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!

Proof, No Proof

I was reminded of a television show – ‘Deal, No Deal’ as I meditated on these verses today. I know, don’t mix television with the precious Word of God, right? But Paul was so infuriated by the boldness of the Pharisees and Sadducees to show up at the river for baptism, that he took time to warn them of what a saved life looks like, vs one that is not. We should never have to tell anyone that we’re saved – it should be evident in our lives.

Saturday, 2019-01-05

Bible Reference: Matthew 3:8, 10
Translation: Amplified Bible (AMP)

Bible Text: So produce fruit that is consistent with repentance [demonstrating new behavior that proves a change of heart, and a conscious decision to turn away from sin]; ……. 10 And already the axe [of God’s judgment] is [gswinging toward the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

OBSERVATION: I was reminded of a television show – ‘Deal, No Deal’ as I meditated on these verses today. I know, don’t mix television with the precious Word of God, right? But Paul was so infuriated by the boldness of the Pharisees and Sadducees to show up at the river for baptism, that he took time to warn them of what a saved life looks like, vs one that is not. We should never have to tell anyone that we’re saved – it should be evident in our lives.

APPLICATION: In our Scripture today, Matthew relates that John the Baptist had been baptizing a lot of people. So one could only imagine that if they had not been baptized, then something must really be wrong with them. In the case of the religious leaders, John could tell that, to the crowd, they could easily have passed as ‘worthy of baptism’ because of their kinship to Abraham. However friends, is this not a good reminder for us? Some church attendees might tell you that their father was a pastor back in some church many years ago, so they are sure that they have a reserved place in heaven. Some might point to their regular attendance at your church for several decades, and all of the money that they gave for certain projects, so surely they are right ‘up there’ with the best of saints in your church. But the interesting thing that John points out to the religious leaders is that a repentant heart is what really matters. Some of you might wonder what exactly that would consist of, but I believe that this particular version of the Bible spells that out for you, for a repentant heart demonstrates a new behavior – meaning that it’s different to the behavior you once demonstrated in your life. Now your new behavior clearly comes from a heart that has been impacted and changed by its original designer and maker, Jesus Christ! Further, this changed heart will also show evidence of a conscious decision to stay away from sin. This includes your efforts to stay away from the people and places that once caused you to sin. Persistent study of God’s Word is critical, so that you could have a clear message from Him about what He consider ‘sin’, even though it might look like holiness to others. These changed attitudes, actions, thoughts and words are called ‘fruit’ by John, because He wanted us to understand that a tree, or a heart, built on the good things of Christ, will produce fruit/actions/words/attitudes that resemble the One who is feeding your tree/heart. Therefore, when there is no evidence that you are allowing God to ‘feed’ you, John declared that you will not survive, or reach eternity with Christ. Friends, as we live out everything that God has buried deep into our hearts, He will receive glory from those blessed by those ‘fruit’ that we produce. When we are merely following the crowd, or living a life of traditional church attendance, or imitating what other Christians do, and we have not sought personal forgiveness from God, and received a repentant, or changed heart – one just like His, then like the Pharisees and Sadducees, we are living on a slippery slope – one that can only lead all the way down to Hell. A New Year is a perfect time to seek a new heart – a repentant and changed heart that reflects the Master who you’ve invited to be your Lord. Please consider reading on to the Footnote for more information on how you might go about this transformation. Perhaps 2019 might be the year that you might seek baptism – a genuine one that celebrates a truly repentant heart!

PRAYER: Lord Jesus, thank You for salvation, and thank You for the message expressed through baptism. Please touch the hearts of all those that will read this devotional, especially those who imitate a Christian life, but have not accepted the One who gives a repentant heart so that we might take on His attributes and bear His fruit. True Christianity comes from a repentant heart, one filled with Jesus Christ. Bearing ‘fruit’, can only happen if the True Vine (Jesus) has taken up residence inside of us. Lord, for each reader today, I pray that it may be so. AMEN!

God Provides

Being only day two into my read through the Bible again, there are two things that have already caught my attention. Not only are we reminded that God really did know what He was doing, but we could also regain faith in our doctors, because we could hear their words echoed, especially as we read the focal verses today. Having studied the Bible some already, I believe that these two things are just the beginning of many things to come where it is reinforced for us that God is the designer and maker of life and all that we need to live this life to its fullest!

Wednesday, 2019-01-02

Bible Reference: Genesis 1:29Genesis 2:23-24
Translation: The Voice (VOICE)

Bible Text: Genesis 1:29 Look! I have given you every seed-bearing plant that grows on the earth and every fruit-bearing tree. They will be your food and nourishment.
Genesis 2:23 Adam: At last, a suitable companion, a perfect partner. Bone from my bones. Flesh from my flesh. I will call this one “woman” as an eternal reminder that she was taken out of man. 24 Now this is the reason a man leaves his father and his mother, and is united with his wife; and the two become one flesh.

OBSERVATION: Being only day two into my read through the Bible again, there are two things that have already caught my attention. Not only are we reminded that God really did know what He was doing, but we could also regain faith in our doctors, because we could hear their words echoed, especially as we read the focal verses today. Having studied the Bible some already, I believe that these two things are just the beginning of many things to come where it is reinforced for us that God is the designer and maker of life and all that we need to live this life to its fullest!

