No Fear Only Joy

Acts 8:36 Now as they went down the road, they came to some water. And the eunuch said, “See, here is water. What hinders me from being baptized?”

Yesterday, we had two come forward for baptism.
In the latter part of last year, a woman that had accepted Jesus many years before came to present herself for baptism.
Baptism is an important part of salvation.
If someone accepts Jesus as savior, what hinders them from being baptized?
The eunuch asked the same thing of Philip.
Philip’s answer was “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” Acts 8:37
So it seems the heart is the key.
Belief in the heart gives permission for baptism.
However, the belief in the heart must overcome any phobias.
Some don’t like to draw attention to themselves, which baptism will do.
Some are the tiniest bit fearful of water.
Others, perhaps, fear the commitment that comes with baptism.
I am always honored when someone trusts me for their baptism.
As for the eunuch, he came up out of the water rejoicing and returned to his native land and shared the message of Christ.
There is no fear in baptism – only joy.

Get ready for another miracle.

Matt 14:26 And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, “It is a ghost!” And they cried out for fear.

Have you had a great day that suddenly turned sour?
The disciples did.
It was a day they saw and participated in one of Jesus’ greatest miracles.
Thousands of people turned out to hear Him speak.
Jesus ended up feeding the crowd with two fish and five loaves of bread.
Not only did they feed a crowd in excess of five thousand but took up twelve baskets of leftovers.
This was unbelievable.
They have witnessed Jesus do many things but nothing like this.
At the end of the day, Jesus had the disciples get into a boat and start sailing to the other side of the lake.
As they journeyed, a storm began to brew.
The waves became higher and the boat pitched back and forth and side to side.
They strained as they tried to unsuccessfully get the boat to safety.
As if things could not get worse, something appeared out of the darkness on the water.
A few of the disciples were fishermen accustomed to being on the water and they had never seen something like this apparition.
They were afraid thinking it was a ghost.
The fear spread from man to man.
Their awesome day of joy and praise had become a night of fear and doubt.
The ghost they presumed was Jesus walking on the water – an even greater miracle than what happened earlier in the day.
You know the rest of the story.
Peter also walked a few steps on the water toward Jesus, another miracle.
In conclusion, God is a God of miracles – in the bright daylight and in the gloom of night.
God wants to calm your fears with a miracle.
He wants you to trust Him in the storms that encircle you and in the ghosts that plague you.
Get ready for another miracle.

Crazy about studying.

Acts 26:24 Now as he thus made his defense, Festus said with a loud voice, “Paul, you are beside yourself! Much learning is driving you mad!”

Paul gave his testimony before King Agrippa and Governor Festus.
He told them about studying and becoming a Pharisee, his zeal for the Law and Israel, and then his conversion on the Damascus road.
What Paul did not tell was the amount of time he took to reverse his theology.
He went from an advocate of the Law to an advocate of grace.
He went from destroying the church to preserving it.
Basically, Paul studied the scripture and discovered Yeshua (Jesus) throughout.
Remember, the only scripture Paul had was the Old Testament.
He was excited about this discovery of Jesus throughout the Law and Prophets.
Festus thought too much studying was driving him crazy.
But can too much study make you crazy?
I think it makes you informed and knowledgeable.
If you fail to study you will fall behind.
My preaching of God’s word is not the same as it was in 1980.
Why?
I studied and learned more.
Plus the closer we get to the return of Jesus the more we understand the scripture.
Some things exist today that did not exist in 1980 that may play into end-time prophecy.
The Internet has opened up a world of resources and libraries that, at one time, you could only find in books.
It is up to you to continue to study God’s word through your church and all the resources now open to you. Become crazy about studying God’s word.

Off the milk and on the meat.

Heb 5:12 For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God; and you have come to need milk and not solid food.

I remember taking high school algebra.
We had a classroom.
We had a textbook.
And we had a teacher.
The school did not just issue us a textbook and say, “Go learn algebra!”
The teacher taught, we listened, and we asked questions when we did not understand.
For a few years after I was married, I helped some local high school kids with their algebra.
I became a “teacher” of sorts.
I know there are times the Bible is difficult to understand but God has not just handed you a Bible and said, “Go learn My word!”
God gives you a classroom and it’s called church.
God has give you a teacher and it’s your pastor or Sunday school teacher.
But can you teach?
If you have been a Christian for several years – you should.
The writer of Hebrews says they should have the ability to teach but there were still on the milk of the word.
It’s time for Christians to get off the milk and get on the meat.

Listen and ignore or listen and heed?

Matt 14:8 So she, having been prompted by her mother, said, “Give me John the Baptist’s head here on a platter.”

