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!

Evidence of our Faith

THE HOLY BIBLE (The Contemporary English Version – James 2:14; 21-23): 14 My friends, what good is it to say you have faith, when you don’t do anything to show that you really do have faith? Can that kind of faith save you? …… 21 Well, our ancestor Abraham pleased God by putting his son Isaac on the altar to sacrifice him. 22 Now you see how Abraham’s faith and deeds worked together. He proved that his faith was real by what he did. 23 This is what the Scriptures mean by saying, “Abraham had faith in God, and God was pleased with him.” That’s how Abraham became God’s friend.

THOUGHTS: Ever noticed how we evaluate people to determine who they truly are? After a short meeting with, or introduction to, someone, generally we can come away with our minds set on who they are deep inside. James is getting a similar point across to us in these verses today, for He tells us that if we truly have faith, there will not be a need for us to tell folk that we have it, but that it will shine through in our actions. The example given by James is a mind opener on this subject. Imagine Abraham exercising his faith in God to the degree that he is headed to the place of sacrifice prepared to place his own son on the altar to be sacrifice, because this is what God ordered him to do. Imagine doing something like that, being assured that God will work out something for His good, if we follow His command! Friends, I believe that this story is pure evidence that the faith of Abraham was far greater and convicting to him than any earthly possession. Matthew Henry said in his commentary on these verses: “This place of Scripture plainly shows that an opinion, or assent to the gospel, without works, is not faith. There is no way to show we really believe in Christ, but by being diligent in good works, from gospel motives, and for gospel purposes.” I truly believe that we are tested each day on our level of faith, and by the end of the day we can analyze how much of what we said or did was based on our faith in God and dependence on Him, versus how much was a result of our selfish will for our own selfish purpose. I believe the question to ponder today is, “do we truly believe in God?” If so, “Why do we not exercise sufficient faith in Him to prove our faith in, and dedication to Him” If we never said a word to our coworkers about our Christianity or belief in God, would they know by our faith that we are a Son, or Daughter, of the King of all kings, based on our expressed faith?

 PRAYER: What a mind-sobering thought for us today oh God! We say with our lips that “we believe in You”, but is our faith truly evident and noteworthy to those that we come into contact with? What’s inside of us will truly come out when we face relatives, friends and coworkers who have gained knowledge of us through everyday dealings. I wonder, have they seen through my actions alone that there is a God, or that I am controlled by, and encouraged by, the very God of this universe? Please help my friends reading this devotional today, and myself, to truly put our heart where our mouth is. It is very easy to say at church, or in the presence of fellow Christians, that we are ‘Christian’. May our hearts be so affected by Your grace dear Lord, that our actions will overflow with the abundant faith of our hearts, and may You be glorified if this faith is recognized by anyone, because it’s all about You Jesus. I ask all this, in faith, and in the wonderful name of Jesus, my Lord and soon coming King, AMEN!

 

FOOTNOTE: If you have been challenged to make a decision today after reading this devotional, please speak with a local Bible Teaching pastor, or read through Biblical truths on How To Know Jesus, or contact me at NuggetsFromGodsWord@outlook.com so that we can pray with you and give you help and or encouragement as you begin, or continue your walk with Jesus. Any words underlined above will 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 blogger.nuggetsfromgodsword.org and read more, or you may freely subscribe for a daily email conveniently containing each day’s devotional. If you are anywhere near the Highlands County, Florida area and do not have a church home, I would be thrilled to welcome you at Bible Fellowship Church, Sebring, FL! Click the link to check out service times and/or other special activities. God is at work among us! Please consider coming to worship with us!