PART 5: BE-LOVED
January 29, 2017
When Jesus stood in line to be baptized he hadn't yet begun his ministry on earth. Yep - long before he healed, preached or pardoned he came up out of that water only to hear his Father say, "this is my BELOVED son..." Maybe you, too, could use a good dose of hearing "BE-LOVED" even before your "performance" is proven.
Don't miss this weekend as we culminate our ENOUGH series, baptize new Jesus followers and celebrate together - hearing Heaven call out to you "BE-LOVED."
PART 5: BE-LOVED
Part 5: BE-LOVED
- Matthew 4:2-3
Considering baptism as your own next step of faith?
Find out more information at ginghamsburg.org/baptism
See this week’s REFOCUS questions for deeper reflection.
Questions to go Deeper
When Jesus stood in line to be baptized he hadn’t yet begun his ministry on earth. Yep - long before he healed, preached or pardoned, he came up out of that water only to hear his Father say “This is my BELOVED son...” Maybe you, too, could use a good dose of hearing “BE-LOVED” even before your “performance” is proven.
Part 5: BE-LOVED
Daily devotionals that accompany each day's reading are also available on Facebook. They are created by a great Ginghamsburg unpaid servant team. You do not have to be a Facebook user to access them. View them here. When the page opens, click the date under NOTES (on the left hand side) to access the full document.
MONDAY: Matthew 3:13-17
God’s affirmation of Jesus was given before he did any ministry. What are the things you feel you need to do to earn God’s affirmation, as opposed to simply resting in your identity as a son or daughter of God the Father?
TUESDAY: Matthew 4:1-11
Notice the very next thing the enemy did was attempt to question Jesus’ identity in verses 3 and 5. Allow the Holy Spirit to point out the way the enemy tries to cause you to question your identity.
WEDNESDAY: Romans 5:1-11
Paul explains the love God has for us through the sacrifice of Jesus. Who are we, and what all do we now have, as a result of God sending Jesus into the world?
THURSDAY: Romans 6:1-14
In this chapter Paul explains who we are in Christ through baptism. What does this chapter say about you in light of baptism? Want to get baptized? ginghamsburg.org/baptism
FRIDAY: Romans 8:1-17
What does this chapter say about you as God’s beloved? What is the role our mind plays in this process? Put verses 14-17 in your own words.
SATURDAY: Romans 8:18-39
The creation groans for you to realize your identity as a child of God. What can separate you from the love of God? What is a conqueror?
SUNDAY: Matthew 17:1-13
- What does Jesus’ transfiguration teach us about Jesus and our identity? Notice even Jesus needed to be reminded of his identity as a dearly loved child of God.
Read the Daily Reflection post at facebook.com/ginghamsburg.
When the page opens, click the date under NOTES (on the left hand side) to access the full document.
Pastor Chris Heckaman
Last week I was privileged to speak for a pastor friend. He just got back from being caught smack dab in the middle of the Ft. Lauderdale airport terrorist attack. He and his family survived, miraculously. A bullet grazed the top of his head and left its residue. He wasn’t ready to step back into the pulpit yet though.
While he waited for his luggage, two people on his right and another on his left were shot and killed point blank. My friend turned and was face to face with the terrorist. He ducked. That’s when the bullet grazed the top of his head. As he hit the deck and played dead, he called 911 lying on top of his phone.
What a horrific experience. It has forever changed… or tattooed his life.
What are you letting mark yours? …Be Loved.
What would your life look like if that became your main point of reference for all things?
No matter what has happened to you.
Whichever way your life has turned.
Live through a new dimension:
God’s complete and total love for you.
So much of our life is lived under a different banner, however. And that banner is called “not enough.” Not enough in this. Not enough in that. Everyone has filled in their own blank.
For me for example, I will ALWAYS feel like I need to be in better physical shape.
Whenever I go to the gym my wife Lisa always asks me the same question when I get back home, “How was your work out?” I always have the same answer, “It was a workout.” I don’t have good ones. I am just proud of the fact that I have them. I feel like I can always do more though. Working toward the next weight mark. More reps… with heavier weights. Longer cardio times. More calories burned.
