God of the Mountains and Valleys

Scripture: Matthew 3:13-17, Matthew 4:1
Date: 05/17/1997 
Jesus teaches us through His own example to be baptized. Christ was not baptized to wash away sin in His life. He was baptized to show us the way to Christian living. When Jesus came up out of the water, He saw the Spirit. Following Christ opens our eyes to see life more clearly. After His baptism, the Spirit led Jesus into the wilderness. We too will have valleys in our life.
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Note: This is a verbatim transcript of the live broadcast. It is presented as spoken.

I want to wish everybody a happy Sabbath today. And I’m very thankful for a number of things today, not only thankful for the beautiful weather. I like it hot, just so you’ll know, some of you might be wondering what I’m talking about. I’m also thankful that Tim and Becky are here now. I’m thankful for the many people who are making decisions for Jesus as a result of what Kim and Judy have been doing here. It was good to hear Judee Crabtree singing again; it’s always a delight to have her.

And I have changed my sermon three times this week, originally I had a good sermon, and it’ll come one of these days, on Naboth’s Vineyard. You just keep coming, it will be here. And then I started thinking on the airplane and I decided I’m going to talk about how god takes little things and does incredible things with small things, that’s where that sermon titled Small Wonders came from, that will show up one of these days too.

And then I started thinking, you know, we’ve got 30-plus people making decisions for baptism today, and I would really like this to be a day that they will remember and I would like to see these people equipped for the Christian life as well as we can possibly fit them. And I thought, you know, I’d like to say some things in a special way for those who were recently baptized.

We had baptisms the first Sabbath of Kim Kjaer’s meetings and the last Sabbath, and we’ll probably have more in weeks to come. And I thought it would be good to talk about the Christian commitment. I think in doing that -- some here haven’t made that decision yet, some of you were baptized maybe many moons ago, and I think it’s good for us to remember what that commitment is all about.

Please turn with me in your bible to the book of Matthew 3. Now Christ is our example in all things. The experience before, during, and after Jesus’ baptism is there as an example for us to learn from.

Jesus was not baptized to wash away his sin. Even the John the Baptist was perplexed, he said, “Why are you coming to me for baptism, you are the Holy One of Israel, you are the Spotless Lamb that takes away the sin of the world, I need to have you baptize me, why do you want me to baptize you?” And Jesus said, “Allow it to be this way now, it becomes us to fulfill all righteousness.”

And I think one thing that Jesus meant by that is he was going to demonstrate something by the experiences connected with his baptism. Matthew 3:13, “Then Jesus came from Galilee to John at the Jordan, to be baptized by him.”

Incidentally, the Gospel of Luke tells us that Christ was 30 when he was baptized. One reason for that was a priest in the Hebrew economy could not minister until he was 30 years of age. 30 seems to be a special point for beginning work in ministry biblically. You’ve heard me say often that it was King David who was 30 when he began to reign; Joseph was 30 when he went to rule over Egypt; Solomon was 30 when he began to rule, so was King Saul; and Christ was 30 when he began his ministry.

When you are baptized you become a priest of God, the bible says you are a nation of kings and priests. Then Jesus came to the Jordan to be baptized. Jordan is a symbol of death in the bible, they cross the Jordan River to get from the wilderness into the Promised Land, most people who get to the Promised Land have to cross the Jordan. Amen.

And John tried to prevent him saying, “I have need to be baptized by you, and are you coming to me?” And Jesus answered and said to him, “Permit it to be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he allowed him.

Then Jesus, when he had been baptized, came up immediately from the water. Now the bible only teaches baptism by immersion, that’s what we practice here at Central and in our church. And as soon as he comes out of the water, the baptism is complete. Now notice what happens, the bible tells us once he has made that commitment, he came up from the water, “Behold, the heavens were opened.”

Now several things that happened to Jesus are things a person being baptized can and should experience. We often read through this verse or two and we go and we forget that every single word was significant. He came up out of the water, he had now made a commitment for his ministry. He had gone into the Jordan river which represented death, burial, resurrection, Paul said, now he is coming up to live not for Joseph and Mary, to serve in the carpenter shop, now he is going to be about his father’s business, he began his ministry at his baptism.

