Click on Text Link to Read Online
Focus Verses: Matthew 3:8, 11-12
8 "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance." - - -
11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
John the Baptist was a forerunner to Jesus. He preached a message of repentance and was preparing the hearts and minds of people to recognize and receive Christ.
Repentance and humility before God are essential preparation for recognizing and receiving the blessing and transformation that are Christ's to give. Those who truly repent and believe are transformed by the Spirit, and are able to produce fruit. Those who reject Jesus or give him mere lip service end up with unchanged and fruitless lives. The difference is clear and judgment is sure.
Response and Action:
I want to find life, fulfillment, and transformation in Christ Jesus. My faith must be more than words; it must be lived out with surrender, obedience, hope, and expectation. I want a humble heart, open eyes, and a receptive attitude toward Christ. I will earnestly seek him, listen to him, and follow his leading. I cultivate my awareness of his presence, my knowledge of his words, and my submission to his Spirit. I want to be prepared and ready for his transforming and fruitful work in my life.
O God, forgive and save me from hardness of heart. Deliver me from the pride that would close my heart to your power and purpose. Rescue me from the lip service of fruitless religiosity. Liberate me from the lies of self-importance that dull my ears to your voice. Free me from the illusions of self-reliance that squelch the Spirit's work in my life. Make me ready to recognize, receive, and rejoice in the Good News of Jesus. Strengthen my faith, change my heart, and make me fruitful as I abide in you. Through Christ, I pray. Amen.
Spiritual Formation Verses: Acts 3:19-20
19 Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord, 20 and that he may send the Christ, who has been appointed for you—even Jesus.
After You Believe: Why Christian Character Matters
by N. T. Wright