Falling for God

Sometimes faith can seem like a trust fall. It requitesus to place our trust in the Lord as He leads and guides us. Have you submitted to Lord and followed Him in baptism (Matthew 3:13-17). When Jesus comes from Galilee He comes to the Jordan River, He wants to be baptized by John because there was much water there (3:13; John 3:23) John tries to discourage Jesus by saying he needs to be baptized by Him (3:14). And John only consents after Jesus says Let it be so now; it is proper for us to do this (3:15) Jesus is saying we are to do what is right in God’s eyes. Jesus was baptized to give us an example to follow because He never asks us to do anything He hasn’t already done. 

When Jesus comes up out of the water, the heavens open and He sees the Spirit of God descending like a dove and rest on Him (3:16). Apparently, all the people see the dove because Luke tells us the dove has a bodily form in Luke 3:22~and the Holy Spirit descended on him in bodily form like a dove. And a voice came from heaven: “You are my Son, whom I love; with you, I am well pleased.” (NIV) If you have ever asked why, it fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah 11:2~The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him– the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD– (NIV). 

The Holy Spirit will empower Jesus for His ministry. This is the only time in the Bible we see all 3 persons of the Trinity pictured at once. God the Son is being baptized; God the Holy Spirit descending to empower Jesus; and God the Father speaking from heaven. They are three, yet one. This is one of the mysteries of the Bible that is beyond human comprehension. Augustine said, If you try to figure out the Trinity, you will lose your mind. If you deny the Trinity, you will lose your soul. We must simply believe. Believe that Jesus Christ is the second person of the Holy Trinity. That’s why Jesus commands us to go make disciples of all nations baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son, and Spirit. Matthew 28:19. Is there an area of your life that you need to Admit, Commit, or Submit to God today? 

Our Takeaway for the week isfound in the question: Are you preparing the way? Do you herald Christ? Are you telling people about Jesus? Listen to words of the wisest man to live. Proverbs 11:30~The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life, and the one who is wise saves lives. (NIV) There it is, fruit and salvation. To prepare for God’s kingdom, we must Admit our need to repent, as we Commit to the fruit of repentance, allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through our whole lives and bear fruit, as we Submit to God’s process. Why not take another step today, and draw closer to God?

Fruit Bearing Season

As disciples of Christ we are to commit to bearing fruit (Matthew 3:7-12). Did you know that when we sow the seeds of repentance in our lives we bear fruit? Matthew 3:8~Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (ESV) This is why you hear me remind you to have a fruit stand that is full and ready for those God places along our path of life. John sees many Pharisees, which is to say that many conservative Jews. They attempt to live right ritually and be good by simply abstaining. Abstinence is a good thing but it will not make us righteous. 

John was sharing how repentance makes us right with God. He also saw a good many Sadducees, these were liberal Jews who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead or in angels. But John was such a spectacle that people would come to hear him speak. They wanted the freedom John had, the love for God John shared and the forgiveness that John taught. It doesn’t matter what generation we are apart of, we all want to be loved by God, to be used of God, and to have our sins forgiven by God. 

I have been mulling over a change in our welcome time after our first song. John has to be on to something. Listen to how John welcomes some of his congregates who have come for service. Matthew 3:7~ But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? (ESV) Yeah after hearing that out loud maybe what we do is more congenial. When John says (γέννημα gennēma) or brood, it means offspring, generation, or children of the earth. That’s right he called them a generation of venomous snakes, cunning and crafty individuals who were dangerous to true believers. They were called children of earth, but God has called us to be His children. 1 John 3:1~The Father has loved us so much that we are called children of God…(NCV). 

When we repent and turn to God in faith we are no longer children of this world, rather God has adopted us to be His children. No longer slithering around on our belly, lying in wait or poisoning people. We are to live like Christ, who offered the fruit of the spirit to those in need. I bet many of us have been snakebite, perhaps it was even at church or in a religious setting. This has turned many off and they don’t want any part of God. They were offered fruit from this world, by children of this world and it was rotten. God says to us be who I created you to be. Be is the beginning of believing, of beautiful, of being. God has a plan for each of us to do good things and produce good fruit. Ephesians 2:10~For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do. (NIV) 

And all of this begins in our life with repentance, therefore, John warns us how dangerous these religious leaders are. Life in Christ is about relationship through the Redeemer Jesus Christ to a God with unfailing love towards us. So, John asks who warned you to flee from God’s wrath to come. In other words, Who said you’re going to escape God’s wrath (3:7). The religious leaders think God’s wrath is only for Gentiles, but it is for anyone who does not know the Lord and walks with Him daily. John is using a very familiar process to describe God separating those who truly repent from those who do not. 

If our desire is to prepare the way for God’s kingdom then we must admit our need to repent and do so regularly, to commit to the fruit of repentance, allowing the Holy Spirit to flow through our whole lives. Who might you share the fruit growing in your life with today.

All Things New

Much like his the prophet Elijah in 2 Kings 1:8~They replied, “He had a garment of hair and had a leather belt around his waist.” The king said, “That was Elijah the Tishbite.” (NIV) John’s unusual attire emphasizes the striking difference between him and Jerusalem’s religious leaders, who donned themselves in expensive, flowing robes. Rather John lived simply and his diet was quite reflective of this, consisting of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4) For those who are not as well versed in lifestyles of the rich and famous, a locust is a grasshopper, not robed in chocolate, rather a migrating insect who swarms, stripping vegetation from large areas. It’s considered by Jews to be clean or kosher (fit to be eaten according to the Jewish dietary laws of Leviticus 11:22~Of these you may eat any kind of locust, katydid, cricket or grasshopper. (NIV) For the foodie, these delectable beauties come in a wide assortment for varied palates. And the wild honey was common in the desert, often found in a rock cleft or tree.

John’s lifestyle was like a brandished flag high atop its wilderness outpost in an open field, it beckoned to all that He lived dramatically divergent with the culture of his day, for the cause of Christ. The people who were drawn in, came from Jerusalem, all over Judea and farther to witness the spectacle, to hear the words of life and to be submerged in the hope of redemption. A message of repentance as they confess their sins, and were baptized in the Jordan River (3:5-6). The word confess (ἐξομολογέω exomologeō) means to agree fully to acknowledge openly and joyful. Yes, Lord, I agree, the You and the Bible were right about sin.

So in this scene, we witness people coming as James said, then they confess their sins, and are baptized, an outward sign of their new inward condition. (βαπτίζω baptizō) to dip or immerse as a sign of our willingness to turn to God and live raised to walk in the newness of life. Paul explains that in baptism we are buried with Christ into death Romans 6:4~We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life. (NIV) Like a wedding ring, baptism is a symbol of love and commitment. It means we love Jesus Christ and have committed our lives to Him. You don’t have to be baptized to go to heaven, but who would not want to be baptized since it is the clear command of Scripture? To prepare the way we all need to admit our need for repentance. Is there an area in your life which you need to surrender or refocus today? Why not take time to listen to the Holy Spirit and allow the Lord to have His way in your life.