"Now it came about when all the people were baptized that Jesus, also was baptized, and while He was praying, heaven was opened, and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him in bodily form like a dove, and a voice came out of heaven, 'Thou art My beloved Son, in Thee, I am well-pleased." Luke 3: 21-22
Principle: Prayer provides the means by which a child of God is able to identify with his Father, and to cultivate a spirit of obedience toward His Word. The Father affirms this family resemblance, by releasing His favor upon His obedient children.
"You are my beloved Son, in You I am well pleased." Luke 3:22
The Christmas Story too often leaves Jesus in the manger, or at best reveals Him receiving gifts in His home. For the Christ follower, the journey continues beyond the shepherds and the stable, and the magi and the star. Luke has the last word on the Christmas story when he records, "And Jesus kept increasing in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and men." (Luke 2:42)
After thirty years of preparation in God's waiting room, Jesus stepped out of the shadows of a carpenter shop, and into the limelight of public attention. He offered Himself to be baptized by John the Baptist. The first encounter between John and Jesus was recorded in Luke 1:39-45. When Elizabeth was pregnant with John, she welcomed Mary into her home. At the sound of her voice, John leaped for joy in his mother's womb, at the presence of Jesus.
The second encounter occurs at a baptism being offered by John the Baptist. It was a a public, and yet a personal immersion. He called people to repentance, a turning away from their sin, and a turning toward a life of obedience to God. The repentant, recipient of baptism showed they were turning from their sin, and starting a new life of obedience, by presenting themselves to John at the Jordan River. The picture was graphic. Slipping beneath the water was a symbolic burial to an old way of life. Bursting out of the water, and gasping for air illustrated a desire to begin again, like a child entering the world from their mother's womb. When Jesus approached the water, John hesitated to baptize Jesus. "But John tried to prevent Him, saying, 'I have need to be baptized by You, and do you come to me?' " (Matthew 3:14)
Jesus was sinless, and did not need to identify with John's call for repentance. He did need to remain obedient to the voice of His Father. The Psalmist had prophesied that God's Servant would delight in obedience to the Law. " I delight to do Thy will, O My God. Thy Law is written in my heart." (Psalm 40:8)
The pattern of the prayer life of Jesus should become a principle of prayer for the Christ follower. "And while He was praying, heaven was opened." (Luke 3:21) Jesus prayed and obeyed. God heard and affirmed. Jesus chose to make Himself available to God in prayer. The result was a movement of God that was heaven sent. The favor of God falls from the windows of heaven that are opened by the prayers of His children.
Without spending time with God in prayer, there is little hope of being affirmed by The Father. If being identified with God, as one of His children does not fill a person with a sense of well-being and security, nothing else will. Sometimes believers try to substitute God's affirmation with a man-made self-esteem. Anything that starts with man will have to be sustained by a super human effort. It is as futile as quenching a raging thirst with a sea of salt water. There may be an abundance of it available, but there is no satisfaction to be gained from its content. It results in more thirst, and a devaluation of one's net worth.
The Practice of Prayer: Make a list of everything about you that has been made by God. Make a list of what you have accomplished with out Him. Compare lists. Which one holds the most value to you? His or yours? If you want to assess your net worth, Adrian Rogers said it would be wise to, "Add up what money can't buy and death can't take away."
Thought for the Day: While Jesus was praying, heaven opened up to Him. God affirmed His Son, after the climate of prayer produced the attitude of obedience that God values. God's pleasure was at the very heart of the Savior. The Christ follower seeking the Father's affirmation will apply their Savior's principle. Prayer precedes a movement of God in the life of His children. For many people, their self-worth is based on their net worth. For a child of God, His pleasure is their delight and prayer enables them to hear the language of His love. Talk less and pray more...today.
"Prayer is the intimate communication between the Heavenly Father and His Child." Don Miller