Greater Than All

Greater Than All

John 10:27-30 (ESV) My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

As I have openly admitted, I spend most of time commuting praising and praying my way into town and back home again. After a challenging week, I felt like praising was the only way to finish the week and prepare for the weekend. If you are like me, the transition into the two days set aside by the world to rest are usually filled with chores, tasks and to-do lists. Taking a deep breath, I just needed to be refreshed. Do you ever just need the tangible Presence of God to sit down beside you? Riding down the road, I came to a stretch of highway surrounded by tall trees. At this particular point though, the pines and oaks seemed to be closing in around the road producing the sensation I had been feeling all week. Overwhelmed a bit, losing sight, looking for direction, and every other emotion that comes from walking by faith and not by sight following an invisible God. Suddenly, I heard the music playing, “It may look like I’m surrounded, but I’m surrounded by You.” (Surrounded – Bethel) The Peace of God that passes all understanding met me right there in my car driving to work. I realized that I couldn’t see past the trees but God could and He was right there with me. All those impossible situations were possible to Him. All those inexplicable concerns were melting in His Understanding. Sometimes we must come back to the basics of faith and following the Lord in the one simple truth – God is greater than all. All my problems, misgivings, uncertainties, fears, doubts, bad choices, enemies, obstacles, and every other thing that proves challenging in my life. He is the Unchallenged Authority, not only over me, but everything else. God is Sovereign. He reigns supreme. All these qualities God instilled in Christ who now lives in me.

Hebrews 12:1-2 (ESV) Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.

Jesus is the Shepherd. We are His Sheep. Those who believe in Him will follow His Voice. His Voice doesn’t always lead us where we want to go or how we would like to do it. In fact, it is my experience that when I hear the Voice of God and do what He says His Way – it is usually the most uncomfortable, inconvenient and uncontrollable way possible. It usually is marked by the impossible because God doesn’t want to give me a good life but every spiritual blessing ordained for me that is in the Heavenly Realm accessed by faith and confident trust. This is only found in trusting the Lord and becoming completely depended on Him. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. It is a challenge. It will take your all. You will have to endure. You cannot give up. The promise is victory. You will always win. Greater is Who is in You than he that is in the world.

I John 4:4 (ESV) Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world. 

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Becoming Greater

becoming-greater

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater, and I must become less and less.

Turning the pages of my journal – it is quite clear that I have made a mess of things. Whether the pages just stuck together or in my haste I skipped a few, the dates are all out of whack and segments left blank. Not to waste the precious pages, I have begun to fill in the holes each day. It’s really only for my benefit so it really doesn’t matter if it chronologically doesn’t make sense. Maybe the Lord has a reason for ordering it as such, who knows? All I know is that once again I have managed to mess things up.

This is not a browbeating – just a simple reminder from my God, Father and Creator that I am imperfect and He is perfect. A call back to the reality that He orders my steps and has a plan for my life that is much greater than anything I could construct or even imagine for that matter. I forget sometimes allowing distractions to make way for discouragement in certain areas of my life. It can happen to the best of us just about any day. We get up with a heart full of good intentions, our mind made up to follow the Lord and then it happens – this little thing called life. We are called away to fight giants that have already been defeated. To overcome walls that have already been knocked down. Engage in battles already won. How do I keep from falling for such things day after day? I need to conquer the “busy” beast. Tear up the foreboding list of to-do’s so I can shout ta-da. Somehow managing to exchange my “Martha” mentality and adopt “Mary’s” precious spirit. There are greater things hidden in my life. They reside in me. These promises are only possible when I become less and less making way for greater things.

I John 3:19-21 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything. Dear friends, if we don’t feel guilty, we can come to God with bold confidence. And we will receive from him whatever we ask because we obey him and do the things that please him.

