Christmas Keywords 4: Prepare

Prepare yourself!
Advent is a time of preparing ourselves for Christ’s coming. The word “prepare” is a great word. We’ll talk about it today in two different ways. First, let’s talk about preparing ourselves.

In a "Peanuts" cartoon strip, Charlie Brown says to Linus, “Life is just too much for me. I’ve been confused from the day I was born. I think the whole trouble is that we’re thrown into life too fast. We’re not really prepared.” And Linus asks, “What did you want … a chance to warm up first?”

Isaiah 40.3-10

Thousands of years ago, God said he was going to send someone to prepare the way for God’s coming. We know now that that person was a man named John; we call him John the Baptist. See Luke 1.13-17.

John’s mission was to prepare the way for the coming of the Messiah. He called people to repentance. He called people to prepare themselves for God’s coming by repenting of their sins and being baptized.

If John were here today, he’d say …
“Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” He’d say, “Turn from your sins and turn to God! We only have a short period of time — don’t waste it! Use all the time you have to honor God! Yield yourselves completely to God!”

Questions …

  • What does it mean to you to be prepared for Christ’s coming?
  • Are you prepared for Christ’s coming/return?
  • What are you doing to prepare?

"Lord, Prepare Me”
Lord, prepare me to be a sanctuary, pure and holy, tried and true. With thanksgiving I’ll be a living sanctuary for you.

Prepare the way for others!
John came along calling people to prepare themselves for God’s coming. He also modeled for us the importance of preparing the way for others to know God!

John understood that God was about to do something that would forever change the world, and he needed to prepare for that event!

Matthew 3.1-12

4 kinds of leaders … (Glenn Wagner)

>> The Pacifist
"This kind of leader’s highest goal is maintaining peace and keeping things smooth. Their mindset is ‘conciliation at all cost.’"

>> The Opportunist
They are event-driven, opportunity-driven, and consequently program-driven.

>> The Gradualist
"This kind of leader has a vision and is committed to a process of bringing the vision to reality. Gradualists are process-driven and are often plodders. The problem is that due to the rapid pace of change around them, they often lose ground rather than gain ground. They keep the pace slow in order to minimize pain. They believe conflict is inevitable but want to minimize it. Gradualists view the church primarily as an army but believe the pace of advance must be controlled by the risk of lives lost."

>> The Catalyst (or Revolutionary)
"This kind of leader provokes change. They raise up deliberate and holy discontent. They create a passionate expectation and anticipation of what can be. They paint a picture of a preferred future. They do not stop with what is, what should be, or what could be. They see and move people towards what will be. The Catalyst sees conflict as necessary price to be paid for a new kingdom. They are driven by purpose and passion—just as Jesus was as he journeyed toward the cross. The Catalyst views the church as a movement, as the people of God advancing the kingdom of God, reclaiming lost ground and taking new territory. They hold compassion and conflict in tension and are willing to use either one as the moment dictates."

John the Baptist was a revolutionary!
John the Baptist, like the prophets who preceded him spoke some hard and challenging words! Though there were people who listened and repented there were also many others who did not.

“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, ‘Prepare a straight pathway for the Lord’s coming!’” (John the Baptist, John 1.23)

If John were here today, he’d say …
“You’ve got to be a voice, a voice crying out in the wilderness, to prepare the way for the Lord’s return. Help people get theirs hearts ready. Challenge people to turn from their sins and turn to God.”

Questions …

  • Who were the people who prepared the way for you to know God? Where would you be without them?
  • Who have you prepared the way for? Who are you preparing the way for now?
  • In what way is God calling you now to prepare the way for others?

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