Embracing His Kingdom Part 2

In my last post I stated that in this one I would delve into how the kingdom of God functions and our role in it. The first thing to note is that the kingdom functions based on authority. That may seem too obvious but it is an important reality. Jesus operated under the Father’s authority in His earthly ministry. His submission in His humanity is what enabled Him to function. The key passage in scripture that relates to our role in the advancement of the kingdom is what we refer to as The Great Commission.

18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. Matthew 28:18–20 (NKJV)

Here we see that all authority has been given to Jesus due to His sacrificial submission to the Father’s purpose in redemption. Next, we see that He has delegated to us the responsibility to extend His kingdom on the earth through two things. 1 – Evangelism, 2- Discipleship. Every time someone is newly born again the kingdom is extended or expanded in the earth. Every time someone grows in their faith and the application of it, the kingdom grows deeper in the earth.

            Practically we need to walk in submission, come under His authority, to operate in the authority He has delegated to us. We see this with Jesus when He submitted to baptism by John the Baptist and when He shared how He ministered in response to what the Father was showing Him.  

14 And John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I need to be baptized by You, and are You coming to me?” 15 But Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed Him. Matthew 3:14–15 (NKJV)

19 Then Jesus answered and said to them, “Most assuredly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of Himself, but what He sees the Father do; for whatever He does, the Son also does in like manner. John 5:19 (NKJV)

The practical implication of these verses is that for us to walk in authority and live out The Great Commission we need to embrace submission to the Father’s heart and move as He directs us. When He prompts us to speak up, we need to speak up. When He prompts us to remain silent, we need to remain silent. When He nudges us to give a prophetic word to someone, we need to give the word.

            In my own experience I have ministered to a lot of people over the years through both teaching and prayer ministry. I have sought to be sensitive to His voice in the process. At times I have had words from the Lord for someone that I had to wait to share. At other times I have given words from the Lord when it was clear He had opened a door, a kairos moment. I have had things to share with individuals or groups that I knew needed to be bathed in intercession prior to being shared. Each of these moments were the extending of His kingdom and exercising His authority through submission to His word and presence.

The above illustrates some ways that He has called us to embrace His kingdom. They may be different for each of us. Some are called to focus on evangelism, some to focus on intercession, others on discipling others. I know in my own life my primary calling is to build His body through teaching and intercession.

            A key factor I referenced last week was the distinction between seeing and entering the kingdom as Jesus presented it to Nicodemus.

3 Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” John 3:3-5 (NKJV)

When we were born again, we perceived and became aware of the kingdom of God. Our next choice was whether we entered into it and became actively involved, whether we embraced the kingdom. I encourage you, ask Him how He wants you to be involved then walk in submission to Him exercising the authority He has given you to extend His kingdom.

Following Part 1

We may desire to follow Jesus but doing so is a daily choice as we compete with the siren call of our culture. Jesus has called each of us to daily follow Him and He expressed it this way.

23 Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. 24 For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. Luke 9:23–24 (NKJV)

            We need to do a little excavating of the context and text to understand this passage (see also Matthew 16 and Mark 8). Jesus presented this challenge just after the 12 recognized Jesus as the Messiah and He predicted His pending death and resurrection. The larger context is that while the 12 and the crowd were familiar with crucifixion, they didn’t understand at the time that Jesus was to be crucified so Jesus wasn’t calling them, or by extension us, to crucifixion. He was calling us to follow Him.

            Matthew, Mark and Luke were all pointing to something and all wrote on this side of the cross, while Jesus spoke these words on the other side of the cross. He told us that we needed to deny ourselves and take up our cross in order to follow Him. Bear in mind, many of His hearers had already sacrificed a great deal to follow Him. What was put before them here was the need to maintain this heart attitude of daily choosing to follow.

Jesus’ cross was His purpose. We see this as He begins His final journey to Jerusalem.

