Baptizing them in the name of the Father!

Christmas is the reminder that our Savior is come and we can rejoice! The rejoicing doesn’t stop there though; this Babe grew to become a Man that would make the way for eternal salvation. While He was on earth He spoke many things—we should take heed to the words that God speaks when He comes to dwell among us! That brings us to the commands of Christ.
The 47th command we will be looking at is ‘Baptize My Disciples.’ After Jesus’ resurrection He came to His disciples and said, “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).
Jesus said ‘Go and teach all nations.’ What does that mean? It means to … ‘go and teach all nations.’ It requires action on our part. We are to be teaching others the message of Christ and the words of Scripture. How are you actively teaching the nations? It doesn’t mean you have to relocate to Fiji, although that would be nice, but we should be concerned about getting the Gospel spread through prayer, giving, supporting missionaries, and being faithful in spreading the Good News in this nation.
Baptism. This can open a lot of discussion so I will focus on a few points. I am going to assume that we understand that baptism cannot save us, but it is by faith that we are saved (Ephesians 2:8). So what is baptism all about? Is it only a sign that we have ‘accepted’ Christ as Savior?
John the Baptist came baptizing in the wilderness. His baptism was unto repentance and he was preparing the way for Jesus. “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preached the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins” (Mark 1:4). Even though many were repenting of their sins, they had not yet believed in Christ. After they believed in Christ, they received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. This gives us a picture of the progression of faith. We teach the lost the Word so that they will come to repentance and acknowledge that they need a Savior. When they believe and profess the work of Jesus on the cross, then they will be baptized not just by water but of the Holy Spirit. “And he (Paul) said unto them (certain followers), Unto what then were ye baptized? And they said unto him, Unto John’s baptism. Then said Paul, John verily baptized with the baptism of repentance, saying unto the people, that they should believe on Him, that is, on Christ Jesus. When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:3-6).
Both the Ethiopian eunuch and the Phillipian jailer and his family were baptized immediately after they believed. It wasn’t a requirement to be saved, but it was an outward acknowledgment of the inward change. In reference to Noah and the flood, I Peter 3:21says, “The like figure whereunto baptism doth also now save us. Not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God.” Baptism is a physical act, but it is really signifying the spiritual act—having a new and right relationship with Jesus Christ.
In India, a pastor who converted from the Muslim faith was put into jail for performing baptisms. Several young men who were Muslim began coming to his church and wanted to be baptized. The pastor emphasized that they would not be rewarded or receive  money if they did so. This pastor baptized them in a public area and it was recorded and placed on YouTube. The pastor was accused of alluring them to be baptized and spent 40 days in prison for it. (Voice of the Martyrs: India: Arrested for Baptisms. The ungodly understand that baptism is a sign that one has chosen to follow Jesus Christ and as long as they fight against Christianity, they will fight against a public announcement that one has turned to the one true God.
Baptism also identifies us with Christ in that we have become dead to the old man and have become a new man. “Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death? Therefore we are buried with Him, by baptism into death, that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5).  Baptism is a picture of ‘dying’ in the water, and being raised to new life, just as Christ died on the cross and was raised to new glory. “Lie not one to another seeing ye have put off the old man with his deeds and have put on the new man who is renewed in knowledge after the image of Him that created him” (Colossians 3:9-10). Baptism is a call to die to the old man daily; to purpose to put away the things of the flesh and to walk in the Spirit. Let every baptism we witness be a reminder that when we were baptized in Christ, we made a decision to die to self and to live for Christ.
-In what ways are you ‘going’ to all nations?
-Have you been baptized since you repented and believed?
-Have you purposed to die to self daily?
“For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus. For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ” (Galatians 3:26-27).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas from the Smythe Family! This year was a year of many travels, new beginnings, and seeing God’s great mercy once again unfold before our eyes. Here’s a brief recap of our family highlights this year, just to give you a glimpse of what we’ve been up to lately. (For more details & pictures check out
~December 2012- oldest son Erin comes from FL with his children Kempton & Olivia for Christmas. ~We enjoy catching up on his life, & go skiing with them.

~JanuarySecond born son Ian & wife Kayla come to visitgo to Sisters, OR with them~hostfamily Baby shower for them~Midwifery class in CO~Yvonne turns 28.

