Taking the Plunge – I Have Decided To Follow Jesus - Purity 720
Purity 720 05/02/2022 Purity 720 Podcast
Today’s photo of early morning Sun shining over Waite Rd in Easton New York comes to us from yours truly as I managed to capture this pic as my canine friend Harley enthusiastically pulled me ever eastward on an early morning walk this past Sunday.
With my regular morning spiritual practices and the recording of our weekly Bible study with the Cincotti’s, I usually don’t have the time to take Harley for a walk on Sunday mornings but yesterday we had sometime and as the weather was agreeable and Harley’s desperate pleas were incessant I found myself first beckoning Harley to “Let’s go” only to find that he was more than willing to pick up the pace to get us down the road and back again in time for my Bible study. While I thought I was the one deciding to lead this walk, I found that my decision took on a life of its own as Harley lent his enthusiastic zeal to our morning stroll.
Well, it’s Monday again, and just like that we find ourselves in the month of May, at the start of a new work week and while today could be seen as just another part of the status quo, looking ahead at the calendar of scheduled events for this month, I see that May proves to be a month positively filled with activities as our individual decisions to work, grow, and enjoy our life has culminated in a month that really won’t have leave a lot of time to be bored.
This week in addition to the 40 hours of work, I am working part time at Mobile Crisis tonight, have a class on Nouthetic Counseling tomorrow, am going to a class on Christian Doctrine with my wife on Wednesday, lead a Men’s Freedom in Christ Class on Thursday, will be going to see my son perform in a play at Hudson Valley this Friday, will be attending a “going away” party for my Marine “stepdaughter” Rachel, who will be stationed in Japan for the next 3 years on Saturday, and, in case you didn’t know, it’s Mother’s Day on Sunday!
So as you can see, my decisions to work, serve the community, do ministry work, grow in my faith, and spend time with family has taken on a momentum of its own and will dictate the days, nights, week days and weekend in the days ahead. When we meet our responsibilities and take advantage of the opportunities available to us to enjoy our lives and to follow the Lord our lives are full and rich and although some may claim my life is too busy, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I don’t “have to do this”, I choose to “do this” because “I want to do this”.
Which brings up the water baptism of my beloved wife, TammyLyn, that took place in front of scores of supportive brothers and sisters in Christ at Star Point Church yesterday.
I couldn’t be more proud of my wife, who although baptized as an infant in the Lutheran Church, decided to make a public proclamation her faith in Christ and to demonstrate her decision to follow Jesus with her life through the, Biblically commanded, sacrament of water baptism, with full immersion!
The full immersion of water baptism is significant because it symbolizes the spiritual reality that has already taken place in a believer’s life when they put their faith in Jesus as their Lord and Savior. The going under the water in baptism represents the believer “dying with Christ” and their coming up out of the water symbolizes the believer “being resurrected into a new everlasting life with Christ”. Water baptism with a full immersion represents and demonstrates to the world that this person has died with Christ and chooses to live with Christ forevermore.
A person’s decision to be baptized after being baptized as an infant is significant as well as the well meaning intention of the parent’s to raise their child as a Christian is fully realized as the individual decides to make their parent’s faith, their own faith.
In case any one is wondering why I didn’t join my wife in the baptismal pool at Starpoint yesterday, I have already been baptized and just like TammyLyn, I was baptized twice.
I was raised Catholic and when I was in my teens and early twenties and living a life as far separated from God as I could have been I often worried about my eternal destiny and held on to the hope that I would somehow be allowed into heaven in spite of my sins. I apparently took no solace in the fact that I had been “confirmed” in the Catholic faith as a young teenage because even though I said “the words” and went through “the ceremony” . Maybe I didn’t think my confirmation meant much in light of my sin filled life so I looked for assurance in something else.
The Nicene Creed that is recited in each Catholic Mass speaks of “One baptism for the forgiveness of sins” and I remember asking my mother for assurance that I was indeed baptized because I obviously didn’t remember it as I was only a baby when my parents and “god parents”, not 100% sure who they are (forgive me), stood up to speak for me to “bathe this child in light” and to give me “the new life of baptism” and to welcome me “into your Holy Church” and to make me a “faithful follower and witness to your gospel” among other things including casting out the power of Satan. (https://www.bedfordcatholic.org/documents/2015/5/RiteOfBaptism.pdf_
Not for nothing, but as you can see that may be a tall order for a parent to decide or guarantee for their child as we will grow into teenagers and then into adulthood and we will make our own decisions in terms of our individual faith life and relationship with God.
