Daily Devotions

Baptism Fulfilled

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Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.”

(1 Thessalonians 5:11)

 

I am proud to be part of a congregation that is so supportive of children. When we perform the sacrament of baptism, we promise to be responsible for the nurture of the child. We do that with our Sunday morning and Wednesday night education. Its effectiveness is expressed the second Sunday of each month when the children are liturgists for the worship service.

 

I was concerned the first couple times the children led worship. Would they be prepared? Even more importantly, would they be terrified to speak in front of four hundred people? Month after month, dozens of children, some so young they appear to be disembodied voices behind the pulpit. Each children’s Sunday, without fail, the children were well prepared and excited to participate. How can this be working so well?

 

Are all our children extroverts? Are our children like those in Lake Wobegon and “all the children are above average?” While I love and cherish each one of our children, and they are certainly all “above average,” there is another reason. The real reason our children are so comfortable is because our congregation is so accepting and supportive of our children.

 

One of the most spiritual affirmations a church can make is the commitment to making church a safe, comfortable, and loving place. We’ve done that for our children. We must continue to make this a priority for everyone in our church. Today, thank God for the blessing of our children. When a child or youth leads worship, remember their names and offer prayers for them throughout the following week. When we pray for our children and youth, we fulfill the commitment we made to them on their baptismal day. Our children and youth are a blessing from God and deserve the very best we can provide.

 

 

God's True Motivation

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“For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him.” (1 Thessalonians 4:9-10)

 

I was visiting a person at a local jail this past week. In the last couple months, she was visited by three women from a local fundamentalist church. One week, one of the women said that the jailed women’s dead child is not in heaven because the child was never baptized. Another week, another of the women told this jailed woman that the man she is married to is not her husband, because she had a baby out of wedlock with another man. The woman told the jailed woman that her real husband is the man with whom she had the first child. This horrible excuse for theology is destructive and goes against God’s perfect love!

 

Wake up, people! We make the faith too difficult and even more importantly, we make the faith too condemning. I love this passage from Revelation, because it states quite clearly that we are freed from the oppressive demand to earn our own salvation. “Wrath” is not part of God’s vocabulary. Now, you may rightly say that the word “wrath” is a commonly used word in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. That is true. But I would suggest that God’s “wrath” has more to do with the ancient Biblical writers’ understanding of God’s motivation in a specific situation, than God’s true motivation. As a parent, I can look pretty angry when my daughter acted poorly. Especially when my face is so expressive. Yet, no matter how upset or angry I might have been with her, at any one time, I never stopped loving her. Furthermore, my motivation was always one of instruction, and wanting the best for her. How much more powerfully loving is God’s love for us!

 

Today, think about the voices of false theology that have turned God’s Good News of Divine love into bad news of divine condemnation. Try to be specific. Then think about people you know who have been hurt by this false theology. Pray that God might give you the courage and wisdom to share your faith in an all-loving God that destroys the wickedness that misrepresents holy love. Finally, pray that God will grant you the discipline to study the Bible with faithful guidance, so you will be able to share with the necessary knowledge that produces wisdom. Faithful Biblical understanding can be a wonderful gift of love, to someone who believes in a vengeful God.

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