Grow Deep: It's Not What You Think Edition, Week 2
Week 2 - January 14-20
"Then Jesus came from Jordan to be baptized by John." - Matthew 3:13
When children play tag, there is often a home base, a safe place. When it seems like all the other kids are “out to get you,” you can run to home base, and from that place of refuge, get a brand new beginning. Baptism is the safe place, the home base, for Christians.
We all endure bad days. Sometimes the reason for our misery is our own bad behavior; sometimes it’s the words or deeds of others. Sometimes life just goes wrong. In any miserable situation, in any time of sorrow or sadness, in any time of hurt or loneliness, in any time of loss or pain, we are invited to return to our safe place, the promise and guarantee of God’s love in the covenant of baptism.
The power of baptism is the power of the cross; the death and resurrection of Jesus for our sins. Our circumstances may change from day to day, but the promise of baptism always takes us back to the cross for a new beginning. Life in families is not easy. We may disappoint each other or hurt each other’s feelings, but the grace we share in our baptism into Christ is our opportunity to start over, to renew the bonds of love and begin again, together. Like prodigal children returning home to their loving Father (Luke 15:21-24), we can always find a brand new beginning by remembering our baptism.
The baptism of Jesus is the guarantee that He’s really with us. My baptism is God’s guarantee that nothing can separate me from Him. This week we celebrate this precious promise and guarantee from God: “I am with you, and you, all of you, my dear children, will be with Me forever.” Your baptism has the very same promise.
Sunday, January 14
Read: Matthew 3:13-17
Jesus’ baptism was a way for Him to say to all of us, “I’m here with you.” Like welcoming an honored guest, John was ready to treat Jesus differently, but the Lord said, “John, I’ll have what everyone else is having.” The Son of God bound Himself to us.
Reflect: How do we know from this passage that Jesus became a man, 100 percent? How do we discover that Jesus is God, 100 percent? Offer a word of praise and thanks to Him!
For the Family: See if you can find the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit in this reading. You are God’s child. How do you know God loves you, like His own Son?
Monday, January 15
Read: Romans 6:1-11
Baptism is the ultimate gift of “before and after.” God’s grace, poured out on us, changes everything: old to new, death to life. Every day, even today, is a good day for transformation.
Reflect: Read the passage slowly and count how many “before and afters” you can find. What needs to be confessed and die in your life? How will your baptism give you a new beginning?
For the Family: What does it mean to “start all over again”? Did you ever say, “I’m sorry” and then hear, “I forgive you”? How is that like a new beginning?
Tuesday, January 16
Read: Acts 2:38-40
We share the gift of baptism with all Christians, from the very beginning of the Church in Acts Chapter 2 and in every corner of the globe. Sin unites all humanity in our desperate need; baptism unites all Christians under the forgiving grace of God.
Reflect: How are you in exactly the same situation as those who called out to Peter, “What must we do?” What are the promises of God listed here? How does your unity with all Christians everywhere give you encouragement today?
For the Family: What did Peter say about the children? Ask your parents to tell you about the day you were baptized. Are there any pictures? Ask to see them.
Wednesday, January 17
Read: Ephesians 4:1-6
Unity in the Church is a gift from God, the “unity of the Spirit” (verse 3). It also requires our serious and deliberate attention: “Make every effort…” By grace, God has bound all Christians as one, but if we are careless, we can destroy that unity.
Reflect: What is “the calling you have received” and what is a “life worthy” of that calling? Would the people around you describe you as “completely humble and gentle” (verse 2)? How does baptismal forgiveness help you practice humility?
For the Family: Can you give an example of being gentle with someone? How could we practice gentleness with each other in our family?
Thursday, January 18
Read: Acts 16:30-34
So many forces are determined to pull families apart. The jailer found great joy in his family’s faith. What a wonderful gift when families share faith in Jesus together and the gift of baptism that binds us together!
Reflect: How does your family (your household or your extended family) share the joy of baptism with one another? What could you do today to bring up the topic for conversation?
For the Family:Can you think of a time when you and your family were “filled with joy” (verse 34)? Thank God for your faith in Jesus and celebrate with joy!
Friday, January 19
Read: 1 Corinthians 10:1-2
Salvation for God’s people was very much the same in the Old Testament and in the New. Like Moses and the Israelites at the Red Sea, we are also desperately in need. And like Moses, we are covered over by God’s protecting, forgiving grace.
Reflect: How was the walk through the Red Sea similar to baptism? How were the slaves “drowned” and made alive again? How about you?
For the Family: Find a blanket or an afghan and see if your whole family can fit under it. How is God’s love like a blanket covering us?
Saturday, January 20
Read: Colossians 2:11-12
In the Small Catechism, Martin Luther said that the power of baptism is the power, by daily contrition and repentance, to drown the old sinful nature and rise again to new life. With a simple cry of the heart, “Lord, have mercy,” you can be renewed through forgiveness many times every day.
Reflect: Circumcision was a sign of God’s covenant promise of steadfast love. How does your baptism give you assurance of God’s love? Pause right now to be renewed, dying and rising again in Jesus’ love.
For the Family: How strong is God? Make a list of things He can do. What’s the greatest thing God’s power ever did (verse 12)?