Baptism

Matthew 3:15“Jesus answered and said to John, ‘Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’”

The baptism of Jesus was a critical event in His life and ministry. It becomes a great illustration for us, of Christian living and service. First off, note that Jesus was baptized to fulfill righteousness. Water baptism is a picture of a spiritual baptism, which happens the moment a person believes in Christ.

Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…” 1Corinthians 12:13

While water baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it is a requirement for obedience. We are commanded, upon receiving Christ, to make it public with baptism. Jesus, to illustrate the value of this public declaration, submitted Himself to the rite of baptism. 

Second, note what happened upon His baptism; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him. This is a picture of a second baptism that the Bible speaks of; not when we are submerged in water, but in the Holy Spirit. I find it of the highest importance, that before Jesus began public ministry, He was baptized with the Holy Spirit. Jesus promised, any who asked would receive the Holy Spirit, and along with the outpouring of the Spirit, would receive power to walk with Christ. Take time right now to ask God to baptize you with the Holy Spirit, and empower you to live for Christ and serve Him. 

Finally, note that Jesus heard the voice of God. One thing abundantly clear in Scripture is that God honors obedience. I believe whenever we take steps of obedience in our lives, we will hear the voice of God more clearly. Whatever He is asking of you, do it, and His voice will become louder and clearer to you.

Pastor Jim

  

Jim Gallagher

Matthew 3:15
“Jesus answered and said to John, ‘permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.’”

The baptism of Jesus was a critical event in His life and ministry. It becomes a great illustration for us of Christian living and service. First off, note that Jesus was baptized to fulfill righteousness. Water baptism is a picture of a spiritual baptism that happens the moment a person believes in Christ.

Paul wrote, “For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body…”  1Corinthians 12:13

While water baptism is not a requirement for salvation, it is a requirement for obedience. We are commanded, upon receiving Christ, to make it public with baptism. Jesus, to illustrate the value of this public declaration, submitted Himself to the rite of baptism. Second, note what happened upon His baptism; the Holy Spirit descended upon Him…

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Worshipping Jesus

Matthew 2:2

“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Those ancient travelers who went in search of the Child Jesus, form a valuable illustration of true worship. Their worship included at least five ideas we would do well to imitate.
First, their worship was Spirit led; we read they followed “His star”. These men, who spent their time observing the heavens, were amazed that a star, which had not existed before, appeared in the sky and directed them to Jerusalem.

Second, their worship was Biblically founded. The leading of the Spirit brought them to Jerusalem. Once there, they searched the Scriptures to find the Child. Jesus said, those who worship Him must worship in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-240). If we want our worship to be well pleasing, we must search the Scriptures to find out who God really is, and what He desires from us.

Third, they worshipped with “exceedingly great joy.” In other words, their worship was a celebration. We all vary in personality: some are quiet, others quite loud. When we are not trying to mimick someone else in worship, there is an element where we are celebrating. What could be more amazing than God sending His Son into the world to save sinners?
Fourth, their worship included giving. They took of what they had and offered it to Jesus. When we see the value of Jesus, we are willing to give our valuables to Him. Perhaps it is time to give your time, talent and treasures to the Lord.

Finally, they were changed by their worship. We are told they departed another way. The way they came was not the way they left. These men who had been star gazers were now witnesses of Christ.

Let’s take some time today to worship Jesus in Spirit and in truth.

Pastor Jim

  

Jim Gallagher

Matthew 2:2
“Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we have seen His star in the East and have come to worship Him.”

Those ancient travelers who went in search of the Child Jesus, form a valuable illustration of true worship. Their worship included at least five ideas we would do well to imitate.

First, their worship was Spirit led; we read they followed “His star”. These men, who spent their time observing the heavens, were amazed that a star, which had not existed before, appeared in the sky and directed them to Jerusalem.

Second, their worship was Biblically founded. The leading of the Spirit brought them to Jerusalem. Once there, they searched the Scriptures to find the Child. Jesus said, those who worship Him must worship in “spirit and in truth” (John 4:23-240). If we want our worship to be well pleasing, we…

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A Personal Story

Matthew 1:1

“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham”

I did not grow up going to church and when I was 15 years old I had never even seen a Bible. A close friend of mine went on a family trip to visit his grandmother who apparently was a believer, although I had no idea what that even meant. Upon his return he told me that he thought we needed to be “better” and stated that he was going to begin to read the Bible. I told him that I would join him in this venture and when I arrived home that day I asked my mom to get me a Bible. A few days later I found a little green book on my dresser. On the front cover it read, “New Testament.” I took the book to my mom and stated that I wanted a Bible, not some modern book and she explained to me that the New Testament was the second half of the Bible. I returned to my room and began to read. Three times I started and three times my mind wandered away from the pages not understanding a single word. I tossed the book back on my dresser and said to myself, “I guess this Bible stuff is not for me.” 

