This past friday was the celebration of the Ephiphany on Jan. 6th. Since I have been in a quandary about how to deal with some difficult issues, I prayed, “Lord,I need an epiphany.” Lo and behold I check my email and what do I see in but the devotional I wrote months ago for my church’s ministry. It ‘just happened’ to be published that very morning. Having heard from several friends that the message was timely for them, I thought I’d share it with you all as well. May 2012 be a time to turn for all of us.
KEY VERSE: “Repent of your sins and turn to God” (Matthew 3:3, NLT)
CENTRAL TRUTH: If we want to see the kingdom of heaven, we must turn from our sinful ways.
The message of John the Baptist is as relevant today as it was in Jesus’ time. John warned that the Messiah was coming and people had better get right with God. The same is true for the world today as evidenced by all the natural disasters, financial collapses and moral deterioration of society. We never know when Jesus is going to return.
The religious leaders at that time believed that because they were descendents of Abraham they were righteous in the eyes of God. I know I am guilty of the same kind of legalistic thinking. If I do this and this, or if I am part of this or that group, I can please God and earn my way into Heaven. Yet, this thinking is contrary to what the Bible teaches. We are only righteous in God’s eyes because of faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, not because of our good works or any group we may belong to.
One example is my need to keep doing. Like Martha, I get anxious about doing so many things, yet Jesus’ answer to Martha was to be like her sister who sat at His feet. I constantly need to remind myself to slow down and not do so much. How stubborn I can be at times!
Like the people who came to hear John, I still need to repent but it is only through God’s grace that I can change my ways and obey God more. Jesus models the importance of obeying God (v15).’It should be done for we must carry out all that God requires.’ He had no sin to repent of and no need to be baptized, but He demonstrated His obedience to the Father by doing so. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward change. It signifies to the world that we are now living for God instead of for ourselves and that we are turning from our old lifestyles to living by God’s guidelines.
God already loves me so I can relax and allow Him to change me at His pace instead of my own!
QUESTIONS FOR REFLECTION:
1. Do you believe you are accepted and loved by God? Why or why not?
2. What habits or negative attitudes might be holding you back from enjoying a life of freedom?
3.Have you obeyed God by being baptized?
4. Realize God loves you more than you could ever imagine and turn to Him out of gratitude, not fear.