Lessons Of A Lifetime

SUNDAY JULY 22, 2018

Scripture To Consider:
“In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, and saying, ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!’ For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, ‘The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the LORD; Make His paths straight.”’ Now John himself was clothed in camel’s hair with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.”

“Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins. But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, ‘Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, “We have Abraham as our father.” For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.’” Matthew 3.1-10

Something To Consider:
In those days John the Baptist came preaching repentance. Down through the centuries some leaders have come preaching many things to keep from preaching repentance. Still today, some preach and teach anything other than that which points people to repentance. Some leaders, not all leaders, preach and teach whatever they think large numbers of people will gather to hear and will financially support them in their less than truthful efforts rather than preaching and teaching what people desperately are in need of hearing. John preached a meaningful message of repentance!

The apostle Paul in his first letter to Timothy in the 1st century wrote of end times declaring, “Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving [seducing] spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron…”

Paul in Ephesians chapter 4 writing concerning the new man or new woman in Christ, first described those who depart from the faith beginning in verse 17, by stating, “This I say, therefore, and testify in the Lord, that you [true believing Christian] should no longer walk as the rest of the Gentiles [unbelievers] walk, in the futility of their mind, having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart; who being past feeling, have given themselves over to lewdness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.”

Having our understanding darkened and becoming alienated from a life with God is the end result of our departing from the faith according to the Word of God. A person who is willing to listen to and heed deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons over the Word of God opens themselves up to the blindness of their heart.

And having come to a place of being past feeling they then give themselves over to lewdness and acts of wickedness and uncleanness and they become greedy. Their becoming greedy makes them perfect targets of the many false prophets preaching their damning health, wealth, and prosperity demonic false doctrines and false teachings of giving some to get more!

But John the Baptist came onto the earthly scene preaching repentance with radical and revolutionary results. His message required his listeners to turn away from their sin. John the Baptist preached a meaningful message that convincingly commanded a holy lifestyle lived unto God. He preached repentance because the kingdom of heaven was at hand. How much more true today is the message of the nearness of the kingdom of heaven? How much more needful is the preaching of a message of repentance today in this 21st century generation?

Something Else To Consider:
In Daniel chapter 2 we are given a clear prophetic picture of future coming kingdoms; both their rising and their demise. Daniel is very explicit in the details of these future kingdoms. King Nebuchadnezzar had a worrisome dream and none of the magicians and soothsayers could interpret the bothersome dream, so Daniel was summoned to interpret the dream of the king.

Before doing so Daniel and some God fearing like-minded believers prayed. “Blessed be the name of God forever and ever, for wisdom and might are His, and He changes the times and the seasons; He removes kings [leaders in every country] and raises up kings; He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to those who have understanding.” God gives wisdom to those who have not departed from the faith and who do not practice the works of uncleanness and greediness.

Daniel continued his prayer, “He [God] reveals deep and secret things; He knows what is in the darkness, and light dwells with Him. I thank You and praise You, O God of my fathers; You have given me wisdom and might, and have now made known to me what we asked of You, for You have made known to us the king’s demand.” And Daniel described in great and accurate detail future kingdoms that would rise and fall.

God sees the end from the beginning more clearly than we see the present or the past. God prepared a man named John the Baptist to come as a forerunner to His own Son Jesus’ first coming. And John preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!”

In verse 44 of Daniel chapter 2, Daniel reported information received from God in prayer. “And in the days of these kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which shall never be destroyed; and the kingdom shall not be left to other people [as the rise and fall of other kingdoms]; it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms [kingdoms of all generations], and it shall stand forever.” In other words, there is one final coming kingdom that will outlast all other earthly kingdoms that have come and gone. This kingdom Jesus Christ will rule!

Something More To Consider:
Matthew, in our lesson’s text considered John’s meaningful message of repentance as crying out in the wilderness in order to prepare the way of the Lord’s first coming. John declared, “Make His paths straight.” As leaders in training in the classroom of the Holy Spirit, what message are we crying out? What living message are our lives crying out in the wilderness of this wayward and wicked world? Is our message a message of hope to the hopeless? Is our message a cry of encouragement to those who lack courage and a sense of divine direction, purpose, and godly passion?

Is our message, like John the Baptist’s, as a voice crying in the wilderness of deceived individuals attempting to decide whether they are going to depart from their once vibrant faith in Jesus Christ, in exchange for the deception of demonic doctrines that have been allowed to creep into the rank and file of the church almost unaware, except by those of understanding granted them by God? John’s message of repentance in his day pointed forward to the message of the cross of Jesus Christ. The message of repentance now points individuals backwards and yet to the same cross of Jesus Christ.

But according to Paul in 1 Corinthians 1.18; “For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it [the message of the cross] is the power of God.” There is no more meaningful message in all the world than the message of repentance, unless it is the message of a one final coming kingdom that will consume all other kingdoms, and, that it shall stand forever under the rule and righteous reign of none other than Jesus Christ.

When Jesus finally comes to establish this eternal kingdom, will we be found having very foolishly departed from the faith as so many according to Scripture? Or will we be found looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith? God help us to make the only one right and eternal decision!

A Few Final Words:
John the Baptist placated to no one, especially the religious leadership of his day. For when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he proclaimed in question form, “Brood of vipers [poisonous snakes]! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance…”

Romans chapter 5 also speaks to our being saved, future tense, from the wrath of God through our belief in Jesus Christ. Beginning in verse 6 Paul stated, “For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrated His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, having now been justified by His [Jesus’] blood, we shall [future tense] be saved from wrath [God’s wrath] through Him [Jesus].” Praise God!

Our Father in heaven, may we not run from the message of repentance. May we never depart from our faith in Jesus and His Word. In Him Always, Amen!


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