Monday, July 25, 2011

New Life

Baptism is an outward sign and demonstration of an inward work. It is a public declaration to the world that I have decided to follow Jesus. A person does not get baptized for Salvation, rather they are baptized for identification. After Jesus was crucified, He was then buried in a tomb. Three days later He rose again in power. 
When a person is baptized they go down into the water, and it is a picture of their old person, who they used to be, being buried with Christ in the grave. When they come up out of the water, it is symbolic of them being raised with Christ. This is something that has already happened in their heart. They have asked to receive Jesus as Lord and Savior, now they are outwardly declaring what has taken place. Baptism is a big step in the life of a Christian. It is a beautiful experience and completely life changing. 

Yesterday, down at Doheny State Beach, we had the privilege of baptizing at least 30 people. The ages of those who were baptized ranged from 7yrs of age up to 70yrs of age. We had more people show up to support those being baptized then ever before. Also our Spanish church came with us and they also baptized people from their fellowship. I cannot tell you what joy filled my heart to see so many going into the water. For some, tears of joy flowed from their eyes. They came to waters wanting to follow the Lord, and receive from Him, all that He had for them. There was a women on the beach observing our baptism take place. She came and asked if she could be baptized.  I asked her if she had received Jesus as her Lord and Savior. She responded that she had, and so we baptized her. I baptized a women in her late 70's yesterday. She told me, "Pastor John the Lord has changed my life." One young lady said, "Can you make sure that all of me goes under the water?" We made sure... Another young man said, "Can you please baptize me in the name of Jesus?" As I prayed for Him I said, " We baptize you in the name, which is above every name, the name of Jesus." 
We give the Lord all the praise and glory for the Work that He is doing in the lives of His people.  If you haven't been baptized yet, I encourage you the next time your church has a baptism be baptized. Its a command from Jesus, and a blessing for the believer. 

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Reuniting with Friends

This evening I had a chance to see some former classmates that I had not seen in a long time. Yes, it has been twenty years since I was in high school. Shocking! Where did the time go? At first it is awkward walking into a room that is full of people that you should probably remember, but can't. Then there is that moment where you make eye contact with someone, and you cannot remember their name. They don't recognize you, and you don't recognize them, but for a moment you play it off like you both know each other. Its funny, I am smiling right now as I write.  Then you begin to converse and it all starts coming back to you. Well, at least some of it comes back to you.  
It was a joy to be reunited for a few hours with people from the past. It reminds me of where I was, but also it reminds me of where I am. It is also amazing to me the things that we remember. The things that made the biggest impression upon us in that season of life. 
I was reminded this evening that in life, friendship is important. Being a friend, and having strong ties are essential. It seems that no matter how many years go by, a friend will remain a friend, and for this I am grateful. The bible says, "a friend loves at all times." I am truly thankful for the friends that God has given me. And for the blessings in my life that are only because of Him. I am even more grateful for the friend that sticks closer than a brother, My Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

Friday, July 1, 2011

A Loyal Heart

And he did what was right in the sight of the Lord, but not with a loyal heart.
(2 Chron. 25:2 NKJV)

What a sad and pathetic commentary on a life. King Amaziah, did what was right in the sight  of the Lord but not with a loyal heart. He was not fully committed to the Lord. He was loyal when it was convenient. He was loyal when he felt he needed to be. Yet when you came down to it, he was a man with a divided heart.
Even as he began to reign as king he did many things that were commendable. He established justice in areas that had previously been neglected. This was a good and noble task.
Yet he also had a tendency to lean upon the arm of the flesh. In battle he sought the help of man instead of the help of God. He looked to military numbers instead of Gods power to save. 
He was reproved for his bad decision by the Lords prophet,and thus he reluctantly sent the soldiers he had hired away. It appeared that perhaps he was now going to trust in the Lord. As Amaziah went into battle he was victorious. Then as he began to collect the spoils of his victory, he collected all the false idols of his defeated foes. He then set them up and began to worship them instead of the living God who had given him victory.
Here it was that his true colors were exposed. At times he appeared to walk in the ways of the Lord, yet down deep he was not loyal to God. Although God had provided for him,delivered him he chose not to truly follow the Lord.
In his pride King Amaziah hardened his heart and fought in another battle he presumed he would win. God sent prophets to warn him, but he would not listen. Even the enemy he had challenged to fight warned him, still his hardened heart was impenetrable. He was soundly defeated and lost his life on the battlefield. 
The lesson is this, serve the Lord with a loyal heart. Do not be divided, or you will be divided. Choose you this day who you will serve. We cannot be in two places at once. We cannot affectively serve God and at the same time live our old life within the world. Is your heart truly loyal to God? Are you serving Jesus with your whole heart or a divided heart? If you desire to serve God with a loyal heart perhaps pray something like this:

dear God forgive me for following you only when I find it convenient. I repent of being one way around these people, and another way around those people. Today I choose to follow after you with all that I am, because you gave all that you are for me. Amen!