Monday, October 10, 2011

In the Waters of Baptism

A Devotional by Margot Cioccio

Mark 1:8 I baptize you with water,
but he will baptize you
with the Holy Spirit.”

Today we celebrated baptism at our church. It was pretty cool because it was a mix of folks. A few were long time Christians who just had not ever been baptized but the majority were people who were in the early part of a journey out of some very difficult life circumstances. They were realizing that they need Jesus if they were going to make it at all. They had come to the end of their self sufficiency and life on their own terms.  There was one who had put off baptism because she was waiting till she really felt like she was a better believer.  She realized that baptism was not about being perfect enough. In her mind she was not a good enough Christian and she put off baptism thinking that one day she would be.  There was  a 9 year old child who professed that he was ready to follow Jesus for the rest of his life.  All in all it was a very special day.

I had talked with my pastor earlier in the morning about if John the Baptist had interviewed each baptism candidate to see if they were qualified for baptism. We both agreed that we thought that practice came into the church later on.  In my Bible I read believe and be baptized. In Acts 8:12
But when they believed Philip as he preached the good news of the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women."
It does not say they were model Christains walking in complete righteousness and holyness. It says they believed and the next step was they were baptized.

Recently the topic of the sermon was about the baptism of Jesus and why did Jesus need to be baptized.  Was it just a symbolic expression of obedience? Did He just get wet or did something of a spiritual nature happen at the time. In the case of Jesus' baptism there is the account  Luke3: 21 When all the people were being baptized, Jesus was baptized too. And as he was praying, heaven was opened 22 and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.”

Is our baptism just a outward sign of an inward change or does God impart something in that momeent that in some way helps us to better live and walk out our life as a believer?  What was concluded was if it is merely a symbol, than one has been obedient and has gotten wet. If something more happens and we don't follow the Lord in being baptism perhaps we are missing out on something that God really wants to impart to us in that instant. 

I don't know where you are at as you think about baptism. I believe the people who were baptized today recieced an impartation of hands being laid on them and prayers being prayed over them, they went under the waters of baptism and came up into a new life. What will God do in and through those lives? What might He want to do in your?

I feel like I am writing this for someone who has put off being baptized for a long time. Perhaps you are struggling in your walk with the Lord. Maybe this is a confirmation of something God has been nudging you to do.  Maybe you are waiting for the perfect setting or for your own perfection. I just have this strong sense that who ever you are that God is trying to get your attention on this subject. That there is something that He wants to impart to you. While it may simply be just symbolic - what if is more. What if there is something you need that He wants to give you in that instant.

I think of the story of Naaman who had leprosy. He is not from Israel and yet he has heard that the answer and the healing he needs could be found in Israel. You can read the story in 2 Kings 5.  He goes to visit Elisha the prophet who just sends out his messenger to deal with him. Naaman is a very important guy and is quite put off by how he has been treated. He gets just a bit offended and almost misses out on his healing.  In 2 Kings 5: 11 But Naaman went away angry and said, “I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call on the name of the LORD his God, wave his hand over the spot and cure me of my leprosy. 12 Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than any of the waters of Israel? Couldn’t I wash in them and be cleansed?” So he turned and went off in a rage.
 13 Naaman’s servants went to him and said, “My father, if the prophet had told you to do some great thing, would you not have done it? How much more, then, when he tells you, ‘Wash and be cleansed’!” 14 So he went down and dipped himself in the Jordan seven times, as the man of God had told him, and his flesh was restored and became clean like that of a young boy.

 My point here is that in Naaman's case he could easily have missed out on the healing he so desired if  his pride and arrogance had kept him from going and dipping himself 7 times in the Jordan.  What if he gave up after the 5th or 6th dip in the water? What if he went to some other river? He would have missed out on something wonderful that God had for him. What about you, what if you are missing out on something God wants to impart to you in baptism?  I don't know who will read this post - I just write them and believe God will use them to encourage the folks God leads here to read these posts. 
If God is nudging you by this post, or if this post is a confirmation to something God has been nudging you about. Its time to take this step of faith.

Dear Lord,
I pray you will help those who are reading who have not yet followed you into the waters of baptism to find the courage take that step of faith and obedience. I pray that you will lead them to a church where they can be baptised,  if they don't already have one. I pray that you would impart something vital for their life in you. I pray it would be that clean slate that they have been wishing they could somehow experience in thier walk with you.  Thank you Lord in advance for what it is you desire to impart in the waters of baptism.

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