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Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750)
Johann Sebastian Bach was born into the musical family of Bachs in 1685. By the age of ten, both of his parents were dead. Early in his friction-filled life, young Johann determined he would write music … music for the glory of God … and this he did.
Most of Bach’s works are explicitly Biblical. Albert Schweitzer referred to him as The fifth evangelist, thus comparing him to Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. At age 17 Bach became the organist at the church; soon thereafter he was given charge of the entire music ministry.
During his ministry in Weimar, Germany he wrote a new cantata every month … EVERY MONTH! And during one three-year period he wrote, conducted, orchestrated, and performed (with his choir and orchestra) a new cantata every week!
No one had any idea what a mark Bach would leave. His legacy lives on some 300 years later. You can hear his music at will.
At the beginning of every authentic manuscript one will find the letters “J.J.” This stands for Jesu Java (Jesus help me). At the end of each original manuscript you will find the letters “S.D.G.” This stands for Soli Deo Gloria (to the glory of God).
Bach is a reminder that one who gives his life to Jesus and serves Him does not count it a loss. Mk 8:35 For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it.
WHY DID JESUS NEED TO BE BAPTIZED?
So why would Jesus need to be baptized by John?
Well... Jesus' baptism by John was the beginning of Jesus' ministry
Mark 1:1 starts out: "The BEGINNING of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God" and then Mark starts telling us about Jesus' baptism by John.
In Luke 3:23 we're told of Jesus' baptism by John and then we read: "Now Jesus himself was about thirty years old when he BEGAN HIS MINISTRY..."
Obviously, for some reason, Jesus' ministry began with His baptism.
Now, at this point in Jewish history, water baptism served one of 3 purposes.
1st, there was the Baptism Of Repentance.
This was what John the Baptist's was preaching.
But of course Jesus didn't need to repent because He hadn't sinned.
The 2nd kind of baptism was for people who desired to convert to Judaism.
It was a Baptism Of Conversion.
If you were a Gentile who wanted to convert to Judaism, they baptized you in water.
ILLUS: Jamieson, Fausset and Brown explained that: "The Jews were accustomed to say of a heathen proselyte, on his public admission into the Jewish faith BY BAPTISM, that he was a new-born child."
So, baptism was used when someone wanted to convert to Judaism. But Jesus had no need to convert to Judaism. He already was one. He'd been born a Jew.
So baptism in those days could be for repentance or conversion... and Jesus did not need to be baptized for those reasons. So, for what OTHER reason would a person be baptized in water back then???
Well, the only other people who experienced baptism - in the Jewish faith in that day were priests. The Law dictated that especially the High Priest was to "washed with water." And the Temple had pools set aside for just that purpose.
In Leviticus 8:6 we're told that - by the instruction of God -- "Moses brought Aaron and his sons forward and washed them with water."
Then, later, during that ceremony Moses "poured some of the anointing oil on Aaron's head and anointed him to consecrate him." Leviticus 8:12
This act INITIATED Aaron's ministry as High Priest. When Aaron and his sons were washed with water and anointed with oil, they BEGAN their priesthood and were empowered to make sacrifices and to handle holy things as God's representatives.
At that point (their baptism) God put His mark of approval on the ministry of Aaron and his sons.
The Bible tells us that Jesus' ministry began with His baptism by John.
After His baptism, the Father anointed Jesus with the Holy Spirit as it descended on Him in form of a dove. And the Father put His mark of approval on Jesus by loudly declaring:
"This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased." Matthew 3:17
This was the beginning of Jesus' ministry as our High Priest.
Did you realize Jesus was our High Priest?
Indeed He is!
Hebrews 4:14: "...we have a great high priest who has gone through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God..."
From the day of His baptism by John at the Jordan until His death on the Cross, Jesus (as our High Priest) prepared the ultimate sacrifice for our sins... His own body.
MOODY AND THE FILLING OF THE SPIRIT
One of the great preachers in U.S. history is D. L. Moody. He pastored in Chicago and there is still a wonderful Bible College there that bears his name and values. Mr. Moody was a successful minister, but by his own admission, he lacked the power in his ministry. One day two women came up to him after a service. They said, "We have been praying for you."
