Pastor Joynt's Devotionals

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Real, Day 2

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MATTHEW 3:3 | This is the one of whom the prophet Isaiah spoke when he said, “The voice of one crying out in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.’”

The prophetic leaders in Israel’s history worked outside and within the structures of politics and faith. Their authority to “speak the word of the Lord” was established by the tangible results of their oracles—were they truly discerning about how God was at work? And they also appealed directly to the moral institution and spiritual instinct of their audiences; were their words inspired and inspiring? Matthew quotes Isaiah 40:3 and ties John’s work into the expectations Israel had learned from its prophets. There would be, before the Messiah, a penultimate figure, a man before the final man. Malachi said it would be a figure like Elijah in his fourth chapter. Isaiah described a prophet that would herald God’s dramatic intervention in history to judge and put right. John may have had little institutional validation, but he was named by the prophets as the precursor of the anointed one!

How can you tell someone has a calling from God?

Why do ministers and spiritual leaders seek institutional validation?

Is it important?

 

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in REAL

Real, Day 1

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MATTHEW 3:1-2 | In those days John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness of Judea, proclaiming, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.”

Location! Location! Location! That is the mantra of the real estate business. John the Baptist appeared “in the wilderness.” His location matched his message, for he asked Jews to “repent,” and he baptized them.

Baptism was never used by Israelites; it was instead a way of Gentiles becoming Jews. John put Jewish people into the position of non-Jews. This would never have been possible in Jerusalem, where religious authority was vested in the hands of legal experts and priests. They could not countenance such a move, for it challenged the necessity and importance of the established institutional rites and rituals as sufficient and adequate ways of following God. In the wilderness, there was no temple and no sacrifices. Institutional religion, of any type, was an implicit danger—it can become a matter of form without substance. Ritual can be ritualism. Outer conformity to rules and practices can exist alongside inner emptiness or hypocrisy.

Are you naturally comfortable with institutions or skeptical?

How did the religious establishment react to John?

 

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