Sandra and Ben’s Baptism and Profession of Faith

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As summer ended, Sandra showed up with her son Ben, for my kids summer Bible study group. Sandra wanted Bible studies as well, so we continued studying during the fall. Today Sandra rejoined the Seventh-day Adventist Church at Tampa First, and Ben was baptized for the first time.

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This Sabbath Pastor Brad presented Sandra to the church family, as she came in on profession of faith.

Sandra writes,

“I can not thank God enough for everything He has done for me,  especially for accepting me as His child through Jesus. I got baptized at the age of 18, received the gift of singing on that day and I never regretted it for one second of my life. Today I am renewing my faith as it it was the very first time. I am seeking for that 1st love on the day that we met. Unfortunately due to life circumstances, I wasn’t able to attend church regularly, but I always felt guilty about it and prayed God for deliverance. All those years that I prayed asking, “Oh Lord, when am I going to observe Your Sabbath and take my sons to church as I should? Then this past July God answered my prayer and brought me to Tampa and directed me to Tampa First SDA Church, where I found many blessings. He blessed me with another career adjustment that allowed me to observe the Sabbath.”

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Ben writes,

I want to start a new life with God.

This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun! 2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT

Ben, like his mother, studied the Storacles Bible study guides with me.  Ben is very interested in the sciences, as well as criminal justice. He is at the top of his class this year. When Ben we study together, Ben likes to tell me all he is learning in school, and asks me about ways he can serve God though various careers. Ben wants to put God first in all that he does.

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Don’t let the sun go down on your life, without finding Jesus as your personal Savior. If you are interested in learning more about Jesus I would love to study with you in a personal or group Bible study. You can contact me at BibleWorker@TampaAdventist.net

Thank you for your monthly contributions to my ministry so I can continue sharing Jesus with others!

Celeste’s Baptism Pictures and Stories

Celeste at Camp Kulaqua after responding to an altar call.

Celeste at Camp Kulaqua after responding to an altar call.

Celeste writes:

I have grown up in a seventh day adventist home since I was born. I followed the rules and did what was expected of me. It wasn’t until about two years ago that I really realized why I’m here. I realized that God had a special purpose and plan for my life and that it was my duty to fulfill it. But I was still scared. I still had that little thought in my head that I’m not good enough just yet. So I waited. Waited to find a change in myself before I found myself “worthy”.
A few weeks ago, I went to the annual high school bible retreat at camp kulaqua. It wasn’t until then that I really realized that I’ll never be worthy of the grace of God, but that’s okay because in his eyes, I am. I felt him calling me, so how I felt about myself didn’t matter anymore. I am “Unfinished” but God tells me that he’s that missing piece to complete me.

Pastor Claudette enjoyed studying with Celeste a couple years ago, using the In Light of The Cross Bible Study GuidesCeleste is an outstanding young lady both in our church family as well has her school where she is a high school senior. Still Celeste had not made her decision to baptized, and while Pastor Claudette and I invited her to, we did not want to pressure her. Baptism is a personal decision one must make on their own. As Celeste wrote, a few weeks ago I went as one of the chaperons to the high school Bible retreat. The theme was “Unfinished” and how we all are unfinished and imperfect without Jesus. I was very happy when I saw Celeste respond with several others to an altar call for baptism. I know the theme for the retreat was designed by God, and Celeste took her stand.

Many people, like Celeste think they must wait to be better to come to Jesus. But as Celeste realized, this is not so.

Do not listen to the enemy’s suggestion to stay away from Christ until you have made yourself better; until you are good enough to come to God. If you wait until then, you will never come. When Satan points to your filthy garments, repeat the promise of Jesus, “Him that cometh to Me I will in no wise cast out.” John 6:37. Tell the enemy that the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses from all sin. Make the prayer of David your own, “Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.” Psalm 51:7.Christ Object Lessons, Page 205-206 

If you see your sinfulness, do not wait to make yourself better. How many there are who think they are not good enough to come to Christ. Do you expect to become better through your own efforts? “Can the Ethiopian change his skin, or the leopard his spots? then may ye also do good, that are accustomed to do evil.” Jeremiah 13:23. There is help for us only in God. We must not wait for stronger persuasions, for better opportunities, or for holier tempers. We can do nothing of ourselves. We must come to Christ just as we are. –Steps to Christ, Page 31

Celeste

Before the baptism today at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Brad went over the baptismal vows with Celeste.

