Welcome to Daily Steps!
A weekly devotional message with daily scripture readings, prayer prompts, and action steps to help you spend time with Jesus and strengthen your relationship with Him.
Kingdom Greatness in Everyday Living
Matthew 20:26-28 "It shall not be so among you. But whoever would be great among you must be your servant, and whoever would be first among you must be your slave, even as the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Striving to be noticeably extraordinary has always been a prerequisite to achieving society’s latest definition of success. Many people think that the showmanship and grandstanding typical of the trendiest social-media-status-climber is a modern-day phenomenon, but history tells us otherwise because human nature has always driven people to crave recognition, attention, and acceptance. Whether it was drawings on the walls of ancient caves or life-size advertising billboards in Times Square, people have always associated greatness with being placed in a visible place of honor.
As believers, we would like to think that when we surrender our lives to Jesus that our desire for self-serving greatness would fade into the background, never to emerge again. However, Jesus knows us better than that, and His definition of what it means to be extraordinary couldn't be more different than ours. Jesus taught the disciples to operate on a micro-scale … at the community level… creating a ripple effect powered by the Holy Spirit that eventually changed the lives of countless people throughout the ages. Sure, there were times when Jesus was adored on a macro-scale by thousands of people as He spoke publicly about the Kingdom of God, but He never stayed there. He never craved a platform, because He knew all too well both the power and the peril of being on one. Scripture indicates over and over that He was much more likely to be found looking one person in the eye rather than many. The greatest impact of His ministry happened through the one-on-one transformations and small group teaching. Consider these pivotal, micro-audience moments from the Gospels and their crazy ripple effect throughout history and in your own heart:
- The miracle of healings of the blind man, Jairus’ daughter, Lazarus, the woman with the endless bleeding, and so many more.
- The conversation between Jesus and the woman at the well (John 4)
- The moment when Jesus squatted in the dirt to wipe tears from the face of the woman caught in adultery (John 8:1-11)
- The shock on Zacchaeus’ face when Jesus looked up to call him down from the tree (Luke 19:1-10)
- The commissioning of the disciples to go out and share the good news two by two (Mark 6:7)
- The painful interaction between Jesus and the thief hanging next to Him on the cross (Luke 23:39-43)
- The intimacy of the upper room when Jesus appeared to His disciples and gave them the gift of His Spirit (John 20:19-23)
- The conversation between the two travelers on the road to Emmaus and how Jesus intervened (Luke 24:13-35)
In all these moments, Jesus inserted Himself into the lives of ordinary people, transforming them and the circumstances into lightning rods for His glory. This is how ordinary people can live truly extraordinary lives — letting Jesus fill every pocket, every corner of our hearts, and following His lead, not our own desires or the world’s ideas of greatness. You and I may long to do something amazing for God, but all that He wants us to do is to long for more of Him, and Him alone. When that happens, everything else will fall into its proper place. Oswald Chambers, one of the most highly-regarded teachers of the last century and the author of the devotional book My Utmost for His Highest, put it this way: “A Christian worker has to learn how to be God’s man or woman of great worth and excellence in the midst of a multitude of meager and worthless things. All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them. It is ingrained in us that we have to do exceptional things for God — but we do not. We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people— and this is not learned in five minutes.” This coming week, commit to giving God more than five minutes each day to transform your idea of greatness into His.
Daily Bible Readings
This week, as you go through the daily readings below, ask the Holy Spirit to make each of the passages deeply personal and applicable to you. (NOTE: We suggest you read each of these passages in several different versions of the Bible, including at least one paraphrase version.) As you contemplate these passages, make time to pray before and after you read them. Write down anything the Holy Spirit whispers to your soul.
Monday — Read Matthew 20:20-28. Scholars believe that the mother of James and John was the sister of Mary, Jesus' mother. Of course, this makes James and John first cousins of Jesus. Now, read the passage again with these family dynamics in mind. We will always come up empty when we attempt to use our relationships to achieve greatness for ourselves rather than focusing on Jesus' style of servant-oriented greatness. As you spend time with God in prayer today, be sure to listen for the ways that He is calling you to shift your ideas about greatness so that you can more fully serve Him in the ordinary moments of life.
Tuesday - Read Luke 14:7-9. Our culture pushes us to desire the praise of many for being extraordinary in some way (i.e., social media), yet at the same time, we often yearn to display that uniqueness and offer our precious talents from the safety of a distant place. We like adoration for all that we can do for God's Kingdom, but we prefer not to climb into the ordinary trenches of others’ lives and help them walk through pain, suffering, or despair. As you meditate upon this Scripture today, ask God to give you a fresh vision and passion for doing as Oswald Chambers said, "We have to be exceptional in the ordinary things of life, and holy on the ordinary streets, among ordinary people."
Wednesday - Read John 4. When Jesus talked to the woman at the well, He was doing something that the culture around Him deemed scandalous. Yet, this one-on-one interaction brought out an entire town to hear the Gospel. What should’ve become the social media scandal of its day, became a message of hope for many in the hands of Jesus. Write down anything remarkable from Jesus’ conversation with a very ordinary person. Ask the Holy Spirit to give you an opportunity for a divine encounter (virtual or in-person) with an ordinary person this week.
Thursday - Read James 2:1-13. Putting others on a pedestal is just as much of a problem as seeking greatness for ourselves. Whether they are celebrities, wealthy individuals, teachers/pastors, or anyone in a leadership position, when we elevate someone in our mind for what we perceive to be greatness, we are headed for trouble for ourselves and for that person. Spend some time asking God if you've placed another believer on a pedestal. A great question to ask yourself is found in verses 2 - 4 in the passage you just read. As God lays a name on your mind, imagine him or her walking into your house for a dinner party, followed by someone you know to be of very limited means or low stature. Let the Holy Spirit move freely in your heart and speak to you about this.
Friday - Read the story of the woman caught in adultery in John 8:1-11. Spend some time thinking about her situation and how it might relate to someone you know. Don’t focus on the specifics of her sin, but on the ramifications of her pain, struggle, and societal standing. Now think about how Jesus related to her with intention and purpose. How is God leading you to show the same tenderness to others?
TAKE YOUR NEXT STEP
Grow closer to God each day and explore what it means to be a part of bringing the Kingdom of Heaven down to earth.
Want to Go Even Further?
If you are not already using our weekly study guide with your community group or family members, you're missing out on thought-provoking questions for discussion or individual study.
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