"Why don't you pray for the people?" he asked.
"Because you need the power of the Spirit," they said.
"I need the power! Why?" said Mr. Moody
In relating the incident years after he writes, "I thought I had power. I had the largest congregation in Chicago, and there were many conversions."
Moody also said that in a sense, he was satisfied. He was in a comfort zone. But these two praying women rocked the boat. They told him that they were praying for an anointing by the Holy Spirit. Mr. Moody could not get this off his mind and he wrote, "There came a great hunger in my soul. I did not know what it was and I began to cry out to God as never before. I felt I did not want to live if I could not have this power for service."
Rev. Moody began crying out for God to fill him. He withdrew, prayed, and sought it over a period of time. He writes the following: "Well, one day, in the city of New York -- oh, what a day! -- I cannot describe it, I seldom refer to it; it is almost too sacred an experience to name. Paul had an experience of which he never spoke for fourteen years. I can only say that God revealed Himself to me, and I had such an experience of His love that I had to ask Him to stay His hand. I went to preaching again. The sermons were not different; I did not present any new truths, and yet hundreds were converted. I would not now be placed back where I was before that blessed experience if you should give me all the world."
FOX SPORTS PLAY OF THE DAY
"Peter replied, 'Repent and be baptized, everyone of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit’" (Acts 2:38).
Pat Summerall spent 50 years with the national Football League. He was drafted by the Detroit Lions in 1952 and played with the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants until 1961. After his retirement from the game, he joined CBS as a broadcaster, and in 1993 switched to Fox. During his CBS years he and a fellow broadcaster partied hard off the field. "We raised Cain. I was the first guy at the bar and the last to leave." Summerall was told that if he kept on drinking he was going to die.
After checking himself into the Betty Ford Clinic, his counselor urged him to seek a better life through faith. At age 66, Pat Summerall was baptized. In USA Today he told a reporter that when the minister "leaned me back in the water, I never felt so helpless." Summerall testified, "I knew I just became a Christian. I can’t tell you how great life has been since then."
Baptism is a faith response to the gospel of Christ. In baptism we are indeed helpless. We are sinners in t...
Redemption and Restoration in Real Life
I conclude this morning with a story about what happened since a tragic event that took place 9 months ago around Christmas time at New Life Church in Colorado Springs. I share it because I think it makes a point about moving beyond the 'Who, Them?' To THEM!
The event was the shooting of several people in the church parking lot and building that left three dead and three wounded. The young man, who had done the shooting, killed himself after being shot by a security guard. Earlier that day, he had entered Youth with A Mission Headquarters in suburban Denver, shooting four and killing two. His name was Matthew Murray, and he had been raised in a Christian home.
The tragedy shook the church that had just started to come out of the painful and very public story about their former pastor's, Ted Haggard, sexual sin. Now they were faced with this terrible tragedy.
In a recent Christianity Today article, it was told that after granting the interview to talk about that day and its after effects, it was revealed that Brady Boyd, the current Senior Minister, called Murray's parents and asked if they would like to come to New Life and see where 'their son had passed away.' They said they had wanted to, but had refrained from do so because of their concerns for the church. They were also asked if they would be willing to meet with members of the family who had lost two teenage daughters that morning. They said yes. The same invitation was extended to the victim's family, the Work's. They said yes.
After showing the Murrays around the church where the tragic events took place, they met with the Work's in Boyd's office. "What happened there in the two hours in my office ... was the most significant ministry moment I've experienced, maybe in all of my life," Boyd said. When they first entered the office, the two families embraced. They sat, wept, and cried together, Boyd said, for "I don't know how long." Then they prayed together.
Later Jeanne Assam [the security guard who shot Murray] was invited to join them. When Jeanne, who had undoubtedly saved many lives but had been forced to shoot the Murray's son, walked into the room, "the Murrays embraced her and hugged her and released her from any guilt and remorse. The dad looked at Jeanne and said, "Please know we're so sorry that you had to do what you did. We're so sorry."
