Saturday, September 24, 2011

September 25, 2011

"Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord," Acts 3:19

I came across this story today and thought it might illustrate the spiritual concept of repentance that I have been talking about.

Probably the greatest barrier of all to repentance is our pride. The story is told of a little boy who went with his sister, Mary, to visit his grandparents at their farm. The grandmother had a pet duck of which she was extremely fond. One day Johnny was playing with his slingshot. He aimed it at the duck and hit it right on the head. The bird toppled over, kicked a few times, and died. Johnny was frightened to death. He looked about and saw no one, so he took the duck and ran into the woods, dug a hole and buried it.

He and Mary always divided the chores, and that evening it was her turn to do the supper dishes. But instead, Mary turned to him after supper and said, "Johnny, you do the dishes tonight." "You're crazy," he said. "This is your night; I am going out to play." Mary said, "Come here. I saw you kill that duck this afternoon. If you don't do exactly what I tell you to do, I am going to tell Grandma what you did. You know what that means. It was her prize duck." "All right," said Johnny, "I will do the dishes."

Next time it was Mary's turn the same thing happened, and this went on for two weeks. Johnny was going around with his tongue hanging out. Every time he would bring up the matter she would always say, "Johnny, remember the duck!" At last he couldn't stand it any longer. Mary had gone to town, and his grandmother was sewing. Johnny went in and stood around and twisted his ear and bit his nails, and finally he said, "Grandma, there is something I just have to say." "What is it, son?" she asked. He said, "It is the hardest thing I have ever had to do, Grandma. About two weeks ago I was playing with my slingshot and I shot at your duck and I killed it."

The grandmother wiped a tear from her cheek, and she reached out and said, "Come here, son." She put her arms about him. "I was sitting upstairs by an open window, and I saw you kill that duck." And then she added, "I wondered how long you were going to take this bondage to Mary. I have watched her give you orders for two weeks, and I wondered how long it would be before you came to me."

Our heavenly Father has seen everything that you and I have done. He himself has taken the consequences of those things by giving his Son to die for us. He is waiting for you to come and confess it, to acknowledge it and say, "Lord, here I am. I want a fresh start. I want a new day in my life. I want a new beginning. I want a new birth. I want to be yours from this moment. I repent. I am coming home."

This will only be the beginning, but the beginning of a wonderful new relationship. Once we have repented, we will still need to confess our daily failures, but now we are heading in a new direction. We are on God's side. We are assured of his unending love, assistance and companionship. And it is a relationship that will last forever. Death itself was defeated in Jesus' resurrection so even that cannot rob us of our Father's love. The greatest things are yet to come.

Humble yourself. God knows your secret sins. Repent and run into His waiting arms!

September 24, 2011

“John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire."  Luke 3:7-9

Wow! Vipers?

How would you feel if someone called you a snake?
John the Baptist was pretty rough on these guys. Why did He do that? It doesn't sound much like something like a preacher would say - but he did!

What had John so riled up? Why the attitude? Did he get some bad locusts for breakfast?

If you understand what is going on in these few verses you will understand why He responded so harshly to them.
The short, answer is they were phonies and they wanted John to sanction their phoniness. There was nothing phony about JTB (John the Baptist).
What they wanted is something we are all too familiar with, they wanted the perks of faith without paying the price. They wanted to be thought of as spiritual without having to make any changes on the inside. Like many Christians today they wanted something to happen TO that but weren't willing to allow much to happen IN them.
As you would imagine, John would have none of that! He told them that what you are on the inside will be exposed by how you act on the outside. Like you won't see peaches on an apple tree, you won't see the fruits of repentance on one who hasn't repented. They needed to repent before they could be bapized. They needed to humble themselves and enter into a personal relationship with God rather than trust in their religious ceremonies.
How about you? What are you trusting? Are you doing religious and depending on religious symbols and ceremonies rather than repenting to God and allowing Him to fundamentally transform your heart and mind.
Just getting baptized will leave you a wet hypocrite if you have not truly repented. If you have truly repented than it should be showing in your attitudes and your actions.
What are those fruits you should be looking for? Read the rest of the verses. I will deall with it more tomorrow.
Why be a snake when you can be a saint?