Welcome to the P.J. (Pastor J) Sound Theology Blog

Friday, January 30, 2009

Hallelujah: The highest praise...

Thank God it's Friday... This has been a long but blessed week, it has had it's ups and down but God has brought us through to the end of the week. Let's take time out to praise God. In today's scripture for reflection the psalmist writes a song of praise (hallelujah).

Psalm 111 1 -10 Hallelujah! I give thanks to God with everything I've got—

Wherever good people gather, and in the congregation. God's works are so great, worth A lifetime of study—endless enjoyment! Splendor and beauty mark his craft; His generosity never gives out. His miracles are his memorial— This God of Grace, this God of Love. He gave food to those who fear him, He remembered to keep his ancient promise. He proved to his people that he could do what he said: Hand them the nations on a platter—a gift! He manufactures truth and justice; All his products are guaranteed to last— Never out-of-date, never obsolete, rust-proof. All that he makes and does is honest and true: He paid the ransom for his people, He ordered his Covenant kept forever. He's so personal and holy, worthy of our respect. The good life begins in the fear of God Do that and you'll know the blessing of God. His Hallelujah lasts forever!

Today and this weekend let's praise God with our all. The scripture is pretty much self explanatory, but i would challenge us not only to praise exuberantly, but to pray fiercely, evangelize radically, and expect God to react with overwhelming favor and blessings.
As I always say delivered people are dangerous~ let's live out or deliverance in bold new ways starting this weekend.


Be Well everyone, until Tuesday- Love Pastor J.

Thursday, January 29, 2009

God is with us...

When people find out that I am a pastor, I am bombarded with theological questions. I am often asked everything from does God really exist to do dogs go to heaven?

The most common question by far is why can't we hear or see God like they did in biblical days?

My answer to this is are we really listening. God is the same God today as God was thousand of years ago. I believe that god does interact differently with us since Christ coming, however God is still with us and is still working through chosen persons/ prophets.

Our scripture for reflection today comes from the Old Testament, and the people are requesting that God sends them a leader after Moses, a new prophet. God assures the people that the will receive a new prophet who will speak for God to them.

I believe that like the days during the text, today God is still using persons to speak for God to us. We must listen and discern. The truth is that just like then their are real prophets and false prophets. Our spiritual discernment will equip us to know the difference.

Deuteronomy 18:15-20 15 -16 God, your God, is going to raise up a prophet for you. God will raise him up from among your kinsmen, a prophet like me. Listen obediently to him. This is what you asked God, your God, for at Horeb on the day you were all gathered at the mountain and said, "We can't hear any more from God, our God; we can't stand seeing any more fire. We'll die!"

17 -19 And God said to me, "They're right; they've spoken the truth. I'll raise up for them a prophet like you from their kinsmen. I'll tell him what to say and he will pass on to them everything I command him. And anyone who won't listen to my words spoken by him, I will personally hold responsible.

20 "But any prophet who fakes it, who claims to speak in my name something I haven't commanded him to say, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die."


Until tomorrow Love and Be Well...

Pastor J

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Rank,Titles, Lables: It's not about me & It's not about you!

Today's society is all about labels, titles, name recognition and rank. Even I have fallen prey to this ideology of titles and positions as I recently found myself googleing my name to see what type of flattering information came up. Time and time again I have had to remind myself that titles don't matter, which becomes even harder when others are always trying to label you. On any given day I am called Reverend, Pastor, Minister, Sir, Mr. African American. Black, American, Young Man, Priest and more.

What names are you called?

Well the fact of the matter is that because of our status, education, positions or titles we can sometimes get the big head. Paul in our text refers to being puffed up or overly proud. In our context one might just say "we get stuck on or full of our self". When we put things in perspective however all of these labels really don't mean anything. Truth be told life really is not about you or me. (Yes you read it right) I know it's hard to take but life really is not about us. As Christians we believe that our purpose is to love one another and God, praise and worship God, as well as to serve God by bringing others to Christ. All the things we accomplish and status we achieve is really just for our earthly benefit but it's not about us.

In our text for today's reflection the Apostle Paul reminds us that it's not about us, our knowledge, what we eat or don't eat but about God. We are not to make others stumble but direct them safely to God. Let's look to the text:

1 Corinthians 8

1 Now I want to deal with food offered to statues of gods.

We know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge makes people proud. But love builds them up. 2 Those who think they know something still don't know as they should. 3 But those who love God are known by God.

