Summary: Ask yourself these questions: 1. Have I realized the importance of repenting? (vs. 1-2 & 7). 2. Have I examined the essentials? (vs. 2-6). 3. Can I find any fruit in my life? (vs. 5-9). 4. Have I trusted in Jesus to turn my life around? (vs. 10-12).

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.

1. 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:

7. 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." (1)

*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." (2)

*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. (4)

*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.

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