It’s as if I’m on the wrestling team for one of our local high schools. It may sound funny, but every week I have an ideal “playing weight” in my head when I get up on stage to preach. If I’m at “such and such” I feel good about myself. I’m in my “top form.” If I’m not, an extra layer of angst can come out. I can take it out on you even. Trouble is, when I get done preaching on a weekend, I am famished. And so I eat. I can put on five pounds in one Sunday afternoon. When Dr. Frank Thomas was here in August, he said he can literally eat a horse. I know the feeling. It takes me the rest of the week to take off what in one day I can put on. Ugh.
Anyone else relate? Somewhere along the line I’ve been programmed to always be thinking about my physical shape.
For some of you the voices say things like…
I need a better job. I need to do better job at my job.
I need to be a better Christian… or a better father, or mother, spouse, parent or person.
There are oh so many ways for all of us to think we don’t measure up.
Sisters and brothers, good luck with all of that.
Today, I’m inviting you to choose a different banner for your life.
Exchange your “Not Enough” for a “Beloved.” Be…Loved.
The Bible even cut to the chase and shortened it to just one word, “beloved.”
The writers took the space between the words right out.
Isn’t it cool we are called what we are supposed to be? “Be Loved.”
Implicit in the invitation… not just to be named it, but to receive it. “Be loved.”
Let’s break it down even further…
Be… did you know God cares more about who you are than what you do?
No performance ratings for children of God here.
Notice too, loved is in the past tense.
Not because God’s love is in the past tense and therefore not as available in our today.
But past tense in the sense that you and I need to settle it, once and for all.
God loves us. Period. Be loved!
What all could happen if you woke up tomorrow knowing beyond a shadow of any doubt that you were absolutely loved no matter what? What might you get up and do? What awesomeness might that launch into the world through you?
The sooner we realize it and learn to count on it, settling on it once and for all, the sooner we can live out of it and enjoy the fullness of God and life every day.
Our being loved by God becomes the new dimension for experiencing all things.
Life instantly becomes good.
The Disciple John was the first one to realize it and really embrace it.
He is the only Gospel writer to employ the term for himself. I AM BE-LOVED!
Later in the New Testament, in the Book of the Bible known as I John, he used the term for us too. He wanted us to know firsthand what it was like to “be the loved” of God.
The word in the Old Testament means “to breathe” or “long for” as in the longing between two lovers. In the New, it comes from a word meaning “to prefer.” As in God loves each of us as if we are God’s favorite.
Perhaps what is most striking and surprising though, God uses it to describe Jesus too. Let’s read Mark 1:9-12 together.
Be loved Jesus. Jesus, just be loved.
Even Jesus needed to know He was loved by God.
Before He faced all that He would eventually face.
Before He ever had a chance to make a difference in the world and do all the most amazing things He did for God… before He healed, preached, before He pardoned…
Jesus was already loved.
It’s what got Him through.
Through all the challenges and betrayals, attacks and ultimate rejection,
Even through His nailing on the cross.
Don’t forget Jesus… Be loved Jesus. Jesus, just be loved.
And early on, He settled it.
As soon as He was baptized, and heard those words pronounced over Him, the Scriptures say Jesus was led out into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil. (The fullest account can be found in Matthew chapter 4)
What was the temptation about?
Oh sure, on the surface it says in verse 2-3 after 40 days of going without food, the devil comes to Him and says so if you are the Son of God, turn these stones into bread.
The temptation wasn’t an attack on his hunger or about the food.
It was an attack on His be-loved-ness… His allowing Himself to be loved from God.
The devil took him to the pinnacle or highest point of the temple. If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down and watch the angels rescue you. I don’t need to do that. I am God’s loved.
The devil showed him all the kingdoms of the world. They will fall down and worship you if you fall down and worship me. I don’t need that. I am God’s loved.
Jesus’ baptism declared different.
Our baptism declares different.
Pastor Mike likes to say you and I can tell Satan, “I’m baptized. Kiss off.”
Our adversary though isn’t always the devil incarnate attacking us from outside ourselves.
The devil is more often what we let attack our being loved by God within ourselves.
Getting caught in our own performance-based trap.
I was out walking in our woods a couple of weeks ago,
the place where I often learn the most about God.
I always find something interesting when I do.
This one thing though blew my mind. I look up and I literally shake my head and rub my eyes.
There’s a tree dangling mid-air in the woods. Huh? 30-40 feet high; 8-10 inches in diameter; a foot or so around… dangling in mid-air.
