I see a pattern in my life that maybe you can identify with. There are times when I can get excited about something and come with a grand plan of how to implement it. But, then life happens, I get distracted on something else, or things come up that prevent me from implementing, and before long, that thing I was excited about is just letters written on a piece of paper. Does this happen to you, or am I the only one?
The Passage: Matt 3:1-6 ; Mark 1:1-6; Luke 3:1-6
It has been 400 years since anyone has heard a voice from God. Although God had sent prophet after prophet to warn the people of Israel that He would do what He said in judging them for their rebellion against Him. They had not listened. First the northern kingdom fell, then the southern. A great winter, had fallen over the nation, like the allegory described in the story of Narnia.
We can see why Luke documented the monumental occasion. He gives the specifics of when God broke the silence; “In the fifteenth year of Tiberius’ reign,” (Luke 3:1) God broke the silence! Luke recounts, “The word of God came to John the son of Zachariah.” (Luke 3:2) Luke uses the term for an audible word. This was a direct revelation from God Himself! This was the same way that God addressed Haggai (Hag 1:1), Zechariah (Zech 1:1), and Malachi (Mal 1:1). God was calling his last prophet to begin his ministry. This was Israel’s last chance. John’s message was simple;
- Repent: Don’t be like your forefathers who brought on the captivity and your current oppression from Rome. Turn from your rebellion and follow God again.
- The kingdom is coming. John didn’t have to explain what kingdom. They were all sick and tired of the oppression and were looking for and anticipating the coming of the messianic kingdom!
- Be baptized to show your identification with this message and commit to accepting whomever John identified as the Messiah. Mark notes that Initially, John’s ministry experienced a tremendous response. Mark 1:5 declares that people came from all over the country of Judea, from all around Jerusalem, and they went all the way down to the Jordan River, confessing their sins and being baptized by him. For the time being, these were the common people. (Fruchenbaum) I like how Pentacost finishes his thoughts for this passage: “People from the banks of the Jordan crowded to hear him. His fame reached Jerusalem, and Sadducees and Pharisees, scribes and priests, publicans and sinners, went forth to listen, and be awed into a passing reverence and faith. West and east, south and north, the tidings spread, reached remote Nazareth, and woke great emotions in the home of the Carpenter there.” He now knew his time was drawing near.
What was God doing? Why did He have this written down?
Why had God been silent for all those years? Because of the people’s rebellion and sin. The message John received from God was the same as the prophets before him.. repent!
The time was ripe for revival. The people were tired and fed up with the religious system. There was a form of worship, but no sincere faith. The externals were strongly enforced, but there was no internal faith and dependence on God, especially among the religious elite. They filled themselves with self-satisfaction, depending on their hereditary relationships with Abraham and losing sight of the necessity of personal character.
The message of John was different. He talked of the need for personal character, and the need to not just perform on the outside, but for repentance of the heart! After 400 years of silence, people were now ready to hear from God again. This time, John was not only giving them the message, but asking them, inviting them to act on what God was telling them through him.
What can I learn from this?
What is God saying to me and my life from this passage?
How many times does God need to speak for me to get the message? In chapter 1 of his book, “The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth,” John Maxwell talks about “The Law of Diminishing Intent.” “Most people don’t act as quickly as they should on things. They find themselves subject to the Law of Diminishing Intent, which says, “The longer you wait to do something you should do now, the greater the odds that you will never actually do it.”
Maxwell also refereed to an article he read by Jennifer Reed in SUCCESS. She wrote, Can there be a more insidious word? Later, as in “I’ll do it later.” Or, “Later, I’ll have time to write that book that’s been on my mind for the past five years.” Or, “I know I need to straighten out my finances… I’ll do it later.”
“Later” is one of those dream-killers, one of the countless obstacles we put up to derail our chances of success. The diet that starts “tomorrow,” the job hunt that happens “eventually,” the pursuit of the life dream that begins “someday” combine with other self-imposed roadblocks and lock us on autopilot.
“Why do we do this to ourselves, anyway? Why don’t we take action now? Let’s face it: The familiar is easy; the uncharted path is lined with uncertainties.”
What has God been encouraging you to do that you have been leaving for later? Repentance of a particular sin? Giving up an idol, something that distracts you from being fully devoted to God (That’s what Israel’s problem was) Stepping out and doing the hard thing? Having the hard conversation you have been putting off? How is God asking you to repent (change your mind)? What do you need to act on today, and no longer put it off?
The Power; Declarations of Truth:
What do I need to declare to myself, what steps do I need to make, in order to implement and integrate what God is telling me?
- Take what God is saying to me and share it with others.
- review those things I was excited about and ask God if there are things I need to act upon that i have failed to
- Trust God to use me to share his message, as John did… not worried about what others think, but concerned only with being God’s instrument.