#metop ‘Rejoice in the Lord always; again I say rejoice’
 – Philippians 4:4 (KJV)
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Don Meadows


Fruits Meet for Repentance

8 Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance (Matthew 3:8)

The agenda of the heart is crucial for the getting of forgiveness at repentance.  Were words, or thoughts, pure or impure, all that necessitated forgiveness, no one would be lost.  Repentance is much more than words or intentions, John the Baptist declared.  Thus, his plea to the crowd was: “ 8Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance:” (Matthew 3:8 (KJV)

This message by the Baptist destroys a theology that says salvation is gained easily.  Christians perpetuate an error that eternal life is to be had for speaking a few words: “Jesus, I’m a sinner. Forgive me. Save me by the blood you shed on a cross. I believe you are the Son of God. Amen.

Those words cover the basic sinner’s prayer.  But, is it sufficient or is more required to, in one sense, “seal the deal.”

Martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer (see below) talked about “cheap grace” in his book, The Cost of Discipleship.  “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

The Baptist would say, I believe, the sinner’s prayer is an excellent start, but it’s not the whole deal.  “Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance.”  What are you bringing to this sacred meeting that authenticates your desire for a new relationship with God through Christ?  Can you identify these “fruits meet for repentance?”

This is a masterful stroke by the Baptist, who sliced through the show of sincere repentance and genuine contriteness of heart.  Where’s the proof of a changed heart?  That is tough love?  Self-proclaiming soul-saving workers today must take heed. It’s so easy for the preacher to ask the people to close their eyes, call for a show of hands of those who want to accept Jesus, concluding. “Bless that hand.  Bless those hands. Welcome to the kingdom.”

John would have none of that game playing.  He confronted those who came, and demanded they bring some evidence, some discernable proof, that they are truly sorry for their sins and see in Jesus the only solution to their sinfulness and heart desires.

Thus the question is, “What are these ‘fruits’?”  There are many possibilities, but I suggest but a few.

Contriteness of heart? Do I show evidence of a real change in my very being?  Am I more caring of people?  Do I hear the vulgarities that come out of my mouth?  Have I a sense that I do things harmful to my body – the holy temple of God?  Is there a desire, a hunger to worship and praise God?  Is there a new understanding that my friends and our activities together don’t glorify God?  Do I show love in my thoughts, actions toward others and desires for doing good?  You can add many, many more.


Contrary to the common claim that salvation is free, restoration to right relationship with God comes at great cost.  First, the payment was the life of a man, Jesus, whose death on the cross paid for you and me to have a choice:  Accept salvation (forgiveness of sin) or reject it.

Rejection can be final and eternal and requires no action, or declaration, about anything.  Accepting God’s offer is a costly beginning – costly in that it redefines those values one once followed without thought.  This is what The Baptist is insisting that one demonstrate how repentance is making a difference in his or her life!  Without  fruit that reveals the change, a person perhaps is only shopping for the cheapest deal possible to get to heaven.

Do you cry to God for healing

Of a sin-sick heart, revealing

You want Jesus forgiving

So you gain eternal living?

–Don Meadows


Dietrich Bonhoeffer: The Cost of Discipleship

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Deliverance After Defeat

Deliverance can come to us only by the defeat of our old life. Safety and peace come only after we have been forced to our knees. God rescues us by breaking us, by shattering our strength and wiping out our resistance. -- W. Tozer (1897-1963)

God Breaks Us His Way

God can never make us wine if we object to the fingers he uses to crush us with. If God would only use his own fingers and make us broken bread and poured out wine in a special way! But when he uses someone whom we dislike, or some set of circumstances to which we said we would never submit, and makes those the crushers, we object. -- Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

Brokenness A Step to Revival

Brokenness is not revival; it is a vital and indispensable step toward it. -- Arthur Wallis (1928- )

Nothing Required for Something

God creates out of nothing. Therefore until a man is nothing, God can make nothing out of him. -- Martin Luther (1483-1546)

God Is A Specialist

God is a Specialist at making something useful and beautiful out of something broken and confused. -- Charles R. Swindoll (1934- )

God Buys Us Back

God salvages the individual by liquidating him and then raising him again to newness of life. -- A. W. Tozer (1897-1963)

We’re Nourishment for Others

God will make us broken bread and poured out wine to feed and nourish others. -- Oswald Chambers (1874-1917)

God’s Amazing Math

He can give us a crop in one year that will make up for ten. -- D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones (1899-1981)

Spiritual Surgery Most Painful

How does God take a Christian who lives one-half inch from hell and make him live one-half inch from heaven? It is not easy. There is a price to be paid. The divine Surgeon must be permitted to use his scalpel to cut, cleanse, and break, so healing can take place. In fact, such spiritual surgery is more painful than physical surgery. God doesn't use an anesthetic; he doesn't do his work while we are asleep. God can take any brokenhearted believer and make him or her a radiant, loving person. But when he performs such "heart operations," his children are wide awake. -- Erwin W Lutzer (1941- )

Christ Can Enter Only Through Broken Heart

How else but through a broken heart may Lord Christ enter in? -- Oscar Wilde (1854-1900)

l3:4; Eze 43:2; Mt 17:5.

