Wednesday, May 26, 2010

The water does no good without the power!

" All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you..." Matthew 28:18-20

"He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not not shall be damned."
Mark 16:16

"Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name given among men men whereby we must be saved." Acts 4:12

"For John truly baptized with water; but ye shall be baptized with the Holy Ghost not many days hence....But ye shall receive power after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you..." Acts 1:5,8

Recently, I was corresponding with one my young cousins. It seems the water was out at their house yesterday. It was restored today, but somehow, in the process, their power was knocked out. In writing me about it, she made the statement that the water does them no good without the power (because it takes power to warm up the water). This set me to thinking in two similar directions at once.

The first direction is this: There are millions of people who have only been baptized in water using the Matthew 28:19 verse as a formula. What they fail to understand is that the power of baptism is in the name, not the titles! Acts says that the name of Jesus is necessary for salvation (Acts 4:12).

When it is pointed out to them that every time, in scripture, when someone was baptized, it was always done in the name of Jesus, they argue one of two things. The first is that Father, Son, and Holy Ghost are names. Really? Consider this:

What is the name of the son? Jesus, right? So why don't they at least baptize saying, in the name of the Father , and of Jesus, and of the Holy Ghost? Since they acknowledge the name of the son, shouldn't they at least use his name in the Matthew 28:19 formula?

What's the name of the Father? They generally can't answer this. They might say Jehovah or Yahweh. Some just say Father. What does scripture say? Isaiah 9:6 says that the name of the Christ child would be called, get this, "the everlasting Father". So the Father's NAME IS JESUS.

Now, since we know that the name of the father, and of the son is Jesus, what is the name of the Holy Ghost? Jesus calls the Holy Ghost, "the comforter" in John 14:16. In promising they will receive this comforter, he told the disciples that, "I will not leave you comfortless, I WILL COME TO YOU" (John 14:18). Further more, Isaiah 9:6 says that the name of the Christ child would be called, "Wonderful Counselor". A counselor is one who Comforts. Remind me again who the comforter is? Oh yeah. The Holy Ghost! So the name of the Holy Ghost IS Jesus!

Therefore, THE NAME of the Father, the Son, and The Holy Ghost IS JESUS! Since there is no other name under heaven that saves us, and Baptism is part of salvation (Mark 16:16), then everyone aught to be baptized in water in the name of Jesus! Otherwise?

The water does no good without the power!

Thought number two:

There are many who believe baptism in water to be necessary, but believe the baptism of the Holy Ghost, with the evidence of speaking in tongues to be a thing of the past.

Jesus told the disciples that they would be endued with POWER from on high and that then, then they would be witnesses. The world really wasn't paying them any mind, until the day of Pentecost. When that day came, the Holy Ghost fell on ALL 120 in the upper room and they ALL spoke in tongues.

Baptism in Jesus name washes away our sins from that point backwards (if we've truly repented- otherwise, there's still no power in the water). However, we need more than that. Jesus said we have to be born of water (baptism in Jesus name) AND born of the Spirit (Baptism of the Holy Ghost). You can find this in John 3:3-8.

The Holy Ghost is the Earnest (down payment) of our heavenly inheritance (Ephesians 1:14). The Holy Ghost also gives us the POWER we need to live as he wishes us to, and be a living witness to our savior- the King of Kings and Lord of Lords. If fact, "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the spirit, IF SO BE that the spirit of God dwelleth in you. Now, if any man have not the spirit of Christ (proving that the spirit of God and the spirit of Christ are the exact same spirit- one God, not three), he is none of his." (Romans 8:9)

The message is simple here as well. If we stop with being baptized in Jesus name, but are not filled with the power (the baptism of the Holy Ghost), then, once again, the water does no good without the power!

The water, through the blood (Collossians 2), cleanses us of our past sins. The Holy Ghost fire purifies us more!

The water sets us free from the past, the Holy Ghost empowers us for the future!

So yes, my dear cousin, you spoke very true words.

The water does no good without the power!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Nest, part 2

"And we know that all things work together for good, to them that love God, to them who are the called according to HIS (emphasis mine) purpose." -Romans 8:28

"They that sow in tears shall reap in joy." - Psalms 126:5

A few weeks ago, I wrote about a little Robin's seemingly futile attempts at building a nest. Given the location (the window sill above our front door), the very small frame it was attempting to build on, and the wind that seemed to blow the nest apart, it seemed a lost cause. However, today I must report to you that "Mildred" (my wife's name for the mother robin) was not only successful in her attempts, but she now has a small brood of baby robins to care for.

