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Growing Fruit In the Desert

Notes & Transcripts

Sermon on Matthew 3:1-12

Title:

Theme:  God desires fruit from our lives.

Goal: to encourage believers to produce fruit with their lives.

Need:  believers often neglect the fruit that ought to grow in their lives.

Outline:

Introduction:

1.       An organic man.

2.      An organic purpose.

3.      An organic produce.

Conclusion

Sermon

Congregation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

          John doesn’t cut any corners with his message.  The one who was sent to prepare the way for Jesus’ coming had one thing to tell people.  Judgement is coming.  Hell is real.  You need to change.  Now! 

          On the scale of one to ten how popular do you think John the Baptist’s message was to the people today?  Not at all.  Everyone loves a good message that hopefully someone will hear and take to heart.  But John’s message, the way he prepared the way for the savior was by going straight to the heart for everyone.  You either shape up, produce good fruit for the kingdom of God or you are dead. 

          Did anyone put that in their Christmas cards this year?  Merry Christmas (if you have your life transformed by the Holy Spirit otherwise Christmas is the coming of your eternal destruction) and a Happy New Year!

          I say that kind of tongue in cheek, but we know the serious implications of a message like that.  You sit by the deathbed of someone who hasn’t not given their life over to being a disciple of Jesus Christ… what do you say.  Your friend dies and didn’t come to know Jesus Christ.  This is where believing in Jesus really comes to a head.  Are you going to believe in Jesus and fight for the salvation of others, or will we make this just a spiritual practice that needs doesn’t really have any afterlife consequences.  You see the importance of a message like this.

          But lets go a little bit deeper into the passage and understand what God is saying to us through it.

          We are looking at these passages of Christmas and looking at ways that they challenge us to get rid of the extra additives of our Christmas celebrations and look at the organic, nothing added, pure and natural nature of Jesus’ arrival in this world.

          What we see in this passage is first of all the arrival of this man John the Baptist.  I want first point out this morning how this man epitomizes organic.  Talk about a man with nothing else added.  He is authentic and raw right down the clothes that he wore and the food that he ate.  And this is important because he is the man from the wilderness that everyone expected to come before the Christ came.

          John the Baptist lived by principles so that he could fulfill the purpose of God.  This is how it talks about John the Baptist in verse 4  4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey.[1]  The person John the Baptist is the ultimate example of shedding everything else for the sake of Jesus Christ.  He lived by principles so that he could fulfill the purpose of God.

          Absolutely.  If you want to truly be ready for the coming of the Jesus Christ and the kingdom of God, we need to start living by principles again.  We need to start a rebellion in our lives and in our families.  The rebellion needs to be against the tremendous force of our culture pulling us away from doing what John was able to accomplish.  Our world pulls us away from living by principles.  Our culture keeps us from living out the purpose that God has set out for us.

          This man in the desert is a radical.  Camel hair shirt.  Leather belt. Oh and you just have the try the grasshoppers.  They are just fabulous with the wild honey sauce.  Counter cultural.  Rebelling against materialism.  How many pairs of shoes do you need.  How many bell services do you have to subscribe to?  How many trips do you need to take to theater or the mall.

          Do we need the reminder again?  In order to even think about finding the purpose for our lives we need to start swimming against the flow of the sinful culture.

          You’ve heard the phrase, go against the flow.  You know which fish go with the flow. They are the dead ones.  Go against the flow, because only the dead ones go with it. 

          John could have done that.  He could have just gone along and been like everyone else, but he went out into the wilderness.  He lived the raw organic sort of life with the lunch of locust because that was the way he was called to live the principled life.  He lived the principled life so that he could fulfill the purpose the God had for him.

          So we hear it in the first part of this passage.  We can see a good example of how to live in John the Baptist.  He lived by principles.  He did hard things.  He stood out in the crowd.  Actually, no.  He left the crowd.  He was the man God wanted him to be.

          The second part of what we need to hear is that John the Baptist lived by principles so that he could fulfill the purpose God has for his life.