If you are a Christian and you have been baptized, you have been married to Christ. The bible says, “Do not take the name of the Lord in vain.” When you are baptized, you take the name Christian. But if you say you are Christian and you sleep with the devil, you are committing spiritual adultery and you are taking God’s name in vain. So, don’t take his name in vain. If you are going to be a Christian, be a Christian. Amen.

And the bible tells us, he came up out of the water and the heavens were opened. Now notice something, as sinners we are separated from God by our sin, the heavens are closed. The bible says when King Saul grieved away the Holy Spirit, he prayed, and he got no answer. He talked to the priest, and no answer. He consulted the Urim and the Thummim, there was silence. Finally, he went to a witch and he got the wrong answer.

Before we are saved, we don’t have access to heaven. As soon as Jesus came out of the water, the heavens were opened. You know, when you are baptized friends, the heavens are opened for you, you know, have access to the father -- what was Jesus? The bible tells us that he was a ladder linking heaven and earth because we had been the communication; the access to heaven had been broken by sin. And that’s why Jesus said to Nathaniel, “Do you believe because I say that I saw you under the fig tree? Hereafter you will see greater things than these. You’ll see the heavens opened and the angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.”

When you are baptized through Christ to Christ, you now have a relationship and access to the heavens. We can come boldly right into the holy of holies through faith in the Son. The heavens are opened. The bible says, “He saw,” I’m going to stop right there. You know, before you’re say -- you are blind. And there are some people who are very religious, and they are just blind leading the blind. The bible tells us in Revelation that one of the problems with religions in the last days is people are poor, wretched, miserable, blind and naked and they don’t know it. And Jesus says, come to me and get this eye ointment, eye salve for your eyes that they might be open, that you might see.

When you are baptized, your spiritual perception is improved. You can see where you are going. Amen. Says, “And he saw,” and then it goes on to say, “the spirit of God.”

Now the spirit of God is what guides us in the Christian life. First of all, did Jesus have the spirit of God in some degree before his baptism? Did he get a special measure of the spirit of God for the life he was going to live now in his ministry? Did the disciples have the spirit of God when they followed Jesus for three-and-a-half years? Did they get a special measure of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost? Does the Holy Spirit come in different percentages at different times according to how you need him?

Okay. Well, Jesus received a special filling of the Holy Spirit to prepare him for his life of ministry, that’s why the bible says in Acts 1:8, “You will receive power in Jerusalem, you will receive power that you might be my witnesses.” When did that power come to Christ? At his baptism.

And those of you who are being baptized today and those of you who have been baptized, you can pray for and expect that power by faith. Some of you might say, “Well, Doug I didn’t feel that happen when I was baptized two weeks ago.” Sometimes the Holy Spirit comes after the baptism.

You know the apostles Peter, James, and John were probably baptized by John the Baptist, they didn’t get the outpouring of the Holy Spirit until Pentecost, three-and-a-years later. And so don’t be discouraged if you didn’t get it. And some of you have been members for years, you can still be praying for that outpouring of the spirits, some of you simply need to claim it by faith because God promised it. You know, on Pentecost the people said to Peter, “What do we do to be saved?” He said, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you,” and a lot of people stop right there. Peter went on, “Repent and be baptized every one of you and you--” might, no; you could, no; you may, no; “--you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise,” God promises a gift of the Holy Spirit to those that commit their lives to him.

Now when two people are dating each other and I’m not talking about in the secular sense, I’m talking about Christians, they might spend some time together and there might be an occasional hug and a very rare kiss, but they don’t have full access until after the marriage, am I right? At least, that’s the way it ought to be. In the same way, you may have the Holy Spirit and relationship with God before baptism, but there is a special relationship after baptism, right. There is an intimacy because you’ve now committed your life to him.

The bible says he saw the Holy Spirit descending like what? A dove, what is dove a symbol of? All over the world, the dove is a symbol of peace, right? A matter of fact, you’ll even see a dove with an olive leaf in the mouth, where did they get that? From the story of Noah. All over the world, they get their idea of peace from the bible, isn’t that something? Well, the dove coming into your life means that you now have peace, a peace that passes understanding because you are doing God’s will and nothing should bring you more peace than that. No matter what’s happening around you if Jesus is in your boat, you’re not afraid of the storms. Are you?

