What Is Your Purpose?

Our Purpose In Life Is To Glorify Jesus Using The Talents He Gave Us

Phil Shahbaz
Mar 5, 2023    47m
As Christians, when we repent and receive salvation, our purpose in life is to glorify Jesus using the talents and abilities He has given us. With salvation, we know that no matter what the enemy throws at us in our lives, we can turn it into an act of worship when we face it glorifying our King, Jesus. Video recorded at Upland, California.

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Life Bible - What Is Your Purpose?
Intro: [00:00:00] Hey there. Thanks so much for checking out one of our messages here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And we know there are two great ways you can connect with us. You can visit our website at LBF.church to learn more about all of our ministries and what we believe. And also, you can subscribe to us on YouTube to make sure that you don't miss one of our future videos.

Rich Shores: [00:00:19] Good morning, church family, I'm overwhelmed by the presence of Jesus today. So trying to hold it together right now, because this morning I have an encouragement for you. This morning as I was reading Scripture, just a few chapters after the text that we have today in Matthew 18, Jesus says, where 2 or 3 are gathered, I am in their midst. He's here with us right now, and that is amazing to me right now. So, thank you, Jesus, that you are here. My name is Rich Shores, and I'm trying to hold it together right now. And I'm involved with Frontsight ministry, and also, I am the co-lead for Go Team Baja. So if you got an email from me yesterday and you've never seen my face, that's me. But anyway, so looking forward to our departure over Memorial Day weekend. If you have never been part of a go team, this is a great one to be part of, you get to experience a mission trip and it's just over the course of a weekend. But we do an amazing thing by building houses for people who live under a tarp or in a cardboard box. And it is just transformational when you hand over those keys to that family and they weep because they have a house to live in now.

Rich Shores: [00:01:53] Let me read today's text. We're going to be hearing from the Book of Matthew chapter 3, verses 1 through 12, "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ ” 4John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The 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. 11“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 c the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His 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.” This is the word of God.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:03:55] Rich, thank you so much, my friend. Thank you for sharing your heart with us. Love your brother. And thank you to the worship team for blessing us this morning. Good morning, everybody, my name is Phil and I'm one of the pastors here at Life Bible Fellowship Church. And today we are in fact, in the Book of Matthew chapter 3, verses 1 through 12. This is our introduction, in Matthew's gospel, to the cousin of Jesus, John the Baptist. Now, for many of us, just hearing John the Baptist's name, it hits our imaginations in different ways. Now, for some of us, certainly, for me, I get flashbacks to the Flannel board on Sunday mornings when we were kids, and the Sunday school teacher would put this generic man with no clothes and big eyes on the felt. And she'd be like, and what kind of clothes did he wear kids? And what did he eat kids? And we'd be like, he wore camel's hair, and he ate grasshoppers. And she put the camel's hair on him, and there were never any, like, small flannel grasshoppers, she'd always put this big, huge dinosaur-sized locust right next to him, it was freaky.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:04:59] Now, for some of you, when you think of John the Baptist, you think of Charlton Heston, 1965. Does anybody remember the movie? The Greatest Story Ever Told? I remember seeing this one when I was a kid, that was an angry John the Baptist, just Charlton Heston screaming repent for two hours and yelling at Herod. There's been a lot of portraits of John the Baptist over the years, and up until recently, they've been pretty wild. And there's a reason behind that, his portrayal in Scripture leaves a lot of room for the imagination. I mean, even his death, beheaded in prison at the request of the daughter of Herodias who pleased Herod so much with her dancing, that he promised to give her whatever she asked, it's wild. And we'll get to that in Matthew chapter 14, but it does feel like something out of a movie or more accurately, something out of the Old Testament.