51 Now it came to pass, when the time had come for Him to be received up, that He steadfastly set His face to go to Jerusalem, Luke 9:51 (NKJV)

At this point nothing was going to deter Jesus from His purpose. He was headed to Jerusalem where He knew crucifixion and death awaited, followed by a resurrection. Our following Him doesn’t mean literal death, though in some cases it may. It means laying down our agenda and taking up His. This is where the denying part comes in. For some of us in our day it may mean openly sharing our faith at work when we think it safer to remain silent. For some of us denying ourselves will mean remaining silent when we want to speak up. For others it may mean standing against oppression or tyranny.

            The cross may be different for each of us. Where it is the same is in our need to lay down our agenda and take up His. It is counting the cost and setting our face to follow Jesus. I close this post with a brief illustration. Many years ago, my friend Evelyn (who is now with the Lord) shared an encounter she had. She was in the spirit realm and Jesus appeared to her. She said He never said anything, He simply looked at her then turned around and started walking. She said she knew what it meant; He was calling her to follow Him so she did. I won’t share all the details but she lived her life denying herself and following Him and the fruit was very evident to all who knew her. I pray we each make that same daily choice.  

            Next week I will go more into some practical details around how to follow. However, today we are between Good Friday and Easter Sunday, so listen to Forever by Kari Jobe as she captures the significance of both events.

Kari Jobe – Forever (Live) – Bing video

A Fragrance Poured Forth

Easter looms large for the church each year as we celebrate Jesus sacrificial death and resurrection. As we prepare for Easter it is helpful to reflect on an event. In the days leading to Jesus sacrifice we have the oft told story of Mary anointing Jesus with oil. I don’t know about you, but had I been in Jesus’ place I would have been very uncomfortable with this level of public attention and public demonstration. Embarrassment would have likely been my response. Yet Jesus not only accepted the attention, He embraced it. I think there were two reasons for that. Frist, when we view Jesus’ interactions in the gospels He presents as utterly unselfconscious. Second, He knew the prophetic purpose of Mary’s anointing, preparation for His crucifixion and burial.

8 “She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial.”  Mark 14:8 NKJV

To go deeper let’s set the stage a bit. We know from the different gospel accounts that the event took place at the house of Simon the Leper/Pharisee (the passages from Matthew, Mark and John are below). We can safely conclude that Jesus had healed him or there would have only been the two of them at the meal given the culture of the day! We also know that Judas was Simon’s son (John 12:4) so this event appears to have taken place in his family home. This explains Judas taking such offense when publicly rebuked by Jesus. Judas being the son of a Pharisee also explains his easy access to the religious leaders to betray Jesus.

Having set the stage consider the event. The main characters are Mary and Jesus. The others have a role but Mary takes centre stage by way of her sacrifice. She breaks an alabaster box filled with spikenard. Referred to as spikenard or nard, this costly oil was made from the dried roots and stems of the nard plant and imported from India. Not only does Mary engage in an extravagant financial sacrifice, she engages in an extravagant social sacrifice.

Mary defies convention, and out of love for Jesus violates custom and interrupts both the meal and the discourse. She pours the fragrant oil on Jesus’ head and feet and cleans His feet with her hair. The fragrance would have permeated the room and since she poured it on Him, then rubbed it in, the fragrance would have lingered for days on Jesus’ hair and clothes (They didn’t get up and have a hot shower every day in that time and culture).

Now we come to us. What Mary really poured out on Jesus was her love and devotion and the fragrance spread to others. She was willing to sacrifice to love Jesus and He calls us to do the same. I am confident that Mary was directed by the Spirit in what she did, simply based on Jesus’ response. Mary’s sacrifice cost her something precious that she poured out on someone she considered more precious.

As we are in this season of reflection on Jesus’ sacrifice and resurrection let’s consider what we have or are willing to sacrifice out of love for Jesus. I know I have poured out my worship on Him, I can’t say that I have loved and worshipped like Mary. When she did this nothing in scripture suggests Mary had any awareness of Jesus pending crucifixion and resurrection. I believe her love for Jesus caused her to act. We don’t know how she felt as she stepped into the room and all eyes turned to her as she broke this box, we do know that her focus was on Jesus not the other guests. Let’s focus on Him and see where it leads us as we seek to leave a lingering fragrance through our worship.

