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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12

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John the Baptist prepares the way (part two) – Matthew 3:3-12 – 03/02/2016

Matthew 3:3 (ESV) For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” 4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

This is a series in the Gospel of Matthew which looks to visit the text from the Gospel of Matthew on a line by line and verse by verse teaching and Lord willing we will get through the full book of Matthew, this is part of a New Testament bible study series that you can read all other studies in this section on this link.

Let’s start our bible study in verse three of chapter three.

V3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’”

In the last article we dealt with an introduction of John the Baptist and who he was and now John introduces himself by quoting Isaiah 40:3 and in the previous few paragraphs we get an idea of who John was genealogically and Matthew draws this comparison (also made in John 1:23) and John was clear in his mission. His mission was that as a prophet, to warn and to prepare the hearts of the people to receive the Messiah. To create an understanding of their sin as a forerunner to Jesus, John knew his role as the warm up man and not the main event.

The idea of make his ways straight comes from what would be done for a visiting monarch or visiting royalty that the route that would be travelled would be prepared and be mended to make sure that the visit and journey was as smooth as possible. The hearts of the people were like the wilderness that John was preaching in, they had to be prepared and smoothed out and I have seen it with my own life and own eyes that often times the one who prepares the hearts and sows seeds is not the one who harvests.

V4 Now John wore a garment of camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist, and his food was locusts and wild honey. 5 Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, 6 and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins.

John had a rather odd attire, personality and diet; (he literally lived off what God provided in the wilderness – locusts and wild honey) he dressed and spoke like an Old Testament prophet He took his fashion sense straight from the books of Isaiah, here is Old Testament confirmation of this…

2nd Kings 1:8 (ESV) They answered him, “He wore a garment of hair, with a belt of leather about his waist.” And he said, “It is Elijah the Tishbite.”

He was prophesied as coming prior to being born by Malachi…

Malachi 4:1 (ESV) “For behold, the day is coming, burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble. The day that is coming shall set them ablaze, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch. 2 But for you who fear my name, the sun of righteousness shall rise with healing in its wings. You shall go out leaping like calves from the stall. 3 And you shall tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet, on the day when I act, says the LORD of hosts. 4 “Remember the law of my servant Moses, the statutes and rules that I commanded him at Horeb for all Israel. 5 “Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and awesome day of the LORD comes. 6 And he will turn the hearts of fathers to their children and the hearts of children to their fathers, lest I come and strike the land with a decree of utter destruction.”

Now you understand why great care is told to tell the story of his birth! John knew who he was, what was promised and why he was on the mission he was on. If we had the attitude that John had of Jesus first – I second and just think for one second how more effective our ministries would be for the Lord. Often times we struggle because we feel entitled to some kudos in the role of the ministry. The more I do ministry and the more articles I prepare and the more lessons I teach I realize that it is not about me but the one I am following.

The last part talks about the fruit of John’s ministry, John was blessed by God and was given fruit in his ministry as evidence of his obedience. People were realizing that the words he were speaking were from God, they were convicted in their hearts and were confessing their sins and more importantly they were willing to put that conviction into action and actually make a life change. John convicted these people of their sins and they responded by the outward sign of faith in baptism, and this became so famous that it reached the ears of the ones who were the religious establishment. Let’s see how John deals with the religious establishment…

V7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? 8 Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. 10 Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Talk about putting a target on your back! John takes on the ones who are perceived as being the “holy ones” with a righteous anger that came straight from heaven. As much as they were different groups in that the Pharisees and Sadducees and had huge theological differences, they came together to see who this new guy was who was convicting them of their sins. The Pharisees believed in the Law and the righteousness that gave you a local and moral spirituality and be seen as being closer to God by doing so. The Sadducees were more worldly and normally the Pharisees would not be teaming up with them but this new threat to the status quo had to be looked at, perhaps they were seeing if they could align this popular prophet to their tribe or cause?

John responds as they arrive calling them snakes, he mocked their genealogical arguments that they were righteous because of a lineage of birth as opposed to personal repentance or sacrifice. Even if they had come to be baptized to look as if they were prepared for the coming messiah we see that John concluded that like everything else they did that it was to put on a religious show and reminded all who were there that the important. John wanted to see that they had repentance on their hearts as well as their lips.

