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Are You Headed in the Right Direction?
Matthew 3:1-12
Sermon by Rick Crandall
Grayson Baptist Church - Jan. 2, 2013
*One time I heard Bill Stafford preach at a conference in Jacksonville, Florida.
Bill was talking about being stubborn, and he said, "I used to be so stubborn, that if I was riding in the car with my wife, trying to get to Jacksonville.
And she told me I was heading in the wrong direction, -- I would drive to Miami before I'd admit I was going the wrong way!"
*Well, the Lord helped Bill get over his stubbornness.
And that's a good thing, because we all need to be headed in the right direction.
But how can we tell?
How do we know if we are headed in the right direction in life?
Here are four key questions to help us see.
The first key question is this: Have I realized the importance of repenting?
*We see repentance in vs. 2, where John the Baptist was preaching and said: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!"
*Then down in vs. 7, we see people who refused to repent:
But when he (i.e.
John the Baptist) saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, "Brood of vipers!
Who has warned you to flee from the wrath to come?"
*We don't want to be rebellious against the Lord like the Pharisees and Sadducees!
Who in their right mind would want to be a child of the Snake?
Who in their right mind would want to suffer the wrath of God?
And there are only two choices: Rebellion against God or repentance toward God.
*But what does it mean to repent?
Well, it's not just "turning over a new leaf" or "turning your life around."
TV personality David Frost was talking about certain man and said: "He's turned his life around.
He used to be depressed and miserable.
Now he's miserable and depressed."
*Penelope Stokes said: "The trouble with turning over a new leaf is that once you've done it twice, you're right back where you started."
*There's a big difference between "turning over a new leaf" and turning your life over to Jesus Christ.
What does it mean to repent?
Paul Decker tells us that "repentance means we have a necessary change of mind.
Our views change.
Our values and goals change.
The way we live changes.
Repentance means that we turn away from sin and turn to God." (3)
*Gordon MacDonald once said: "Repentance is not basically a religious word.
It comes from a culture where people were essentially nomadic and lived in a world with no maps or street signs.
It is easy to get lost walking through the desert.
You become aware that the countryside is strange.
You finally say to yourself, 'I'm going in the wrong direction.'
That's the first act of repentance.
And the second act of repentance is to GO in a different direction."
We start going in the right direction.
*It's like that car Bill Stafford was driving, and he realized, "Hey, I'm going the wrong way.
I don't want to go to Miami.
I'm going to turn around."
And then you do turn around.
You turn away from sin and selfish living.
And you turn to God.
*What direction are you headed in tonight?
We are never standing still.
And all of us need to turn away from bad actions and bad attitudes.
So take a good look at your life, and turn away from every known sin.
At the same time, turn toward the Lord and all of His goodness.
*In vs. 2, John the Baptist said: "Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!" Church: To me that means God's Kingdom is so close that we can reach out and touch it, if we will only turn to God.
*How can I tell if I am headed in the right direction?
-- Ask this question: Have I realized the importance of repenting?
2. The second key question is: Have I examined the essentials of life?
*Examining the essentials of life is crucial for us all, but we can't even begin until our spiritual eyes have been opened by the Lord.
In Matthew 15:14, Jesus was speaking about hard-hearted leaders like the men here in vs. 7, and the Lord said: "Let them alone.
They are blind leaders of the blind.
And if the blind leads the blind, both will fall into a ditch."
*In Matthew 23:15-16, Jesus spoke to some of these Christ-rejecting leaders and the Lord said:
15. "Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites!
For you travel land and sea to win one proselyte, and when he is won, you make him twice as much a son of hell as yourselves.
Woe to you, blind guides."
*2 Corinthians 4:3-4 says:
But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost:
4. In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.
*But Hebrews 2:9 speaks to Christians and says: "We see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone."
*Think how important our physical sight is.
Blind and deaf Helen Keller certainly knew.
Here is part of what she said about being able to see for even three days: "Use your eyes as if tomorrow you would be stricken blind.
If I had three days to see, this is what I would want to see.
On the first day I would want to see the people whose kindness and companionship have made my life worth living.
I would call in my friends and look for a long time into their faces.
I would also look into the face of a new baby.
I would like to see the many books which have been read to me.
*The next day I would get up early to see the dawn.
I would visit a museum to learn of man's upward progress in the making of things.
The third morning I would again greet the dawn, eager to discover new beauties in nature.
I would spend this last day in the haunts of persons, where they work.
I would stand at a busy street corner, trying to understand something of the daily lives of persons by looking into their faces and reading what is written there. .
*Then Helen Keller ended by saying, "Yes, by God's light in Christ, seeing what matters and beholding the extraordinary in the commonplace."
*Physical vision is a wonderful thing, but spiritual vision is infinitely more important.
And that's what we need to examine the essentials in life.
*Here's part of what our Lord said to the backslidden church of Laodicea in Revelation 3:
14. "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:
I know your works, that you are neither cold nor hot.
I could wish you were cold or hot.
So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spew you out of My mouth.
Because you say, 'I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing' and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked
I counsel you to buy from Me gold refined in the fire, that you may be rich; and white garments, that you may be clothed, that the shame of your nakedness may not be revealed; and anoint your eyes with eye salve, that you may see."
*God wants us to see well enough to examine the essentials in life.
And in vs. 3-6, John the Baptist shows us some of these essentials.
[1] First, in vs. 3, we must prepare the way of the Lord in our own lives, for John the Baptist was crying out to us too when he said: "Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight."
[2] We also need to stop putting too much focus on the things of this world, for in vs. 4 John "was clothed in camel's hair, with a leather belt around his waist."
*John the Baptist wasn't too concerned about wearing fine clothes, and in Mathew 11:11, Jesus said there was none greater than John.
I'm not saying that there's anything wrong with nice clothes.
But are they essential?
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