MEM(Messianic Email Message)
Psalms 119:97 - 104
For His Glory!
Those who could Understand
A few weeks ago I heard a discussion by some elders about being baptized. Indeed it was thought provoking and helpful. One question was; about at what age or when should one be baptized. The general consensus was, ‘when one was accountable’. Of course that would only lead to other questions about accountability. What would be your response?
Is there a certain age? Does one reach that age and they are suddenly accountable? Is it a matter of maturity, which differs from one person to another? Is it different for girls than for boys? Can a pre-teen be held accountable for making a decision about baptism? Just how important is baptism anyway?
The eighth chapter of Nehemiah may shed some light on our question about baptism. Just reading this chapter is not enough without an understanding of the background of course; if you are not familiar with the book of Ezra and Nehemiah a good commentary may help. These books were written after Judah’s Babylonian captivity. The temple and the walls of Jerusalem had been re-built. It was the time of the Feast of Trumpets and Ezra was reading the Torah to the gathered assembly.
The interesting part is about the assembly:
Chapter 8:2 Then Ezra the priest brought the law before the assembly of men, women and all who could listen with understanding, on the first day of the seventh month.
3 He read from it before the square which was in front of the Water Gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of men and women, those who could understand; and all the people were attentive to the book of the law (Torah).
It was those who could listen with understanding. Could this have a bearing on our accountability question? But does this mean one should wait until they understand perfectly?
The Bible commentary by Gill comments on the 2nd verse with:
and all that could hear with understanding; all … who yet were capable of hearing the law read to some advantage to them:
This is the crux as I see it; when one has the ability to understand, they are able to start on the road that leads to the promises made by YHVH.
When I first married I understood the purpose and goal of marriage and the commitment of "until death do us part". Did I understand all that was involved? No! But I was determined to stick to my commitment no matter what.
It is my opinion that any person seeking baptism must understand enough to know it is as binding as a marriage contract (not by today’s standard but by the Almighty’s standard). There is no turning back; we are committing to be part of the bride of Messiah.
Back to Nehemiah 8:8 "(AV) So they read in the book in the law of God distinctly, and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading."
There were those who understood, who were mature, able to give instruction, so the listeners could understand. Gill comments on this:
"and gave the sense, and caused them to understand the reading; not hereby how to read it, but chiefly to understand what was read, that they might clearly know their duty to God and men:"
We cannot assume that all we have to do is read; understanding is crucial to being committed. Read on in Nehemiah to see what commitment these returning captives had for obedience toward YHVH.
Baptism is not just receiving forgiveness of sin, it is a commitment to being a part of the bride of Messiah; it is being empowered to live a life free from the bondage of sin. It is being placed in the Body of Messiah to give, to share, to learn, to grow; to contribute to the rest of the assembly.
1 Corinthians 12: 12-14 For even as the body is one and yet has many members, and all the members of the body, though they are many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body, whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free, and we were all made to drink of one Spirit. For the body is not one member, but many.
Baptism is much more than following a tradition, it is much more than being dunked under the water - are you willing to understand and make a commitment for life - for "eternal life"?
To YHVH be all glory; blessed be His Name.
Seek wise counsel:
Proverbs 1:5 A wise man will hear and increase in learning, And a man of understanding will acquire wise counsel,
Reason for repentance:
Proverbs 9:6 "Forsake your folly and live, And proceed in the way of understanding."
Proverbs 21:16 A man who wanders from the way of understanding will rest in the assembly of the dead.
Proverbs 28:5 Evil men do not understand justice, But those who seek the LORD understand all things.
"We begin with the end in mind only when we see that we are able to choose our responses and determine what we shall make of ourselves"
Stephen R. Covey
Deuteronomy 30:19 "I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants,
Job 34:4 "Let us choose for ourselves what is right; Let us know among ourselves what is good.
In our pursuit of humility:
"There is so little of the meek and lowly Lamb of God in those who are called by His name. Let us consider how our lack of love, indifference to the needs and feelings of others, even sharp comments and hasty judgments that are often excused as being honest and straightforward, are thwarting the effect of the influence of the Holy Spirit on others. Manifestations of temper and touchiness and irritation, feelings of bitterness and estrangement, have their root in nothing but pride." Andrew Murray
Without humility we can never achieve the fullness of the Spirit. When it comes time for one to be baptized, they must realize they want to forsake their selfish ways, the way of pride; to die to self and be a new person in Messiah.
