Thursday, September 13, 2007

Luke #35 – Washed Clean and Fired Up

Luke #35 – Washed Clean and Fired Up

“And as the people were in expectation, and all men mused in their hearts of John, whether he were the Christ, or not; John answered, saying unto them all, ‘I indeed baptize you with water; but One mightier than I cometh, the latchet of Whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire: Whose fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor, and will gather the wheat into His garner; but the chaff He will burn with fire unquenchable.’ And many other things in his exhortation preached he unto the people” (Luke 3:15-18 – King James Version).

Have you ever noticed how it seems that spring cleaning requires making things messier before getting things really clean? Recently I cleaned out our cabinets and found tops to dishes that I had not seen in years. I filled up two trash bags with junk that some how we had at one time thought useful, but since had found no use for. I found some things in our cabinets that I had no clue why we ever thought we needed OR wanted. Most heartbreaking was finding products that we bought at one time but never used; obviously we never needed that junk either. At the pinnacle of the purge our entire kitchen floor, the stove, the table, and the counter tops were filled with plates, glasses, crockery, pots, bowls, plastic storage containers, fryers, pans, and every other thing you can think of. I looked at the whole mess and felt like giving up.

When it comes to repentance we often experience something akin to my cleaning adventure. When it comes down to actually repenting we find things in our lives that we had not dealt with in years. We find things that we wonder why we were holding on to. We find things that at one time we could not do without, but discover that that thing was never needed in the first place. We find things that we never wanted and wonder why we even have them. We find our lives in a horrible mess and we might feel like just giving up. We may even think that there is no help for the mess and that we might as well quit and just live with the junk we are holding on to.

John’s preaching on repentance caused the people to begin to think of the coming Messiah. Many wondered whether John was himself that Messiah. John knew his place in the scheme of things. He said, “I am not even worthy of being the slave of the coming Messiah.” (There is a lesson in there somewhere! We need to recognize our place and Christ’s place in the Kingdom. Whose will should come first?) John reminds us today that he was pointing to a much greater and soon coming Christ.

John’s preaching of repentance was like cleaning out the cabinets. John confronted people with the mess all of our lives are in. John baptized with water…his message was “Clean up! Get ready!” The word for today concerning that issue is that we need to realize that true repentance is a messy business that requires commitment and courage. It requires dealing with mess that has been around a long time, much of which we did not even realize we had (pride issues, sinful habits and thoughts, etc.). It requires the willingness to scrap a lot of things we hold on to. Washing, however, is a good thing. Get rid of the mess! It may be painstaking but I am sure it is needful. When it came to my cabinets it was an aggravating affair, but when I look at those well organized cabinets today I rarely think of the trouble they brought in getting them that way.

John then spoke of the Messiah’s baptism which would be the fire of the Holy Spirit. This is the indwelling of God Almighty into the believer enabling them not only to keep what repentance cleaned up but to produce fruit as well.

To delineate from the life that only cleaned the outside, John likened them to chaff. That’s the outside husk of a kernel of wheat; the part that is thrown away. Jesus considers outside change as the disposable part. John warned of that because it is a certain danger to the human way of doing things. Real repentance is being changed. It does not mean LOOKING changed. Repentance will not stick unless we fill with Christ all of the areas we took sin away from. So, we need to be washed clean of our sins by the baptism of repentance and have the Holy Spirit cauterize those areas with His fiery indwelling presence.

Too many times today we are more worried about being caught in sin than we are about ridding ourselves of sin. We don’t worry about the reality of our sin only the possibility that someone will find out. The warning we need to hear in this matter is that Jesus knows all and stands ready with His winnowing fork to separate the wheat and the waste. John knew the Messiah was coming soon…I believe He is coming soon too…COMING BACK that is.

Listen now…we may only see the mess that our lives are and feel like giving up. Have courage! Whatever we give up, Christ will replace with Himself. We all need to be washed clean and fired up…it is a tough business and may even be painful, but it WILL be well worth it!

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