You Brood of Vipers Gathered at the Shore – Hear This

It isn’t hard to condemn the slaughter of 21 Christians by ISIS in Libya.

It isn’t hard to say we should intercede for those who love them and pray for those in the path of the next blade.

It also isn’t hard to say we should love this masked enemy, pray for them, and forgive them.

It’s not hard to write and share blog posts spreading the word about this anti-Christian terror and it isn’t hard to prophesy that more martyrdom lies ahead.

Here’s what’s hardliving for Jesus every day.

Reading God’s word, believing it, and obeying it even on a dreary weekday in America when there’s no immediate threat at the door, this is hard. Hard is dealing with the unmasked enemy in my daily life – forgiving a coworker who gossips about me, loving a sibling who keeps the family in perpetual dramatic crisis, serving a spouse who repeatedly disappoints, interceding for a wayward child turning her back on her upbringing. Loving sacrificially in Jesus’ name – this is hard!

Telling the truth in America. This is hard. But, it was no easier for John the Baptist when he prepared the way for Jesus the first time. He spoke the truth to the crowds, to those in religious power, to the leaders of the day.

They tried to come to him, to join in on the movement in an outward fashion, hoping, perhaps, to win the favor of the people by making a show of unity. But John called them out:

“when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not presume to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father,’ for I tell you, God is able from these stones to raise up children for Abraham. Even now the axe is laid to the root of the trees. Every tree therefore that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

That was no more popular a speech then than it is now, but it continues to need to be said. John prepared the way of the Lord’s first appearance with his life, his words, and his death.  By our lives, our words, our obedience, and sometimes by our spilled blood, we prepare the way for Jesus’ return.

Our obedience can pave the way for someone else’s repentance.

Through the Internet and social media, we have all gathered on the beach at Libya around these twenty-one souls, martyred in the name of Jesus. Easy to condemn the act. Easy to mourn those whose blood seeped into the sand that day. Easy to speak in theory about forgiving murderers.

But John the Baptist stands beside us on that shore and even today he sees Pharisees in the crowd. Even today he says, WHO WARNED YOU TO FLEE FROM THE WRATH TO COME? BEAR FRUIT IN KEEPING WITH REPENTANCE!

You who say this murder was wrong, do you remember Jesus’ words recorded in Matthew 5:21-22?  “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.”

You who admire these twenty-one for their obedience to Christ, do you obey the words of Jesus in Luke 9:23 to take up your cross every day right where you are?

You who speak in theory of intercession and forgiveness of the masked enemy – do you intercede for the unmasked aggressors in your own life?

Many of us have slipped into an easy discipleship, a wide path, a lazy faith and we think that clicking “Share” or “Like” on another story about those in the arena earns us a seat at the banquet table.

We need to listen to John who prepared the way for Jesus the first time as we prepare the way for Jesus’ return when he said: “I baptize you with water for repentance, but he who is coming after me is mightier 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 and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.” Matthew 3:7-10 ESV

And lest you think that Jesus softened the message John had preached in preparation for His ministry read this: “Now after John was arrested, Jesus came into Galilee, proclaiming the gospel of God, and saying, “The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.” Mark 1:14-15 ESV

Repent does not mean – “be sorry.” Repent does not mean – “feel really, really bad.” Repent means to change, to be changed, to think differently after, to turn and act in a different way. This isn’t about legalism or earning our way to salvation by our behavior or holiness living. This is about the fact that Jesus said if you love me, you’ll do what I command.

Do you love Jesus? Repent, believe in the gospel, bear fruit in keeping with repentance. If we do not remind ourselves that kingdom building is an urgent and immediate business about which we should be busy – He will allow our enemies to remind us.

Who warned YOU to flee from the coming wrath? Bear fruit in keeping with repentance!

Stand on the shore of the waters and hear the voice of the one crying out in the wilderness to us now: Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord!

Are you a voice in the wilderness? It is time we all were.

If you believe this is a message we need to hear, please consider it sharing it with others through email, social media, or printing it out and giving it to others. I encourage you to share this in any way you feel the Lord leads. If you would like prayer for yourself or those around you, let me know

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    The Conversation

  1. Judith Robl says:

    Repentance requires a 180 degree turn in actions, thoughts and world view. It is not a function of tears and wordy regrets. You are so right, Lori.

  2. Jan says:

    Dear Lori,
    Your gift of communication is a God given gift and I thank God for you and your tireless work in His name.
    The persecution of my brothers and sisters in Christ is something that keeps me awake of a night as I cry out to The Lord to strengthen them and wrap His loving arms around them so that they never stand alone,that the perpetrators of violence will see His reflection in the faces of those they persecute so that they will one day bow the knee at the foot of His cross and be set free.
    Thank you for conyeing this horrific slaughter in such a thought provoking way as only you can.
    I wish to request prayer for the unforgiveness between my husband and my daughter and son in law which has shocked me to the core and torn my heart in two. As they say I am between a rock and a hard place. I trust in a loving and faithful God who knows all things and will make a way through these stubborn and unforgiving hearts.
    You have a heavy work load but there are not many you would wish to share this burden so thank you Lori for your invitation to receive prayer requests, Bless you in all that you do. Love to you Jan. Ps my husband and daughter are Christians

  3. Bruce Cunningham says:

    Thank you Lori- I’m afraid that when I’m referred to as a somewhat selfish, yet well meaning Hobbit that just needs to be disturbed into action, I still feel somewhat safe in my position. Unfortunately for me, and I’m convinced for many like me, I’m only truly disturbed when I’m faced with a Scripture-picture, painted with the colors of the events of my time, showing me that I am often among the brood of vipers.
    The Lord really has a way of making us recognize where the rubber meets the road.
    The message of this blog is exactly what sooo many in the American Church, (like me), need to hear.
    We want to believe that we truly love the Lord, and we love it when others affirm that we truly love the Lord. Yet inside our hearts, the Spirit often tells us something different. Not in a condemning way, but in a motivational way.
    There appears to be the gospel according to many modern preachers, and then there is the more biblical gospel you have declared here. Thank you for “pulling me out of the fire”, as Jude put it.

  4. Carla says:

    ‘Repent AND be converted’. I think it’s the ‘converted’ part we balk at. Sometimes this conversion takes a while, at least it did for me. But now the time is short, and we have to urge and encourage each other to this goal. Being a Christian is hard, and we see it getting harder every day. It is easy to get caught up in the fear–that’s what terrorism IS! The Lord told Joshua ‘Be VERY strong and of good courage’. The Spirit said in Revelation that the fearful will have their place in the lake of fire. So my prayer for us ALL is that we seek the Lord fervently, and become enboldened by His might to stand in prayer for the persecuted, and to shine our Light to those around us, so THEY can become converted as well. Jesus said ‘repent, for the Kingdom is at hand’ 2,000 years ago. It is more relevant today than it ever has been. God bless you for your stand and for the encouragement you give your people every day, Lori.