The Baptism of Jesus | Matthew 3:13-17

**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 3:13-17

Thoughts:

I recently studied with a very astute scholar of the word and he pointed something out to me about this passage. He said that John here was unintentionally serving the enemy when he tries to talk Jesus out of the Baptism. Jesus knew that he needed to do this thing. It was written of in the Old Testament and it must be fulfilled (think of the relation between Christs ministry journey and the journey of the Israelites...a journey they failed but He succeeded at), yet here is John, playing the part of humility, attempting to lead Jesus away from something that he must accomplish.

It makes me think about some of the things that I do...unintentionally or otherwise. If I am not following the will of the Father than I am ultimately serving the enemy. Now I'm not saying that I or anyone else am judged unfairly by God in these instances...but it makes me stop and think that maybe I should be more careful with how I live my life. Maybe I should start being more aware of who I am really serving when I do this or that activity. Jesus is our example, and we should seek to follow him always ...that means trying to be like him.

Prayer:

Dear Lord,

Come into my heart Lord. Change me into more of Your image...I want to be more like You. As David said Lord, make in me a new heart. Help me to see when my actions are working against You and then give me the strength to change out of love for You and Your ways.

Lord I lift up my prayer list. Please be a heavy presence for all those listed. Heal them spiritually and for those who need it, physically. Most of all Lord, lead them to your pasture of safety and bring them home.

Thank you so much for all that you do and all that you provide. Amen.

The ax of God's judgement | Matthew 3:6-12

**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 3:6-12

Thoughts:

John says a lot in this passage and so I decided to cover it some more on the next day. I'll try to look closely at another portion of what is said here, specifically verse 10,

"Even now the ax of God's judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire."

I notice first that here we are talking about trees; trees that seem to symbolize someone. So, I looked up Isaiah 61:3 and find a passage describing the ministry of Jesus saying

"...To console those who mourn in Zion, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness."

Who are the trees? Considering whom John is talking to I would think that the trees are the children of Israel. John is warning them that they will soon be cut down and thrown into the fire if they do not start to produce good fruit.

The immediate assumption of some might be "whoa this is harsh". But it is a warning meant to lead them back to God. I also think that the fire, in this instance, doesn't necessarily have to be the all consuming fire. Maybe it is the fire of trial, which sometimes helps us to see our need for God and who He really is, so that we come back to him. The Jewish nation had lost it's way. They are being warned that they are going to be cut down and replaced with trees that will produce fruit if they do not turn from their sins and turn toward God again. It becomes even more apparent that this is the meaning when John says that someone is coming who will "seperate the chaff from the wheat".

Prayer:

Dear Lord of Love and Justice,

Thank you for being willing to give us trials to bring us back to you. Often it is only when we feel our need that we can hear your knocking on the door of our hearts. Help me to recognize those trials that develop my character further and to go through them with Your joy in my heart. Help me to always see your hand in my life...the good or the corrective trial.

Please be with my family, friends, church, and especially my daughter. Please watch over and direct all of the prayer requests listed on that page. Lord, in all things may your good and true and perfect will be done.

Thank you for the trials that you have put in my life, especially the ones that helped to bring me back to you. Thank you for all that you supply. Help me to better use what you have given me to your glory. Amen.

Generation of snakes | Matthew 3:6-12

**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 3:6-12

Thoughts:

Here we get a "sermon" from John seemingly directed at the Pharisees and Sadducees; though I would say it also speaks to other issues as well. We know that at this time John was baptising many people from the area (Judea, Jordan Valley, & Jerusalem) and so I would venture to say that the Pharisees and Sadducees were there to find out who it is and what it is "stirring up the locals". Because they were the type to consider themselves the only real students of the law they most certainly (as a group) didn't come to learn from John. Yet they get an ear-full...

"...brood of snakes." This seems to be a pretty harsh epithet. I am wondering what it means because I'm sure it was specifically used and not just random slander thrown out in heated conversation. Let's find out what Strong's has to say:

BROOD - King James version uses the word "Generation" instead of "Brood"...and the Strong's gives the following definition: offspring; by analogy produce (literally or figuratively): - fruit, generation.

