Sunday’s scripture in Luke 3:21-22 it reads as Jesus is baptized, the heavens opened, the Holy Spirit descended on Jesus, and Jesus heard; “You are my beloved Son, with you I am well pleased.” Jesus was Baptized – the heaven’s opened – God spoke - the Holy Spirit descended upon him What is Baptism? Is it the sprinkling of water on an infant, or adult? Is it a time of water being poured over your head, in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit? Is it being dunked in a basin, a lake or river, completely submersed? These are all acts of being baptized. But what is Baptism? The RNM Series: “The DIO Trilogy: Part Two: Baptism” by Jared Dodd, addresses the word Baptism. Baptize means to immerse, to wash clean. Baptiso meant to immerse. Such was the actions of the Pharisees as referenced in Mark 7 Traditions and Commandments. The Pharisees used the word Baptize, or the Greek word “Baptiso”, as a sign of washing: as they did not eat unless they had washed, including their traditions of washing of cups, pots and copper vessels and dining couches. They’d Baptiso, wash clean their feet, their clothes, etc. The Great Commission, in Matthew 28: 19, Jesus gave instruction to the eleven disciples, telling them: “Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” It changed the meaning of Baptism, be immersed (Baptized) into the reality of who God is. Today when we say Baptize/Baptism we are referring to a religious ceremony signifying our belief. It’s a command from Jesus to be baptized. We are to be dunked practically into Him, the reality or essence of Him, of who God is. It’s a lifelong process of knowing God, as we dive down into the depths of the reality of who God is as: Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. David Bisgove, in the RNM Video “What is Baptism?”, says that baptism is the external sign that we are no longer alone, we are bound to God and one another. Jesus’ baptism marked and identified him for Gods purpose, it launched Jesus ministry. Much as our Baptism launches us into our ministry, reminding us of our identity, our belonging , our mission. It’s our ministry Go Button. We are now his Disciple. We are to go and make Disciples continuing the mission, to bring all people into a relationship with Him. We are to listen to His voice, His words of affirmation saying: You are mine; I give you a future and a hope; You are the light of the world, go let your light shine; I have called you friend. It’s a watershed moment- listen to the whisper. God speaks to you through reading His Word, through Study, through a community of believers who share in this mission. Claim for yourself his words, You Are Mine! In Baptism the Holy Spirit takes up residence within you, Child of God. It signifies and seals our adoption into Christ. Its our cleansing from sin. It’s our commitment to belong to the Lord and His Church. We are baptized into a family of believers; we are never alone; this gives us a presence and assurance that God is forever in our life.
Have you ever heard voices? Is God saying to you, you are precious, you are redeemed, you are loved, you are valued? We need to listen and be immersed in God’s love. We receive God’s Grace, God invites us into the future with him, to be part of a covenant community of baptized believers, in union with Christ, as the Holy Spirit has made us a Child of God. We just need to take this knowledge of what the true meaning of our baptism means, from head knowledge to heart knowledge! So that we too can hear, You are a child of God with whom I am well pleased. Larry & Darlene
From Sunday’s message, in Matthew 2:13 “Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there until I tell you, for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” Mary and Joseph, and the child Jesus fled, as Herod was determined to find this child, the new King, and kill him. Herod, when he realized he had been tricked, had all the male children 2 and younger in Bethlehem killed. Think of the trauma so many experienced. Herod killed whomever it was that threaten to take over his throne, power, and control. What is it that you don’t want to lose control of, that you want to hold tight to? What is it when mentioned that sets you off, like hitting your Red Button? Are you in a sense killing in order to keep it your way? Or is it another individuals’ Red Button that you think needs addressing? And in doing so it sets them off. Some, just to keep the peace, don’t say or do anything. Rather than pushing buttons, are you complacent? Do you stand aside, not saying anything, or let others run over you? You’ve learned from past experience that mentioning or living for Jesus meant war? Stand for Jesus and His way then watch the opposition unfold. There is so much persecution of Christians in the world today, verbally and physically, to get rid of and silence those who share about the one who came to save mankind. Christmas (Jesus) is war. How are we to engage in this War? We need the power and strength of God within us, especially when we try to share the Gospel message with those around us. As they resist our efforts, there is a war within us, its almost like Satan saying in our ear “I won this one”. In the RNM “Battle Plan” by Dr Ed Young, he asks, are you ready to defend yourself? Satan’s #1 plan is to have your