4 So then, here is what I say about eating food that is offered to statues of gods. We know that a god made by human hands is really nothing at all in the world. We know there is only one God. 5 There may be so-called gods either in heaven or on earth. In fact, there are many "gods" and many "lords." 6 But for us there is only one God. He is the Father. All things came from him, and we live for him. And there is only one Lord. He is Jesus Christ. All things came because of him, and we live because of him.

7 But not everyone knows that. Some people still think that statues of gods are real gods. When they eat food that was offered to statues of gods, they think of it as food that was offered to real gods. And because they have a weak sense of what is right and wrong, they feel guilty. 8 But food doesn't bring us close to God. We are no worse if we don't eat. We are no better if we do eat.

9 But be careful how you use your freedom. Be sure it doesn't trip up someone who is weaker than you.

10 Suppose you who have that knowledge are eating in a temple of one of those gods. And suppose someone who has a weak sense of what is right and wrong sees you. Won't that person become bold and eat what has been offered to statues of gods? 11 If so, then your knowledge destroys that weak brother or sister for whom Christ died.

12 When you sin against other believers in that way, you harm their weak sense of what is right and wrong. By doing that you sin against Christ.

13 So what should I do if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin? I will never eat meat again. In that way, I will not cause them to fall.

Brothers and Sisters, today QUIT BEING SO SELF CENTERED, remember it's not all about you. There is nothing wrong with living life to the fullest, remember that life is for the living. Also remember that as Christians we live with a purpose to bring others to Christ, stumble free.

Live, Love and enjoy but remember at the end of the day it's about God, not about you!

BE WELL, Pastor J (there I go again with the titles)

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

We have the Authority, We have the Power!

Good Tuesday Morning All,
Today's text reminds us that as Christians we have a certain power and authority over those negative forces and spirits in our lives.

Mark 1: 21-28

They went to Capernaum; and when the sabbath came, he entered the synagogue and taught. 22They were astounded at his teaching, for he taught them as one having authority, and not as the scribes. 23Just then there was in their synagogue a man with an unclean spirit, 24and he cried out, ‘What have you to do with us, Jesus of Nazareth? Have you come to destroy us? I know who you are, the Holy One of God.’ 25But Jesus rebuked him, saying, ‘Be silent, and come out of him!’ 26And the unclean spirit, throwing him into convulsions and crying with a loud voice, came out of him. 27They were all amazed, and they kept on asking one another, ‘What is this? A new teaching—with authority! Hecommands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.’ 28At once his fame began to spread throughout the surrounding region of Galilee.

If you are anything like me then you have already had an extremely long week and it's just Tuesday. Over the past week I have been very blessed and many things in my life have went well. However life is full of ups and downs so with the good come the bad. Or should I say it like the text, at the most inopportune times negative forces or spirits arise to disturb, disrupt, and stop us.

In the text Jesus was minding his own business in the Church teaching, (he was doing the right thing/ working). When all of the people were learning and supporting the teachings and unclean spirit in a man cries out. This disrupts the entire flow of what Jesus was currently doing. many times in our lives we are disrupted just like Jesus in the middle of our good thing.

But Jesus does two things; 1) he silences the spirit telling it to shut up and be quiet. We must have faith that because we follow God we two have the ability to silence the negative forces in our lives.
2) Jesus commanded the spirit to come out of the man and be gone. These two things proved that Jesus had authority over the spirit. As followers of Christ we too have authority over the negative forces in our lives. I don't know what negative forces or unclean spirits you may battle against but I know it's hard and at times you are afraid and even loose faith that you can overcome. I feel like this as well at times. But you and I must remember that we have power and authority through Jesus to overcome all obstacles, to make it through all situations.

God loves and protects us, but God also equips with power and authority. As Christians "you got the juice now" -The movie Juice-

Until tomorrow, I pray that God keeps a hedge around you and empowers you to keep the faith silencing all negative forces and keeping all unclean spirits far from you.

Be Well, Love Pastor J

Friday, January 23, 2009

Together We Stand?

Our text for reflection today comes from 1st Corinthians 7:25-35
Let's look to the text:

Now concerning virgins, I have no command of the Lord, but I give my opinion as one who by the Lord’s mercy is trustworthy. 26I think that, in view of the impending crisis, it is well for you to remain as you are. 27Are you bound to a wife? Do not seek to be free. Are you free from a wife? Do not seek a wife. 28But if you marry, you do not sin, and if a virgin marries, she does not sin. Yet those who marry will experience distress in this life, and I would spare you that. 29I mean, brothers and sisters, the appointed time has grown short; from now on, let even those who have wives be as though they had none, 30and those who mourn as though they were not mourning, and those who rejoice as though they were not rejoicing, and those who buy as though they had no possessions, 31and those who deal with the world as though they had no dealings with it. For the present form of this world is passing away.

