Walking With Jesus–Devotion #4

Make a list of things you would take in a backpack if you were going on a long hike. What did you come up with? Probably things like water, food, first aid kit, bug repellent, blanket and so on. All of these things and others you thought of will keep you in good shape and get you safely to your destination.

It’s like that in our “walk with Jesus.” As we move through life, God gives us a whole lot of help so that we can reach our eternal destination with Him safely.

Our baptism gives us a spiritual knapsack full of good things earned for us through the suffering, death and resurrection of God’s Son, Jesus. For example:

*Forgiveness for our guilt and sin

*Love for times we feel unloved or do unloving things

*Hope when we feel like we won’t make it

*Peace when we are in turmol

*Joy when we are sad

We simply need to remember to use and rely on the helps God has given us for our walk. They will not help if we leave them in our pack or at home when we go walking through life.

*Think of a song you can whistle or sing on your walk with God that will remind you of the ways He helps you along your walk — maybe “What a Friend We Have In Jesus.”

To listen to “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” go to this post:

Story Behind the Song: What a friend we have in Jesus!

For more about friendship see:

Friends in the Lord

Remembering Old Friends

Friendship Promises – Book Review

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Baptism

Since we’ve been on the topic of baptism, here’s what Dietrich Bonhoeffer had to say:

“Baptism is not an offer made by man to God, but an offer made by Christ to man. It is grounded solely on the will of Jesus Christ, as expressed in his gracious call. Baptism is essentially passive-being baptized, suffering the call of Christ. In baptism man becomes Christ’s own possession. When the name of Christ is spoken over the candidate, he becomes a partaker in this Name, and is baptized “into Jesus Christ”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

For more quotes by Dietrich Bonhoeffer see these posts:

A Quote on the Christian Life by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Praying For One Another

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Time

Martin Luther on Baptism

After posting John Stott’s quote on baptism, I decided to see what Martin Luther had to say!

For that purpose Christ instituted holy baptism, thereby to clothe you with his righteousness. It is tantamount to his saying, My righteousness shall be your righteousness; my innocence, your innocence. Your sins indeed are great, but by baptism I bestow on you my righteousness; I strip death from you and clothe you with my life.”

Martin Luther

For more quotes by Martin Luther see these posts:

Martin Luther on Charity #2

More Advice From Martin Luther

Martin Luther on the Sabbath

How Should We Then Live? –A Quote by John Stott

“Can a married woman still live as though she were a single girl?  Well, yes, I suppose she can.  It is not impossible.  But let her feel that ring on the fourth finger of her left hand, the symbol of her new life, the symbol of her identification with her husband, let her remember who she is, and let her live accordingly. Can a born-again Christian live as though he were still in his sins?  Well, yes, I suppose he can.  It is not impossible.  But let him remember his baptism, the symbol of his identification with Christ in His death and resurrection, and let him live accordingly.”

John Stott

For more on baptism see these posts:

Baptism, A New Beginning

The Freedom of Baptism

Spiritually Reborn in Baptism

 

 

A Different View of Life’s End

“We who follow Jesus Christ face our suffering and dying differently than others do.  We look to the Cross of Jesus Christ for hope and guidance and ultimately to the Risen Christ (2 Corinthians 5:15).  We, who belong to Christ through Baptism, do not measure a person’s worth by the ‘quality’ of life as limited by illness, disability, or aging.  We were of worth when helpless infants as in our Baptism God made us His (Romans 6:4), and we are still of worth in God’s care when we are helpless as a patient at the end of life (Romans 14:7-8).  We care about the dying, disabled, or elderly and attempt to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2).  We bear witness to a better way, the way of the Cross of Jesus Christ in which God comes to care for us first by His suffering and dying (Hebrews 2:10) and then in our suffering and dying (Romans 8:28).”

Confession of Faith written for Lutherans For Life by Dr. Richard Eyer of Concordia University, Mequon, Wisconsin.  Learn more about Lutherans for Life by following this link:

https://www.lutheransforlife.org/

Baptism, A New Beginning

According to Luther’s Small Catechism, baptism is a sign that:

“the old person in us with all sins and evil desires is to be drowned through daily sorrow for sin and repentance, and that daily a new person is to come forth and rise up.”

 

Baptism is the moment of our incorporation into the crucified and risen body of Jesus, a time when Christ takes hold of us and makes us His.  It is entirely a work of God’s grace, as it is He alone who works faith in our hearts through the Holy Spirit.  Since a human “decision” is not the beginning of our life as God’s child, Lutherans baptize infants.  In the sacrament of baptism, through water and the Word, we become the sheep of His pasture.  He calls us by name.  I’ve always associated baptism with this children’s hymn I used to sing with my daughters.  Listen closely and you’ll see it addresses our end as well as our beginning.

Through the Generations

“One generation shall commend your works to another, and shall declare your mighty deeds.”  Psalm 145:4

I’m writing this on Sunday, and we had a baptism at our church.  As a part of the service, the parents, the sponsors and the congregation make promises.  We are all charged with seeing that this child is brought up with good Christian instruction and examples.  We are to pray for him or her.  Here is the reasoning:

“We believe that God gives the gift of faith in baptism, but that this gift will be lost unless the child is taught the Word of God, upheld by prayer and given a Christian example to follow.  This is first the responsibility of you parents, then of the sponsors, and the entire congregation.  May we remain faithful in this responsibility and privilege.”

