And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” -Matthew 3:16-17
Believing I am loved, I agree to be led into nothing less than God's eternal purpose. - This is what we are saying with baptism; it is the statement of baptism! It's not a religous check box, it's not something that we trust for our salvation, it is a statement that we are making at the beginning of a beautiful and unending journey; that's what baptism is! So, if this water would speak, it would speak of love, which is the birth of all real relationship with God.
Religion somehow knows all the God stuff, but it never has a heart that is softened and touched by love. It never feels the joy of the Father's smile. It never knows the warmth of the Father's embrace or even the gentle whisper of the Father's breath in it's ear! But the person that dares to believe that they are personally and eternally loved by God is on the Jesus path!
You are not hopeless, you are not rejected, you are not ugly, or fated to fail. You are the beloved sons and daughters of God and you are invited to accept your place in the Father's family. But He loves you and will not force you; you cannot force love. It has to be wanted, it has to be given. Jesus knew He was loved, and until our identity is settled in looking into the face of Jesus, we are going to live our whole lives as exhausted posers performing for people like a seal in a circus. Our lives are going to be filled with pain because people can't fill you and no matter how much you tap dance and how many plates you spin, it will never ever be enough!
Faith connects life's pain to God's love. In baptism we are believing that we are beautifully loved and the truth is, like Jesus, we have to begin with an identity of love. If love is far from your heart, then that's your first step of faith! I don't care whether you feel it, you have to "faith" it; that you are loved, that you are known and that you are wanted! Believing I am loved, I agree to be led into nothing less than God's eternal purpose! -Dr. Drew Shofner
1 Samuel 16:7 is a great story, its the story of Israel choosing a king. Samuel is a prophet who's name is a combination of "Shem" (he hears) and "u'el" (with God). Being named Samuel as a prophet of God, Samuel is a man who hears God. So here is Samuel, coming to the family to choose Israel's first king. Samuel sees this guy named Eliab who was the most powerful guy, most handsome guy and most eloquent guy who seemed like the obvious choice. Everyone, even Samuel who's whole life is about listening to God, falls into the way of the world and says this has to be the guy; Eliab has to be it!
And then God shows up! And the Lord said to Samuel, “Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” Let that sink in, it's all about the heart not appearances!
Our faith is not about how things look, it’s about how things really are! This world is all about appearances, we all want to look good. The world looks at outer appearances and makes instant assessments. Ladies, I just want to apologize on behalf of all men, for all time, for the burdens that we put on you that make you feel like your whole worth is based on how you look. We artificially create a poundage that if you fit in, you’re great! But if you don’t, you’re out! I don’t think God appreciates His daughter’s being treated like that!
To have to spend so much time and energy and to have so much of your self worth based on how you appear; it's just so shallow and exhausting! It's a whole lesson in missing the point because the whole point is who are you? I mean who are you really? I would ask you, do you put more time and effort into managing your appearance in front of people than you do surrendering your heart in front of God?
Maintaining all of the exhausting work of appearances is kind of like standing around all day with a brick in each arm. Working so hard to maintain the appearance of competence, attractiveness, power, significance or whatever. Its just exhausting having to maintain that effort and energy when there is just a whole different way that we are called to live; from the heart and not from appearances! Your heavenly Father wants you to know that it's all about the heart, if we've taken care of the heart, we've taken care of everything! -Dr. Drew Shofner
Jesus illuminated life in the most amazing ways and we get to experience the brilliance of Jesus not as a historical story, but as a present tense reality. In Matthew 7:15-20 Jesus gave us a window to evaluate and filter some things in life.
Jesus said, “Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves. By their fruit you will recognize them. Do people pick grapes from thorn bushes, or figs from thistles? Likewise, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit. A good tree cannot bear bad fruit, and a bad tree cannot bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus, by their fruit you will recognize them."
Jesus also gave us a mirror to look into and to discover some truths about ourselves. Because the simple truth is that we need to be careful about who we let speak for God in our lives because not everything is what it appears to be. Jesus told His people, "watch out for false prophets." This isn't about being suspicious or critical consumers, rating people on their speaking ability, style or emotions. Jesus is just saying I want you to watch out for false prophets. I want you to filter and receive what is true and reject what is false!
So, you will hear people speak with great charisma and profound eloquence and I say to you that you need to watch out for false prophets! One of the distinctions we have, is that we believe in the power of the Word of God to speak to every believer. We call it the priesthood of the believer. What that means is that you read the Word of God for yourself and you don't have to have a priest other than Jesus standing between you and His word!
Jesus will speak through people who have given Him their broken hearts and who are letting Him rebuild their lives. So, as you read the Word and as you hear it, know that the people that listen to Jesus, the teachers that you should invite into your life, even though they are broken and imperfect, everybody is broken and everybody needs to be redeemed. We're all in this together.
It's just broken people who know Jesus and broken people who don't, but we're all broken. People who listen to Jesus are going to sound like Jesus, they are going to serve like Jesus, they are going to love like Jesus, they are going to live like Jesus, and give like Jesus; because they have the heart of Jesus!
So, until He comes, we as His followers will listen to those whose lives show that they are listening to Jesus and they are letting it cost them in a way that is real and from the heart because it's all about the heart and not appearances! When Jesus has your heart, the whole spirit of your life begins to change and you don't have to work at looking Christian and acting Christian, you'll just be what you are! -Dr. Drew Shofner