Saturday, February 07, 2009
John the Baptist Matthew 3:1-12 How To Be Mighty For God
1 In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying:
" The voice of one crying in the wilderness:
' Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.' "
4 Now John himself was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist; and his food was locusts and wild honey.5 Then Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the region around the Jordan went out to him6 and were baptized by him in the Jordan, confessing their sins.
7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come?8 Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance,9 and do not think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.10 And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.11 I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.12 His winnowing fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clean out His threshing floor, and gather His wheat into the barn; but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
The Nobel peace prize, is named after Alfred Nobel. Few remember him for his own achievement, the invention of dynamite; instead, he is famous for recognizing the greatness of others. Each year on the anniversary of his death, prizes are awarded by a provision in his will for outstanding accomplishments in the fields of physics, medicine, chemistry, literature, and peace. Through his philanthropy we have come to know names like Pierre and Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Rudyard Kipling, Ernest Hemingway, and Mother Teresa.
Jesus also gave His version of the Nobel Prize. But the laureate who received this honour was no scholar or scientist. Austere and terrifying, he roamed the Judean wastelands as a hermit and was considered an outcast by his people. Even so, he was “sent from God” (John 1:6), and upon his head Jesus placed the crown of greatness when He declared:
“Truly, I say to you, among those born of women there has not arisen anyone greater than John the Baptist.” (Matt. 11:11a)
What made John the Baptizer’ great? As a minister, he had none of the symbols we associate with success—no books, no evangelistic crusades, no congenial sermons. Instead, his message was simple and often redundant. Moreover, he was unattractive, unkempt, and . . . well, unusual.
But as we spade into his life, we will uncover golden characteristics of greatness: humility, integrity, purity, diligence, simplicity, vulnerability, and vision. He was a true prophet from God; and his message, though brief, lingers still.
Today, self-proclaimed prophets come and go with each toss of the morning news. Most of us do not take them seriously; but when a true prophet like John appears, he cannot be overlooked. How can we recognize a true prophet? Scripture gives three characterizing qualifications.
Prophets in general
First: Genuine prophets were selected by God and personally called to the task. The prophet Jeremiah wrote concerning his own calling,
Now the word of the Lord came to me saying, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you; I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jer. 1:4—5)
God’s divine selection had nothing to do with social standing, inheritance, or talent. Some prophets were even reluctant to accept God’s call—Jonah, for example. Others, like Amos, who was a herdsman and fig-picker from Tekoa, were definitely not “preacher material,” yet the calling of God was unmistakably on their lives (see Amos 7: 14—15).
Second: True prophets spoke for God as His personal mouthpiece. A clear example of this is in God’s promise to Moses. “‘I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.’” (Deut. 18:18)
Whether they even understood the words they said, one thing was sure—true prophets were speaking God’s words. If they made a mistake in their prophecy, their words were not God’s and they were not true prophets. They were labelled false prophets and were not only to be ignored, but terminated (see Deut. 18:19—22).
Third: They operated as loners and not in groups. Prophets were the conscience of their society; but when the people ignored their consciences, prophets found themselves ignored as well. True prophets were trailblazers; they were God’s select soldiers—courageous, undaunted, yet alone.
Prophets had to be people of outstanding character, great minds, and courageous souls. They had to be this by nature and then, being dedicated to God, they became still greater because of the tasks and special provisions assigned them. Thus they became the towering giants of Israel, the formers of public opinion, the leaders through days of darkness, people distinguished from all those about them either in Israel or other nations of the day.
John in Particular
John met these qualifications of a true prophet. He received his call directly from God (John 1:6), he was God’s mouthpiece (vv. 7—8), and he stood as a lone voice delivering the message God had given him (v. 15). This message had been predicted by Isaiah seven centuries earlier.
A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness; Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
Let every valley be lifted up, And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain, And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” (Isa. 40:3—5)
If you would be greatly used buy God, you must have
1. A Supportive family
2 Timothy 1:5 I have been reminded of your sincere faith, which fir lived in your grandmother Lois and in your mother Eunice and, I persuaded, now lives in you also. (NIV)
Consecrated, (Luke 1:5-6 In the days of King Herod of Judea, there was a priest of Abijah’s division named Zechariah. His wife was from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 Both were righteous in God’s sight, living without blame according to all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.
Convictions, (Luke 1:13-20 But the angel said to him: Do not be afraid, Zechariah, because your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you will name him John. 14 There will be joy and delight for you, and many will rejoice at his birth. 15 For he will be great in the sight of the Lord and will never drink wine or beer. He will be filled with the Holy Spirit while still in his mother’s womb. 16 He will turn many of the sons of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of fathers to their children, and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous, to make ready for the Lord a prepared people. 18 “How can I know this?” Zechariah asked the angel. “For I am an old man, and my wife is well along in years.” 19 The angel answered him, “I am Gabriel, who stands in the presence of God, and I was sent to speak to you and tell you this good news. 20 Now listen! You will become silent and unable to speak until the day these things take place, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in their proper time.”
