I heard a question a while back asking why Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan. If baptism represents a forgiveness of sin, and Jesus was sinless, why would that be necessary? Why would Jesus insist that He be baptized when John stated that he was unworthy? (Matthew 3:14) John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?” People understand that baptism represents forgiveness but forget it also represents new life with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit through acceptance of Jesus. (Romans 6:4) We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. With that thought in mind we can look into why Jesus wanted to be baptized.
- To Glorify God, who opened the sky and spoke in acknowledgment of His son
- To pass the torch from John the Baptist who came to set the table for the arrival of the Messiah
- To submit Himself and stand shoulder to shoulder with the sinners He was going to lead out of death and eventually lay down His life for
- To represent the beginning of His ministry, His ordination by the Holy Spirit of God
What if Jesus was baptized in order to begin His discipleship of man? Part of discipleship is living a life that someone can come along side and imitate in order to grow in the Spirit. The humility of God’s Word made flesh, God in the flesh, allowed Him to become like us as an example. God’s love allowed this to happen. The baptism of Jesus wasn’t about His sin, it was about His humble love and the beginning of the Gospel that would echo through time as He drew the children of God into reconciliation with the Father.
(Philippians 2:8) And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient
(Colossians 2:8) See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Man has created its own version of wisdom. They are label as science and given names like: Philosophy/ Psychology/ Sociology. These professions serve to attach man’s fallen wisdom to God’s design. Science attaches theories which change and evolve into suitable ideas that last for a while before being disproven later. They fail to see that God and His design doesn’t have to change. God’s approach to His creation doesn’t have to vary. God’s word has been around longer than all of this fallen wisdom and still is without blemish. Science looks to explain sickness and pain, which didn’t exist before sin. Instead of recognizing sin they look for another reason/ cure. When they fail in their endeavor to attach reasons, they make it acceptable and normal to be fallen. They don’t seek The Healer, they attach a long name and prescribe it a medication.
It is clear that our world is falling into chaos. As people turn away from God and toward their own abilities the deceiver gains a bigger foot hold on this world. We can rest assured that our God is victorious over death in the end, but we must endure the consequences of sin while we sojourn on earth. We have to remember that we were created in God’s likeness, as children of light. We were never meant to live in a world of darkness. We were never meant to experience death and fear. Sin made those things come into existence after man had been created to flourish in direct relationship with God. Sin created separation, darkness, and death. Knowing that we weren’t meant for this type of life we have to rely on the provision of God to live abundantly. The ruler of this world is the deceiver; he takes the people who have become lost in sin and convinces them that this is all there is. He keeps their eyes toward the earth so that God is never in focus. We were never meant to see hell either. The deceiver is meant to be there with his followers. (Matthew 25:41) Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.
As you struggle through this life, always focus on the path lit by the light of God. That is, the path He designed for you. Leaving that path puts you in an environment where you were never designed to live. We are God’s children and meant to live in relation with Him. Stand close to your Protector, Provider, Sustainer, Creator, and Father. Be a child of light and refuse to live in darkness. You aren’t meant to experience that life, only what God chooses for you as you serve His kingdom.
When the Lord blesses us to overflowing we are called to shine His light to others! When blessings are given, they are better recognized and appreciated when the Lord provides. Be a blessing to others so that God can use you as a conduit to bless the world around you. Be the source of His light. Give in faith that God is also faithful.
As I sat in a group discussing the spiritual gifts that existed between us, I had a tug at my heart. I saw men light up as they described the gifts God had bestowed upon them and how they put those gifts into practice in their kingdom service. I realized how easy it is to talk about God moving in the presence of other believers, while on the other hand the same conversation with non-believers is met with confusion or skepticism. I then realized that every spiritual gift comes with a worldly stigma that faces criticism from those who cannot recognize God’s work in a person. A few examples:
The gift of Knowledge can be seen as arrogance to someone who is offended by the revelation found in that gift. The humility to be lead is a sign of wisdom and a trait of God.
The gift of Teaching can seem over bearing when the subject matter becomes eternal and spiritual. The believer is looked at as a ‘know it all’ and the words fall on deaf ears.
The gift of Encouragement makes people feel like their problem isn’t taken seriously because they don’t share the same confidence as the believer. They want a reaction that mirrors their own such as anger or fear.
The gift of Giving offends people who are too proud to receive that kind of love.
The gift of Prophecy makes people withdraw as they sit in denial about a truth that becomes clear far later than need be. They fight truth that they are not ready to receive.
The gift of Evangelism rubs anybody wrong who refuses to submit to The Creator and insists on a self-reliance that never succeeds. Just the name of God causes the sinful heart to withdraw.
Finally, the gift of Faith which looks like indifference when the world won’t approve of the lack of reaction found in Christ. They don’t find peace in reliance on a God they deny.
Growth in Christ (spirit) is viewed as a flaw to the world (flesh). Every gift come with a perceived flaw when the lost don’t understand the true power of the Holy Spirit in a believer. Part of the deceiver’s work is to create a skewed view of God and His faithful by turning the lost away from the power of God as it works through the gifted. We should all take the time to examine our hearts and the gifts God has placed in them. That realization helps you see where God desires to use you in His kingdom. The difficult part is the perseverance we face in the light of those gifts. Ask God to give you strength and know that God has blessed you with those gifts and will continue to do so as you allow His Spirit to move through you with His gifts.
