Baptism of Jesus

At that time Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan River so that John would baptize him. John tried to stop him and said, “I need to be baptized by you, yet you come to me?” Jesus answered, “Allow me to be baptized now. This is necessary to fulfill all righteousness.” So John agreed to baptize Jesus. When Jesus was baptized, he immediately came up out of the water. Heaven was opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God coming down like a dove and resting on him. A voice from heaven said, “This is my Son whom I dearly love; I find happiness in him.” (Matthew 3:13-17, CEB)

Sometimes God asks us to do something and we think that it needs to be done a different way. John did that here. Jesus came and said baptize me, and John was like, I think you need to baptize me. But sometimes God’s plan has things we don’t understand and we should just go with it because God knows what God is doing.

Follow where God is calling you and know that God will always be with you!

Loving People. Loving God.

Every

This is why I kneel before the Father. Every ethnic group in heaven or on earth is recognized by him. I ask that he will strengthen you in your inner selves from the riches of his glory through the Spirit. I ask that Christ will live in your hearts through faith. As a result of having strong roots in love, I ask that you’ll have the power to grasp love’s width and length, height and depth, together with all believers. I ask that you’ll know the love of Christ that is beyond knowledge so that you will be filled entirely with the fullness of God. Glory to God, who is able to do far beyond all that we could ask or imagine by his power at work within us; glory to him in the church and in Christ Jesus for all generations, forever and always. Amen. (Ephesians 3:14-21, CEB)

Every ethnic group is recognized by God. There is no one who is not known by God.

So should we try and keep anyone from learning about God and being filled with the fullness of God’s love?

No, we should not. We should recognize and accept everyone too because God accepts all, we accept all.

Be filled with God’s love and love all.

Loving People. Loving God.

warned in a dream

After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in the territory of Judea during the rule of King Herod, magi came from the east to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the newborn king of the Jews? We’ve seen his star in the east, and we’ve come to honor him.” When King Herod heard this, he was troubled, and everyone in Jerusalem was troubled with him. He gathered all the chief priests and the legal experts and asked them where the Christ was to be born. They said, “In Bethlehem of Judea, for this is what the prophet wrote: You, Bethlehem, land of Judah, by no means are you least among the rulers of Judah, because from you will come one who governs, who will shepherd my people Israel.” Then Herod secretly called for the magi and found out from them the time when the star had first appeared. He sent them to Bethlehem, saying, “Go and search carefully for the child. When you’ve found him, report to me so that I too may go and honor him.” When they heard the king, they went; and look, the star they had seen in the east went ahead of them until it stood over the place where the child was. When they saw the star, they were filled with joy. They entered the house and saw the child with Mary his mother. Falling to their knees, they honored him. Then they opened their treasure chests and presented him with gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. Because they were warned in a dream not to return to Herod, they went back to their own country by another route. (Matthew 2:1-12, CEB)

This is the day of Epiphany when the Magi arrived at the home where Jesus was living after he was born. From the passage that comes after this, we can ascertain that Jesus was around two years old when the Magi arrived.

The thing that struck me this year as I read this text was that the Magi were warned in a dream. God spoke to those who we say are outsiders, from different religions to warn them that Herod was bad and that they shouldn’t share the location of Jesus with him, and we are told that they believed this vision and went home a different way as to avoid Herod. God works in and through the world and in many different and surprising ways.

How do we follow what God has asked us to do and how do we help bring light to the world?

Do we love out loud and show grace and mercy in our actions?

How can we not share doom and gloom but be beacons of peace and not say that some are outside of God’s inner circle?

We need to focus on God and share God’s love and let God be God.

Loving People. Loving God.

Fix our eyes

What more can I say? I would run out of time if I told you about Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, and the prophets. Through faith they conquered kingdoms, brought about justice, realized promises, shut the mouths of lions, put out raging fires, escaped from the edge of the sword, found strength in weakness, were mighty in war, and routed foreign armies. Women received back their dead by resurrection. Others were tortured and refused to be released so they could gain a better resurrection. But others experienced public shame by being taunted and whipped; they were even put in chains and in prison. They were stoned to death, they were cut in two, and they died by being murdered with swords. They went around wearing the skins of sheep and goats, needy, oppressed, and mistreated. The world didn’t deserve them. They wandered around in deserts, mountains, caves, and holes in the ground. All these people didn’t receive what was promised, though they were given approval for their faith. God provided something better for us so they wouldn’t be made perfect without us. So then, with endurance, let’s also run the race that is laid out in front of us, since we have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us. Let’s throw off any extra baggage, get rid of the sin that trips us up, and fix our eyes on Jesus, faith’s pioneer and perfecter. He endured the cross, ignoring the shame, for the sake of the joy that was laid out in front of him, and sat down at the right side of God’s throne. (Hebrews 11:32—12:2, CEB)

Faith in God is what gets us there.

