Good day, all. Glory be to God. In the month of December 2021, I studied 4 devotionals. They were:
- John 5:36-47 (The Dangers of Religion)
- John 1:19-28 (Who are You?)
- Luke 1:26-38 (Empowered)
- John 1:14-18 (You Can Behold His Glory)
The Dangers of Religion
In John chapter 5 verses 36 - 47, Jesus accuses the zealous Jews of *empty religion* (emphasis mine). Studying the Scriptures diligently yet not believing or having the love of God in their hearts. Believing in people who tout themselves yet refusing to believe in Jesus who gives all the glory to God. In this way, the people were deceiving themselves with religious practices without actually developing a spirit after God's own heart.
Who are You?
John 1:19-28 tells the story of how John the Baptist responded to inquiries about who he was when the Priests and Levites came to ask him. The Bible says he confessed freely, saying, "I am not the Messiah." I am not Elijah and I am not the Prophet. When the Priests and Levites pressed him harder asking, "What do you say of yourself?" He simply replied with a quote from Isaiah the prophet: "I am the voice of one calling in the wilderness, 'Make straight the way for the Lord.'"
I imagine how easy it would have been for John to answer differently and lay claim to the identity of a Prophet or the Messiah. After all, the people were literally suggesting it to him - wanting him to be what he was not. Or, how easy it would have been for Jesus to take all the glory for his miracles after all, in the peoples' eyes, he was the one that did them. That they both avoided these temptations and confessed the truth speaks to their strength of character and integrity.
In Luke 1:26-38, the author recounts the story of how the angel Gabriel was sent down by God to deliver the news to Mary that she was to be the virgin mother of Jesus. A totally unbelievable, never-before-seen act was to take place through Mary and instead of doubting, Mary simply said, "I am the Lord's servant. May your word to me be fulfilled."
Such a level of submission to the Lord I believe is not just admirable but is also desirable in ourselves. Let it be for us an example of how to submit to the Lord's will and do His work.
You Can Behold His Glory
J0hn chapter 1 verses 14-18 speaks of the glory of Jesus Christ. The glory of His grace, the glory of His truth, the glory of His superiority, and the glory of His revelation (as my devotional guide put it). This glory was witnessed in person by the apostles and the people living in Jesus' space and time, and can still be witnessed by us in today's world - through the Word.
There is no need to feel distant from God when at any point in time you can open your Bible and experience His miracles, preaching, life, and even his resurrection as told by those who witnessed it first-hand!
The Bible is our gateway to the life of Christ, and through it, we can learn about the kingdom of heaven and how we can secure our place in it. But we must be careful not to become hypocrites in our quest for eternity. Reading Scripture is good. Going to church is good. But doing these things without developing a heart that pleases God is pointless. Without submitting to God's will our journey in Christ may be truncated. So it is important to make sure that as we pursue a Christ-led life, we make sure that we are not misled in religion. So I say:
Submit. Confess. For the love of God. Not Religion.