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When Celeste decided to be baptized she chose November 1st as her date to be baptized as she did not want to wait any longer to give her life to Jesus.

Behold, now is the day of salvation. 2 Corinthians 6:2

Celeste 2

 Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen. Matthew 28:19-20 

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All smiles! All beautiful smiles!

I am writing today from somewhere in beautiful Florida.

Please don’t let the sun set on your life before you give your life to Jesus. You will never be compete or “finished” without Jesus! Wherever you are, whatever your situation is, you can come to Jesus and He will accept you just as you are! Jesus will accept you even if you feel you are still a great ways off. God will run to meet you where you are.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. Luke 15:20 

Jesus loves and accepts unfinished and incomplete people!

If you want to come to Jesus and want someone to talk to or pray with, you can always contact me at LayPastor@TampaAdventist.net or (813) 933-7505.

One Hope

       I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area. The site for “One Hope”
                                                http://www.floridaconference.com/onehope/

Ciera’s Baptism Pictures

This morning was a special day at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church.  Not because it was St. Patrick’s day, but because we welcomed another saint into the body of Christ. Ciera gave her life to Jesus today by being baptized, because Jesus gave His life for her. Please enjoy the pictures.

Ciera has been looking forward to this day for a long time. Over the years, at Tampa Adventist Academy, she has been in several of my baptism classes. In addition to baptism classes, she is also pictured here in my Bible marking-chain referencing class that I hold at TAA. She is learning to share Jesus with others. The other day in class I did some role playing, and pretended I did not believe in the Sabbath. Cieria quickly found Bible verses to let me know the Sabbath, and the rest we find in God’s grace is still very much in effect.

This morning, Pastor Brad Cassell, went over the baptism vows with Ciera before the congregation.

The smile on Ciera’s face shows she has been looking forward to and preparing for this day for a long time.

Even though Ciera’s family are members of another Adventist church in the area, Ciera chose to be baptized at Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church by Pastor Claudette Aleman. We are glad Ciera chose Tampa First, and consider her family a big part of the Tampa First family.  All the area Tampa Bay area Adventist churches are just one big happy family!

For you were buried with Christ when you were baptized. And with him you were raised to new life because you trusted the mighty power of God, who raised Christ from the dead. Colossians 2:12 NLT

For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his. Romans 6:5 That new life sure puts a smile on your face, doesn’t it!

Ciera and her family had several family and friends over for lunch today to help celebrate!

After a long day of celebration, worship and fellowship, we closed out the Sabbath together with some songs and a devotional thought from the Bible.

Please don’t let the sun set on you before giving your life to the One who gave His life for you! If you are interested in baptism I would love to talk to you and help you prepare for this important life changing step. You can contact me at LayPAstor@TampaAdventist.net

New Testament Grace In The Old Testament

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

The LORD bless thee, and keep thee: The LORD make his face shine upon thee, and be gracious unto thee: The LORD lift up his countenance upon thee, and give thee peace.  Numbers 6:24-26

As I continue my journey through the Old Testament I continue discovering the same grace that is in the New Testament.

In Exodus 12 I read about the Passover and God delivering His people from the bondage of the Egyptians. In Exodus 19-20 God reminds them that they did not deliver themselves but that He delivered them by His grace, and as He goes on and gives the Ten Commandments, He in reality is promising to deliver them from sin by His grace.

When the children of Israel came to the Red Sea, and the Egyptians were chasing behind them  “And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD, which he will show to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The LORD shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace.” Exodus 14:13-14 Here we see once again the grace of God delivering by His own hand and not by our might or power.