And when we fix our eyes upon Jesus, the pioneer and perfected of faith, we will live the way God has called us to.

Jesus questioned the plan and yet followed it by saying in the garden, “not my will but your will be done.” Can we do this?

If we can fix our eyes on Jesus and follow the example we have been given, we will change the world and live the life God has called us to.

We will be grace, mercy, and peace for a world that needs the love God has for it.

Love out Loud.

Loving People. Loving God.

Who?

By faith Moses was hidden by his parents for three months when he was born, because they saw that the child was beautiful and they weren’t afraid of the king’s orders. By faith Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter when he was grown up. He chose to be mistreated with God’s people instead of having the temporary pleasures of sin. He thought that the abuses he suffered for Christ were more valuable than the treasures of Egypt, since he was looking forward to the reward. By faith he left Egypt without being afraid of the king’s anger. He kept on going as if he could see what is invisible. By faith he kept the Passover and the sprinkling of blood, in order that the destroyer could not touch their firstborn children. By faith they crossed the Red Sea as if they were on dry land, but when the Egyptians tried it, they were drowned. By faith Jericho’s walls fell after the people marched around them for seven days. By faith Rahab the prostitute wasn’t killed with the disobedient because she welcomed the spies in peace. (Hebrews 11:23-31, CEB)

Most of this section of Hebrews 11 is about Moses. But the last two sentences are after Moses.

Jericho’s walls fell after the people marched around them for seven days.

And Rahab, the prostitute, wasn’t killed with the others in the promised land because she welcomed the spies.

Rahab. 1 of 4 women listed in Jesus’ genealogy. She is essential to all of our histories. And by faith, she was kept.

Do not discount someone that doesn’t fit the mold you think is what God wants, because they may just be the one that God is picking.

Loving People. Loving God.

in faith

All these people died in faith without receiving the promises, but they saw the promises from a distance and welcomed them. They confessed that they were strangers and immigrants on earth. People who say this kind of thing make it clear that they are looking for a homeland. If they had been thinking about the country that they had left, they would have had the opportunity to return to it. But at this point in time, they are longing for a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God isn’t ashamed to be called their God—he has prepared a city for them. By faith Abraham offered Isaac when he was tested. The one who received the promises was offering his only son. He had been told concerning him, Your legitimate descendants will come from Isaac. He figured that God could even raise him from the dead. So in a way he did receive him back from the dead. By faith Isaac also blessed Jacob and Esau concerning their future. By faith Jacob blessed each of Joseph’s sons as he was dying and bowed in worship over the head of his staff. By faith Joseph recalled the exodus of the Israelites at the end of his life, and gave instructions about burying his bones. (Hebrews 11:13-22, CEB)

The people from yesterday (Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, and Sarah) died before the promise was received. They believed and trust and by faith were made right and in faith they died, knowing that the promise would be fulfilled.

We may not receive the promise before we cross over the threshold of death, but we can trust and believe that it is coming and have faith in God to deliver the promise.

There are many in the Bible who had/have faith in God and knew they could trust God.

Do you?

Loving People. Loving God.

by faith

Faith is the reality of what we hope for, the proof of what we don’t see. The elders in the past were approved because they showed faith. By faith we understand that the universe has been created by a word from God so that the visible came into existence from the invisible. By faith Abel offered a better sacrifice to God than Cain, which showed that he was righteous, since God gave approval to him for his gift. Though he died, he’s still speaking through faith. By faith Enoch was taken up so that he didn’t see death, and he wasn’t found because God took him up. He was given approval for having pleased God before he was taken up. It’s impossible to please God without faith because the one who draws near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards people who try to find him. By faith Noah responded with godly fear when he was warned about events he hadn’t seen yet. He built an ark to deliver his household. With his faith, he criticized the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes from faith. By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was going to receive as an inheritance. He went out without knowing where he was going. By faith he lived in the land he had been promised as a stranger. He lived in tents along with Isaac and Jacob, who were coheirs of the same promise. He was looking forward to a city that has foundations, whose architect and builder is God. By faith even Sarah received the ability to have a child, though she herself was barren and past the age for having children, because she believed that the one who promised was faithful. So descendants were born from one man (and he was as good as dead). They were as many as the number of the stars in the sky and as countless as the grains of sand on the seashore. (Hebrews 11:1-12, CEB)

Abel, by faith…

Enoch, by faith…

Noah, by faith…

Abraham, by faith…

Sarah, by faith…

None of those listed above were said to have done anything to be in good standing with God. They were there by faith. They were there by trust.