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:05:49] Now, there is going to be sort of a long introduction, so hang in there with me as we get started. But the thing is here is that Matthew, as he writes his gospel, is very, very hesitant to depart from the story of Jesus. As Jesus's ministry gets started, nearly every section of Matthew's gospel starts with, and then Jesus got into the boat; as Jesus was walking; when Jesus heard; what Jesus saw, when Jesus entered the house, you get it right, Matthew is focused on the specific details of Jesus's words and ministry and only departs a handful of times to talk about something else related to Jesus. Two of those times, they happened back to back later in the gospel. When Matthew describes Simon Peter disowning Jesus three times before the rooster crowed. And then right after that, right after that, Matthew uses ten verses to describe the betrayal and the death of the disciple Judas.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:06:46] And then right here in chapter 3, he departs briefly for 12 verses to introduce us to John the Baptist, and then later in chapter 14, he gives us John the Baptist's conclusion. Now, church, think of it, if Matthew, who wrote 28 long, dense, detailed chapters on the life of Jesus, took the time out to tell us about John the Baptist, he had to be more than just a crazy guy eating bugs in the wilderness. The story of John the Baptist had to carry profound weight, and it does.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:07:21] So I feel like we have to start here. The story of John the Baptist, it begins as a story about purpose. Even before we get to today's passage, I want to give you two themes today, and purpose is the first theme we need to tackle to do right by this passage. Now, have you ever had anyone ask you what's your purpose in life? It's a hard question to answer. Have you ever asked someone, what's your purpose in life now? Parents, I'll bet you have asked that question. You've walked into your son's room, it's covered in laundry, dirty laundry, and Twizzlers wrappers and sort of smells like a combination of a fish market and feet. He's on his fourth hour of League of Legends, and you're like, what is your purpose in life? Is it to drive me crazy? Never mind what you're going to do for a living, son, how are you going to survive someday? Or your daughter, she walks in an hour past curfew with no call or no text, and you're like, is your purpose in life to stress me out? Is it to send me to an early grave? There's another side of that coin, too, you send your son out to mow the lawn and he's like, I'm on it, Dad. A half hour goes by, and you don't hear the lawn mower anymore, so you go out to check on him, you look around, you can't see him, you look up and he's climbed a tree and he's like, Dad, look what I can do. And you're like, where did I go wrong? What's my purpose in life? Because clearly, I'm failing. And then that same son says, Dad, I don't like the Dodgers, I'm an Angels fan. And you're like, oh, it's over, it's over. I had to add this. I had to.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:09:04] Now look in a moment of transparency, I want to introduce you to a member of the Shahbaz family that is having a desperate struggle with his purpose, this may seem awkward, but hang in there with me for a second here. This is Mac, do not be fooled, do not be fooled. I know, I know, he seems cute. He's not. See, it's working already. Holy Spirit, please help us. I'm pretty sure he's evil. I'm pretty sure, we were told he's some sort of beagle mix, but he sort of looks like a lion cub, but something went horribly wrong. He's oddly shaped, he's only 30 pounds, but he's sort of long, although he shouldn't be. And then his chest is sort of too big for his body, and he's got these stumpy legs with these big old feet. And he's not fat, but he's sort of mushy in a way, and you pick him up and somehow his head weighs more than his rear end, and you hold him, and he sort of feels like a bag of warm lasagna covered in hair. Honestly, several times a day, I'll look at this dog and I'll think, Lord, I know, I know, I know he's your creation, but is he, though? Church, this dog is a dog is struggling to find his purpose, he has no idea what he wants, he will look at you and he will whine. And I'll look at him and I'll go, I don't know what you want. I have nothing for you. I don't know what to do for you. He's petrified of other dogs; he won't associate with his own kind. The smallest noise from the door and he barks like crazy, and he runs to the door, and we're like, dude, there is no one there. And he'll be like, all tough, and trot off like he did something special. And I look and go, what are you what are you proud of? You did nothing. We had to change the trash cans out in our bathrooms to ones with covers because he'll steal stuff from them. And you'll see him across the house with, like, dirty Kleenex in his mouth or somebody's underwear. And he'll sit there looking at you like, yeah, what are you going to do about it, punk?