“And the Holy Spirit came like a dove and alighting upon him.” Now you notice, it doesn’t say the Holy Spirit hit him like a bombardiering hawk. Some people think that’s how the Holy Spirit comes. You’ve probably seen these church services on TV where folks are slaying in the spirit, spirit came down like a dive bomber, right? It didn’t alight upon them, it hit them like lightening. The bible doesn’t tell us that. The bible says the spirit sometimes comes like the wind. You don’t know where it came from and where it’s going, but you suddenly know it’s there.

And so if you don’t get a hit by a bomb, that doesn’t mean you didn’t receive the Holy Spirit. It comes like a breath. Jesus breathed on them. Wasn’t a hurricane; said, receive the Holy Spirit. The bible says it’s a still small voice. It’s not a rock concert. And so folks have the wrong idea about how the Holy Spirit comes into our lives.

We’re being told by some of our charismatic brothers and sisters that God only speaks in thunder, it’s only fire and earthquake. No, it’s a still small voice. Amen. And you’ll receive that by faith. “And alighted upon him and suddenly a voice from heaven,” now he is hearing a voice from heaven. You know, God promises to speak to us after we’re baptized in a special way to guide us. Amen.

After Paul had his conversion experience, he heard a voice. He said, “What do you want me to do?” And the voice told him what to do. When Jesus was baptized, there was a voice and the voice said, “This is my beloved son,” allow me to rephrase that. When you’re baptized friends, the voice says, this is my beloved son or daughter, you are now adopted into a different family when you’re baptized. You become part of God’s family. Not only does he say that you’re my son or my daughter, he says, and I’m well pleased with you.

You know, God is not well pleased with our behavior when we’re lost and separated by sin. He loves us. He doesn’t always love what we do, just like some of the parents who are out here feel about their children. But he is well pleased with you in every respect when you come up from the waters of baptism because he now views you as perfect and innocent and spotless, as his own son, what a wonderful thing to know when you come out of the water.

And it doesn’t matter about the mechanics of baptism. Some folks have come to me and they said, “You know, the pastor didn’t get the end of my nose wet.” There is no magic in the water, it’s the commitment. We do believe in baptism by immersion, and if you want we’ll splash some more on your nose if that will make you feel better. But just know that when you’re baptized that you have obeyed the Lord and when you come up, symbolically -- water doesn’t wash away sin, but symbolically your sins are in that water. And when God looks at you, he sees a shining, pure child. You are as innocent and sinless as the holy angels in his eyes by virtue of the blood of Jesus. That’s good news.

He not only says you’re my child, he says I’m well pleased with you. You know, there are some people who go through their Christian life never thinking God is happy with them. They always think God is mad at them. And I think that we would walk a different kind of walk if we thought that God is pleased with us.

You might slip, little Nathan is learning to walk right now. And you’re going to slip. Any time a baby learns to walk, they trip. And as Nathan has taken a few steps and one knee gives away and he falls on his face, do you think Karen and I snatch him up and smack him and say, “You clumsy kid, you’re walking and you fell, you had it and then you blew it”? No, we say, “He is learning, you know, he is going to make some mistakes.” We pick him up, we dust him off, we hug him and we encourage him on. This is how your heavenly father is.

And as you begin your Christian walk, you know, your baptism doesn’t just clean you that one day. The blood of Jesus Christ continues to cleanse us, doesn’t it?

If you fall along the way, the bible says, “We can confess our sins and he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” It’s a growing and a continuing to walk and to follow him.

And the bible says, God said, “I am well pleased.” Now, some people stop there. “Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.” Doug, why do you have to read that?

Now, you know I’ve been correlating the experience of Jesus with our own experience. The name of this sermon is the Mountains and the Valleys. Some ministers injure people who accept Jesus by not telling them the whole truth. Being a Christian is not always a rose garden. And even if it is a rose garden, sometimes you fall on the thorns. There are struggles.

Now, here Christ had just come away from the Jordan River, the heavens are open. He hears God’s voice, the Holy Spirit comes down. He sees, he’s expected a spirit filled experience, all his friends are watching. Next thing, he comes from that experience and he is met by the devil.

Now, does it say the devil led him into the wilderness? The Spirit led him. You know, God often leads us from the mountains to the valleys. I did a little study. And first, I want you to join me by turning to 1 Kings 20, you know, I like the stories, 1 Kings 20.

