Baptism Meditation

March 18, 2019 in Adoption, Baptism, Bible - NT - Luke, Children, Ecclesiology, King Jesus, Sacraments

Luke 18:15–17 (NKJV)

15 Then they also brought infants to Him that He might touch them; but when the disciples saw it, they rebuked them. 16 But Jesus called them to Him and said, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them; for of such is the kingdom of God. 17 Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter it.”

Today I have privilege of baptizing —–. Before I invite the family forward, I wanted to remind you why we baptize children. Jesus provides for us the foundational reason in this text. The reason that we baptize children, including infants, is that Jesus claims our children as His own. He reckons them to be members of His kingdom, the kingdom of God.

Consequently, children (including nursing infants) teach us something important about the nature of God’s work in our lives. After all, Jesus reminds us in Matthew 21:16 that the Scriptures proclaim, “Out of the mouth of babes and nursing infants You [O, Lord] have perfected praise.” So what do children proclaim? What do they declare? Children proclaim that we are all dependent upon God for His grace and mercy in both creation and salvation. We none of us created ourselves and we none of us enter into the kingdom of God by our own merit or worth or choice. It is God who created us, not we ourselves, and it is God who saves us, not we ourselves.

The 19th century Presbyterian theologian B.B. Warfield wrote, “Every time we baptize an infant we bear witness that salvation is from God, that we cannot do any good thing to secure it, that we receive it from his hands as a sheer gift of his grace, and that we enter the Kingdom of heaven therefore as little children, we do not do, but are done for.” Did you catch that last clause? “We do not do, but are done for.” Salvation, like creation, is the work of God, who graciously grafts us into His people. Today God welcomes —– into His Church. So as I baptize him this morning, let me urge you to remember that your baptism preaches to you, proclaims to you the grace and mercy of God. So believe Him, trust Him, rely upon Him, and know that “as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him” (Ps 103:13).

The Purpose of Marriage

November 4, 2014 in Adoption, Children, Marriage, Quotations, Reformation, Sanctification

“The ultimate purpose [of marriage] is to obey God, to find aid and counsel against sin; to call upon God; to seek, love, and educate children for the glory of God; to live with one’s wife in the fear of God and to bear the cross; but if there are no children, nevertheless to live with one’s wife in contentment; and to avoid all lewdness with others.”

Martin Luther

Caring for Widows and Orphans

November 8, 2012 in Adoption, Bible - NT - James, Meditations

James 1:27 (NKJV)
27 Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.
Today is National Orphan Sunday and so I thought it would be appropriate to read today from James’ exhortation to visit orphans and widows in their trouble. The word “visit” is connected to our English word “bishop” or “overseer.” It means to visit so as to care for and relieve suffering – not just to say, “Hi”, but to minister and assist them in their needs.
James insists that this type of care – serving the needs of those who are suffering and in trouble, those who are weakest and most vulnerable to exploitation – is an essential component of pure and undefiled religion. Pure – clean, holy, distinct, the real thing; and undefiled – not soiled or painted over to cover some impurity or fault; religion – worship, service of God – is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble – their oppression, affliction, hardship, burden.
In other words, James is insisting that an integral part of our faith must be caring for those less fortunate than ourselves, those who are suffering or hurting or who are being mistreated by those in power.
What this means is that we as individual Christians and as a church body need to consider how we can assist those in distress. How can we put James’ admonition into practice? Happily one of the ways some families have done this is through adoption. Praise God for these opportunities to extend the grace of God to these kids in need through adoption. And thank God that you all as members of the same body have assisted with the financial burdens of adoption and welcomed these adopted children into our congregation and made them to feel one with us. May God continue to shower us with such grace and multiply such opportunities.
But the duty of serving the poor is too central to be left to the impulse of individuals – and so God ordained deacons in the churches to facilitate the service of the poor. As Calvin writes, “the care of the poor and the distribution of alms were committed to the deacons.” Given the centrality of this duty, is it not worthy of our attention and a cause for some distress that we have still only one man serving as a deacon in our congregation? So this morning let us kneel and confess that we need yet more of God’s grace that we might be able to minister more effectively to orphans and widows in their distress.
Our Father,
You have been gracious and longsuffering toward us. You have rescued us from our sin and folly, delivered us through Your Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus. Yet we have often proved unmoved by the sufferings and hardships of others, particularly widows and orphans. God we ask you to have mercy on us and forgive us. Grant us grace to reach out in love and care to those who are suffering. Add to the number of our deacons so that we might more effectively coordinate such care. And grant that hereby your Name might be exalted in our congregation and in our community. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.