Prepare the Way of the Lord

I want you to go back with me. We are going to get into our time machine and go back to the time of the birth of Jesus. I want you to get into the mindset of the people in Israel at this time. Most of them were tired of serving under the Persians, the Babylonians, and finally under the Romans; those stinky, filthy, vulgar Romans. When is our King coming? When will we see our promised redeemer? We know that he was promised. King David referred to the redeemer in his songs. Many of the prophets foretold of his coming. When is he coming? Can you imagine when they hear John the Baptist say the words, “Make a highway for the Lord through the wilderness.” We’ve heard these words before; one of the ancient prophets, could it be Isaiah? Let’s turn to Isaiah 40 and read the words that we have already been read to us.

Listen! I hear the voice of someone shouting, “Make a highway for the LORD through the wilderness. Make a straight, smooth road through the desert for our God. 4Fill the valleys and level the hills. Straighten out the curves and smooth off the rough spots. 5Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The LORD has spoken!”

6A voice said, “Shout!”

I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like the grass that dies away. Their beauty fades as quickly as the beauty of flowers in a field. 7The grass withers, and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the LORD. And so it is with people. 8The grass withers, and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.”

9 Messenger of good news, shout to Zion from the mountaintops! Shout louder to Jerusalem–do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!” 10 Yes, the Sovereign LORD is coming in all his glorious power. He will rule with awesome strength. See, he brings his reward with him as he comes. 11 He will feed his flock like a shepherd. He will carry the lambs in his arms, holding them close to his heart. He will gently lead the mother sheep with their young.

This morning we begin our journey through the Advent season. Some of you will recognize the titles of these sermons as coming from Handel’s Messiah. This week we will take a look at “Prepare the Way of the Lord.” Next week the title is “Surely He Has Born our Griefs”, then “Comfort Ye My People,” and finally, “Who is This King of Glory.” Most of you will remember that Advent is a time of preparation. There are two seasons of preparation in the church year. Advent is the first and Lent is the second. Advent is the season of preparation for Christmas. It is looking toward the coming king. Many times during Advent we concentrate on the baby in a manger. Today we will focus on the coming king. He will split the Eastern sky to return for those who believe in Him. My question is, are you preparing the way for the Lord? Let’s take a look at Matthew 25.

“The Kingdom of Heaven can be illustrated by the story of ten bridesmaids[a] who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps, 4but the other five were wise enough to take along extra oil. 5When the bridegroom was delayed, they all lay down and slept. 6At midnight they were roused by the shout, `Look, the bridegroom is coming! Come out and welcome him!’

7″All the bridesmaids got up and prepared their lamps. 8Then the five foolish ones asked the others, `Please give us some of your oil because our lamps are going out.’ 9But the others replied, `We don’t have enough for all of us. Go to a shop and buy some for yourselves.’

10 “But while they were gone to buy oil, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was locked. 11Later, when the other five bridesmaids returned, they stood outside, calling, `Sir, open the door for us!’ 12But he called back, `I don’t know you!’

13″So stay awake and be prepared, because you do not know the day or hour of my return

My first question is, “Are you ready?” The coming of the Lord will be swift and sure. Once He comes there will be no time to get ready. Are you ready for His coming? Let’s make it very plain. Those who will go with Jesus are those who have been received into His kingdom; those who have believed on him and his name. If you haven’t received Him, He won’t be coming for you. You will be left behind. When is he coming? We don’t know. Jesus said that even he did not know when the Father would send him back. I know this. I believe that Jesus is coming back again. Each day that passes by only makes his return sooner. Most of you know that I’m not a big prophecy fan. I don’t get into all of the charts and maps. I’m not always trying to figure these things out. But the day is getting closer. The time is getting short. We are in the last days, whether they be tomorrow or a hundred years or even more from now. The technology that we have available now is getting frightening close to what the scriptures describe. The time to come to the Lord is now. The scriptures declare that at the name of Jesus, every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. Like the old Fram oil filter commercial. Either you can pay me now or pay me later. Like the song that we sang to open up worship this morning. One day every knee will bow and every tongue confess, but you have a choice. You can worship Him now. Are you ready for the coming king? Is your heart ready? You can receive him now. Like I said before things won’t necessarily get easier. Our brothers and sister around the world can testify to that. It is not easy to pick up our cross and die to ourselves daily. However the benefits are out of this world. I’ll say it again that I will not trade my walk with Christ for anything. Is your heart ready?

Not only am I going to ask you if your own heart is ready, but I am going to ask it you are doing your part to help others get ready. One way we can do this is by our testimony. Let’s take a look at 2 Peter 3.

This is my second letter to you, dear friends, and in both of them I have tried to stimulate your wholesome thinking and refresh your memory. 2 I want you to remember and understand what the holy prophets said long ago and what our Lord and Savior commanded through your apostles.

3 First, I want to remind you that in the last days there will be scoffers who will laugh at the truth and do every evil thing they desire. 4 This will be their argument: “Jesus promised to come back, did he? Then where is he? Why, as far back as anyone can remember, everything has remained exactly the same since the world was first created.”

5 They deliberately forget that God made the heavens by the word of his command, and he brought the earth up from the water and surrounded it with water. 6Then he used the water to destroy the world with a mighty flood. 7 And God has also commanded that the heavens and the earth will be consumed by fire on the day of judgment, when ungodly people will perish.

8But you must not forget, dear friends, that a day is like a thousand years to the Lord, and a thousand years is like a day. 9 The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise to return, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to perish, so he is giving more time for everyone to repent. 10 But the day of the Lord will come as unexpectedly as a thief. Then the heavens will pass away with a terrible noise, and everything in them will disappear in fire, and the earth and everything on it will be exposed to judgment.[a]

11Since everything around us is going to melt away, what holy, godly lives you should be living! 12 You should look forward to that day and hurry it along–the day when God will set the heavens on fire and the elements will melt away in the flames. 13But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world where everyone is right with God.

14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God.

15 And remember, the Lord is waiting so that people have time to be saved. This is just as our beloved brother Paul wrote to you with the wisdom God gave him– 16 speaking of these things in all of his letters. Some of his comments are hard to understand, and those who are ignorant and unstable have twisted his letters around to mean something quite different from what he meant, just as they do the other parts of Scripture–and the result is disaster for them.

17 I am warning you ahead of time, dear friends, so that you can watch out and not be carried away by the errors of these wicked people. I don’t want you to lose your own secure footing. 18But grow in the special favor and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

To him be all glory and honor, both now and forevermore. Amen.

Here’s where it all comes together. Our testimony is very important here. People need not only to see what believe by the way we act, but people need to hear what we believe. The other important thing here is that our walk lines up with our talk. 14 And so, dear friends, while you are waiting for these things to happen, make every effort to live a pure and blameless life. And be at peace with God.

What are the points today?

  • · We are in a season of preparation for the coming of the Christ. While we prepare for the season of Christmas or Christ’s first advent, we also prepare for his return and his second advent.

  • · Is your own heart ready for the advent of Jesus? Once he comes it is too late. Just like those who missed his coming in first century Israel, will you miss his second coming?
  • · Are you helping others get ready for the advent of Jesus? This means being faithful in your actions by living a pure and blameless life filled with the love of Jesus. Secondly, are you giving them the answer for the hope that lives inside of you? Third, does your talk match your walk?

So we enter this season of preparation and as we wait during this season of preparation, we will give you a chance to prepare your heart for the coming one.

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