King Ahab was not known for being a great king. He had his moments of clarity. He had moments where he recognized God and was inclined to follow God and humble himself before God. And at one point the Syrians were attacking the Israelites, and they vastly outnumbered them. And the Lord, because Ahab went into battle trusting God, God gave Ahab and Israel victory over a much bigger Army.

Now go with me to 1 Kings 20:21, “Then the king of Israel went out and attacked the horses and the chariots and killed the Syrians with a great slaughter.”

Verse 23, then the servants of the king of Syria, they were really baffled, how could this small feeble army of Israel conquer our nation? And the servants of the king of Syria said to him, “Their gods are the gods of the mountains, the hills, that’s why they were stronger than us. But if we fight against them in the plains, in the valleys, then surely we will be stronger than them.”

Well, God heard that. And so they planned another battle, for the next year they were going to get twice as many soldiers, twice as many chariots, man-for-man, said, “But this time we’re going to fight on our ground. They’re mountain people, we’re valley people. Our gods are the gods of the valleys, their god is only the god of the mountains. Their god can’t help them in the valleys, that’s our god’s territory.” That’s what the Syrians were saying.

And the bible says, verse 27, the children of Israel -- there’s another battle a year later, comes around and the children of Israel were mustered and given provisions, and they went against the Syrians. Now the children of Israel are camped before them like two little flocks of goats, while the Syrians filled the countryside.

And I could just see Ahab has got his two divisions of his army gathered there and they just look like a couple of little flocks of sheep and they’re surrounded completely in this plain by the Syrian forces. And he was probably thinking this is it. I think he probably did a little praying right then.

And a man of God came and spoke to him. Now, underline this in your bible. If you underline, later someday you’ll run into it, you’ll remember this sermon. It will bless you. Then a man of God came and spoke to the king of Israel and said, “Thus says the Lord, because the Syrians have said, ‘The Lord is God of the hills but he is not god of the valleys,’ therefore I will deliver all this great multitude into your hand and you will know that I am the lord.”

Now, I’m going to stop right there with the story. You already know they won the battle, didn’t they?

The point I want you to know is God is not just the God of the mountains, he is the God of the valleys. The Lord is not only with you on the mountaintop, he is with you in the valley.

The bible tells a story about where Jesus went up a mountain with Peter, James and John. And he was transfigured before them. And his clothes began to shine. I’d never forget that. Moses appeared, three-dimensional, Moses and Elijah, the greatest prophets of the Old Testament, the heroes of the Jewish people, they’re talking to Jesus. God, the father comes on the mountaintop, speaks to them from a shinning cloud and said, “This is my beloved son, hear him.”

And I suppose the disciples said okay, I mean after an experience like that. And as they’re on the way down the mountain, the disciples are just walking with a divine buzz. How would you feel all that day after an experience like that? You just saw Moses.

Peter even talked to them. He saw Elijah. He saw Jesus in his divine glorified state. You heard the voice of God, the Father, the Almighty and you’re walking down the mountain going, ooh, what an experience; ooh, mountaintop experience.

And when they got to the foot of the hill, all the people came running up to them and brought a demon-possessed boy and the disciples could not cast the demon out. They went from the divine mountain to the demons in the valley. But you know what the bible says, after Moses disappeared and after Elijah disappeared and after the cloud went away, Jesus was still with them.

Jesus was with them on the mountain, and Jesus went back to the valley with them. And when they ran into the devils in valley, Jesus was there with them and cast out the devils. God not only gives the victories in the mountain when everything is looking good, God gives victories in the valleys too. Doesn’t he?

Moses climbs the mountain, speaks to God, spends 40 days in the presence of the creator of the universe, what an experience, gets to hear the voice of God, sees the hand of God writing in tables of stone, picks up these tablets, the work of God, comes down the mountain. The bible says, he is beaming, and while he was up there receiving the work of God, the people were making the work of man. While he was up there hearing the singing of angels, he comes down the mountain, he hears the band playing. The church made a golden calf. He leaves that holy experience. He goes down to this rioting, religious rioting.

Was God with them on the mountain? Was God with them in the valley? The Lord went back down with them. When the children of Israel could not enter the Promised Land because they lost faith, did the God go back into the wilderness with them and wander?