~FebruaryElanee turns 20~We start singing with a church choir~ Mom & Elanee travel to Virginia to be at Ian & Kayla’s baby’s birthElizabeth Ann Smythe

~MarchMom & Elanee return from VirginiaWe sing in Easter performances with choir~Yvonne & Elanee begin singing lessonsEvan starts onilne retail business

~AprilDad’s Mother’s 90th Birthday party in NCWe perform benefit concertChristian Heritage Conference in WA~Evan & Elanee play piano there for 3000 people

~MayFamily Economics Conference in MO ~ Dad & Yvonne host business plan competition~Evan’s art wins Pro-Life contestYvonne caters friend’s wedding

~JuneLocal Bible Bee season beginsOcean Conference in OR ~ host soap booth at conferenceenjoy fellowshipping with friends & meeting new ones.

~JulyEvan turns 18 ~ Host Annual 4th of July party complete with firework showCamp Dwight family camp in OR ~ Evan takes flight lessons

~August~Church Family Camp~fellowship & game times with friends~Bible Bee local contest day ~Attend Father Son Camp in CO ~ Ladies stay at nearby resort

~SeptemberReturn home from Colorado trip~Yvonne caters friend’s 40th Anniversary~We all enjoy Last days of Summer fellowship time with friends

~OctoberGo bicycling alot~Family Economics Conference in WA~Yvonne marries Dallas GriffithJostie’s concerts ~ Worship of God Conference in NC

~November~Visit Ian & Kayla in VAVisit Grandma in NC~National Bible Bee~Visit friends in TN~Fly Home~Dad’s Birthday~Host Craft sale

~December~Mom & Dad’s 35th Anniversary~Attend concerts ~go to beach for Mom’s Birthday & Christmas~Write Christmas letter…oh, that’s what you’re reading!

“Now the God of peace that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus that great shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the everlasting covenant make you perfect in every good work to do His will working in you that which is well pleasing in His sight through Jesus Christ to whom be glory forever and ever, Amen.”
Hebrews 13:20-21