Imagine that you inherited a large sum of money and decided to buy an island for your friends and family. You built housing and provided anything they could ever need on the island. If a new need arose you met that need out of love for the people you chose to live there. They want for nothing because of your provision. Over time they forget about you and glorify themselves in the luxury you provide. They become arrogant and selfish, trying to store extra things for themselves to obtain status over the other people. None of the people recognize your name anymore. You feel sad and angry. Maybe you ask them to take one day per week and remember the source of their provision. That doesn’t get followed. You institute rules for them so that they have to regain an outward focus toward you. They fail at that as well. You finally have to travel to the island to explain what your reason for the island was, and that you want them to remember the love that built it and continues to provide for it. You want them to be thankful and love you in return. You become an example to them of how you desire for them to live. They reject you. They don’t like the idea of letting you change what they have established in your absence so they look for a way to kill you. Finally, you institute a message of love that encompasses all of the original rules and gives them hearts that resemble the heart that brought the island into existence.
I ask you to put yourself in that situation and imagine how you would feel. Would you be angry with your people? How sad would their selfishness make you? How would the rejection when you traveled to help them make you feel? I’ll let you have your own moment with the feelings that stir within you.
This is the frustration of God. He has more power and presence than we can imagine with this human example. God is far too big for us to ever understand Him or to fully see His plan. I wanted you to feel in your heart what we would see from His throne. Then imagine that He looks at you with unconditional love and accepted death to reconcile you to Him. He’s building a new island for those that choose to give Him the recognition and thanks. I don’t ask you to fully understand the infinite God. I hope you don’t let yourself become complacent and resemble the people who forget where their provision comes from.
(Revelation 7:12) “Amen! Blessing and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving and honor and power and might be to our God forever and ever! Amen.”
Blessing – First, a blessing was a public declaration of a favored status with God. Second, the blessing endowed power for prosperity and success. We are to honor God for giving us blessings we are unworthy of by blessing Him in return in the form of praise.
Glory– Glory speaks to recognition of God and His presence (omnipresence) in all things. God does all things and created all things for His glory. He desires our attention and recognition for all provision. God is the source of all existence and we should be thankful for everything we are allowed to experience.
Wisdom – He is the source of perfect wisdom as describes in James 3:17. An accurate definition of wisdom is: seeing things from God’s point of view. God knows the beginning from the end so He doesn’t get caught up in the small things that our human emotions drive us toward. When you are on the path of God you don’t stop for the pebbles in the way.
Thanksgiving – Thanking God for all that He bestows on His children. Without Him there would be nothing. All that we are and all that we have are because of what He gave and created. It’s human nature to believe that we can do anything without God. We prosper when we can be thankful to God or for any ability and provision He has given us for His purpose.
Honor – To honor someone, is to give weight or to grant a person a position of respect or give precedence in one’s life. God, as our sustainer and creator, not only deserves but desires the highest position in our life. Seeing God in such a light allows His judgment to guide our life as the world moves in many directions. God’s Word acts like a plumb line that never moves from perfect center. His guidance must be seen as a safe place of refuge when we can’t move forward with certainty. Giving God honor gives light to the path through this dark world.
Power – Ability/ Authority/ Dominion Over. God has ultimate power and control over all things. His authority is for all time. Just because the lost turn away doesn’t take away God’s authority, it just take away their ability to sense Him in their life. It becomes easier for the deceiver to do his work on those who deny the authority of God as well as those who drift from that realization.
Might – Strength/ Force/ Physical Power. As God, we have to realize the strength He possesses in His dominion over all the universe. What many fail to understand is God is strongest in our weakness. God does all things for His glory, so when you have nothing left, He has everything. God’s power is magnified through submissiveness. Hand your hardship to God, then let go. It is then that you can truly feel His power, and know that your efforts would have led to a lesser result.
God has a plan for all who are obedient to His guidance. The plans and blessings God has prepared for those who are faithful to staying His course are far beyond our imagination. One of the most difficult aspects to walking in God’s light and taking Him by His right hand is that those who have hardened their hearts and choose to dwell outside of God’s light will never understand this walk. Being selfless, joyful, at peace, and confident make the lost question the sanity of a mind focused on the things that are eternal. God’s plan will not always be clear to those who stay in the shadow of earthly sin. Faith allows a believer to be steadfast in the provision of our God. We must accept the responsibility that comes with a knowledge of Jesus and the indwelling of the Spirit of God. God’s people must harness the power available in the Holy Spirit and become leaders of the lost, a guide toward the light of God and His path. We are only able to rightfully lead when we are rightfully lead by God. A real leader must see the goal before those who are meant to follow. Be a reflection of God’s light and a beacon in this dark world.
(Matthew 11:16-19) “To what can I compare this generation? They are like children sitting in the marketplaces and calling out to others: “‘We played the pipe for you, and you did not dance; we sang a dirge, and you did not mourn. ’For John (the Baptist) came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, ‘He has a demon.’ The Son of Man (Jesus) came eating and drinking, and they say, ‘Here is a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners.’ But wisdom is proved right by her deeds.”
This passage speaks to legalism, false wisdom, unrealistic/false expectation, and pointless religious ritual. People create an expectation of God as opposed to learning about Him from His word. Then they take it a step further and judge people based upon their unfounded expectation. They pride themselves on their false wisdom and their actions discredit their wisdom (11:19). There is no wisdom in humanizing our infinite God, then judging on behalf of the only judge. Their lack of wisdom due to their lack of knowledge leaves them looking to discredit the actions of those that they don’t understand or agree with. Learning who God is comes with an accountability too large for people who refuse to become selfless, in submission to the Creator. They fail to understand that all of their false wisdom and inflated theory fails in comparison to faith the size of a mustard seed, which can move mountains and truly stir the hearts of man.