03.5 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 5

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Forewarning: At the risk of sounding gross…  Here is an illustration about the different baptisms of John and Jesus and a perspective on why Jesus decided to be baptized:

Imagine you have a sack or bag made out of cotton, like t-shirt material.  You use this sack when “walking your dog” and you use it to pick up the dog poo.  You then carry this bag with you wherever you go, and it gets more and more full every day.

As gross as this sounds to be carrying around, this is what sin is in our life.  Every time we sin, we scoop a little more gross, offensive material in our bag.  That was, in particular, how it was in the time of John the Baptist.  Everyone had sin, everyone had a gross, stinky, porous bag of poo.

John called people to recognize they were carrying this around with them every day and to do something about it.  They couldn’t get rid of it, but by confessing and being baptized they could at least clean the outside of it.  By repenting they could commit to putting less new poo in the bag.

People got the message.  They came from near and far.  But some people (mostly the leaders) were in denial about their bag of poo.  They thought that if their bag was less full than someone else’s, theirs didn’t stink.  Some of them tried to dress up their bag of poo to mask or hide it.  They would dress it up in pretty robes or sprinkle it with perfume.  When they showed up at the river they tried to not even bring their bag of poo with them – pretending it didn’t exist.  But it did.  John caught a strong whiff of it and rebuked them.  He called it what it was!

But here is the deal – John only had the ability to wash the outside of the bag.  Then one day, along comes Jesus and an amazing thing happens.

Jesus, the one and only person ever who did not have a bag of poo (because he had no sin), chose to get in the water.  Imagine what this water (where all the poo bags where being rinsed) was like.  Along comes the King of Kings, perfectly clean, and he made the choice to climb in this filthy water with His subjects, the commoners and all their sin

He chose to take on our filthy rags so that he could “fulfill all righteousness) so we could become clean and enter into His Father’s Palace.  This choice was huge – in many ways just as big if not bigger than being born a human, because this marks the start of His choice to His obedience to the Father’s plan of salvation.  This is the start to the pain and suffering.  This is the start to the path that leads to an undeserved death.

But, in so doing, Jesus is setting the stage for a new baptism.  One that doesn’t just clean the outside in water, but through the blood of His sacrifice, it opened the door to the Holy Spirit to do the work in us of cleaning and purifying us inside and out, transforming us into saints, pure and clean.

“Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow;
though they are red as crimson,
they shall be like wool.”
– Isaiah 1:18

Like the “wool” of the unblemished Lamb of God.

My Answers:

‘The man on whom you see the Spirit come down and remain is the one who will baptize with the Holy Spirit.’

The voice of God and the spirit came down as a dove and remained on him

“This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.”

Hear the preaching of baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins, Come to the river, Confess their sins, be baptized

He had no sins to confess

To fulfill all righteousness – to submit to the plan of God in obedience as fully human to be joined with mankind.
Ps 40:8 I desire to do your will, my God.  Isaiah 11:2 The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him (as he came out of the waters of baptism)


03.4 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 4

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

While we don’t do it much in this lesson, I think it is important to step back and look at the life of John the Baptist and the choices he was making during this time.

Scholars agree that John the Baptist was living at this time as a Nazirite and he may have lived that way his entire life.  We learn about the vow of the Nazirite in Numbers 6.  It was a choice made by the believer.  It was for a period of time.  It was a special commitment and calling of the individual to a special time of commitment and focus.  To help with this focus, there were guidelines in place for the Nazirite.

Basically, what we see is an “all in” commitment and when we say all in, we mean all in!  John the Baptist (JTB) spent his time on the task of preparing the way for the Lord.  He did not spend time worrying about personal hygiene.  He did not shave or cut his hair.  He did not worry with shopping for clothing.  He dressed in camel hair (note: unlike smaller pelts, no time need be spent sewing together small hides – with a camel you could take one hide, tie a belt around it and have a ready-made outfit).  He did not even spend time hunting or gardening or harvesting.  No shopping trips to Trader Joe’s for this Nazirite, although he managed to eat an all organic, local, grain-free diet.

His diet, in particular, was a sign of this commitment.  He ate what was at hand where he was so he was not distracted from his calling.  He didn’t go into town to eat or shop at the market.  He focused on his task, his commitment, day and night.  Why locusts?  Amazingly, they were kosher/clean to eat (Lev 11:20-23).  He had to stay away from anything that was already dead (Num 6:6) as part of the Nazirite commitment.  And, unfortunately, many of the other creatures readily available were unclean (Lev 11).  He had to stay far away from not only wine but all grapes, fruit of the vine.  No juices, jams or jellies.  But the wild honey was kosher/clean – which is actually interesting since bees are not clean, but honey is.  The fact that it was wild honey ensured it was not contaminated by other unclean products.