The article concludes with these words from Boyd, "We can talk philosophically about repentance and redemption and going forward with God," Boyd said, "but what I saw in that room in my office was the greatest testimony of forgiveness and redemption that I have ever seen. It was a testimony that God really can restore and redeem."
John Williams III
Jesus lifted up the spirit of a discouraged preacher who retired early because of what happened to him. "In the Pentecostal Evangel church leader George U. Wood writes:
"Have you ever heard a healing take place? I have. I listened to an audiotape of Duane Miller teaching his Sunday school class from the text of Psalm 103 at the First Baptist Church in Brenham, Texas, on January 17, 1993. Duane prematurely retired from pastoring three years earlier because of a virus which penetrated the myelin sheath around the nerves in his vocal cords, reducing his speech to a raspy whisper....
"Teaching his class that day with a special microphone resting on his lips,
he reaffirmed his belief in divine healing and that miracles had not ended
with the Book of Acts. Listening to the tape, at times you can barely
understand his weakly spoken wheezy words of faith. The miracle happened at verse 4 when he said, "I have had and you have had in times
past pit experiences."
"On the word pit his life changed—the word was as clear as a bell, in contrast to the imperfect enunciation of the preceding "word past. He paused, startled; began again and stopped. He said a few more words—all in a normal clear tone—and stopped again. The class erupted with shouts of joy, astonishment and sounds of weeping. God completely healed him as he was declaring the truth in this psalm. (You can read the full account in Miller’s book Out of the Silence, Nelson Publishers.)". (Craig Brian Larson. Choice Contemporary Stories & Illustrations For Preachers, Teachers, & Writers. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1998, p. 116). If there is anything that this story tells us it is this, never underestimate what God can do! It was the healing touch of Jesus that gave Rev. Duane Miller the full range of his voice again!
The Didache, is a first or second century document that relates to us outside the New Testament the teaching of the early church. This document "prescribed two fast days a week: Wednesday and Friday." For early Christians; this was seen as a regular part of daily discipleship.
John Wesley sought to revive the teaching of the Didache and urged early Methodists to fast on Wednesdays and Fridays. He felt so strongly about this matter that he refused to ordain anyone to the Methodist ministry who did not fast on those two days.
Matthew Henry said, "Fasting is a laudable practice and we have reason to lament that it is generally neglected among Christians."
Hudson Taylor the great missionary and founder of China Inland Mission, said, "In Shansi I found Chinese Christians who were accustomed to spend time in fasting and prayer. They recognized that this fasting, which so many dislike, which requires faith in God, since it makes one feel weak and poorly, is really a Divinely appointed means of grace. Perhaps the greatest hindrance to our work is our own imagined strength; and in fasting we learn what poor, weak creatures we are-dependent on a meal of meat for the little strength which we are so apt to lean upon."
D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones: "I wonder whether we have ever fasted? I wonder whether it has even occurred to us that we ought to be considering the question of fasting? The fact is, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives and right out of our whole Christian thinking."
WHAT IS YOUR COLT?
Bill Wilson pastors an inner city church in New York City. His mission field is a very violent place. He himself has been stabbed twice as he ministered to the people of the community surrounding the church. Once a Puerto Rican woman became involved in the church and was led to Christ. After her conversion she came to Pastor Wilson and said, "I want to do something to help with the church’s ministry." He asked her what her talents were and she could think of nothing---she couldn’t even speak English---but she did love children. So he put her on one of the church’s buses that went into neighborhoods and transported kids to church. Every week she performed her duties. She would find the worst-looking kid on the bus, put him on her lap and whisper over and over the only words she had learned in English: "I love you. Jesus loves you."
After several months, she became attached to one little boy in particular. The boy didn’t speak. He came to Sunday School every week with his sister and sat on the woman’s lap, but he never made a sound. Each week she would tell him all the way to Sunday School and all the way home, "I love you and Jesus loves you."
One day, to her amazement, the little boy turned around and stammered, "I---I---I love you too!" Then he put his arms around her and gave her a big hug. That was 2:30 on a Sunday afternoon. At 6:30 that night he was found dead. His own mother had beaten him to death and thrown his body in the trash......."I love you and Jesus loves you." ....Those were some of the last words this little boy heard in his short life---from the...
