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Daily Reading: Matthew 3

Scripture Focus: In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” ... And they were baptized by him in the river Jordan, confessing their sins. (Matthew 3.1-2, 6)

Devotional Thought: Have we lost something in our modern quest for tolerance and inclusion? I sometimes wonder where The Great Social Experiment of the 21st century will lead us. Instead of evaluating our lives based on the combined wisdom of our heritage and history, we now expect society to accept and accommodate our lifestyle choices - no matter what they may be. In the modern mind, there certainly is no room for an outmoded concept such as repentance.

John the Baptist was not a modern mind. He didn't have time for political correctness and safe spaces. He certainly didn't feel obliged to give any trigger warnings. His message was abrupt. It was simple. Repent!

John - along with Jesus after him - recognized that what ails humanity is the one thing we don't want to confront: Sin. The truth is, not all choices are equal. Not all decisions are right. Not all roads lead to heaven. The solution for sin is not accommodation. It is repentance.

John did not attack the sinner (except the religious hypocrites); he attacked the sin. And though his message was harsh, his arms were open wide. God will accept any person who repents. But there is no grace available for the person who will not acknowledge and turn from their sin.

When the people heard John's message, they confessed their sins and were baptized. In other words, they repented. It was not easy to do, but they knew it was the only real solution to their brokenness. People are not really that much different today, are they? We are still broken, and we still try every other solution to our sin problem. But there is only one that really works. It is simple, yet not easy: Repent.

Prayer: Lord, help me not to hide from the truth. If my actions or my attitudes are sinful, then help me to see it and to repent. Give me life and freedom in Jesus' name. Amen.

Psalm of the Day: 1 O God, the nations have come into your inheritance; they have defiled your holy temple; they have laid Jerusalem in ruins. 2 They have given the bodies of your servants to the birds of the heavens for food, the flesh of your faithful to the beasts of the earth. 3 They have poured out their blood like water all around Jerusalem, and there was no one to bury them. 4 We have become a taunt to our neighbors, mocked and derided by those around us. 5 How long, O LORD? Will you be angry forever? Will your jealousy burn like fire? 6 Pour out your anger on the nations that do not know you, and on the kingdoms that do not call upon your name! 7 For they have devoured Jacob and laid waste his habitation. (Psalms 79:1-7)

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