32 I want you to be free from anxieties. The unmarried man is anxious about the affairs of the Lord, how to please the Lord; 33but the married man is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please his wife, 34and his interests are divided. And the unmarried woman and the virgin are anxious about the affairs of the Lord, so that they may be holy in body and spirit; but the married woman is anxious about the affairs of the world, how to please her husband. 35I say this for your own benefit, not to put any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and unhindered devotion to the Lord.

This week has truly been historic, and our country has been energized. We have been reminded by our new president that we all need to work together to fix our country's problems and to prepare for our future generations. I believe that Paul was writing to the church at Corinth reminding them that he was speaking from his heart about how we need to come together. Paul was not condemning marriage or relationships but was saying that people are too divided based on their own devotions and desires. For Paul we need to focus more on being devoted to God, and the common good of all people.

One of the themes we have heard during the week has been SERVICE, we have all been asked by our government to give more of ourselves in service to each other. I believe that this is at the heart of our scripture today. During the time that Paul was writing this letter the people of Corinth were in the middle of a great drought, and the country was poor and barren. Paul wanted to unite the Christians and the country so that all would be better off. (sound a little familiar?)

This week and indeed today's text reminds me of the words of JFK " ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country" This weekend spend sometime reflecting on how you can become more involved in the lives of others by serving and helping. Let's agree to be more inclusive and less distracted by our own agendas.

Together We do Stand.

Until Tuesday, Be Well

Pastor J.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

Why are you a Christian, Why do you go to Church, Why do you Believe?

Good morning all, I pray that your week has been eventful and is going well. Today's text for reflection reminds me of what it means to be a Christian as well as why I am a Christian, and I hope after some thought and reflection this text will help all of you to remember and answer the same.

Lets look to Mark 1: 14-20

14 Now after John was arrested, Jesus came to Galilee, proclaiming the good news of God, 15and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God has come near; repent, and believe in the good news.

16 As Jesus passed along the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting a net into the lake—for they were fishermen. 17And Jesus said to them, ‘Follow me and I will make you fish for people.’ 18And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19As he went a little farther, he saw James son of Zebedee and his brother John, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20Immediately he called them; and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired men, and followed him.

When we examine the text we see that after John, Jesus came offering the people something to believe in, The Good News, The Truth. That's why I am a Christian. For me Christ is the truth, and the bible is the good news that helps me make in in a world of hate, chaos, and pain. Christ offers away to sustain, peace and joy.

Next Jesus calls the disciples, a group of fishermen who had good jobs but were unfilled with their work and indeed their lives. Christ invites them to do real and relevant ministry in the world by becoming fishers of men. This is why I attend church and work within the church, because I have responded to Christ call to work and be fishers of men, women, and children making the world a better place for all of us one person at a time.

I believe because I've seen the difference in my life as well as in the lives of others. Yes Jesus is real, for he has washed and made me whole, Jesus is real for I can feel him in my soul.

Today, I invite you to reflect on this scripture and ask yourself WHY? I'm sure that your reasons will be different than mine and that's good because God speaks to each one a little differently.

Let's Pray: Dear God, please continue to reveal yourself to us daily. Strengthen us to deal with all that life brings, it's ups and downs. Encourage us to go forward and be fishers of people showing them the same grace, compassion, and forgiveness that you have shown us. Make us strong and empower us to change the world one person at a time. A-Men

Be Well, Pastor J

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

And they believed...

Jonah 3

The word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time, saying, 2‘Get up, go to Nineveh, that great city, and proclaim to it the message that I tell you.’ 3So Jonah set out and went to Nineveh, according to the word of the Lord. Now Nineveh was an exceedingly large city, a three days’ walk across. 4Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s walk. And he cried out, ‘Forty days more, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!’ 5And the people of Nineveh believed God; they proclaimed a fast, and everyone, great and small, put on sackcloth.

We are familiar with the book of Jonah and most have heard about Jonah and the whale, but when we look closer we see the real reason for the book, the story, and the situation. REDEMPTION. Often we focus on Jonah and his issues with his enemies, his struggles on the sea, and him not understanding what God was doing. All of that misses the point which isthat the people changed and were redeemed.

