MORE OF JESUS LESS OF ME

Culled from 30 devotions for youth leaders

Two full tables of guests never looked at me.

I stood behind the lectern and addressed an audience in Frederick, Maryland – only to discover that a significant number of those in attendance paid no attention to me. Their eyes were locked on Jennifer.

Jennifer was a competent and enthusiastic interpreter. Her language? Sign language.

Youth for Christ in Central Maryland leads a vibrant, impactful ministry at the Maryland Deaf School, and many of our advocates, friends and supporters attended the annual fundraising banquet to show their support.

My words found a home in Jennifer’s hands, whose job it was to convert my verbalization into motion. Even as I referenced members of the deaf contingent, their eyes never looked my way—they remained fixed and focused—on Jennifer.

It unnerved me at first, but over the course of 30 minutes I found it to be beautiful and appropriate. My text was John 14:6: Jesus said to him (Thomas), “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

The experience became a lesson, not for the audience, but for me. My message, rightly and humbly communicated, should push the gaze of those I lead, of those I serve, of those I communicate with, off of me.

Is it possible that even as I communicate the message of Jesus, I am “pleased” that the eyes of the crowd are on me? This reality convicts me, as it rightly should.

The words of John 14:6 reverberated through Jennifer’s hands. Her silent competence pounded the reality of my calling deep into my soul.

My effectiveness should be measured by where the eyes of those who follow me gaze. At me or at Jesus? Is it my compelling delivery that draws them or the unconstrained message of the Gospel? Would I be content if the people in the room never saw me?

I was in the classroom, even as I stood at the front of the room. Through the silence – I heard my Master. Only Jesus. Always Jesus. No one comes to the Father except through Jesus.

More of Jesus – and yes, less of me.

YOU ARE VALUABLE

“Others were given in exchange for you. I traded their lives for yours because you are precious to me. You are honored, and I love you. “Do not be afraid, for I am with you. I will gather you and your children from east and west.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:4-5‬ ‭NLT‬‬

You are special to God, it doesn’t matter how you feel, what people have told you, the unequivocal truth is that YOU ARE VALUABLE TO GOD! YOU ARE SPECIAL IN HIS EYES! GOD LOVES AND CHERISHES YOU!

VERSE OF THE DAY – DONT BE AFRAID

“But now, GOD ’s Message, the God who made you in the first place, Jacob, the One who got you started, Israel: “Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you. I’ve called your name. You’re mine. When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you. When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down. When you’re between a rock and a hard place, it won’t be a dead end— Because I am GOD, your personal God, The Holy of Israel, your Savior. I paid a huge price for you: all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in! That’s how much you mean to me! That’s how much I love you! I’d sell off the whole world to get you back, trade the creation just for you.”

‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭43:1-4‬ ‭MSG‬‬

LOVE, MY PERMANENT RESIDENCE

“God is love. When we take up permanent residence in a life of love, we live in God and God lives in us. This way, love has the run of the house, becomes at home and mature in us, so that we’re free of worry on Judgment Day—our standing in the world is identical with Christ’s. There is no room in love for fear. Well-formed love banishes fear. Since fear is crippling, a fearful life—fear of death, fear of judgment—is one not yet fully formed in love.” 1 John‬ ‭4:17-18‬ ‭MSG‬‬

Can you imagine it? Can you just let your heart come into the space where we live in God and God lives in us? A place where God truly has the run of the house(our lives), where we allow Him make the day to day decisions of our lives, give Him full control? What a glorious, stress-free, liberated, joyful, joyous, bold,dynamic, and awesome life we would have. All our fears and worries taken away and dealt with by a God that cares about us unconditionally and loves out without measure.

Can we take a minute today and let Him into our lives completely and totally and give Him permission to enter every room of our life and heart, clear it out and take up residence.

GOD IS LOVE!!

DOUBTSTORMS

The following is excerpted from Chapter 13 of In the Eye of the Storm.

On Sundays I stand before a church with a three-point outline in my hand, thirty minutes on the clock, and a prayer on my lips. I do my best to say something that will convince a stranger that an unseen God still hears.

And I sometimes wonder why so many hearts have to hurt.

Do you ever get doubtstorms? Some of you don’t, I know. I’ve talked to you.

I think you are gifted. You are gifted with faith. You can see the rainbow before the clouds part. If you have this gift, then I won’t say anything you need to hear.

But others of you wonder…

You wonder if it is a blessing or a curse to have a mind that never rests. But you would rather be a cynic than a hypocrite, so you continue to pray with one eye open and wonder:

– about starving children

– about the power of prayer

– about the depths of grace

– about Christians in cancer wards

– about who you are to ask such questions anyway.

Tough questions. Throw-in-the-towel questions. Questions the disciples must have asked in the storm.

The light came for the disciples. A figure came to them walking on the water. It wasn’t what they expected. Perhaps they were looking for angels to descend or heaven to open. Maybe they were listening for a divine proclamation to still the storm. We don’t know what they were looking for. But one thing is for sure, they weren’t looking for

Jesus to come walking on the water.

“‘It’s a ghost,’ they said and cried out in fear” (Matthew 14:26).

And since Jesus came in a way they didn’t expect, they almost missed seeing the answer to their prayers.

And unless we look and listen closely, we risk making the same mistake. God’s lights in our dark nights are as numerous as the stars, if only we’ll look for them.

When the disciples saw Jesus in the middle of their stormy night, they called him a ghost. A phantom. A hallucination. To them, the glow was anything but God.

When we see gentle lights on the horizon, we often have the same reaction. We dismiss occasional kindness as apparitions, accidents, or anomalies. Anything but God.

“When Jesus comes,” the disciples in the boat may have thought, “he’ll split the sky. The sea will be calm. The clouds will disperse.”

“When God comes,” we doubters think, “all pain will flee. Life will be tranquil. No questions will remain.”

And because we look for the bonfire, we miss the candle. Because we listen for the shout, we miss the whisper.

From In the Eye of the Storm

Copyright 1991, Max Lucado

YOU HAVE FILLED ALL JERUSALEM WITH YOUR TEACHING

““We gave you strict orders never again to teach in this man’s name!” he said. “Instead, you have filled all Jerusalem with your teaching about him, and you want to make us responsible for his death!””

‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭5:28‬ ‭NLT‬‬

As we go about our daily lives, can it be said of us that we have filled our homes, neighborhood, cities, states, nation with the teaching of Christ?

“And every day, in the Temple and from house to house, they continued to teach and preach this message: “Jesus is the Messiah.””

‭‭Acts of the Apostles‬ ‭5:42‬ ‭NLT‬‬