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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Sunday Thoughts - 1/17/10

How do I describe this past Sunday's worship experience? Long day. Good day. Informative day. Busy day. Blessed day. I made it through day.

Our worship was good but I didn't give 100% because I had no energy to do so. We continued our study in Matthew 28:18-20 with our focus on verse 20a - "teach them oberve all things that I have commanded you." Sermon title: The Assimilation of Fulfilling the Great Commission - Pt 2: Teaching. Good outline and study material but just no energy. It was my plan to compile this series in a CD package until I founf out that only the first message was recorded. So, it's my plan to go to my cousin's studio and record the sermons on CD. That's my plan but lately my plans have not been going the way I've planned. So we'll see.

I stayed at the church all day in preparation for the MLK Midnight Musical given by Favored By God Productions - George Johnson - CEO. As usually, it was a good time of worship. There was a skit done entitled "Distractions", WOW! I want to do it Easter Sunday.

One of the reasons why my weekend was so long is because as a Christmas gift to Tracy we went to hear Frankie Beverly and Maze on Saturday Night. No new material in 40 years but they still rocked the house. Tracy and I had a good time.

I still have not gotten used this new job of mine. New and trying experience!

Friday, January 15, 2010

Baptism!

All verses in Matthew 28:18-20 as one thing in common, “MAKE DISCIPLES! The power God declares in verse 18 is the foundation for us to make disciples. The mission of “going”, “baptizing”, and “teaching” are principles for us to “MAKE DISCIPLES”. The assurance Jesus declares in verse 20 is an assurance of presence while we, “MAKE DISCPLES”. The Great Commission is given to believers and the church to make disciples. This is what the church is called to do.

While the evangelistic method of the great commission is relatively an understandable method, baptism is not so easy for many people to understand. The reason for this is because oftentimes children and others are being baptized but not understanding what it is their doing. How many times do we see children being baptized not because they understand salvation or anything of that nature but because their parents/guardians forced them down the aisle with these words to follow; “You’re joining church today!” Some adults have come to join the church by being baptized and yet they don’t understand what it is they are doing. So, later in years after going back into the world they come down the aisle to recommit themselves to God through….baptism.

The ordinance of baptism has been, in my opinion, reduced to an initiation process of the church, like the initiation process of joining a gang. The reverence of a baptism ceremony has been loss in our worship services. We don’t celebrate the new life of a believer like we used to. We sing the song: “Wade in the water” so dry and monotone that baptism feels like a funeral service (and I guess in many cases it is a spiritual funeral).

My goal in this message is to help us understand the meaning, message, and manner of baptism in the truest since possible. Baptism is more than a ritual act within the worship service and in the life of the church. And while denominations have different opinions about the mode of baptism, baptism is an important step in the life a new believer.

In his book Baptism – Sign and Seal of the Covenant of Grace; Brian Russell says; “Though baptism is an act of obedience that is not its primary meaning. It is, essentially a sacrament of grace… a sacrament of divine initiative, not of human activity”. He goes on to say that “baptism signifies the union of the believer with Christ, the forgiveness of sins and the gift of the Spirit, all of which stem from God’s grace and mercy towards undeserving sinners. It seals to us the blessings of the new covenant”.


Therefore, baptism is a symbolic act of God’s grace and mercy in the life of undeserving sinners such as you and I. Baptism is a gift from God!


Let’s look at three (3) essential principles of baptism – a symbolic act of God’s grace and mercy:

I. The Meaning of Baptism

Seeks to answer the following questions?

- Why should I be baptized?

It’s a command of Christ – Matthew 28:19

It’s a biblical pattern to follow –

B1. Christ was baptized – Mark 1:9
B2. John the Baptist was the baptizer – Matthew 3:13-17

It demonstrates that you are really a Christian – Acts 18:8

It illustrates Christ’s burial and resurrection – 1 Corinthians 15:3-4

It’s a picture of your new life as a Christian – Colossians 2:11-12


II. The Manner of Baptism

Seeks to answer the question, how should a person be baptized?

The Greek word for baptism is baptize which means to make fully wet. We as a church baptize by immersion. That is to say that we put your full body in under water.

Great teachers of church history agree:

“I would have those who are to be baptized to be entirely immersed, as the word imports and the mystery signifies”. – Martin Luther

“The word signifies immerse. It is certain that immersion was the practice of the early church”. – John Calvin

“Buried with him” alludes to baptizing by immersion according to the custom of the first church. – John Wesly.

˜ We baptize by immersion because it best symbolizes the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

˜ We baptize by immersion because Jesus was baptized this way – Matthew 3:16

Under the manner of baptism I also want to answer the question; who should be baptized?