John 12:1–7 (NKJV)

1 Then, six days before the Passover, Jesus came to Bethany, where Lazarus was who had been dead, whom He had raised from the dead. 2 There they made Him a supper; and Martha served, but Lazarus was one of those who sat at the table with Him. 3 Then Mary took a pound of very costly oil of spikenard, anointed the feet of Jesus, and wiped His feet with her hair. And the house was filled with the fragrance of the oil. 4 But one of His disciples, Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, who would betray Him, said, 5 “Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?” 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it. 7 But Jesus said, “Let her alone; she has kept this for the day of My burial.

Mark 14:1–10 (NKJV)

1 After two days it was the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. And the chief priests and the scribes sought how they might take Him by trickery and put Him to death. 2 But they said, “Not during the feast, lest there be an uproar of the people.” 3 And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. 4 But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? 5 For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. 6 But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. 7 For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. 8 She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. 9 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” 10 Then Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went to the chief priests to betray Him to them.

Matthew 26:6–16 (NKJV)

6 And when Jesus was in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, 7 a woman came to Him having an alabaster flask of very costly fragrant oil, and she poured it on His head as He sat at the table. 8 But when His disciples saw it, they were indignant, saying, “Why this waste? 9 For this fragrant oil might have been sold for much and given to the poor.” 10 But when Jesus was aware of it, He said to them, “Why do you trouble the woman? For she has done a good work for Me. 11 For you have the poor with you always, but Me you do not have always. 12 For in pouring this fragrant oil on My body, she did it for My burial. 13 Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.” 14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests 15 and said, “What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?” And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. 16 So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.

Jesus Culture Look to the Lamb

Worship Poured Out

Our individual and corporate worship and prayer times are an opportunity for pouring something out upon Jesus. An opportunity to minister to His heart and bring Him pleasure. I don’t think about this often but I do think about it. Our worship is twofold, for Jesus because He is worthy (worthy is the Lamb Revelation 5:12) and for us because it changes us and enables us to encounter His presence (Revelation 4:9-11).

We received Jesus’ nature in our spirit when we experienced the new birth, our spirit encountered the fullness of life. At the same time, by giving something of Himself to us, Jesus was and is in no way diminished. We now have something of Him that we can offer back to Him. We can worship in spirit and truth and live out of the reality of this verse.

26 “And I have declared to them Your name, and will declare it, that the love with which You loved Me may be in them, and I in them.” John 17:26 (NKJV)

This love the Father has for Jesus was planted in us at conversion and we can now return it to Jesus. In pouring out worship not only is His presence in us not decreased, it increases! We experience more of His presence and He is blessed and pleased by what we pour out.  

You may wonder how we can affect any change in Jesus or the Father given scripture says “For I am the LORD, I do not change” (Malachi 3:6) or as it says in Hebrews,

8 Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Hebrews 13:8 (NKJV)

The answer lies in His consistency and faithfulness. When we read through scripture we see Yahweh’s jealousy, anger and sorrow. A full range of emotions. Yet at the same time they are all governed and motivated by love. We know from 1 John 4:7 that God is love, that is His essence. We see it in the most famous verse in scripture.

16 For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16 (NKJV)

            There are numerous verses in the Old Testament that refer to Yahweh’s pleasure at the sacrifices offered. The pattern continues in the New Testament.

15 For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing. 2 Corinthians 2:15 (NKJV)

18 Indeed I have all and abound. I am full, having received from Epaphroditus the things sent from you, a sweet-smelling aroma, an acceptable sacrifice, well pleasing to God. Philippians 4:18 (NKJV)

16 But do not forget to do good and to share, for with such sacrifices God is well pleased. Hebrews 13:16 (NKJV)

Thus, we can see that while pouring out our worship on Him will not change His essence, it will bring Him pleasure. Let’s do that!

