Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Not One Complaint

As I was reading Daniel 6 the other morning I was reminded of so many great events that took place to show off the sovereignty and power of God.  We are all familiar with Daniel being thrown into the lions den but we may forget why.  The king, Darius, had a plan to place Daniel over the whole kingdom (6:3).  Then we read:

Then the presidents and the satraps sought to find a ground for complaint against Daniel with regard to the kingdom, but they could find no ground for complaint or any fault, because he was faithful, and no error or fault was found in him.  Then these men said, "We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God." (6:4-5)

I thought about this passage for a while and wondered if that would be the response of the people I work with day to day.  I hope they wouldn't be out to sabotage me but to think that they could find no fault with me would an amazing display of God's grace.  In Daniel 6 we read that these men had no dirt against Daniel because he was faithful.  Is my life like Daniel's?  Do I love God this way?  I must admit that is always true.  Actually I wonder how true it is at times.  This was a real eye opener to me as I read this passage.

My desire is to love the Lord with all my heart, soul, mind and strength and love my neighbor as myself.   Daniel pressed on in the grace of the Lord.  Daniel did not compromise even when these men tricked the king into making a law against God's will.  Daniel trusted the Lord through every circumstance. But in the end we see the faithfulness of God more than anything else.  God was faithful with Daniel and he will be faithful with all his children.  May we cling to him no matter what this life may throw at us.  We can trust him.

Grace upon grace,
JRL


Monday, November 28, 2011

God Delights in God

I recently decided to pick up again John Piper's book The Pleasures of God.  I remember certain things about this book that made an impact on my life but there is so much in the book that I need to be reminded of in order to understand God and the gospel to a greater extent.  I want to drink in the fact that God finds his greatest delight in himself and that "God delights to give us the very delight that he has in himself."  Simply amazing and encouraging.  The book / sermon series came from a line in Henry Scougal's book The Life of God and the Soul of Man in which Piper read the words:

The worth and excellency of a soul is to be measured by the object of its love.

While Scougal was speaking on a human level John Piper thought this is also true of God.  The greatest delight of God's soul is found in loving himself.  How is that not pride or arrogance?  Simply because God is the greatest treasure.  God cannot find a higher object to love or someone superior to himself.  If God worshipped or love someone or something else he would be an idolater and therefore cease to be God.  Piper says this about the gospel:

The gospel is the good news that God is the all-satisfying end of all our longings, and that even though he does not need us, and is in fact estranged from us because of our God-belittling sins, he has, in the great love with which he loved us, made a way for sinners to drink at the river of his delights through Jesus Christ.  And we will not be enthralled by this good news unless we feel that he was not obliged to do this.  He was not coerced or constrained by our value.  He is the center of the gospel.  The exaltation of his glory is the driving force of the gospel.  The gospel is the gospel of grace!  And grace is the pleasure of God to magnify the worth of God by giving sinners the right and power to delight in God without obscuring the glory of God.

What a great God and great gospel.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

John 13:1-20

Now before the Feast of the Passover, when Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart out of this world to the Father, having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end. During supper, when the devil had already put it into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him, Jesus, knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he had come from God and was going back to God, rose from supper. He laid aside his outer garments, and taking a towel, tied it around his waist. Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and to wipe them with the towel that was wrapped around him. He came to Simon Peter, who said to him, "Lord, do you wash my feet?" Jesus answered him, "What I am doing you do not understand now, but afterward you will understand."  Peter said to him, "You shall never wash my feet." Jesus answered him, "If I do not wash you, you have no share with me." Simon Peter said to him, "Lord, not my feet only but also my hands and my head!" Jesus said to him, "The one who has bathed does not need to wash, except for his feet, but is completely clean. And you are clean, but not every one of you."  For he knew who was to betray him; that was why he said, "Not all of you are clean."

