Outstretched Arms of Love: Day Six, Tuesday

In this Lenten series I would like to invite you to consider Jesus’ “outstretched arms of love” toward all who followed him as disciples, seeking to emulate his life, self-sacrifice, and humble service to others. Today we will reflect on one distinct time and way Jesus stretched out his arms of love to all who beheld his glory, believed his message, belonged as his disciples, and sought to become more and more like his image and with more of their true identity in Christ Alone.

Read Luke 3:21-23

When others were being baptized in the Jordan River, the thirty-year-old Jesus was also coming to be baptized. This was yet another powerful example of his outstretched arms of love. Here, Jesus willingly joins the larger group of those coming to the waters of baptism and submits his heart into the hands of the baptizer, and ultimately into the loving hands of God.

As he was praying, heaven was opened and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, “You are my Son, whom I love, with you I am well pleased.”

The Triune God – Father, Son and Holy Spirit – in unity of purpose and love, each fulfilling unique but completely integrated purposes with one another. The Spirit appears in the form of a dove, a tangible expression of the significance of this event for the Son of God and all who would witness this event. The Father gives voice to his affection for Jesus, clearly announced from heaven for all to hear. Three key messages emerge in this grand sentiment:  first of all, Jesus’ relationship with the Father as his Son; secondly, a declarative pronouncement of love; and thirdly, an affirmation of delightfully great pleasure.

The mission and ministry of Jesus is officially coming to fruition. His younger years with his family and among his community were preparing for this event and his forthcoming service to others. Here in the waters of baptism God is announcing from heaven that Jesus is now moving intentionally into relationships, worship and service, all of which will declare the Kingdom of heaven. This was a defining moment, an inflection point for Jesus, which would eventually be looked back upon as significant.

By far, the high point of his baptism is the Father’s declaration of his belovedness as a son. This status was of central importance to all who would eventually call upon him as Savior and Lord. His beloved place in the wide-open arms of the Father would be a continual reflection from Jesus to all who cross his path. Gracious, unconditional love would become the centerpiece of his message, his mission, and his ministry moving forward to the cross.

Can you recognize today how dearly God loves you as his child? Can you acknowledge the outstretched arms of love extended to you each moment of the day? Can you recall the many ways the love of Jesus has been your mainstay, the music in your ears, and the meaning of your with God life? Can you point out to others the outstretched loving arms of grace, mercy, forgiveness, joy and love offered by Jesus?

Behold Jesus in the river of gladness and salvation; believe the Gospel of unconditional love; belong today to the family of God who are being loved into the Kingdom; and become so filled up with love that you can’t help but freely and generously share Jesus’ love with all who will cross your path even today.

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Steve Macchia

Founder & President

The Rev. Dr. Stephen A. Macchia is founder and president of Leadership Transformations, Inc. (LTI), a ministry serving the spiritual formation, discernment, and renewal of leaders and learners since 2003. For more than 20 years he has been the Director of the Pierce Center for Disciple-Building at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, where he also serves as an adjunct faculty member in the Doctor of Ministry Program. From 1989-2003 he was the president of Vision New England, the largest regional church renewal association in the country. Earlier in his ministry life, Steve was a member of the pastoral staff of Grace Chapel in Lexington, Massachusetts for 11 years. He is the author or co-author of 17 books, including The Discerning Life (Zondervan Reflective), and Crafting a Rule of Life, Becoming A Healthy Church (LTI), and Broken and Whole (IVP).  He and his wife Ruth live in the Boston (MA) area and are the proud parents of two married children and grandparents to three adorable grandchildren. Steve’s personal website is www.SteveMacchia.com.

My soul comes alive singing the great hymns of the church and enjoying the beauty of God’s creation. I’m in awe of God for fulfilling the dream for LTI that he birthed in my heart, for the team he has assembled, and the transformational impact experienced in the leaders and teams we serve.

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Mitzi Mak

Selah-West Faculty

Mitzi started her professional life as a high school social studies teacher. She and her husband Jerry then served cross-culturally for ten+ years, living abroad first in India and then Kurdistan, N. Iraq. In addition to being a Spiritual Director, she now serves as a Formation and Care pastor in her local church in Houston, TX. She has graduated from LTI’s Selah Spiritual Direction training as well as LTI’s Emmaus Formational Leadership Program.

Mitzi enjoys engaging conversation, reading fiction, doing jigsaw/crossword puzzles, ocean gazing and exploring the world with Jerry through food and travel.

God has two main callings in Mitzi’s life: to care for those who care for others and to be a guide in helping others have a healthy relationship with the Trinity – recognizing God’s loving presence and activity in their lives and how to faithfully respond.

Selah was a transformative experience for me – allowing the contemplative within to emerge and to beautifully co-exist with my extraverted personality.