To be honest, the whole journal thing did not lead me to John 3:30 this morning. It has been building for about a week. Distractions – lots of them. Once my attention was turned to the lesser things in life including all those little details carefully orchestrated by the Lord yet hugely taken for granted by me – the people around me started in. You know – you get a little tired and overwhelmed and then it seems like that’s just about the time all the “people” around you start acting up. Like salt in an open wound, it gets you all worked up. Your mind begins to contemplate just what you are gonna do or telling the Lord what He needs to do to fix their little red wagons. Suddenly, I have become totally engrossed up to my eyeballs in the lesser things of life and I cannot see the greater that God has for me. Well, I am here to admit that other people are not my problem. I am my own worst enemy sometimes. The Lord has called me and equipped me for greater things but sometimes I decide to be the greater in my life or allow others to take His Place.

My feelings are not as important as my submission to God. What does that mean? It means that on those days that I do not understand the Hand of God or His Thoughts I can know His Heart and that it is set on me. My condition and circumstances do not dictate my outcomes so I should not allow my emotions to either. When I decide that the One who lives in me is truly greater. I can leave all this foolishness behind…what foolishness? Glad you asked.

2 Corinthians 4:6-10 (NLT)  For God, who said, “Let there be light in the darkness,” has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ. We now have this light shining in our hearts, but we ourselves are like fragile clay jars containing this great treasure. This makes it clear that our great power is from God, not from ourselves. We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed. We are perplexed, but not driven to despair. We are hunted down, but never abandoned by God. We get knocked down, but we are not destroyed. Through suffering, our bodies continue to share in the death of Jesus so that the life of Jesus may also be seen in our bodies.

How foolish can you be? He is the Potter, and he is certainly greater than you, the clay! Should the created thing say of the one who made it, “He didn’t make me”? Does a jar ever say, “The potter who made me is stupid”? (Isaiah 29:16)God made us with purpose. He designed us with a plan including a future and hope. His Greatness was given to us when Jesus Christ released His Spirit and breathed Himself into us. We are now filled with His Greatness and the potential to do greater things. Faith is the seed that allows the greatness of God to be exposed in our life. As we love and trust Him more, this greatness gives way to His Glory which fills our life with His Goodness. The enemy of faith is pride that works its way into the good things God is doing and somehow takes credit for it. We can do nothing to bear fruit apart from Jesus Christ (John 15) and every good and perfect gift in our life is from the Father (James 1). Jesus is the Goodness and Greatness in our life.

“Students are not greater than their teacher, and slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 24:10) I am not sure how it happens other than maybe a religious spirit or prideful indignation but sometimes we forget. We forget that it is all about Jesus and not about me. How I feel? What I want? “I” get in the way of Him. These are the times when His Grace is not enough for me or anyone else. It is the moments when I think that the way people treat me is an excuse to react rather than respond with love just the same. I will be honest. Church aggravates me more than anything else. Why? We should know better. Services are offered at least two times a week. God’s Word is taught. The Holy Spirit moves yet there is no brokenness. Our hard hearts are supported by pride that keeps us from releasing the Greatness of God hidden within us. To do so is to suppose that I am more than a vessel of God in this world, which is just not true.

The beauty in this life is brokenness. When our heart and mind is open to all that the Lord is doing and all that God has promised us. It is with such purpose – pride is laid aside and our lives placed on the altar. A commitment to Christ comes with the promise of pressure and pain as the Greatness in us surpasses all the lesser things once held on to.

Psalm 71:19-21 (NLT) Your righteousness, O God, reaches to the highest heavens. You have done such wonderful things. Who can compare with you, O God? You have allowed me to suffer much hardship, but you will restore me to life again and lift me up from the depths of the earth. You will restore me to even greater honor and comfort me once again.

