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Tag: new year

He Must Increase, but I Must Decrease

We are just a few days into the new year and by now, you are well on your way to failing accomplishing your New Year’s Resolutions. 

With every new year comes a renewed focus. Some focus on healthier habits, others on exploring new places, while some of us are content with just continuing with what we are already doing. Either way, we love a fresh start; a time to wipe the slate clean and begin again. 

As followers of Christ, we have an opportunity every morning for a fresh start. It’s why we are so grateful for verses like Lamentation 3:22-23

“The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness”.

Every morning we wake up and there waiting for us are new mercies from the One who gave us a clean heart (Psalm 51:10). With these new morning mercies comes a reminder of the faithfulness of God. We look back and see His faithfulness and we look forward and know He will be faithful towards us again. His covenantal, unconditional love for us never ends. Did you catch that? It NEVER ends!

The days we live can be played out in one or two ways. We can make our days (which are very short according to Psalm 90:12 and James 4:14) about ourselves or we can make them about Jesus. Obviously for the Christ follower, the answer is to make our days about Jesus. This is what it means to live for the glory of God. Paul says it this way in 1 Corinthians 10:31

“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Just so we’re clear, Paul says that in the mundane things and in everything else, we are to glorify God with our lives. It’s the answer to the beginning question in the Westminster Confession of Faith:

Q: What is the chief end (purpose) of man?

A: To glorify God and to enjoy him forever!

What if we made this our ambition every morning before our feet hit the floor, before our eyes scroll the endless corners of our phones? “Lord, today I will seek to make my day about you and will seek to live out every moment of my day for your glory.” Maybe we could proclaim what John the Baptizer proclaimed about his own life in John 3:30

“He must increase, but I must decrease.”

More of Jesus. Less of me. 

Is this not our heart’s ultimate desire? To have more of Jesus than the day before? To know him and the power of His resurrection in our own lives? (Philippians 3:10) To long for the Lord just like a deer longs for water? (Psalm 42:1)

This more-of-Jesus proclamation, this desire to see Jesus increase in our church will be the focus of our next sermon series and will propel us into the focus for the coming year. 

When I say increase, I do not mean church attendance, though, seeing this place close to standing room only is quite thrilling, but the increase I’m praying to see in you and in me, is what John the Baptizer states in John 3:30,

Jesus must increase. I must decrease.

More of Jesus. Less of me.

John the Baptizer was in a very unique ministry. He was called by God to prepare the way for the coming Messiah. His sole job was to point people to Jesus! He did when, earlier in John 1, he proclaimed to the crowd around him, “Behold, the Lamb of God who has come to take away the sins of the world!” Though Jesus was now engaging the people, John the Baptizer’s ministry continued, albeit behind the scenes. 

He continued doing what he was called to do. He continued baptizing people and pointing them to Jesus, and when he was questioned about the crowds being baptized and following Jesus, he didn’t make it about himself. Rather, he dug his heels in and said, “More of Jesus. Less of me.” He goes on to tell his followers that Jesus is greater than all, better than all and that He is worth following!

Why? Because John knew, deep within his soul, that Jesus is truly God and he was not. And that is why he stated those seven incredible words, “He must increase, but I must decrease”.

His words are very much to be the model for how we live our own lives. More of you Jesus! Less of me! Yet, so often we get in the way. We want to build ourselves up. We want to increase. We want to live the day for ourselves and not for God’s glory.

My heart for you is to see Christ formed in you. For you to behold all He is. For you to grasp his unchanging, powerful presence in your life. I want to see Jesus increase in you. Not just in one area, but in all areas of your life. When Jesus becomes the increase in us, we are free to remove the things that may take us away from what He has called us to be. 

Jesus will have the increase whether we desire so or not. And yet, He invites us to forsake all that is earthly to focus on the One who comes from above and is above all. This year, we will seek more of Jesus by increasing in matters that he has called us to. I’m praying that in these areas that are often focused on us, we shift to see more of Jesus in them.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

A Prayer for the New Year

As we close out the year 2022 and welcome the year 2023, I want to offer this prayer on behalf of our church family. This prayer comes from the Valley of Vision: A Collection of Puritan Prayers. From the excerpt: “The strength of Puritan character and life lay in prayer and meditation. In this practice the spirit of prayer was regarded as of first importance and the best form of prayer, for living prayer is the characteristic of genuine spirituality. Yet prayer is also vocal and may therefore on occasions be written. Consequently in the Puritan tradition there are many written prayers and meditations which constitute an important corpus of inspiring devotional literature. This book has been prepared not to ‘supply’ prayers but to prompt and encourage the Christian as he treads the path on which others have gone before.

The prayer below is a prayer for the end of the year and a prayer for the beginning of a new year. I pray the Lord blesses you and your family in the coming year and may we live it out for His glory and His glory alone.


