The Gift... worth waiting for
My wife has really done a wonderful job decorating our home for Christmas this year, and I am so thankful! I am ready for some Christmas, how ‘bout you? This year, I think a lot of people are craving what Christmas offers us… an unchanging, life-changing message of peace and hope! It is a message we can count on.
Over the next three weeks, we are going to be learning more about the amazing gift worth waiting for. This week I want to challenge you to “prepare for it!” To help ready ourselves for Christmas, let’s look at the life of John the Baptist, the man God called to prepare the way for Jesus Christ.
John doesn’t get much attention in the Christmas story; he doesn’t have a place in the nativity scenes in our living rooms, but he plays a vital role in the ministry and mission of Christ. Isaiah prophesied about John’s vital role hundreds of years before his birth (Isaiah 40:3-5). All the gospels share important details about John’s birth and the work he did to prepare the way for the King of Kings. We can learn a lot from John’s life.
God used John the Baptist to help prepare the way for His coming to earth! (Matthew 3:1-3). God had a plan, hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth for a special ambassador to proclaim God’s arrival and to prepare the way for Christ! John would be a voice in the wilderness, preparing the way for the Lord.
God calls all who believe to be His ambassadors to proclaim the Good News! Like John, we are ambassadors for Christ. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God. 2 Corinthians 5:20
We are ambassadors with a purpose… to lead the lost to find peace with God through Christ. Jesus came to bring “peace on earth.” Jesus reconciles the conflict that exists between us and God created by our own sin. He offers us peace. As His ambassadors, this is the life-changing message we share with a lost and hurting world.
Isaiah said that John would prepare the way for the Lord by leveling hills, filling valleys, straightening roads and removing obstacles. What does that mean? It was actually a custom of some eastern monarchs to send heralds before them to physically clear away obstacles, straighten crooked roads and level hills. They were preparing the way for a coming king!
Will you clear a path for Christ to reside and work in your life? Maybe there are some obstacles in your life these days that are keeping Christ from living and working. Simply put, it might be sin. Christ wants you to confess that sin, turn from it and to give Him leadership in your life. John would say, “Repent for the Kingdom of God is near.” (Matthew 3:2).
If you are a believer, maybe you have let other priorities come between you and Him; maybe you have let other commitments take precedent; maybe you aren’t producing any good fruit in your life these days. Jesus wants you to open your heart to receive Him. He wants you to clear a path for Him to come in and begin to produce good fruit in you. What would that look like in your life right now?
John the Baptist had a huge job; he would be tasked with sharing some hard truths…challenging people to take a close look at their hearts, their priorities, their commitments and most importantly, their failures and sin. He would challenge them to repent and be baptized as a sign of their commitment to God.
Is there sin present in your life? Would you repent of that sin and allow Christ to forgive you and change you? To empower you to produce good fruit, by the work of the Holy Spirit in you?
As an adult John lived a rugged, “man’s man” kind of life in the mountainous area of Judea, between the city of Jerusalem and the Dead Sea. His wardrobe and his diet were pretty simple… 4 John’s clothes were made of camel’s hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. Matthew 3:4
I’ve never eaten locusts, but if I did, I would definitely need some wild honey to dip them in! John lived a simple life, more focused on the kingdom work set before him than the latest fashion trends or food fads. I think we can learn something else from John’s lifestyle… Keeping life simple will help us keep our focus on Christ.
Do you ever think that your life might be too complicated? We live in a world that often defines success by “busyness” and “productivity”. But sometimes our complex, busy lives can take our focus off of Christ. John led a simple life for good reason. He was laser focused on his life’s mission… to prepare the way for the Savior of the world!
In life, we have choices. We choose how we spend our time, our talents and our treasures. Sometimes we can complicate life with choices that spread us too thin. I’m wondering if this is a good season to think about the choices we are making in life and ask ourselves a simple question: Are my choices complicating my life and spreading me too thin or are they simplifying my life so I can focus on Christ?
Would you use this Christmas season to examine your priorities, to ask if your life has gotten too complicated, if it is time to simplify and to refocus on Christ. Preparing for Christ may involve simplifying so you can fully focus on Him.
When Jesus appeared, John’s work would be all but done; and he was more than willing to give up the spotlight for Christ’s sake. He made that clear when he proclaimed: 30 He must become greater; I must become less. John 3:30
Will you become less so that Christ can become greater in your life? Will you allow Him to take the lead in your life? To call the shots, to direct your path? Will you clear a path for Him right now?