Monday, January 30, 2017

Loved and Pleased

John the Baptist baptized the creator of the seas in a dinky sea with lots of stinky, wet, repentant people around.
I know I heard a speaker talk about the baptism of Jesus once, but I was distracted and have been confused about why he did it ever since.  However, in our home, we do a listening Bible study, and today we listened to the few verses about Jesus' baptism in Luke followed by a million names I get annoyed reading every time.  Today I got excited.  It was like the first time I'd heard the passage.  That's why I love listening Bible study.  If you've never tried it, these are the steps and what I learned.

My dear friend Aunty Victoria listening to Scripture in her language

1. Pray and ask the Holy Spirit to teach you through the passage.
2. Listen to the passage.
3. Ask yourself (or your family): What happened?
    We went around the room so each  person could tell part of what he/she remembered. Jesus was baptized when there were a bunch of other people there listening to John say all sorts of offensive things. The Holy Spirit came in bodily form, looking like a dove, and the heavens opened.  God said, "This is my son.  I love him. I am am pleased with him." Then there was a long list of names that ended with..."the son of Adam...the Son of God."
4. Ask yourself (or your family):  What was interesting or what touched you?
    I heard lots of names I knew and I got more and more excited, like a growing weight, amazed that all those people had been remembered and recorded, and it all came back to...God.  Connecting Jesus with God. Really awesome.  It touched me that the Father affirmed his son, and told him he loved him, and that he was pleased with him.  I was touched with imagining Jesus, a few years later, carrying his cross, repeating to himself those words he heard from his father..."He loves me, he loves me, he loves me."  And then as his father turned away from him on the cross repeating in his heart... "He's pleased with me, he's pleased with me, he's pleased with me."  God knew that his precious Son would have to hear those words before he could accomplish the terrible and wonderful mission he had sent him on.
5. Listen to the passage again.
6. Ask yourself (or your family): What do we learn about God (the Father), Jesus, and/or, the Holy Spirit?
    This is only passage I can remember that all three persons of the trinity are represented and ministering. Jesus is fully human and fully God, present and walking through a baptism of repentance though he had no need to repent.  He was identifying with his people, being among them.  The spirit was covering, clothing, to me, he was bringing peace like a dove as Jesus identified with people's sin.  The Father was affirming and loving.  He delights in his children.  What a beautiful picture of these three faces (persons) of our one God.  That's a lot to learn...had I learned it before?  Maybe in a different way, but it went deeper, like a well.  My heart is the ground, and the deeper the well, the deeper the understanding goes, the more pure the message (the water) arriving at my heart will be because it's gone through the layers of learning I've head over the years.
7. Ask yourself (or your family): What are we going to do now that we have heard?
    I'm going to ask God to help me know his love and affirmation because if I know, I mean REALLY KNOW, that the Father loves and is pleased with me, it will change my ministry, and I can pass through any trial with that firm foundation.

Then this evening, as I was discussing with my husband about my day, I used this phrase, "Today when I walked down the streets of Jebbu Bassa (the town where I worked for my first year here in Nigeria with the Kuce language), I felt like I was in the right place, doing the right thing."  I smiled to myself, that God had answered my prayer through a memory. I did have a special feeling when I was there, an "at home" feeling, but I couldn't identify it until after I asked God to show me his affirmation.

I did not grow up doing family devotions (though my family lived, discussed, and treasured the Words of Jesus in other ways), but this has been one of the richest disciplines we have developed as a family.  If you want to do listening Bible studies, you can download the NIV Audio New Testament at .  If you don't know where to start, we like listening to the Gospels and you may hear them in a new way!  May you know that you are loved today, and sense the affirmation of the Father.

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