Reviewing and renewing Biblical faith through story and study

Friday, September 27, 2013

28 Stories - Study 3: Reflected in the River


Fundamental: The Godhead


Bible Story  
Day after day the people came to see the man standing in the river. He stood there every day. And yet, it wasn’t his standing in the river that drew the crowds. It wasn’t the way he was dressed—a camel hair cloak held together by a leather belt. It wasn’t even his diet—honey, locust and water from the river—which drew the crowds. It was his words. 
“John,” someone shouted, “Are you the Messiah we are searching for?”
“Messiah?” John shouted back with a laugh, “I am certainly no Messiah. I am just a voice. A voice shouting in the wilderness, calling you to get ready!”
“Ready for what?” another voice asked.
“Prepare ye the way of the Lord!” John shouted, “Make his paths straight.” 
“Are you saying the Messiah is coming soon?” 
“Soon!” John shouted with gusto, “All flesh shall see the salvation of God!”
A finely dressed man stepped forward, placing a tentative foot in the water, “Since the days of Abraham we Pharisees have been maintaining readiness!”
“Oh, you!” John pointed a boney finger at the plump fellow, “You swarm of snakes! To be ready is to be repentant. Don’t sing, ‘Father Abraham has many sons, and I am one of them!’ Stop your self-righteous singing and start saying sorry for your sins! Prepare ye the way!”
The man looked truly offended. “I say!” he turned to the audience and shouted, “How rude!” Turning back to John he continued, “Know this, pond scum, when the Messiah comes he will come to Abraham’s descendants!”
John stuck his face and hands into the river, coming up moments later with two fist sized stones. The religious leader squealed and ran into the crowd, clearly believing John meant to throw the stones at him.
He lifted the stones high in the air. “From these stones,” John shouted, shaking the water from his bearded face, “God is able to raise children of Abraham. Don’t think you are so precious! The axe is swinging my friends! The trees not showing fruit will be cut down!”
“What should we do?” a young man at the front of the crowd shouted.
“If you have two coats,” John lowered his hands, showing the stones to the crowd. Then he threw one into the middle of the river, “Give one to someone who needs it. Do the same thing with food. Share. Have you been guilty of hoarding? Change. Be baptized today for the repentance of your sins!” A few people stepped forward and John baptized them.
A well-known tax collector stepped into the water. People hushed. “I wish to be baptized, what must I do?” 
John placed his hand on the man’s shoulder and said, “Only take what is allotted to you. Do not steal.” Then he lowered the man into the water. 
Vast hoards of people flocked to John, being baptized. Each asked what they must do and each left the water repentant, cleansed and challenged. 
John addressed the crowd again, “There is one coming whose sandals I am unfit to remove! I baptize with water, He will baptize with the Spirit of God!”
A young man in a plain robe stepped into the water. John’s voice wavered and cut off. Everyone watched in silent wonder as the man waded out to John.
“I wish to be baptized,” the man said. 
“I need to be baptized by you!” John whispered.
“This is right, all must be fulfilled,” the man said.
John nodded, placed his hand on the man’s head and lowered him into the water. As the man came up from the water a voice boomed through the air, “You are my Son! I love you and am deeply pleased by you!” A dove swooped down from the sky and rested on his head. A gasp of recognition rippled through the crowd. 
John turned to the people, “Behold, the Lamb who comes to take away the sins of the world.”
Jesus smiled and walked into the crowd.


My Reflection
What if you had been there that day? What would John’s call to repentance have changed in you? How might you have responded? 

What about when Jesus was revealed? What would it have been like to witness that amazing moment? Let your imagination run wild as you relive that day. 


My Story
At Jesus’ baptism, He was identified by His Father and empowered by the Spirit (in the form of a dove). Jesus’ baptism and ministry was so important to God’s plan that every part of the Trinity showed up to participate in the event! Reflect on a event when the significant people in your life were all present to support you.


My Assurance
The work of saving us is something that God gets fully involved in. What promises are made about the character of God in the verses below? What does he have planned for us? 

1 Peter 1:2 ~ God the Father knew you and chose you long ago, and his Spirit has made you holy. As a result, you have obeyed him and have been cleansed by the blood of Jesus Christ. May God give you more and more grace and peace.

2 Corinthians 13:14 ~ May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.


My Commitment
God wants us to join in the task of taking salvation to the world. What commitment do these verses challenge you to make? 

Matthew 28:19 ~ Therefore, go and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit.

Revelation 14:7 ~ “Fear God,” he shouted. “Give glory to him. For the time has come when he will sit as judge. Worship him who made the heavens, the earth, the sea, and all the springs of water.”


My Outlook
God loves the world so much that the Father sent his Son to save it and the Spirit continues working on people’s hearts today. What do these verses reveal about God and His desire for the World? How does this affect the way you interact with the world?

1 Timothy 1:17 ~ All honor and glory to God forever and ever! He is the eternal King, the unseen one who never dies; he alone is God. Amen.

Ephesians 4:4-6 ~ For there is one body and one Spirit, just as you have been called to one glorious hope for the future. There is one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father, who is over all and in all and living through all.


My Response
The following statement is the 2nd of the 28 fundamental beliefs of the Seventh-day Adventist Church. Review the doctrine and then write a personal response. What difference does this make to your life?

The Godhead
There is one God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, a unity of three co-eternal Persons. God is immortal, all-powerful, all knowing, above all, and ever present. He is infinite and beyond human comprehension, yet known through His self-revelation. He is forever worthy of worship, adoration, and service by the whole creation.


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Bible Story
The story at the beginning of this lesson is based on Luke 4, Matthew 3 and Mark 1.