Archive for December, 2016

Sunday Services Cancelled…Because of Christmas

A friend and I were talking this week about Christmas.  She mentioned that the church she attends has canceled Sunday services on December 25th this year because it happens to be Christmas day.  We discussed how we both found this disturbing, and I assured her she would be able to attend services at my church on that Sunday.

Unfortunately, after checking my church bulletin, I discovered that my church has done the same thing.  This led me to a search of the other churches in town.  As far as I can tell, the majority are going to have services of some kind on Sunday, December 25th.

Pardon my language, but what the HECK is going on here???

Sunday is the day of the Lord.  And Christmas is the day we celebrate the birth of His Son.  We attend church every Sunday to worship Him; to pray corporately; to receive teaching from His Word.  But when the celebration of His birth falls on a Sunday, we not only skip church, we outright cancel it?  Are you kidding me?

Everywhere I go, I see Christians spouting the need to keep CHRIST in CHRISTmas.  How do we keep Christ in Christmas if we cancel His holy day, set aside for worship and rest?  How do we keep Christ in Christmas when we replace worship of Him with family, presents under the tree, a bountiful table, and football… all celebrated (apparently hypocritically) in the name of the One we have replaced?

Christmas becomes more materialistic every year.  It is something Christians have lamented, and have worked too hard to counteract.  How many radio programs, books, and articles have been dedicated over the years to encouraging our brothers and sisters to keep the focus on Chris?  Don’t let the Santa Claus, gift buying and giving, decorations, and business overtake the true meaning of the celebration.  Remember “Jesus is the reason for the season.”

I guess Jesus is the reason for the season, and Christ is in Christmas, only when He doesn’t interfere with family, presents, food and football.

Never mind Christmas for one moment.  What about Sunday?  Do not Christians claim Sunday as their Sabbath?  Is it not considered the Lord’s Day?  Did God not command us to remember the Sabbath and keep it holy because He separated it from the rest of the days of the week for Himself?  (Exodus 20:8-11).

Check out Isaiah 58:13-14 (NKJV) – “If you turn away your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on My holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, and shall honor Him, not doing your own ways, nor finding your own pleasure, nor speaking your own words, then you shall delight yourself in the Lord; and I will cause you to ride on the high hills of the earth, and feed you with the heritage of Jacob, your father.  The mouth of the Lord has spoken.

Christians, we have moved far too far away from honoring the Lord on the Sabbath.  Truthfully I believe it begins with moving it from Saturday to Sunday in order to sever the link between the church and the Jews thousands of years ago.  It was a slippery slope that has landed us on a day that looks very little like a day to honor God, and mostly like a day to please ourselves.

I remember going to church Sunday morning and evening, and then again for prayer meeting on Wednesday night.  Today Wednesday night is reserved for youth group, and I would be hard pressed to find a church that has services on Sunday night.  Are we too busy with the things of this world?  Or are we too lazy and callous to care about dedicating a day each week to God?

Perhaps if we all spent more time in church, working at His business, and less on our own, we would not have a world so hell-bent on going to hell.  We would have children who find and attend a church once they go off to college.  We would still have prayer in school and children who honored their parents and teachers, and didn’t have more sexual experience than street walkers.  Maybe we would have people who helped their neighbors when they were down, and people who had the decency to get a job and work for a living.  Maybe we would see moral character on display.  Can you imagine that?

This whole thing about canceling church on Sunday because it is Christmas is the biggest bunch of hogwash I have heard in a while.  If I suggested that we cancel church on Easter Sunday, people would tell me that was absurd.  You tell me then, what is the difference??  We worship God on Sunday because WE decided to move it to that day.  We have removed God from more and more of that day to the point that He gets a whole 2 of 24 hours during the school year and one during the summer months.  Gee, what a sacrifice we make for Him.

WE have chosen to celebrate the birth of our Savior (it was never commanded in the Bible) in order to honor His sacrifice for us, and yet we hypocritically spend more money, time, and attention on Santa Claus and presents then we do on Him.  And now-  now we cancel the 1-2 hours of worship on HIS day so that we can celebrate His birthday without Him? 

Congratulations. 

We have removed Christ from Christmas.  I guess the next step is to remove Christ from Christian.  After all, why not?  We are really no different than unbelievers anymore, are we?

The Purpose of Baptism is NOT Salvation: Addressing Satan’s Twisted Lies

As a young girl, my family attended a Baptist church.  Over the years, and for various reasons, we found it necessary to attend churches of other denominations.  They all hold elements of the truth, and they all have spots of error.  I am not here to say that I am right on everything.  I don’t believe anyone on this earth has all the answers figured out.  We learn God’s truths as we pray and study His word. That is a growing process that takes a whole lifetime…and is only culminated with our spiritual birth into Heaven when we go to be with our Savior.  Then, and only then, will we know all the truth.

One thing the Baptists have correct is baptism.  They teach that baptism is a step of faith a believer takes after they have received salvation through Yeshua (Jesus’ Hebrew name).  It is NOT salvation, but a demonstration of faith once salvation has been received.  I’ve witnessed many other uses for baptism over the years; as a baby dedication, and as salvation itself, in most cases.  The Merriam-Webster dictionary actually describes baptism as:  “a Christian sacrament marked by ritual use of water and admitting the recipient to the Christian community.”  A rite of passage, so to speak.  And how many people believe this to be true?  Far too many, I would guess, even within the Baptist denomination.