He reminded them of the wrath to come and who it was from. God was about to send his son to preach words direct from the Father and that this Messiah would come and shine the light of God into their lives and tell them of some really uncomfortable truths. They will not survive that wrath and the only way to sustain is to flee from it. He lastly uses the analogy of an axman, getting ready to chop out the unrepentant branches of that olive tree and graft in those who would repent (see Romans 11 for the culmination of that picture) John then advises why he was baptizing…

V11 “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

And John again states that he is not the main attraction and when you are in ministry it is very easy to be lifted up and people to hold you higher than you should be held up. John remembers his place and states that he is not worthy to perform the tasks of the lowest servant in a house. What a heart to have and it certainly challenges me about my heart when I take on tasks that I have been allowed to do for the Lord, he culminates that and shows his heart in his words in John 3:30 when he says that “He must increase and I must decrease” and we have to remember that in ministries where you are giving a public recognition, that it should not be about you but the Messiah you serve! John brought them to a place of repentance but he was not the one who would save them.

John finishes by telling those in attendance about the judgment that is coming and to be prepared for the Messiah and his coming because he was going to come in judgment. John brought the water baptism but the messiah and only the messiah was the only one who would baptize with the Holy Spirit, if you have been following along in our series “the ACTS files” then you would see the fulfilment of that prophecy that was first stated in the book of Ezekiel (Ezekiel 37:14)

He speaks of the wheat and the chaff, the wheat would be the harvest that is useable by the Lord and pure and he will purify those who were pure, not by their own efforts but by the grace of God and the repentance of their hearts and the chaff are the ones who choose to live in their wickedness and never repent. Chaff is the unusable, inedible residue that the agricultural people used to separate from the good stuff using a form and allow nature to blow it away from the stuff that was kept as good. A question to ask yourself is are you wheat or chaff?

Lord willing, in our next article in Matthew we will continue to look at John the Baptist and we will see that John gets a visitor wishing to be baptized and despite protestations by John, he allows him to be baptized I love this scripture because prophetically and theologically it is such a great passage of scripture that I pray that you are able to join us as we go through the bible, line by line and precept by precept.

God bless and I pray this was a blessing and please feel free to like, share or comment on here or whatever social media platforms you use as the Lord leads you to, as always I love questions about this or any other article so please feel free to fill in the form below, all comments are moderated to avoid profanity.
TTE
TGBTG
SDG

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They knew God but did not honor him

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They knew God but did not honor him.

Romans 1:18 (ESV) For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. 21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and creeping things. 24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.

This is a series in the book of Romans, for the home page in our study and to see other studies then please click here or our main epistle page is here. My aim is to go through the Book of Romans as the LORD wills.

People’s perception of the wrath of God

Who all likes talking about the wrath of God? (watches as no-one’s hand is raised!) Doesn’t “sell well” in today’s consumer driven, drive through; reap the blessings but to hang with the curses Christianity that we have here in quite a few Christian blogs and websites. It is a tough topic and no mistake, but it is integral to the gospel message and here is why.

In order for Jesus sacrifice to make sense, we have to have a God that has been grieved enough by the sin of the world to want to rectify the situation. You see, people’s perception of the wrath of God is all wrong! God hates the sin and desires that all would come to his saving grace. You see, we deserve the wrath of God because of “sin” what we do not deserve is Gods amazing grace.

The “benevolent dictator”

Failure to acknowledge this fact will have God as a “benevolent dictator” allowing us to be on this planet long enough so that we can accumulate enough sin so he can nuke us! Sounds ridiculous huh? This line of thinking is not scriptural and does not follow logical theological patterns. The wrath of God is always completely righteous.

Only God can judge me

As we see in the text God’s wrath is “revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” which does clarify what is being said above. If you set yourself against God then expect him to allow you to reap what you sew. I find it laughable when I read T-Shirts and tattoos that state “Only God can judge me” I feel like asking “do you really know what you are challenging God to do?”

If you are thinking this sounds unfair, well actually it is perfectly fair. The driver in whether the wrath of God comes down upon you is believe it or not you! You have the option of choosing to be on Gods side or not. You can choose a life of unrighteousness by Gods standards and live by your own standards that should you not change you will end up getting the eternity that you have asked for.