Now, the reason I’m telling you this is because when you make a decision to commit your life to the Lord, there are ups and downs, but God promises to be with us in our ups and in our downs. You remember Elijah? Three-and-a-half years of famine. After he prays, it doesn’t rain for three-and-a-half years. He didn’t want to make Elijah mad.

One time some soldiers came and he was up on a mountaintop and they were afraid to go up there after him. And they said, “The king wants to talk to you, you come down here right now, man of God.” But they weren’t very respectful. He said, “If I’m a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and burn you up.” All of a sudden there was this smoldering black bones. Well, the king wondered what the soldiers were doing taking so long. So he sent another 50 soldiers.

They saw Elijah sitting up there on top of the hill meditating, said, “The king wants to talk to you, you’ve insulted him, get on down here man of God.” He says, “Well, if I’m a man of God, let fire come down from heaven and burn you up.” Poof, there’s more bones and smoldering debris.

And the king sends another contingent of 50 soldiers and this last one comes, and this fellow had some sense, the last captain gets off his high horse, gets down on his knees, and he said, “Please Elijah,” he is surrounded with all these burnt bones, you know, he says, “I’ve got to do what the king says and I see what you do to people that rub you the wrong way, have mercy on me.” He says, “All right, since you put it nicely, I’ll go with you.” And he spared his life.

Now, Elijah prays and it doesn’t rain for three-and-a-half years. At the end of three-and-a-half years, he has a showdown on Mount Carmel with all the prophets. And he stands up, what courage, he stands up against the whole religion of Baal there in Israel, 450 prophets, 400 prophets of the groves, 450 prophets of the altars, 850 against one. He says, let’s build two altars. And up there on the mountaintop, they dance, carry on, try and bring fire down from heaven, nothing happens.

Elijah gets on his knees, prays his simple prayer of faith. Not only does the fire fall and burn up the altar in the sacrifice and the stones, but he prays a little while later and rain pours for the first time in three years.

And after that experience Jezebel sends a messenger and says you’re in big trouble, you killed all my prophets today, you’re not going to make it to sundown.

And you know what, he got scared. He was tired. He thought the mountaintop experience was going to last all day. He thought there would be a big revival. And now the queen says I’m still going to kill you. And he got discouraged and he ran, he got afraid, went from the mountaintop to the valley.

And while he is running through the wilderness and he figures I’ve run away from God, I’ve let him down, I should have had courage, if God could take care of me there with all the prophets of Baal, can’t he take care of me with Jezebel? Did God go with him when he fell asleep in the wilderness? He woke him up and angels were there.

God is not only with us in the mountains friends, he is with us in the valleys. You know the bible tells us that one of the last things that Jesus -- whoa, wait, I was going to read you something else.

There’s Mark 3:13, “When Jesus called the apostles,” you know, where he brought them when he first commissioned them? Mark 3:13, and he went up on a mountain and called to him those -- he himself wandered. They came to him and he appointed 12. Where did he take him when he ordained them? Took them to a mountain and he filled them with the spirit on the mountain and you know where he sent him? To the valleys to go preach.

And when he first sent them out, they went two-by-two, they did not go three. In other words, it was them and a partner and Jesus was not visibly present, but was he with them?

They saw Jesus there on the mountaintop laying his hands on them, but when he sent them off preaching -- it was really easy to be brave when Jesus was right with you, you know. Even when Jesus was betrayed, when Jesus was right with him, Peter pulled out a sword. He said, “I’ve seen Jesus feed the crowds, I’ve seen him cast out devils, he can take care of these folks.” He pulled out the sword. He said, “I got nothing to lose with all the power Jesus has.”

But then he got separated from Jesus a little while later. They were on the mountain of Bethany, that’s where Gethsemane is. He pulled out his sword. Little while later they’re at the Judgment Hall of Pilate. He said, “I don’t know who he is,” because Jesus was separated a little bit you see.

Helen Keller wrote this. “Jesus went through the valleys. The marvelous riches of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy--” now the reason I’m telling you, Helen Keller wrote this, you knew who that is of course, a person who suffered tremendous setbacks and handicaps. “The marvelous richness of human experience would lose something of rewarding joy if there were no limitations to overcome. The hilltop hour would not be so half wonderful if there were no dark valleys to traverse.” The mountain is really nice when you’ve just climbed out of the foggy valleys, isn’t it?

