Rejoice

Just about every Christian before Hymnals were replaced by screens knows the old children’s song that proclaims, “Rejoice in the Lord always, again I say rejoice”. That is actually based on Philippians 4:4-6, “Rejoice in union with the Lord always! I will say it again: rejoice! Let everyone see how reasonable and gentle you are. The Lord is near! Don’t worry about anything; on the contrary, make your requests known to God by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving.”

How beautiful the sound of rejoicing especially when we know in truth that through God nothing is impossible. But what does rejoice mean? The transitive and intransitive verb meanings are: to give joy to, and to feel joy or great delight. But to rejoice in something means to have joy. Joy is an emotion which Christians possess that is given by the Holy Spirit.

A great example of receiving Joy and the rejoicing that comes is found in Acts when Paul and Silas are accused of ruining a person’s livelihood that depended on a demon possessed fortune telling slave girl. They called out the demon from her and she was freed from the sin. Here we catch up on the situation:

22 The crowd joined in the attack against Paul and Silas, and the magistrates ordered them to be stripped and beaten with rods. 23 After they had been severely flogged, they were thrown into prison, and the jailer was commanded to guard them carefully. 24 When he received these orders, he put them in the inner cell and fastened their feet in the stocks.

25 About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the other prisoners were listening to them. 26 Suddenly there was such a violent earthquake that the foundations of the prison were shaken. At once all the prison doors flew open, and everyone’s chains came loose. 27 The jailer woke up, and when he saw the prison doors open, he drew his sword and was about to kill himself because he thought the prisoners had escaped. 28 But Paul shouted, “Don’t harm yourself! We are all here!”

29 The jailer called for lights, rushed in and fell trembling before Paul and Silas. 30 He then brought them out and asked, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?”

31 They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved—you and your household.” 32 Then they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to all the others in his house. 33 At that hour of the night the jailer took them and washed their wounds; then immediately he and all his household were baptized. 34 The jailer brought them into his house and set a meal before them; he was filled with joy because he had come to believe in God—he and his whole household.

35 When it was daylight, the magistrates sent their officers to the jailer with the order: “Release those men.” Acts 16:22-35

What an example of joyous faith in suffering. How great is our God that freely showers us in His Love and Joy no matter how much we suffer. The jailer was ready to die from the embarrassment of dishonor yet he was saved because of the joy in his prisoner’s hearts. Their example turned him and his family to Christ. Rejoice in the Lord always, and again I say rejoice.     

Baptize in the Name of the Father, The Son, and the Holy Spirit

Baptism

Jesus commanded His Disciples to “Go make Disciples of all men, Baptizing in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. The Teachings of the Apostles explains Baptism in a short but informative instruction.

Concerning baptism, you should baptize this way: After first explaining all things, baptize in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, in flowing water. But if you have no running water, baptize in other water; and if you cannot do so in cold water, then in warm. If you have very little, pour water three times on the head in the name of Father and Son and Holy Spirit. Before the baptism, both the baptizer and the candidate for baptism, plus any others who can, should fast. The candidate should fast for one or two days beforehand.

Baptism is the outward expression of the inward acceptance of the covenant made through the blood, death, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus. John the Baptist made people clean through a repentant baptism in preparation for the coming Messiah by washing the sins away in the flowing water of the Jordan. For he said, “Repent and be baptized”.

The best way to baptize is in water that flows. This is done so to symbolize a removal of the sins. Nowadays we have a Baptismal that water is poured into and is still. It is good but a flowing one would be better. Why cold water? the temperature of the water is important because if you are baptized in cold water the pours stay closed so that no new sin can enter in. But it is ok for warm water due to the temperature of the surrounding area and how quickly the pours would close. Full immersion is preferred but a pouring is acceptable. Even before going into the water one should not eat or drink for one to two days. Why? Because you must enter the covenant humbly, with the understanding that the earthly foods only fill the body while the spirit needs the bread of life. By fasting, the body becomes dependent on God’s Word so it is a full acceptance of Jesus through the trust that His Word is sufficient for life.

Notice two things that did not have an alternative mode here. First the person must understand and accept the Word and the sacrifice that Jesus made finishing the need for the blood sacrifices for our salvation. Secondly, the fasting. The only thing about the fasting is the time limit. A child can fast for one and be good but an adult, two days.
The waiting for Resurrection Day to be baptized did not start until late first century to early second century. Instead it was basically an on the spot acceptance and washing bringing more and more into the Body of Christ. This was both right and proper going along with the Great Commission.

