Baptism, A Welcome Death

Baptism is a death. We don’t often look at it this way, because we like to focus on the “new life” aspect of baptism. Rightfully so!

But we shouldn’t miss what Paul tells us here in Romans chapter 6. Paul states that we were buried with Christ through baptism. And he tells us this in answering a question about grace.

People were wondering, “If, as Paul teaches, the more we sin, the more grace increases, then what’s the downside to sin? Why not just keep on sinning? That way, we really put the grace of God on a pedestal!”

Paul responds to this line of thinking by simply saying, “That’s the logic of the old of way of life. We don’t think that way anymore and we don’t live that way any more, because we’ve died to all that.”

He goes on to reassure us that we have also been given a new life. Our old sinful self has been crucified with Christ. Our bodies are no longer ruled by sin. We are no longer slaves to sin. We’ve been set free.

What does this look like in daily life? Paul is not suggesting that we will live a sinless life from baptism on. You can check Romans chapter 7 for more detail on that.

But he is saying that — for those who follow Christ — a life of being a slave to sin is over. A life invested in the single-minded, ruthless and unscrupulous pursuit of sin no longer has any meaning or purpose for us. A life spent in chasing the pleasures of lust, greed, power and wealth just doesn’t have the power over our hearts that it once did.

Our whole way of thinking, our entire purpose in life, has changed. We follow Christ.

We’ve been baptized!

“We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. For we know that our old self was crucified with him so that the body ruled by sin might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves to sin—because anyone who has died has been set free from sin” (Romans 6:4-7, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Monday, July 20 is Hosea 1:1 – 2:23, Romans 6:1-14 and Psalm 87:1-7.

Lord, thank you for my baptism. I want to live in it ever day. Help me to enjoy my freedom. I am no longer a slave of sin. And while sin will always be present in my life, it can no longer control my life. That’s because you, Jesus, now control my life. You are the master and ruler of my heart. And what a fantastic new life that brings me!

Spring of Life

Water is the source of life. But as important as water is to us, it’s a resource that we need to refresh frequently, if we want to stay alive.

Dehydration is quite dangerous. We can actually survive a long time without food. Dina Spector of Business Insider reports, “A person can last for more than three weeks without food (Mahatma Gandhi, for instance, survived 21 days of complete starvation), but water is a different story. At least 60% of the adult body is made of it and every living cell in the body needs it to keep functioning. Water acts as a lubricant for our joints, regulates our body temperature through sweating and respiration, and helps to flush waste.”

She goes on to state, “The maximum time an individual can go without water seems to be a week. However, one week is a generous estimate. Three to four days would be more typical. ‘You can go 100 hours without drinking at an average temperature outdoors,’ Claude Piantadosi of Duke University reports. ‘If it’s cooler, you can go a little longer. If you are exposed to direct sunlight, it’s less.'”

Imagine if there was a source of water — a source of life — that would never need to be replenished.

Jesus promises more that that. He promises that when we put faith in him as our source of life, he will not only be for us an unrelenting source of life, but he will turn us into sub-sources of eternal life for others — as we share the good news of Jesus Christ and his forgiveness, peace and joy.

“Jesus answered, ‘Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life'” (John 4:13-14, NIV).

Our Bible reading for Monday, May 4, is Judges 1:1 – 2:5, John 4:1-26 and Proverbs 11:9-18.

Jesus, thank you for telling me plainly that you are my true source of life. You are a source that never needs to be replenished. If I simply trust you as my Lord and Savior, I have the all the life I could ever need. In fact, I have so much life, that I can now share life with others! Help me, by your Spirit’s power, to do just that!

Header image based on "Fall Creek (Revisited)" by Nicholas A. Tonelli, CC By 2.0

Plenty of Fish

The truth is that a Christian should expect to be unpopular. And he should fully anticipate that he will be treated that way.

Why? Truth is, sometimes it’s us. We’re sinful, and we put our sins on display far more often than we’d like to admit it.

But sometimes it’s not us. At all. In those cases, Jesus says it’s not personal. At least, it’s not personal to you or me. It’s personal to Jesus. We will be hated because of him.

His direction to us in these situations is clear. Hang in there! Stand firm. Don’t let go of Jesus. Don’t let your faith slip away.

And don’t feel compelled to stay where you’re not liked, either. When you’re rejected in one place, Jesus says, head on to the next. After all, there are plenty of fish in the sea. As a fisher of men, don’t waste a lot of time with those who don’t care much for your message. Find a better fishing hole and go on to those who are receptive.

Pull a page from Isaac’s book, in other words. Isaac was not well liked in his day. In fact, he was so disliked that anytime he and his men dug a well, his enemies would track him down and stop up the well, filling it with dirt. Or simply steal it outright. Each time, Isaac simply retreated to a new location and dug another well.

What Isaac did in the physical realm with obtaining water, is what Jesus recommends in the spiritual realm with sharing the Water of Life.

Open up the well. Share the Water. If someone resists you, don’t get hung up quarreling. Move on. God will take care of you. And God will take care of his message.

“You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another… 27 What I tell you in the dark, speak in the daylight; what is whispered in your ear, proclaim from the roofs. 28 Do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather, be afraid of the One who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29 Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. 30 And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. 31 So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Matthew 10:22-23a, 28-31, NIV). 

Lord, help me discern who is truly thirsty when I share your gospel. You are the Water of Life. But you have not called us to force-feed anyone. As I trust you for the growth of your kingdom, make me ready to move on to the next person you have in mind for me, even when the unpopularity of the gospel message makes me feel discouraged. Help me to understand that hatred for your message is not unusual, or restricted to me. You “called it” 2000 years ago, and told me to expect this. And you will strengthen me and protect me, because I am worth a great deal to you–worth the very life of your Son, Jesus.

Our reading for Monday, January 12, is Genesis 25:1 – 26:35, Matthew 10:1-31, and Proverbs 1:20-33.

Header image based on "Fishers" by McCaffrey, CC by 2.0

Stay Thirsty in 2015

One day soon, it will happen (Revelation 22:10). We’ll ring in not just a new year, but a whole new universe (Revelation 21:1-2). Everything we see now, every possession we hold dear in this life will disappear.

But—and here’s the best news—it will be replaced. It will be replaced by something and Someone far more beautiful, and way more perfect.

And this will come along with every blessing imaginable. In fact, it will come with every blessing unimaginable as well.

How do you participate? Jesus says you’re invited! The ticket in is his gift to you. And drinks are on him!

“The Spirit and the bride say, “Come!” And let the one who hears say, “Come!” Let the one who is thirsty come; and let the one who wishes take the free gift of the water of life” (Revelation 22:17, NIV).

Stay thirsty, my friends! Stay thirsty in 2015.

Lord Jesus, you are the water of life. Keep me thirsty for you in 2015. Thank you for the free gift of eternal life, and for the invitation for all of us to join you there.

Our Bible reading for Wednesday, December 31, is Malachi 1:1 – 4:6, Psalm 150:1-6, Proverbs 31:10-31 and Revelation 21:1 – 22:21.