John’s preaching had offended the entire family.
Herod had taken his brother Philip’s wife.
Notice it says wife and not the ex-wife.
This is a case of adultery and Herod and Herodias are guilty.
Herodias is the granddaughter of Herod the Great and Philip is her half-uncle.
Now she is with Herod Antipas, the son of Herod the Great.
Herod the Great is the same that ordered the killing of the children after the visit of the wise men.
He is from Idumea (Edom) and therefore not a Jew of the lineage of Jacob but an Edomite from the lineage of Esau.
Herodias hated John for calling her relationship sinful.
So she had her daughter, Salome, dance for Herod and demand the head of John as payment.
This did not change her adulterous relationship.
In fact, she just added murder to her list of sins.
Many people go to church and hear a message that makes them uncomfortable.
They hear that what they are doing is sin.
Their solution: don’t go back to church, effectively beheading it from their lives.
The problem: it doesn’t change the message of the word of God – we are still sinners.
God’s solution is to listen to His word, repent, and accept Jesus as your savior.

Fear Not

Matt 14:27 “…do not be afraid.”

You’ve probably heard the Bible says “fear not” 365 times – one for each day.
That’s not exactly true.
While the Bible is full of phrases instructing you to not fear, the exact phrase “fear not” is not listed that many times.
Plus there are variations of the term like today’s scripture.
It’s difficult not to fear when you have no hope.
If you know Jesus as savior, then you have the only hope, so why fear?
Fear says, “I do not trust God with my future.”
I admit I have been afraid in my life.
I fear because of the unknown.
I also admit God is faithful in helping me every day.
The only reason I am afraid is that I forget God.
For God, there is no unknown.
So I need to trust in His knowledge for me.
All in all, God does not want us to fear and it does not matter how many times it says it in the Bible.
Once should be enough.

Get it all behind you.

Matt 16:23 Get behind Me, Satan!

Familiar words.
Rough words.
Words said to Peter and I hope never said of me.
It doesn’t take much to get a label like Satan.
According to the remainder of the scripture when I offend God, I am like Satan.
When I am not mindful of the things of God, I am like Satan.
When I am mindful of the things of me, I am like Satan.
The solution: Col 3:2-3 Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth. For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.
When I die to myself and live to Christ I effectively kill my Satan-like behavior.
Get behind me, Satan – not good words to have said to you but great words for you to say to him.

Greater Sin

John 19:11 Therefore the one who delivered Me to you has the greater sin.

Judas betrayed Jesus and directed the soldiers to where He was and indicated to them Who He was.
Jesus later called those actions the “greater sin.”
However, it is Pilate Jesus is standing before.
Herod, the Chief Priests, and the Sanhedrin all had a part in handing Jesus over to Pilate, the only one who could legally proclaim the death sentence.
Is it possible for someone to commit the “greater sin” today?
Not in the same way.
But you can betray, ignore, reject, spit at, sneer at, and make fun of Christ.
Everyone commits sin, that’s a simple truth from the Bible.
Gal 5:19-21 says adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like are sins of the flesh.
Which of these sins is the greater sin?
All of them are forgivable.
None of them are ever listed as the deciding factor in the final judgement.
The deciding factor is not having your name in the Lamb’s Book of Life.(Rev 20:15)
Therefore, the greater sin is unbelief and rejecting Jesus as your Savior.

It’s not a crowd – it’s family.

Mark 5:30 “Who touched My clothes?”

The street was packed with people as Jesus and the disciples made their way to the home of Jairus, a leader of the local synagogue.
There were so many people that the disciples scrubbed against everyone as they made their way.
I have been in such a crowded area to make the answer to the question, “Everyone!”
But not lately.
Authorities have quickly conditioned us to “social distancing”.
Social distancing doesn’t bother me.
I don’t particularly like crowds.
I tend to avoid crowds.
This wasn’t the case for Jesus.
People crowded in to see Him.
They crowded in to hear Him.
They crowded in for a touch from Him.
There can be no social distancing from God or the fellowship of the church.
My church is not a crowd – it’s family.
We need each other.

Searching for False Doctrine

Acts 17:11 …they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so.

There were many false teachings in the early days of the church.
Paul had to deal with them constantly.
They seem to follow behind him, creep into established churches, and begin to corrupt the message Paul had given. The book of Galatians is an excellent example of this.
The Bereans were different from the others Paul ministered to.
They were not willing to just accept his word but studied the scriptures themselves to see if what he was saying was so.
Keep in mind that searching the scriptures for them meant only what we know as the Old Testament.
However, I’ve discovered anyone can twist the scripture to say what it doesn’t mean.
For instance, Deut 22:28-29 says, “If a man finds a young woman who is a virgin, who is not betrothed, and he seizes her and lies with her, and they are found out, then the man who lay with her shall give to the young woman’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife because he has humbled her; he shall not be permitted to divorce her all his days.”
I had an unmarried couple quote this scripture to me and say because they were engaged it was ok for them to engage in sex.
That is not what the scripture says.
Paul would later say fornication is a work of the flesh, something to put to death in your members, and something that should not be named among the saints.
When you take the scripture out of context then it’s ok to steal – Eph 4:28 Let him who stole steal.
But when taken in context it says Eph 4:28 – Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.
Search the scripture and never stop.