 Misty Edwards Pour My Love on You with lyrics

Under His Shadow

When we step out into the sun our body casts a shadow. When we walk in the light of the Son we cast a shadow a different shadow, we reflect His glory. To see how this works the presentation of some scriptures is in order.

1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High Shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. Psalm 91:1 (NKJV)

18 But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as by the Spirit of the Lord. 2 Corinthians 3:18 (NKJV)

5 This is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light and in Him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him, and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. 1 John 1:5–7 (NKJV)

            Psalm 91 informs us that we need to abide, 2 Corinthians that we need to behold and 1 John that we need to walk in the light. I believe these are different aspects of the same reality. When we choose to engage with Him and enter into and remain dwelling with Him we experience His abiding presence over our lives. Coming into this secret place creates the opportunity to behold His glory. The result of abiding with and gazing upon Jesus is that we walk in the light. Interestingly, John says that one of the by-products of walking in the light is that we have ‘fellowship with one another.’

            In that vein, I have met people who I just ‘knew’ were a fellow believer and I have had conversations with others who detail the same experience. They meet someone who they sense is a fellow believer and it is confirmed in conversation. It happened to me this winter while on vacation. I met a fellow that I had met the previous summer a couple of times while in the mountains. We had only spoken for a few minutes but I sensed the Lord’s presence in him. When we met again this winter my sense was confirmed and we experienced genuine fellowship.

            Understanding this experience comes when we examine a verse of scripture in Romans 8.

16 The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, Romans 8:16 (NKJV)

If His Spirit is in me and in you then I should be able to sense His presence in you as the Spirit is bearing witness, bringing that awareness to me. Which takes us back to abiding, beholding and walking in the light. Nothing in scripture or experience has ever led me to conclude that spiritual growth is automatic. Pursuing a deeper relationship with Jesus is a choice. Let’s make that choice so that we live under His shadow and reflect His glory.  

The Eternality of Nations and His Kingdom

To start off, yes, eternality is an actual word. Now to address the idea. I read something recently in a book by Dennis Peacocke about how God has a future plan for nations. This got me thinking, so I will share where my thinking led me. There is a pattern in scripture of unity in diversity. That was the original point of universities, a mini ‘universe.’ Here people from different backgrounds came to learn a core diverse curriculum so they ended up with a shared body of knowledge, a unity in diversity. The early European universities focused on the liberal arts and theology.  

Now before I go further with this idea of unity in diversity in the body of Christ let me quote what some of you may be thinking.

26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise. Galatians 3:26–29 (NKJV)

On the surface Galatians seems to teach that our differences disappear in Jesus. Yet here, through the Spirit, Paul is highlighting Jesus as the source of our unity in the context of our diversity. He wrote Galatians to address the issue of the Jewish believers trying to make the Gentile believers into Jews.

Each of us will step from time into eternity and our focus and identify will be on our relationship with Jesus not our ethnic or culture background. I am quite confident that He won’t be handing me a Canadian flag! That said, we need to consider what things will look like as we know from scripture that the boundaries and identities of nations are set by God.

26 And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their preappointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings, Acts 17:26 (NKJV)

Nations and national identities were God’s idea and not only did He create them, they will continue from time into eternity. The context below is the New Jerusalem having descended from heaven to the new renewed earth at the culmination of this age.

22 But I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city had no need of the sun or of the moon to shine in it, for the glory of God illuminated it. The Lamb is its light. 24 And the nations of those who are saved shall walk in its light, and the kings of the earth bring their glory and honor into it. 25 Its gates shall not be shut at all by day (there shall be no night there). 26 And they shall bring the glory and the honor of the nations into it. Revelation 21:22-26 (NKJV)

While I cannot tell you what we will do as nations in the future it is clear that the nations that are saved will walk in the light of the heavenly city, the new Jerusalem (verse 24). It is also clear that these nations will carry glory and honour (verse 26).

