Jesus cares about what God says is right

Who is Jesus? It’s a vital question that we don’t ask often enough I think. We’ve put Him in a box, frozen Him in a portrait as a kind-faced Caucasian man with long brown hair and a blue sash across His white robe. And who knows? Maybe He did dress that way, but I can guarantee you He didn’t look Caucasian.

Jesus feels like this distant figure in the past who said a bunch of great and useful things, who loved the unlovable, and started a faith system that has changed the world, but Jesus is more than that. Jesus is the Son of God, and He is God Himself (don’t try to understand or explain that one). He is God who chose to put on skin and walk the dirt of the world He made, alongside the people who wrecked it all. He is God who chose to die for a lost people because He didn’t believe in lost causes.

But even then, He seems unreachable, unknowable, beyond someone I could just run into on the street. But that’s not true. Jesus is as real today as He was in the past, and He’s the same Person now as He was then. And getting to know Him better helps me see myself more clearly.

So how do you get to know someone? You pay attention to what they say, what they do, and how they live.

OXYGEN VOLUME 13Today’s verses are Matthew 3:13-17.

Then Jesus went from Galilee to the Jordan River to be baptized by John. But John tried to talk him out of it. “I am the one who needs to be baptized by you,” he said, “so why are you coming to me?” But Jesus said, “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.” So John agreed to baptize him. After his baptism, as Jesus came up out of the water, the heavens were opened and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and settling on him. And a voice from heaven said, “This is my dearly loved Son, who brings me great joy.”

John the Baptist is high up on my list of people I want to meet when I get to heaven. The man was just wild, and I’ll bet he has some crazy stories that would be a hoot to hear from his own lips. God put him in a specific place with a specific purpose–to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming. But John got to baptize Jesus. He didn’t want to, stating that it was Jesus who should be the one baptizing. I love what Jesus says: “It should be done, for we must carry out all that God requires.”

Think about that.

Jesus didn’t need to be baptized, though I believe Jesus’ ministry officially began after His baptism. Baptism doesn’t save you. It’s just a picture, a symbol, that you’ve chosen to follow Jesus and He’s washed away your sin.

God wanted Jesus to be baptized so that others would see the importance of this symbol and follow in His footsteps. It’s a strange thing, choosing to be dunked in a pool of water and lifted out again, but I can point to that moment in my life when I made the decision to actively begin following Jesus. I had been saved for years, but my baptism marked the day I truly began to understand what Jesus had done for me.

You realize Jesus didn’t have to go along with this, right? John even gave Him a way out, pointing out that Jesus should have been the one dunking people. But Jesus humbly agreed to do what God has asked Him to do.

I know people like that. Do you? They’re the ones who do what needs to be done humbly and quietly and cheerfully, even if it’s not their responsibility or if they’ve already got too much on their plate. Know what? I like those people. They’re easy to be around. They’re easy to talk to. And generally they bring others a lot of joy.

Jesus cares about what God says is right. That’s who Jesus is. He’s God, but He’s also a man who chooses to obey even though He doesn’t have to. He’s willing to inconvenience Himself to set an example for the people around Him. Sounds like a guy you’d want on your team, right? 

I know this: If a guy like Jesus is willing to die for someone like me, I must be worth a whole lot to Him. I don’t understand that, but it’s the truth. Jesus is perfect, and I’m so not, but He still chose to die for me. And that tells me there’s nothing I can do to earn His love because I already have it, and He already thought I was worth it.

Why our blessings depend on our choices

Good morning again from Colorado Springs. Today is our last day at this writing conference, and I have to say this has been the most encouraging experiences I’ve ever had at one of these things. I will try to blog about it separately some other time, but I have been extraordinarily impressed with the teachers, the attendees, and the facilities at this conference/workshop.

The verse this morning is Proverbs 23:24.

24 The father of godly children has cause for joy.
What a pleasure to have children who are wise.

I really believe that children are born with a desire to please their parents. Depending on the child, and depending on the parents, some succeed and others don’t. I think a lot of it has to do with how easy it is to please a parent. If a child tries over and over and over to make their mom or dad happy and they never are able to do it, they’ll eventually give up. But if their mom or dad are too easy to please, the child will never strive to achieve anything truly great. So, just like everything else in life, there has to be a balance.

I’m not going to wax eloquent on child-rearing because I don’t have children, so my credibility on such a topic is probably questionable. But anything I believe about children and parenting comes directly out of Scripture. So I guess it’s not really my opinion anyway.

In any case, I know people who have wise children. Do you? I don’t know what it is about children who display wisdom but it’s refreshing, encouraging, and moving. It makes me smile. And I know it makes their parents happy. Well . . . beyond happy. Joyful.

For a parent to have a child who has accepted the truth of Scripture and is actively seeking God in their life is a huge, amazing blessing. Because that parent can take comfort knowing that their child will reap the benefits of leading a godly life. That even though their child may reach places in their life that are dark or scary or depressing, that as long as God leads them, that child will follow and God will protect them. Is there a bigger blessing than that?

I know the joy I felt when any of the students or children I worked with made wise choices. If that’s anything like what a parent feels, I don’t think there’s any feeling like it. You just want to leap and shout for joy and praise God all day long because you can see that someone else has the opportunity to experience the same great things God has taught you.

But I got to thinking. God is our Father. So doesn’t this work for Him too? Doesn’t God rejoice when we make wise decisions? I think He does. And, boy, would I love to see God rejoicing about something. Wouldn’t that be incredible?

Personally, I’m a people pleaser. I like to make people happy. But there’s a big difference between making people happy and bringing them joy. And if you want to bring God joy, just make wise choices. Obey Scripture. Live your life to love others. Trust God no matter what.

That may sound simplistic, but how complicated is it? Most of the time in life, you only have two choices. You have the right choice, and you have the wrong choice. Sometimes you have more than one right choice, and that’s great. But it doesn’t always work that way.

When you’re faced with a wrong choice, why would you make it? To make yourself happy? To please yourself? Sure. Why not? It’s your life, and it’s your choice. Absolutely.

But understand why making wise choices brings God joy:

When we make wise choices, that means He is able to bless us. He is able to give us good things. He is able to provide for us in ways that show us exactly how much He truly loves us.

When we make wrong choices, we prevent Him from doing that.

We don’t bring Him joy by making wise choices because He demands that we obey Him. It’s not that He’s up in heaven on some ego trip, totally dedicated to making sure that our lives are no fun whatsoever. No.

God loves us. And as our father–as our Daddy–He wants to give us good things. But He needs to be able to trust us. And if we can’t be wise with what He’s already given us, how can He trust us with the boatload of blessings He really wants to give us?