O Love beyond Compare,
Thou art good when thou givest,
when thou takest away,
when the sun shines upon me,
when night gathers over me.
Thou hast loved me before the foundation of the world,
and in love didst redeem my soul;
Thou dost love me still,
in spite of my hard heart, ingratitude, distrust.
Thy goodness has been with me another year,
leading me through a twisting wilderness,
in retreat helping me to advance,
when beaten back making sure headway.
Thy goodness will be with me in the year ahead;
I hoist sail and draw up anchor,
With thee as the blessed pilot of my future as of my past.
I bless thee that thou hast veiled my eyes to the waters ahead.
If thou hast appointed storms of tribulation,
thou wilt be with me in them;
If I have to pass through tempests of persecution and temptation,
I shall not drown;
If I am to die,
I shall see thy face the sooner;
If a painful end is to be my lot,
grant me grace that my faith fail not;
If I am to be cast aside from the service I love,
I can make no stipulation;
Only glorify thyself in me whether in comfort or trial,
as a chosen vessel meet always for thy use.


Length of days does not profit me

Except the days are passed in Thy presence, in Thy service to Thy glory.

Give me a grace that precedes, follows, guides, sustains

Sanctifies, aids every hour,

That I might not be one moment apart from Thee,

But may rely on thy Spirit

To supply every thought,

Speak every word,

Direct every step,

Prosper every work,

Build up every mote of faith,

And give me a desire

To show forth Thy praise,

Testify Thy love,

Advance Thy kingdom.

I launch my bark on the unknown waters of this year,

With Thee, O Father, as my harbour,

Thee O Son, at my helm,

Thee O Holy Spirit, filling my sails.

Guide me to heaven with my loins girt,

My lamp burning,

My ear open to thy calls,

My heart full of love, my soul free.

Give me Thy grace to sanctify me,

Thy comforts to cheer me,

Thy wisdom to teach,

Thy right hand to guide,

Thy counsel to instruct,

Thy law to judge,

Thy presence to stabilize.

May Thy fear be my awe,

Thy triumphs my joy.

New Year, Same God

It is the first day of the year 2021, a day we have eagerly anticipated. A typical New Year brings the possibility of new adventures, new enjoyments, and new excitements. This New Year brings those possibilities and it brings relief. Relief that 2020 is over and a New Year is upon us.  Who knows what we will see and experience this year; only the Lord knows!

One thing we do know about the 364 days ahead of us is the gift of God’s mercy. The Prophet Jeremiah says in Lamentations 3 that the mercies of God are new every morning. New mercies every morning. Look at what Jeremiah says:

“Remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. “The LORD is my portion,” says my soul, “therefore I will hope in him.” The LORD is good to those who wait for him, to the soul who seeks him. It is good that one should wait quietly for the salvation of the LORD.” – Lamentations 3:19–26

Jeremiah is heartbroken over the sins of the people of Israel. He weeps and cries out to the LORD to see his affliction and his turmoil. Yet even in the pain, he remembers the character of God. He remembers God’s covenant faithfulness to His people. He remembers the Lord’s extravagant mercy.

Theologian Wayne Grudem defines “mercy” as “God’s goodness towards those in misery and distress”. God’s mercy is an act of His goodness towards us not an act towards our goodness. We are undeserving of His mercy and that is what makes His mercy so extravagant. The Lord gives His mercy out of His love for us.

When you wake up in the morning, awaiting for you is the gift of new mercies given to us by our Father in heaven. As sure as the sun rises from the east, the mercies of God are lavished upon us. Every new day brings to us a new opportunity to rest in the goodness and grace of God. When your life is in turmoil, remember God’s love and mercy for you. When you have sinned, remember God’s love and mercy for you. When you are feeling anxious, remember God’s love and mercy for you.

The reason God shows this mercy to us each and every day is due to his unending and faithful love He shows His children. He knows we need His mercy and He delights in being merciful to us. This is who God is. The mercy we receive is not based on who we are or what we have done, it is solely based on the character of a Holy God.

One of the more popular mindsets heading into the New Year is “New Year, New You”. The New Year provides an opportunity to lose weight, save money, chase that dream, or to just try something new. Resolutions are made to bring about the new you you want to be. But after a few weeks, those resolutions are stuffed in a drawer until next year. While we seek to change, our God never changes. The Psalmist states,

“Of old you laid the foundation of the earth, and the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; they will all wear out like a garment. You will change them like a robe, and they will pass away, but you are the same, and your years have no end. The children of your servants shall dwell secure; their offspring shall be established before you”. – Psalm 102:25–28

The Apostle James writes,

“Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.” – James 1:17

Did you see that? Everything changes, but God remains the same. And our response to God’s immutability, that is, God’s unchangeableness, is to know that we are secure in Him. His promises never change, His character never changes, His Word never changes. God remains the same and when the calendar changes to a new date, God’s mercies will be there waiting anew. Your worst days are never so bad that you are beyond the reach of God’s grace. And your best days are never so good that you are beyond the need of God’s grace. 

This year brings different adventures, different possibilities, or it may bring more of what we have recently dealt with, but the year also brings 365 new days where God will show us new mercies. It’s a new year, but we serve and trust in the same, unchanging, and faithful God. Let’s celebrate Him.