life. There are rats in the garden, enemies (rats) in your life, seeking to destroy you, weaken you. There is a battle going on for your mind, your heart, there’s constant conflict. Good is interpreted as evil, and evil is interpreted as good. Satan is seeking to destroy the basic culture of America. The culture, “the glue”, that holds our common values together. Ed Young shared as we look in the Old Testament, we learn of King Manasseh of Judah, mentioned in 2 Kings 21:1-18, he was the son of King Hezekiah. Manasseh became King at the age of 12, and reversed the positive religious changes made by his father. He tore down the walls, the boundaries, he lowered the moral standards of the nation. He even sacrificed his own son in a bed of fire and silenced the voices of the prophets. So, to fight off the evil around us, even as we read of the evil of those like King Manasseh, or Herod; we need to be as the hymn says: “Onward Christian Soldiers, Marching as to War”. We need to put on our battle armor, the Full Armor of God, be the difference makers in defeating evil as we stand together in Jesus Christ. We need to know our own weaknesses, live as the Book of Ephesians tells us to live, as we are given gifts and we walk in our calling. We are to be filled with the Holy Spirit, in our speaking to one another, with a thankful attitude, submitting to one another. We need to put on the full armor of God so that we can stand strong against the schemes of the Devil. As we take off ourselves, we put on Christ:
We fasten on the Belt of Truth-Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the life”
We put on the Breastplate of Righteous-“obeying Gods Commandments and living in a way honorable to Him”
We put on shoes of Peace for walking - “It’s the readiness given by the Gospel of Peace”
We take up the Shield of Faith-“for protection against the Devils fiery arrows”
We wear the Helmet of Salvation-“it protects our mind; our thinking becomes clearer”
And we carry the Sword of the Spirit-“The Bible, the Word of God, in our hearts and minds”
Dr Young references the Ultimate weapon in Jesus Christ, who on the cross won the victory forever. Because of him we wear the marks of a True Christian:
We let love be genuine. Abhor (hate) what is evil, hold fast to what is good.
We love one another with brotherly affection. Out-do one another in showing honor.
We Bless one another: lift-up, encourage, rejoice, cry and laugh with others
We are to be humble: do not be wise in our own estimation
We are to be passive: we overcome evil with good, we are at peace with all people
The Holy Spirit gives us the Power to be passively, aggressively, redemptive. It’s the Power of God in You and Me, to love people, build them up, and be forgiving when necessary. Christmas is War – there’s a new King in town. We are now dying to self and living for Him. Jesus needs to be in every aspect of our lives. In our conversations, in our actions, in our work, in our play, in our decision making, in our ???? In all things we are to bring Jesus into our lives and the lives of others in a natural way, in the context of life circumstances rather than to set them down and say I’m going to teach you. It’s living Jesus out from our hearts towards others.
Newness in a sense is change. Changing from to now. Some change can be easy, some difficult, some scary because of unknowns, some we cause or sometimes others causes us to. Change. So how do you respond to change? Change challenges all of us to do our very best. Are you keeping up with the worldly changes going on around us? Most of that is out of our control, yet it does or will affect our lives. What about personal change? What did you learn from last year? What are you happy with vs what you are not? In knowing what you learned, how can you apply that to this year, to make a positive change? It’s a process, a movement towards a goal. Goals put change in action. Knowledge isn’t enough, we know that we need to change, but how do we do it. What Newness, what Change are you seeking? So, “What are you going to do about it?”
As a leader of a business, Dan Cathy, CEO of Chick-Fil-A; addresses these issues embracing inevitable change, in the RNM Video titled “Embrace Change”. Effective leaders are life-long learners, engaged, involved, sensitive, approachable, intuitive, real, authentic. He shares how to lead from the front line, work with those under your guidance with clarity and purpose, be engaged in the challenges of their lives, to be real from the heart with your encouragement and comments. He goes on to say that “The truth is things never stay the same, change is inevitable. There needs to be clarity in your leadership. Stand behind your commitments, stay true to your values, then live out your commitment.” He shared that he carries with him his smart phone, just like we all do. It’s symbolic of worldly change with all that it can do. He also carries a pocket size Bible. Based on scripture Dan Cathy says to trust Biblical Truths, to glorify God and be a faithful steward of all He has entrusted to you. Proverbs 3: 5 & 6 reads: Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding, In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths”. Have a positive impact on those you encounter. It’s keeping the balance between worldly change and God’s values.
