|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading:
Matthew 3:14-15 "But John forbad Him, saying, I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness. Then he suffered Him."
It wasn't that Christ needed to be cleansed from sin, which caused Him to choose baptism. It was the fact that baptism is a vital step in fulfilling all righteousness - for us - which caused Him to be baptized. In other words, He was baptized as our Example, in all things (1 Peter 2:21). All that our Saviour did, was an Example for you and for me to follow.
|Our cat, Shalom sits in front of our living room window.|
We are "cat people". Don't get us wrong, we love dogs too, but cats are an awesome creation, in the Manfredine family's estimation. We currently have three cats, all of whom are very dear to us. They are Shadow, Shalom, and Daisy. They each have their special traits and quirks, which only serve to endear them to our hearts even more. But Shalom stands out.
Shalom is our prayed-for cat, which is why my daughter gave him such a special name. Because we prayed for God to bless us with the perfect cat for our family, when we went to pick out a kitten we got Shalom. The fact that he was prayed-for makes him stand out from the others, because Shalom is truly special.
He is more loving, more intuitive, and just more in personality. We don't talk about it much (as we do love all our cats). But we all know, deep in our hearts, that Shalom is our favorite.
From the time he was a kitten, Shalom knew how to hug. He would put his kitty arms about our necks, nuzzle his head under our chins and purr to such an intensity that his whole body vibrated.
Shalom is also quite an accomplished "mouser". Yesterday, he was out enjoying the sunshine. I observed him with amusement as he raced across the lawn, past the back kitchen window. Only to race across the front lawn, passing our living room window moments later. He was full of "vinegar" and enjoying stretching his legs. I laughed at his antics and then went back to my day's activities.
Later on, I observed him with something in his mouth. Shalom had caught a pocket gopher. He dropped the still-alive gopher on the driveway and began to work it over in the age-old, lethal game of cat and "mouse". Our garden thrives because our cat keeps down the gopher population (although we don't like it when he catches birds!), so I didn't move to stop him from his intended lunch. But as I turned away from the scene, knowing full-well how it would end, a thought came to me which deepened my personal understanding of a powerful, spiritual Truth.
If I could interview that embattled gopher, asking it to give its opinion on Shalom, it might have said something like, "He's a monster! A horrible beast! Why he just comes - unprovoked - into innocent rodent's lives, and does horrible things to them! He's an absolutely awful creature!"
The gopher's viewpoint of my beloved cat would definately be different than my own. So, whose viewpoint is right about Shalom? Should Shalom's value be determined by the gopher, or by my family and me?
At this point, you're probably thinking, as I do, "well, of course Shalom's value is most accurately determined by his master." The gopher doesn't know Shalom like I do. He can't appreciate that, even in the work of keeping the yard free of garden-eating pests, Shalom is faithfully serving his master's purpose. The gopher may believe he knows the truth about Shalom. But he doesn't. He cannot possibly know it, for he is only a gopher.
Silly as this story may appear, at this point, God showed me something quite powerful from it. I tend to be effected by other people's perspectives. If they value me, I tend to feel good. If they don't, I can be hurt by it. What about you? Do you also have this problem?
But in the analogy, other people's perspectives on our lives and our value is even more limited than the gopher's view of Shalom. People can't determine your true value! Their viewpoint of you and your life is exceedingly limited. So then, whose viewpoint of your life matters? The viewpoint of your Master is what matters. How does God view you?
When we get this perspective, we are freed from the foolishness of people-pleasing. And we begin to seriously seek to please God in all that we say and do. Considering this, let's return to the story of Jesus' (Yahshua's) baptism.
The people standing about the river Jordan that day could see nothing of value in this Man Who entered the water to be baptized. His Life wasn't pleasing to them. In fact, the leaders among them were increasingly annoyed by Him. He was the bane of their existence. But that was how they saw Him, only because they had a limited perspective. And it wasn't their perspective that mattered. Our Saviour didn't expend His Life trying to please people. He, Who is our Example in all things, lived to please God.
John 8:29 "And He that sent Me is with Me: the Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him."
At His baptism, the Father's Voice confirmed that although the people standing about might not be pleased, God - King of the Universe - was pleased with Christ:
Matthew 3:17 "And lo a voice from Heaven, saying, This is My beloved Son, in Whom I Am well pleased."
What a testimony! But, this was not only to be the testimony of our Saviour. He was our Example. It is to be the testimony of every child of God. This is the testimony we will have, if we are to spend Eternity with our Heavenly Father.
Hebrews 11:5-6 "By faith Enoch was translated that he should not see death; and was not found, because God had translated him: for before his translation he had this testimony, that he pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him."
Enoch is a Heavenly man today, because he lived as Heavenly man on earth. A Heavenly man (or woman) is one who lives to please God.
So, if you've been worried about the "gopher's" viewpoint of your own life; if you've been spiritually caged or paralyzed by what people think of you; please look up! You were not created to please the "gophers". You were created to please your Master. And one day soon, may He say to you:
Matthew 25:21 "...Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy Lord (Master)."