If this is your first time reading through the Bible you may have encountered the same difficulty that I did. You have found that the first 17 verses of Matthew are a list of names of people that you have never heard of and have a difficult time pronouncing. Allow me to encourage you that it is OK to skip the names. Pick up in verse 18 and begin the most fascinating story about the most exceptional person who has ever walked the face of the planet. 

A few years later, after becoming a believer myself I was given a little instruction that got me past the first few verses into an adventure of getting to know God personally through His word. I want to invite you to join me on that adventure as we read the word of God together and get to know the God of the word. 

Pastor Jim 

  

Jim Gallagher

Matthew 1:1
“The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the Son of David, the Son of Abraham”

I did not grow up going to church. At the age of 15 years old, I had never seen a Bible. A close friend of mine went on a family trip to visit his grandmother, who apparently was a believer, although I had no idea what that meant. Upon his return, he told me he thought we needed to be “better”. He stated, he was going to begin reading the Bible. I decided I would join him in this venture, and when I arrived home that day, I asked my mom to get me a Bible. A few days later, I found a little green book on my dresser. On the front cover it read, “New Testament.” I took the book to my mom, and told her I wanted a Bible, not…

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Limited Work

Mark 6:5
Now He could do no mighty work there, except that He laid His hands on a few sick people and healed them.”

IMG_1420The phrase “He could do no mighty work there…” has always fascinated me. Think about it. The one who healed the sick, calmed the seas, rebuked the demons, raised the dead, created all things, and by the word of His power, holds all things together, could do no mighty work there. Why? What is it that kept the mighty God from accomplishing His mighty works.

“He marveled because of their unbelief.” Mark 6:6

Mark tells us unbelief limited the work of God in the lives of the people of Nazareth. They did not believe Jesus could do for them what they heard He had done for others. Since faith is the currency of the kingdom of God, without it we cannot expect God to work in our lives. The question we must ask is, “Why didn’t they believe?” Why did some, like Jairus, exercise such great faith, and yet these have so little. I think perhaps the answer is found in their statement about Jesus.

“’Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, and brother of James, Joses, Judas, and Simon? And are not His sisters here with us?’ So they were offended at Him.” Mark 6:3

They knew who Jesus was, but knew so little of Him. They knew of His humanity, but none of His deity. They knew nothing of His great power and thus were “offended at him.” That word “offended” means to cause to stumble. They were stumbled because they knew so little of Jesus. When the time came that they needed a great work in their lives, their puny view of Jesus limited them from being able to trust He could accomplish what they needed.

What is your view of Christ? Do you see only the carpenter’s son, or have you met the Son of God? Do you know the one Who said, “I am the resurrection and the life?” He then went on, not only to raise the dead, but to arise from the dead, Himself, ascend to heaven, and reign as King of kings and Lord of Lords. Perhaps it is time to take a closer look at the risen Christ, so you might trust Him to do “a mighty work.”

Pastor Jim

 

Famous

Mark 1:28
“And immediately His fame spread throughout all the region around Galilee.”

IMG_1394In the synagogue in Capernaum, Jesus encountered a man with an unclean spirit. While there is no way of knowing what lifestyle he had lived which led to his condition, we can surmise from other accounts of dealing with demons, he was living in great darkness and difficulty. Whatever turmoil he faced, the solution was encountering Jesus. What the world could not do, Jesus did with seven simple words,”be quiet and come out of him.”

The Word of God has been overcoming darkness ever since. The Bible records many cases where people’s lives have been forever altered by the Words of God. We read of prostitutes, tax collectors, insurrectionists, religious zealots, as well as common everyday men and women, who encounter the Word of God, and are forever changed. The Word of God is still driving out darkness and changing lives.

A number of years ago, a plot of land, more than 20 acres, was given to the Calvary Chapel Bible Training Center in Ghana, West Africa. This pristine plot of ground, on a mountain overlooking the Volta river, was the perfect site to build a facility for the school, and later a church. We were amazed that it was gifted to us, and could not understand why it had not been developed earlier. Since that time, the facilities were erected, others have built homes, and established farms in the area. We recently heard, the reason it lay dormant all those years is, the people believed the area was filled with evil spirits. When the Training Center was built, and the Word of God taught, they saw that the evil of the area was driven away. The whole village has been impacted by the teaching of God’s Word, and Jesus is continuing to make Himself famous.