Watch and Pray

This week we will be discussing the command ‘Watch and Pray.’ Jesus took James, John, and Peter to the garden of Gethsemane and He told them to tarry and watch with Him. He came back and found them sleeping and said to Peter, “What could ye not watch with me one hour? Watch and pray that ye enter not into temptation, the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Matthew 26:40-41). I find it interesting that He told them to ‘watch,’ and when He came back to them, He questioned why they could not ‘watch’ even one hour. When I read this passage before, I always pictured the disciples falling asleep while praying, not watching. So what is the difference?
The word ‘watch’ means to keep awake (physically, morally, and spiritually). The word ‘pray’ means to pray to God, supplicate, to worship. Were the disciples to be physically keeping guard from those who wanted to kill Jesus? Maybe, but Jesus told them to watch and pray so that they would not enter into temptation, not so that He could be alerted if the guards came. This word watch is also used when Jesus discussed the end times and warns believers to ‘watch’ for that day and to be alert, because it will come as a thief in the night. It gives the picture of being attentive to every detail of what’s going on—or expecting that something significant could happen at any moment. “Watch ye therefore: for ye know not when the master of the house cometh, at even, or at midnight, or at the cockcrowing, or in the morning” (Mark 13:35).
Oftentimes I view prayer as a conversation with God. I do the talking, He does the listening. I don’t let Him get in a single word usually. Otto Koning, in his message the Pineapple Story, relates how his prayer involved him talking to God about all his ideas, and then after all his talking, he finally would listen to see if God had an opinion on the matter. He found that that is when he got somewhere in prayer, because he was able to hear what God had to say (IBLP, The Pineapple Story Series by Otto Koning).  We should have ‘ears to hear’ what God wants to communicate to us. If we are babbling on, it is going to be hard to listen. This week I tried to ‘watch’ but my mind kept wandering away, I even fell asleep once…okay twice. But, as I did watch, God brought to mind some people that I do not usually think about and I prayed for them.
I am not sure what the disciples would have ‘heard’ if they would have been watching, but something would have happened to keep them from stumbling. It could be that watching helps us to walk in the spirit as opposed to walking in the flesh. Jesus told them to watch and pray, because even though the spirit is willing to resist temptation, the flesh is weak. Or maybe, they would have received a special Scripture that would have been what they needed to resist future temptations.  Either way, watching can help keep us from yielding to temptation. I don’t think it is saying we will never meet temptation, but that we will be better prepared to not enter into or succumb to it. 
Today, believers have the Holy Spirit in them that guides them. “Howbeit, when He, the spirit of Truth is come, He will guide you into all truth; for He shall not speak of Himself; but whatsoever He shall hear, that shall He speak: and He will shew you things to come” (John16:13). The Holy Spirit is able to give us discernment and insight in every area of life, whether serious or the small day to day things. “But the Comforter, who is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you” (John 14:26).  We also know that the Holy Spirit helps our prayers and makes intercession for us. I always thought that the Holy Spirit would translate what I was saying to God, but maybe the Holy Spirit helps us to understand what God is trying to say to us also. “Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered. He that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because He maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God” (Romans 8:27).
In the book, God’s Smuggler, Brother Andrew went to an evening service of about 12 men and women. He was surprised that the evening involved mostly listening. “Occasionally in the listening, expectant stillness, one of the group would apparently hear something else: some instruction, some piece of information, that came from outside his own knowledge. This too would be spoken aloud. ‘Joost’s mother in America needs our prayers tonight.’ ‘We thank you Lord that our prayers for Stephje has just now been answered.” (God’s Smugglerby Brother Andrew and John and Elizabeth Sherrill) This went on until 4:30 in the morning! One day the leader of the group came to Andrew and told him that they had heard from the Lord the night before that he needed to learn to drive. This was baffling to him, because cars were expensive and he never expected to own one. Months later, family friends called to tell him they were giving him their almost brand-new Volkswagen and they wouldn’t take no for an answer. So off he went to pick it up.
So in your next quiet time, purpose to ‘watch’ a little, rather than saying your usual prayer and moving on. What convicted me was that Jesus was troubled that Peter, John, and James could not even watch for one hour. This makes my prayer time look pitiful, not to mention the amount of time I spend watching. Could God say the same thing to us? “(Fill in your name), could ye not even watch one hour? 10 miuntes? 5 minutes?” Ouch.  Imagine the temptations and relationship struggles we could avoid if we purposed to watch and hear from the Lord.
-How much time will you set aside each day to specifically ‘watch’?
-Can you think of defeats that could have been avoided, if you would have watched and prayed?
-When faced with temptations and trials, do you go to the Lord in prayer?
“Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the Lord” (Proverbs 8:34-35).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide.

Happy Birthday Dear Mommy!

Thank you for your many many years of faithful sacrifice, loving service, and your incredible example of being a virtuous woman! I wouldn't be who I am without fact I wouldn't be here at all! 
Thank you for teaching me that the hard things are the best things, and that God will never ever leave or forsake me no matter what! I wish I could grow up to be 1/2 of what you've been for me if God ever gives me children! You're the best mother I could ever ask for...most faithful friend....and strengthen and support me when I'm weak and help me see how easily my focus can stray from Christ...and you are an amazing example of living with a passion for Him who alone can supply all our needs!!!!
I love you lots:) 

"May the Lord answer you in the day of your trouble

May the name of the Lord be your strong mighty tower
May He grant you your heart's deepest dreams and desires
May He answer each time you call

May He pour out the blessing of heaven
May you cast your cares on Him and daily fall
May you live to see your children's children
May Lord Jesus be your All in All

May the Lord Jesus Christ satisfy beyond all measure
May His Word light your path
May His Peace guard your heart
May your days be filled with gladness, joy and peace through any sadness
Filled with love that will not depart

May your strength be renewed like the eagle
As you run the race may joy flood every part
May your memories all be sweet in each parting
May the peace of Christ rule in your heart

May His word be to you health and life, joy and treasure
May your home be a light
May the Lord guard your ways
May the Lord be your shepherd
May His goodness and mercy follow after you all your days!