 When he had washed their feet and put on his outer garments and resumed his place, he said to them, "Do you understand what I have done to you?  You call me Teacher and Lord, and you are right, for so I am. If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do just as I have done to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a servant is not greater than his master, nor is a messenger greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, blessed are you if you do them. I am not speaking of all of you; I know whom I have chosen. But the Scripture will be fulfilled, 'He who ate my bread has lifted his heel against me.'  I am telling you this now, before it takes place, that when it does take place you may believe that I am he. Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever receives the one I send receives me, and whoever receives me receives the one who sent me." 

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Born by the Holy Spirit's Breath

Born by the Holy Spirit's breath.
Loosed from the law of sin and death,
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Now cleared in Christ from every claim
No judgment stands against our name.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

In us the Spirit makes His home
That we in Him may overcome;
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Christ's risen life, in all its powers,
Its all-prevailing strength, is ours.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Children and heirs of God most high,
We by His Spirit 'Father' cry;
Alleluia, Alleluia!
That Spirit with our spirit shares
To frame and breathe our wordless prayers.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

One is His love, His purpose one:
To form the likeness of His Son
Alleluia, Alleluia!
In all who, called and justified,
Shall reign in glory at His side.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia!

Nor death nor life, nor powers unseen,
Nor height nor depth can come between;
Alleluia, Alleluia!
We know through peril, pain and sword,
The love of God in Christ our Lord.
Alleluia, Alleluia!
Alleluia, Alleluia, Alleluia! (Timothy Dudley-Smith)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, November 18, 2011

Life for Life


“Life for life” (Deuteronomy )

Recently I have been studying the topic of evil.  Capital punishment has been the big issue being addressed which is addressed in Deuteronomy 19.  Not really an exciting topic but since I started the study it makes complete sense.  God designed it therefore the ultimate thought behind capital punishment is a righteous and holy design.  

No doubt capital punishment is a hard topic to address.  We have seen people wrongly executed and some others get off the hook when the evidence is clear.  The media definitely helps the general public sway one way or the other in making a decision.  Most of us have an opinion when a big case is shown on TV all day long or in the news because it is what we see and hear about non-stop.   The judge and jurors have much to think about as the public weighs in with its opinion.  But not all court cases are broadcasted for the world to see.  I read our local news and hear of homicides that take place and very rarely are they broadcast all day long.  Normally it is mentioned briefly on the news that night.  The report normally comes in when the police or FBI have found the suspect.  The murderer is then brought before the judge to face trial.  Evidence is presented, attorneys examine, witnesses testify and the jury makes a decision.  Until the case is finished the alleged murderer is locked up during that time.  Verdict: Not guilty.  He walks free.  Verdict: Guilty. Life in prison or the death sentence. 

Why? What’s the point behind this process?  Life in prison is one thing but why would we take the life of another human?  I know the Bible talks about premeditated murder being grounds for the life of the murderer to be taken away from him as well.  But we don’t live in Israel’s time.  No one is executed for adultery anymore.  No child is executed for speaking back to their parents.  Why would this command continue?  “Life for life” is not just a concept here in Deuteronomy 19 but goes back to Genesis 9 right after the flood.  “From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man. ‘Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image’” (5-6).  The reason behind “life for life” is the fact that man is more valuable than anything else created.  Man is superior over the land, sea and animals.  We are distinct because we are created in the image of God.  The consequences are greater because of being made in God’s image.  It has everything to do with God’s value.  Capital punishment is still in play because God commands it.  The process is not perfect because sinners are involved but we must do our best to honor God’s perfect design of “life for life.” 

Capital punishment has everything to do with the value of the One whose image we are created in.  It’s not fun, simple or easy but it is commanded.  It is right.  It is a display of God’s holiness.  When we read of “life for life” we should be reminded that this is God’s plan.  It is his plan as a consequence for sin. But “life for life” should also take our minds to another substitution.  It should take us to the most important murder that ever took place.  We should look to the death of Jesus Christ.  The crazy part about this substitution is the fact that the perfect Son of God died in the place of those who were once “haters of God” (Rom. ).  In capital punishment the murderer’s life is taken because they have taken the life of another.  In the gospel the only innocent man to ever live dies in the place of those who are his murderers.  He dies so his enemies may become his sons and daughters.  He dies so his enemies can come sit at his table with him.  This is something that is truly impossible to comprehend.  In Christ temporary life is exchanged for eternal life.  Better yet eternal death is exchanges for eternal life.  

