Preparing For Baptism

Some pastors will baptize you the day you walk the isle in surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ. Some will come for baptism even though the pastor may never have witnessed their day of salvation. I believe that you will find it interesting how John handled this subject while at the Jordan River. Meditate with me on the important teaching John shared with the Pharisees and Sadducees, as this may still apply in our churches today.

DATE POSTED Wednesday, 2022-01-12
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL

SCRIPTURE FROM: Matthew 3:5-9
TRANSLATION: New Living Translation (NLT)

BIBLE TEXT: People from Jerusalem and from all of Judea and all over the Jordan Valley went out to see and hear John. And when they confessed their sins, he baptized them in the Jordan River. But when he saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to watch him baptize, he denounced them. “You brood of snakes!” he exclaimed. “Who warned you to flee the coming wrath? Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones.

APPLICATION: Ever noticed how some will dye their hair blue, if they see a friend or two doing the same thing, and getting attention over the strange practice? Ever noticed at an altar call in your church how challenging it is to get the first person to respond to the gospel message, and how much easier it is after the first person makes the walk down to the altar? We don’t want to be the first to make a move, but we are quick to follow the flow by our friends. People from the neighboring towns came to hear for themselves what all this ‘wild man’, John, was preaching about. His message touched their heart, so they confessed their sin and was ready to be baptized. This is still pretty customary in churches today, especially during revival or evangelistic services. But what would your church, or your pastor, do if at the baptismal service a number of people showed up for baptism who had never visited your church before? I believe we all can agree that at such special services, many might get in the spirit of what is occurring , and they may want to be baptized also. John recognized that the Pharisees and Sadducees who showed up and wanted to be baptized, felt like they were already good enough on their own reconnaissance and at least as good as the persons there who may have received forgiveness of their sin that day. However, John addressed this by drawing their attention to the change that occurs in a believer’s life. I believe John’s teaching on this is well worth our time to reflect on. Think about it – if we are a child of the King, then we will look like; sound like; and act like the King. It would be highly hypercritical of us to say that we are a child of the King, yet continue to behave like our old sinful selves. Who are we trying to fool? I also appreciate that John included the piece for his audience not to feel ‘saved’ because of them being from the seed of Abraham. You see, when we have grown up in the church, or if we happen to be a child of the pastor, deacon or elder, we may try to fool the world into thinking that because of our heritage, we too are saved. Notice what John taught here: we are each to approach the throne of God individually. Nothing done, said, or practiced by our ancestors could cleanse us of our sin and make us right with God. It is only through the shed blood of Jesus Christ that we are saved. That’s the sole purpose in God sending His Son, and He will have it no other way. We cannot slither our way into heaven through any other means. Be encouraged today Brothers and Sisters. We may not be a son or daughter of any earthly king or queen, but as a son of the Most Hight God – King Jesus, we are born again and ready to meet our Savior whenever He calls us home to glory. We are never too bad, or never too much of a pretender for God to accept us. Repent of your sins and ask God to become alive in You so that your words, actions and witness will be all about your heavenly Master.

BLESSING(S) NOTED: Jesus can save the hardened criminal or even the one who feels like they’ve always been ‘good enough’ according to the word’s standards.He came to seek and save ALL that are lost. That includes you, me, our neighbor or the drunk down the road.

PRAYER: Father God, we are reminded that there is nothing we can do of our own selves to save ourselves from our sins and ready ourselves for the portals of Heaven. John was very blunt about this with the Pharisees and Sadducees, and he may have even found reason to preach at some of our churches today. Yes, we must be saved through the righteous sacrifice of Jesus alone. But our life will always reflect who takes center place in our lives. May that always be you, and you alone dear God. As the world see Jesus in us, they might become convinced of the power of the One who sacrificed His life for the remission of our sins. Please forgive us for trying to play the fool before You, like we so often try to get away with before our fellow man. You are the one, and the only one, that we must be honest before. Please deal in our hearts and our lives so that we may have an honest relationship with You, and the one who will naturally display to the world who controls every fiber of our being. We love You Lord and we want You to be evident in all that we are. AMEN!

FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog might indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. You may also visit me on Spotify and listen to Nuggets while you’re out and about. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!

Proof, No Proof

I was reminded of a television show – ‘Deal, No Deal’ as I meditated on these verses today. I know, don’t mix television with the precious Word of God, right? But Paul was so infuriated by the boldness of the Pharisees and Sadducees to show up at the river for baptism, that he took time to warn them of what a saved life looks like, vs one that is not. We should never have to tell anyone that we’re saved – it should be evident in our lives.

Saturday, 2019-01-05

Bible Reference: Matthew 3:8, 10
Translation: Amplified Bible (AMP)

Bible Text: So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin]; ……. 10 And already the axe [of God’s judgment] is [gswinging toward the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

OBSERVATION: I was reminded of a television show – ‘Deal, No Deal’ as I meditated on these verses today. I know, don’t mix television with the precious Word of God, right? But Paul was so infuriated by the boldness of the Pharisees and Sadducees to show up at the river for baptism, that he took time to warn them of what a saved life looks like, vs one that is not. We should never have to tell anyone that we’re saved – it should be evident in our lives.