May His mercies be new every morning
May His grace and Holy Spirit help you stand
May you live your life to die for the gospel
May you hold to His unchanging hand

May the Lord answer you in the day of your trouble
May the name of the Lord be your strong mighty tower
May He grant you your heart's deepest dreams and desires
May He answer each time you call
May He answer each time you call"

(The Blessing Son by Dennis Jernigan)

"Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD; that walketh in his ways.
For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be,
and it shall be well with thee.
Thy wife shall be as a fruitful vine by the sides of thine house: thy
 children like olive plants round about thy table.
Behold, that thus shall the man be blessed that feareth the LORD.
The LORD shall bless thee out of Zion: and thou shalt see the good of
Jerusalem all the days of thy life.
Yea, thou shalt see thy children’s children, and peace upon Israel." Psalm 128

Visiting Relatives!

In mid November on our trip to the National Bible Bee we took a week beforehand so that we could visit relatives we haven't seen for some time. It was great to catch up with them, and see how God has been working in their lives. I've got alot of pictures here, so I'll just see how many of them I can think of captions for:) ....enjoy!!!!! 

Evan & I loved the Nashville airport's escalator system. It was super fun to run up and down, while we were waiting 3 hours for our rental car after a long day of flying. 

In our travels to Nashville At the Kansas City airport. 

We got a little carried away with the tin soldier:) 

Quick, Look over there ...

This will definetly cause you to move.... Or maybe not! 

Whole Food's chocolate display.... Candy anyone? 

Evan wishing he was a Jost.... And pretty much scaring me away. ( for those of your who don't know the Jost's, look up Jostie Flicks on You Tube) 

We were extremely blessed to be able to share in a special time with our Grandma. Not only is she our last remaining grandparent, but she is also a great example of gratefulness, & not growing weary in well doing. 
It was extra special to be able to celebrate Dad's birthday with Grandma as well. 

I think this is one of my favorite photos ever of Mom & Dad. I just love their expressions:) 

Whole Foods has the best cheesecake....unless of course you make it yourself:) 

Now that's one amazing brother. BTW Evan took quite a few of these pictures with his new iPhone.
He is very pleased with the quality of the image, and I've come to accept the fact that my point & shoot camera is simply an inferior product. 

Evan & I enjoyed taking Grandma's dog Sidney for a walk to the nearby lake the next morning, 

The lake was beautiful, and it really made me wish we had a boat:)

Miss pretty:) Grandma's cat. 

Some local crafters made this corn husk doll for my Grandma. I was very impressed with the intricate designs on the hat and basket and how it was all made out of cornhusks. 

A family photo at 2:00 am. Don't we look tired:) 
This concluded our visit with Grandma. We were so grateful to be able to space time with her, and hear stories of times past. It really gave me a new perspective on the shortness of our time here, when I heard my grandma recalling things from 70 years ago as if it was just yesterday. Oh if only we would realize how short our time is, how it would affect our present lives. 

The view from Ian & Kayla's apartment.

From Grandma's house we drove to Ian & Kayla's house in Virginia, where we spent the next few days catching up on their lives, and enjoying every moment with our sweet niece Elizabeth. 

Elizabeth really took a liking to Evan, or maybe she just liked his iPad.
No I'm certain it was him... She would smile every time she saw him, and it was so cute to see Evan holding her....I can't recall the last time I've seen him take to a baby so much. 

Ian & Kayla's apartments were quite beautiful and I especially enjoyed the landscape, and water features which attracted many wildlife. 

A sweet Little girl with daddy's hat = intense cuteness.. 

Ian is still a most excellent cook, and when he's in the know you'll be eating good. 

Grandma loves her sweet baby girl. ( I think Elizabeth must have seen Evan out of the corner of her eye:) 

Just car sitting:) 

While we were in Virginia, We enjoyed going to some antique stores, and auctions with Ian & Kayla, & some of us (who's names will remain anonymous) really got into the sprit of auction buying, which created the unique challenge of getting the purchases home. (8 boxes shipped, & 5 extra carry-on items later, we managed to get everything home) 

Seeing Ian & Kayla with Elizabeth...taking care of her so well...and being such excellent parents was so  sweet, and it really made me realize how much our parents do & did for us when we were so helpless. 

I really enjoyed spending time with Ian & Kayla & Elizabeth, and especially liked when Kayla let me help out with diaper changing, laundry & nap time for Elizabeth. 

O.k. So I'm not really into antiques but this doll house was simply amazing! 

Fully furnished, and complete with electricity, no detail was overlooked in the creation of this masterpiece. 

Here's an up close of the inside of one of the rooms, complete with two cute puppies. 