Phil Shahbaz: [00:11:03] I know this dog has some instinctual purpose, church, I know that he does. And it has to be one of two things. Number one, I'm pretty sure his goal is to remove me from the house, and then the kids don't know this yet, but then remove the kids so he can just have Amy all to himself, that's what he wants. And number two, he will eventually run away from everything because everything is a threat. There was this one time we let him off the leash at the beach up in Cayucas, you know, up north. And the kids were like, way up ahead and, church, I was blown away, this oddly shaped body can definitely do one thing, and that is run, fast. He flies like some sort of misshapen test car. I mean, it was unbelievable. Now, look, here's the thing, our family loves the dog. Yes, I love the dog, but I'm pretty sure if he does have an actual purpose, it's to protect himself, to manage his risk, and then just to see what he can get away with.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:12:04] All right, now listen closely, church. To protect himself, to manage his risk, and to see what he can get away with. Have you been there? Finding your purpose doesn't seem possible because your defenses are up. Life is just a game of trying not to get hurt or running away from pain or running away from challenges, because, you know, you just know the story ends in failure. So you stay hidden, if I can just stay quiet, no one will really know that on the inside, I'm an imposter. If I can just stay quiet, no one really know that I'm just faking it, that I'm just a fraud. And in the moments when folks aren't looking, I'm going to see what I can get away with, just to feel that, just to feel that tiny bit alive, because the only other option is to feel numb. We feel like every day is the same, I'm just going through the motions, I go to my job, or I go to school, I get gas, I get groceries, I change the diapers, I watch 20 minutes of the Golden Girls and I fall asleep, and I just do it all over again. Right? Life is just Groundhog's Day, and you feel like you've lost any sense of purpose. Or you question your purpose in life because life just isn't working out the way you'd hoped. Maybe some bad decision in your past has thrown your life into chaos, or the bad decisions of others in the way they've hurt you have thrown your life into chaos, and you're exhausted and you're thinking, Phil, just never mind purpose, I'm just trying to do what I need to do to survive by protecting myself, playing defense, and seeing what I can get away with.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:13:50] You know, we talk a lot about here in church, a lot about how Satan will use sin to separate you from God, and we should talk about that because he does. But, church, do not underestimate the enemy's ability to make you feel like you do not have value, that you do not have a purpose in life, that there is no God watching out for you, and that you are alone, and that ultimately life is meaningless. Listen, church, the enemy wants you to look in the mirror and hate what you see staring back. Because if he can do that, he can not only separate you from God, he can make you angry at him. If that's where you're at today, you need to know right now that is a lie from the enemy. Your God knows exactly who you are, he created you in an act of love.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:14:46] Here's Psalm 139, "You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. 2You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4Before a word is on my tongue you, Lord, know it completely. 5You hem me in behind and before, and you lay your hand upon me. For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb...14I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. 15My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. 16Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."

Phil Shahbaz: [00:15:37] Oh, church, look at the language to describe you and me in this psalm. God knows you, he is familiar with your ways, he knit you together in your mother's womb, there is no assembly line here. Those of you who knit know the time and the care and the precision it takes to knit something, you are both fearfully and wonderfully made, and God's works are wonderful, and you are one of those works. Amen. And the Apostle Paul knew this well. And Dan, if you're thinking, is Phil about to do the Ephesians thing? Yes, I'm about to do the Ephesians thing. Ephesians 2:10, "For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do." Paul is reaching back into Psalm 139 and reminding you and I that we are his craftsmanship, his handiwork, that he made you intelligently in an act of love. And because of his son Jesus and his sacrifice, you can do good works with your life, and by the way, they're prepared in advance. Church, God has given you unique talents and abilities and they are totally unique to you. And with those talents and abilities, you can not only do good works, you can not only succeed, you can live an extraordinary life, you can fulfill a profound purpose that no one else can and as a result, stop living on the defense and make your life an act of worship.