A Fresh Start
Make a brief assessment of your life. Then, ask God to show you what pleases and displeases him about it.
Read Matthew 3:1-12
 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea  and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”  This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.'”  John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.  People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan.  Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River.  But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?  Produce fruit in keeping with repentance.  And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham.  The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.  “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.  His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
ReflectWhat challenge(s) did John give to these people?
John was the first to whom God’s Word had come since Malachi (Luke 3:1,2) and his ministry bore huge fruit. From across the whole area, people sought him out in the wilderness. But what were they looking for? They sought someone who was authentic. His diet and dress weren’t weird for weirdness’ sake, but proof of a life lived in complete dependence on God. He ate what was at hand and followed Elijah’s example in his dress (2 Kings 1:8). People also wanted someone who spoke unvarnished truth. The prophetic word comes from the outside, and it’s often unwelcome because it cuts to the heart (Heb. 4:12,13). The people sought that truthful wound because they wanted to be saved and healed. They were seeking a fresh start. Their repentance is a sign that they longed to be right with God. So many came that it grew into a sign that the nation longed to be right with God. John’s ministry is nothing less than a spiritual revival. Such a revival provides the most fertile ground possible for the proclamation and demonstration of the kingdom that Jesus will bring. That’s how John prepares the way of the Lord.
John said to “produce fruit in keeping with repentance” (8). Ask God what fruit you need to produce.
Lord God. I’m grateful for Your mercy that offers me a fresh start. Help me to take it and live a more fruitful life for You.