John Cries In The Wilderness, Part – 2

John’s Message and Baptism.

Matthew 3:4 – 6,“Then Jerusalem and all Judea and all the region about the Jordan were going out to him, and they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins” vv.5 – 6,. Matthew 3:5 – 6,

John the Baptist heralds the King and His Kingdom. Today, we will look, at notions of the kingdom current in his day and the baptism John administers in preparation for its coming. According to Matthew, John says that, the Kingdom of heaven is at hand.v.2. of note is the phrase,the Kingdom of Heaven,the preferred name for the kingdom in the first Gospel. In a few instances, Matthew uses the Kingdom of God,which is favored in the other Gospels. There phrases are synonyms, and Matthew’s use of heaven is probably nothing more that stylistic variance; a decision to use a different word that gives a slightly different emphasis. In this case, heaven points us to a Kingdom not of this world. The ancient Jews knew God was sovereign over all creation even if many did not submit to Him. Jeremiah 10:6-10. The Kingdom of heaven refers not to the reality of this reign, but to its universal acknowledgement, especially as administered through God’s chosen regent. Beginning with Abraham, who was promised kings as sons Genesis 17:5 – 6,Scripture looks to the day in which all nations any to Yahweh and willingly serve the Son of David, through whom the Lord exercises His dominion most visibly Amos 9:11 – 15;Zechariah 14:16. Different ideas as to how the Kingdom will come are present in Judaism in the first century A. D. One popular view longs for a Messiah who will be a military ruler thereby kicking Rome out of the promised land and setting Israel over all the Nations. Though John the Baptist knows that the Kingdom is at hand, it seems he is unclear as to the exact manner in which it will come Matthew 11:1 – 19. However, John does understand that the Jews in his day are not ready for the Kingdom. In the first Century, Gentiles sinners are washed with water when they convert to Judaism, but Jews are the rarely, if ever, baptized for the confession and forgiveness of sins 3:5 – 6. As John preaches in Judea, he calls upon even the covenant people of God to repent of their transgressions. He understands their lack of contrition is causing troubles and knows that being a Jew outwardly is not enough to secure for oneself a place in the Kingdom vv. 7 – 10. Needless to say, John’s message is unpopular with those who find security in their ethnicity.

Coram deo:

For now, note that God’s kingdom did not come with military force, as was popularly expected, but in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Though foretold by the prophets, many people missed this truth. Today, many churches expect the kingdom to come through programs, cultural savvy, and political legislation. May we never believe this falsehood.

Further reading:

Passages for Further Study:

  1. James 5:7 – 11
  2. Psalm 103:19

Don’t Yield Your Mind Turf!

“Hear, my son, and be wise, and direct your mind in the way.”

Proverbs 23:19

For years, I walked around with a destructive and negative mindset without recognizing it. Raised in a tumultuous home that simmered with anger, resentment, and critical words, I picked up these deadly thought processes early on. Sadly, it’s how my family operated, and I considered it completely normal. Critical thoughts spread like weeds throughout my mind and threatened to choke out every positive thought.

Years later, enduring a miserable marriage, I regularly cried myself to sleep. I was still unaware that negative mindsets poisoned my thoughts. Thinking the best of others was foreign to me. Each morning I’d wake up and rehash my husband’s harsh words of the night before. I’d tell myself that things were never going to change, and meditate on my critical thoughts and feelings. I was extremely unhappy.

My unhealthy mindset made it hard to forgive, because I replayed hurtful words and situations in my mind over and over. It’s very difficult, (if not impossible!) to forgive what you regularly focus on. This set up a destructive cycle in my marriage. Instead of forgiving and letting go, I rehearsed the hurt and held on. And I always felt it was warranted because I felt my husband’s words and actions toward me were wrong.

It wasn’t until a women’s retreat that I suddenly became aware of my dangerous mindset. During a time of reflective prayer, God helped me to see that my consistently critical thoughts toward my husband were destroying our relationship. I began to understand that even though my husband’s actions toward me might be wrong, my response as a Christian was just as wrong.

Over time my mindset slowly changed, but it remained a real effort not to give in to the negative thoughts I had regularly entertained most of my life. It took time and concerted effort, but as I prayed and spent time reading my Bible, wrong mindsets were replaced with healthy, godly thoughts.

You may not battle with a negative or critical attitude like I did. Maybe worry, fear, or insecurity bombard your mind regularly. That’s the enemy’s plan: to consistently assault our minds until we surrender.

We must fight every step of the way. As busy women, we don’t have one brain cell to spare. And as godly women, we cannot yield any mind-turf to the enemy. The first goal when praying for our minds is the ability to recognize when we’re under attack. God’s Word tells us, “Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” (James 4:7 NIV)

The number one way to resist the enemy is through prayer. Though the attacks against our mind can be subtle, God gives us wisdom when we ask Him. He will reveal to us what we are not always capable of discerning apart from His help: flawed, potentially destructive thoughts and mindsets. Whether the intrusions in our minds are remnants from the distant past or yesterday’s hurts and disappointments, we can face every day with clear minds and godly mindsets.

Dear Lord, equip my mind with Your helmet of salvation. Protect my mind from every evil influence. I submit my thoughts to You and thank You for granting me ever-increasing discernment, wisdom, and an understanding mind. Thank You that I have the mind of Christ, and I hold the thoughts, feelings and purposes of His heart. Renew my mind and grant me a fresh mental and spiritual attitude and a godly mindset. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Reflect and Respond:
Do you recognize the enemy’s assault on your mind this week?

What specific thoughts and mindsets do you need help changing?

Apply the truths you’ve learned today and determine to spend this week praying for your mind.

Power Verses:
1 Corinthians 14:20, “Brothers and sisters, stop thinking like children. In regard to evil be infants, but in your thinking be adults.” (NIV)

Romans 12:2, “Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.” (NLT)