It has been a busy September, and I have to say, I’m glad it’s almost over. Between baseball games, cake decorating classes, prepping for hunting season (not me…the hubby), birthday parties and church activities, I feel like I meet myself coming and going. So, that’s my excuse for not keeping up with this blog.
Yesterday was a particularly exciting day. Our congregation had its annual Free Sale. I thought it was the 4th annual Free Sale, but I was reading my blog about it from last year, and I had mentioned that it was the 4th last year. So, either I was wrong last year or I am wrong this year. Either way, we’ve been doing the Free Sale for a while.
What is a Free Sale? I’m glad you asked. Simply put, it’s like a yard sale, but everything’s free. Our church members and members of the community go through their closets, garages, storage sheds and donate items that they aren’t using and pass them along to people who need those items. Mostly, we give away a lot of clothes, but there are additional household items, toys, books, movies, etc that get donated. It’s really amazing to see more and more items show up every year. You’d think we’d run out of stuff by now 🙂
Like I said, everything is free. It’s really funny to see people’s reactions when we tell them this. We get about 3 main reactions…surprise, shock or suspicion. Not a lot is free in this world. If something says it’s free, you better read the fine print. But, our Free Sale really is free. Not strings attached. No fine print.
So, how does it work? Well, after we have our donations all sorted (believe me…that’s a HUGE undertaking), we set up in our church parking lot, have the participants form a line and register. Each person gets a certain number of tickets. The tickets are their “money” for the items. Most items are worth one ticket, with just a few exceptions. We do this so everyone gets a fair shot at getting items. We have them register so we can contact them about other events we have throughout the year.
Yesterday, it took about 1 1/2 hours to get everyone registered. It’s not a speedy process, but it’s an orderly one. It amazed me that there were a few people who wanted to participate, but refused to register. We didn’t turn them away, but it’s unfortunate, because they’ll miss out on other events that we offer (spaghetti dinners, coat drives, VBS, etc).
That got me to thinking. Like our Free Sale, God offers us all a free gift…salvation. To bring us back into a right relationship with Him, he set a plan into action. He sent Jesus to earth, to become man and live a sinless life. Then He offered His only Son as a perfect sacrifice, His blood covers our sins. Then, He raised Jesus from the death…showing the ultimate power. Not even death could stop God. All of this was done, so we can live one day with Him in Heaven.
What do we have to do to accept this free gift?? All God asks is that we live for Him. That we follow the plan He has laid out for us in the Bible. Believe in Him…one example of this is John 3:16. We must repent of our sins. Repenting is not only saying we’re sorry, but making a change in the way we live our lives. I’ve heard it explained like making a U-turn. You go the opposite way that you were once heading. Check out Peter’s sermon on the Day of Pentecost in Acts 2. Another step to take to accept God’s free gift is to be baptized. There are many, many scriptures in the Bible that point people to be baptized to be saved…to receive God’s free gift. For some reason though, there is a great debate about baptism and many either ignore this very important step or downplay the significance of it.
What is baptism? Well, my hubby who minored in Greek in college, will tell you that the Greek word means immersion. So, the act of baptism is to be immersed. The symbolism is very important. Jesus died for our sins, was buried and then was raised, baptism mirrors those actions. We “die” to ourselves and our old way of life when we make the decision to follow God and obey His commands. We are “buried” under the water…symbolizing Jesus’ burial in the tomb. We are “raised up” out of the water, a new person, much like Jesus was raised from the dead. Once we come out of the water, it signifies our spiritual change. We are no longer the same person, but a Christian…a follower of God…beginning a new life. Romans 6:4-11.
Like those few people who refused to register for our Free Sale…such an easy thing to do (it only took about 2 minutes to fill out the form…maybe less), many fail to take that all important step to be baptized. The actual act only takes a few seconds. I often wonder why people would stop at the point of baptism and not take the next step. This outward expression of an inward change shows your faith and full obedience to God.
There are so many scriptures that point to why we should be baptized…so many examples of people in the Bible who were baptized to receive forgiveness for their sins and to receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. Here are just a few:
Acts 9 – Saul’s (later called Paul) conversion. A persecutor of the church, later becomes a great missionary. His letters make up most of the New Testament.
Acts 10 – The first conversion of Gentiles.
Acts 16 – Mainly verses 11-15. Lydia’s conversion
Acts 8:26-39 – The conversion of the Ethiopian eunuch.
Like I said, this is just a few examples of people being baptized. Acts is a great place to start and read about more examples. Romans is another great book. Search in your smartphone’s Bible App for more stories or verses. Check it out! If you are searching for the truth, I can’t think of a better place to turn to than the Bible!!!
This year’s Free Sale has come and gone. We won’t have another one until next year. If you wanted to participate but didn’t, you’ll have to wait an entire year for the next Free Sale to come around. Luckily for us, God’s free gift is a 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year kind of deal. You can make the decision anytime to accept His free gift of salvation and be baptized. Why wait any longer?