Prepare Ye the Way

Posted on 12/02/2012 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.

AUDIO: dialup - broadband - podcast

TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)

*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***


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*** there are no public prayer requests this week ***


HIS NAME IS JESUS

He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Jesus, Jesus
Oh -- He is the King

His name is Jesus, Jesus,
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
to deliver evermore



I STAND IN AWE

You are beautiful beyond description
too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
like nothing ever seen or heard

Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
majesty enthroned above

I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you



WORD OF GOD SPEAK

I'm finding myself at a loss for words
And the funny thing is it's okay
The last thing I need is to be heard
But to hear what You would say

Word of God speak
Would You pour down like rain
Washing my eyes to see
Your majesty
To be still and know
That You're in this place
Please let me stay and rest
In Your holiness
Word of God speak

I'm finding myself in the midst of You
Beyond the music, beyond the noise
All that I need is to be with You
And in the quiet hear Your voice


*** listen to the audio for the introduction ***

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 sort of like the second coming is for us today -- something that was prophecied, which they believed, and which was 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; the One who would destroy their enemies, who would arise with healing in His wings, and who would 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 verse five of chapter four 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?

Well, it was summed up in one word, and that one word was this: "Repent!"


Now, in today's world, 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 we're 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 to turn toward God's ways instead.

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."

What does that mean? Well, it 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 that this is a process. And being changed into the image of God, His likeness, His nature, means that we must live lives of repentance, in a process of changing our hearts and 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, and 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 that the way must be prepared for the Messiah so that the world was not smitten with a curse. Well, Jesus is coming once again; but this time He's not coming not as a helpless baby, but as a mighty, conquering king. And the way must be prepared in our hearts before He arrives.

Has God been shaking you lately? 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.

And you know, God is incredibly patient with us; He is merciful, loving, and kind; He has saved you from total destruction at times 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 to accept his undeserved, uncomprehensibly incredible gift of peace, joy, purpose, and everlasting life.

Some of us who already walk with the Lord, 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 the 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 to agree to move to the next level of glory, the next level of transformation, the next level of repentance.

Some of us have already let go of those things, 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 he 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, then He is going to 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, 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 of these 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 of which the Holy Spirit has been telling you to let go? Your day of preparation has come, and the time to let go of that thing so that 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 to let God speak and work through you is right now.


Let's end today's service with an invitation from God. And His invitation to us today is this:

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 feel the tug of the Lord on your heart today, or if you just want to spend some time seeking after Him, then you're invited to get out of your seat right now and make your way to the front.

Let's 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, you can instant message Mariposa or me.

And as you come, let's pray.

Lord God, thank you for speaking to us today through your Word. Thank you for 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 that 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 of us, and fill us 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, as you change us from glory to glory into your image.

And it's in Jesus' name we pray.

Amen.