21 February 2012

Luke 3:15-17

 15 As the people were in expectation, and all were questioning in their hearts concerning John, whether he might be the Christ, 16 John answered them all, saying, “I baptize you with water, but he who is mightier than I is coming, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand, to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”

  Authority.  What an interesting concept it is to teach with authority.  People are perplexed when it comes to definites.  John the Baptist taught this way.  Jesus also taught this way.  Matthew 7:28-29 talks about this “28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes.”  This was how the people felt with John the Baptist.  He taught them so powerfully they were debating if he was the Christ, the Messiah. 

  John squelched those thoughts quickly.  He tells the people who are there following him that he is not the Messiah.  Not only this, they are following a man who is not even worthy to untie the strap of His sandal!  What kind of a man would point to another man?  Not many people would be willing to be lowly like John the Baptist.  Furthermore, not many people would be willing to point to another man when people are giving him the credit and praise.  We can take a LARGE lesson from this.  Our society is centered around the “American dream.”  We focus on the bigger, better, and more expensive thing.  It is very rare that we rid ourselves of the things that are convenient for us for a hardship in which we can serve the Lord.  John did these things.

  Baptism is something the church today practices.  We do this as a visual representation of what Jesus came to do.  This is the purpose.  When I was baptized I wanted to show the people who were at the service visually what had already taken place in my spirit.  When I accepted Christ, He sent the Holy Spirit to come and guide me.  I was Baptized that day with the Holy Spirit.  The physical dunking under water was simply a representation of that.  Nothing more. 

  The Lord will come as John says here.  When He does He will choose who is the wheat and who is the chaff.  Chaff is the outer casing of wheat, which is inedible to humans.  The chaff the Lord will throw into the eternal fire where He is not present.  The wheat, however, will be harvested and used by the Lord to glorify Himself.  Can we see as Christians realize that the Lord has chosen us?  Are we willing to be about His business as John was about His business or are we desiring to be the chaff; which, will result in us being separated from the Christ for all eternity?  This is a choice we all make in our lives. 

09 February 2012

Luke 3:10-14

10 And the crowds asked him, “What then shall we do?” 11 And he answered them, “Whoever has two tunics is to share with him who has none, and whoever has food is to do likewise.”  12 Tax collectors also came to be baptized and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than you are authorized to do.”  14 Soldiers also asked him, “And we, what shall we do?”  And he said to them, “Do not extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusation, and be content with your wages.”

  Remember that the people that were following John the Baptist were just told that they are not guaranteed to enter heaven just because of their ancestry, they attend church, or who their parents are.  There are many instructions that John gave to us through His ministry here on Earth.  It is vital we takes these lessons and apply them to our lives.  In these verses John references two specific careers, as well as people as a whole.

  Tax collectors in that day were given a certain amount they were to collect.  Anything above and beyond that they collected was their wage.  This was a desired job by many because of the amount of money they were able to make.  John addresses this with advice, “collect no more than you are authorized to do.”  It is very important to look at the context of this because it can be misconstrued.  This does not mean that the Tax collector cannot make any money for his family.  It means that we need to be reasonable with what we are requiring.  If the government is requiring a tax then pay the tax.  If there is more that is necessary to pay for those who collect the tax then so be it.  But if you are collecting and hindering those who you are collecting from, then you need to reevaluate your motivations.

  Soldiers asked something similar, “And we, what shall we do?”  John simply replied “Do no extort money from anyone by threats or by false accusations, and be content with your wages.”  This would seem like common sense, but it was not in this period!  The military had a lot of power.  They were the force behind the leaders for the Roman Empire.  But, again, this can also apply to us.  If we are in a position of power then we are not to abuse that!

  Again, these people were just told that their heritage does not guarantee them fellowship with the Lord.  This is what they desired and thought they had through who they were as a people.  They are confused and ask what they should do.  John the Baptist says to share.  Give to those in need.  If I have extra food or clothing and someone is struggling, then provide for that person.  There are many people who work hard and make a lot of money.  Then there are others who work very hard and make very little money; some to the point of not being able to feed their family.  If that is the case and you want to know the Lord’s will, here it is!  Provide for those families if you have the means. 

  When we are searching for who the Lord is we are given direction.  He will not leave us to stray for long.  These people wanted to follow John because he was clearly sent from the Lord.  They wanted to follow the Lord, most simply did not know how.  John lays this out for them.  This was laid out, however, in the Old Testament commandments!  When Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment is, Jesus replied “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself” Luke 10:27.   These instructions He has given in Luke 3:10-14 are specific ways to accomplish the Love the Lord deserves.  Love His people as you love yourself and He will be honored.  Isn’t that our goal?