Summary: Christmas preparation begins in the heart and overflows into our life. Through John the Baptist’s preaching the Spirit prepares hearts to bear fruit for Jesus. Parts: A. Genuine fruit is rooted in Christ B. Authentic fruit connects to your place in life

Text: Luke 3:7-18

Theme: Your Faith-filled Heart Produces a Fruit-filled Life

A. Genuine fruit is rooted in Christ

B. Authentic fruit connects to your place in life.

Season: Advent 3c

Date: December 13, 2009

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit works faith in our hearts is Luke 3

"Therefore he was saying to the crowds who came out to be baptized by him, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? Therefore, produce fruit that measures up to repentance and don’t begin to say to yourself, ’We have Abraham as our Father.’ For I say to you that God can raise up children for Abraham from these stones. Moreover the ax as well already lies at the root of the trees. So every tree not producing good fruit is cut down and thrown into fire."

"The crowds were asking him, "So what should we do?" He replied to them, "Whoever has two tunics, share with him who has none, and whoever has food, do likewise."

"In addition tax collectors came to be baptized and said to him, "Teacher, what should we do?" He said to them, "Do not collect more than what has been commanded you."

"Even soldiers were asking him, "What of us, what should we do?" He said to them, "Don’t shake down others or blackmail them. Be content with your pay."

"Since the people were eagerly waiting and all were debating in their hearts about John whether he might not somehow be the Christ, John answered all, "I, for my part, baptize with water, but One stronger than I is coming, whose sandal lace I’m not fit to untie. He will baptize in the Holy Spirit and fire. He has the winnowing fork in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the grain into his barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire."

"So as he encouraged many other things, he spoke the Good News to the people." (Luke 3:7-18)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

The trees are barren at this time of year. No leaves, no blossoms, no fruit. But fruit is associated with Christmas, isn’t it? Fruit baskets are given. Apples are handed out to children after the Christmas Eve service. Fruit cake makes its rounds. Even bulbs on a Christmas tree vaguely imitate fruit hanging from branches.

As we prepare our hearts to celebrate our Savior’s birth, John the Baptist’s preaching calls out to us: "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8 NIV). Yes, dear friend, he’s speaking to you and me. "Produce fruit in keeping with repentance" (Luke 3:8 NIV). For you see, your faith-filled heart produces a fruit-filled life. That’s our theme this morning. This genuine fruit is rooted in Christ. And this authentic fruit connects to your place in life. Through his word may the Holy Spirit work in you so that more and more your faith-filled heart produces a fruit-filled life.

A. Genuine fruit is rooted in Christ

1. How does John’s preaching bring us to see our sin?

John the Baptist didn’t mince words. He did not tone down his message for political correctness, even when thrown into prison and later beheaded for confronting Herod Antipas over his sinful marriage. Likewise, he did not tailor his message to curry people’s favor. How many today would tune in to hear, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath?" (Luke 3:7 NIV).

John forcefully confronted people with their sins. His words confront you and me as well, even if our ears itch for feel-good piffle instead. What fruit are you producing?

We regularly begin our service with a confession of sins. Are those just empty, routine words for you? Does it seem like a negative to begin worship that way, maybe even an embarrassment? People want to hear about peace and joy and love at Christmas, not about sin. But how can we worship Jesus as our Savior, unless we realize deep down inside how lost and helpless we are without him? Only the lost need to be saved. Only the helpless need a Savior.

John knocks out whatever else we might be leaning on. Do you want to rest on your laurels? You’ve been baptized. You’ve been confirmed. You belong to a Bible-based church. You’ve learned that you’re saved by grace alone. So why not just take it easy and blend in with society?

Many of the Jews in John’s day figured they could just coast along as well, since they belonged to the right family, Abraham’s family. But what does John say, "And do not begin to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham" (Luke 3:8 NIV). Coasting in your faith only works when your headed down-hill into hell. Who but the ancient viper himself would lead you or me to think that such coasting could flee the coming wrath?

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