Sunday, December 10, 2017

Preparing the way

Image: Pixabay
TODAY’S SPECIAL: Mark 1:1-18

TO CHEW ON: “As it is written in the Prophets:
‘Behold, I send My messenger before Your face,
Who will prepare Your way before You
The voice of one crying in the wilderness
“Prepare the way of the LORD;
Make His paths straight.”’”  Mark 1:2,3

Mark’s quote is straight from Isaiah 40—part of our reading three days ago. As we complete reading today’s passage we discover that the author is referring to the message and messenger John the Baptist, Jesus’ way-preparer.

In Mark John’s message was to get ready to meet Someone mighty and worthy who had spiritual power. In Luke, where John’s beginning and ministry are described in more detail, we discover his message of preparation focused largely on getting his audience to repent. He even detailed what repentance would look like to various of his listeners in real life:
- To the general public: give to the needy.
- To the tax collector: do your work honestly.
- To the soldier: don’t abuse your position or power and be content with pay
(Luke 3:8-14).

During Advent, as we review the story Jesus coming to earth as God in human flesh we also focus on our readiness. How do we ready our lives for Him to live with us and in us more fully?

Of course we know there is nothing we can do to earn His presence and our salvation. It is a free gift. But we also know that there are things we can do to prepare a comfortable home within us for Him.

I like the four Steps of Readiness  suggested in my Thompson Chain Bible. To make a comfortable home for Jesus with us, we:

1. Abandon idols
“Then Samuel spoke to all the house of Israel, saying, “If you return to the Lord with all your hearts, then put away the foreign gods and the Ashtoreths from among you, and prepare your hearts for the Lord, and serve Him only…” - 1 Samuel 7:3 (emphasis added).

2. Cleanse the temple (our lives)

 “And they gathered their brethren, sanctified themselves, and went according to the commandment of the king, at the words of the Lord, to cleanse the house of the Lord.  2 Chronicles 29:15. 
The whole story (2 Chronicles 29:1-17) is of Hezekiah the king purifying the temple so that Yahweh would again be among them and help them defeat their enemies in.

3. Return to the Lord
"He will also go before Him in the spirit and power of Elijah, ‘to turn the hearts of the fathers to the children,’ and the disobedient to the wisdom of the just, to make ready a people prepared for the Lord” Luke 1:17 (emphasis added).
Here’s that “repentance” that John the Baptist admonished the people of his time to do. The words  quoted are what the angel told John’s father Zacharias, what his (John’s) role would be.

4. Pursue personal purity
“ Now in a large house there are not only vessels and objects of gold and silver, but also vessels and objects of wood and of earthenware, and some are for honorable (noble, good) use and some for dishonorable (ignoble, common). Therefore, if anyone cleanses himself from these things [which are dishonorable—disobedient, sinful], he will be a vessel for honor, sanctified [set apart for a special purpose and], useful to the Master, prepared for every good work. 2 Timothy 2:20,21 AMP (emphasis added).

Dear Holy Spirit, please help to make my life a more welcoming and comfortable home for Jesus this Advent. Amen. 

MORE: Second Sunday of Advent

Today is the Second Sunday of Advent. The liturgy for the day begins with this prayer:

Merciful God, who sent your messengers the prophets to preach repentance and prepare the way for our salvation: Give us grace to heed their warnings and forsake our sins, that we may greet with joy the coming of Jesus Christ our Redeemer; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.

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." (

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