How does this affect you and me? We will still be part of a nation in eternity. When we step from time into eternity, we will receive a glorified body like the one Jesus lives in. Yet we are not going to all be homogenous. We will retain our diversity, including our nationality. The testimony of scripture and creation is the Father’s love for diversity. Paul also informs us in 1 Corinthians 15:40-43 that just as the stars differ in glory so also will our resurrections bodies. Based on this and what we can see from Revelation I believe that whatever we are now we will be in eternity. Asian people will still look Asian, Black people Black, Indigenous people Indigenous and so on. I believe that whatever is flawed in our physical makeup will be removed and whatever will glorify Him will be accentuated. Sort of like a you 2.0. Every aspect of our bodies will glorify Him!

This means that in the context of preaching and living in His kingdom we need to honour and pray for the nation we are currently part of and seek to glorify Jesus in our nation. Let’s appreciate and celebrate our uniqueness and diversity while finding out how we fit into His corporate body to fulfill His eternal purpose.

Nobility and Generosity

Given the season, as we near the celebration of Jesus birth, Christmas, and gift giving, it is a good time to consider the overlap between nobility and generosity. I briefly touched on this concept in blog post in recent years (see the link below). Here I want to dig a little deeper. I will start by saying there is no deep mystery in the Hebrew, the word simply means generous or noble. The verse below in two different translations highlights the translation options.  

8 But a generous man devises generous things, And by generosity he shall stand. Isaiah 32:8 (NKJV)

8 But he who is noble plans noble things, and on noble things he stands. Isaiah 32:8 (ESV)

Our context is found in verse 1.

1 Behold, a king will reign in righteousness, And princes will rule with justice. Isaiah 32:1 (NKJV)

Here Isaiah is prophesying a future time when righteousness and justice will rule in Israel. A theme in scripture is the blessing on nations and individual lives when righteousness and justice are the foundation and practice of leadership. One of the by-products of righteous leadership is people who demonstrate nobility and generosity. Thus, Isaiah highlights this as a characteristic of this future national state.

There are however a couple of givens for us as the church. Our calling is to reflect an already not yet kingdom, one where righteousness reigns. The kingdom of God. It was inaugurated on earth through Jesus’ ministry and subsequent sacrifice and resurrection. It will be fully consummated at His return. In the meantime, we have His command to go and make disciples of all nations in The Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20). There is debate over whether this means making disciples of nations or making disciples of people within nations. For our purposes the point is moot.

We as the church are called to walk in Jesus’ righteousness and under His leadership so it should translate into behaviour that is both noble and generous. Behaviour that seeks to honour and build others up. Behaviour that seeks to identify and draw out the gifts and callings of those around us.  

Lest you think we are going to go down the financial road, that is not my intent. Being generous with our finances and blessing others is a noble thing. Yet, giving money is often easy in our culture. What is harder to give, and likely of more value in the kingdom, is our time. I am blessed to have friends that have been generous with their time, whether helping with home projects or church activities. There is something noble about their willingness to help out. I remember many years ago working on an extensive plumbing project in our home. Two of my friends came to help. The project took longer than planned, what home reno doesn’t? I gauge the length of projects by the number of trips to the hardware store. This one took quite a few!

We had worked all day and the project was not yet complete. My wife and I had tickets for an event that evening. When my friends found out they told us to leave, said they would finish the project, and lock the door. They did just that! This was a noble and generous thing to do. In projects like these there is the opportunity to deepen fellowship and connect with our fellow believers in a deeper a way that dollars would never achieve.

Our calling is to build people and we do that through engaging with them, giving of ourselves and loving one another as Jesus has called us to demonstrate. So, in this season, and throughout the year, let’s look for opportunities to build His kingdom by demonstrating nobility and generosity, engaging with Jesus in building His kingdom through investing in the lives of others in His body. 

NOTE – I briefly touched on Nobility and Generosity a few years ago in my series on Reflective Leadership (http://wisdomfromtheword.ca/reflective-leadership-part-12/)

I Know the Thoughts

The title is based on the first four words from the verse below. The word ‘thoughts’ is translated as ‘plans’ in the ESV and the word in Hebrew means thoughts, plans or intentions.  

