Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | August 4, 2014

August 4, 2014 “The Rock”

“Upon this Rock I will build my Church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” (Matthew 16:18)

Good Morning Friends in Christ!

Yesterday, my bride Lydia and I attended a church service with my cousin here in Pennsylvania. It was a special service in a number of ways. What made this particular service so singularly special was the fact that ten individuals, as I recall, gave their personal testimony and were baptized in a large baptismal pool set up in the sanctuary. What made it particularly moving were the life stories they shared, and how God had changed their hearts from anger, disbelief, abuse, low self-esteem, divorce, and even hatred of God to having a heart for God.  They came from all sorts of backgrounds. The youngest was just eleven…a boy who had anger issues…who would attack his own mother, physically and verbally pummeling her at times. There he stood along with his mother, who was also baptized, both confessing the transformation Christ made in their lives. There was a woman in her late 30’s who grew up loving God but had become angry with God because she could not bear children. She resented the fact that God had seemingly ignored her prayers for bearing a child and had drawn away from him. But once again, the Holy Spirit worked in her heart and she returned to the Lord. Now she is the mother of two adopted children and better still, a true, baptized child of the King. Another older gentleman told of his struggle with alcoholism and how it had ended one marriage. But again, by the grace of God, he was delivered from its grip by a loving heavenly Father. He stood alongside his new wife and was baptized, aglow with new life in Christ his redeemer. The testimonies went on, and as they did, I had a picture of the gates of hell swinging open with Christ releasing those Satan had held captive, now powerless to stop this exodus to freedom provided by the Lord of Life to these precious souls.

In the verse noted above, Jesus is speaking to Peter, who had just testified to his belief that Jesus was “the Christ, the Son of the Living God.” The “Rock” to which Jesus refers is Peter’s testimony of His Lordship. Jesus is Lord. Through their personal testimony and affirmation of the Lordship of Christ, these ten individuals were standing with Peter, and all believers, that Jesus is the Christ. By being baptized, they symbolically illustrated death and resurrection…death to sin and rebirth in Christ. Pastor J. Richard Clark in the book “The Lord of Life” writes,

“My testimony today is that through Jesus Christ we can be born again. We can change. We can change completely. And we can stay changed.”

These ten people, and all who submit to the Lordship of Jesus Christ, are completely changed…their lives forever sealed in Christ…their names inscribed in the Book of Life forever. As I heard testimony after testimony, I pictured a cannon shot fired at the heart of Satan and the cry “You lost another one”. The gates of hell cannot hold in those prisoners Christ has set free…free indeed! Let’s pray!

Mighty, Merciful heavenly Father; It is you that sets the captive free. Through your crucifixion and resurrection, the gates of Hell have been stormed, and you bring freedom to those lost in sin and despair. One day, I discovered that, Now more have been added to the Church, and I rejoice. The Enemy is a defeated foe and to You belongs the glory, the thanksgiving, the worship, and the praise now and forever. Amen!

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