Tag Archives: baptism

Job 13, 14, 15; Acts 8:26-40

Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning with this Scripture he told him the good news about Jesus. And as they were going along the road they came to some water, and the eunuch said, “See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized?” And he commanded the chariot to stop, and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him. Acts 8:35-38

It took me a while to decide to get baptized after becoming a true believer.

I wasn’t convinced, because I had been wounded in the past. And when I started thinking about it again, the feelings of rejection that I felt because a pastor had told me he wouldn’t baptize me when I had asked to be, reared their ugly head and I got scared.

The church that I was attending at the time held baptisms in the summer when the pools were opened. Everyone gathered as a family in Christ and we had a big picnic. Before the merriment ended, we gathered around the pool and celebrated with those people who had decided to show their commitment to Christ through the symbol of baptism.

Before the scheduled day, I approached one of the pastors and we talked. I realized that this time it really was my choice, because it was my walk with God. I was re-introduced to the New Testament passages that discuss and demonstrate baptism; and the story of Philip and the Ethiopian really stood out to me.

Simplicity of faith, no nerves, no fear.

There is water, so let’s do this, right here, right now.

The passage gave me courage to ask the question myself – is there any reason I shouldn’t be baptized?

I decided there wasn’t any reason not to. I believed with my heart and confessed with my mouth. I wanted to show the world my choice to follow God.

My baptism experience was unique, not in the action itself, but in the participants. My church believed that it was important to involve the person who helped me begin walking my journey with the Lord. And so, just a few months before he died, my brother, who was integral in me finding out who Jesus really is, baptized me, in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.

In India, baptisms happen, but are rare. It is the active confession of a person’s faith in Christ, and their complete renunciation of the Hindu gods. Many Christians who seek to be baptized will be punished by their non-believing family members. Recently, a new believer in our church was threatened with rejection and homelessness by her brother, for planning to be baptized. Unfortunately, she was bullied into changing her mind, and did not follow through with her plan.

I feel blessed to be in a country where the freedom of religion is still comparatively protected. I feel blessed to be in a place where I could ask the question – is there anything stopping me from being baptized – and answer no. I feel blessed to have had the support of family and friend in my decision. The day I was baptized, though the heavens didn’t open up, and a dove appear above me, I did hear God say, this is my daughter, and I am pleased with her.

 

Blessings – Julie (writing from the U.S.A.)

 

Unless otherwise indicated, all scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, ESV Through the Bible in a Year, Job, New Testament, Old Testament

Genesis 6-8; Matthew 3

Sin. Judgement. Repentance.  Those are Biblical themes I generally want to avoid. My husband and I recently drove through the deep South where it wasn’t unusual to see signs saying, “Repent! The End is near” or “Jesus Saves!” My tendency is to be a bit smug and think of those signs as being unsophisticated, but the fact of the matter is that both signs are biblical.

Noah lived in a world so corrupt and sinful that it was as good as living with the walking dead. God was so grieved by what He saw that he preserved  Noah and his family and sent the Flood to cleanse the broken world. The question that I ask myself is if I really believe that my sin is as odious as the sins of Noah’s neighbors. Do I try to rely on my “goodness” and see myself as better?

I can see myself with the band of Pharisees and Sadducees who traveled out to the desert to see the rustic John the Baptist. They probably considered him a half mad curiosity. John immediately saw them for who they were, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to  flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance…”

What John said to them, to me, is a warning and a gift; don’t consider my sin as inconsequential and nothing short of horrific. Enjoy the cleansing baptism of sincere repentance and forgiveness. Just as the priests cleansed themselves before serving in the Temple and awaited God’s presence in that physical space, my repentance prepares the way for Jesus to cleanse me from my sins. The difference is that now, the Holy Spirit comes and lives in me, not in some building. May I never forget who now lives, moves and breathes within me and at what cost. These aren’t just empty words that are supposed to make me feel better; they are reality.

Lord, I want to live in the truth.  I ask that you keep this heart of mine from being arrogant. May I understand the ugliness of my sin and turn from it so that I humbly and gratefully receive the wonder of your grace and presence. Thank you for never leaving. Amen.

Kathy

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, ESV Through the Bible in a Year

Gen. 3; Matt. 3; Ezra 3; Acts 3

There were other trees in the garden that day. There was the tree of knowledge–its beautiful fruit, looking so delicious, and ripe and full with wisdom. There was also the tree of life. Genesis 3.

John was in the wilderness, baptizing people after they confessed their sins. He tells those watching, Pharisees and Sadducees, of God’s judgment. John baptizes with water, but tells of someone greater who baptizes with Spirit and fire. Matthew 3.

Unified for a purpose, the people come together to rebuild an altar. When the new foundation was complete, the older priests and leaders wept. Others shouted for joy. Joyful shouting and weeping mingled together, heard from a far distance. Ezra 3.

The lame will walk–leap, in fact. Healed by faith in Jesus’ name. Jesus, author of life. Acts 3.