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Stunning Change

In Teens’ Values

Half of Protestant youth pastors consider technology and social media the defining factor of this latest generation, but a new study by Barna Group sheds new light on striking social and demographic trends: Teenagers in Gen Z  (born between 1999 and 2015) are at least twice as likely as American adults to identify as LGBT or as atheist.

While the latest Gallup poll reported only 4.1 percent of Americans—and 7.3 percent of millennials—identify as LGBT, Barna found that 12 percent of Gen Z teens described their sexual orientation as something other than heterosexual, with 7 percent identifying as bisexual.This generation is more sensitive to LGBT issues overall, with 37 percent saying their gender and sexuality is “very important” to their sense of self, compared to 28 percent of their Gen X parents.

Additionally, about a third of teens know someone who is transgender, and the majority (69%) say it’s acceptable to be born one gender and to feel like another.

Though teens exploring sexual identity have long been a part American churches and youth groups, they haven’t always been this open about their identity and willing to address it so transparently.

“It is a new challenge for student ministry leaders, because there is more discussion in the public square regarding LGBT issues,” Ben Trueblood, director of student ministry for LifeWay Christian Resources, told CT.

“In the past, it was possible for difficult issues like this to be brushed aside or go unaddressed entirely. But that approach cripples the purpose of student ministry,” he said. “Now, student ministry leaders are forced to teach what the Bible says on these issues, as well as equip teenagers to respond biblically.”

Among Gen Z members between 13 and 18 years old, 13 percent consider themselves atheists, compared to just 6 percent of adults overall.

Meanwhile, 59 percent of Gen Z identifies as Christian, compared to 68 percent of adults. Only 1 in 11 teens is considered by Barna to be an “engaged Christian,” a category the research organization uses for those whose beliefs and practices are shaped by their faith (i.e., not “Christian in name only”).

(Originally reported in Christianity Today.)

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Help me, Lord.  The world is spinning around and around and around.  You are the only hope, the last chance for making it stop.

Your Word (Heb. 13:8) offers hope -- the only true hope.  
"8 Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever."  

Empower me to grab onto that reassurance.

I need stability, Lord.  Distractions constantly rob me of time with you. Run, rush, hurry, go here, go there. There seems to be no relief.  Am I doomed to be enslaved to time, doctor appointments, this and that personal obligations?  How can I again enjoy the simple pleasures of living?  Am I too old; is age a permanent handicap to being hassled about time?

I am not alone.  My children are too busy living to enjoy life.  No time to talk on the phone.  Days come and go, and again no contact.  Why, Lord?  Please tell me why.  Please help us change!

The people in the world are tethered to this maddening spin.  The U.S. government goes from one crises to another. This side blames the other side, all blame the President.  Terrible, mean things are said.  Respect seems to be a threatened fact of life.  Is there a possibility of getting back what we’ve lost, or has the world become so contaminated with self-centeredness this will be the norm?

Our world is in disarray. Leaders of nations denigrate other leaders of nations, the world is threatened to be blown up by one man, terrorists launch death by dying themselves, economies are exposed for their weaknesses, food is produced to excess and wasted because of greed, millions starve and get sick from lack of pure water.

This is a reminder to myself, Lord.  Already you weep because you know these and other human frailties, from beginning to their end.  You tell us in your word we are what we are because of greed, pride, lust and, ultimately, rebellion against you.

Yes, Lord, I beg you to intervene.  Do so even if we find your involvements inconvenient, disruptive to our lifestyles and contrary to our true desires.

Most of the time I am grateful you are constant.  Forgive me in those times when I am not.  Instruct me how to be humble and obedient, and seek for my own life that holy "sameness yesterday, today and forever" that you demonstrate.  Then, perhaps, I will begin to understand and approach a bond with you that we both want.

Help me, Lord, because that help will teach me how better to glorify and honor Jesus, in whose name I pray.  Amen!

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