Baptism is a beautiful celebration of our new life in Christ! The water doesn’t wash away our sins, but symbolizes our identification with the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ. When writing to the Christ followers in Rome, the apostle Paul said, “When we were baptized, we were buried with Christ and shared His death.”
Imagine this young man. Luke tells us that he was a paralytic and was carried to Jesus by some friends. They believed that, if they could just get their friend to Jesus, he would be healed. The crowd was too great to get near Jesus. So, they took extreme measures and carried their friend to the roof. They removed some tiles from the roof and lowered him right in front of Jesus while He was teaching the crowd!
What a difference grace makes! Shortly after Peter’s encounter with Jesus on the beach, we see the impact of his restoration. Though he once shrank back denying he even knew Christ, Peter courageously stepped forward before thousands of Jews at the annual feast of Pentecost and boldly proclaimed the risen Christ!
The scene took place by a campfire at dawn on a beach beside the Sea of Galilee. It was an experience that would change Peter’s life forever. The whole experience was redemptive! Jesus would lovingly restore Simon Peter to ministry with a simple question and a command.
Did you know that Jesus prayed for you? In fact, it is the longest recorded prayer in the New Testament. You can read His prayer in John 17. It takes the entire chapter, and it occurs the evening before His crucifixion! As He prays for His disciples, Jesus includes you and me specifically! He says, “I am praying not only for these disciples but also for all who will ever believe in Me through their message.” (Vs. 20)
It grieves me is to see a generation of children and parents estranged from one another by the lies of our culture. We’ve put so much ahead of our most important relationships and sacrificed the greater joy and glory that could be ours for promises that can never deliver. But, there is a verse at the very end of the Old Testament gives me hope! God promised that, before the great and dreadful day of the LORD arrives, He would turn the hearts of the fathers to the children and the hearts of the children to their fathers….” (Malachi 4:5-6)
The transformational power of the Holy Spirit is no respecter of persons. Wherever the good news of Christ is shared, the Holy Spirit is at work transforming lives! Much to the surprise of these Jewish believers, the Holy Spirit moved on Gentiles as well as Jews! In Acts 10, Peter finds himself telling an Italian Roman Officer named Cornelius about Jesus.
If you track the exponential growth of the church from Pentecost in the Book of Acts and throughout church history, it is nothing short of miraculous! It is what I call the transformational power of the Holy Spirit working in the lives of Christ followers. It began when three thousand new believers were baptized on the day of Pentecost! Wow! Imagine that baptismal celebration!
One of the characteristics of successful people is that they don’t waste time. They make the most of every opportunity regardless of the circumstances. How do you do that? One of my Bible heroes is Paul, the apostle. He was a giant in the faith! When he wrote to the Christ followers in Ephesus and challenged them to make the most of every opportunity, he provided an example for them through his own life.
When God begins a work, He always completes it! You may not feel like you’re making much progress in your faith or that you’ve even stalled, but take heart, God is not through working on you or me! I find so much encouragement in this verse that Paul wrote to Christ followers in Philippi.