Romans 6:4 Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
When the three thousand were standing before the disciples of Yeshua, on the day of Pentecost, they were observant, faithful, and desirous to walk a sinless life. When they were convicted of their overpowering sinful nature they too wanted to be released from their bondage to sin - "Acts 2:37 Now when they heard this, they were pierced to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, "Brethren, what shall we do?"
38 Peter said to them, "Repent, and each 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.
It is not only the act of repentance it is the receiving the Spirit that will empower one to walk in newness of life. Humility is the only way to allow the Spirit to do its work so we will not bear the fruits of the flesh but of the Spirit.
Did you know:
1 To what family does the hippopotamus belong?
2 What kind of dog has a remarkable sense of smell?
3 What comes first, thunder or lightning?
4 What kind of vegetable sounds like a body part?
5 What are a penguins arms called?
6 What kind of horse has a yellow coat and a white mane and tail?
7 What is the most poisonous fish?
8 What is the eagles’ nest called?
9 What insect carries malaria?
10 What is the state flower of Hawaii?
11 Where on the horse would you find its fetlock?
12 What gem is a clear form of carbon?
13 What are the two basic types of clouds?
1 pig family
2 the bloodhound
4 ear of corn
8 an aerie
9 the mosquito
12 a diamond
13 cumulus and stratus
Two hunters from Michigan
A guy buys a brand new Lincoln Navigator for $42,500 and has $560 monthly payments. He and a friend go duck hunting in winter, and of course all the lakes are frozen. These two guys go out on the lake with their guns, a dog, and of course the new vehicle. They drive out onto the lake ice and get ready.
Now, they want to make some kind of a natural landing area for the ducks, something for the decoys to float on. In order to make a hole large enough to look like something a wandering duck would fly down and land on, it is going to take a little more effort than an ice hole drill.
So, out of the back of the new Navigator comes a stick of dynamite with a short, 40 second fuse. Now these two Rocket Scientists DO take into consideration that they want to place the stick of dynamite on the ice at a location far from where they are standing (and the new Navigator), because they don't want to take the risk of slipping on the ice when they run from the burning fuse and possibly go up in smoke with the resulting blast.
They light the 40 second fuse and throw the dynamite. Remember a couple of paragraphs back when I mentioned the vehicle, the guns and the dog? Let's talk about the dog: A highly trained Black Lab used for RETRIEVING. Especially things thrown by the owner.
You guessed it, the dog takes off at a high rate of doggy speed on the ice and captures the stick of dynamite with the burning 40 second fuse about the time it hits the ice. The two men yell, scream, wave their arms and wonder what to do now. The dog, cheered on, keeps coming. One of the guys grabs the shotgun and shoots the dog. The shotgun is loaded with # 8 shot, hardly big enough to stop a Black Lab. The dog stops for a moment, slightly confused, but continues on. Another shot and this time the dog, still standing, becomes really confused and of course terrified.
The dog takes off to find cover, under the brand new Navigator. The men continue to yell as they run. The exhaust pipe on the truck is still hot, so the dog yelps and drops the dynamite under the truck, and takes off after his master. Then --BOOM-- the truck is blown to bits and sinks to the bottom of the lake in a very large hole, leaving the two men standing there with this "I can't believe this happened" look on their faces.
The insurance company says that sinking a vehicle in a lake by illegal use of explosives is not covered. He still had yet to make the first of those $560 a month payments!
And you thought your day was not going well?
The Garden Path
Singing to Plants?
I have a trait to admit to that might confirm my label of "crazy plant girl". I can be found singing to my plants. I can hear you thinking already, "She’s sweet and harmless, just a couple of plant cells short of a full flat of petunias." That’s alright, Yahweh still started the world as a garden and the first job ever was a gardener so I can’t be that far off. As to my singing to my plants I do have some scientific back up. When a human being speaks or sings, we exhale carbon dioxide. Plants need carbon dioxide to live, hence, I am singing life into my plants. In scripture there are many references to praising Yahweh in thanksgiving. I find that singing lifts my spirits, gives life to my soul and focuses my thinking on Yahweh. I sing when I am happy and I have learned to choose to sing when I am not, for in praising Yahweh, my spirit is renewed. Yahweh’s life is breathed over my soul as I sing around my plants.