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Jerry Sandusky and the Gospel of Jesus Christ

Let's just be open and honest about this whole mess at Penn State University with Jerry Sandusky.  Things quit frankly are not looking good.  Being a huge sports fan I have been compelled to follow this story but only to a certain degree.  The reason: It's a hard story to follow.  Hard because it's gross.  It's a story of perversion.  It is a sad story but one that does not shock me. But in this post I don't want to focus in on the case or the crime but rather our response to wickedness.

Why?

I'll start by saying:  Jerry Sandusky is a wicked, sinful man.  (Stick with me)  If you were to ask the general public, "Is Jerry Sandusky a wicked man?"  I think right now the general answer would be "yes."  But before this scandal he was a good man in eyes of the general public or at worst an unknown man.  The problem is having a mindset that his status has changed because of this scandal.  But the truth be told he has always been a wicked man.  I think most people are compelled to this story because now there is a new person to hold up and say, "I'm good because I haven't done what he has done."  The public loves this story because there is a poster boy of wickedness and most of us rank above him as "good people."  We feel better about ourselves because we think, "I would never do anything like he did."   When we think in this manner we show that we are wicked, sinful people as well.  Sadly, we have have always been wicked, sinful people. 

We enjoy the failures of others because it puffs up our pride.  We are always searching for people who outwardly are worse off than we are because we feel so much better about ourselves.  This is why we need a standard or better yet an authority.  Goodness has become a relative term and the standard is whatever we set.  This makes us the authority.  But natural born sinners cannot set the standard for other natural born sinners.  Therefore, I am not the authority.  You are not the authority.  No human being is an authority unless that human being perfectly obeyed the perfect standard set by the Creator.  There is only one authority and he says this about each one of us:  "None is righteous, no, not one; no one understands; no one seeks for God.  All have turned aside; together they have become worthless; no one does good, not even one" (Romans 3:10-12). 

"But...I've never committed a crime of Sandusky's magnitude." 
"You know if I had been in Joe Paterno's shoes I would have done better." 
"If I was the president of Penn State I would have handled things in a right manner." 

Maybe things could have been handled better but my point in this articles is for us to examine why we react the way we do to such sad news.  In each of these responses we are assuming we are "good people."  We are assuming our hearts are always set on doing what is right but that is a wrong assumption.  God says our hearts are deceitful and desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9).  You say, "Not mine."  Really?  Would you the creation call into question your Creator?  That doesn't make sense. 

As Christians we should all examine our hearts and pursue Christ so that we can fight against the temptations and sins in this life.  What I love about the gospel is that it puts all of us on a level playing field.  Sandusky is not someone that should us feel better about ourselves.  This story is not a cause for self-righteousness.  As Christians we stand at the foot of the cross as forgiven sinners.  Were it not for God's grace, where would we be?  Yes, this crime is hideous.  But when we stand at the foot of the cross we can easily see how hideous our own sins are.  We can see clearly our own wicked hearts.  God had to come in the flesh in order to die a criminal's death so that my sins could be pardoned.  As Christians we shouldn't look to Jerry Sandusky and feel better about ourselves.  The cross already tells us how wicked and sinful we are.  If you're puffed up in pride when you see the wickedness of another person than you just don't get the cross and really haven't seen your own heart.  As forgiven sinners we should be grieving over the sins of another not rejoicing and patting ourselves on the back.  That doesn't make sense. 