APPLICATION: In our Scripture today, Matthew relates that John the Baptist had been baptizing a lot of people. So one could only imagine that if they had not been baptized, then something must really be wrong with them. In the case of the religious leaders, John could tell that, to the crowd, they could easily have passed as ‘worthy of baptism’ because of their kinship to Abraham. However friends, is this not a good reminder for us? Some church attendees might tell you that their father was a pastor back in some church many years ago, so they are sure that they have a reserved place in heaven. Some might point to their regular attendance at your church for several decades, and all of the money that they gave for certain projects, so surely they are right ‘up there’ with the best of saints in your church. But the interesting thing that John points out to the religious leaders is that a repentant heart is what really matters. Some of you might wonder what exactly that would consist of, but I believe that this particular version of the Bible spells that out for you, for a repentant heart demonstrates a new behavior – meaning that it’s different to the behavior you once demonstrated in your life. Now your new behavior clearly comes from a heart that has been impacted and changed by its original designer and maker, Jesus Christ! Further, this changed heart will also show evidence of a conscious decision to stay away from sin. This includes your efforts to stay away from the people and places that once caused you to sin. Persistent study of God’s Word is critical, so that you could have a clear message from Him about what He consider ‘sin’, even though it might look like holiness to others. These changed attitudes, actions, thoughts and words are called ‘fruit’ by John, because He wanted us to understand that a tree, or a heart, built on the good things of Christ, will produce fruit/actions/words/attitudes that resemble the One who is feeding your tree/heart. Therefore, when there is no evidence that you are allowing God to ‘feed’ you, John declared that you will not survive, or reach eternity with Christ. Friends, as we live out everything that God has buried deep into our hearts, He will receive glory from those blessed by those ‘fruit’ that we produce. When we are merely following the crowd, or living a life of traditional church attendance, or imitating what other Christians do, and we have not sought personal forgiveness from God, and received a repentant, or changed heart – one just like His, then like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we are living on a slippery slope – one that can only lead all the way down to Hell. A New Year is a perfect time to seek a new heart – a repentant and changed heart that reflects the Master who you’ve invited to be your Lord. Please consider reading on to the Footnote for more information on how you might go about this transformation. Perhaps 2019 might be the year that you might seek baptism – a genuine one that celebrates a truly repentant heart!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for salvation, and thank You for the message expressed through baptism. Please touch the hearts of all those that will read this devotional, especially those who imitate a Christian life, but have not accepted the One who gives a repentant heart so that we might take on His attributes and bear His fruit. True Christianity comes from a repentant heart, one filled with Jesus Christ. Bearing ‘fruit’, can only happen if the True Vine (Jesus) has taken up residence inside of us. Lord, for each reader today, I pray that it may be so. AMEN!

A Changed Heart

It was becoming quite a popular thing for people to go down to the river and be baptized by John the Baptist, and John quickly recognized that it was becoming quite the popular thing for folk to do in following the crowd. John felt an obligation to Jesus Christ to make sure that this was not becoming a popularity thing but rather one that followed the teachings of Jesus. We will explore how applicable this is to us today….

Post Date:

Thursday, 2017-06-29
SCRIPTURE

From:

Luke 3:7-9 (MSG)

Text:

7-9 When crowds of people came out for baptism because it was the popular thing to do, John exploded: “Brood of snakes! What do you think you’re doing slithering down here to the river? Do you think a little water on your snakeskins is going to deflect God’s judgment? It’s your life that must change, not your skin. And don’t think you can pull rank by claiming Abraham as ‘father.’ Being a child of Abraham is neither here nor there—children of Abraham are a dime a dozen. God can make children from stones if he wants. What counts is your life. Is it green and blossoming? Because if it’s deadwood, it goes on the fire.”
OBSERVATION:
It was becoming quite a popular thing for people to go down to the river and be baptized by John the Baptist, and John quickly recognized that it was becoming quite the popular thing for folk to do in following the crowd. John felt an obligation to Jesus Christ to make sure that this was not becoming a popularity thing but rather one that followed the teachings of Jesus. We will explore how applicable this is to us today….
APPLICATION:
As a very young child, my daughter saw a friend baptized, and for weeks afterwards she tried to convince her mom and I on why she should be baptized. I believe that there may be lots of younger people that want the attention of parents, Bible School teachers and  friends, or they may run to the pastor without fully understanding the purpose of baptism. There are others that are willing to take this step as a way to get mom, spouse, or perhaps a friend who had been witnessing to them, off their back. In our Scripture reading today we can see how John addressed this, and I’m sure we could follow his example on how to handle similar questions by others. However, we must feel comfortable sharing this in our own words. May I encourage you to click on the Scripture link above and read what Paul taught on this? The main emphasis is that the prospective candidate can clearly tell you how they were Spiritually saved, and also how Jesus has changed their way of living, because now they are about to show witness to the church at large and the world, that there has been a mega change in their life since inviting Jesus to be their Lord and Savior. The candidate must know clearly that baptism has no saving grace, but is scriptural because it demonstrates to the world an inward decision that you made at some point in your life. Friends, in following the commands of Jesus, I pray that you will demonstrate a full understanding of what He demands of you in His Word and not just follow the crowd as the popular thing to do, otherwise God may send another ‘John’ to rebuke you, like he did in this scripture. I encourage you to be brave in declaring to the world that you are a child of the King and that you don’t mind anyone knowing that. Being ashamed of the Lord here on earth might be reason for Jesus to disclaim you before His Father, according to His words in Scripture. If you haven’t surrendered your life to Jesus, then baptism is a mockery to the church and you are telling the world a lie. However, baptism is encouraged for those who have sincerely surrendered their heart and life to Jesus. 
PRAYER:
Lord Jesus, You know how much we love baptismal services, because as a church, we celebrate with the candidates the decisions that have been made, and the miraculous change that God has made in their lives! It re-enforces the necessity for the church and personal evangelism. It confirms Your work dear Lord, because only You could truly touch and change broken and sinful lives. May we continue to be about Your work oh Lord, and may You continue to touch the hearts of those that are in need of a Savior. We long to celebrate baptism often as a means of celebrating the wondrous works of our Lord. To You we give hearts filled with glory, honor and praise for all that You do in the center of our family, friends and loved ones. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE:
There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’.  If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog could indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely to subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, located at 3750 Hammock Rd, Sebring, FL 33872! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!