DEVOTION: Matthew 3:1-12 (ESV)
"John the Baptist Prepares the Way"
3 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, 2 "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand."[a] 3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said,
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
'Prepare[b] the way of the Lord;
make his paths straight.'"
4 Now John wore a garment of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father,' for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
11 "I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."
John the Baptist came to prepare the way for the Lord Jesus to come into the hearts and minds of his people. You would think he would do that by buttering them up, by saying things that would make them more receptive to Jesus, nice things, happy things, and all sorts of good stuff.
What does he say? He calls them to repentance,to turn away from their sin, so that they can follow Jesus. He calls the Pharisees a "brood of vipers". He doesn't mix words. He doesn't make it sound nice. He gives them the hardcore law. He speaks the conviction and judgment of their sin.
If you want to draw a crowd, that's not usually the way to do it. Yet, it wasn't a crowd that was drawn simply by a fiery preacher or a wondrous sight to see in the wilderness. It was a crowd that was drawn out to the wilderness by the Holy Spirit. At just the right time, when the people were ready to hear, the Lord sent them out to John the Baptist to hear what they NEEDED to hear, not what they wanted, but what they NEEDED.
There are a lot of churches, clubs, organizations, and self help books that will tell you what you want to hear. They draw crowds of thousands and thousands. Yet, they are filled with hot air. They aren't preparing the way of the Lord, nor are they preaching the forgiveness of the Lord throughthe mercy and grace of Christ. They're just telling you "good" things that will fill with the false hope that you can make yourself better.
I want to urge and plead with you to listen to the words of John the Baptist today. "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" That kingdom of heaven is JESUS and he is standing at the door and knocking. Repent of yoru sin and turn to Him so he can come in!
Prayer: Lord, make us hear what we need to hear so that we might rely on your grace alone andnot our own understanding or strength. Amen.
Thurs- Karate 5:15-7:30
Sat- Little Lamb's Christmas Program 3:30; Worship 5pm
Sun- Worship 8:30; Sunday school 9:45; Chapel 11; Little Lambs Christmas program 3:30 (SCRIP ORDERS DUE)
WORSHIP WORKERS FOR THIS COMING WEEKEND:
Acolyte- 8:30- Dawn Sherman 11- Luke Rausch
Ushers- Marv Hendershot, Don Luebke, Dave Callies, Don Nolte
Altar- Set up- Ruth Walters; Clean Up- Terry McKenzie
Elders- Sat- Randy Sweet; 8:30- John Hachtel 11- Steve Robine
Greeters- 8:30- Rob and Julie Schaumberg; 11- Steve and Sandy Robine
Lay Readers- Sat- Randy Sweet; 8:30- Lois Boeger; 11- Sandy Robine
Piano- Barb Dreyer
Organist- Rachel Fisher
Projectionists: Sat- Mauch; Sun- McKenzie
YESTERDAY'S QUIZ: In what region/city were Paul and Silas jailed and the jailer converted? Philippi
(Thank you Don Nolte and Al Benton for answering this yesterday!)