Prepare The Way

Posted on 12/17/2006 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

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TRANSCRIPT:

Good morning!

It's an honor to gather together with all of you to worship God, and it's a blessing to be able to meet in a less cramped and relatively lag-free environment where we can allow more people to join with us in seeking the Spirit of God and a personal, intimate relationship with Jesus.

I would like to introduce you to the first members of our praise team. Could those who are on the praise team please come take your places, and prepare to lead us in worship to the King.

Anyone who would like to join us in leading worship, please see me or Mariposa Psaltery after the service.

And this beautiful lady behind me, Mariposa Psaltery, is my wife. God has made it possible for her to start joining us for services. If you haven't met her yet, be sure to introduce yourself after the service.

Let's all stand to our feet as we start today's service with prayer.

Lord God, we come before you today in the name of Jesus, asking you to come by your Holy Spirit into our midst and have your way with us.

We ask you to forgive us for our sins, as we repent and turn our hearts toward you and your ways. May we come into your presence today unhindered and unashamed, as we humbly and eagerly seek a closer walk with you.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray. Amen.

Click-touch the pulpit for a note card, and let's worship Jesus today with our songs.


LET EVERYTHING THAT HAS BREATH

Let everything that, everything that
Everything that has breath praise the Lord
Let everything that, everything
Everything that hast breath praise the Lord

Praise You in the morning
Praise You in the evening
Praise You when I'm young and when I'm old
Praise You when I'm laughing
Praise You when I'm grieving
Praise You every season of the soul
If we could see how much You're worth
Your power, You might, Your endless love
Then surely we would never cease to praise

Praise You in the heavens
Join with the angels
Praising You forever and a day
Praise You on the earth now
Join with creation
Calling all the nations to Your praise
If they could see how much You're worth
Your power, Your might, Your endless love
Then surely they would never cease to praise

I will worship, I will worship
I will worship You with every breath
I will worship, I will worship
I will worship You with every breath


O COME LET US ADORE HIM
  
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
O come let us adore Him
Christ the Lord

For You alone are worthy
For You alone are worthy
For You alone are worthy
Christ the Lord

We'll give You all the glory
We'll give You all the glory
We'll give You all the glory
Christ the Lord


I SEE THE LORD
  
I see the Lord seated on the throne, exalted
And the train of His robe
Fills the temple with glory
And the whole earth is filled
The whole earth is filled
And the whole earth is filled
With His glory

Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, Holy
Holy is the Lord


Yes Lord, the whole earth is indeed filled with your glory! Open our eyes to see your holiness, to see your power, to see your love, and to see that you are seated on the throne, exalted, filling us -- your temple -- with your glory!

Thank you for your presence here with us today, as we drink in the wine of your Holy Spirit. Help us remain in an attitude of worship, as we seek to get even closer to your presence by eating the bread of your Word.

Amen.


You may be seated, and the praise team can find a seat as well.


Let's read this morning from Malachi chapter three and verse one.

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the LORD, whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple. He is the messenger of the covenant, whom you eagerly await. Behold, he will come, says the LORD of hosts."

Lord, bless the reading of your Word today. Open our hearts, and teach us what you want us to hear today. Amen.

For thousands of years, the prophets had prophecied the coming of the Messiah who would save his people from their sins. The coming of the Messiah was for them as the second coming is for us today -- something that was prophecied, believed, and eagerly awaited by those whose hearts sought after God.

And in these words of Scripture, in the last book of the Old Testament, the Messiah is once again promised.

"Behold, I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me. Then the LORD,  whom you seek, will suddenly come to his temple. He is the messenger of the covenant, whom you eagerly  await. Behold, he will come, says the LORD of hosts."

In the next chapter, the last chapter of the last book of the Old Testament, we read these words:

"For behold, a day is coming which will burn as an oven; and all the proud, yes, and all who practice wickedness, will be as stubble; and the day which comes will burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, that it will leave them with neither root nor branch.
 
"But unto you who fear my name, the Sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings; and you will go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
 
"And you will tread down the wicked, for they will be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I will do this, says the LORD of hosts.
 
"Remember the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
 
Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD.
 
"And he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."


So the people of God looked with eager expectation for the coming of the Messiah, who would destroy their enemies, who will arise with healing in his wings, and who will cause them to prosper and live in safety.

Notice if you will that Malachi 3:1 begins with the words, "Behold, I will send my messenger, and he will prepare the way before me," and chapter four verse five says, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD, and he will turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse."

So the very last of the Old Testament writings ends with the promise of God through one of his prophets that the Savior of the world is indeed coming. But before he comes, the way must be prepared for him.

In fact, this preparation was so vital, that the very last words of the Old Testament tell us the preparation must come "lest (God) come and smite the earth with a curse."

Many generations later, we read the fulfillment of this preparation in John chapter one, beginning with verse six:

6. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.
 
7. He came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.
 
8. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light.
 
9. This light was the true Light, who lights every one who comes into the world.
 
10. He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world did not know him.
 
11. He came unto his own, and his own did not receive him.
 
12. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe on his name;
 
13. Who were not born of blood, or of the will of the flesh, or of the will of man, but of God.
 
14. And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.
 
15. John bore witness of him, and cried out, saying, "This was he of whom I said, 'He who comes after me is preferred before me, for he was before me.'"
 
