Summary: Good contractors are hard to find, especially one we can trust. Jesus is the only one who can renew our hearts and lives.

(This series was used in a capital funds campaign to raise money for repairs and renewal of the church facilities.)

Jeff Armbrester

Renewal for Growth

There are two possible directions that renewal may take. Renewal can go in the direction of preservation, which is restoration. It is an attempt to restore to the original and maintain the past. We restore old cars, furniture, houses, and many other items. Or, renewal may go in the direction of growth, which involves adapting and updating. In a word, this renewal means change.

Finding a Contractor

(Part 2 of 4)

Matthew 3:11-12

11"I baptize with water those who turn from their sins and turn to God. But someone is coming soon who is far greater than I am--so much greater that I am not even worthy to be his slave. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 He is ready to separate the chaff from the grain with his winnowing fork. Then he will clean up the threshing area, storing the grain in his barn but burning the chaff with never--ending fire."

(New Living Translation)

John 1:29-34

29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look! There is the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world! 30He is the one I was talking about when I said, ’Soon a man is coming who is far greater than I am, for he existed long before I did.’ 31I didn’t know he was the one, but I have been baptizing with water in order to point him out to Israel."

32Then John said, "I saw the Holy Spirit descending like a dove from heaven and resting upon him. 33I didn’t know he was the one, but when God sent me to baptize with water, he told me, ’When you see the Holy Spirit descending and resting upon someone, he is the one you are looking for. He is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34I saw this happen to Jesus, so I testify that he is the Son of God."

(New Living Translation)

In any construction job, the role of the contractor must be made clear. Will he do only what he is instructed to do? Must he bring every decision, regardless of the size, to us for approval? Or, will he be given the authority and freedom to make the decisions? Will we acknowledge his skill and expertise to do the job? Or will we continually look over his shoulder?

Matthew 3:11

I. John’s baptism marked the beginning of a relationship with God. The baptism with water signified the inner cleansing that had been done by God. However, this baptism could not change a person’s heart. That would require something more powerful than water. Changing a heart requires someone with more power than John the Baptist. No preacher, no church, no ritual, no amount of water can change a person. This kind of change requires the strength of no ordinary contractor. Therefore, John pointed to someone else who would be able to totally change a person.

Matthew 3:11b-12

II. John tells the crowd that the one to come will baptize with the Holy Spirit of God and with fire. The Savior will not only save people from their sin, he will also purify them from sin. Fire is used to purify all sorts of things: gold, silver, iron. Anything that will not withstand the intense heat of fire will be burned up. Therefore, whatever is burned was not needed.

The role of a contractor is to not only repair, but to remove and replace. We want a Savior who will bail us out when we get into trouble. We want a Savior who will be there when we need him. But we also need a Redeemer; one who will renew us so that we will not need to be bailed out of trouble. We need a redeemer who will separate the chaff from the grain. We need a redeemer who will make us new.

III. Jesus is the only one who can renew our hearts and lives.

Jesus changed people. Those who listened to him were forever changed.

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