Posted by: mikenicholsblog | May 1, 2011

3:30 daily prayer

It is one of the most famous chapters in all of Scripture. Countless sermons have been preached from this chapter, focused on the encounter between Jesus and Nicodemus and the essential words, “you must be born again.” This chapter also contains the most memorized and recognizable verse in all of Scripture … John 3:16. If you are old enough, you even remember a man with a colorful “afro” wig promoting John 3:16 at major sporting events around our country. In a few simple words this verse contains the hope of eternal life. “For God so loved the world that he gave…..”, I am sure you know the rest. When reading the third chapter of John it is easy to focus on the encounter and the verse, and miss another significant truth that is essential for all Christ followers. Any idea what that might be?

Even a quick study of John the Baptist gives cause for admiration. He was a relative of Christ, prepared the way for the Savior, baptized Him and eventually died a brutal death. Words from John 3 give us more insight into the submissive heart of this great man. In the closing section, John’s disciples are in a dispute. As a result of the dispute, they come complaining about the success of Jesus’ ministry. In essence, John’s disciples were placing him in competition with Jesus. John masterfully navigated the situation and then said, “He must increase; but I must decrease” (John 3:30). This section of the famous chapter is easily overlooked, and verse thirty is often ignored.

Any Christ follower would agree with John the Baptist’s assertion that “He must increase; but I must decrease.” We would also all agree that living that truth is difficult. My flesh continually cries out for me to increase, along with my agenda. But John’s heart can be our reality. Difficult yes, but absolutely do-able! In my college days, I learned to say the words “He must increase, but I must decrease” before intramural basketball games. That desire was always challenged by the desire to score a lot of points and impress people. I would dare say that this question of increase is common in all of our lives. When you or I increase, it feels good. When through our lives He increases, God is pleased. While it is not easy for us, it is obvious to us that John’s spirit of decrease is our model.

Warren Wiersbe’s commentary on the first twelve chapters of John includes a great example …

“A Presbyterian pastor in Melbourne, Australia introduced J. Hudson Taylor by using superlatives, especially the word “great”. Taylor stepped to the pulpit and quietly said, ‘Dear friends, I am the little servant of an illustrious Master.’”

If John the Baptist in heaven heard that statement, he must have shouted, ‘Hallelujah’!

I don’t think for a moment that we should correct every superlative spoken or written about us, or that we shouldn’t be proud of our accomplishments. However, a heart that sincerely yearns for Him to increase, will gladly accept its own decrease. John the Baptist wanted Christ uplifted, and so do you and I! So let’s pray John 3:30 as a simple prayer daily; “He must increase, but I must decrease.”

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