Sunday, December 14, 2014

Straighten the path

straight path through woods
TODAY'S SPECIAL: John 1:15-28

TO CHEW ON: "He said, 'I am
The voice of one crying in the wilderness;
Make straight the way of the Lord.' " John 1:23



These words of John the Baptist are a quote from Isaiah who even seemed to have John in the picture as he wrote it:
"The voice of one crying in the wilderness;
'Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert
A highway for our God."  - Isaiah 40:3.

"Make straight…" What does he mean by that?

[Straight - yashar means direct, to be straight, upright, pleasing good - Dick Mills, Word Wealth, New Spirit-Filled Bible, p. 807. ]

It is the word used in one of my favorite verses that promises God's direction to me:
"In all your ways know, recognize and acknowledge Him and He will direct and make straight and plain your paths" - Proverbs 3:6 AMP.

John the Baptist was preparing his listeners for the coming of Jesus when he quoted this. During Advent we too are in a season of preparation. We prepare to celebrate Jesus' coming by buying gifts for others. We prepare programs of music, drama, and readings. We plan menus and shop for food. We clean our "inns" and get them ready for guests. But do we, in the hustle and bustle, neglect to prepare our hearts? To make a straight, direct path for Jesus to come to us, even in the busyness?

Let's take some time this advent season to again appreciate what Jesus' coming means:
  • How it opens the windows of heaven for us:
"Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord" - Luke 2:10,11.
  • How it gives us a glimpse into God's own heart:
 "Jesus said to him, 'Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?" - John 14:9.
  • How it gives even the most difficult experiences a penumbra of light -
"Jesus said to her, 'I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live' " - John 11:25.
  • How it dispels the shadows of our most stubborn fear -
"And Jesus said to him, 'Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise' " - Luke 23:43.

After those reminders of what His presence means, we may confess sin that makes Him feel distant and get rid of the distractions to His presence that the seasonal running to and fro erect. With these straightened paths He will be with us in our kitchens, banquet halls, malls, the traffic, the church, the hospital… We will experience Him as Immanuel this Christmas!


PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to clear away the rubble, do away with the detours so that You have a direct route to my most inner self this Advent season. Amen.
 

MORE: Third Sunday of Advent

Today the church celebrates the third Sunday of Advent. The liturgy for the day begins with this Collect:
Stir up your power, O Lord, and with great might come among us; and, because we are sorely hindered by our sins, let your bountiful grace and mercy speedily help and deliver us; through Jesus Christ our Lord, to whom, with you and the Holy Spirit, be honor and glory, now and for ever. Amen.

If you have an advent wreath with a candle for each Sunday of the season, today you light the third candle.

What do these candles signify? Tanya Gulevich's Encyclopedia of Christmas tells us the various meanings people have given to the four Advent candles:

~ The four gifts of the Holy Spirit: HOPE, JOY, PEACE, LOVE.

~ The themes of the Advent season: HOPE, PREPARATION, JOY, LOVE

~ Characters in the Nativity story: PROPHETS, ANGELS, SHEPHERDS, MAGI

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Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

Scripture quotations marked AMP are taken from the Amplified® Bible,
Copyright © 1954, 1958, 1962, 1964, 1965, 1987 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission." (www.Lockman.org)




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