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Get In, Get Out, or Get Out of the Way

Daily Reading: Matthew 3

Scripture Focus: Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. (Matthew 3.8)

Devotional Thought: Society is slow to give people a second chance. It's up to them to turn around, but if we don't give them an opportunity to prove themselves, how will they ever become contributing members of society?

John the Baptist had people coming to be baptized by him, who were irredeemable, according to the prevailing culture. These sinners were finding their way into the Kingdom of God. The religious elites - trendsetters and gatekeepers - were aghast! How could these ‘lowlifes’ be a part of the Kingdom?

John answered, "The same way you must enter the Kingdom of God - through repentance." And, John wasn't talking about a clean and easy process. He said to the leaders coming to him, "If you want to get in, you need to 'bear fruit in keeping with repentance.'" In other words, it had to be more than show. It had to be real.

What fruit of repentance was John the Baptist looking for? What fruit of repentance is God looking for from us? There are many, but I can think of a few right off the bat...

· Humility. God saves those who are of a humble and contrite heart. The proud he turns away.

· Honesty. If we aren't willing to own up to our mistakes, he can't wash them away. But - and this is the good news - if we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins!

· Mercy. The Bible is plain: Blessed are the merciful for they shall obtain mercy. If you don't forgive your brother's sin, God won't forgive yours.

God gives us opportunity to turn our lives around. Are we bearing the fruit of repentance?

Prayer: Lord, help me to bear the fruit of repentance. It is only by grace that I am saved, but I am not truly saved unless my heart has so thoroughly changed that this fruit can grow in it. Help me, O Lord, to bear this fruit. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: Psalm 88.1-5

1 O Lord, God of my salvation, I cry out day and night before you. 2 Let my prayer come before you; incline your ear to my cry!

3 For my soul is full of troubles, and my life draws near to Sheol. 4 I am counted among those who go down to the pit; I am a man who has no strength, 5 like one set loose among the dead, like the slain that lie in the grave, like those whom you remember no more, for they are cut off from your hand.

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