Bill Moore was sure he could support the young Kettering girl, Mabel. But would that be in the best interest of their future? To continue on as a share-cropper and raise a family would be difficult with a weak and sickly wife. All the cards seemed stacked against him for a typical family model in this type of economy in their community.
The summer was drawing to a close; the whole community was busy with the harvesting of crops. For the most part it had been a bountiful year. Most were able to lay aside enough to get through the winter season and have seed for the spring planting. It was the last harvest for the Kettering family; it was Bill who found time and the extra strength to help them before they were to pack up and head North.
No one had stepped forth to take Mabel’s hand in marriage. What was to happen? With horse and wagon it would take a month for the Kettering family to reach the industrialized North. Finding housing and a job before the harsh winter set in would be a challenge. A letter from a second cousin indicated manual labor jobs were available for their two teenage sons or any hard working individual.
Knowing their situation the community called for another special prayer meeting, for the Kettering family, after the Sunday worship service. During the prayer time the same unknown man stood to speak another prophecy; "The young man who is to marry the young Kettering girl must step forward now. He will not have rest until this is accomplished. The Lord has plans for the two of them." There was silence as the congregation waited and wondered.
No movement. The floor boards of the building creaked as people shifted from one foot to another. Heads were still bowed; a few soft prayers were heard. Then heads began to lift as they heard the footsteps of someone walking to the front. It was Bill. As he arrived next to the pulpit he turned and said, "I, Bill Moore will take Mabel Kettering to wife and will support her, love her and walk in the way of the Lord with her".
A flood of "Amen’s" were heard. Mabel came forward in her Sunday best. Not fancy, just a plain faded blue dress, with a tattered red sash tied around her frail, thin waist. Her pale white face beamed with a sweet smile. She stood next to Bill and accepted his proposal. Pastor Michael opened his Bible and read about the first marriage in Genesis. He then pronounced them man and wife. The congregation clapped and sang Psalm 15 to encourage the new couple.
In all the commotion no one noticed the stranger, who had made the prophecy, was no longer there. Mabel wrapped her arms around Bills’ right arm and clung to him. He stood there, a strapping young man nearly six feet tall with a little whisk of a very young girl, not yet fully grown, whose head was barely over his belt.
Bill stood motionless. People gathered around them, shaking his hand and wishing him God’s blessings. His mind could hardly focus as he wondered what he would do next. What plans did the Almighty have for him? Where would he stay this night? How would he provide for Mabel?
Mabel was quick to pick up on what the well wishers were saying. An offer of a wagon, the mule given by another, a mattress, an ax, a shovel; on and on were offers of items that could help get them started. The Kettering family would be out of their share-cropper house (shack) in two days and they could occupy it until arrangements could be made with the land owner. Until then each stayed with their parents.
Bill had determined not to consummate the marriage until Mabel was older and in better health. He also wanted to have enough to properly provide before starting a family.
The next day pastor Michel took Mabel and Bill to the court house with his horse and carriage. It was a three hour trip one way. The proper papers were filled out and filed, a legal marriage certificate was obtained and they returned.
During the trip Mabel had Bill write down each and every promised gift offered by the congregation. Her memory was excellent. With each item she suggested how the two of them might use them to start their married life together. Yet during this process Bill could not help but wonder what God’s purpose in all of this was for them. So he would quiz the pastor at every opportunity about the direction in life he and Mabel should take. For most of the six hour trip the pastor counseled him on honesty, commitment, faith, prayer, and proper fear of the Creator. He suggested they would make the book of Proverbs part of their regular daily reading. To take verses and commit them to memory as they started their life together.
Next time: Bill finds direction
1. To go into the synagogue Luke 4:1
2. James James 1:1
3. Babylon 2 Kings 25:27
4. The flock’s milk 1 Corinthians 9:7
5. He struck the rock instead of speaking to it. Numbers 20:7-13
6. Job Job 1:8
7. The lost (prodical) son Luke 15:18
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