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May 4, 2021
Mark Bethea is senior pastor of First Baptist Church in Montgomery.

It seems every Sunday I get the joy of greeting several of our faithful First Baptist Church members who walk up after a service to jubilantly share,

“This is our first Sunday back, and we could not be more excited to be here!”

It has been so moving to see faces that we’ve dearly missed this past year in-person. You can see the joy and elation as friends see each other and share fellowship in their classes and in the parking lot. Every day, the fog of COVID lifts a little more and we take another step closer.

While it’s true of our COVID world, it’s true of our Jesus-following too. Every day, we purpose to take a step closer to Jesus. Some days I want to be free from so many of the frustrations, struggles, temptations, and mess that I find my heart and soul going after, but at the end of the day, I just want to be a step closer to Jesus.

In certain stretches, rather than giant leaps of growth, it’s simply steps towards Jesus.

In my home growing up, we utilized the inside of a closet to measure our growth as kids. My parents would grab a pencil, make a mark where the top of our head reached, and write the date to the side. I’m still astonished looking back to see huge gaps of great growth and also many side-by-side tick marks where the growth was slight and the gap between was miniscule. Our physical growth was easy to measure, especially as kids growing like weeds, but spiritual growth towards Jesus can be hard to see at times.

For the past many years, I’ve adopted a simple goal for my daily life. I want to look more like Jesus when my head hits the pillow at the end of the day than when I took it off the pillow that morning.

When we look back weeks, months, and years down the road, we will see incredible spiritual fruit as we daily walk with Jesus. As we intentionally purpose to not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our minds. As we allow ourselves to be daily renewed, we can, by testing, discern and know the will of God which is good and acceptable and perfect (Romans 12:2).

Don’t be discouraged or grow weary friends. Today, walk with Jesus and know He is walking with you. Recall Jesus’ simple, yet profound words in John 10:27, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.” Let’s follow Jesus together!

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