In “Balance Change and Continuity” in RNM by Bill Pollard, former CEO of ServiceMaster, he explains how change upsets the status quo, it affects everyone, we need to evolve, not dissolve. Don’t be afraid of change, life is always understood better backwards than forward. There must be continuity – if an organization doesn’t change it will die. If you don’t change with it, you will be part of the dying process. He sees that businesses and organizations needs to be continually changing, and so do we as individuals. All things change, else it dies. Mr. Pollard went on to share that we need to adopt “The Posture of Indebtedness” - as a leader, engage in the work of those who follow you. You need to learn to serve, that helps to navigate change. It keeps spirits high and helps to build trust. You need an attitude of service and a spirit of humility, that’s the key to serving others well. Pride will shove humility into the file cabinet, you will be called out if you give in to your pride. He goes on to say, Servant leadership sets the tone for growth, you will see it not only in the results of temporal value in the tangible things in the business; but in the changed lives of those you lead, an Eternal value. The work environment affects the person we are becoming. Whether you are the leader or the servant (worker) invest your life wisely for the good return. It’s an investment in the lives of others. There’s a return of a productive life for those you mentor, and care for, and love.
It’s working with others through change. Finding accountability partners, if necessary, to help to navigate the change. Positivity towards the change. Setting goals towards the change that we want or need to make. Embracing it.
Hayley Miller in RNM series on ”Motivating Children”, speaks of motivating children and pouring into their lives. One of the statements that she made was, “The bare minimum we are asked to do, is the maximum effort we will put forth”. This is true for most of us. She also shared the difference between Praise and Encouragement, that “praise discusses results, and encouragement notices the effort and progress of change.” Everyone wants to be praised and encouraged. Lets be encouragers of others. Notice their efforts, their progress of change. It keeps us motivated.
As we heard Sunday, “ Don’t Limit your Challenges…Challenge your Limits”. Towards the change that you want to make - is it bare minimum? Or maximum effort? We are not going to change unless we want to. Are you alive? Or Dying? Larry & Darlene
What is your Resolution for the New Year? What about Resolutions? This is the title of the suggested Right Now Media for this week. In viewing we heard people making some of the same resolutions that we’ve made over the years……
to take better care of myself, lose weight, exercise, quit smoking
to stay on budget, take care of my family
to be a better Christian
And then there were some of the same reasoning’s that we’ve said
I’m so old I don’t make them anymore
Where did they come from anyway, the idea to make a New Year’s Resolution?
Can’t break them if you don’t make them
The purpose seems appropriate
Centering one’s self again
Sets a direction for improvement
For whatever reason
They are forgotten after a couple of months
Don’t have the will to finish them
Not important enough to stick to it
And so Life Happens…………………
Resolutions in a sense are about setting goals, striving for, hoping to achieve something.
Are you looking for Happiness? According to Dr. Henry Cloud in the RNM (Right Now Media) series and in his book on “The Law of Happiness” he says that “Happy People have faith, an active vibrant faith. God made you to need Him in order to thrive.” Dr. Cloud went on to say “You are to walk through life with your God. He is alive. He is a person. Don’t treat Him like a religion.”
Do you want to experience the Good Life? Pete Briscoe in his RNM series “The Good Life”, The session titled “A Secret that can Change Your Life”, he shares that the secret to a better ‘good life’ is waiting for those who are ready to grow, …...the follow through is extremely important”. To go after the “Good Life” through your relationship with Jesus.
Possibly you want to Love Boldly? Sunday December 29th Anna and Leah Krafft shared their stories of “A Journey of Faith in College”, their Market Place, where God has placed them, for a time, to love boldly with others. We are all called to let the Love of Christ work through us, to be his instrument. And when we Love Boldly God also blesses the giver, us.
Tom Proebsting shared the joy he has of being ‘Alive Again’. God’s hand of blessing through physical healing of health. To live in the Joy of the Lord and what He has done!
In John Piper’s RNM series of “When I Don’t Desire God” “A Fight for Joy”. He shared that “The devil’s main business is to keep you from seeing the glory in the Gospel, the Gospel of the Glory of Christ.” He based this on 2 Corinthians 4:4 “In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God”. His series teaches us that we need to “fight to find your delight in Christ”, to say as he stated, “I saw glory in the Gospel with the eyes of my heart”. He goes on to give 14 strategies for fighting for Joy. The first and most important in learning how to fight this fight he says is to Eat Bible – get your nourishment every day! John continues to tell us that the devil is real, he feeds off of faith so that you can’t have it. And the weapon to fight the devil is the Word of God.
So in deciding to make a New Year’s Resolution or not is one thing. To decide to make a change in your habits of life, setting goals is another. Develop the habit to Eat Bible. Some suggestions that John Piper made are to:
Pick a time of day, set an alarm to get up earlier if necessary
Pick a place, a favorite chair, a quiet spot, your spot
Pick a plan, possibly a guide to reading through the Bible in a year, getting into the RNM series available; join a small group study; Use your eyes, ears, mind and heart to Eat Bible.
We want to encourage you and you encourage us and others as we study together, discuss highlights we’ve learned, coming together in spirit into the word, understanding, and knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. Happy New Year! Let’s shine in His Love through 2020!