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:17:09] And this is where, young folks, young folks, if you're in school right now, you know what that means, the act of worship thing means? When you study math, you study physics, chemistry, anatomy, writing, communication, art, whatever it is you're studying, you're learning about all the different languages God has made to describe, understand, and celebrate his creation. So that means that when you give your best effort to learn about his creation, it's an act of worship. Yeah, doing your homework can be an act of worship. Parents, I accept Zelle, Venmo, whatever. But adults as well, when you use your strengths and talents to be the best accountant you can be, or teacher, or contractor, or social worker, or mom, or dad, or grandma, or grandpa, it can also be an act of worship because you are glorifying God through the talents and abilities he gave you that will allow you to accomplish some important purpose in your life.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:18:12] And here, here is where we get back to John the Baptist. What would his act of worship be? What would his purpose be? In John the Baptist, God would send Israel their first prophet in over 400 years with one purpose in mind, to prepare the way for the Messiah. To prepare the way for the Messiah, that's his mission statement right there. From Luke chapter 1, we learn about John's parents, Zechariah, and Elizabeth. They're both well along in years, they're older. And when they were younger, Elizabeth was barren and unable to have children. Zacharia's at the temple and the angel Gabriel appears to him and says, Zechariah, your wife is pregnant, you're going to have a boy, and you're going to name him John. And his purpose, his mission statement, will be to prepare the way for the Lord. And Zechariah, we fast forward to John's birth, and the first thing Zechariah does is he praises God in a section of scripture Luke calls Zechariah's song. We're not going to read the whole entire song, but in Luke 1:76-78, "And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78because of the tender mercy of our God, by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven." Again, here at John's birth, we hear his father declare his mission statement, to prepare the way for the Lord. And then he also tells us how he's going to do it, by helping the nation of Israel understand that real salvation, the real salvation they are waiting for, is going to come through the forgiveness of their sins by a merciful God, that real salvation comes through repentance.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:20:03] Repentance, that's our second theme. First is purpose, and second is repentance, and it's unavoidable as Matthew rolls out his first section of scripture. Matthew 3:1-3, "In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the wilderness of Judea 2and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near.” 3This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’” Now, a couple of important things here, church, number one, repent for the kingdom of heaven is near. Repent, now, many of us often think of repentance as sort of feeling sorry for the bad things we've done. Specifically feeling sorry for my sins, Lord, I'm sorry that I cursed, I'm sorry that I lied, I'm sorry I wasn't nice to my sister, we all get it. and it's a good thing to feel sorry when we've sinned. But, church, feeling sorry, is not what repent means. Repent, it's an action word, not a feeling word. The Hebrew word for repentance is teshuvah, it comes from the verb to return. Teshuva, repentance, it's a decision to turn away from where you are headed and move back to God. By saying repent, John is telling them not to just feel sorry for their sins, he's telling them to make a change of mind that leads to action, turning around, and heading back to God.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:21:32] And, church, repent in many ways is the first word of the Gospel. Matthew chapter 4, when Jesus's ministry starts, the first word of Jesus's ministry in Galilee is repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is near. Matthew chapter 6 and Mark chapter 6, Jesus sends out the disciples two by two, he says, they went out and preached that people should repent. Luke chapter 24, Jesus rose from the dead, he appears to the disciples, and the first thing he says, he says, to preach repentance and forgiveness to all nations. Acts chapter 2, Peter preaches for the first time on the day of Pentecost, and he says, repent and be baptized, all of you. And it's the same thing for Paul in Acts 26.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:22:06] Church, it is the first word, and it's also not something we have to do before we come to God. You can't come to God unless you repent, no, that's inaccurate, repentance is turning around, remember? Repentance, church, describes what coming to God is like. It's a change of how we think and act, leaving our past life in the rearview mirror. And why do we need to repent? John says, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. He's saying God's kingdom is near, it's not far off in the distance, it's not a dream, it's right around the corner. He's saying it's time to get ready now. and this is very important, church, John is preaching that repentance is the response to the news that the Messiah is coming, that the King is coming.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:23:00] In verse 3, Matthew refers to the prophet Isaiah and he quotes from Isaiah chapter 40. Now he abbreviates this passage, but I want to give you the whole thing. This is also written in Luke chapter 1, Isaiah 40:3-5 “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. 5Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. 6And all people will see God’s salvation." See, church, back then you didn't have paved roads, you didn't have the equipment, you didn't have a bunch of engineers, and a bunch of money to make those roads like we do today. Back then, roads were just hard-baked ground wagons, animals, and people walking. If there was a ditch, you had to get through the ditch. If there's a hill, you had to get over the hill. People didn't build roads unless the king was coming. In ancient times you didn't have paved roads unless you were king, so when the king was coming, he is going to go out on a journey, he'd send out his heralds and his engineers out into the towns where the king was going to go, and they'd say, tell the folks, hey, what an honor it would be to build the king's road or to prepare the king's highway. You've got to move those boulders, you've got to fill in those ditches, you've got to create a straight path, a smooth path, because the king is coming. But John, he's not talking about Solomon, he's not talking about David, he's saying for this King, the mountains have to come down, and for this King, the valleys got to get filled in because the ultimate King is coming. John is saying if you want to receive Jesus into your life, church, you've got to treat him as King. He's not just someone inspiring, he's not another new prophet, he is saying the King of Kings is coming.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:24:51] Let's move to verses 4 through 6, "John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River." So verse 4, he's clothed with camel's hair and a leather belt, and he ate locusts and honey. See, Matthew here is reminding us that John, in his personality and in his ministry, is patterned after that bold prophet Elijah. Second Kings, verse 1, what did Elijah do? "He fearlessly called Israel to repentance. And then here in verse 5," People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River."

Phil Shahbaz: [00:25:35] Now, church, you got to see this, try and see this from Israel's perspective at the time. Oh, finally, finally, God has sent us a new prophet, and his name is John the Baptizer, it even sounds good. Now, I don't understand why I've got to get baptized by him, I don't even know why I've got to get wet, but I'm in because we've got to go see him. So you might be thinking, well, Phil, isn't baptism a symbol of accepting Jesus into your life? Yeah. Yeah, it is today, but back then, church, the Jewish culture already had baptism as part of their culture. They knew about baptism because when a Gentile wanted to convert to Judaism, they had to be baptized because they'd been living an immoral life. Because when you're dirty, you're smelly, you have knowledge that you are unclean, you take a bath. But John, John is doing something radical and different here, for the very first time. John shows up and says, hey, the king is coming. We're all unclean. so for this baptism, everybody in the water. everybody gets in the water. And I'll get back to that one.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:26:41] Let's go to 7 through 10, "But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9And do not think you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10The 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." So the Pharisees and the Sadducees show up, and this is our intro in Matthew's gospel to these two important groups, both powerful, both different, both in conflict with one another, and together they represented the leadership of Judaism at the time. They believed that a person was made righteous by keeping the law, here's the laws, I do them. And they were also experts at being religious, Pharisees and Sadducees, oftentimes conducting their religious works in a very outwardly visible way, praying dramatically on the street corner, Et cetera. And John tells them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8Produce fruit in keeping with repentance."

Phil Shahbaz: [00:27:53] Ooh, he's getting cinematic now, he's picking a fight. Here's the thing, though. Here in Matthew John addresses the Pharisees and Sadducees directly, but in Luke chapter 3, it says that John addressed the crowds coming out to be baptized. He calls the crowd a brood of vipers. So is it the Pharisees or is it the crowds? Which one is it? Who is he talking to? Church, the best way to look at it is this, he's speaking to us. What he's doing here is he's accusing us of appearing anxious for the Messiah, but not really being interested in repenting or turning around or preparing our hearts, Preparing the road for the king. See in verse 7, when he says, you brood of vipers. John knows his scriptures; he knows in the beginning it was a snake that got us into trouble in the Garden of Eden. And the serpent in the Garden of Eden didn't say, Don't do what God says. The serpent said, you can't trust God to have your best interests at heart, you can't really rely on God. John is saying that deep, church, in our hearts is that lie of the Viper. We talked about this earlier, that lie of the enemy that God's not really looking out for you. So you've got to play defense, you've got to see what you can get away with and live life on your terms.