PREPARE TO LISTEN
Light a candle and pray: The LORD is like the light of morning, like the sun rising on a cloudless morning, gleaming from the rain on the grassy land.
Request for Presence: May God be gracious to us and bless us and make his face to shine upon us.
READ Matthew 3:7-12
But when [John] saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming for baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit worthy of repentance. Do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our ancestor’; for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children to Abraham. Even now the ax is lying at the root of the trees; every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. “I baptize you with water for repentance, but one who is more powerful than I is coming after me; I am not worthy to carry his sandals. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and will gather his wheat into the granary; but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Like Jesus after him, John was very bold in his rebuke to the Pharisees and Sadducees. I’d loved to have seen their faces when John denounced them to the crowd as ‘a brood of vipers.’ Such confrontational language isn’t appropriate in our day, but John’s warning of judgment is. It’s a message we need to heed. As Christmas comes, we’ll get a little sentimental about a baby in a manger and forget what that baby came to do and will do in a future time. John’s confrontational words bring us back to reality. Judgment comes with Jesus and calls us to radical repentance that is only possible through the power of the Spirit within; a power that isn’t nice and comforting, but a fire that leads us to wholeness.
Repentance literally means ‘to change our views,’ to turn around and go in the opposite direction.’ What changes in your views and ways do you need to make today to be more in line with the good news of Jesus? Remember, Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit so that we can ‘turn around.’
RESPOND TO JESUS IN PRAYER.
Lord Jesus Christ, today I confess that I have sinned against you in so many ways. Right now I name these ways … (add your known sins). I name them to you because you are the one who shows mercy and forgives. Thank you for giving me the Spirit so that I can make a change a direction where it’s needed. Amen.
BE SILENT AND STILL (for as long as you want). Simply be in the presence of Jesus, who loves you, regardless.