16. And of his fulness have all we received, and grace for grace.
 
17. For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.


What did John preach? What was the message proclaimed by the one sent to prepare the way of the Lord, to make his paths straight?

It was this, summed up in one word: "Repent!"


We tend to think of the word "repent" in a negative light, as though if we're asked to repent, that means we must be living in horrible sin and are on our way to hell.

But this is not necessarily the case. Repentance is not just something we do once in our lifetime. Rather, repentance is a way of life.

To repent means to change your mind for the better. It means to turn away from man's ways of doing things and turn toward God's ways.

2 Corinthians 3:18 says, "But we all, with open face, beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into his image from glory to glory by the Spirit of the Lord."

This means we're not there yet. And since we're not there yet, this means our thoughts are not all God's thoughts, and our ways are not all God's ways.

So when we read that we are "changed into his image from glory to glory," we know this is a process. And being changed into the image of God, his likeness, his nature, means that we are to live lives of repentance, in a process of changing our minds.

We read in Romans 12:2, "And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good, acceptable, and perfect will of God."

So we are called to be changed from glory to glory into the image of God, and we are to be living in a process of transformation by the renewing of our minds. This is an ongoing process of repentance, cleansing, sanctification...

This is the Holy Spirit preparing the way for Jesus to manifest in and through our lives.


Remember in the last verse of the Old Testament we're told the way must be prepared for the Messiah so the world is not smitten with a curse. Well, Jesus is coming once again, this time not as a baby, but as a mighty, conquering king. And the way must be prepared in our hearts before he arrives.

Has God been shaking you? Have things been seeming a bit rocky and bumpy? Have things been getting rearranged? Have things been getting turned upside down?

Then perhaps God is rearranging some things in your life, as the Holy Spirit prepares you for the coming of the Messiah.

Have you not yet accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, and things have been getting very uncomfortable or even desperate in your life?

Then perhaps the Holy Spirit is simply preparing the way in you to receive Jesus while you still have time. Your moment could come next year, or next month, or next week. Your time could be over tomorrow. Or in an hour. Or before this service ends.

In Genesis 6:3 God says, "My spirit will not always strive with man." He will not strive with you forever. Your time of running away from Jesus and making excuses will come to an end, either now by your own free will, or when it is too late.

God is incredibly patient with us, merciful, kind, loving, he has saved you from total destruction when you didn't even know you were in danger. He has brought people across your path, and spoken to you in ways you didn't even know were him.

Today is the day to finally surrender to God, and accept his undeserved, uncomprehensibly incredible gift of peace, joy, purpose, and everlasting life.

Some of us already walk with the Lord, but we've been holding on to some things the Holy Spirit has been calling us to leave behind. The time is short. There are things Jesus wants to do through you, and his Holy Spirit is preparing the way for him to show up and do those things. He is just waiting for you to surrender those things and agree to move to the next level of glory, the next level of transformation, the next level of repentance.

Some of us have let go, but we are holding back from what God has been calling us to do. Once the way is prepared, let us walk with our Master, knowing that he will give us the strength, and just as God told Moses from the burning bush that he would speak through Moses if Moses would only open his mouth, so God is telling you today that if you just step out in obedience to what he is telling you to do, no matter how impossible or unlikely it seems you could possibly do it, he will speak through your mouth, walk through your feet, touch with your hands, and love through your heart if you'll only do what he has been telling you to do.

So we see that when Jesus is going to show up in a manifest way, when he is going to heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, bring sight to the blind, liberty to those held in bondage, and peace to those lost in turmoil and strife; when Jesus is about to show up on the scene, the Holy Spirit must first prepare the way.


Where are you today? Which one are you?

Are you the one who has been avoiding making that final decision to live for Jesus? The day of preparation is here, and the time to decide is right now.

Are you the one who has been holding on to things that the Holy Spirit has been telling you to let go of? Your day of preparation has come, and the time to let go of that thing so you can take hold of what God has for you is right now.

Are you the one who has been holding back from what God has called you to do? Your day of preparation is today, and the time to step out in obedience and let God speak and work through you is right now.

I would like for the ministry team to come stand across the front now.

And as they come, I would like for no one to leave. Don't let your moment pass you by. Right now is your turning point, your defining moment; your time has come, and the gentle yet powerful hand of the Lord is reaching out to you today.

This altar is open. If this message has spoken to you today, please come to the altar now and spend some time in the presence of the Lord, surrendering to him, and allowing his Holy Spirit to continue his preparation in you for the manifest glory of Jesus to work in and through your life.

If you would like someone to pray or speak with you, please instant message anyone on the ministry team.

As you come, let's pray.

Lord God, I thank you for speaking to us today through your Word, and touching our hearts by your Holy Spirit. Thank you for each one here today, and for the preparation you've been making in their lives so Jesus can show up and manifest his Glory.

And as we come to this altar, I ask that you would meet each one of us before we even reach the front. Wrap your arms around each one, and fill each one afresh with your Holy Spirit.

Scripture tells us in Philippians 6:6, "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." Thank you Lord that you will continue your work of preparation in us, changing us from glory to glory into your image.

It's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.

In a few minutes we'll meet next door for a time of fellowship, so please everyone stick around. Come, let the Holy Spirit have his way in you, preparing you, and see what God is about to do in you! Come!