SNAKES - King James version uses the word "Vipers" instead of "Snakes" and Webster's defines vipers this way:

Pronunciation: \ˈvī-pər\ Function: noun Etymology: Middle English vipere, from Latin vipera Date: 15th century 1 a : a common Eurasian venomous snake (Vipera berus) that attains a length of about two feet (0.6 meter), varies in color from red, brown, or gray with dark markings to black, and is usually not fatal to humans; broadly : any of a family (Viperidae) of venomous snakes that includes Old World snakes (subfamily Viperinae) and the pit vipers b : a venomous or reputedly venomous snake 2 : a vicious or treacherous person

So, what can we learn from this little study of that phrase? I think that John is making sure that everyone listening, including the Pharisees and Sadducees, hears the word brood or generation. This would ensure that they didn't think he was directing the epithet at just the small group that had shown up...he was directing this descriptive "dis" at ALL Pharisees and Sadducess as well as anyone who might wish to join their brood or generation. It was a warning statement to everyone.

Next John goes on to describe why they are a brood of snakes. To try and put the rest into a nutshell, he is warning them that what they prize most...

  • ...their heritage
  • ...their outward perfection
  • ...their apparent grand status
  • ...their self attained knowledge

...was not going to be able to save them from God's wrath. They too needed to be baptized and realize that they were in need of salvation too. They had spent so much time deciding what God's word meant that they had lost sight of God's word. They no longer could see God's character, which is displayed in His word, but instead could only see their interpretation of God's word and all the things they had added to it. This was one of the biggest parts of Jesus' ministry...to bring them back to God's word and an understanding of God's character. Study this for yourself...you'll find that Jesus never "made up" anything when teaching. Everything he taught was found in the scriptures of their time...the Old Testament. That is the simple reason that you should NEVER I repeat NEVER let anyone tell you that the Old Testament is no longer necessary. The God of the Old Testament is the same God of the new. Same character. Same love and forgiveness. Same grace. Same desire to have a people devoted to Him...

Prayer:

Dear Alpha and Omega,

Thank you for being God. Thank you for being a loving God, capable of infinite mercy and grace. Thank you for taking the time to teach us and for being willing to work through us. I ask you, on your Holy Sabbath day, to watch over my family and church. Please provide an extra portion of your Holy Spirit today so that we can learn directly from you. I ask that you forgive my sin so that I can be filled with Your word.

Thank you for all that you supply in my life. Thank you for my home, health, family, and friends.

Lord, please be with all of the prayer requests that are in my heart right now. May your will be done in all situations. Amen.

Course camel hair jacket = devotion | Matthew 3:4-6

**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 3:4-6

Thoughts:

So here we have it described how John the Baptist is dressed and what it is that he eats to sustain himself. Interesting that he wore and ate only things that could be supplied by God. I gather this from the statement that the clothes seemed to be handmade "coarse camel hair" and the items he ate were both very "wild" indeed. He had obviously spent much time in the wilderness where he was able to commune with God undistracted. He also relied on God completely for his sustenance, clothing, and I would venture to say the message that he preached. He was an example of someone devoted to God entirely. Does devotion mean that we all have to go out and live in the wilderness? Do we all just give up our jobs and move to the forest? I don't think this is the "literal" example being set here. The example we can take from John is to be willing to go where God asks us to go. Be willing to rely on Him for our daily bread, the roof over our heads, and the clothes on our backs. This is a visual example of what is already true...we DO rely on God...whether we want to admit it or not. But, God can work with us so much better and on a deeper level if we submit to Him and "know that He is GOD"!

Prayer:

Dear Supreme Provider and Lord of Creation,

I love You. Help me to understand how deeply you love me and want to care for me. Help me to put my faith in you and not just in what my hands can do. You are the Lord of all creation...help me to truly understand the scope of that truth. Lord, I want to live for you. Fill me today with your Holy Spirit and help me to live a life today that glorifies you. Forgive me of my sin. Forgive me of my selfish heart and make it a new heart that beats for you and the spreading of the gospel.

Thank you for all that YOU provide in my life. Please Lord, continue to work in the life of my daughter...help her to see you somehow...and come to You as she should. Help her to always know that I love her very much and nothing could ever make me stop.

Thank you again for being in my life. Amen.

Repent and turn to God | Matthew 3:1-3

**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

Thoughts:

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.

Prayer:

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.