The discomfort, distractions and disturbed state of my life is not anyone’s fault but my own. The enemy will offer such things in exchange for God’s Greatness and Glory each day. It is up to me if I choose to take the bait and chase another little fox along the way. People are not and will not ever be the problem. In fact, laying my life down for others is my purpose. This means sacrificing my life for others – all others. Jesus said, that there was no one greater on the earth than John the Baptist yet in prison it was John who asked his followers to go ask the Lord one more time if He really was the Messiah. Our life is full of testing to insure that our faith is genuine. I wouldn’t have it any other way. It is through hardship that the rough edges and sharp corners are broken from our life so that the Greatness of God hidden in us will be exposed for His Glory and our Goodness. We must believe that there is such greatness in order to experience it.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.

There are greater works in store for us. The Holy Spirit is insurance that God has greater things in store for us than that which could be accomplished outside of His Presence. God will never give us less than His Very Best no matter how many times we try to compromise. The Lord is intent on giving His Children the best of everything. God promised Abraham greater things. Abraham grew tired of waiting and tried to replicate God’s Promise in a child who he called Ishmael. But God had a greater work being prepared who would be named Isaac. Abraham waiting patiently and His Promise arrived. People make promises every day. How can we expect imperfect people to keep their word? But there is a perfect God who loves us with perfect love who has promised that we will do greater things. We can take Him at His Word because He does not lie or change His Mind. (Hebrews 6) His Spirit living in us is evidence of these greater things. We must learn to have great confidence in order to see greater things.

2 Corinthians 3:8-9 (NLT) Shouldn’t we expect far greater glory under the new way, now that the Holy Spirit is giving life? If the old way, which brings condemnation, was glorious, how much more glorious is the new way, which makes us right with God!

We should expect far greater glory under God’s Grace. We must believe that He who lives in us is greater than the one who lives in this world. Our commitment to Christ will produce His Glory and Greatness in our life if we remain connected to Him. The Greatness of God in us gives us victory every day enlarging our territory and creating influence among others. (Deuteronomy 11:22-24) This is the Promise given to those who devote their life to following Jesus Christ. His Greatness allows us to live in a state of joy, peace and rest no matter what life throws our way. (Psalm 4:6-8) If I am not experiencing or expecting this kind of life and waiting on the Lord to do it, then I am not striving to become less so Christ can be more. I must become less and less. He must become less and less. Things are out of order but thanks to grace can quickly be right back in place. Lord, you must increase and I must decrease today.

Romans 5:1-2 (NLT) Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.

Thank you Lord for the gentle and loving reminder that it is not all about me today. It is all about you. My heart and mind must be set on the greater that lives in me than all the distractions around me. Even if my faith is small, it is enough to release your Goodness and Glory in my life today. Thank you for the grace that is always enough to get me back on track. I want more of you today Lord. In fact, I want all of You! Move me out of the way as you become my greater again! I ask you Lord to remove the lesser things that I have settled for to make room for Your Goodness and Glory to fill my life.

I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

Moving Into Greater

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I John 4:4 (NLT) But you belong to God, my dear children. You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.

How do we walk from victory to victory? Do we really win? If the Spirit who lives in me is greater than why does it seem like the one who rules the world is winning? The news around the world wreaks of turmoil, death and destruction. How do I keep my hand to the plow and my eyes on Jesus? I know a man who had a difficult childhood that gave way to many bad choices as a young adult. After attending a rehabilitation program, he met a girl and they made a beautiful family together. They raised their children in the admonition of the Lord. Went to church. Seemed to do all the right things to be in the Will and Way of God. I got word recently that the two are in the middle of a nasty divorce. One of their precious babies overdosed on heroin, died and was brought back to life by her father and paramedics. One is selling the stuff that almost killed a sibling. Another lost in an identity crisis trying to figure out who and what is real. How can this happen? How can Christian families who know the Lord fall apart so completely? They are not the only ones. I know a pastor whose family engaged in the same battle our family did at the exact same time. His sister battled cancer and won. Her victory was secured in Heaven with Jesus, not as they had hoped. We experienced a different kind of victory. Why do I feel guilty sometimes? Why do I feel like life is so unfair? Every day as I pray, I plead the Blood of Jesus over my husband, babies, church and friends. The battle for them is real and the adversary is ruthless. How do I take my eyes off all the fires burning around me? How can I not be distracted by the disturbing images to see the view from God’s Perspective and walk in it? I must learn to move into “greater”.