So although I was ‘sprinkled”, promised, and blessed in my infant baptism, after I became born again in 2010, I chose to follow Jesus and live according to the word of God to the best of my abilities because I knew that the forgiveness of my sins and a new spiritual life was given to me as I finally understood the doctrines of grace through faith in Christ alone and made a verbal confession and proclamation to make Jesus my Lord and Savior.
In those early days of my born again life as a Christian, I had a lot of learning to do as I began to understand my new life in Christ wasn’t about following rules and regulations, it was about my individual relationship with God. It wasn’t about what “I had to do as a Christian” as much as it was about freely deciding to do what I wanted to do to develop my faith and my relationship with God.
I slowly began to understand that it wasn’t about “having to do things” it was about “getting to do things” with and for God and myself as someone who wanted to be obedient to my decision to follow God’s will for my life. I finally understood that the spiritual displines and practices of the Christian faith weren’t obligations as much as they were invitations from the Lord to follow Him and grow.
So even though, I was infant baptized, in 2013 while on a work assignment in New York City, I answered the call of Jesus on Christians to be baptized as His Great Commision in:
Matthew 28:19 (NKJV) says that His disciples were to:
19 Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
So, what turned out to be the day of the Boston Marathon bombings, on April 15thm 2013, with New York City on high alert and turned into a virtual police state, I took an uptown train from my hotel near ground zero to a hotel pool in midtown Manhattan where I joined brothers and sisters in Christ from Hillsong church for a few worship songs and was baptized. And even though I still had a whole lot of growing to do, I entered into the bright lights of the streets near time square, knowing that something significant had taken place as I was over come with joy and felt positively electrified by the realization that I had taken the plunge and confirmed my decision to follow Jesus Christ for the rest of my days on earth and for all eternity.
I have decided to follow Jesus and there is no turning back.
So my decisions to worship the Lord, to share the gospel of Jesus Christ, to encourage others to live out their Christian faith authentically, and to continually grow in my relationship with God may result in my having a full schedule but those are decisions I will continue to make and never regret because even though the path of Christian Discipleship is undoubtedly THE PATH less travelled, it has made all the difference.
So keep walking and talking with God, and keep making the decisions that will cause you to know God more, know who you are in Christ more, and will lead to a life where you are never bored and are always filled with the fruit of the Spirit as God invites you into the abundant life of meaning and purpose that He always wanted you to live.
Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”.
This morning’s meditation verse is:
Corinthians 4:7 (NLT2)
7 For what gives you the right to make such a judgment? What do you have that God hasn’t given you? And if everything you have is from God, why boast as though it were not a gift?
Today’s Bible verse reminds us of some basic facts of life that should result in our humility and in our continual practice of gratitude as we realize the great gifts we have been given by God.
The “judgment” that the Apostle Paul is questioning in this verse is referring to the fact that some members of the Corinthian church had become spiritually proud of their spiritual heritage as they began to boast about who had led them to faith and who had taught them, with some boasting of their relationship to Apollos and others boasting of being followers of Paul.
Paul is pointing out the foolishness of this boasting because both Paul and Apollos were servants of the One True God and both represented Him. Paul and Apollos had only received and shared what they had learned from God.
So Paul is chastising this spiritually prideful boasting and reminding the Corinthian Christians, and all of us, that everything we have ever received has been a gift from God.
From our life itself, to our physical bodies, to our talents and skills, to our possession, and to our spiritual understandings, everything we have ever received has come from God. Everything we have ever known or experienced has been a gift from God.
When we realize this we will be humble and we should be thankful. Our gratitude should cause us to stop any boasting we may be tempted to brag about and cause us to love the Lord for all He has had done for us.
So think about that. Everything we have comes from God. I think that should cause us to not be so prideful, cause us to thank God, and to follow His will for our lives because everything we have comes from Him so everything we do should be done for His glory.
As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.
Today we continue sharing from John Piper’s “Don’t Waste Your Life”.
As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase John Pipers’ books for your own private study and to support his work. This resource is available on many websites for less than $5.00.
Wasting Life by Running from Pain
This design for the Christian life is so crucial that we should open our eyes to see how extensively the Bible speaks about it. Untold numbers of professing Christians waste their lives trying to escape the cost of love. They do not see that it is always worth it. There is more of God’s glory to be seen and savored through suffering than through self-serving escape. Paul puts it like this: “Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day. For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:16–17). “Momentary” refers to a lifetime in comparison with eternity. “Slight” refers to suffering and death compared to the weight of everlasting joy in the presence of God. This is what we gain if hold fast to Christ. This is what we waste if we don’t.