Baptism cannot be the key to salvation.

If it was, the Apostle Paul’s words teaching that we are saved by GRACE through FAITH, and that it is a gift of God, NOT BY WORKS [aka. Baptism], lest any many should boast, would be a lie. Baptism is an act, performed by man, THUS IT CANNOT BE THE KEY TO SALVATION.  Salvation comes through FAITH; the conscious choice to RECEIVE, not do, but reach out and take from the hands that offer, the FREE gift, offered by Yeshua alone.  Baptism cannot save you from your sins.  Only Yeshua can, and to give that power to baptism is, by default, giving it the power of God, in effect making it a false god.  That is a HUGE deal, and one Satan has managed to blind people to for centuries!!!

The question then is, what is baptism for? 

Acts 2:38 (Complete Jewish Bible) says the following:  Kefa [Peter] answered them, “Turn from sin, return to God, and each of you be immersed on the authority of Yeshua the Messiah into forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Ruach HaKodesh [Holy Spirit]”! [Note: forgiveness of sins is NOT salvation…it is forgiveness of sins, nothing more.  Salvation is what we receive when we believe by faith that Yeshua’s death and resurrection, and His taking the punishment for our sins, is the only way to Heaven…”I am THE way, the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father but by me.”  We are saved from the power of sin over us, the punishment of spiritual death, and the wrath of God.] 

Acts 19:1-6 (Tree of Life Version) – While Apollos was at Corinth, Paul traveled through the upper region and came to Ephesus.  He found some disciples and said to them, “Did you receive the Ruach ha-Kodesh when you believed?” 

  They replied to him, “No, we’ve never even heard that there is a Ruach ha-Kodesh.”

  He said, “Into what were you immersed?”

  They said, “Into John’s immersion.”

  Paul said, “John immersed with an immersion of repentance, telling people that they should    believe in the One coming after him—that is, Yeshua.”

 When they heard this, they were immersed in the name of the Lord Yeshua.  And when Paul laid  hands upon them, the Ruach ha-Kodesh came upon them, and they began speaking in tongues  and prophesying.

Baptism, then, is to receive the Holy Spirit once a person has already received salvation, and subsequently forgiveness of sins. 

How then can baptism of an infant be true baptism?  It can’t.  It is nothing more than wasted water.  Since a baby cannot possibly make a conscious decision to accept the gift of salvation by faith, and it cannot ask for and receive the complete forgiveness of sins as a result of their salvation, then neither can it receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, which comes through baptism.

The same is true of anyone who uses baptism as the means to salvation.  I know I am becoming redundant in saying this, but it is absolutely key. As long as salvation has not been already received by faith, baptism is pointless.  And the effect that is desired by going through it (salvation, or “welcoming a child into the family of God”, as I have heard at many infant baptisms) is NULL AND VOID; completely WORTHLESS.

 

I want to point out one more thing.  I’m sure you noticed that the particular translations I used above do not use the word baptism. Instead, they use the word immersion.  Both of these versions of the Bible come from translating straight from the Hebrew.  Their intention is to restore the Jewishness to the Bible, as it should be.  Immersion is a more accurate translation.  When you consider the definition, it is so much more powerful.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines immersion as:  “a :  baptism by complete submersion of the person in water. b:  absorbing involvement <immersion in politics>  c :  instruction based on extensive exposure to surroundings or conditions that are native or pertinent to the object of study; especially :  foreign language instruction in which only the language being taught is used <learned French through immersion>.

Look closely not at the first definition, but at the second and third.  Immersion in the name of Yeshua, and receiving the Holy Spirit is ABSORBING involvement.  It is complete, thorough, through-and-through, filling every spiritual pore of our bodies, minds, and souls!!!  In other words, you cannot be more completely one with something or someone than you become with the Holy Spirit through Yeshua.  How incredible is that????

Immersion is also instruction.  I teach Braille for a living.  When I am teaching very young children, I encourage parents to immerse their child in Braille.  Every book they read to them has Braille in it.  We label furniture, rooms, and every sort of item the child will come into contact with so that they are constantly exposed to Braille.  In doing so, they begin to learn that the bumps have meaning, and gradually what that meaning is. 

When we are immersed in the Holy Spirit, we receive constant exposure to Him, and instruction from Him.  We learn from His presence within us what we could never learn if He was on the outside in the periphery of our lives.  The Holy Spirit is absolutely indispensable to the Christian life…and, in fact, is the mark of the Savior upon those who belong to Him.

If you have not been baptized, immersed, as someone who has already received Messiah’s salvation, I encourage you to take that step soon.  Find a church, a pastor, who will immerse you in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, and receive the gift of the Holy Spirit within you.

If you have always assumed that you are going to Heaven because you were baptized, whether as an infant, or older person, but have never taken the step of telling Yeshua/Jesus that you accept His free gift of salvation, I urgently encourage you to do that right now.  Do not put it off another moment.  Once you have done that, find a church or pastor to immerse you in response to your forgiveness of sins, and to receive the Holy Spirit.

Yeshua said, “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, immersing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Ruach ha-Kodesh.”  (Matthew 28:19 – TLV).

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