“You have already won a victory over those people, because the Spirit who lives in you is greater than the spirit who lives in the world.” The people referred to in this passage are the false prophets. There may even one or two still circulating in this world (written with a hint of sarcasm). The Spirit who lives in me is greater. Jesus is greater than any other power or authority. (Period) The Sovereignty of God is passed down as power and authority to Jesus Christ in honor of His Sacrifice for all mankind. If the Spirit of God lives in us based on our decision to ask Jesus to be our Savior, to repent of our sins and turn from our own way, and make Him the Lord of our life – we have the Power of God and His Kingdom hidden inside of us. We can speak to mountains and they will move. We can cast out demons. We can drink poison and it will not harm us. We can do anything in His Name and for His Glory because He has given us His Victory. So why am I not winning? Are you fighting the right fight?

We engage in “civilian matters”. 2 Timothy 2:4 reminds us that “soldiers don’t get tied up in the affairs of civilian life for then they cannot please the officer who enlisted them.” Our civilian life are all the “things” we do to survive in this world. Kingdom business is the life we live for the Lord outside of our daily routine and scheduled activities called living the American Dream or running the rat race depending on who you are and the given day. We get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. I get caught up in too many things that don’t really matter. People are complicated. Circumstances are messy. Complications are inconvenient. I have feelings you know? Yes, God knows how we feel yet cannot leave us all emotionally caught up but tries to loose us because He is greater than our feelings. The Lord is fighting for our freedom. The battle begins inside of you and me.

John 3:30 (NLT) He must become greater and greater and I must become less and less.

If only I could get past how I feel some days, and live only in the greatness of who He is. I know my life would be greater. Yet, I struggle with people and purpose every day. Less of me will always make room for more of Him. As I yield my body, mind, will and emotions to the Holy Spirit – He moves in and fills me with love, peace, joy and satisfaction allowing me to walk by faith and not by sight for that moment. I find that once I completely yield my broken heart or spirit to the Lord that He is faithful to fill up and secure it in me. Yet there are those areas that I give Him and before He can get there snatch it back. I want the greater things of God and to live for His Glory. Lord, move me into greater today by moving in and taking over more of me.

John 14:11-13 (NLT) “Just believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me. Or at least believe because of the work you have seen me do. I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”

I have seen modern day miracles. I have seen the Hand of God touch human beings and supernaturally change their condition. Yet, there were times that I still did not believe. I believed in God the Father, of course. I believed in Jesus Christ and the fact that He died to save me. I also believed that His Holy Spirit lived inside of me. The struggle was for the greater things. I would give up to avoid disappointment. I did not fully believe or accept God’s Intervention in my life or my ability to do the same works that Jesus did. I do not believe that anymore. I absolutely believe that God is moving me to greater things. Miracles, signs and wonders. Sharing a message that will be received by many.

The confidence and boldness that I have found did not come the way I assumed that it would. It arrived at the end of me. Complete and utter brokenness. The days that I thought I could not move another step in faith and the “mustard seed” seemed too small. I found it when not a single thing in my life added up to victory, when everyone around me did not see a win and on that day when all I had left was His Word. He made me a promise. The ruler of darkness had done everything in his power to make me relinquish it. I did not wail. I did not beg. I did not plead. As I recall, it was in a quiet and calm voice that I reminded the Lord – this is what you said.

