A Lifestyle Change

John the Baptist addressed the crowds that came to be baptized by him. However, when he saw the religious leaders and the onlookers, he realized that they may have had ulterior motives. So in a plea to help them understand that he was not promoting a ‘spectator sport’, but rather a lifestyle change, he told them what their lives should look like if they truly want to demonstrate a committed stand for Jesus. This is still very applicable today, so let us meditate on this for a few moments.

DATE POSTED Wednesday, 2022-06-22
WRITTEN AT: Okeechobee, FL

SCRIPTURE FROM: Luke 3:7-9 
TRANSLATION: The Voice (VOICE)

BIBLE TEXT: John the Baptist: You bunch of venomous snakes! Who told you that you could escape God’s coming wrath? Don’t just talk of turning to God; you’d better bear the authentic fruit of a changed life. Don’t take pride in your religious heritage, saying, “We have Abraham for our father!” Listen—God could turn these rocks into children of Abraham! God wants you to bear fruit! If you don’t produce good fruit, then you’ll be chopped down like a fruitless tree and made into firewood. God’s ax is taking aim and ready to swing!

APPLICATION: Have you ever been in a store, or at work, or at the mall, and found yourself near enough to overhear an individual tearing another employee apart verbally? Then, as you drew near enough to the heated conversation, you saw that it was someone from your church? I know, church attendees are human, and they could still become agitated, frustrated, unhappy and upset over certain circumstances just like everyone else, right? So why then do you suppose that John addressed this problem, and why would God have instilled this in the heart of Dr. Luke to present this as part of the Gospel? I believe it all goes back to a phrase that became very popular some years ago ‘what would Jesus do’ (WWJD). For circumstances will present itself as a test so the world could see what we are made of. In this teaching today, we could see that Luke used a similar tactic to that of Jesus, where he demonstrated a truth to the religious leaders through a parable. He likened their lives to that of a tree that bears fruit. For a farmer will cut down a tree that bears no fruit, so that the fruit bearing trees might flourish. But how would this apply to people, you might ask. I believe that you would be upset if a child for whom you paid years and years of tuition fees to gain their medical degree, finished school, and did nothing more than hang around the house without a desire to work in his/her profession. They may have a medical degree, but if they refuse to work in that profession and keep up with their trade, are they really a doctor? The same example holds true when looking at a married person who refuses to sleep at home, take care of their spouse, and continue to flirt with everyone walking into a nightclub. So what about one who felt a nudge from the Master, and surrenders their life to the lordship of Jesus Christ? The Bible says that the Holy Spirit then resides inside that individual and leads them in a life dedicated to God’s commands, His teachings, His example as told in the Bible, and they will therefore operate in accordance with God’s will, and His direction for their life. When all of this is in place and the individual decides to ignore the Holy Spirit’s leadership and do his/her own thing, how do you think God must feel? Don’t you know that these Pharisee Leaders showed up for no other reason but to trap John, poke fun of his teaching and baptism, and retain the allegiance of their people? Don’t you think that John was probably spot on with his accusation of them being a brood of vipers? Friends, I believe that our take away today is that we must be true to what we claim as our life’s influencer. If this is Jesus Christ, then others will see ‘fruit’ in our actions, our priorities, our words of encouragement, our prayers, the books we read, the places we frequent, and the results of all these things will impact our outlook on life and the love we show towards others. At the time of conversion to our new Master, we will learn to stay in tune with Him through reading His Word; communicating with Him through conversation (prayer); and through a solid commitment to honor Him through our words and actions. If there is no lifestyle change, can we truly prove to Jesus and to our family and friends that there has been a change in our lives? These new changes are displayed as proof, or ‘fruit’, of our lifestyle change. In our new relationship with Jesus Christ, we have chosen to imitate Him! When this happens, the world will know that we are authentic in our Christianity, and John sensed that this was not the case with the Pharisees. If God is your Lord, your Savior, and your Master my friend, seek His help and He will also be your Guide and your Deliverer in every circumstance of life! And there is nothing, absolutely nothing, that you and God can’t do!