This morning it reads like a stream of consciousness: the sinful choice in the garden, act of disobedience, knowledge of good and evil, tree of life, repentance and confession of sin, someone greater, a new foundation, faith in Jesus, the power of his name, author of life.

Scripture laid side by side, shows the single thread woven all throughout: Jesus. I see him in the tree of life. He is the someone greater, fulfilling prophecy. A new foundation. Author of life.

That is my biggest takeaway from reading today. Author of life.

Lord, I have searched and longed and hungered for the very thing you came to give: abundant life–found in you.

Courtney (66books365)

 

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Filed under 66 Books, Acts, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezra, Genesis, M'Cheyne Bible reading plan, Matthew, New Testament, Old Testament

Ezekiel 35,36; 2 Peter 1

My first baptism was in my early twenties. My boyfriend was with me, and afterwards we were invited back to a church friend’s house for a celebration. The people in the party held hands in the room as my friend’s husband prayed over us. My boyfriend said it all seemed cultish.

Nothing distinguished me from my before-and-after except that I now thanked God for each day at the end of my journal entries.

My second baptism was in my late thirties. There’s no need for a second baptism. I’m sure the first one was sufficient. But my heart had changed, and I truly wanted to follow Jesus. Reading Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT immediately brings back the memory of the second baptism, because my choice to follow the Lord would crazy-change my life.

25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.

Later that year I would join some interstate friends to read the bible in a year. It was through reading His Word that I would get to know him.

By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence. And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

Second Peter encourages brothers and sisters in Christ to grow in faith.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge, and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness, and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

I’ve been reading through my bible for four years now, and there’s still so much more to learn. These words, light in darkness …

19 Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must realize that no prophecy in Scripture ever came from the prophet’s own understanding or from human initiative. No, those prophets were moved by the Holy Spirit, and they spoke from God.

… moved in Spirit, spoken from God.

Lord, you have indeed given me everything I need. Thankful for every day, still, and more so.

Courtney (66books365)

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Filed under 2 Peter, 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Ezekiel

Deuteronomy 28:20-68; Psalm 119:25-48; Isaiah 55; Matthew 3

 As the rain and the snow
   come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
   without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
   so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
   It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
   and achieve the purpose for which I sent it. Isaiah 55:10-11

Have you ever wondered if anyone listens to you when you talk with them about your faith or ask them questions to open a discussion about their beliefs?   Have you attempted to share the gospel with a friend only to find your confidence waning, or you suddenly find yourself fearful of any questions that might arise?  In the verses of Isaiah, God tells us that “the words will go out of his mouth”, through us His word is spread, he has a purpose and that it will be accomplished, therefore we should find confidence in that He has prepared our words and has blessed that time so that seeds will be planted.  We might not ever see the fruit from the seed but we can take joy in knowing that we were part of His purpose.

“In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2 and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” Matthew 3:1-2

I look at John the Baptist and see that his obedience and faith send him out into the wilderness, preaching and warning people to repent.

People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.  Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. Matthew 3:5-6

Just as God had promised; John the Baptist saw that God word would not return empty results. We should not concern ourselves with what others will think of us but instead concern ourselves with sharing God’s word with others so that they might have the opportunity to experience God grace and know Christ.

But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. Matthew 3:7-9

Salvation is indeed a gift, but one to be shared, not to be hidden away in your closet or to sit on a shelf and admire from time to time.  It should be worn and displayed in every aspect of ones life.  In fact I pray often that my faith would ooze from me as if overflowing onto others around me…what some might call contagious faith.  There was a time that I was  guilty of thinking that I was safe from God’s wrath because I had repented, accepted Christ, taken hold of God’s grace and taken comfort in His promise, but was I producing fruit?  Did I look at certain people and think they didn’t need to hear about God? or that they wouldn’t listen because they preferred to live out their fleshly desires? or maybe they already professed a faith, but it wasn’t following Christ.

I believed the lies;  “They won’t listen” “…They will laugh at me” “…They already have a faith, not following Christ but they seem happy”…or this one; “they’re too far gone”.

God forgive me.

I have seen and read that God has used and will continue to use any to glorify His name and if I was too proud in my salvation then perhaps I would miss out on the biggest gift of all…growing God’s kingdom.

My prayer would be as written in Psalms;

Teach me, LORD, the way of your decrees,
that I may follow it to the end.
                            Give me understanding, so that I may keep your law and obey it with all my heart.

Direct me in the path of your commands,
   for there I find delight.
 Turn my heart toward your statutes
   and not toward selfish gain.
 Turn my eyes away from worthless things;
   preserve my life according to your word.
 Fulfill your promise to your servant,
   so that you may be feared.
 Take away the disgrace I dread,
   for your laws are good.
How I long for your precepts!
                            In your righteousness preserve my life.                            

May your unfailing love come to me, LORD,
   your salvation, according to your promise;
then I can answer anyone who taunts me,
   for I trust in your word.
 Never take your word of truth from my mouth,
   for I have put my hope in your laws. Psalm 119:33-43

Cindi

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Filed under Isaiah, Matthew, Psalms