After a couple hours at the auction, Mom, Kayla, Elizabeth, & I took a break, & went to a gigantic Goodwill. 
This Goodwill was larger than any I've ever been into before. Not only did they have a huge retail store, complete with departments, 6 isles of skirts, and more clothing than you could ever possibly need, they also had 2 sale colors, & a $2.00 color of the week as well. In other words, if you're ever in Virginia Beach plan on taking a day to stop at this one of a kind Goodwill. 

Twins:) Don't we look alike?.... O.k. Maybe the one on the right is a bit more mature:)

We all loved this beautiful drive along the ocean. It was amazing that many of the trees still had leaves. 

Kayla & Elizabeth having fun! 

We also enjoyed celebrating Ian's birthday together. It was so special to be able to spend time with Ian & Kayla & Elizabeth, and we look forward to the next time we can see them. 
God is so good to care about His children, and to give us parents who care about us so much!!! 

"The blessing of the LORD, it maketh rich, and he addeth no sorrow with it."
Proverbs 10:22

Keep My Commandments!

Greetings! This week’s commandment is to Keep My Commandments. Now, this is certainly relevant for a weekly e-mail about the commands of Christ! Jesus said, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:15). When I had read this before, I had thought that it meant that we must OBEY God’s commands. While we are called to obey His Word, this command is specifically talking about ‘keeping’ them. The word ‘keep’ means to guard (from loss or injury, keeping the eye upon); to observe, to give heed to, to watch over. This is the same word that was used for the jailer who was to watch over Paul and Silas in prison. His duty to ‘keep’ his prisoners was so important that when he failed, he immediately thought to take his own life.
This past week our relatives visited from California and we decided to surprise them and meet them at the airport. We were early according to the arrival screen so we walked around a little before waiting at the gate. Group after group came around the corner and we kept saying, “Oh there they are! Oh I see Auntie Carol!,” but it was always someone else. We didn’t take our eyes off of the gate for half an hour waiting expectantly to see them. Finally, we got word from my sister that they had already arrived awhile ago. Their flight had been early and we missed them by about 5 minutes! We immediately called them and they were already on their way to their hotel! We laughed about how we were standing there looking diligently for them to come, even though they were never coming! Our alert watching reminds me of what it means to ‘keep’ or ‘watch over.’ We were expectantly looking and all our energy was going towards watching for them. We should be investing the same energy into ‘keeping’ God’s commands.
This word ‘keep’ gives the idea that what you are watching over is very important. We were not excited to surprise every passenger that came off the plane, but were waiting for our relatives who are important to us. It is not the same as watching some house plant you have to tend to, but it is something that is so valuable that you are willing to invest all your energies to keep your eye on it. Is not the Word of God the most precious and valuable thing we have? Should not His commands be a treasure to us and the apple of our eyes? In Matthew we read that, “Where your treasure is, there will your heart be also” (Matthew6:21). If we see God’s Word as a treasure, then we will keep it before our eyes, and where our treasure is, there will our heart be also. Meaning, that the command to ‘keep My commandments’ is a command to have a heart that longs for His Words.
At first I wondered why these passages kept using the word ‘keep’ and not ‘obey’. It came to my mind that sometimes I obey God outwardly, but I do not really know God’s Word and the spirit behind it. I know how I should act and I often inadvertently follow His commands, but they are not continually before my heart. If I saw God’s Word as a treasure, then I would be motivated to obey out of love, not just obeying, because that is the civilized thing to do. God doesn’t just want apathetic obedience—that is what the Pharisees did. God wants His children to LOVE His commands and to treasure them. If we have a heart for God’s Word, obedience will be a delight, not drudgery. “Sacrifice and offering thou didst not desire; mine ears hast thou opened: burnt offering and sin offering hast thou not required. Then said I, Lo, I come: in the volume of the book it is written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: yea, thy law is within my heart” (Psalm 40:6-8).
Well how do we ‘guard’ God’s commandments and ‘observe’ His statutes? If we want to have them continually before our eyes, then we need to always be carrying around our Bible. However, God gave us a memory, which allows us to hide His Word in our hearts. So whether we are walking, lying down, rising up, or doing our daily tasks, we can have the Word before us. Parents’ and grandparents’ wallets are often filled with pictures of their children or grandchildren, not their bosses, accountant, or Pastor. They carry these, because these people are a treasure to them. Let us carry around God’s Word in our hearts and think on these commands. “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then shalt thou have good success” (Joshua 1:8).