APPLICATION: How many times have we been told by doctors that it’s the ‘junk’ that we are adding into our bodies that hurt us, and kill us prematurely. Yet we could see right from the beginning of God’s Word, that He provided the means for us to use in feeding these bodies He blessed us with. However, we have chosen to use our own intellect and feed ourselves anything but what God designed for us. Over and over I hear my doctor’s recommend that I put more fruit and vegetables into my diet. My sinful self considers that to be more steak; more ribs; more chocolate; more ice cream; etc, etc. So as I reflect on our first focal verse, I must ask myself what might I say to God at times like I’m facing right now with high cholesterol; heart disease; liver issues and other challenges that we know are impacted by our choice of foods not on God’s list. Should I ask for His healing of the body impacted by my deliberate variation from His design taught in Scripture? Or shall I ask for strength and wisdom to live as He designed? The other thing covered in our second set of focal verses, is the beautiful story of God’s creation of woman. He saw that Adam needed something to make his life complete, so He made the perfect mate for him. And since that time, oh the mess we have made of this. God also told us in verse 24 of Genesis 2, that He designed this union of man and woman to be apart from mom and dad. In other words, a totally separate family. Friends, our marriages are in in mess. Those with ties to the church, are as bad as those with no church affiliation at all. Do all of the issues originate because of a flaw in this one principle? I will leave that up to you to meditate on with God, because the issue is way bigger than I or any other ‘man’ could dare answer. However, I believe that God is reminding us from the very beginning of His Book of Instruction, that He created woman from man, so that he may have a helpmate, have a loving partner, and that together they could populate the earth like He intended. Can we do any, or all, of these things from the messes we have made of marriage or the family? I have shared two very ‘hot’ topics today. May I suggest that instead of trying to get me straight on any ways that you feel I may have misrepresented the truth of God’s Word on these topics, that you actually begin a study of your own on these topics. God may have some reasons for you reading this devotional today, as He may want to get your attention about these matters that may need attention in your own life, or He may want to use you to help others who are struggling in these areas of life. Try your best to avoid the distraction of my words, and seek after what God might have to say to you through these verses. I believe that you could agree with me that we have a serious problem in each of the two areas I believe God challenged us with today. Seek God for what He might have you do today in these areas of your life.

PRAYER: Lord God, thank You for so carefully thinking of everything that we need here on earth. Thank You for directing me to these two very important issues that You covered so well, right from the very beginning of time. Please help us to return to the basics of life, as You intended, so that we might more diligently serve You and represent You in a community void of Your teachings and Your example. We need You Lord. AMEN!

Who Is Your Serpent?

SCRIPTURE Studied: Genesis 3-4

OBSERVATION (What is God saying here?)

1 The serpent was the shrewdest of all the wild animals the Lord God had made. One day he asked the woman, “Did God really say you must not eat the fruit from any of the trees in the garden?”2 “Of course we may eat fruit from the trees in the garden,” the woman replied.3 “It’s only the fruit from the tree in the middle of the garden that we are not allowed to eat. God said, ‘You must not eat it or even touch it; if you do, you will die.’”4 “You won’t die!” the serpent replied to the woman.5 “God knows that your eyes will be opened as soon as you eat it, and you will be like God, knowing both good and evil.” Gen 3:1-5 (NLT)

APPLICATION (How Can I apply what God is saying here to my circumstances today?)

God provided a perfect world for Adam and his family to live in. He provided everything they would need to eat, and the beautiful garden/atmosphere in which to enjoy life. Although it is tough for us to recognize this today, but God has also provided everything we need today to feed ourselves, and He has also given us the beauty of this earth to enjoy. God established commandments/rules for Adam and his family to follow, much like we find in God’s Word today for us to follow. Adam’s family wasn’t satisfied with all that was provided, so Eve chose to follow what a serpent told her to do. Cain, out of jealousy for his brother Abel, and out of spite for the correction handed to him because of his giving to God, killed his brother. This is not much different to what we do today. Like Eve, we would rather listen to our daily horoscope or a palm reader, rather than looking into God’s Word for answers to our problems. Like Cain, we quickly find someone else to blame our actions on, and we will quickly eliminate anyone that stands in our way of progress or success. We may not murder, but we gossip about, or try to disqualify the individual in order to lower the acceptance of that person in the eye of the one we are trying to please. As in the day of Adam, God still provides everything we need today, and He has given us His book of instructions to follow. We often tell our child that we can give them direction from the advantage point of experience. In God’s Word we can read story after story about experiences such as this one today that shows us what happened when God’s commands were not followed. We have the advantage point of the experiences detailed in the Word, but like in Eve’s situation we allow some serpent to lead us instead of God and His Word.

PRAYER (With God’s help, what am I going to do differently today because of what He said here today?)

Father, I realize this morning that I may try to cover up my deeds to those around me, but You know my inmost feelings and the desires of my heart. You know all about the ‘serpents’ that I allow to rule my day and guide my thoughts and actions. Please may You find me useful in Your kingdom and therefore constantly looking for ways to overcome the evil one. I must take this life very seriously, because You have only given me one chance to walk this road. May I not wander from the path You have established for me and may I always seek Your favor to overcome the ‘serpents’ that will seek to destroy me, my family, my church family and those that I love. You are greater than all the situations that I may face today, please be my guide, protector and lord so that I may stay focused on You and Your desire for my life. May You receive honor and glory for all things accomplished through me today!