This Sunday was a special one at Cedar Rock. Two young believers were baptized, and someone joined our congregation.
In the sermon, we introduced a new series on Ruth and reflected back on the baptism. Here’s a modified excerpt from the sermon to encourage and challenge us.
In the book of Ruth, God gives us little glimpses into how he was at work in a bad time in history, despite immense suffering, and even in the life of a pagan woman.
God was at work when they least expected it.
And the same is true for us. The same God who was at work in Ruth’s situation is at work in us when we least expect it. And he’s not at work in an abstract, generic sense — but in a very real, concrete way.
Let me explain.
The two young believers who were baptized took different paths to get to the baptistry. Christ saved one of them as a teenager, and yesterday he took the next step of following in believer’s baptism. The other prayed in my office a few weeks ago that God would forgive her, and that she believed in Jesus — and God saved her!
The events in their lives that led them to this point were no accident; God was at work in their lives … and he’s not done!
New Cedar Rock members, many of you have joined us just in the past year or two. You came here for a variety of different reasons. But listen closely: It was no accident that God brought you to this community of believers. We needed you, and I pray that you needed us. God was at work in your life to bring you to this point… and he’s not done!
And you veteran Cedar Rock members — those of you who have been here for 10, 20, 30, or even 70 years — God is still at work in you, too. I wasn’t here a few years ago, but a few of you have confided in me that there were times when you’d look around the congregation and look around the community, and you didn’t know what the future held for this church.
But you prayed. You sought God’s face. You served. You invited your friends and neighbors. And yesterday we used the baptismal pool that’s been collecting dust for years.
Here’s what this means: God was at work when you least expected it. God was at work in those darkest days. And he wasn’t at work here because of anything you or I have done. He wasn’t at work because we deserved it. He was at work because he is loving, merciful, gracious, and he was at work because he still has a purpose for this congregation to reach our neighbors, our families, our coworkers with the good news of the gospel.
So, Cedar Rock, God has been at work here in this church and in this community… and he’s not done!
Let’s not let this be the only time this baptismal is used. There are people we know in the community — people just down the street, in our workplaces, in our families — and they don’t know Jesus. They don’t have hope. Practically, they’re as lost as Ruth was growing up in a pagan land. They are sinners bound awaiting God’s judgment and wrath.
But God might very well be working in their lives right now, preparing their hearts to hear from you.
See, God is at work here. He’s at work out there. He’s not done. And we have the privilege to be a part of what he’s doing.
Will you let him use you in the process?