This got me to thinking, again. Life is not easy. Our lives seem to be filled with troubles that follow us from the cradle to the grave. Yet, the prosperity preachers continually shout how wonderful and blessed our God wants our lives to be. The usually unspoken flip side of this false doctrine is that if a person is struggling, then somehow they had a lack of faith- or didn't have enough faith with which to hold onto their miracle.

Mildred kept working at her appointed, and impossible, task in spite of her circumstances. She dealt with the wind. She avoided the predators. She stayed watchful and vigilant as she worked. Finally, the nest was done and she began the even more consuming task of caring for the eggs. After the chicks were born (can you call a baby robin a chick? I don't know.), she set out to find food and keep herself and the little ones both fed and safe from harm.

I believe that we humans tend to constantly look for easy street. We are continually trying to avoid the hard things in life. Worse, we've twisted our theology so badly that we- contrary to 1 Timothy 6:5 - suppose that gain IS godliness. When we find ourselves struggling we somehow believe, much like the disciples in the storm while Jesus slept, that God has abandoned us. Not so.

Every test and trial that we go through will be turned for our good IF:

a) we continue our love for the Lord, and
b) we walk in our calling, or if you'd prefer another term, his purpose for our lives.

When we find ourselves struggling in the storms of life, we need to keep loving Jesus. When everything in our lives that we try to do - like Mildred's nest- is continually falling apart in the winds of life, we need to keep loving Jesus AND keep trying to accomplish that which God has given us to do.

If we will - again, just like Mildred- we will see the dream take shape and life spring forth from a hopeless situation! We cannot give up and stop trying. No matter how bad the situation, God WILL make it work for good in both our lives, and his kingdom. How many people that point a finger at our lives and watch us struggle, may become that new born saint? How, you ask? As a result of them witnessing the Red sea parting in our lives. How many of our children will remember that we never gave up on God in our struggles and find the strength to keep living for God in theirs.

No. The struggle isn't easy, but it will be worth it- no matter the situation- to see others enter the kingdom through the "word of (our) testimony." Life's hard, but God specializes in making something beautiful out of our messes, if we let him. If you're struggling today, hold on to Jesus and keep working at your mission. One day, it'll be worth itl. God is truly good- and he makes our circumstances work out for good- all the time. And all the time, God is good.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Truth and Love

We seem to live in a society that rejects absolutes. As I once heard Br Arnold say, "Black is white and white is black, and whatever's gray, have a happy day"!
Our whole society screams "LOVE ME", while at the same time, trying very hard to cover up who we are.
We don't like our looks? Let's have plastic surgery to change them. We don't like our relationships? Instead of making the hard choices and looking at ourselves to see what part of the problem we play, we ditch the relationship to find a "better" one. We get hurt by people in our relationships and we decide to either have no more relationships, or to stop having normal relationships and seek relationships in ungodly ways (Homosexuality, lesbianism, adultery, bisexuality, Transvestitism, etc).
When it is pointed out, truthfully, that these ways of living, are wrong, we scream, "Don't judge me", or "I thought you loved me- How can you speak to me that way?"

The truth is that God's love requires a truthful answer. God loved us so much that he robed himself in flesh to die for our sins. He loves us for who we are (though he hates the sin that inhabits us), but he also loves us too much to allow us to stay that way! He does, however, love us so much that he gives us a choice- our sinful ways of doing things, or his better way. One path leads to hell. The other to eternity with him.

How does that play out with us on a daily basis? When in a conversation with someone and we hear them saying things that are wrong, do we let it fly on by and say nothing? Or do we speak the truth IN LOVE?

Truth is just that- truth. There is no changing it. It is written in stone- never changing. Truth is absolute and truth is not an emotion. Truth, absolute truth, is probably sitting on most peoples coffee table or book shelves. It's called "The Holy Bible". It is the ultimate truth. It is God's word to us. It is his instruction manual for life, love, and everything else. Incidentally, where science "fact" and the Bible disagree, science hasn't caught up to God yet- believe the Bible every time.

When someone says something to you that's wrong, prayerfully give them a loving AND biblical answer. Say it gently, but speak the truth! Jesus does! Aren't we supposed to be like him?