Tuesday, December 6, 2016
Tuesday December 6, 2016 Turn!
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. “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire. --Matthew 3:10-12 NIV
The ax at the root of the tree and the chaff on the barn floor burned with unquenchable fire. Two very stark images. Anyone who has ever thrown dry leaves or pine needles on a fire knows what happens. Having seen the recent footage of wild fires in our own country we can easily imagine what would happen when the dry chaff on that barn floor comes in contact with that unquenchable fire. Similarly the ax at the root of the tree implies it's complete destruction. Both of these images show us what needs to happen with our sin. Ambrose, he fourth century theologian, describes it this way: One does not repent by trimming leaves one at a time, or even by cutting off an entire branch. The whole life of sin must go, must be renounced altogether, and definitely (Ambrose, On the Mysteries 1–3). Hence the need for a complete turn away from that which separates us from God. We long for a world where all is just and fair, where righteousness prevails. Such a world cannot exist unless individuals are just and fair and righteous. That is where we come in. We are responsible for our corner of this world. Dealing with our own sin can only happen as described by the writers above: completely and utterly. But how can we ever eradicate what is our very nature? Even the Apostle Paul tells of himself: I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. Romans 7:15 Surely we are no different. In our own power we never cannot turn away. But we know that as true believers, that same Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in us(Romans 8:11). Today's scripture tells us that sin consuming fire burns in us. THAT is power to change. That is power to turn right round.
Almighty and omnipotent God, we are amazed and so grateful that you choose to dwell in us by your Holy Spirit. Reveal to us we pray, all that is not pleasing to You within each one of us, and give us the desire to turn away from it . Empower us, O God to do just that, so that we might be clear channels for Your great love in this time and place. We love You Lord and we ask all this in Jesus' powerful name. AMEN!