Steven Furtick

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