God used Jonah as a vessel of truth calling the people of Nineveh to accountability, but this offered them redemption. Friends, Jonah was offered this same redemption, so are we. Praise God that God forgives. God forgave the people of Nineveh, God forgave Jonah for disobedience and God forgives us. All we must do is accept, change and believe... And believe.

The people believed. I challenge you today as you go out into the world, to go out living this day placing all of your faith and trust in God. I promise it will change how you act, react, and are viewed. Let us began to work on ourselves for the building up of the kingdom today. That way tomorrow we may be able to be the Jonah for others. Believe.

Love Pastor J.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Why, why, Why?

Why do bad things happen to us, why do we do so much wrong, why do we hate our jobs? Why God why, when you know us, you are always with us why so much freedom?

Well our scripture for today's reflection address the why. God does know us, God does love us, but we also have a part to play no matter how imperfect and sinful we are. We must constantly rely on God and try to live as righteous as possible no madder how hard it is.

Psalm 139

To the leader. Of David. A Psalm.
1O Lord, you have searched me and known me.
2You know when I sit down and when I rise up;
you discern my thoughts from far away.
3You search out my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
4Even before a word is on my tongue,
O Lord, you know it completely.
5You hem me in, behind and before,
and lay your hand upon me.
6Such knowledge is too wonderful for me;
it is so high that I cannot attain it.

7Where can I go from your spirit?
Or where can I flee from your presence?
8If I ascend to heaven, you are there;
if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there.
9If I take the wings of the morning
and settle at the farthest limits of the sea,
10even there your hand shall lead me,
and your right hand shall hold me fast.
11If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me,
and the light around me become night’,
12even the darkness is not dark to you;
the night is as bright as the day,
for darkness is as light to you.

13For it was you who formed my inward parts;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
14I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
that I know very well.
15 My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
16Your eyes beheld my unformed substance.
In your book were written
all the days that were formed for me,
when none of them as yet existed.
17How weighty to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
18I try to count them—they are more than the sand;
I come to the end I am still with you.

No matter how hard it gets remember that God loves you and that God is with you.
Until next time love,
Pastor J

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

That nagging feeling!

Have you ever had a nagging and uneasy constant feeling? You know a feeling like someone is watching you, calling you or talking about you? How about a restless night where you just couldn't sleep, eat or rest no matter what?

Many of us if we are honest with ourselves experience days, nights and times like these. Usually we feel like this when we are under great stress, busy times, or during times of extreme worry. We find ourselves unable to rest or have any sense of peace because all of these other things are on our minds and are receiving all of our attention.

In our text for reflection today we focus on Samuel. Samuel was also unable to rest because of that nagging feeling.

Let's look to 1st Samuel 3:1-20

1 -3The boy Samuel was serving God under Eli's direction. This was at a time when the revelation of God was rarely heard or seen. One night Eli was sound asleep (his eyesight was very bad—he could hardly see). It was well before dawn; the sanctuary lamp was still burning. Samuel was still in bed in the Temple of God, where the Chest of God rested.

4 -5 Then God called out, "Samuel, Samuel!"

Samuel answered, "Yes? I'm here." Then he ran to Eli saying, "I heard you call. Here I am."

Eli said, "I didn't call you. Go back to bed." And so he did.

6 -7 God called again, "Samuel, Samuel!"

Samuel got up and went to Eli, "I heard you call. Here I am."

Again Eli said, "Son, I didn't call you. Go back to bed." (This all happened before Samuel knew God for himself. It was before the revelation of God had been given to him personally.)

8 -9 God called again, "Samuel!"—the third time! Yet again Samuel got up and went to Eli, "Yes? I heard you call me. Here I am."

That's when it dawned on Eli that God was calling the boy. So Eli directed Samuel, "Go back and lie down. If the voice calls again, say, 'Speak, God. I'm your servant, ready to listen.'" Samuel returned to his bed.

10 Then God came and stood before him exactly as before, calling out, "Samuel! Samuel!"

Samuel answered, "Speak. I'm your servant, ready to listen."

11 -14 God said to Samuel, "Listen carefully. I'm getting ready to do something in Israel that is going to shake everyone up and get their attention. The time has come for me to bring down on Eli's family everything I warned him of, every last word of it. I'm letting him know that the time's up. I'm bringing judgment on his family for good. He knew what was going on, that his sons were desecrating God's name and God's place, and he did nothing to stop them. This is my sentence on the family of Eli: The evil of Eli's family can never be wiped out by sacrifice or offering."

