DATE WRITTEN: Monday, 2021-01-11
WRITTEN AT: Paul B Johnson State Park, Hattiesburg, MS
BIBLE REFERENCE: Luke 3:8-9
TRANSLATION: New Living Translation (NLT)
BIBLE TEXT: 8 Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God….
9 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.”
OBSERVATION: After saying the above to a crowd gathered in the wilderness waiting to be baptized, John the Baptist was still asked by three different groups what they should do. Perhaps you might be asking the same question, so I wanted to share this with you in hopes that we all might be energized into letting our lights shine for our Lord all over this earth, and that our witness will produce fruit for the Kingdom.
APPLICATION: We studied this in our Sunday School class on Sunday and I was so touched by the work of John the Baptist, I thought I would share it with you! We see in many teachings by Jesus, that He taught in parables. Often this was a good way of relating something that His hearers associated with, and it helped them immediately understand what He was teaching. It seems like John also shared this message in a light that the crowd would understand, for they may have had farming experience and therefore accustomed to the idea of fruit bearing trees. But since some of the groups in the crowd needed further explanation, I thought you might also benefit from the additional information that John shared:
– The crowd asked as a whole in vs 10, ‘What should we do (to prove that we have repented from our sins)?’ New Christians today might also ask the same question. So John responded in vs 11 that they should look for opportunities to help others. This sounds elementary, as folk may tend to think that they have always done this. But I believe that the moment we become Christ followers, we tend to think, act and give, like Jesus did. You see, He stopped along His path and helped blind folk, and crippled folk, and He even fed the 5,000 just from a lad’s lunch. He didn’t look for every excuse in the book as to why He couldn’t help, but rather He pulled out all the stops and helped over and beyond anything they could ever imagine. As children of God, it should be our aim to excel in our efforts to help those in need. If we recognize a need, then obviously God wants us to do something about the need. Let’s love others enough to try and satisfy their needs;
– In vs 12 the Tax Collectors asked ‘Teacher what should we do?’ I wonder if God didn’t just prick their conscience into believing that there must be something more they could do than what was told to the crowd in general, and they were right. For God knew that they were charging more than the prescribed taxes, so they could pad their pockets, and the Tax Collectors knew deep inside that they were overcharging the poor people. Some countries call this ‘Under the table, or silent bribery’. This is not right in the eyes of God, and if we are to be His imitators, then we should not tolerate bribery, nor should it ever be necessary. Let our yea be yea and our nay be nay, is the way it is described elsewhere in the Bible. Bribes should never be necessary;
– In vs 14, the soldiers asked ‘What should we do?’ Perhaps we can’t identify with the issue here, but John knew that there were some issues with the soldiers using uncalled for actions in trying to receive additional pay. John warned them to be content. I wonder, to what extent do we go when trying to force our employer’s hand for more money? As a child of the King, let’s be content in our pay, until our Lord touches the heart of employers to increase our wages. God knows what we need, let’s trust Him for all we need.
Friends, we must be careful when we teach the Word of God. Teaching it in a way that makes good sense to us, may not make it understandable for others. Try to understand your audience, and use examples that they will identify with. Make sure that they understand, even if you have to do like John and break it down for various sectors of your audience. If you preached the Word, or taught it, and you went over the heads of your audience, your words may have been in vain. Simple does it! And use examples or illustrations that they will identify with. Don’t beat around the bush, be like John and teach it like God prods you to do. It is the Word of God that you are teaching and preaching, not your glorified words that will only return void, even if it made you sound real smart.
PRAYER: Thank You for awesome example You have given us to follow dear Lord. Please embolden us to spread Your Word in ways that hearers will understand, and that Your Holy Spirit will speak through. May the lost be found, may the poor feel loved from the gifts we share with them, and may the crooked be made straight as others follow our example – a mirror of what You taught to us in Your Word. May Your Kingdom come oh Lord, and Your will be done. We have nothing more important to gain in our lives, so please lead us to teach and preach the Word of God in ways that will help our hearers to understand and apply It to their lives, so that You may be glorified on earth and in Heaven. AMEN!
FOOTNOTE: There are two more pages on my blog that will provide you with additional information, one of them being ‘To Know Jesus’. If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please click on the above page, or speak with a local Bible Teaching Pastor, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com. Please allow someone to pray with you and give you help and/or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Words underlined in my blog might indicate a link to a song that came to mind as I wrote the devotional. Feel free to click on the link and listen as you continue to read or pray. If this devotional was forwarded to you and you would like to see more, please go to Nuggets From God’s Word and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. I would encourage you to find a church home near by your home, and attend as frequently as you could. Get to know God, and allow His people to encourage and strengthen you in your Christian walk, while making every effort to be a blessing to them. God is at work among His people! Please consider growing in your faith, as you worship with fellow believers!