Do you get it?  This is task belongs to the laity of the church. We are the ones who are to see that the faith is passed on through the generations.  I wonder how seriously we take this promise. Too often, babies are baptized because it’s a kind of social or family ritual.  We don’t see them again (or not very often) and we just forget about those important promises we made before God, no less.  I’m as guilty as anyone, but lately I’ve been thinking about how to do a better job.  Here are some of my thoughts:

  1. We could start a cradle roll program.  (This involves purchasing packets with Christian information to be sent to families with young children periodically)
  2. We can certainly add newly baptized children to our personal and corporate prayers.  In fact, we committed to do this by our participation in the baptismal service.
  3. We can stay in touch with the parents if they do not attend regularly, inviting them to events, and offering babysitting services if that is needed.

Our church is almost 200 years old, and it is humbling to think about the generations who have passed on the message of the faith to their own children and others in this place.  Here’s what they had to say in the original Declaration of Principles:

 ” We take Heaven and Earth as our witnesses of our attachment to Evangelical Christianity and that its extension is our most ardent desire; that it is our wish that the doctrine of Christ’s atonement may be proclaimed to destitute souls here in this place; that we expect our children and our children’s children never to forsake their church, but to be true to it.”

We are links in a chain, a chain that goes back not only 200 years at St. Paul’s, but all the way back to the disciples who walked with Christ.  We can’t let His message stop with us.  It’s our duty, as lay people in the church to pass it on.  We need to take that duty seriously.  What are some ways your congregation has found to do this?  I would like to hear more ideas.

 

symbiosis

n. pl. sym·bi·o·ses (-sēz)

1. Biology A close, prolonged association between two or more different organisms of different species that may, but does not necessarily, benefit each member.

2. relationship of mutual benefit or dependence. 

As a self professed introvert relationships sometimes seem to be a lot of hard work. I mean, do you know how emotional people can get!? Its exhausting, almost nobody just says:

‘Hey, You take a nap while I bring you some wine and dark chocolate.’

I suppose that would fall under number one of the symbiosis definition, and that wouldn’t be very fair. Definition number two, the one that says a relationship is of mutual benefit, is probably the better deal though. 

While everyone has great capacity to be selfish, and lazy; absolutely no one was put on this earth solely to be served. Not even me. God’s own son (think about that) came not be served but to serve. Therefore, I can hardly expect someone else to leave me in introvert paradise, with only the occasional appearance of a loyal maid or butler. People, like it or not, need other people. We are designed that way.

Genisis 2:18  The LORD God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”  

Side Note Ladies: By ‘man’ I’m including the meaning ‘man-kind’.

Sure it’s work to have and be in relationships, but that’s because we’re a fallen people in a flawed world. If everything were the way God first intended us to be, then the best part of our relationships today could be considered but a glimpse, a shadow of the reality it could have been. What I believe we can expect in heaven.

In the mean time, we just need to continue to drown our old selves in our baptismal waters and allow our Christ renewed selves to fill the relationships we have.

Amen.

A Prayer in Remembrance of Baptism

Lord God, I am your child.  I call you Father because you are my Father.  You named me with your own holy name even before I could speak.  You made me your own before I could move a hand to help or prevent you.  You insisted on having me even though you knew the end of my life as well as its beginning, its shame as well as its glory, its failures as well as its achievements, its bad as well as its good.

Why, Father, should I persist in resisting you?  Why should I insist on my own way instead of knowing your way of grace and love?  Why should I obey my own whims instead of letting your grace in baptism have its way with me?

Forgive me, Father, for so often wandering into a far country away from you, your forgiveness, your joy, your promises, your love in Jesus Christ.  Help me to live in the freedom of my baptism, by the faith you have given me, in the life which you daily renew by your gracious forgiveness.

I am baptized.  I belong to you, God.  Amen

Taken from the Lutheran Via de Cristo Pilgrim’s Guide

Image result for martin luther on remember our baptism

Tools of the Trade

Image result for images of the armor of godWhen it comes to obedience, Satan is our enemy.  His wiles were behind the very first instance of disobedience in the garden, and he continues to lead us astray today.  However God has given us tools to resist the devil.  In Chapter 6 of Ephesians, the apostle Paul describes these tools and calls them “the armor of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17)

When and how do we receive this armor?  I believe it comes with our baptism.  This is the day God claims us as His own, the day that we “put on the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Romans 13:14)  Only in Him do we become righteous and capable of true obedience.

Here’s what the Lutheran Catechism says about baptism:

“It (baptism) signifies that the old Adam in us, together will all sins and evil lusts, should be drowned by daily sorrow and repentance and be put to death;  and that the new man should daily come forth and rise, to live before God in righteousness and holiness forever.”

This is based upon Romans 6: 4

“We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised form the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life.”

So here’s the question Paul poses:

“How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:2)

You and I are new creations.  God gave us righteousness through Christ.  We have the armor of God.  Remembering this can help us to be obedient.