Evidently, it was uprooted during a storm. Got hooked in the branches above. And now it dangles in my woods.
Almost instantly a voice within says, “That can be me.” Rootless. Dangling in the wind. Me.
I can look like I’m grounded most days. I’m a pastor. Supposed to be anyway.
But some days I feel anything but.
It’s what happens when I lose touch with my be-loved-ness in God.
I get wrapped up in the fray of my day to day.
I dangle in the wind.
It can happen to the best of all of us…
You encounter swift change in your life and it feels like you lost your moorings.
What you once counted on you can no more.
You look at the world and wonder what in the heck is going on…
Be Loved, sisters and brothers. Be loved… right where you are.
When the culture seems adrift it’s because its people are adrift, dangling in the wind.
The only antidote… Be…Loved.
A tree off the ground or you and I disconnected from who we really are.
Remove that empty space.
God calls you and I God’s beloved.
Settle it and…and [Lock it in.]
That’s what Jesus’ baptism did and that’s what it’s supposed to do for you and I too.
“You are whom I love. With you I am well pleased.”
Giving us an experience we’ll never forget.
Tattooing us for good.
The trouble is, in the church world we have made it so much to do about so much other.
Church folk have argued over how it’s supposed to be done for years… when it’s supposed to be done… how many times it’s supposed to be done.
My colleague Karen Smith has done some intensive research for Pastor Mike’s upcoming book. She’s so good at that. Our Senior Executive Director is an incredible researcher and lifelong learner, a real student of our culture. She has found some surprising history…
[Karen Smith] When you explore the topic of baptism you find that various traditions seem to prefer what’s called different modes... And there are even fancy names for them that were used more in days gone by.
immersion means dunked under
affusion means poured on and
aspersion means sprinkled
Regardless, what do they all have in common? Water! Whether you are dipped, washed, sprinkled, poured on or immersed – it’s all baptism, and it’s all good.
The Bible in several places is descriptive about baptisms that happened, but it is not prescriptive by any means. There is nothing that says – “Thou shalt be dunked under a flowing river in May when you are five years old.”
Baptism can happen at any time throughout your life. In the New Testament individual adults were baptized and whole households were baptized which would have included young children or babies.
Some traditions say you should be baptized just once in your life, like United Methodism, believing that baptism is more about what God has already done and is doing – not about what we are doing – and God gets it right the first time. God’s grace is good for it. You and I don’t need to do it over and over again.
Of course in the New Testament baptism really comes to light when Jesus’ cousin John the Baptist is preaching in the desert calling Jews to repentance and baptizing those who do repent. Then, as Pastor Chris said, Jesus showed up one day in his “baptize me” line one day.
But the actual practice of baptism is rooted deeply in the Jewish tradition of ritual cleansing, a ceremony known as mikveh. Mikveh involves rituals commanded in the Torah and other Jewish writings requiring spiritual cleansing under certain conditions, like before entering the Temple or when converting to Judaism, among many others.
We see ritual cleansing in the Old Testament though, even before mikveh came along. For instance, in the book of Leviticus we see Moses’ brother Aaron, the first Jewish high priest, directed by God to wash himself – first when he was ordained and at certain times when doing his priestly job.
Water is cleansing! Water is about sprucing up! It’s why I took a shower today, and I am hoping you did too. Water in the Bible also symbolizes going into the new and leaving the old behind. Baptism is about embracing your new identity as a fresh-smelling be-loved child of God. Remember when the Israelites left the land of slavery, Egypt, they first crossed the Red Sea. Then, 40 years later, to reach the land of promise by crossing the River Jordan. Old to new. Dirty to clean.
God invites each of us to get washed. And God doesn’t care how it’s done, just get wet.
[Pastor Chris] Isn’t that interesting? We can make our relationship with God all so complicated.
We’re not baptized to make us enough.
We are baptized because in God’s sight we are enough already.
Let that wash all over you.
Don’t just dip into it. Get immersed in it.
God’s love for you.
Settle it. Lock it in. Get tattooed in that.
Would you pray with me? This is an ancient prayer that God gave to the Apostle Paul to pray over all people like you and me, the beloved of God…
14 For this reason I kneel before the Father, 15 from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. 16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. 20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Because of God’s amazing grace, you and I are ENOUGH.
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