-What Scripture have you memorized and meditated on?
-What commands have you internalized so that they become a part of your life?
-Do you treasure God’s Word above all things?
“He that hath My commandments and keepeth them, he it is that loveth Me, and he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and manifest Myself unto him” (John 14:21).
“For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments and His commandments are not grievous” (I John 5:3).

Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

Except a Man be Born Again!

Hello! We are on Command #43, which means that after this week there are only six commands until we have studied all 49 commands! I just read the first command e-mail that I sent out and it is very similar to this command. The first command, if you remember, is to ‘Repent.’ This week’s command is to ‘Be Born Again.’ Jesus said, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God…Ye must be born again” (John 3:3, 7). When I first looked at this command I thought it was the same as the first command, but actually they are very different commands.
When Nicodemus came to Jesus in the night, Jesus told him that he must be born again. Nicodemus was baffled at the thought that he was supposed to return to his mother’s womb and be re-born.  Jesus answered, “Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of heaven” (John 3:5). This command is not a command to repent, but is a command that shows us that we must receive the Holy Spirit if we are to be saved. Just as a baby enters the world upon birth, so we enter the kingdom of God upon new birth. The command to repent is related, because repentance causes us to see our sin as it is and to admit that we need a Savior to deliver us from what we deserve.
So how does one become ‘born again’? To be born again means that we have received the Holy Spirit of God, because we have put our faith in Jesus Christ as Savior. “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also that after ye have believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians1:13).
We are born with a sin nature (see Genesis) that makes us guilty before God (I Corinthians15:22; James 2:10). Even in our best efforts we cannot be good people and keep God’s Laws perfectly (Romans 3:23). God loved all the people He created and wanted to have a right relationship with them so He sent His only Son, Jesus Christ to the world “That whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but should have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved” (John 3:15-17). Jesus lived a sinless life and died a painful death on the cross to pay the price for the sins we had committed (Is. 53:5). With His blood He blotted out the sins that were written against us (Col. 2:13-14). He did this not, because we are good people that try to do what is right, or because we deserve a second chance. God gave us forgiveness of sins through Jesus, because He loves us (Romans 5:8). If you believe this, and repent of a life lived without God, and acknowledge that you need Christ’s sacrifice to make you right with God, then you can have eternal life. You don’t need to say a magic prayer, or have lighting come down from heaven.  “If thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation” (Romans 10:9-10).
I am a sinner and I came to a place six years ago where I realized that my religiousness and my worldly ways were not good enough to get me into a true relationship with Christ. God brought me to a place where I repented of how I had been living my life. Although I repented, that was not the end of the story. I also realized that I needed Christ to forgive my sins and that I needed Him as my Savior forever. I didn’t have to say a specific prayer or walk down the church isle or know everything about what it meant to be a Christian. I knew I had violated God’s commands and did not love Him fully, and when I acknowledged this in my heart, I found I had new life. My desires changed, my thoughts changed, I had a song in my heart. The things that had once been a temptation and a snare no longer held me in bondage.  I was a new creature, I was born into God’s family and my life has never been the same.  “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold all things are become new” (II Corinthians 5:17).
The message of the Gospel and the truth that we can be ‘born again’ is hard for many to grasp. The Duck Commander Phil Robertson of the show Duck Dynasty states it plainly in his interview with Lifeway. In his testimony, Phil tells of “God coming down in the flesh” to pay the price and to remove all of his sins. Then he says, “It’s actually too wild a story to dream up by human beings, especially sinful ones.” ( How wonderfully true that is. The Bible tells of us the most beautiful and mind-boggling truths of love and sacrifice…something sinful humans could not come up with on their own.
-Is there a time when you repented and were ‘born again’?
-How has your life changed from that time?
-Does your daily life show that you are a member of the family of God?t
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord“ (Romans 6:23).
Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide

In Remembrance of Me!

Once again God has been faithful to bring something into my life that has gone right along with the command for the week. This week’s command is ‘Take, Eat, Drink.’ “And as they were eating, Jesus took bread and blessed and brake it, and gave it to the disciples and said, Take, eat, this is My body, And He took the cup, and gave thanks, and gave it to them saying, Drink ye all of it; for this is My blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins” (Matthew 26:26-28).

