How Are You Getting Ready? - Observer Message - December 2012

Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to give him the name John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from birth. 16 Many of the people of Israel will he bring back to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the fathers to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” (Lk 1:13-17)

Did you notice the last words in this portion of the Gospel of Luke? They are “a people prepared for the Lord.” That is in fact the purpose for which the Church over the ages has used the Advent Season prior to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. But this should not surprise any of us. After all we always prepare for those major events or celebrations in our life.

Right now we are refinancing our house. Anyone who has gone through that process knows how much preparation is required before the closing of the mortgage. There is the application to prepare, the appraisal to schedule and then the waiting as the processor evaluates and then approves or denies the loan. Anyone who has planned a birthday party also knows the work involved in getting ready for the joy of that day. You want to find the right day and place, the right invitation to those who you want to come, the right menu and decorations and on and on!

I would guess that all of you know that those preparations are invariably worth the effort as they make the celebration to be a success. Why do we need to prepare for an event that every Christian in the world knows is coming? Maybe that is the reason… we know it is coming! But if we know that Christmas is coming, for what do we need to prepare?

Well in the coming birth of John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, we have the coming of the one who purpose in ministry was to prepare the hearts of people. Whereas most in our world prepare for Christmas strictly on the outside – that includes a Christmas tree (or as the secularists would say, a “Holiday Tree”), presents, party planning, house decorations and so on, for the true Christian there is only one preparation that matters — the preparation of one’s heart.

Take time, I urge you, to stop and consider your own need for Jesus’ coming. When you take sin seriously, the birth of
this child, the coming of God into the flesh, becomes something of vital importance. We need that “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world.” (Jn. 1:29). We need desperately for Jesus, God the Son, to come and work that redemption that we cannot have without HIM! We need absolutely to hear the Gospel tell our hearts: “Take, heart son; your sins are forgiven.” (Matt. 9:2)

When you do, then you will not only be preparing your heart for HIS birth, you will increase your joy, your peace, your confidence in that little baby born to a virgin mother and poor parents in the insignificant town of Bethlehem. My, how things change when our hearts are ready! My, how joyful and lasting this Christmas will be for everyone whose heart is ready to rejoice with the angels and know that “...a Savior has been born to you, he is Christ the Lord. ...you will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.” (Luke 2: 11b-12) Let us all make Advent that time to be ready for our Lord's first coming!

To God Alone Be The Glory!

by Pastor John Boehringer