11 For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. Jeremiah 29:11 (NKJV)

Here I am focusing on the first four words, because as I have pointed out in the past, the full promise in the verse was not going to be fulfilled for 70 years and most of the hearers of Jeremiah’s proclamation would not live to see it come to pass. Hence my focus is on how we apply the first idea in the sentence to our lives.

            What we see here in the general sense is that the Lord thinks about us, He has plans for us. While they aren’t the same for each of us, they are for each of us. The Lord doesn’t devise evil for us. His desire is that we would encounter and experience His goodness and grace.  

            The word translated as thoughts/plans is also found in this verse in reference to the thoughts of the heart.

5 The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually. Genesis 6:5 (ESV)

While this verse from Genesis is accurate it is reflective of what our thoughts or plans can produce, not the Lord’s thoughts and plans for us. We find His original thoughts and plans in Genesis and repeated in Psalms.

28 Then God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Genesis 1:28 (NKJV)

6 You have made him to have dominion over the works of Your hands; You have put all things under his feet, Psalm 8:6 (NKJV)

Our Father’s plan is that we each take responsibility and exercise dominion. This starts with our own lives. It includes understanding the sphere of authority commensurate with our calling and gifting. For example, if we are called to intercession, we can exercise authority in the place of prayer for others. If we are called to teach or lead, we can exercise authority there, dominion really in each case. In doing so we need to be aware of our limits. Paul said he had been given a sphere of authority (2 Corinthians 10:12-16).

In keeping with our sphere of authority we need to be aware of how it operates. One of the primary gifts in my life is teaching. Yet I still need permission to teach others, whether that is being invited to speak to a group or one on one. For example, I play Pickleball and am fairly good at it. Yet when playing with someone who is just learning or less skilled if I see areas for improvement I try to remember to say, “Would you like some feedback on how you are playing?” If I try to offer tips without permission, whether they are accepted or rebuffed, I have gone beyond my sphere of authority.  

In each of our lives the Father has thoughts and plans for us. To see them realized we need to determine how to exercise the dominion He has given us within our sphere of authority.  

Jesus Baptism: The Significance for Us.

In my last post I referenced the connections between Jesus’ baptism by John, along with His simultaneous baptism by the Spirit, and the result of the Spirit on Jesus being seen in the prophetic message of Isaiah 11:1-2, the gifts Jesus walked in. I made a further connection that these gifts, apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers were also Jesus gifts to His church (after His ascension – Ephesians 4:7-11).

Now we can look at what this means for us. My goal is not to focus on these five gifts. Rather, I want to look more broadly at how just as Jesus’ ministry flowed from the Spirit resting on Him, so He desires to reveal Himself through us as the Spirit rest on us. Jesus revealed the Father following His baptism, we are called to reveal Jesus. My experience in decades of walking with Jesus is that for myself and others it is both a calling and a challenge to keep our eyes fixed on Him. Yet that is our calling and the source of our effectiveness.

That is what Paul exemplified, thus many of us would like to be like Paul. I know I would and that isn’t a bad aspiration. That requires heeding what Paul actually wrote.

1 Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ. 1 Corinthians 11:1 (NKJV)

17 For this reason I have sent Timothy to you, who is my beloved and faithful son in the Lord, who will remind you of my ways in Christ, as I teach everywhere in every church. 1 Corinthians 4:17 (NKJV)

17 Brethren, join in following my example, and note those who so walk, as you have us for a pattern. Philippians 3:17 (NKJV)

In the verses above the key point isn’t the need to be like Paul, it is to be like Jesus! Paul encouraged us to imitate him to the degree that he reflected Jesus. Paul is pointing us to Jesus.