I find myself wondering what the disciples must have been thinking as Christ stood before them asking them to eat His body and drink His blood. I wondered why He didn’t choose a cross or sacrifice a lamb ‘as a remembrance;’ wouldn’t that be easier to understand for His disciples? It became clear that while the cross and a lamb remind us of Jesus, it is not what established the ‘new covenant.’  “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats should take away sins. Wherefore when He cometh into the world, He saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldst not, but a body hast thou prepared for me…By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all…For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are sanctified. Whereof the Holy Ghost also is a witness to us: for after that He had said before, This is the covenant that I will make with them after those days, saith the Lord, I will put my laws into their hearts, and in their minds will I write them; and their sins and iniquities will I remember no more” (Hebrews 10:4-5, 10, 14-17).Christ made a new covenant through the sacrifice of His body and the shedding of His blood. We now can receive remission of sins, be baptized with the Holy Spirit, and have our stony hearts made new by His Word. Taking the bread and the juice are a reminder that without Him dying a painful death, and shedding His blood for the sins of the world, there is no remission of sins. “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood there is no remission” (Hebrews 9:22).

Communion is a time to remember what Christ did for us, and it is also a time to examine ourselves. “Wherefore, whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord. But let a man examine Himself, and so let him eat of that bread and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body” (I Corinthians 11:27-29). Communion should be a time where we evaluate our relationship with the Lord and with others. It has been wisely said, “Sacred events that are repeated over and over will soon lose their significance and become meaningless rituals, unless the essential nature and purpose for them is also repeated” (Commands of Christ study guide: Series 6, p. 71). Evaluating ourselves helps us to understand the magnitude of what communion represents, rather than making it a ritual.

This past Sunday we partook in the Lord’s supper. I was asking God to show me the truth and to help me not be like the Pharisees of Jesus’ day who had hardened their hearts. I was feeling pretty spiritual as we left church, but God quickly knocked me off my high horse. Within a few hours I was on my bed languishing over my true condition. You now those moments when God just gives you a little glimpse of what you are really like? That moment when you realize that you are the ‘chief of all sinners’ and that you are very capable of being desperately wicked? I was truly feeling distressed over my pride, hypocrisy, selfishness, and plain ugliness and felt completely unworthy of being called a Christian. Anybody else have those moments? Days? To ease my discomfort and to seek encouragement, I decided to start studying the command for this week.  I saw that the command was on communion. ‘Great,’ I thought, ‘this has nothing to do with what I am feeling right now!” But it turns out it was just what I needed to hear. When God helped me to evaluate myself, I saw some very ugly things. I chose the ‘doom and gloom’ response, but God doesn’t show us our flaws to criticize and discourage us. He wants us to grow in Him, to realize that we can’t be good Christians in our own strength, and to help us see that we NEED a Savior Who died for the remission of our sins and cleared the record by His death on the cross. I started out feeling like I was scum to realizing the beauty of the Lord’s supper—Christ gave His body and His blood for me because He loved me, and because of that, He is in me working to make me more like Him. Praise the Lord!

“The more we uncover our true nature, the more we see our need for the power of Christ to change us” (Commands of Christ study guide: Series 6, Pg. 71). Read the following hymn and sing it aloud if you know it (just do it!). It is a wonderful picture of the essence of the Lord’s supper—our sin, the sacrifice of His blood and body, and our remembrance of what He did and is doing for us.

Beneath the Cross of Jesus hymn by Elizabeth C. Clephane

Verse 2: Upon that cross of Jesus mine eyes at times can see,

The very dying form of One Who suffered there for me,

And from my smitten heart with tears, two wonders I confess—

The wonders of redeeming love, and my unworthiness.

 -Do I ask the Lord to search my heart, and do I examine myself before partaking in communion?

-Do I use communion as a time to remember what it cost Christ for my salvation?

-Am I purposing to be right with others?

“How much more shall the blood of Christ, Who through the eternal Spirit, offered Himself without spot to God, purge your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? And for this cause He is the mediator for the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions that were under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance” (Hebrews 9:14-15).


Notes adapted from IBLP Commands of Christ study guide and pocket guide