(Translated version, original article written in Chinese by Pastor Mickey Hsiao)
By singing praises and hymns, awake your soul, open your heart to the Lord, and prepare yourself to welcome the presence of God and receive the Word of God that will be given to you.
Petition with thanksgiving to God for a wonderful day and pray sincerely for a focused Scripture reading time! (Do not rush into reading the Bible without starting with prayers!) (e.g., you may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what will you be speaking to me today?)
Get the following items ready in advance: your devotional notebook, paper, pen, and/or electronic devotional articles so that you can easily write down the Bible verses, questions, and thoughts you have noticed! You are encouraged to open your Bible and vocally read out the scriptures (Try to practice this reading method daily or once a week)!
Scripture Reading: Matthew Ch. 3 (ESV)
Take a moment to quietly reflect on today’s Scriptures. Through such exercises, let God’s Word be gradually written into our hearts and be inscribed to our mind.
Read the devotional articles prepared by CBCLWA (*Read the Bible first before reading any devotional materials.)
(Mt. 3:1-17) John the Baptist came preaching and calling for repentance in the wilderness of Judea. John’s role was to prepare the way of the Lord and his life fulfilled what had been spoken by the prophet Isaiah:
“A voice cries: In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.” (Isa. 40:3)
According to the Scripture in Luke Chapter 1, it is known that John’s mother Elizabeth was a relative of Mary, Jesus’ mother. When Elizabeth was six months pregnant with John, Mary was pregnant with Jesus through the Holy Spirit. At that time, Mary hurried to greet Elizabeth.
John’s ministry was to make ready for the Lord by calling people to repent and to receive the divine salvation through Jesus Christ. John’s message was direct, with no hesitation nor any interest to please the hypocrites. He told the people to “Bear fruit in keeping with repentance” (Mt. 3:8) – which is beyond just words of repentance from their lips.
While recognizing the essential role of John, let’s also take note of how John witnessed Jesus:
“I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier 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 and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mt. 3:11-12)
And herein are John’s responses when he met Jesus:
Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, “I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me? But Jesus answered him, “Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he consented. (Mt. 3:13-15)
Let us imagine the life of John the Baptist – who knew God’s authority and power, who knew Jesus’ salvation, who knew his own identify, who have willingly listened to and obeyed Jesus’ commands, knew what he was called to do, and fulfilled his responsibilities.
If you are serving in an important position, do you desire for recognition by others for you more or do you point people to Jesus more? Do you lead people to come to Jesus? Or do you just want to be recognized for your religious behaviors?
May the peaching of John the Baptist serve as a reminder for our life of ministry: “He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:30)
Give thanks to God for His enabling us to read the Scriptures and for our response for living out the Word of God today! (e.g., You may start with a simple prayer like this: “Dear Lord, what/where are you going to lead me to today?”)