“The Wednesday Word” Devotional & Podcast
We thought it would be a great idea to have a mid-week recap & refresh of Pastor David’s Sunday sermon. Let’s make sure that we are learning all we can from them!
Pastor David’s Wednesday devotional will be related to the Sunday sermon in some way. It could be an expansion on a theme, a different twist, or some kind of content related to Sunday’s sermon. Various staff members and parishioners will gather to discuss the devotional and how it relates to our lives and maybe give some practical application of the word.
You can listen to the audio version in your car, while doing housework, during your workout, or whenever is most convenient for you. We want you to be able to access it at any time that is the right time for you to have a few minutes to read and reflect on it.
Pastor David’s devotional for December 15, 2021
Luke 3: 7-11
7 John said to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 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. 9 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.”10 “What should we do then?” the crowd asked. 11 John answered, “Anyone who has two shirts should share with the one who has none, and anyone who has food should do the same.”
This is the third week of the Advent season, a time of preparing for the great Christmas celebration. During week one, the theme of Advent is hope, during week two the theme is peace, and during week three—this week—the theme is Joy. It is interesting that during the week of Advent when we focus on Joy, the scripture reading for the week is on John the Baptist. I don’t usually describe his sermons as Joyful: “You brood of vipers!” he would say. Yet there is an important connection between his message and the experience of Joy.
To understand the connection, we need to talk for a moment about John’s message. We can summarize his message in one word: Repent. Of course, the need to repent suggests that there is something about our lives that needs to change. And the work we use to talk about what needs to change is “sin.” How would you define sin? How would you describe sin?
In the time of Jesus, the word sin was an archer’s term that literally meant “to miss the mark.” Picture an archer shooting an arrow toward a target, but veering off—it misses the target, misses the mark. When it comes to our lives, sin has to do with us veering off the path of God. So, we think of times when we have not been particularly loving, and we begin to be able to describe what sin looks like. Of course, sin is personal in that for each of us, the ways we miss the mark can vary. And, how far we are from the target can vary as well. In my experience (and maybe you have experienced this in your own life) one sin leads to another, and over time we can find ourselves further and further away from the target!
Using another analogy to talk about sin, John preached to people who had wandered far from the path of God. He made certain to get their attention with his strong and at times harsh language. But the purpose was to help people recognize that it was not too late to make a change and to get back on the path of righteousness. His message was simple: “Repent.”
What does the word “Repent” mean to you? Is repentance and easy or difficult thing to do?
People who heard John preach asked “What should we do then?” They were asking what repentance looks like. John’s answer was simple: stop doing things that hurt others and start doing things that help others. In other words, to repent is more than just saying to God “I am sorry for what I have done.” It is to stop doing the things for which we have reason to be sorry, and to start doing things that are in keeping with the will of God. If the focus of your life has been on taking care of yourself at the expense of the needs of others, it is time to change focus and give some of what you have to help others. If you have been taking advantage of others, its time to start finding ways to bless others. John calls these changes “the fruit of repentance.” Generally thinking, describe some “fruit of repentance.” What changes would we see in people’s behavior?
Repentance means to change the direction of our lives, and true repentance shows itself in real changes in how we are living—changes others can see and experience. Thinking about your own life, what are some changes others can see in the way your live your life (you don’t have to confess your sins to answer the question—just describe some ways you try to live now that are in keeping with living faithfully).
Back to where we began. This is the third week of Advent, and we light the candle of joy. Thinking about John the Baptist message, why is Joy the theme? What is the relationship between repentance and joy?
It is easy to think that the focus of repentance is on all that is wrong with our lives. We have probably all heard sermons like that. But that is not quite accurate. The doctrine of sin focuses upon all that is wrong with our lives. Repentance focuses upon good news—it is not too late to change! The invitation to repent gives witness not just to our need, but also to the mercy and grace of God who wants to help us live more fully, with more joy and more peace and more hope. I like that. How about you?
God bless you,
Podcast & Sermon Video Links
“The Joy of Home” Sermon Video