Johnny Be Good
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Lesson Two: Ministry
Carole Combs | Wife of Pastor Jim

          

If I ran into you and told you that I had some good news to share with you, would the words "good news" peak your interest? Most people like to hear good news. They like to hear the news that has benefited others and of course, news that will benefit them.  What if the supposed good news I shared with you was not good news to your ears at all? What if it even made you angry?  The Bible tells us that John the Baptist preached the Good News to the people.

What was the Good News? Do you think John's message was warmly welcomed by all who heard it?

 

Do you like to hear good news? How much more do you like to hear it when it pertains to something good happening to you?

 

No matter how it was received, John obeyed the call of God on his life to spread the news of repentance. He would be the voice to bear witness and point people to Christ. Everywhere John the Baptist went, his message was met with opposition. Certainly, one would think, why would anyone oppose good news?  However, no matter the difficulty or opposition to the ministry that God had called John the Baptist to, he accomplished it.

How do you feel when something you share with others is not well received?

 

What are you first thoughts or actions when someone is in opposition to you?

 

What has God called you to do for Him? Have you obeyed Him yet?

 

John was living in the wilderness region of Judea. It is likely that he may have been attending sheep because this region was a good place to pasture sheep. His occupation would quickly change when God called him to speak on behalf of the coming Messiah. I know we do not have much of John's life recorded in the Bible before his call from God. Let us imagine for a bit. John the Baptist is comfortable in his sheep business. He can make a comfortable home and have a comfortable lifestyle. Then God calls him to a ministry, and his world is turned upside down. He then has a choice. Do I obey what God has asked me to do? Who is going to take care of my sheep? My business? My home? Should I pretend that God was not talking to me? Or maybe I will obey when it is a more convenient time for me?

We know from God's Word that John immediately obeyed the call from God. His comfortable life would become uncomfortable. It is interesting that in more than one Gospel the writers describe the clothing that John the Baptist wore. I believe this description is important even today for believers. John was the spreader of the Good News; surely he must have worn a three-piece suit with a tie or what about a long white ornate robe? That is what the ministers of the Gospel are supposed to wear, right? John the Baptist wore a garment of camel hair with a black belt cinched around his waist. God knew then and that for centuries people would dictate what the proper "outfit" would be the one that spreads the Gospel. God cared more about John's obedience and willingness to be a servant than what he was wearing. It is the inside that matters, not the outside.

Do you think Christians should wear special clothing to signify they are followers of Christ? Why do you think God described John's clothing in the Gospels?

 

What are some of the difficulties that you face when your lifestyle looks like Jesus?

 

John the Baptist's ministry was to be the voice of the coming Messiah. He would preach repentance because the Kingdom of Heaven was at hand. To be a witness one would have to have seen an event and John would bear witness about the light. In the Gospel of John, John writes that John the Baptist was instructed by the one who sent him. We know God sent him because it was God's plan of redemption. But who instructed John the Baptist? Could it be the same angel of the Lord that spoke and taught his father (Zechariah) and his mother (Elizabeth) about the birth and life of their son (John)? You may wish that you had your personal angel who would come and visit you with instructions. You must remember what God has given to us today. We have the very presence of God living in believers, the Holy Spirit. We also have the very written Word of God, the Bible. We do not have to wander aimlessly wondering what God's ministry is for our lives. We learn that John the Baptist was instructed, but we are instructed as well. Read the Word of God, obey the Spirit of God, and He will direct you to His plan and His work for your life.

John the Baptist pointed anyone who would listen to his message of repentance. Many received his message and were baptized. There were those opposed to his message. I guess it was time to pack up and go back home to the sheep. Not John, he rebuked those that tried to drown out the message. He called them out for being a stumbling block to those that wanted to receive the message. The ministry that you are involved in may not be bringing the accolades that you thought it would bring. Take a moment and remember for whom you are doing it. Are you doing it for the furtherance of the Gospel? Is it to bear witness of what you have already seen Christ do in your life?

Do you look for accolades when you do good things? Why?

 

John the Baptist's ministry landed him in prison. John did not commit any crime. It was the guilty hearts of sin that wanted to lock up the message of repentance hoping it could be locked away. It will never go away, nor can it ever be locked up. No matter what any government official or law might say, the Gospel is free to all who will believe.

People wanted to know who John the Baptist was. His identity was mistaken to be the Messiah, Elijah, and even a prophet. This was a perfect opportunity for John to exalt himself, on the contrary, John the Baptist humbly said that he was not even worthy to untie the sandal of the one who was coming. He just wanted to be the vessel for the truth. Today we have "ministers of the Gospel" that have quit pointing others to Christ and are pointing people to themselves. I want my life to reflect Christ so much that my identity can be mistaken for His. I want to humbly say, " I am not the Christ, but it is the Christ who saved me and lives in me, and I am not even worthy to untie His sandal."

Would your identity be mistaken for Christ? If not, why not?

 

What was John the Baptist's message that was so controversial? It is the same message of hope today that has many people still trying to lock it up and discard it out of their lives and out of this world today. His message was repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand. Repent from what? Repent means to express sincere regret or remorse about one's wrongdoing or sin. Repent from a heart of sin. Confess your sins and be baptized in the river Jordan. Romans 3:23 reads that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The religious crowd came to John the Baptist proclaiming that they knew God because their fathers knew God. It was not being religious that settles your sin debt to God. It is not speaking or dressing good, or grandma’s religion that makes you right with God. Any righteousness you or I might have can never make us right before a holy God. There must be a payment for the sin. John the Baptist's Good News is the same Good News for you and me today. John was preaching that Christ was coming. He was the Lamb of God who would pay that penalty of sin for the world, for you and me. John was baptizing with water, but Jesus was coming to baptize with the Holy Spirit. The people had the choice when they heard John the Baptist's message of repentance. Have you found the Messiah? You have the same choice today. Will you repent of your sins and trust that Christ came to earth as the Son of God?  Would you trust that He was the perfect sacrificial lamb that would settle the sin debt for all mankind? Ask Him to come into your life and be your Lord and Savior. Is this message Good News to you or not?

Have you personally repented of your sins and trusted God's redemptive plan through His son Jesus? If not, why? If so, write out how you know that you have.

 

John the Baptist chose to obey God's call to the ministry God had prepared for him. It allowed him to see Jesus! What are you missing out on that God has been speaking to you? What is stopping you? Tragically, John the Baptist's life and ministry ended while he was in prison. I can just hear the Father's voice welcoming John to Heaven, “Thank you, John, for your uncompromising obedience to my call upon your life!"

For God so loved the world that He gave...what are you willing to give for what God gave to you? Do you want to see Jesus?

 

John the Baptist was given instructions by God for the ministry. We have the Bible and the Holy Spirit to lead and teach us. What is your plan to be instructed and follow through with them?



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