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:29:11] See The Gospel of Luke describes some of the crowds that came out to see him. He describes them as the poor, tax collectors all lost everybody in the water. He will not be in your heart unless you bring the mountains down and prepare that road for the Messiah. And you know, again, they're running out to see him because they're thinking, Oh, we finally got a real prophet again. And they're thinking in their minds, the old order is going to be restored. Bring back the prophets, the priests, the kings. And John says, nope, not this time, he says none of us can flee from the coming wrath. He's saying judgment is coming with this King, and you can only be saved from it, and you can only be saved from it by the hands of another. See baptism back then used to be self-administered, if you were converting to Judaism, you just took a bath on your own. But now he's saying this time you can't do it on your own, you need help, and repentance is your call for help. In Hebrew, we talked about how the meaning of the word in Hebrew means to return, but in Greek, it's the word metanoia, it's a change of heart, church, it's a fundamental transformation to turn from my old life completely transformed.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:30:44] John actually breaks it down in verse 10, he says, "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." Church, he's saying that repentance is like pulling that tree from its root. He's saying that action to transform, is your signal that you need the King. And if you do, you're going to act differently because you recognize you're in the presence of the King.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:31:14] You know, in Luke, the crowds actually asked what am I supposed to do here so that my tree produces fruit and doesn't get thrown into the fire? And he tells them exactly, church, what the good fruits are. This is real important for us right now, church. John tells them, hey, if you have two tunics, share one with somebody. If somebody doesn't have any food, give them food. If you collect taxes, don't collect more than required. If you're a soldier, he says, don't extort money or accuse people falsely to be content with what you're getting paid. Church, he's telling them to be honest and to be generous. And again, Dan, if you're thinking, is Phil taking us back to the Justice and Mercy Series here? Yes, I am. We talked about how we often misinterpret righteousness as our own private holiness. I pray every day, I read my Bible every day, and I wear pleated pants to church every day. But in Hebrew, the word righteousness means that you have a right relationship with the people around you because you're changed by the presence of the King. It means that you're going to conduct yourself with fairness and generosity and an eye for righting the wrongs that we see.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:32:15] He reaches back into Isaiah 58, and he says, Loose the chains of injustice. Untie the cords of the yoke. Set the oppressed free. Share your food with the hungry and provide the poor wanderer with shelter. If you see somebody naked, give them clothes. Don't turn away from your own flesh and blood because they're all image bearers, we're all image bearers. John is saying, if you repent, if you turn around, if you have a change of heart and prepare the road for the King, church, he's saying there will be generosity where there was selfishness, honesty, where there was dishonesty, he's saying there'll be love and joy and peace and self-control and patience and humility where it was absent before. That's how the presence of the king will change you. And, you know, he knew he was a great prophet, he knew that he had the authority to speak in this way. Even Jesus in Matthew chapter 11 says, "No one born of a woman is greater than John the Baptist."

Phil Shahbaz: [00:33:15] But here in verses 11 and 12, he says, “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." See, back then, church, rabbis, had students and disciples just like Jesus did, the difference is, is that Jesus went for the fishermen and the tax collectors. But rabbis could command their students to do whatever they wanted; except they couldn't humiliate their students. And one of the things that they couldn't do was command their students to untie their sandals, not even slaves were commanded to untie sandals, and John is saying that King that's coming, he's not even worthy. John is saying, I'm the greatest person you have ever been around in your life, and I'm not even worthy to untie the sandals of this king because the King of Kings is coming, the Messiah is coming.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:34:11] In verses 11 and 12, The Messiah is coming with judgment. "He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 12His 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.” He is baptizing with the Holy Spirit and fire, church, he actually says fire twice and fire can both purify and destroy. That fire is meant to purify the pure but destroy the wicked. Like chaff, he's saying in verse 12, chaff is the worthless residue of the wheat stalk after the kernel of grain has been removed, you know the kernel of grain is really small, all that's left over is the chaff and it gets swept away. See, the Jewish leaders, they did think that the Messiah would come with judgment, but they thought that judgment was reserved for Israel's enemies. They're blinded by their self-righteousness, thinking that that judgment is only for other folks that needed to get right with God, not me, not us. And, church, if we're being honest, isn't that us sometimes? It's the other people that need to get right with God, it's not really me.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:35:25] And, church, here's where we begin to land the plane. Number one, you know, we started this morning talking about how Matthew is very hesitant to depart from the words and ministry of Jesus, and he only does it a handful of times, and one of those times is right here in chapter 3 to introduce us to John the Baptist. But if you remember throughout the series so far, Pastor Dan has reminded us repeatedly that the Gospel of Matthew has a very specific theme, and that theme is the Kingship of Jesus. See, he never, you get it, he never departs from his theme. In Matthew chapter 3, he only departs from the story of Jesus to give us profound evidence that Jesus is King.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:36:09] You know, this passage that we talked about earlier in Isaiah 40 that Matthew quotes, it comes with an amazing callback and an amazing promise. Because in the history of Israel, the people would be in trouble, so God would send a deliverer. He would send Moses, he sends Joshua, the prophets die, and they go back to their old ways. Then he sends the judges, they still don't change. Then he sends the Kings, Solomon, and David, they still go back to their old ways. Then God sends Isaiah, and Isaiah realizes the only way that people will ever be saved is when the one who is sending all the deliverers finally comes himself. When Isaiah says, "Prepare the way for the Lord." The translation for Lord is Yahweh, the covenant name, the name that was revealed to Moses in the bush. When God tells him, my name is Yahweh. Isaiah is saying the one that sent Moses, that same one, he's coming himself, and until he comes himself will things be put right. He's saying every other deliverance we have ever had has been superficial, it's been temporary, it's been external, follow the law to reach out to God. But now, now he's coming himself, the deliverance this time is going to be internal, it's going to be transformational, this time it's permanent.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:37:27] So Matthew is telling us that, according to the passage in Isaiah, if John the Baptist is the voice, Jesus Christ is Yahweh himself. He's not just a good man, he's not just a prophet, he is God and He is king. As a result, we've got to turn around, we've got to prepare our hearts, prepare the way for the King. And there's no way we can try and make him adapt to our old, dusty roads in our hearts, church, we need to be renewed and build a new road for the King.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:37:58] Here's a second question, what's your road look like today, church? Number two, is life just about survival right now? Is life just about just protecting myself, managing my risk, and seeing what I can get away with? The enemy has got you isolated, bored, scared, despondent, and angry. I want to tell you right now, church, you are in the presence of the King, right now, you are in the presence of the King. In Matthew 9, when John says, I tell you that out of these stones, God can raise up children for Abraham. Do you know what he's saying here? He's talking about you and me. He took us to not only turned us into his children, but if you put your hope in him, you cut that tree down at the root and let him be God, you can turn that defense into offense, offense, and live life to the fullest as he intended. Look, if I'm in the presence of the king, am I really going to be concerned or doubt his ability to change my heart, to work in my life, to allow me to do good works and ultimately live an extraordinary life? Church, our king is both rich and generous.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:39:17] You know, good Kings have to do all kinds of things you don't want to do. Abraham did not want to walk up the mountain with Isaac. Joseph didn't want to be exiled to Egypt. And Jesus did not want to endure the suffering of the cross, but he did, and redemption and glory are the results. You are the workmanship of the King, make him King. You know, if this is where you're at right now, what are you waiting for? Jesus is the only King that will satisfy you, and he's the only King that can take that hurt and that pain and put it permanently behind you, as far as the east is from the west, Scripture says.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:40:01] You know, a few weeks back, Pastor Dan reminded us that any loss that we suffer for Jesus is just a temporary loss. But I'm too scared to lose control, to give up control. What, to the king? To the King? See church, when we rely on God, we have to find the things that we are desperate for and hoping for right now, the things that bring us meaning and purpose, we have to take our faith and hope off of those things and give them to God. And instead of letting our friends and our culture and our desires, our fears call the shots for our life, we allow God to determine these choices for us because He is Lord and nothing else. Church, I'll tell you right now, the greatest threat in your life, the greatest threat in your life, is whatever is drawing your affections away from Jesus. And that will look different to all of us.