PRAYER: Precious Lord, please touch Your children today and help us to never take for granted all that You did so that we might have life everlasting. Oh that we may take our commitment seriously to give you FULL control of our lives, and that we may be obedient in every way to Your Word – Your Book of Instructions for the Christian. As we follow You, I believe that our lives will reflect the very image of Jesus – fruit (evidence) that the world will see, know and appreciate in our lifestyle change. But we need You to do this in our lives Lord, for in and of ourselves we are helpless in overcoming the evil that’s all around us. I know You can, and I believe You will, so I thank You in advance dear Jesus. Be glorified today because of Your committed children being obedient to You, Your Word and the Holy Spirit.  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. You may also visit me on Spotify and listen to Nuggets while you’re out and about. 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!

Fruit and More Fruit

This is a passage that most have either read many times before, or have heard preached about. But I trust that, like me, your eyes might be opened to new truths as we meditate on the living Word of God again today. I was especially touched by the way that the Amplified Bible clarified some of the text, in parenthesis. Ask God to open your eyes, and your heart as we seek His guidance on this day.

Saturday, 2019-11-23

Bible Reference: John 15:1-2
Translation: Amplified Bible (AMP)

Bible Text: I am the True Vine, and My Father is the Vinedresser. Any branch in Me that does not bear fruit [that stops bearing] He cuts away (trims off, takes away); and He cleanses and repeatedly prunes every branch that continues to bear fruit, to make it bear more and richer and more excellent fruit.

OBSERVATION: This is a passage that most have either read many times before, or have heard preached about. But I trust that, like me, your eyes might be opened to new truths as we meditate on the living Word of God again today. I was especially touched by the way that the Amplified Bible clarified some of the text, in parenthesis. Ask God to open your eyes, and your heart as we seek His guidance on this day.

APPLICATION: As God got my attention on this familiar Scripture today, I believe He pointed out the various conditions of natural man:
1). Down in verse 5, Jesus refers to the man who is apart from Him, and He said that such a man could do nothing. I am very troubled when I hear the unsaved tell a friend who is in trouble that they will pray for him/her. Without looking down my pious nose, I am thrilled that the idea of prayer before a holy and righteous God might be appealing on behalf of a friend, but please be careful in doing this while totally ignoring that same God in your own personal life. I am definitely not God, so I have no idea how God must handle requests like that, but humbly I would suggest to my friends that might be reading this blog today to please honor my God by respecting His holiness and therefore ask that He cleanse you personally before you consider asking Him for something on behalf of your friends. I don’t believe that this is an unreasonable request dear friend, because even to your parents would not afford the same privileges or recognition to strangers walking up to their door, like they did for you and your siblings;
2). In verse 2, Jesus tells us about the one who distances themselves from Him and stops displaying the character of God, and who no longer displays the fruit of the Spirit, as taught about earlier in His Word. To this believer, Jesus said that He would trim that branch off from the tree. Does that sound severe dear friend? What would you do when a spouse who lives in your home, yet dates someone else and spends more time with them than you? They have no respect for you or your home? Would you trim that individual off from your home? Do they really care about you or your home?
3). To the one who is honestly and sincerely displaying the fruit of the Spirit, I was excited that Jesus taught that He would seek to make this one even more fruitful! However, note that He said that He would still do some trimming and pruning, so that we might become even more fruitful. What does this mean? I believe it means that God will trim away those bad habits that we may have developed from the company we’ve kept, or the laxity that is trying to overcome us in not wanting to be around God’s kids as often as before, or perhaps distancing ourselves from those who need Jesus. Friends, when we think about being a saint, or a child of the one true God, and we therefore endeavor to act, speak and work like Jesus did, don’t you think that there might always be some rough edges that requires the miraculous hand of God to cleanse and redirect? I often feel powerless to overcome these inconsistencies, and I’m sure that you might also be the same. Oh for a closer walk with my Lord each and every day, is my humble plea. Think about what you may need of God today my friend!

PRAYER: Dear God, I pray that this devotional will reach the hearts of many, and that each will fit in one of the three categories that, I feel, you covered in Your Word that I studied today. Thank You for speaking to my heart as I read, and as I shared in my thoughts while writing this devotional. I believe that You desire representatives here on earth that need more of You in their lives each day. Please fill us anew, so that we may introduce or remind others of who you are. With great anticipation, we look forward to one day being at Your feet, with all our friends and family kneeling next to us! Oh what a glorious day that will be! AMEN!