God designs that tribulations intensify our hope for the glory of God. Paul says in Romans 5:2 that we have access by faith into grace and “rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Then he tells us in the next two verses how that hope is preserved and sweetened: “More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope” (verses 3–4). This hope that grows and deepens and satisfies through suffering is the hope of verse 2, the “hope of the glory of God.” We were made to see and savor this glory. And God, in love, will use whatever trials are necessary to intensify our savoring of his glory.
There Is a Difference Between Sacrifice and Suicide
It is not wrong to pray for healing, to take medicine, to put locks on your doors, to flee unruly mobs. The Bible does not call for suicide. It is presumption to jump off the temple while quoting Scripture promises that God will catch you. God finally decides whether and when the path of obedience will lead to suffering. Satan has his place. He loves to make us miserable and tries to destroy our faith. But God is sovereign over Satan, and all of Satan’s aims to destroy the saints are designed by God for the good of his people and the glory of his name.
So it is right to flee, and it is right to stay. One may escape, and one may endure hardship. When to flee and when to stay is an agonizing question for many missionaries and urban workers and Christians in secular workplaces with great opportunity and great conflict. One person who thought more about it than most of us was John Bunyan, the pastor who spent twelve years in prison and wrote Pilgrim’s Progress. He could have been released from prison if he had agreed not to preach. His wife and children needed him. One of his daughters was blind. It was an agonizing decision. “The parting with my wife and poor children hath often been to me in this place as the pulling of the Flesh from my bones.”
Here is what he wrote about the Christian’s freedom to stay or flee from danger.
May we try to escape? Thou mayest do in this as it is in thy heart. If it is in thy heart to fly, fly: if it be in thy heart to stand, stand. Any thing but a denial of the truth. He that flies, has warrant to do so; he that stands, has warrant to do so. Yea, the same man may both fly and stand, as the call and working of God with his heart may be. Moses fled, Exodus 2:15; Moses stood, Hebrews 11:27. David fled, 1 Samuel 19:12; David stood, 1 Samuel 24:8. Jeremiah fled, Jeremiah 37:11–12; Jeremiah stood, Jeremiah 38:17. Christ withdrew himself, Luke 9:10; Christ stood, John 18:1–8. Paul fled, 2 Corinthians 11:33; Paul stood, Act 20:22–23.…
There are few rules in this case. The man himself is best able to judge concerning his present strength, and what weight this or that argument has upon his heart to stand or fly.… Do not fly out of a slavish fear, but rather because flying is an ordinance of God, opening a door for the escape of some, which door is opened by God’s providence, and the escape countenanced by God’s Word. Matthew 10:23.… If, therefore, when thou hast fled, thou art taken, be not offended at God or man: not at God, for thou art his servant, thy life and thy all are his; not at man, for he is but God’s rod, and is ordained, in this, to do thee good. Hast thou escaped? Laugh. Art thou taken? Laugh. I mean, be pleased which way soever things shall go, for that the scales are still in God’s hand.
The Promise and Design of God
But when all is said and done, the promise and design of God for people who do not waste their lives is clear. “All who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted” (2 Timothy 3:12). And when persecution pauses, the groanings of this age remain. “We ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies” (Romans 8:23). We will groan one way or the other. As Paul said, “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
That is the promise. Here’s the design. Jesus said to Paul in pain—and to all of us who treasure him more than pain-free living—“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:8). Many professing Christians would get angry at this design. They might even scream, “I don’t care about your power being perfected! I am in pain! If you love me, get me out of this!” That was not Paul’s response. Paul had learned what love is. Love is not Christ’s making much of us or making life easy. Love is doing what he must do, at great cost to himself (and often to us), to enable us to enjoy making much of him forever. So Paul responds to Christ’s design, “Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Corinthians 12:9–10).
All Lasting Joy Is on the Calvary Road
What a tragic waste when people turn away from the Calvary road of love and suffering. All the riches of the glory of God in Christ are on that road. All the sweetest fellowship with Jesus is there. All the treasures of assurance. All the ecstasies of joy. All the clearest sightings of eternity. All the noblest camaraderie. All the humblest affections. All the most tender acts of forgiving kindness. All the deepest discoveries of God’s Word. All the most earnest prayers. They are all on the Calvary road where Jesus walks with his people. Take up your cross and follow Jesus. On this road, and this road alone, life is Christ and death is gain. Life on every other road is wasted.
Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!
at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts
(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com.
These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCTxjSNstREpuGWuL0bF3U7w/featured
Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.
My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)
Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship