Thursday, January 19, 2017

The Book of Matthew: Morning Moments with God, Day 4

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Day 4: Obedience

Matthew 3: 1-12

"In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying , "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near."

Please read Matthew 3:1-12 to understand the full 'Morning Insights' for the day =)

John the Baptist has always amazed me. From the announcement, from an angel, of his coming birth, to his death. He was a man who, in the womb, received the Holy Spirit and lived his life following Holy Spirit in full obedience.

Things he did that show his full obedience and death to self:

1. In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea..." Preaching in the desert? If he had his own choice would he have chosen the desert? I've never been to a desert, the best I've done is visited a beach on a really hot day and left after a few hours. But John stood out there, in the heat, and preached. Okay, so that doesn't really talk of his obedience because maybe he liked the desert, but the fact that there is a prophesy about him in the desert assures me that he was living in obedience in order to fulfill the prophesy, "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him." (Matthew 3:3, Isaiah 40:3)

2. "John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey." (Matthew 3:4) I'm sorry, there is no way that he was loving locusts for breakfast, lunch and dinner on his own accord. He grew up with a mom and a dad and traditions with holidays and good food and clothes! He knew what good food was and I'm sure, like the rest of us, he loved it. Wearing those clothes and eating that food was in obedience to his calling. God called him to the desert- he obeyed. Life in the dessert requires those clothes and that food- he accepted it. Obedience has a price- dying to the things we find comfort in, dying to self.

3. "People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. Confessing their sins, They were baptized by him in the Jordan River." (Matthew 3: 5-6)  First, I am astonished at how many people came out to the desert- "from Jerusalem, all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan." That's alot of people. Was he trained for this? Did he go to college or seminary and get a degree in public speaking or go to Bible college? Probably not. I'm sure his father, Zechariah, taught him the Word of God, but to preach each day to a crowd! and not to mention how intimidating that would be to preach to a large crowd. I know I've said to God, "God, I can't share the Gospel- I don't know enough Scriptures. What will I say? I can't answer all their questions." That's me trusting in me- NOT trusting God and what He has called me to do. God called John. John obeyed. Could we answer the call of God on our lives with the same obedience?

4. "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducee's coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father..' 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." If that had been me, and I saw the Pharisees and Sadducee's coming, fear would have gripped my heart. I have struggled for years with the fear of authority- fear of man. I would have been silent. I would have stood there waiting to see what they wanted. I would have been afraid that they were coming to either shut my 'church' down or arrest me. BUT John, being so convicted in his calling that came from God and convicted in what he was called to preach was the Truth, had no fear of man. Fear of God pulsed through his veins. The reverence for God motivated him. The love of the Father and doing His good work kept him at peace. So, not only was he NOT afraid, he was bold! He calls out those pious, religious men as being a 'brood of vipers!' He sees right through them because of Holy Spirit being in him. He spoke the truth without any sugar coating and all those people who John had been preaching to, heard it clear as day. I'm sure it was an eye-opening day for the common people that were there. The common sinners probably thought that the priests had a free ticket into heaven, but John set the record straight that day- REPENT! and you shall be saved!

5. "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. His winnowing fork is in this hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire." (Matthew 3:11-12) I grew up in New York City in a largely Jewish community. I had many Jewish friends that went to synagogue and Hebrew school. In all my years of living side by side with my Jewish friends and babysitting for my neighbors, I never heard one of them say, "I was baptized." I don't think baptism is a Jewish thing, but there he was, standing in the desert, baptizing people. He was radically different from any of the priests from the Temple. I'm sure someone must have asked him, "On whose authority do you baptize these people?" Whether they asked or not, whether they thought it or not, it made no difference to John. God told him to baptize people and get them ready for the Messiah, Jesus, who was coming, and so he did.

It was like John had been to heaven, talked with God, and came back down to earth. He lived like there was only One person to live for- God. He lived like God was GOD.

Pray this prayer with me:

Father, pour over on me your Holy Spirit. Give me your boldness. Break the fear of man. Set me free to go forth and declare the Good News with no shame so that all people can know you and be saved! You have come and according to John, you "will baptize with the Holy Spirit and with fire." Baptize me afresh with your Spirit and give me your fire to preach, teach, and bring the lost to repentance. Amen.

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