“Higher and Higher”

“When I came up out of the water it was like a huge rock was lifted off my back, I felt joy and freedom that I can’t explain, the Father loves me!”

Sunday we were blessed to witness several baptisms of people who have come to Christ through Love in Action ministries. The quote above is from a lady who has journeyed through years of abuse, brokenness, and intense shame from her past.

The radiant smile on her face and the shouts of praise from her lips as she walked out of the ocean was a glorious testimony to the redeeming love of her Heavenly Father.

Do any of you remember the worship chorus from the 70’s that goes:

“Humble thyself in the sight of the LORD, and He will lift you up…higher and higher … up into Heaven?”

I asked this same question to my Africa friends thinking perhaps we could sing it on the beach before the baptisms-but the response was blank stares, so much for my sermon illustration.

The words of the song are from James 4:10 and provide a beautiful illustration and incredible promise about the mighty work baptism plays in the life of one who has dedicated his life to Jesus Christ.

To be baptized is a declaration of humility. It is to acknowledge sin has a stranglehold on our lives and we are unable to break its grip. We are dead in and of our selves and unable to find the life and love we desire in this world.

As the Spirit of God awakens us to come to terms with our spiritual death He points us to a crucified Christ who took our place. Jesus  bore our sin and shame so that we could cry out in humility, “Jesus have mercy on me a sinner!”  This declaration of faith attaches us to Christ’s work on the cross and breaks the curse of sin over us as we die with Him.

To be baptized means to be raised to new life with Christ. We have been lifted up out of the grave of sin and as the song says “higher and higher…up into heaven!”

Pastor Raymond, who leads the Love in Action church, is known as the dancing pastor. As we were worshiping on the beach, with many beach goers watching, he breaks out dancing. And He can really dance, filled with the spirit joy.

His dancing is a great demonstration of what our Heavenly Father does when we humble ourselves before Him. Our Father comes to get us and brings us higher and higher into His glorious presence where He rejoices over us with singing and dancing (see Zeph. 3:17).

As our spirits are transported into the heavenly realm we hear the same words Jesus heard at His baptism;

“This is my beloved Son, whom I love, I am so proud of Him!”

Over the last few weeks my wife Patty and I have witness about 40 baptisms, and every time reminded of the gift of humility. I know I am sinner saved by grace. I know salvation is all God’s mighty work. As I learn to die daily to my sin and self it opens up my spirit to be lifted up “higher and higher…up into heaven” to hear Father say, “Tim, you’re my boy, I love you, I’m proud of you.”

This is the only voice in the world that matters. This is the only voice that will heal and satisfy the deepest longing in our souls. May you hear His voice today!

“Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up,” James 4:10


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