ca5f6e00-f425-4cd8-965d-37cc0021c589-1987-00000192877a398f_tmpMATTHEW 3:7-8: “John saw many Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing. He said to them, “You are like a nest of poisonous snakes! Who warned you to escape the coming of God’s anger? Live in a way that shows you have turned away from your sins.”

OBSERVATION: Will I be “Real” or “Religious”? The wonderful thing about a New Year is the opportunity to look at a clean slate and start over. In reality we all know that we are not really starting over, but in perspective we are. We have the chance to review the prior year and years, and look forward to how we want to live the rest of our lives.

In this light, I am challenged by the words of John the Baptist. The religious leaders of his day approached him as he was baptizing people at the Jordan river. They had not come to hear his message, nor to be baptized. Rather, they had come out to see what the fuss was all about. And they had come out to protect their turf against any threats to the status quo.

When John saw them, he did not worry about political correctness. John cut right to the heart of the matter. “Live in a way that shows you have turned away from your sins!” This was not a call to repentance that was delivered to the vilest of sinners. Rather, it was a call to repentance directed at the religious. It was a reminder that God is never satisfied with a mere outward adornment of piety. God desires a broken and contrite heart. 

God is looking for people who will be “REAL”!

This is what I have always desired and endeavored to be. However, it is amazing how subtle the spirit of religion can creep in and deceive us. Instead of a humble and absolute surrender to the Lord Jesus Christ, we can begin to take assurance in our service and outward expression of worship. It is easy to compare ourselves to others and draw comfort that we are “…not like others…”. This is the trap of religion – taking comfort in the outward appearance, while ignoring the true condition of the heart.

Lord, as I approach this New Year, strip me of any confidence I may be boasting in the exercise of religion. Help me to be totally real with both You, and with myself. Let me boast in only one thing – the Cross of Christ! May my words, life, and actions, echo the words of Paul when he wrote,

  • “I never want to brag about anything except the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Through that cross the ways of the world have been crucified as far as I am concerned. And I have been crucified as far as the ways of the world are concerned. Circumcision and uncircumcision don’t mean anything. What really counts is the creation of a new nature.” ‭‭Galatians‬ ‭6:14-15‬ ‭NIRV‬‬

In Jesus Name!

About Kirk's Devotional Journal

Kirk L. Zehnder is the Founder of Resurrection Christian Outreach. RCO is a ministry that promotes the growth and vitality of the local church through speaking engagements, seminars, various media tools, and written curriculum and books. This ministry was started over 35 years ago by Kirk as a means to strengthen the church that he was pastoring. It grew as Kirk began to share these tools with other churches. Today many of the materials are being used by local churches both nationally and internationally. Kirk's Devotional Journal is a result of struggling with Bible reading programs that never seemed to work. Kirk feels the Lord helped him discover an easy-to-follow program to Read, Reflect, Pray, and Journal through the Bible in one year. This program is called L.I.F.E. Unlike other programs there are no dates to follow. You can miss a day and still complete your reading. You never feel like the dates and verses you missed are chasing you. You are free to enjoy your daily Biblical journey and listen to the voice of The Lord. For more information on the L.I.F.E. plan, send an email to Kirk is also available for speaking engagements, seminars, and retreats. With over 40 years of professional business and pastoral ministry experience, Kirk brings a unique combination of practical wisdom, humor, and Biblical insight. If you would like Kirk to speak at your church, school, or ministry, please send an email to and we will get back to you as soon as possible to discuss your opportunity.
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