          The purpose for his life had been known before he was born.  I bet some of our high school or post-high school students wish that could be said for them.  Or I bet that’s true for many of us.  What’s the purpose of my life?  If only someone would have told my parents before I was born and I could just get started on that without any trouble. 

          Well, John’s parents were told what his special purpose in life would be.  An angel came to his Father Zechariah and said this.  Luke 1:13-17 says, 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth.a 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” [2]

          Let’s go even further back. 500 years before John was born, Isaiah prophesied about him.  We hear it in verse 3 of our passage.  Matthew 3:3 (NIV)
3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’”[3]

          People get ready.  When John is out in the wilderness living the principled, dedicated life, he’s making the path ready for the Messiah.

          His purpose in life was to call Israel back to God.  His purpose in life was to stand up and call families to do the hard thing and go against the flow.  He was calling families to come out and repent.  He called them to admit that they have floated along dead in the flow for to long.  John’s whole purpose in life is to make people’s hearts ready for the coming of Christ by calling them already to a difficult but better life. 

          How do you prepare for Christmas?  One of my favorite ways of preparing for the Christmas season is turning up the Christmas music.  All the music just makes it feel like Christmas.  Have a holly Jolly Christmas.  Hark how the bells sweet silver bells.  Hallelujah.  Hallelujah.  All of it has to be played about two months ahead of time.  Maybe the preparation involves planning the big family get together.  Maybe it involves picking out the right gifts for someone you love.  Hey, you gotta be prepared because Christmas is coming.

          You gotta be prepared for the coming of Christ.  John was the one that showed us how we ought to be getting ready.  He showed us how to live a principled life. But he lived out his purpose which was to prepare the hearts of people everywhere to receive the message of the coming of Christ.

          Let John prepare your hearts for his coming.  The passage reminds us how serious the coming of Christ is.  When John is on the scene there is no sweet little baby in the manger any more.

          Here’s two organic pictures that hopefully can stick in your mind.  Jesus in the orchard and Jesus the farmer.

          John prepares our hearts by reminding us that Jesus is like the person working an orchard.  Jesus walks between the rows of trees.  He says many that have good fruit on them.  But he sees others that over several years have done nothing.  Some of the trees are really just lazying their way through life.

          But what does Jesus see when a tree is bearing no fruit.  He sees a dead tree. He sees a diseased tree.  He sees a waste of space and resources.  The warning to those who think they can coast into eternity without ever committing their hearts to Christ need to listen.  Verse 10,  10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. [4]

       The second picture is of Jesus the farmer at harvest time.  At the time of harvest the farmer knows that only part of the plant is good for eating.  It’s the kernel.  The rest is just waste.  At the time of the harvest, Jesus the farmer sees the souls of all humanity and he see knows which ones are good for food and have truly produced.  The rest.  Chaff.  Into the fire.  Verse 12  12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire.”[5]

       Are those  Merry Christmas pictures?  Are those, yippee Jesus is going to coming pictures? 

       No.  Are those the pictures with none of additives.  Yes.

       People of God, John came baptizing families in the wilderness.  He lived a principled life so that he could fulfill his purpose in life.  To prepare our hearts for the coming of Christ.

       We also need to think about this.  We are saved by the grace of Jesus Christ, but our lives need to be bearing fruit as well.

       Congregation, only dead fish go with the flow.  Only dead trees bear no fruit.  Only unobedient lives don’t wrestle with feeling like complete foreigners in this world.

       John came to prepare our hearts.  We need to have families of radicals in the church.  Families of people that dare to be different.

       As you get together with others in small groups or in Bible studies.  This discussion needs to go further.  Discuss together in your small groups in your Bible studies.  How can we be a village of people the live radically obedience so that we can fulfill God’s plan in us. 

       Does your Christmas celebration stand out in a crowd?

           


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[1]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

a Or from his mother~s womb

[2] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Lk 1:13-17

[3]  The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984

[4] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Mt 3:10

[5] The Holy Bible : New International Version. Grand Rapids : Zondervan, 1996, c1984, S. Mt 3:12

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