We should be praying for the victims.  We should be praying for the school.  We should be praying for Jerry Sandusky.  While the cross speaks volumes about our wickedness, it speaks louder of God's grace and forgiveness for those who will repent and trust in Christ.  Jerry Sandusky can be forgiven of his sins.  There will still be consequences in this life for his crimes but he can find freedom in Christ.  This is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ.  This is why the world despises the gospel.  But it is so true and so glorious.  How do I know?  God promises: "If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9).  This promise isn't for "good people" who don't realize they need Jesus but for sinners who realize they cannot save themselves. The best of deeds won't outweigh his perfect righteousness and the worst of sinners can be covered in his perfect righteousness.  Trust me, I've been forgiven.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Music with Instruction

I love music.  I know nothing about it but I can listen with the best of them.  I've also never missed one note in my car.  My steering wheel recently told me I have the voice of an angel.  Okay not really but I do love music and the words in my book are as important as the music itself.  I love artist that can make my mind think and especially love artist that make my heart and mind focus on Christ.  Matt Papa is one of those artist.  He recently released a new album titled This Changes Everything.  The title track has some of my favorite lines on the entire album.  Matt is speaking about growing up in church and how it is easy for those who have grown up that way to become callous to great truths.  Here are some of the words:

I grew up in a little town
Used to sing in the old church house
There in the pew where I used to hide
Learned the story bout the man who died

Well I was sure I heard that He got back up
But as we broke the bread and drank the cup
Seemed the faces told another tale
They were as dry as the bread was stale

Did I miss something? Was I not supposed to cry?
Did they hear preacher, "Jesus is alive"?

I think Matt does a great job of helping us, as the Church, to see that the truth of the resurrection should bring great excitement to our souls every time we are reminded of it.  He goes on to say:

Oh Lord have I become a man
Too scared to be a child again
Too comfortable with amazing grace
Familiar with the empty grave

We should never become "too comfortable" with God's abundant grace he has lavished upon us and too "familiar" with the resurrection.  These are life altering truths. 

In the chorus he asks some "If" questions:

If this is true, this changes everything
If this is real, I've got to tell the world
If He is God, then I've got a choice to make
If I believe, then I must follow Him

Then in the last chorus he changes to the fact that these things are true:

Cause this is true and this changes everything
This is real so I've got to tell the world

That He is God, and now there's a choice to make
If you believe, then you must follow Him

I'm grateful for songwriters like Matt Papa.  Check him out.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Perfect Love

Verse 1

Now let's get straight to the topic, God's love is weighty to process
And apart from the Holy Spirit, we're unable to digest
Because man's depraved in his logic, so God's haters will mock it
But inter-trinitarian love should make us astonished
Imagine the Son enjoying the embrace of His Father
Eternally paying Him homage as He bathed in His knowledge
Equally faithful and sovereign, gracious, patient and honest
Cosmic greatness blazing with radiance- conscious
Holy Spirit also present, full display of His God-ness
No creation could watch this- it wasn't safe for their optics
What an awesome scene in heaven with all esteem and reverence
It's Psalm 16:11 as conveyed through the prophet
Overflow of joy and love, the Father made Him a promise
To give His Son a people to liberate from their bondage
So they're no longer slaves and hostages, but blameless and spotless
Consequence of eternal love- our salvation's accomplished!

Chorus

Love so perfect
Love eternally
Unchanging, Holy, Righteous Love
Transcends our understanding
But in Your nature there is perfect love
Love so perfect
Love eternally
Unchanging, Holy, Righteous Love
Transcends our understanding
But in salvation there is perfect love

Verse 2

Now it's one thing to consider God's love that's within
But how could God's love extend to men corrupted with sin?
Because we certainly don't deserve it, He's perfect and we're imperfect
What's lurking beneath the surface? His mercy and deeper purpose
Made in His likeness, installed with reminders of His law
Despite our blindness from the fall, His kindness reaches all
The fact He allows the sun to rise on this evil planet
Means that His love is such that we can't even understand it
In other words, don't let traditions fool ya, gotta let them Scriptures school ya
As a matter of fact, see how Christ reacted when it came to the rich young ruler
Love explicit, if it isn't His love, what is it
Restricting Him from inflicting His vengeance on the wicked?
Some call it common grace, but I'm inclined to state
that it's the love of God shining from a place that beyond time and space
They say, "If God is love, what's eternal torment for?"
Well, He loves the world for sure, but He loves His glory more!