While the same grace found in the New Testament is also found in the Old Testament, the same law of the Old Testament is found in the New Testament. “And, behold, a certain lawyer stood up, and tempted him, saying, Master, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said unto him, What is written in the law? how readest thou?  And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself. And he said unto him, Thou hast answered right: this do, and thou shalt live.” Luke 10:25-28 This was a quote from Deuteronomy 6.

Also the command to love one another is not a New Testament law to replace the Old Testament law. John is quite clear that the law to love one another came from the beginning. “And now I beseech thee, lady, not as though I wrote a new commandment unto thee, but that which we had from the beginning, that we love one another. And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.” 2 John 1:5-6 In Romans 12 Paul tells us that love helps us to keep the law and not hurt our neighbor through murder, adultery or coveting.

 

If you are in the Tampa Bay area, I would like to invite you to experience this grace at the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, Pastor Brad Cassell Lead Pastor, and Pastor Claudette Aleman Associate Pastor. If you are not in the Tampa Bay area you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

Glimpses of Grace; What If Moses Took A Spiritual Gifts Test?

I am writing today from the beautiful Tampa Bay area.

And Moses said unto the LORD, O my Lord, I [am] not eloquent, neither heretofore, nor since thou hast spoken unto thy servant: but I am slow of speech, and of a slow tongue.  And the LORD said unto him, Who hath made man’s mouth? or who maketh the dumb, or deaf, or the seeing, or the blind? have not I the LORD?  Now therefore go, and I will be with thy mouth, and teach thee what thou shalt say.        And he said, O my Lord, send, I pray thee, by the hand[of him whom thou wilt send.  And the anger of the LORD was kindled against Moses, and he said, Is not Aaron the Levite thy brother? I know that he can speak well. And also, behold, he cometh forth to meet thee: and when he seeth thee, he will be glad in his heart. Exodus 4:10-14

Often we are prone to looking at our talents or spiritual gifts to figure out what we may do for the Lord. However, if Moses had taken a spiritual gifts test, he never would have found his calling. God called Moses and then qualified him. This is something important that we as individuals and a corporate church must be aware of. As individuals we are tempted to look at our talents and means and ask God for a work assignment which may accomplish based on already given resources. As a church we too often look at our budget and then organize an evangelism mission based on what we have in the bank. What we need to do is ask God for our task first! He will supply the resources.

It is in this life that we are to separate sin from us, through faith in the atoning blood of Christ. Our precious Saviour invites us to join ourselves to Him, to unite our weakness to His strength, our ignorance to His wisdom, our unworthiness to His merits. God’s providence is the school in which we are to learn the meekness and lowliness of Jesus. The Lord is ever setting before us, not the way we would choose, which seems easier and pleasanter to us, but the true aims of life. It rests with us to co-operate with the agencies which Heaven employs in the work of conforming our characters to the divine model. None can neglect or defer this work but at the most fearful peril to their souls.- Great Controversy, p. 623

When God gives us a mission He does not expect us to use our strength, wisdom and merits, but by His grace we are to use His own strength, wisdom and merits.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would like to invite you to the Tampa First Seventh-day Adventist Church, where we rely greatly upon the grace of God. If you are not in the area, you can find a grace filled church in your corner of the world here.

Glimpses of Grace; No Harm Done

I am writing tonight from the Tampa Bay area.

After serving Laben14 years, Jacob tells his daughter’s:

“And your father hath deceived me, and changed my wages ten times; but God suffered him not to hurt me.” Genesis 31:7

I too can testify that over the years, everytime someone has tried to cheat me or hurt me, that God has more than blessed me, and has kept them from hurting me.

No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper; and every tongue that shall rise against thee in judgment thou shalt condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, and their righteousness is of me, saith the LORD. Isaiah 54:17

If you are in the Tampa Bay area I would like to invite you to visit our grace filled church at Tampa First.  You can find a grace filled church anywhere in the world by clicking here.