We can go a little further. If we view the gospel through the lens of the letters to the churches, we are looking through the wrong end of the telescope and our view will be distorted. The four gospels were not written just so we could have some background on how the church was started. They are foundational to all that we do and we are to build our lives on that foundation. They reveal Jesus and His demonstration of ministering out of communion with the Father. Look at what Paul wrote in Colossians.

1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1–3 (NKJV) In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Whatever we need to fulfill our calling and purpose is found in Jesus. The significance of Jesus baptism for us is that when we are converted Jesus comes to live in us by the Spirit. Our calling is to imitate Paul; learn to commune with Jesus and interact with those around us out of that relationship. Gifts, callings and fruit all flow from that relationship, just as everything Jesus did flowed from His relationship with the Father (John 5:19-20, 30). Whatever we need to interact well with others is found in Jesus.

Jesus Baptism

            I have in the past written about Jesus’ baptism by John and the significance of Jesus doing what He did on earth not as God but as a man under the anointing of the Spirit. In some way He set aside His divine attributes http://wisdomfromtheword.ca/walking-in-authority-part-2/. Here I want to look at what I believe took place at Jesus baptism. This requires bringing together Isaiah 11:1-2, 61:1-2, which Luke 4:18-19 quotes, and Ephesians 4:11. Years ago I made some notes in my bible regarding the connection between Ephesians 4:11and Isaiah 11:1-2 and they sat there until recently when a friend asked for my thoughts and on Isaiah 11:1-2 and it reminded me of my notes.

            At John’s baptism of Jesus, the Spirit came and rested on Him and the Father spoke from heaven and endorsed Him (Matthew 3:16-17). When He publicly proclaimed Himself as the Messiah in Nazareth Jesus read Isaiah 61 in the synagogue and told them the scripture was fulfilled.  

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me To preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; 19 To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 Then He closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant and sat down. And the eyes of all who were in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture is fulfilled in your hearing.” Luke 4:18–21 (NKJV)

This is where Isaiah 11 and Ephesians 4 come in. Ephesians 4 describes Jesus ascension gifts to the church as apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers. In His earthly ministry Jesus expressed the fullness of each of these five gifts. We see that in Isaiah 11. I here present it twice; the second time just verse 2 with some added words in brackets to illustrate what I am saying.

1 There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots. 2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom and understanding, The Spirit of counsel and might, The Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 11:1-2 (NKJV)

2 The Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon Him, The Spirit of wisdom (apostle) and understanding (prophet), The Spirit of counsel (shepherd/pastor) and might (evangelist), The Spirit of knowledge (teacher) and of the fear of the LORD. Isaiah 11:2 (NKJV)

            This passage in Isaiah is well known as referring to the coming Messiah, Jesus. The other aspect is that it is generally referred to as the seven-fold Spirit resting on Jesus. I have never been able to see the seven-fold aspect here. The passage speaks of the Holy Spirit coming to rest on Jesus at His baptism and imparting the fullness of the apostolic, prophetic, evangelistic, pastoral and teaching gifts. The passage then continues with the first line of Isaiah 11:3, “3 His delight is in the fear of the Lord.” The fear of Yahweh is not a gift resulting from Jesus’ baptism or obedience. It is the heart attitude He carried to His baptism!

  In Hebrew the word delight is very interesting. Spirit in each reference in Isaiah 11:2 is Ruach (7307 in Strong’s) spirit, breath, wind. Delight is Ruach with a slightly different accent (7306 in Strong’s) and is the root of 7307. It carries the sense of anticipation, as if we begin to smell something and anticipate more, hence the translation as delight.  

The fear of Yahweh in relation to Jesus’ humanity brings me to what my friend Evelyn said years ago when I asked her how she defined the fear of the Lord. She said, “Loving Him so much I would never do anything to offend Him.” Jesus certainly lived that way before His Father.

In conclusion, Jesus was baptized in water and the Spirit at the same time and the fruit of that experiences was a full release into His ministry. We all have gifts and callings. To fully walk in them I think we need to learn how to ‘love Him so much that we will never do anything to offend Him.’ Making that our delight will allow Him to move through us in His fullness.