Verse 3

Perhaps the most misunderstood aspect of this subject
Would be the love of God that He expresses towards the elect
And the second some people hear that, they get mad inside
But it's a special kind of love the Husband has for His Bride
It's a love that distinguishes her and sets her apart
No other woman could ever have the same effect on His heart
Because this Groom is not adulterous, this marriage has no openness
His devotion is traced back to when the world was motionless
In love we were predestined for adoption as a son
Not for anything that we've done, check Ephesians chapter one
Look, when we lived as God's opponents, He gave His only Son for atonement
So we've got to see He can't possibly love us more than He does this moment
In love, He justified us, in love, He sanctifies us
So we don't have to jump through hoops to try to make Him like us
One thing we truly cannot fathom- we're stunned
The Father loves us with the very love He has for His Son! (Shai Linne & Monielle Laney)

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Forgiveness at the Cross

Have you ever seriously considered the command: "Forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive" (Col. 3:13)?  I must confess forgiveness at times is not an easy thing for me.  I can look like the servant in Matthew 18 who has been forgiven much therefore I can forgive a fellow servant.  But at times in my heart I have locked my fellow servant in prison until I am paid back.  I work on a penance system at times which has nothing to do with true forgiveness. 

I recently studied through Philemon which was a serious heart check for me to see the character of Philemon.  Philemon had been wronged by his servant Onesimus with a crime that was punishable by death at the time.  Not only did he run out on Philemon but he may have also stolen some of Philemon's possessions.  This was no light matter. Philemon was a member of the church of Colossae who loved his fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  We read about his godly character all throughout the short book of Philemon.  Paul says this to Philemon:

"I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers, because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you." (4-7)

Paul wasn't trying to butter up Philemon so that forgiving Onesimus would be easy rather Paul is comforted in sending Onesimus back to Philemon because of Philemon's godly character.  Keep in mind Onesimus was probably standing right in front of Philemon has he read Paul's letter.  Onesimus was back because he was a changed man.  While Onesimus had run out on Philemon he had sought after Paul who was in prison.  Surely this was the work of the Holy Spirit in this sinners life.  We see grace at work while Onesimus was in sin.  Through it all Paul ministered to Onesimus and ultimately Onesimus repented of his sin.  Onesimus was a new man in Christ and now he was seeking forgiveness from Philemon who he had wronged.  Philemon now had an opportunity to make his theology practical. 

What about us?  What if we were in the situation where a brother or sister in Christ has wronged us and come back seeking forgiveness?  A lack of forgiveness hinders our fellowship with God and not only with God but also our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ.  Relationships are hindered when we don't truly forgive.  When I'm struggling I normally sit there and think about how foolish it is not to forgive people.  As brothers and sisters in Christ we all live at the foot of the cross.  Imagine for a moment you are sitting with a fellow brother or sister in Christ, who has wrong you, at the foot of the cross.  They ask you to forgive them of their sin against you but you reject their forgiveness.  There you are sitting with them at the foot of the cross unreconciled.  Something doesn't seem right.  Don't you think gazing upon your infinite debt that is nailed to the cross would break your hardened heart?  This is what Paul is saying in Colossians 3 when he says, "Forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you must also forgive."  Paul was confident Philemon would forgive Onesimus because he understood the saving grace of God.  We all need to be reminded of the grace and forgiveness of God so that we in turn may forgive as we have been forgiven. 