- Every person who believes in Christ should be baptized – Acts 2:41

When should a person be baptized? One answer: IMMDIATELY! – Acts 8:36-38


III. The Message of Baptism

There is a lot of controversy over how a person should be baptized…

- In the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit as commanded in Matthew 28:19

OR

- In the name of Jesus as recorded in Acts 2:38

While I don’t want to spend a lot of time in apologetics, it is my conviction that baptizing according to Jesus’ instructions in Matthew 28:19 is because baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit is a great depiction of our salvation story. Here’s how the bible tells the story:

- God, the Father: Planned our Salvation – Ephesians 1:2-6

- Jesus, the Son: Provided our Salvation – Ephesians 1:7-14

- The Holy Spirit: Protects our Salvation – Ephesians 4:30

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Sunday Thoughts - 1/10/10

What a wonderful worship service on this past Sunday. God came through First Goodwill church and took control. I had everything planned out but God changed that and did what He wanted to do. One of the most refereshing and powerful reflections of Sunday was Deacon Loud's prayer of thanksgiving. For, I know, the past 6 months he's been in and out of the hospital and there a few times we thought we loss him but God spared his life.

Sunday, he prayed a simple yet powerful prayer of thanksgiving, thanking God for the simple things in life. I mean he said his prayers. When he finished the church and myself was done and burst into jubilant praise for about 10-15 minutes un-controllably. Reading this you may not understand why but for our church he's our answered prayer. He's walking with strength. He's breathing on his own. He's gaining his strength slowly but surely. Praise God for answering prayer!

I continued our study on Matthew 28:18-20 with our focus on v 19b: "...baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit..." I will post sermon outline later today.

After church I came home, ate and crashed. I was so tired! Friday night we celebrated with Pastor Barry Severe as he turned 50 years old. The party was extremely nice and so much fun. One segment of entertainment that had me on the floor was the rendition of the World Class Wrecking Crew and this one guy was killing with his performance, it was so funny. Happy B-Day brother!

Saturday, I helped my mother move out of the house and when we finished at 8 pm everything on my body was hurting.

It was long yet good weekend. On yesterday, I went to the Minister's conference to hear my Pastor R.D Sanders preach. His text was Luke 15:25-31: "An Empty Seat". He walked that text.

I will do better at posting but this new job has my schedule all off. But until next time be blessed.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Sunday Thoughts - 1/3/10

What a wonderful day to start the new year!

As a church, we celebrated a new year together by remembering the work of Christ during communion. A wonderful time of remembering. We had guest to attend our church. The messages out of Matthew 28:18-20 has given me a brand new charge and focus to fulfilling the Great Commission. I am excited about 2000 and 10 (2010)...lol

It was a long day, however! After morning worship we had our 2010 Church Conference. This year I didn't do my normal planning by outlining ministries, programs, services, budgets, and so forth. Instead, I reminded the church that the best made plans can go astray but our faithfulness counts for everything.

Our theme for the year is GOD IS ABLE - Ephesians 3:20-21! We are small congregation with big dreams and God has not failed us yet. But, we can focus so much on our realities that God's ability is forgotten and I don't want us to forget that our God is able to do exceedingly, abundantly above all we can ask or think...The meeting went extremely well and I'm looking forward to what God is about to do.

After our church conference, we ate lunch together before going to a vision service with my home church Bishop Richard Sanders and Mt Pilgrim Baptist Church. This was a wonderful experience for the life our church. The purpose of the service was to have each of his sons share the vision and plans of their perspective churches for 2010. As we shared our visions/plans with the mother and sister churches, it created a prayer list for pastors and members for the year of 2010. This is something not heard of for me but it was encouraging to know that others are praying for us as we are praying for them. As usual, the service was high spirit but I was extremely nervous because I was on to preach. I left my bible and manuscript at the church so I had preach by memory but God helped me to remember and really blessed the message.

I preached my message from last week; The Atmosphere of Fulfilling the Great Commission - Matthew 28:18. This message was still burning in my heart from last week and I had to preach it again. In addition, I was extremely nervous because this was the first time that Bishop Sanders, Mt Pilgrim, and sisters have heard me preach. So I had the anxiety of preaching my first sermon all over again. But praise God for strength, power, and opportunity. They received the message, me, my family, and our church very well and for that I say THANK YOU.

Overall, it was a good day!

I'm back now and looking forward to writing again in 2000 and 10...lol...why do we add the "and"...lol...I was corrected yesterday about it and I've been laughing every since...Thanks, Tracy...lol