Let us pray: Dear Savior, today teach us again the importance of putting in our trust and faith in something that never fails and never disappoints. Teach us to focus on Your promises to us of forgiveness and the importance of our baptisms. For then, when times get tough, we will truly have something to rely on that will help, save, and deliver us. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, IN WHOM YOU AND I WERE BAPTIZED!
TEXT: Acts 10: 34-38
Dearly Beloved By Christ:
We all know that on our dollar bills is inscribed: “In God We Trust.” Well, I certainly hope that is true. But, I fear that most people in America trust in their money more than in God. It’s a fool’s errand. Let me explain.
Did you know that our dollar is a “fiat” currency? That is, the only thing standing behind it is a promise from our government that it is valuable. Do governments ever lie? Of course. Do they ever change their commitment to their citizens? Of course. So, why do people trust in money more than in God? Did you also know that the insurance fund run by the government that backs up your bank deposits is really nothing more than a promise? There are 5.5 trillion of dollars in banks, but the insurance fund is a negative 20 billion dollars last I checked with a line of credit from the treasury of 100 billion. Do the math if there is a large bank run. Now you know why the Federal Reserve is printing extra money and loaning it for nothing to banks so that they won’t fail.
Let me tell you a family story. My grandfather, Willard, went through the depression. He lost much of his money when the local bank failed in his town. He never forgot that lesson. About 50 odd years ago I overheard my mother and father talking about how Willard had amassed $10,000 in cash. (In those days that would easily buy 3 new cars. So figure out what that would be today.) Anyway, he didn’t trust the bank so he had it squirreled away under the carpet in his living room! My mother thought this was a fool’s errand because if the house burned down it would all go up in smoke! Well, the house didn’t burn, although it was struck by lightening, and apparently he eventually used that money for other purposes. My point is: He trusted in his dollars more than anything else. He thought they were safe, even though they weren’t. How many “Willards” are out there today, trusting in their money more than in God?
No promise from anyone is totally safe. A promise is only as good as the one making it. So, when it comes to our eternal soul’s salvation we all need to be careful to put our trust in the right place. And that’s where God comes into the equation. That’s also where baptism comes into play. In today’s lesson we clearly see the real truth of those words:
IN GOD I TRUST!
St. Peter wasn’t comfortable sharing the truth of Jesus Christ with non-Jewish background folks. He was stingy with the Gospel. In a vision God intervened into his faulty thinking and prompted him to go to Caesarea where he met Cornelius. This man, Cornelius, was a Roman soldier, the leader of the Italian Regiment stationed there. He was a big shot. By his position it’s obvious Cornelius was also a Roman, a non Jew. However, by the Spirit’s work he had come to hear the Gospel, believe it, and became a practicing Christian. We’re told that he was good to the local synagogue and supported their work. Upon entering the centurion’s house, Peter was greeted by the soldier’s relatives, friends, and various servants. They were all non-Jews, like us, Gentiles, who knew something of Jesus and His saving work. Obviously, Cornelius was active in sharing the way of salvation. Then the soldier told the story of being in prayer four days before, having a man in shining clothes appear, and the man telling him to send to Joppa for Peter. Cornelius then adds: “Now we are all here in the presence of God to listen to everything the Lord has commanded you to tell us.”
Four days before this, while in Joppa, Peter had had a vision, too. There God told him that all souls were important to Him and no one was more special to God than another.—All were sinners who fall short of the glory of God and need salvation. This meeting was to be Peter’s introduction into the importance of reaching out to non-Jews and fearlessly sharing salvation with all. So, Peter now begins his sermon by saying: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism, but accepts men from every nation who fear him and do what is right. This is the message God sent to the people of Israel, telling them the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all. You know what has happened throughout Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached—how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him.”
Peter says it all, doesn’t he? God’s Son came and assumed human flesh to be perfect in our place because we’re imperfect. He came to give His life on a cross to pay for our corruption before God and through faith in Him we then possess that gift of forgiveness. Moreover, these promises made by God have now all been fulfilled in and through Jesus. God cannot take them back, deny them, or change them—otherwise He would cease being God. As the Bible says: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” Yes, when it comes to trusting, there is only one place to put yours—In God I Trust!
While Peter was finishing his sermon, we’re told that the Holy Spirit came down and His power and blessings were showered upon the crowd. They all praised God for this. Then the formerly sanctimonious Peter said: “Can anyone keep these people from being baptized with water? They have received the Holy Spirit just as we have.’ So he ordered that they be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.”
Some scholars have estimated, based on history and Cornelius’ high position, that up to 100 souls were baptized that day. You may ask: “That’s wonderful, but what does it have to do with me, today?” I’ll tell you. When you and I were baptized the Holy Spirit came upon us, too. He planted saving faith into our hearts, too. He linked us with our Lord and made us eternal heirs of God’s many promises which come in and through Christ. That’s why Peter later writes: “Baptism now also saves us.”
So, you think you’re having a bad day and no one cares about you? God does! Your baptism proves it. You’re in pain and the doctors cannot seem to help much? Well, God does help! He gives you the strength to carry on, the same strength that got Jesus through the pain of the cross. Your baptism into Christ proves it. God promises: “Never will I leave nor forsake you.” Because of your baptism you’re included in that promise. Jesus promises: “I go to heaven to prepare a place for you.” His baptism of you includes you in that promise, as well. Search your Bibles for such promises and when you find them, rejoice and cling to them! They are food for the soul and sustain our bodies, too. Yes, baptism makes the unclean (us) pure and holy in His sight!
In God I Trust! That should be the motto of every believer. Why? Because unlike governments, friends, relatives, or only other human institutions, God never, ever, reneges on His promises to us. They are backed by a currency far better than gold or silver, they are backed by Christ’s blood. Amen