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

God's Child

"If you want to judge how well a person understands Christianity, find out how much he makes of the thought of being God's child, and having God as his Father.  If this is not the thought that prompts and controls his worship and prayers and his whole outlook on life, it means that he does not understand Christianity very well at all." (J.I. Packer, Knowing God, 201)

"But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God." (John 1:12-13)

"For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, 'Abba! Father!' The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him." (Romans 8:15-17)

Our Pastor this Sunday preached on this very topic.  Click here to listen.

Grace upon grace,
JRL

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Psalm 62

My soul finds rest in God alone,
My Rock and my salvation,
A fortress strong against my foes,

And I will not be shaken.
Though lips may bless and hearts may curse,

And lies like arrows pierce me,
I’ll fix my heart on righteousness,

I’ll look to Him who hears me.

O praise Him, hallelujah, My Delight and my Reward;
Everlasting, never failing, My Redeemer, my God.

Find rest, my soul, in God alone
Amid the world’s temptations;
When evil seeks to take a hold
I’ll cling to my salvation.
Though riches come and riches go,
Don’t set your heart upon them;
The fields of hope in which I sow
Are harvested in heaven.

I’ll set my gaze on God alone,
And trust in Him completely;
With every day pour out my soul,
And He will prove His mercy.
Though life is but a fleeting breath,
A sigh too brief to measure,
My King has crushed the curse of death
And I am His forever. (Aaron Keyes)


Grace upon grace,
JRL

Friday, November 4, 2011

He must Increase, but I must Decrease

“He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30)
This should be the heart of every follower of Jesus Christ.  We should all desire to be less noticed so that Christ can be more magnified in this world.  No doubt, Christ’s glory is on display in many ways but a major way is him being displayed through his people.  This is why we must say with John the Baptist: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”
John the Baptist was undoubtedly a great man who loved the Lord.  But his purpose was not to make his own name famous rather he wanted to exalt the One who was actually worthy of being exalted.  In John 1 he was being questioned by the priests and Levites about who he was?  These Jews played a guessing game for a while before asking him, “Who are you?”  They needed a response because they had to report back to those over them about who this man was baptizing people.  John responded by quoting from the prophet Isaiah saying, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord’.”  He was communicating to these men that he was nothing but a voice preparing people for the Lord.  He tells them of Christ.  He tells them that he is not even worthy to untie Jesus’ sandal.  John is being crystal clear that Jesus is the one of most importance.
Now in John 3 we read of a very interesting scene.  John, who had been the go to guy for baptism, was baptizing some people but in another area Jesus was also baptizing people.  John’s disciples and a Jew have a conversation about what is going on.  His disciples finally ask, “Rabbi, he who was with you across the Jordan, to whom you bore witness – look, he is baptizing, and all are going to him” (26).  Basically they were concerned about the competition.  They didn’t yet get it.  John had made it clear earlier that Jesus was more significant.  But now Jesus is baptizing and John’s disciples think that is what he was to be doing.  John’s disciples wondered what he is thinking as the people were lining up to be baptized by Jesus.  Now I know what you thinking right now: What in the world is wrong with these disciples?  Of course they are going to Jesus, he is Jesus!  There is no competition because Jesus wins every time.  We want to think that way but our hearts are not always saying the same thing.  I think we get mad at John’s disciples because they remind us of us so often.  There is no competition because Jesus is superior yet we give our heart’s over to idols.  But what we should desire is more of the humility like John displays here in this text.  Remember his name is John the Baptist.  He should be baptizing yet he is rejoicing that people are going to see Jesus.  John answers his disciples: “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” (27-29).  John’s joy is complete because Christ is there and his bride is going to him.  He is telling his disciples there is no competition at all, just joy. 
John is full of joy because Christ is being exalted.  As followers of Christ we should always be rejoicing as we see Christ being exalted in others lives.  When God wants to use us we should be humbled like John.  We should continually be telling ourselves: “He must increase, but I must decrease.”  It’s not about us; it’s about him and his glory. 
Grace upon grace,
JRL