Bible Reading: Luke 3
John the Baptist preached about “repentance”. Not a word we hear much in our day. People want to think that anything goes. No one can tell another person what is wrong…each person decides for himself. But that’s just not so. The Bible makes it clear that all of creation, and specifically our lives, are based on God, Himself. They are created in keeping with His nature. The laws of creation, and those found in the Bible, are an extension of God’s nature. That being said…it means that there is an objective, absolute source of truth…God. When we live in a manner that is not in keeping with God…that is sin. John told the people that they should “repent” of their sin. That is the way that we return to living in a manner that is in keeping with God’s character.
Thoughts about God for My Grandkids:
Okay, so I’m going to tell you about something that I did one time that wasn’t very nice. And if I ever catch you doing something like it…well, just don’t. Got it? Good.
When I was in Elementary School, we lived in a town on the east coast of Florida. My Dad, “Pop,” was a foreman who worked for a company that grew citrus…oranges, grapefruit, tangerines, and other kinds. The company that he worked for cooperated with the Agricultural Department of the State of Florida to perform experiments on citrus trees. They found out that if you take the roots and trunk of one kind of a tree that didn’t have real good fruit, but was strong, fought off disease, and was resistant to cold…cut it off in the middle of the trunk…and replaced the top part with the trunk and the limbs from a second kind of tree that had pretty looking fruit was that sweet, but wasn’t very healthy…the bottom of the one tree would grow into the top of the other tree…and the result was a new tree that was both strong and had good fruit. They attached all kinds of trees together like this…until they finally discovered one that was the best. But in the process, some of the new trees that they developed didn’t turn out so well. For instance, one tree had beautiful fruit that looked just like a big, plump, juicy, sweet tangerine. But, when you bit into it…it would turn your mouth inside-out because it was so bitter. I mean it tasted terrible! Now, this is where I got into trouble. I don’t remember why, but for some reason, Pop had brought a grocery bag full of those sour tangerines home. The next afternoon, I went to a Junior High football game…and I took a bunch of those sour tangerines with me. When I got to the game I started handing them out. People smiled and took my tangerines. One lady said, “What a nice young man.” I handed out all the tangerines and then went behind the concession stand to watch what happened. Those people all began to peel their tangerines. Boy, those tangerines looked tasty. Then they began to eat them. You know with tangerines…they are just the right size to pop a whole section in your mouth at one time. After about 3, maybe 4 bites, you’d see their faces change expression. They went from a smile…to their eyes bugging out and their mouths beginning to…well, it looked like they were about to explode! And some of them did. There were people all over the stadium spitting tangerines out on the ground. I was about to laugh my head off. Then I heard someone say (I think it was the lady who had said I was nice), “Where’s that kid who gave us these tangerines?” That was my exit sign. I’d had my fun. Time to go home and do homework.
John the Baptist preached about “repentance”. Repentance means that I realize that I am doing something wrong…I agree with God that it is wrong…I make an about-face…and I never do it, again. He told the people that while they wanted to follow God…and they knew that they were doing wrong…they were not willing to repent. They just kept right on doing the same wrong things. They thought that it didn’t matter to God…that they were getting away with it. But John corrected them. He said that God knew everything…every thing…that they were doing. And He knew that they were doing wrong. And they could not be His followers…unless they repented. He told them to “bring forth fruit in keeping with repentance”. That means that their life should bear fruit, good works, a godly lifestyle, which is based on the fact that they had repented of the bad things they had been doing. Their life was different because they were following God. You can’t walk in one direction…and at the same time, follow God, Who is walking in a different direction.
Those tangerines sure looked good on the outside…but they were bad on the inside. John told the people that if we are going to follow God…then our inside and our outside have to match. Both our hearts and our behavior have to match God. They have to be based on our relationship with God. We cannot live bad…and follow a good God.
Have you ever done something and then felt bad about it? Chances are, that feeling is the ministry of the Holy Spirit. He is convicting you of what you did wrong. Why? So that you will repent. You see, God knows that when you sin…it causes problems in your life. He did not create you to live that way. And He loves you so much…that He tells you about it. What should you do? Repent. Start living in a way that is pleasing to God…and a blessing to you.
Love you more than bunches and bunches,