Perry Stone wrote on the first century Byzantine Church. In his explanation of things the men and women were baptized separately because they went into the water in the nude. This was the process: After the fasting was complete, the candidates lined up dressed in white robes and entered into a cavern inside a hill. At the lowest point there was a pool of cold flowing water. Upon entering the water, the outer garment was removed and the appointed priest, deacon, or elder, asked for confirmation of beliefs then the person was immersed in the name of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Upon exiting the water they were given their white garment and a glass of milk mixed with honey to cleanse the inner self. When all Baptisms were complete, the whole Community of Believers shared in Communion then a celebration meal. Now that is a blessed time.

Baptism has sure changed since then as it is a full community observance. Certain denominations do things a little backwards by baptizing before the candidate even realizes what is going on, then later has to go through classes to explain everything and then accept the covenant. There is a clear statement that in order to be baptized, one has to personally make the choice to accept Jesus. Someone else cannot make that choice for you. The Great Commission that Jesus spoke before He ascended said to make Disciples of all mankind baptizing and maintaining obedience to the Word. To make Disciples one must first explain everything to which they outwardly show their acceptance through baptism then they are followed up with constantly through the speaking of the Word. That is the process of Baptism.

Have you been immersed in the waters of Baptism? I personally was Baptized as a baby through the Lutheran Church, went through the Catechism, and had my first Communion by the time I was 8. But I did not truly know Jesus. I was chosen to give a sermon when I was 9 on a children’s Sunday, but I still did not know Jesus. I went through 25 1/2 years thinking I was good to go until I truly discovered what Jesus was doing in my life. When I truly became aware of Jesus, I gave a public confession and was Baptized by immersion. I was 26 when I truly gave my life to God. When did you?

Advent Week 3 Rejoice For the Lord is Near

When the Lord  restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream. Then our mouth was filled with laughter, and our tongue with shouts of joy; then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them. “The Lord has done great things for us; we are glad. Restore our fortunes, O Lord, like streams in the Negev! Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy! He who goes out weeping, bearing the seed for sowing, shall come home with shouts of joy, bringing his sheaves with him. Psalm 126:1-6 ESV

This week we experience the joy of knowing the Messiah will be here soon. We rejoice in the fact that we will be restored to the Kingdom of the Father and truly have that personal relationship that He desires to have with us. We celebrate the coming communion with the Father focusing of the joy His mere presence brings. When Paul speaks of the fruit of the Spirit, he shares the qualities that God desires in each of us to share with the world. 

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, humility, self control. Nothing in the Torah stands against such things. Galatians 5:22-23 CJB

The Pentateuch teaches us about God’s joy and how we are to emulate it here on earth.

Isaiah spoke of the hope and desire for all mankind that God would be present in our lives again so we may feel the joy that comes with Him. He also pleads for restoration of the Spirit and the land which God calls holy but we have destroyed with our sins.  

Oh that you would rend the heavens and come down, that the mountains might quake at your presence—as when fire kindles brushwood and the fire causes water to boil— to make your name known to your adversaries, and that the nations might tremble at your presence! When you did awesome things that we did not look for, you came down, the mountains quaked at your presence. From of old no one has heard or perceived by the ear, no eye has seen a God besides you, who acts for those who wait for him. You meet him who joyfully works righteousness, those who remember you in your ways. Behold, you were angry, and we sinned; in our sins we have been a long time, and shall we be saved? But now, O Lord, you are our Father; we are the clay, and you are our potter; we are all the work of your hand. Be not so terribly angry, O Lord, and remember not iniquity forever. Behold, please look, we are all your people. Your holy cities have become a wilderness; Zion has become a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Our holy and beautiful house, where our fathers praised you, has been burned by fire, and all our pleasant places have become ruins.  Isaiah 64:1-5,8-11 ESV

So God sends John the Baptist to fulfill the prophesy of preparation and sets the stage for us to rejoice in His arrival. He is Jesus, Word made flesh, Messiah, Savior, our Salvation from sin.

 He said, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way of the Lord,’ as the prophet Isaiah said. “They asked him, “Then why are you baptizing, if you are neither the Christ, nor Elijah, nor the Prophet? “John answered them, “I baptize with water, but among you stands one you do not know, even he who comes after me, the strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie. “These things took place in Bethany across the Jordan, where John was baptizing.         John 1:23,25-28 ESV

We are not worthy of saving but God loves us so much and desires the relationship He once had with Adam and Eve. Rejoice that God cares for us so much that He sent His Son to pay the ultimate price and opened the veil so we can connect with God. 

He will come again and will bring the Kingdom with Him. Let us rejoice that God’s Word is the Truth and the Light.