**Please be sure to read all around this passage so that you are getting it in context; and as always, ask the Holy Spirit to guide you to the understanding that He would have you see.
Passage: Matthew 3:1-3
These verses setup the theme of the next few. The rest of chapter three discusses the details of John the Baptists message but these verses tell us that his main message was, repentance, specifically "Repent of your sins and turn to God..."
Repentance seems to be a thing of the past, or at least the full meaning of it. Often you hear pastors say, "Repeat this sinners prayer after me and ask Jesus to come into your life." You never hear the rest of the repentance story which is "...turn to God". What does turn to God mean? How do I do it? For that matter, what is repentance? Is it really just believing in Jesus?
True repentance is a core piece of understanding redemption in Jesus. How can we know that we have true repentance? It is my belief that we can only gauge this by our works. (James 2:12-20) "WAIT A MINUTE!", you say. "I happen to know that works will not get us to heaven." And I reply back, "...your right...with a big BUT CONSIDER THIS":
How do you really know that you have true repentance...if your attitude, your character never really changes. I'm talking about your inner being; your soul. Has it changed. Not the plastic stuff...the easy stuff. Showing up at church on a weekly basis. Shaking all the right hands, smiling at all the right people. Saying amen and hallelujah in all the right places. I'm talking about internal change. Change that effects your behavior toward ALL those around you...especially your enemy. Jesus makes this pretty plain when he instructs us to love one another...but goes on to say it is easy to love your friend, but is more righteous to love our enemy and do good to those who hurt us. When you see yourself doing this, loving your enemy,...maybe you can start to think your moving in the right direction. Simply put, it is easy to say you believe...but for that belief to be real...it has to show itself in a change of character.
This is a personal battle. You must allow Jesus to change you. You can only be changed by a Master that you are willing to submit to.
Also, please don't apply this incorrectly. I am not opening a door that allows us to run around judging the behavior of others. This is a personal response generated by feeling your own deep sinfulness and then experiencing the even deeper forgiveness and love that Jesus has for you. When you really have this you will only want to share it with everyone around you; not hold it over them as a standard they "MUST!" attain. When it's real, it's love. And when you feel it, and you see someone that the world would despise, either by appearance or action, you may start to see them through Jesus eyes and not your own. You may even start feeling an "itch" to want to show that person the love that you feel from Christ. A deep desire to see that person changed and given the hope that now springs from your heart, may appear....it may even overcome your natural sinful nature, selfishness.
I realize that I am opening a big can of worms on this topic..barely scratching the surface would be an understatement....so, I would love to hear what others think...don't be shy, leave a comment or two.
Dear Loving Hevenly Father,
Please continue to work in my life. Please Lord, help me to overcome my fear of rejection and give me the desire to approach your loved ones. I know in my heart that this is the key to having a real relationship with you...and I truly want that. Help me to put others first, especially those that I don't want to put first.
Please be with my wife, family, friends, and my children. Keep them all under your wings of protection and help me to be a good father, husband, and friend. Be with all our church members and help them to come together with one purpose.
Thank you for all that you provide...I really do appreciate all that you have given me in my life.
I love you Lord. In Jesus name...amen.