And it’s often true that the high points in a person’s life -- be careful when you’re on the mountain friends because the only place to go is down. Sometimes we’re on the mountain and we get a little arrogant, little cocky, next thing we know we’re in the valley.

Moses went from 40 years in a palace to following sheep in wilderness. It was after David had conquered all the nations around him he thought I don’t even need to finish off the Yemenites; I’m going to stay here, just bask in my victories, is when he was overcome by temptation at the zenith of his experience.

That’s why Paul said, “Let him who thinks he stands on the mountaintop take heed lest he fall.” The best way for a Christian to climb the mountain is on their knees like Jonathan did. Amen.

You know, when I used to cut firewood I noticed something. The tallest trees always grow in the valley because they’re reaching for the light. The trees that spend all of their time up on the mountain end up with a twisted grain because they’re exposed to the wind all the time. The straightest grain is found in the valleys.

You know the last place the disciples saw Jesus, took him up to mountain Bethany. And as he ascended into heaven, he said, “Lo, I am with you always. Go therefore teach all nations.” Where were they going to go from that mountain? To the valleys, right?

The bible says in Psalm 23:4, “Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil,” how come? Because, “Thou art with me.”

Have some of you been going through a valley lately? Is the devil telling you that you can win victories on the mountain but God is not God of the valleys, he can’t help you there? Is he telling you like the Syrians told Ben-Hadad, God can win victories in the mountains but he can’t win the victories in the valleys, he is not the God of the valleys? Don’t believe that friends.

God is there with you, see him or not. God can not only save you on the mountain, he can save you in the valley. Last thing that happens is Jesus ascends from a mountain and he sends us off.

Now I want to go back to Matthew, I want you to notice something. “Jesus is led up the Spirit,” Chapter 4:1, “into the wilderness.” He is tempted by the devil. He fasted forty days and forty nights and he was hungry. And the devil comes to him with everything in his arsenal and Jesus survived in that valley because he said, “It is written… it is written… it is written…” he had the Word of God in his heart.

How do you and I make it through the valleys? By having the Word with us. What’s another word for the Word, the Word was made flesh, Christ in us is the way that we resist temptation, and quite literally the Word of God, having it in our minds that we might not sin.

Now after Jesus three times resisted the devil, the bible says, “And the devil left him.” Did Jesus come down from the mountain and cast out the devils there, in Mark 9. If you stay with the Lord and trust the Lord sometimes it takes prayer and fasting, he’ll give you victory.

And then you know what, after the baptism of Christ and after the time in the valley there, the temptation, the bible says in verse 17, it starts with verse 12, but in verse 17 it says, “From that time Jesus began to preach.”

Now when you’re baptized, the heavens are open, you hear God’s voice, the Holy Spirit descends, God gives you peace, he calls you his child, you’re adopted into the family. There may be a time of temptation.

When the children of Israel crossed the Red Sea after escaping the slavery of Pharaoh in Egypt, did they rejoice for little while? They saw the dead bodies of the Egyptians on the seashore and Miriam sing a song, I mean they were free, they were happy. They had been slaves for hundreds of years. But it wasn’t very long after that before they were attacked in the wilderness from behind. The Amalekites came and attacked the weaker ones among them.

And after we cross the Red Sea, baptism is a symbol of that. Sometimes we’re attacked from behind, but you know what they did when they were attacked from behind, they looked to Moses on the mountain. Joshua led them into battle and how do you say Joshua in Greek? Jesus, same name. Joshua led them into battle. Moses stood up on the mountain with his hands outstretched interceding for them and they won the battles. You might have some battles in the wilderness friends but if you know the Lord is with you, you have nothing to be afraid of.

You know, I think we have cause for rejoicing today. I think the Lord has big plans for our Church, I really do. I think the Lord can use our Church. If we stick to the Word, I think our impact can not only be Sacramento, I think we can have an international impact from what happens here at Central. But it’s based upon the commitment we all have in our hearts. Especially for those of you who are new Christians, don’t get discouraged if you get jumped by the devil in the wilderness. It often happens that way. You’ll be strengthened in those experiences to work for the Lord. Right after the wilderness Jesus started preaching. And sometimes after you go through a period of trial and adjustment, you’ll be ready to minister to others.

