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Summary: Proposition: John shares with us 1. A powerful exhortation of genuine repentance 2. The need for personal examination 3. The expectation of living a life of holiness and 4. The excitement of possess the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives

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Scripture: Luke 3:7-18; Philippians 4:4-7 and Isaiah 12:2-6

Theme: Roots and Fruits

Scripture: Luke 3:7-18; Philippians 4:4-7 and Isaiah 12:2-6

Theme: Roots and Fruits

Proposition: John shares with us 1. A powerful exhortation of genuine repentance/forgiveness and grace 2. The need for personal examination and reflection 3. The expectation of living a life of genuine holiness and 4. The excitement of possessing the fire of the Holy Spirit in our lives

INTRO:

Grace and peace from our Father in Heaven and the Lord Jesus Christ! Shalom!

How many of us would agree this morning that one of the most rewarding and yet challenging tasks today is how to be a good parent or step parent? Parenting is one of the most wonderful life realities that any of us can experience and yet it can also be one of the most frustrating experiences as well.

For example, how do you and your mate balance the loving and caring part of parenting along with the part that requires a measure of accountability and discipline? How do you balance being a parent full of grace and mercy while at the same time promoting responsibility and accountability? It is not easy is it? It's hard to balance everything.

Some couples result to the roles of good cop/bad cop. One chooses to take the role of the loving, compassionate and caring parent while the has to be the disciplinarian, the authoritarian and the heavy. One chooses to be all peaches and cream while the other is left being the stale bread and water.

Just so you know, that particular way of parenting is unfair, lazy and lousy way to fulfill you God given role of being a parent. It is also extremely unbiblical and even damaging to the child and to each of the parents. Instead, each parent has to help the other and there can't be just one parent of grace and one parent of accountability. Both mom and dad (and grandparents) have to help one another in all situations that arise, including those when one needs grace and those when one needs discipline. No one likes to be the disciplinarian, but if we don't have a balance then we have highly unbalanced children. That is not good for them or for their future mates.

Our Lukan passage this morning is one of balance. John the Baptist takes on both the role of disciplinarian and amazing grace. His message resonates with tones of mercy and judgment. Let's take a few moments and see what John the Baptist seeks to share with us this third Sunday of Advent.

I. John's exhortation (preaching) is simple, direct and full of power.

As you read verses 7 -9 John delivers a simple and direct clear cut message concerning the need for repentance and accountability. John is very plain spoken and unswerving. He doesn't mix his words. His message is easy to understand. You are not left having to wonder what John is saying. John does not live in a world of abstracts. His world is black and white.

It is very evident that John is not trying to appease anyone except his Heavenly Father. He steps right in line with the prophets of old by giving a clear, well defined message from God. Repent for the forgiveness of sins or be thrown into the fire. Repent for the forgiveness of sins or feel the axe of judgment. Repent for the forgiveness of sins or God will simply choose another people.

It could be said that John was not seeker sensitive at least in the modern sense of that term. Some I am sure believed that John could have used better words than telling his audience that some of them were the spawn of vipers who were only looking for a way to escape the oncoming judgment fires of God rather than being transformed by God. Spawn of vipers, axe cutting down trees and raging fires are strong metaphors.

However, we must understand that John had a message from God that he had to share. John was no stranger to holiness living. He was raised in the home of devoted parents. Parents that are described as righteous and living a blameless life before the LORD. His father was a committed and consecrated Levite priest. John knew the Torah, the Temple, and the true means of sharing God's truth. John knew how to pray, how to offer incense and how to prepare a proper sacrifice to the LORD. When it came to religion, John was an insider. He was of the line of Aaron. Worshipping God and living a holy life was in his DNA.

Still, John also knew that the normal way of worship was bringing about little change in Jewish society. Sure, the people were going to the Temple. Sure, the people were offering sacrifices. Sure, the people were hearing the Word at their local synagogues. But as he looked around he was not seeing lives being transformed. He was not seeing the messages of Jeremiah, Ezekiel being put into action. Both prophets spoke of God's people being given a new heart filled with the Spirit of God. Both prophets preached that God's people would be radically changed and John simply did not see that occurring.

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