Daily Devotional–Thursday, April 29, 2021
“Prove by the way you live that you have repented of your sins and turned to God. Don’t just say to each other, ‘We’re safe, for we are descendants of Abraham.’ That means nothing, for I tell you, God can create children of Abraham from these very stones. Even now the ax of God’s judgment is poised, ready to sever the roots of the trees. Yes, every tree that does not produce good fruit will be chopped down and thrown into the fire.” (Matthew 3:8-10, NLT)
John the Baptist challenged the religious leaders to ‘prove’ their repentance. Just saying that they were ‘God’s chosen people’ through Abraham was meaningless unless their actions matched their words. John’s message sounds very similar to one given by Isaiah the prophet. The people continued to go to the Temple daily, they prayed, they were making sacrifices, they fasted, they dressed in burlap as a sign of repentance, they appeared to be a nation that desired a relationship with God or in Isaiah’s words, ‘They act like a righteous nation that would never abandon the laws of its God.’ But Isaiah tells them that is exactly the problem—it’s all an act! They are going through the motion of religious observances in an attempt to gain God’s favour, all the while ignoring God’s priorities for his people. God, through the prophet Isaiah, says “Enough!”
“Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help” (Isaiah 58:5b-7). Isaiah and John, though living hundreds of years apart, demonstrate that God has not changed his requirements for his chosen people. Even today, the prophets’ words still apply! Two millennium after John made his declaration, the ax is still poised. God is still looking for his chosen people to be living lives of his acceptable fast, demonstrating true repentance and not settling for putting on a good show—attending worship, praying, fasting or any of the plethora of other means we use to try to give the outward pretense that we are living in obedience to God, all the while hiding the true condition of our hearts.
God has told us what his requirements are through the prophet Micah, “The LORD has told you what is good, and this is what he requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Micah 6:8). Let’s recommit to being ‘trees that produce good fruit.’
~ Pastor Jane
First licensed for pastoral ministry in 1994, Pastor Jane Peck has served in camp and church ministries in three denominations, five provinces and in a variety of roles. Her most recent position is that of Pastor at Hope Chapel which she began in 2020. She is excited to see what God can and will do in the days to come!