15 Samuel stayed in bed until morning, then rose early and went about his duties, opening the doors of the sanctuary, but he dreaded having to tell the vision to Eli.

16 But then Eli summoned Samuel: "Samuel, my son!"

Samuel came running: "Yes? What can I do for you?"

17 "What did he say? Tell it to me, all of it. Don't suppress or soften one word, as God is your judge! I want it all, word for word as he said it to you."

18 So Samuel told him, word for word. He held back nothing.

Eli said, "He is God. Let him do whatever he thinks best."

19 -21 Samuel grew up. God was with him, and Samuel's prophetic record was flawless. Everyone in Israel, from Dan in the north to Beersheba in the south, recognized that Samuel was the real thing—a true prophet of God. God continued to show up at Shiloh, revealed through his word to Samuel at Shiloh.

Samuel was unable to sleep because he felt that Eli was calling him to do something, his nagging feeling (he thought) was Eli calling him to do something. But Samuel was wrong, he was focused on the wrong thing and person in Eli. We are at times like Samuel and we remain focused on the wrong things, people and content doing our usual busy work which does not help us. We continue to do the same things and get the same results, more sleep lost and fall deeper into despair.

Instead of the behavior above we too should heed the wisdom and words of Eli, we should sit back, listen, let go and let God work on us, work with us and work through us.

When we get that nagging feeling maybe it's God trying to get our attention and lead us out of our current situation to do ministry for the building of the kingdom of God.
This week brothers and sister lets focus more on hearing the voice of God in our life, than our problems and issues. Let's allow God to direct our steps in all aspects of our life.

Until tomorrow, Be Well.
Pastor J

Friday, January 9, 2009

Embracing Hope...

So today is Friday, and I am sitting in my office listening to talk/ news radio as story after story comes over the airwaves about corrupt politicians, political scandals, economic stimulus bailouts, falling stocks, winter weather alerts, power outages and job loss. Not to mention many overwhelming stories of death, violence and just plain bad news in the local news paper.

It's only 1:00p.m. and I have already had three phone calls from friends and family who are depressed, discontent, and disturbed with employment situations, finances, relationships and life in general. It's Friday, the beginning of the weekend and we still are having hard times finding reasons to rejoice. All around us people seem to be cautious, suspicious, and down or out.

As I began to think about how we can pull our selves out of these emotional, intellectual, and Spiritual ruts; I am reminded of the words of my sister "We Need Hope". How true do these words ring, especially today. Don't you need HOPE? I need Hope! I believe we all need HOPE!

That's it, as I reflect on all I have heard, read, and encountered today in all of it there has been an underlining theme of hopeless eternity. But as children of God, and as those who believe that God is with us we must EMBRACE HOPE! Not hope in ourselves, or man made hope, but we must embrace God given hope. Hope that lives within us from our experiences, hope from the testimonies of Grandma, hope from the word of God.

Let us look toward three text today for ways to embrace hope.
1)Ephesians 3:20-21
20 Now to him who by the power at work within us is able to accomplish abundantly far more than all we can ask or imagine, 21to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, for ever and ever. Amen.

If we just rely on and place our hope in the Lord, God will do more through and for us than we can even imagine or ask. We must just hold on and HOPE on. Let go and let God work your situation out.

2)Hebrews 6:19-20
19We have this hope, a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters the inner shrine behind the curtain, 20where Jesus, a forerunner on our behalf, has entered, having become a high priest for ever according to the order of Melchizedek.

Imagine Jesus as he prayed in the garden the night he was arrested for God to let this task of giving his life to pass before him. But Jesus was anchored in the hope that what he had to go through would work out for the good of the world. Now Jesus as one who faced the ultimate trials, intercedes on our behalf in the most sacred places.

We will all face our days and nights in the garden, but we face these hard times embracing the hope that God through Christ is with us and is acting on our behalf. Let our hope become the anchor for our souls.

3) James 1:2-4
2 My brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy, 3because you know that the testing of your faith produces endurance; 4and let endurance have its full effect, so that you may be mature and complete, lacking in nothing.

Finally, know that in life your hope, faith, and love of God will be tested. Embrace hope and keep up your endurance, be strong in your faith to over come and surpass your trials, tribulations and storms.

Family, friends loved ones- today Embrace the Hope that God is with us and indeed will see us through.

