Preparing for Advent

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Have you ever stopped to think how we spend all of our lives preparing for something? We go to school and get educated so we can be prepared to earn a living and find our place in the world.

We buy groceries and stock up on supplies, and some even grow gardens, for preparing the food we will eat. We invest our money to buy insurance so that, if an emergency should arise, we’re better prepared to pay off our bills and feel financially secure. Speaking of money, we maintain a savings account in order to prepare us for any future need or item we desire to purchase. We even make out a will so when we die there will be someone to inherit our possessions.

During this Christmas season, many are also preparing for the all the activities and traditions that go on this time of year—namely, putting up Christmas lights and decorations, buying gifts, going to Christmas parties, attending holiday concerts and programs, preparing for meals and the arrival of families who will be visiting. But, speaking of preparation, there’s something else that is most important for it has to do, not merely with Christmas but what Christmas is really all about—that is, the advent of Jesus Christ.

In fact, I believe that when it comes to preparation, “advent” is the best word to use since it reminds us not only that Jesus Christ was born but that he will come again some day. For the word “advent” is a Latin word that means “coming.” So, at his first advent, Jesus came as a baby wrapped in swaddling clothes. At his second advent Jesus will come from heaven to earth in great power and glory to rule as King of kings and Lord of lords. His return is the event for which believers want to be ready since it will bring in the restoration of all things according to God’s promises (Acts 3:21).

Our preparation for the second advent starts with our response to the first advent of Jesus. Jesus was born as the Son of God (divine) and the Son of Man (human) so that he could fulfill the plan God has in store for his people and their future. In his earthly ministry, Jesus performed the works or signs that demonstrated his power and authority through his teachings, examples, and miracles. He suffered, bled, and died on the cross for our sins so that we could be forgiven and be given the hope of receiving eternal life when he comes at his second advent.

The responsibility of every believers in Christ is to get ready for that coming day by living according to the teachings and examples he set forth as our Lord and Saviour. God raised his Son from the grave to immortality to give us that blessed hope of the first resurrection when all the faithful will receive immortality at his return.

So, our celebration of Christmas actually goes deeper than the traditions and activities of the holiday season. It is actually rooted in Jesus, who said, “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star,” (Revelation 22:16b, King James Version, KJV). He is entitled to rule on the throne of his father David “and his kingdom will have no end,” (Luke 1:31-33). He is the One who will return as the Messiah (Christ) or Anointed One of God. “And, behold, I come quickly; and my reward is with me, to give every man according as his work shall be,” (Rev. 22:12, KJV).

In order to fully appreciate and, thus, celebrate the two advents of Christ, we must understand the spiritual truths that (1) tell us why preparation is important; (2) how to be prepared; and (3) what to be prepared for. Many of these truths are found in Isaiah 40:1-8 Let’s consider some of them: (New American Standard Bible, NASB):

1 “Comfort, O comfort My people,” says your God.
2 “Speak kindly to Jerusalem;
And call out to her, that her warfare has ended,
That her iniquity has been removed,
That she has received of the Lord’s hand
Double for all her sins.”
3 A voice is calling,
“Clear the way for the Lord in the wilderness;
Make smooth in the desert a highway for our God.
4 “Let every valley be lifted up,
And every mountain and hill be made low;
And let the rough ground become a plain,
And the rugged terrain a broad valley;
5 Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed,
And all flesh will see it together;
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

6 A voice says, “Call out.”
Then he answered, “What shall I call out?”
All flesh is grass, and all its loveliness is like the flower of the field.
7 The grass withers, the flower fades,
When the breath of the Lord blows upon it;
Surely the people are grass.
8 The grass withers, the flower fades,
But the word of our God stands forever.

If preparing for the future isn’t important, then we shouldn’t waste out time doing it. But the Bible says it IS important if we expect to have our human needs fulfilled. For example, verse 1 states one reason why preparation is necessary: “Comfort.” There is no greater time in which we need comfort than when we are going through tragedy and confusion.

Ancient Israel was in this sort of state. Bloody wars, a brutal holocaust, horrible deprivation, marked hopelessness and fear. For Israel suffered exile and humiliation beyond one’s imagination due to her sins. Read verse 2.

Through it all, however, God extended his mercy: “Her iniquity has been removed.” Israel would survive. God’s nation would be purified and tempered to withstand the test of endurance in due time. God would pardon Israel’s iniquity; recompense her sins; forgive her evil ways. He would restore her honor and beauty, once again.

These words of comfort echo down through the centuries even to our own day and age. Israel keeps on suffering from terrorism, internal division, and international pressure. But there is still hope. The late Prime Minister, Menachem Begin, once uttered the thoughts of many who continue to believe that one day, peace and security will come when he said, “…there is always hope that the Biblical vision of ‘Peace in thy tents, tranquility in thy palaces,’ [Psalm 122:7] will become a reality.”

While hope for peace prepares Israel, it prepares us, as well. Even when our sins cause our own suffering and guilt, we have hope that God will forgive us, too. Everyone of us, as the scriptures say, is “become filthy. There is none that doeth good, no, not one,” (Psalm 53:3). Proverbs 20:9 asks the question, “Who can say, I have made my heart clean, I am pure from sin”? John wrote, “If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us,” (1 John 1:9).

And, yet, Jesus was born to save us from our sins. As the angel told Joseph concerning Mary, “She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins,” (Matt. 1:21). The name, Jesus, is the Greek form of Joshua, which means, “the Lord saves.” The LORD God sent Jesus, his Son, to save his people, Israel, and all those who of the faith of Abraham, from their sins, so that believers might have the hope of inheriting life eternal in the Kingdom of God when Jesus comes at his second advent.

The fact that we are sinners in need of salvation shows why preparation is essential. Everything in this life is temporary. But God’s Word provides us with the promise of a future life and inheritance that is permanent. In Isaiah 40:6 and 7 this life is nothing more than “grass that withers” and “flowers that fade.” But the Word of God “stands forever.”

Preparation includes the duty to proclaim this promise. It provides the message of salvation all need to hear. In fact, Isaiah 40:3 is prophetic of John the Baptist who was preparing his people for the first advent of Jesus. As Matthew pointed, John fulfilled that “voice of one calling in the desert, ‘prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God…’” (Matthew 3:1-3).

John the Baptist is called the “forerunner of Christ” because he paved the way for the people to repent and accept Christ as Savior and Lord. John prepared the people by offering them the opportunity to commit themselves to the Lord, warning them of the consequences if they didn’t, and showing them the blessings if they did.

His message to “prepare ye the way” applies to us, also. The coming of Jesus into the world is good news for it fulfills the news that “the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” (Titus 2:11). And this is the kind of news that causes us to be ready and “…to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour, Jesus Christ,” (Titus 2:11-13).

Preparation requires us to take a good, hard look at ourselves and just where we stand with the Lord. Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Will he not first sit down and estimate the cost to see if he had enough money to complete it?” (Luke 14:28). Preparation means that we “pay up” what we owe to God through the service we render to him.

Whether we’re talking about building a tower or building our lives on the Lord Jesus Christ, we know that both require careful planning and foresight. We set high standards, give up trivial pursuits that waste our time, make possible the more important, desirable pursuits, and make worthy sacrifices and investments. This is what we do in preparation for the advent of Christ.

Here is “Prepare Ye the Way of the Lord” by Caedmon’s Call : http://youtu.be/FONzkDLOOFU

Good News to YOU!
Pastor Michael

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