Consciousness. Luke 1:66 All who heard about [him]took [it]to heart, saying, “What then will this child become?” For, indeed, the Lord’s hand was with him.
2. A Sincere Faith
1Timothy 1:5 Now the goal of our instruction is love from a pure heart, a good conscience, and a sincere faith.
Convictions, -time alone in the wilderness. I have a dear friend named Louis who invariably rings me at the right time for both mine and his consolation and encouragement. For several years now he has had to stay home and be his mother’s carer. In this time of 24/7 care, he has grown to know the Lord. He recognised that before 2004 he had not known the Lord really. And now He does. The time alone in the wilderness has strengthened his faith and drawn him close to the Lord.
Are you Concerned to have a Sincere Faith? (Hebrews 3:12-13 Watch out, brothers, so that there won’t be in any of you an evil, unbelieving heart that departs from the living God. 13 But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.
3. A Singular Focus
Are you branded as lopsided?
He Preached Jesus
John 1:30 This is the One I told you about: ‘After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.’ 31 I didn’t know Him, but I came baptizing with water so He might be revealed to Israel.”
He Pointed to Jesus
John 1:29 The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said ‘Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world
He Preferred Jesus John 3: Then a dispute arose between John’s disciples and a Jew about purification. 26 So they came to John and told him, “Rabbi, the One you testified about, and who was with you across the Jordan, is baptizing—and everyone is flocking to Him.” 27 John responded, “No one can receive a single thing unless it’s given to him from heaven. 28 You yourselves can testify that I said, ‘I am not the Messiah, but I’ve been sent ahead of Him.’ 29 He who has the bride is the groom. But the groom’s friend, who stands by and listens for him, rejoices greatly at the groom’s voice. So this joy of mine is complete. 30 He must increase, but I must decrease.” 31 The One who comes from above is above all. The one who is from the earth is earthly and speaks in earthly terms. The One who comes from heaven is above all.
Isaiah 61: 1 The Spirit of the Lord God is on Me, because the Lord has anointed Me to bring good news to the poor. He has sent Me to heal the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and freedom to the prisoners; 2 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor, and the day of our God’s vengeance; to comfort all who mourn, 3 to provide for those who mourn in Zion; to give them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, festive oil instead of mourning, and splendid clothes instead of despair. And they will be called righteous trees, planted by the Lord, to glorify Him.
Jimmy Bakker from prison after divorce., “I have learned that happiness is not in feelings or circumstances but in knowing God.’
4. Spiritual Followers
John l:(35) The next day John was there again with two of his disciples. (36) When he saw Jesus passing by, he said, ‘Look, the Lamb of God!’ (37) When the two disciples heard him say this, they followed Jesus.
They Respected his Character
They Related to his Cause
They Received his Counsel
What is happening to the people who are close to you? Are they influenced, like salt & light, by your walk with God.
5. A Surprising Fearlessness
MAT 3:7 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?
A Confident Manner Are you intimidated by people... by dress. car, position, job?
A Confrontational Manner He couldn’t help confronting evil when he saw it . It got him killed. Herodias & Herod
6. A Sobering Fervency
Some people spend all their time & energy figuring ways to get out of work. Isn’t there anything you do fast - Yeah, I get tired quick. Leopards kill buffaloes by jumping up underneath & hanging on for 20 miles .. Hang on when the going gets tough
He didn’t spend his life Seeking Pleasure
He di4n’t Spend his life Satisfying People.
Matthew 3:(l) In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea (2) and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” (3) This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” (4) 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.
He did spend his life Serving God & People
dive Dodson Misso to Zimbabwe: I got work to do no more messing around. Founding churches, seeing revival, rather than attending meetings to fill in reports.
7. The Saviour’s Favour
Are you working yourself into a grave for a gold watch or a plaque or something? It won’t come with you to heaven.
I Corinthians 3:(9) For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s buildIng. (10) By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds. (11) For no one can lay any foundation other than the one already laid, which is Jesus Christ. (12) If any man builds on this foundation using gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay or straw, (13) 1is work will be shown for what it is, because the Day will bring it to light. It will be revealed with fire, and the fire will test the quality of each man’s work. (14) If what he has built survives, he will receive his reward. (15) If it is burned up, he will suffer loss; he himself will be saved, but only as one escaping through the flames.
Everything John did was laying up treasures in heaven.
Matthew 11:(8) If not, what did you go out to see? A man dressed in fine clothes? Ho, those who wear fine clothes are in kings’ palaces. (9) Then what did you go out to see? A prophet? Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet. (10) This is the one about whom it is written: “‘I will send my messenger ahead of you, who will prepare your way before you.’ (11) I tell you the truth: Among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John t1e Baptist; yet he who is least in the kingdom greater than he.