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:40:57] And this repentance that we've been talking about, this turning around, this change of heart, it's not just about confessing all my sins and focusing on all the bad things that I've done, it's not just about that. It's not just about that, because, church, we all want to feel safe, we all want to feel valued, we want to feel accepted, we want to be included, and we all want to feel loved. And we'll try, church, we'll try and find that love anywhere we can get it, anywhere we can get it. So we say, yeah, God, I'll obey you if you get me that girlfriend that I want, or that husband that I want, or that job I want, or that house I want, if you give me the life I want. That's exactly what we do, we want God on our terms, but we have trouble with God, so we try and revise who He is, we try and shape him into our own image. But, church, if you say I'll obey, if, that's not obedience. That's making my own road, it's a deal, it's quid pro quo, I'll give you this if you give me that, if you fix my relationship, if you heal me, if you cure me, I'll follow the road you've made. But Jesus, he says, trust in what I have done, not what you have done. Church, we're never going to be perfect, but God honors your effort to rely on and obey him. And it's probably going to be hard, it's going to be difficult, and you'll fail and your reliance and obedience to him, and that's when you just have to let go and let him be your King. And it's not just about letting go of your sin, here's the more important part, bring your pain of wanting to be loved, but failing to be loved to the King, to Jesus.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:42:51] Here's number three, if you can bring that pain to Jesus, oh, now you can live a life of expectation. Remember Paul's words in Ephesians 2:10 "For you are God's workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which he's prepared in advance for you to do? Yeah, you are the workmanship of the King. You have been created in Christ Jesus, which means that when you repent, when you turn around, you leave your pain, your fear, your worries, and your dependencies behind for the King to worry about, you allow him to fundamentally transform you because repentance is also a gift. It's that repentance that unlocks your ability to do those good works now. Now your purpose in life becomes to glorify the King through the talents and abilities he gave you. No matter what the enemy throws at you and your life. Can become an act of worship. Oh, boy, see now with Jesus as King in your life, you can turn that defense into offense. Now, there's no more running away from life, but now you are running towards it. Now you are no longer worried about who's at that door, but you're excited to see who's there when it gets opened. And now, now, church, you can run top speed on the beach like a misshapen test car.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:44:22] Prayer team, can you please come on up right now? You know, I'm going to close this in a word, prayer shortly. But if I'm speaking to you today. Oh, isn't that what you want? What are you waiting for? Aren't you tired? Are you just tired of playing defense, living in fear, living with guilt, living despondent, you've made something else king in your life, following your own road, and money is king, or booze is king, or friends are king, or finding a girlfriend or a husband is king, or your career is king. Honestly, those of you, maybe those of you who are about to retire, or you're retired right now, and you feel like you've lost your purpose in life because being an accountant or an engineer or police officer or a pastor was king. John the Baptist says turn around, be transformed, and it can only come from the hands of another, by King Jesus. Get up and get prayed for right now. Give that burden up to the King right now. Who cares who sees you? I'm going to close in a word of prayer right now. Come up while I'm praying, that's fine, and the prayer team is going to stay after.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:45:39] Let's pray. Dear Father, we want to declare as a community here that you are King. Lord, thank you for sending your son for us, Lord. Thank you for sacrificing your son for us, so that we might have access to you, Father Lord. Lord, Through that suffering, Lord, you unlock our ability to come to you and say, Lord, I'm going to turn around, and I'm going to give you all this guilt, this hurt, and this pain, it goes to you, Lord. And I pray in Jesus' name that we feel that you carry that pain, Lord. And for every person out there who's connecting, who feels like they're failing, they're struggling, they're suffering, they cannot make it through life, it's just too hard, it's just too difficult, I pray in Jesus' name your Holy Spirit upon their lives, Lord, help them get up, help them be transformed, help them turn around and face the King, and help them know that they are in the presence of the King, Lord. In Jesus' name, we give this day to you. In Jesus' name, we give our lives to you. Amen. Amen.

Phil Shahbaz: [00:46:48] Have a great morning, church. Again, if you need to be prayed for, come on up.

Recorded in Upland, California.
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Life Bible Fellowship Church
2426 N Euclid Ave
Upland, California 91786
(909) 981-4848