Published: Monday, 07 May 2018 16:10
Written by Don Goulding
Repent, and each one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and your children, and for all who are far away, as many as the Lord our God will call to himself. (Acts 2:38-39 NET_FL)
A boy beat a drum as he led our colorful throng out of his village for baptisms in Andhra Pradesh, India. Others sang, shook tambourines, and laughed as the Indian pastor and I struggled in the lake against the sucking mud. One-by-one beautiful Indians waded out and were buried in the water only to be raised up into new life.
A woman waiting at the end of the line howled. Her demon lamented its imminent eviction. When her turn came, the woman forced herself and the evil spirit into the water and, with great struggle, submitted to baptism. She left the water free of her torment.
This was not an isolated incident. I have witnessed deliverance connected with baptism in Africa, India, and Fiji. I don’t know all that is transacted in the heavenly realms at baptism but I do know the demons are very concerned with the ceremony and we should be too.
Baptism is the most beautiful sacrament given to God’s children. Immersion represents burial of the old self, and then comes resurrection into life in Christ—it’s brilliant, life-altering symbolism. Except for pride, why would any believer opt for private elopement when they can be publicly wed to Christ through baptism? I would do it over and over again if it weren’t for the fact that union to Jesus is complete upon the first baptism of an informed follower.
Prayer: Precious Jesus, I celebrate the day I began this journey with you through baptism.
Published: Monday, 30 April 2018 17:18
Written by Don Goulding
Jesus also told this parable to some who were confident that they were righteous and looked down on everyone else. Luke 18:9 (NETFull)
Roy’s old truck squeaked and rattled on a dusty Mexican road. My heart was as dry as the tumbleweeds that blew past. I’d contrived to be alone with this thin, gentle man so I could take the second step in confession. Confessing to God had gained forgiveness (1 John 1:9). Now I needed to confess to a trusted brother for healing from my sin’s wound (James 5:16).
Roy was perhaps the godliest man I knew, yet he was humble toward his own shortcomings. My admission was barely out of my mouth when he steered around a pothole and launched into prayer.
“In the name of Jesus, I proclaim Don free from the power this secret had over his life. His sin is removed as far as the east is from the west. Amen. Now, son, don’t speak again of what’s forgotten.”
All Christians find forgiveness, some advance toward holiness, very few discover Roy’s combination of purity and patience. That’s where Jesus wants my heart to go next, demanding personal holiness from myself while maintaining resolute patience with his work in others. Both sides of that equation are nearly impossible to attain, yet the power of grace is available for the transformation. Through Jesus, my heart can be made into a habitat that slams the back door on sin and holds the front door open to others.
Rattling down the bumpy road of life, I must focus on the five-mile gap between my holiness and that of Jesus and not on the one-inch of improvement I think I’ve gained ahead of someone else. The integrity to admit how far I fall short of God’s mark is essential to improving my righteousness, accepting others, and to getting along toward Roy’s Christ-likeness.
Prayer: Strong Jesus, work grace in me to hate my sin and be patient with others.
Published: Monday, 23 April 2018 17:29
Written by Don Goulding
… you are a letter of Christ, delivered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on stone tablets but on tablets of human hearts. (2 Corinthians 3:3 NET_FL)
The tablet of my heart seems like an impossible medium for Christ’s grand communication. How can he write anything in this infinitesimal space? My heart is a mere speck, a bit of grime stirred from the dust of the world and not fit to herald the King’s message.
Mote that I am, I hover in the radiance of Christ’s glory. It’s a testament to his grace that the Lord seeks out flecks like me. He converts a dust floater into a museum-quality object of beauty. Onlookers gasp in awe. The wonder is not in the speck but in the light that strikes it. Laud the white-hot pure light, seen where it ignites the lint.
That a grand-sized heart reflects the wonder of Jesus is a given but that I can—tiny me with my warts and hang-ups—is a miracle. After years of chasing purity, I realize the ugliness of sin is still in me and all the beauty of Jesus is there too. The coexistence of these polar extremes shouts a declaration.
The message God squeezes onto my minuscule heart tablet is this, “No one can possess the love you see here unless they have supernatural aid. It’s my Son, Jesus, who beams love onto this heart you are reading and we long to do the same for you.”
Prayer: Spirit of the living God, may everyone I meet today see you on my heart.