Ungodliness versus Unrighteousness

So why did he say ungodliness and unrighteousness? Well it deals with two distinct sins, ungodliness is man’s offenses concerning God and unrighteousness deals with man’s sins towards everyone else. You can be without God and still be seen as righteous in the world’s eyes. The question you have to ask is who’s judgment do you trust more?

They suppressed the truth, if you try to cover up, defame, lie about or otherwise pervert people away from God, and then this one is for you. This is for all of the evolutionists who try to contort the creation account in order to elevate man’s wisdom and try to cloud man’s thoughts towards the truth that is written in the Holy Scriptures.

The sad truth about what they know

Paul goes on to say that “For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them” this is tragic as they knew God but failed to glorify him, therefore they have the knowledge and really have no absolution from excuse. We tried to pervert, re-size God, and make him fit into what we needed him to fit into. This carries onto verse 23 where we turn God into what the Greek work “Eikon” (Where we get our modern day Icon) where they reduced God to an image of what they wanted him to be. They were not thankful for all that he had done, ungrateful and “professing to become wise they became fools”. The wisdom of God far supersedes anything that man could come up with.

I liken this to a desperate man, when I have been desperate I usually get scammed or do something foolish (almost always with money) which is why we have tried to elevate our thinking beyond God and why so many houses of Academia try to “dumb down” theological thinkers. It is happening today dear Christian. If you read a Creation/Evolution debate, the Evolutionist will always attack the intelligence of the Creationist first.

What does God do?

Well God allows them to go after the lusts of their heart. In the same way he allowed Israel to elect a king even although he knew it was going to lead to heartache, he is not that benevolent dictator that I spoke about earlier. If we are insistent on going a certain way, perhaps God will allow us to go through our consequences before delivering us.

By going after the lusts of their hearts they are inviting their own consequences. Anyone see a parallel with today? They are going after impurity, dishonoring their bodies and served the created rather than the creator. A horrible situation that sounds like my life in reverse. If you are reading this and are still in your sin or are thinking of walking away from God, please take this passage as a warning. I have been there! See my testimony page, I have been circling the drain many times and God has pulled me out of the toilet bowl.

Paul was surrounded by this writing from the city of Corinth where lusts, vile passions and basically whatever your heart’s desire was, you could get it there. They gave up the truth for the lie, notice Paul advises there is only one truth, by the same token they gave themselves up for the lie, the lie of idolatry.

I am hoping that this Bible study was fruitful for you and I pray that you share, like or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE

A fathers advice

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A fathers advice

Ephesians 6:1 (ESV) Children, obey your parents in the Lord, for this is right. 2 “Honor your father and mother” (this is the first commandment with a promise), 3 “that it may go well with you and that you may live long in the land.” 4 Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

Let me begin by saying I am very much a family man. I love my wife very much and my daughter is my princess and very much a daddy’s girl.

I wasn’t always a Christian and I have seen enough of the world to realize that children with no strong male role model have what is called “daddy issues” and I never wanted that for my child.

I am especially grateful for my daughter because of how she came about, we had been trying for just over three years when we found out that my wife was pregnant. What a joy that was and my wife was overjoyed also.

I want my children to obey me, but I want to be the kind of man who should be obeyed and respected.

As I was putting my child to bed last night, I do what I am prone to do, I kneeled and prayed, for rest for her and us, a few other prayer requests that were on my heart and I was thankful for a few things that had blessed us that week. Fathers if you do not do so already, pray with your kids, show them why you pray, invest in their spiritual as well as their earthly lives.

Children need to know they are important, when my child doesn’t think I am paying attention (even if I am) she tells me to “look into my eyes Daddy”

There is nothing finer than the hug you get when you walk through that door and it is announced by a loud “Dadddddddy”. LORD help me to be the kind of man my kid thinks I am.

As a prayer point, my wife and I are going through adoption process at the moment so please keep us in prayer as we prayerfully consider our next steps.

I love these verses and keep them close to my heart, I hope you do to!

Thanks for reading this blog article and please feel free to share or comment as the LORD leads
TGBTG
TTE