In the fifteenth year of the rule of Caesar Tiberius -- it was while Pontius Pilate was governor of Judea; Herod, ruler of Galilee; his brother Philip, ruler of Iturea and Trachonitis; Lysanias, ruler of Abilene; during the Chief-Priesthood of Annas and Caiaphas -- John, Zachariah's son, out in the desert at the the time, received a message from God. He went all through the country around the Jordan River preaching a baptism of life-change leading to forgiveness of sins, as described in the words of Isaiah the prophet:
"Thunder in the desert!
'Prepare God's arrival!
Make the road smooth and straight!
Every ditch will be filled in,
Every bump smoothed out,
The detours straightened out,
All the ruts paved over.
Everyone will be there to see
The parade of God's salvation.'"
1. There doesn't seem to be any getting around the specificity with which Luke surrounds GOD's call of John. The historical context of life is significant to GOD. It appears we are not called in general to a generic ministry. There are all manner of details and intent to GOD's call of John and you and me. A key to hearing is knowing where we are. For John it was alone in the desert. For the first of the disciples it was together at work on the water. Dry or wet, there is a call for everyone.
2. John preached a baptism of life-change. The specifics will vary from person to person, so here's a question. What needs changing in your life?
Some folks will have a clear response to that at the first asking. Some won't know for several askings. So, again, for most of us, What needs changing in your life?
Is what you mentioned really life-changing or simply tinkering? What needs changing in your life?
3. It is a pretty amazing image that when each of us make the course corrections needed in our specific life-situation we will find ourselves included in a salvation parade, moving together. How does it happen that my life-change draws me closer to you and your life-change draws you closer to me?
Might it be that forgiveness is a key part of life and each of us needs to change in relationship to it? If so, may the forgiveness you receive overflow your cup and be active in the forgiving of others.
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