Tag: sermon

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

The Greatest Chapter in the Bible

A few months ago, my family found a documentary series on the International Space Station. Since then, we’ve been pretty enamored by space. We’ve woken up early to see the space station passing by us and we’ve prepared to watch the recent Artemis mission launch, but it was rescheduled to launch later this month. Along the way, we learned more about the James Webb Space Telescope, which NASA launched in December of last year. The JWST is 100 times more powerful than the Hubble Space Telescope and uses infrared light to peer through dense layers of space dust. 

In July, NASA released the very first images captured by this telescope. You can look at these remarkable images here, all of them displaying God’s magnificent creation.

The enormity of the universe is virtually impossible to grasp. NASA explains that the SMACS 0723 image is “approximately the size of a grain of sand held at arm’s length.” So, find a grain of sand, hold it up to the night sky, and imagine that in it are thousands of galaxies we can see with the most powerful telescope we’ve ever constructed—and certainly countless more galaxies we cannot yet see. You can read more about it here.

I look at these pictures and I think of the enormous depths of space and think, how big is our God, the creator of it all! These pictures show us the glorious depths of God’s creation. And yet, the glorious God behind the great depths of space is not beyond them. He is near. While there are deep pockets of space we won’t see on this side of heaven, the glorious depths of God’s Gospel can be known and there are glorious depths to God’s gospel that we must search and discover for our own souls. 

But we don’t need a telescope or a microscope even; we have the book of Romans, which church history has called, “The greatest letter ever written”. Within the greatest letter ever written is what many, myself included, have called “The greatest chapter in the Bible”, Romans 8.

The Letter of Romans gives us the glorious depths of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. There are some of you here who are (1) questioning this gospel and maybe skeptical of it, (2) just dipping your toes into grace, or (3) ready to dive into the depths of God’s grace. No matter where you are, my prayer for you is to me amazed by the splendor of our God. It’s what Paul writes in Romans 11:33-36,

Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways! “For who has known the mind of the Lord, or who has been his counselor?” “Or who has given a gift to him that he might be repaid?” For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen.” – Romans 11:33–36

The entire letter shares with us that God has revealed the gracious depths of His righteousness to us. 

We see from Romans 1:1-7 that the Apostle Paul is the author of this letter to the house churches in Rome. He wrote this letter in roughly AD 56 during his third missionary journey while he was in Corinth (Italy) on his way to Jerusalem. You have to look at the final chapters to see a few of the reasons why he wrote this letter. He wrote this letter to (1) unite the Jews and Gentiles and (2) raise money for his mission trip to Spain, in which he hoped to stop by to see these brothers and sisters in Rome (Romans 15:24-25). 

It’s really by reading the entirety of the letter that we see why Paul wrote this letter to these Christians: he wanted them to explore the depths of the gospel.

This letter is a gospel treatise, an overflowing fountain of grace and mercy. It is saturated with Gospel goodness. It is rich in Gospel hope. And Paul invites his readers then and his readers now to discover the depths of Christ’s Gospel. Because A heart that has explored the depths of the gospel is a heart that overflows with gospel joy.

Paul encourages to keep going deeper into the endless wells of God’s grace to scrape the barrels dry only to discover it never does run empty. The depths of this gospel of grace that never ends is the theme of the entire letter. Grace upon grace from the God who is rich in grace. Not only is the gospel the central theme of this letter, but it must be the central theme of our lives. And for the gospel to be the central theme in our lives, then we must dive deep. And when we do, we can along with Paul declare, 

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek. For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” – Romans 1:16–17

The gospel is Paul’s reason not only for writing, but for living! This gospel message is not just interesting information, but a transforming declaration! As we dive into the depths of God’s righteousness over the next several weeks, I pray the Lord will continue to stir within our hearts an overflowing joy for who He is and all that He has done for us. 

If you missed Sunday’s sermon, be sure to listen to it here.

By His Grace,

Pastor Matt

We exist to make Jesus-Centered Disciples for God's glory.

3180 County Rd 220, Suite 1
Middleburg, FL 32068