Researching this information about John made me appreciate even more the “all in commitment” and dedication that he lived.  Plus, John the Baptist may have been the model for the Duck Dynasty look!.

My Answers:

Water – Holy Spirit and Fire

I am not worthy to carry his sandals.  He will baptize with H/S and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand and he will clear threshing floor, gathering wheat and burning the chaff

Joel: Prophecy, dreams, visions
Ezek: Living water, overflowing – fill with thirst that quenches
Acts: Baptism – power to be witnesses, evangelists
Isaiah: water on thirsty ground – blessings to descendants

John’s baptism cleansed, but they dressed again in dirty robes – no amount of water could wash away the stain permanently.  But we are filled with the spirit and clothed in robes washed whiter than snow – crimson stain of sin removed. Is 1:18

The power I need to live a repentant life does not depend on or come from me – I am filled with the power of the Holy Spirit and if I trust and rely on His power there is nothing for God that cannot be done

03.3 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 3

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

My son has recently collected my father-in-law’s faceting equipment with the hope and plan of learning how to cut gemstones.  The process of cutting gemstones really does not involve any “cutting”.  It is much more a process of careful a careful and precise grinding down with finer and finer grits to the point of polishing.

On a microscopic (or at least magnified) view, a rough stone consists entirely of valleys and mountains and rough places.  In the grandness of the universe the scale of our actual mountains is not much different.

Through confession we acknowledge the roughness in our own life.  Through repentance, we allow the work of our Master to grind that roughness away and wash it out of our life.  It is this repeated process African Garnetof confession and repentance – acknowledgement, submission and work of a changed outlook and structure, through which we are transformed.

The beauty in a perfectly faceted gemstone is not the stone itself.  It is the fact that each side and each angle is polished to a perfectly smooth and reflective surface so the light that enters is magnified and reflected back.  In the same way, the work of confession and repentance transforms us into a reflection of the master stone cutter.

My Answers:

Parents both of priestly line, Father served in temple, observed all commands and were blameless, prayed, prophesized by Angel that John would be a Nazarite.  His parents were also obedient (naming him John).  Sent as the prophet to turn hearts

I grew up in a Christian household centered in service.  My mom spent countless time in the nursery carrying for the “smallest of these”  My dad taught bible study, served on councils and committees and always attended and gave joyfully

He called people to repent and change – to live a just life.  He extolled them not to rely on their birthright but to be servants to God.  He rebuked any, including Herod, and was locked in prison

Do not rely on history, be fruitful today.  Be generous and compassionate.  Be fair and honest.  Be just and content.

Baptized with water for repentance, confession of sins, salvation from coming wrath

Confess: to acknowledge wrong deeds, not just mistakes, but insults to God because of disobedience

Repent: to commit to change and living a new/different life

Confession and repentance are are equalizers of people, we all sin and rely on God’s saving work.  Works glorifying to God (charity and honesty and justice and contentment) remove human hierarchies

At times I see myself as more than I am.  At other times my self view is lower than what God sees in me.  I’m a rough stone.  But as God smooths my rough edges through confession and repentance and His grace, I become polished and reflective.

Photo credit: Richard W. Wise, G.G.
Author:  Secrets Of The Gem Trade, The Connoisseur’s Guide To Precious Gemstones

03.2 BSF Matthew: Week 3, Day 2

Today’s Scriptures

My Daily Journal:

Perfect Practice.  There is an old saying that practice makes perfect.  But as any coach or personal trainer will tell you, this is not true.  Practicing the wrong golf swing over and over and over again will not make that a perfect golf swing, it will just make you really comfortable with doing it incorrectly.  Practicing playing a piece on the piano with the wrong note over and over makes you really good at playing the wrong note.  It takes perfect practice to lead to perfect.

Perfect practice isn’t exciting.  It doesn’t have lots of conflict or drama.  It is the daily drill and practice of the Armed Forces.  It is the miles trekked by a cross-country runner.  It is hard work.  It is discipline.  But it isn’t much to write about.

This is the life Jesus led.  Every day he faced temptation; temptations that are faced at every age and stage of life.  He was not hidden away, he lived with family, he attended feasts, he interacted with others.  But He did it all without sin.

Jesus’ perfect practice was a practice of perfection.

My Answers:

He grew and became strong, filled with wisdom and grace.  He knew His Father and did His work.  He was obedient, grew in wisdom and stature and in favor with God and man

i. perfected through suffering, made high priest to Abraham’s kids
ii. High priest, tempted in every way, yet did not sin
iii. prayed: cries and tears.  Obedient in suffering, perfect, source

He is not a distant, unattached being – He was fully human, a son of Abraham, who was tempted, but did not yield to sin.  His death was not the payment of His sin, it was for ours – Fully obedient to pay the price of disobedience

He was a child, a son, a man.  He had the wisdom and spirit of God, but he had the body fully of a man, suffering temptation, pain, tears,  separation, but always obedient.