Until next time, Be Well
Pastor J

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

All the people were going out to him, and were baptized

The people in the text of Mark were looking for something. They were fed up with the religious leaders of the time and they lived under Roman oppression. The people had hard lives and they needed relief, a sense of hope, and redemption.

Our text for reflection today provides the people relief from oppression as well as hope, forgiveness and redemption through their baptism and the coming of Christ. Let's look to the text:

Mark 1:4-11

1:4 John the baptizer appeared in the wilderness, proclaiming a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.

1:5 And people from the whole Judean countryside and all the people of Jerusalem were going out to him, and were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

1:6 Now John was clothed with camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey.

1:7 He proclaimed, "The one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to stoop down and untie the thong of his sandals.

1:8 I have baptized you with water; but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit."

1:9 In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan.

1:10 And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him.

1:11 And a voice came from heaven, "You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased."

Even though John was 20 miles outside of the city wall people were still coming out to him in search of something and John as different as he was offered them a baptism of repentance and forgiveness, pointing to Jesus who would change the world and baptize them in the Holy Spirit.

Once Jesus was baptized the world changed, God was pleased with the humanity of Jesus and the Holy Spirit embodied him for the work ahead.

Today I again ask the question, what's going on in your life that you need relief and freedom from? What are you seeking? How far are you willing to travel or what are you willing to do in order to find peace? I believe that if you continue to seek Christ you will find the freedom, relief, and peace you seek.

In coming to have a relationship with God through Christ, God is pleased with us and the Holy Spirit will come upon us empowering us to go forward changing the world. The world if full of hurting people including ourselves, but as those who know God we go out to the wilderness places of the world inviting others to come, know Christ and gain relief and find freedom through baptism.

This week we will continue to look at baptism in many different ways seeking to more fully understand the need for baptism in our faith.
Be Well, Pastor J.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

Into what then were you baptized?

Greetings to everyone, we haven't communicated since last year. Therefore I pray that you have had a blessed and safe New Year. As we plunge into 2009 we enter the first Sunday after the Epiphany. (Epiphany- meaning the revelation of Jesus as the Messiah by the Wise men and indeed the world.) This is why we take theses few weeks of the new year remembering what the birth of Jesus means to us as well as what it means for us to be baptized and to live out our baptism through our Christian discipleship in the world.

Our scripture for reflection today is taken from Acts 19:1-7. This scripture speaks to us living as Christians in the world and ask the question into what then were we baptized?

Acts 19:1-7

19:1 While Apollos was in Corinth, Paul passed through the interior regions and came to Ephesus, where he found some disciples.

19:2 He said to them, "Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you became believers?" They replied, "No, we have not even heard that there is a Holy Spirit."

19:3 Then he said, "Into what then were you baptized?" They answered, "Into John's baptism."

19:4 Paul said, "John baptized with the baptism of repentance, telling the people to believe in the one who was to come after him, that is, in Jesus."

19:5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.

19:6 When Paul had laid his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied--

19:7 altogether there were about twelve of them.

Paul speaks to some believers of Christ in our text, who were followers also of John the Baptist, and they were indeed baptized by John, but it was just a baptism of repentance and forgiveness. Many of us are baptized and think or believe that being baptized is enough to please God and earn our way into heaven. I would argue today that baptism is important and a relevant sacrament of the church to serve as an outward sign of an inward and bigger transformation of our entire selves.

Meaning that being baptized should be more about being filled with and renewed by the Holy Spirit than the outward use of water. Paul was telling these disciples that Johns baptism served the purpose of forgiving, but being baptized in the Holy Spirit not only forgives but invites indwelling of the Holy Spirit compelling all to go in service.

The last two verses of the text says that they began to get the Spirit and speak, pray and worship. Do you remember your baptism? Into what were you baptized? Were you just baptized because you were told to, or heard that you were supposed to be? Or once you were baptized was your life changed by the love of Christ, the comfort of the Holy Spirit and the grace of God?

Brothers and Sisters I invite you to remember your baptism and think about how your life has been changed, and if it has not then I invite you to allow your life to be changed. If you have not been baptized then I encourage you to search yourself and inquire about being baptized both physically and spiritually, allowing your life to be changed by the empowering Holy Spirit.

I understand that this subject is complex, and it is to broad for me to cover in great detail so
for more on the subject of baptism feel free to contact me at revsirchester@yahoo.com or 773-626-3626.

Until next time be well, Pastor J