Summary: If we restrict or restrain the entry of God into our lives, we cannot help but limit the power of God’s grace.
A HOPEFUL PREPARATION
SERMON #2 OF THE ADVENT SERIES “HOPE IS ON THE WAY”
Big Idea: If we restrict or restrain the entry of God into our lives, we cannot help but limit the power of God’s grace.
Advent is the season of waiting leading up to Christmas. It begins on the fourth Sunday before Christmas, and it ends on Christmas Eve.
It is a time of happiness, celebration, and hopeful anticipation of the arrival of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
We look for His arrival in three ways:
• We look back – We reflect on that first Christmas
• We look within – For a fresh visit from God’s Spirit
• We look forward – We await Christ’s second coming.
Waiting can be hard. Most people don’t like to wait. Advent requires “active waiting” … it encourages us to prepare and anticipate.
Today Advent’s theme is preparation … specifically today is about removing all the barriers to His presence … repentance.
Our theme today is from Matthew 3:1-12. It’s not a great “Christmas text” but it is a perfect “Advent” text.
1 In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea 2 and saying, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near." 3 This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the desert, 'Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.' " 4 John's clothes were made of camel's hair, and he had a leather belt around his waist. His food was locusts and wild honey. 5 People went out to him from Jerusalem and all Judea and the whole region of the Jordan. 6 Confessing their sins, they were baptized by him in the Jordan River. 7 But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to where he was baptizing, he said to them: "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. 9 And do not think you can say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as our father.' I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 10 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire. 11 "I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me will come one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not fit to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire. 12 His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor, gathering his wheat into the barn and burning up the chaff with unquenchable fire."
1 A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him-- the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of power, the Spirit of knowledge and of the fear of the LORD-- 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD. He will not judge by what he sees with his eyes, or decide by what he hears with his ears; 4 but with righteousness he will judge the needy, with justice he will give decisions for the poor of the earth. He will strike the earth with the rod of his mouth; with the breath of his lips he will slay the wicked. 5 Righteousness will be his belt and faithfulness the sash around his waist. 6 The wolf will live with the lamb, the leopard will lie down with the goat, the calf and the lion and the yearling together; and a little child will lead them. 7 The cow will feed with the bear, their young will lie down together, and the lion will eat straw like the ox. 8 The infant will play near the hole of the cobra, and the young child put his hand into the viper's nest. 9 They will neither harm nor destroy on all my holy mountain, for the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea. 10 In that day the Root of Jesse will stand as a banner for the peoples; the nations will rally to him, and his place of rest will be glorious.
The story is told of a king from days of old who had a boulder placed on a roadway leading into his great city. Then he hid himself and watched to see if anyone would remove the huge rock. Some of the king's wealthiest merchants came by and simply walked around it. Some of his most loyal subjects passed by and loudly blamed the king for not keeping the roads clear, but none did anything about getting the stone out of the way.