As Christians, we are always trying to “make things happen” in the Body of Christ to promote repentance and revival. I am wondering if it’s possible that we are taking the wrong approach. Am I trying to win a victory already won rather than going through the Victor? What do I mean? King Solomon called life meaningless because he believed there was nothing new under the sun. While I agree with him that there is nothing new under the natural sun, I concur with him that God has placed eternity in the heart of mankind. It is that seed of faith that changes everything in our natural life to the possibility of supernatural outcome. God put divine purpose in each heart for harvest. We must allow it to become greater than us in order to reap the reward.

John 15:19-21 (NLT) “The world would love you as one of its own if you belonged to it, but you are no longer part of the world. I chose you to come out of the world, so it hates you. Do you remember what I told you? ‘A slave is not greater than the master.’ Since they persecuted me, naturally they will persecute you. And if they had listened to me, they would listen to you. They will do all this to you because of me, for they have rejected the one who sent me.”

Jesus was abundantly clear that the world pretty much hated Him and everyone associated with the Gospel. “A slave is not greater than the master.” If you think that the world is ready for the gospel, you are wrong. Christians have not helped our own cause. The Word of God tells us “students are not greater than their teacher” and that “slaves are not greater than their master.” (Matthew 10:24-25) We must be like our teacher. (Luke 6:39-40) The messenger is not greater than the one who sent the message. (John 13:15-17) Mega church is big business. Pastors reside in mansions and fly around in private jets. The world sees church as just a big business endeavor. I hear people refer to preachers and podcasts every day but don’t hear them recite the Word of God at all. If the world embraces you and celebrates me, am I serving God or man? The Love and Grace of God are wonderful. Those who experience them will be forever changed. However, they have the Gospel message when preached appropriately leads to opposition. If not, we must compare our life and our message to our Teacher, Master, Savior and Lord – Jesus Christ. He healed people. He helped the community. He did nothing wrong. He did not defend His Innocence but went to the Cross. John 15:13 says “there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus laid His Life down for us all. We must be willing to lay our life down for Him to attain the greatness offered to us in His Word.

On Shark Week, the Discovery Channel shows men and women who will put blood in the water to summon sharks. They will then take a video camera, jump in a steel cage and be lowered in the water to film the shark’s frenzy. Some of the sharks will ram the cage. Others grab it with their razor sharp teeth and shake it with all their might. Those crazy, yes crazy, scientists though narrowly escaping with their life will do it again and again for their love of science and species. No thank you! I believe that as believers set their heart on revival and allow the Lord to remove lesser things to make room for greater things, they will encounter the same. We will go into the world with a message of love, peace and joy some days feeling as though we barely escape wrath.

I John 3:19-20 (NLT) Our actions will show that we belong to the truth, so we will be confident when we stand before God. Even if we feel guilty, God is greater than our feelings, and he knows everything.

Winston Churchill is credited with the statement, “If you are going through hell, keep going.” Good advice. If you want to get to Heaven, you are going to “go through hell” to get there. The enemy is not going to sit lightly by and watch you pass content with those who he has already apprehended. His hatred for Jesus is too great. His demise is too eminent. He will fight tooth and nail to pull you out of God’s Best to settle for lesser things in life even if that lesser thing is religion over a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Our actions must be based on the fact that we belong to the Truth and absolutely believe the Promise of God is for us and worth having. Why? It will cost all of me and every ounce of pride in me to attain it. We have been promised “far greater glory” (2 Corinthians 3:8-9) and friends we are not living in it so there must be more to it. I must believe that the God in me is greater than everything outside and around me. It will take all of me to get there. The greater ones desire to see the greater things of God and experience the Greatness of His Kingdom, the more that will be required. Are you willing to give God all of you for a higher view? A new perspective comes when we get out of the way along with our feelings about our faults and failures. We must move past our pride, insecurities and doubts that cause conflict and division in the Kingdom to work love, grace and mercy in and through our life. I want to move into greater things today. I must get past me to do it. He must increase and I must decrease not just today but every day!

John 14:12-13 (NLT) “I tell you the truth, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works, because I am going to be with the Father. You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, so that the Son can bring glory to the Father.”