Our scripture this week is Matthew 3:1-12.

“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 3:11-12

John gets to the heart of his ministry, telling the people about Jesus with a description of how the Lord will separate the wheat from the chaff. Jesus uses analogies like this when He teaches saying “All the nations will be gathered before him, and he will separate the people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats” (Matthew 25:32). While we can’t work our way into Heaven, we are told that there are expectations and responsibilities we must cary out in order to enter the kingdom.

The other part of John’s statement indicates the hope we have in Christ when we accept Him into our lives – “He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire” (verse 11). While this sounds a little ominous, we know that the fire of the Holy Spirit comes to purify, enlighten and energize us, not to punish. His presence with us through the Holy Spirit encourages us to live according to His teaching.

John called the people of his time to repent and live renewed lives through Jesus who came to save us all. We must make our hearts and minds ready to receive Him. As we continue our Advent journey to celebrate His coming among us, may we feel the light and warmth of His love to share with the world.

Gracious God, in Your love and wisdom You sent Jesus to be with us and teach us. May we accept this wonderful gift and be changed by it, ready to go into the world to spread the Good News. Amen.

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