And for those of you who have been Christians for years, maybe you have forgotten that God is a God in the valleys, too. He is not only there in the sunshine, he is in the shadows. He says, “I will never leave you or forsake you.”

We thought that witnessing a baptism is every bit of spiritually edifying as listening to the Word. I think it’s very encouraging, and I might also add there may be others here today who are pondering their relationship with Jesus. There may be some young people today who are planning someday on being Christians. And if you haven’t made a decision yet, I hope you will find courage in the decisions these others are making.

I’d like to read to you, in some cases I’m going to try to read to you, the names of those who are going to be baptized today. And then as a church body, we will entertain a motion to welcome these folks into fellowship here: Robert and Bonnie Fauner, Garner, Kimberly, Matthew, Jonathan, Kristina, and David Hargan. David and Melee Foross, Clint McCauley, John Quade, Steven Johnson, Jane Turner, Edna, Patricia Daye, Dan Burke, Barbara Rankle, Resa Tong and Luolu Farimo, if I’m not getting it right friends, the Lord knows. We’ll give it to you in writing later and you figure it out. Mel, June, Daniel, Jonathan, and Michael Farimo, Liya and Skoan Ion, Neil and Larry, Hanuta, Sheryl Skugel, Mildred Brown. And then a re-baptism today, Rita Torres.

Now, we have a few people who will be joining our church family today by profession of faith. And just in case some of you don’t know what that means, profession of faith is when a person has already been baptized biblically perhaps in another church denomination or fellowship and they have learned the specific or some different truths that are embraced by the Seventh Day Adventist Church, and they want to be part of this church family based upon their former baptism. We welcome them in on profession of faith.

And I’d like to invite -- if Ben and Linda Bernard and Dileet Tuarva and Robert Hall, if they would stand, please. They’re here today. Okay. We see. All right, yeah, they’re all here. Praise the Lord.

Now, we’ve read the names to you of people who will be joining the Central Church family today. These folks have been studied with, with Pastor Bailey and Pastor Kjaer and if someone would like to entertain a motion that subject to the baptism for these, and profession of faith for those who are standing that we welcome them into church membership here. So moved. Do we have a second? Everybody in favor, could I hear a hardy Amen? Amen.

All right, praise the Lord. Thank you very much. You may be seated. And I think at this time, we may be ready to begin our baptisms.

I think that we can all say that we have great reason for rejoicing and praising the Lord today. We want to give God the glory for what’s been happening here.

And before we close with the benediction, I’d like to ask if the Holy Spirit has been stirring the heart of some who have been watching here today? If you’ve not yet made a decision to be baptized and to follow Jesus and commit your life to him, maybe you’ve been inspired by the courage of these here who’ve made this decision today.

And you want to say right now, Lord, I need to do this, I feel your Spirits talking to me and I want to plan on being baptized in the near future, would you like to stand right now in his presence and acknowledge that decision?

Baptism is something we do publicly. Praise the Lord for these young people. Are there some others here? Amen. Some others, perhaps.

I want to pray in a special way before we close for these decisions and those who are baptized. Some of you went through the whole series of meetings and you’re even here today, but you’ve not made a decision yet. Today if you hear his voice, don’t wait for a better opportunity.

Stand now. And I like to invite the whole congregation to stand together. We’re going to ask for the Lord’s benediction.

Father in heaven, Lord, we want to remember first of all to thank you and praise you and give you all the glory for the moving of the Spirit we sense here at Central. We want to pray Lord, that you will surround with your arms and your angels those who have made decisions today to follow Jesus. Fill them with the Holy Spirit. Help them to hear your voice saying, this is my beloved son, my daughter, and I’m well pleased with them.

Also, Lord, I pray that if the Spirit shall lead them into the valley through the wilderness, that you will be with them there, that you will keep them in the hour of temptation and prepare them and arm them for a life of ministry. Lord, I want to pray that you will be with those who have made decisions today to look forward to baptism and following Jesus.

We want to thank you for the work of Pastor and Judy Kerr here in recent weeks and pray you’ll continue to protect and bless them in their ministry, want to thank you that Pastor Tim and Becky are here, pour out your Spirit on them. And most of all Lord, we pray that each of us in our lives can renew our commitments to follow Jesus with all of our heart and soul. In his name we pray. Amen.

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