Words of Faith 3-12-18
Dr. Jeffrey D. Hoy © 2018
Faith Fellowship Church - Melbourne, FL
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 "What should we do then?" the crowd asked.
 John answered, "The man with two tunics should share with him who has none, and the one who has food should do the same."
 Tax collectors also came to be baptized. "Teacher," they asked, "what should we do?"
 "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them.
 Then some soldiers asked him, "And what should we do?"
He replied, "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely--be content with your pay."
John preached a powerful sermon proclaiming the work of the Spirit ready to do radical surgery. Clearly the message was one that called for a response. The people began to ask, "What should we do then?" John did not even have to give an invitation, they just asked. It is interesting that when the Spirit is moving, when God is at work, people don't have to be coaxed or coerced. They don't even have to be invited. They know when there is business they must do with the Lord.
I remember a situation like this. A number of years ago, I was preaching at a large youth camp in north Georgia. As I was concluding the message a teenager got up and began walking down the aisle. I thought it odd that he had chosen this moment to use the restroom, but I continued to preach. Then there was another teen in the aisle and then another. I was still trying to talk when I realized that if I did not get out of the way I would probably be trampled. I never got to the "invitation" that night but apparently the Spirit did… as several hundred teens and adults jammed the makeshift altar area in the camp gymnasium. No music. No soft-toned plea. I don't even recall what the message was about now. I quickly realized that night that it is never the message that persuades but it is the work of the Spirit.
John was very direct. He called the people to change as he baptized them. Show those around you that God has done a miraculous thing in your life and that there is a difference. Show the change of heart God has done. The changes he suggests are not all inclusive. But they are very basic. If you have more than you need, SHARE. How about that? So simple. He was not talking about tithing. These people were all tithers. He was not talking about supporting the Temple or the church or special offerings. He was talking at a personal level saying YOU be compassionate. Have the HEART of God.
Tax collectors came forward. This was a despised bunch. They were unclean in the eyes of the religious folks because they dealt with the Romans and with money. But they also gained their profit by overcharging people or cheating people. What is interesting is that John did NOT tell them to change jobs. "Don't collect any more than you are required to," he told them. Just STOP CHEATING. The need was not for fewer tax collectors but for honest ones.
Then the soldiers came. These were Romans. Gentiles! They probably were out at the edge of the crowd to keep any riots from breaking out, but they could hear. They knew the Word of God when they heard it. Soldiers were feared by everyone because they had the power to conscript people and houses and take whatever they wanted. If they accused you of something you were done for. But John does NOT tell them not to be soldiers anymore. He says, be an HONEST soldier. Be a Godly soldier. "Don't extort money and don't accuse people falsely; be content with your pay." What a testimony that would be to a corrupt ancient world!
What we see here is a powerful message regarding the way we respond to the message and Spirit of God. John did not call on any of these people to become itinerant evangelists or traveling missionaries. He did not call them to into a different vocation. He did not call them raise support from friends and neighbors. He called them to go back to the places they had come from and be changed people in those places. They were all called into ministry, but that ministry was back where they had been.
Now don't misunderstand. There are many who are called into ministries of itinerant evangelism and travel to places abroad. There are many called to a vocational ministries on the staff of a church or mission organization. But the first call in our new life is usually to go back to where we were and be salt and light there. Be an honest worker. Be a compassionate employee. Use your influence to help others and change lives. Let people see the change that Jesus has brought into your life by the work of His Spirit.
Father God, I thank You for the work of Your Spirit in my life. Thank You for changing me and calling to a spirit of repentance. Show me how You want to use me in all the places You have given to me. Show me how You want to shine through me to my friends, family, neighbors and co-workers. In Jesus' name.