*Bob Russell shared that several months before they moved into their new church building in 1998, their ministry staff met at the new site for a special staff meeting. Most of the building still wasn’t carpeted, and some of the rooms still had no drywall. They handed out hard hats, magic markers, and a few Bibles. They instructed the staff members to go to the classrooms and offices in the building where they would be working and write Scripture verses on the concrete floors. Bob told them, “Someday soon the Scriptures will be covered with carpet. But I hope you will always remember what you have written today. And what we do today will be a visible reminder that we are always to stand on God’s Word.”
*He said the staff really got into it. Some of them used cans of spray paint they had brought so the words would show up better. It bothered him a little because some of them acted as if they had experience at doing that. He said those in the children’s ministry wrote things like, “Let the little children come to me…for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these.” In the education wing, the adult education ministers wrote things like, “Study to show yourself approved unto God,” and “Your Word have I hid in my heart that I might not sin against you.”
*In the music practice rooms, the music ministers wrote, “Sing and make music unto the Lord,” and “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord.” In the offices of the preaching team, they wrote passages like, “Preach the Word in season and out of season,” and “Watch your life and doctrine closely…if you do, you will save both yourself and your hearers.”
*He said the Scriptures on the floor idea caught on, and soon hundreds of church members followed suit. In a matter of weeks, there were Scriptures all over the concrete floors – down hallways, on stairways, on the steps leading up to the pulpit. He saw moms and dads bring their children to the building just to write their favorite Scriptures on the concrete floors. They actually considered asking people to stop because they started writing in places they hadn’t planned to cover with carpet! But they decided it wasn’t a good idea to make people quit writing Scriptures.
*He told of one of the small groups that had volunteered to help clean the building one afternoon. As they were preparing to leave, Marty Rice, prayer leader of the group, said, “Why don’t we write down a Scripture reference in one of the rooms before we leave?” So they found a small room that didn’t have any Scriptures yet. Rick Nally, one of the group members, said, “How about the passage where Jesus said, ‘Where two or three of you are gathered in my name, there am I in the midst of you’?” Marty asked what the reference was. “I think it’s Matthew 18:28,” Rick said. Marty stooped and wrote, “Matthew 18:28” and the group’s name on the floor in permanent marker. Later that evening at a restaurant, Rick brought in his Bible from the car to double-check the reference. He said, “Oh no. It’s Matthew 18:20, not 18:28.” Someone asked the obvious question: “What’s verse 28 say?” Rick read, “When that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. ‘Pay back what you owe me!’ he demanded.”
*Russell said, “I suppose if you are ever in our building and, while standing in certain classroom, suddenly have the urge to choke someone, you’ll know why!”
*But aside from that the building became a dramatic reminder to all of them that the church has been called to stand upon the Word of God.
Bob Russell who preaches in Louisville was raised on a farm in Pennsylvania and he tells the story of his first youth minister who was a city-boy. Now his youth group was made up mostly of kids from the farm so they didn’t think they would have much in common with this city slicker and so weren’t much ready to listen to him. The entire youth group was at Bob’s one Saturday and it came time to milk the cows. This youth minister said, "Can I go down to the barn with you and see what is all about?" Bob said, "Sure," and Harry Orn, the new minister, headed with the others to the barn. What the youth group didn’t know was that Harry had worked each summer on his grandfather’s dairy farm. Well, Harry watched the milking for a little bit and then sheepishly said, "Could I try that?" Bob said, they welcomed the idea because they knew that it would be good for a laugh. So he sat down tentatively on the stool and he grabbed the cow in the appropriate place and 2 or 3 of the boys leaned way over to get a good laugh when this city slicker couldn’t get any milk out of the cow. And Bob says, "he suddenly turned that cow’s spicket right up at us and squirted us right across the face." Everybody thought it was hilarious. And you know what? He was an instant hit. Well, Bob says, maybe not instant, it took a couple of minutes, but Harry Orn was able to fit right in with the kids and had a great ministry. Listen, God can use any talent that you have, even milking cows.