Are you there? All it takes is trust. All it takes is faith. Faith and belief that the promises are true and God is there for you.

You can not get there by works.

It is done by faith. Faith in the unseen. stepping out and knowing that God has you.

Loving People. Loving God.

Fooled

When the magi had departed, an angel from the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Get up. Take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod will soon search for the child in order to kill him.” Joseph got up and, during the night, took the child and his mother to Egypt. He stayed there until Herod died. This fulfilled what the Lord had spoken through the prophet: I have called my son out of Egypt. When Herod knew the magi had fooled him, he grew very angry. He sent soldiers to kill all the children in Bethlehem and in all the surrounding territory who were two years old and younger, according to the time that he had learned from the magi. This fulfilled the word spoken through Jeremiah the prophet: A voice was heard in Ramah, weeping and much grieving. Rachel weeping for her children, and she did not want to be comforted, because they were no more. After King Herod died, an angel from the Lord appeared in a dream to Joseph in Egypt. “Get up,” the angel said, “and take the child and his mother and go to the land of Israel. Those who were trying to kill the child are dead.” Joseph got up, took the child and his mother, and went to the land of Israel. But when he heard that Archelaus ruled over Judea in place of his father Herod, Joseph was afraid to go there. Having been warned in a dream, he went to the area of Galilee. He settled in a city called Nazareth so that what was spoken through the prophets might be fulfilled: He will be called a Nazarene. (Matthew 2:13-23, CEB)

Herod was fooled by the Magi, because they were supposed to come back and tell him where the king was when they found him, but they didn’t and when Herod figured this out he killed all of the baby boys in Bethlehem who were two years old and younger.

Herod was afraid of what the baby would do.

Are we afraid of what God will do? Maybe not the way that Herod was, we won’t lose power, well we will actually if we give up control of our lives like God wants us to, but we shouldn’t be afraid as in fear of that. We can be afraid of what will happen in a good way.

I have moved across the country and from north to the south and back and back again, and I always wonder at what God will do next. Maybe one could say that is fear. Fear is a healthy thing and keeps up alive sometimes.

God works through the details and happenings in our lives to help the world see God’s grace and mercy. Never think your life is not worth something, it is worth Jesus coming and everything to God.

Know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made and are a treasure to God.

Loving People. Loving God.

Judge less! Love More!

Jesus spoke to the people again, saying, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me won’t walk in darkness but will have the light of life.” Then the Pharisees said to him, “Because you are testifying about yourself, your testimony isn’t valid.” Jesus replied, “Even if I testify about myself, my testimony is true, since I know where I came from and where I’m going. You don’t know where I come from or where I’m going. You judge according to human standards, but I judge no one. Even if I do judge, my judgment is truthful, because I’m not alone. My judgments come from me and from the Father who sent me. In your Law it is written that the witness of two people is true. I am one witness concerning myself, and the Father who sent me is the other.” They asked him, “Where is your Father?” Jesus answered, “You don’t know me and you don’t know my Father. If you knew me, you would also know my Father.” (John 8:12-19, CEB)

Jesus said, “I am the light of the world.”

There is no darkness in Jesus.

When Jesus comes into your life you see differently.

You think differently.

You act differently.

Jesus said he doesn’t judge, but if he did his judgment is truthful because it is from God.

Can we be like Jesus?

Light for the darkness in the world, and not judging anyone but loving everyone?

What a way to start a new year!

What a great New Year’s resolution.

Judge less! Love More!

Loving People. Loving God.

temporary minor

So we aren’t depressed. But even if our bodies are breaking down on the outside, the person that we are on the inside is being renewed every day. Our temporary minor problems are producing an eternal stockpile of glory for us that is beyond all comparison. We don’t focus on the things that can be seen but on the things that can’t be seen. The things that can be seen don’t last, but the things that can’t be seen are eternal. (2 Corinthians 4:16-18, CEB)

What does Paul mean by temporary minor problems?

Like my issue with my car where the car doesn’t know when I open the driver’s side door?

Or maybe the fact that my body doesn’t work right and I have to take pills to help regulate my blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar?

Or the fact I don’t seem to have enough money, or I spend more than I have?

Are those the temporary minor problems Paul is referring to here?

yes. I would say those are the things that are temporary minor problems.

They are things that are hindrances to us living the life God has for us because we let them get in the way.

If we focus on what God is bringing us to, the temporary minor problems will be just that, temporary and minor.

Loving People. Loving God.