What we need, more than ever, is for the Word of God to be proclaimed so darkness can be overcome, and lives can be transformed.

Pastor Jim

 

I Am With You

Matthew 28:19-20
“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

IMG_1389As Matthew 28 opens, we find a few women on their way to Jesus’ grave-site. Filled with despair, questioning how they will get to the body to show their respect, they are met by an angelic messenger with the greatest news they had ever heard. Jesus had risen! Oh, how their hearts must have leapt within, as we read “they went out quickly filled with fear and great joy.” The hope that seemed lost at Calvary, was restored in the garden. Along with the promise that Christ was alive, came the commission, “go quickly and tell His disciple…” When the disciples met the risen Christ, the commission was repeated to them, “go therefore and make disciples of all nations…” The greatest promise was coupled with the great commission.

Just as the first followers of Jesus were commissioned to tell their world about the salvation available to man through Christ, so have we been commissioned to tell our world. As great as that news is, we often shrink back from declaring it. I am so glad the command to tell others is coupled with the promise, “I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” What great comfort, knowing that Jesus does not send us alone. He says when we go forth to tell others about Christ, or to show the love of Christ with a kind act or deed, or when we invite someone who has wandered from Christ to church, Jesus promises to be with us. Something caught my eye this morning concerning how Jesus assists us in this great commission.

“And go quickly and tell His disciples that He is risen from the dead, and indeed He is going before you into Galilee; there you will see Him. Behold, I have told you.”
Matthew 28:7

“He is going before you…” When we arrive at an opportunity to share Christ with others, it is critical that we recognize Jesus is with us, He is there to help, to direct our steps, and even our words. But it is also important to remember, He got there first. He is sending us into opportunities He orchestrated.

Keep in mind, as you go about your day, you have been divinely sent. God chose you for the encounters you will face because He wants to use your life experiences to have an impact upon the lives of others.

Pastor Jim

 

Dealing With Remorse

Matthew 27:5
“Then he threw down the pieces of silver in the temple and departed, and went and hanged himself.”

Man at the CrossWhile I do not want to tackle the subject of the eternal destiny of Judas, I do see in him an illustration of how the Christian often deals with personal failure or sin. After the initial pleasure received from sin, we are filled with remorse or guilt. That guilt can become overwhelming and lead to discouragement, depression, and even despair. Too often, we follow the example of Judas, attempting to remove our guilt.

First, like him, we attempt to undo our failure. Since this cannot be done, we spend time wishing we could go back, wishing we had that moment in time again so we could do things differently.

Second, we often attempt to deal with the remorse by going to others. Would Judas have been any better off spiritually if the chief priests had accepted the money? Of course not! While the kind and forgiving words of others are helpful, that is not how sin is removed from the life of the child of God.

Finally, like Judas, we often attempt to get the incident as far from us as possible. If I do not think about it, or I let time work its magic, I know I will feel better. This was Judas’ approach. He cast the money on the floor and departed. Perhaps he thought, if it were no longer in his possession he would not be haunted by it. While dwelling on your failure is not the way God would have you deal with sin, simply ignoring it is not His solution either. God has established a way for the child of God to deal with personal failure and sin.

John wrote,
“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”  1 John 1:9

God’s method of dealing with sin and remorse is confession. The first step to confession is going to God. It is at the foot of the cross where we will find the release from the haunting guilt of personal sin. While the forgiveness is immediate and we do not have to do anything to receive it (Jesus did it all for us), there are times when we must camp out at the cross. There, alone with only the presence of God and the promises of Scripture, we let Him communicate His lovingkindness to us. We must remain until we can clearly see that He has borne our grief and carried our sorrow.

Perhaps this morning, you need some time alone with Jesus, focusing upon the forgiveness He has provided at the cross. A forgiveness that is unearned, complete, and frees us from the penalty, power, and guilt of sin

“When Satan tempts me to despair,
And tells me of the guilt within,
Upward I look, and see him there
Who made an end of all my sin.
Because a sinless Savior died,
My sinful soul is counted free;
For God, the Just, is satisfied
To look on Him and pardon me.”

“Before The Throne Of God Above”, Shane and Shane

Pastor Jim