Summary: I wonder what would happen if we spent as much time getting, spiritually ready for Jesus as we spend getting our decorations up for Christmas? Adapted from a sermon by Pastor Doug Henry

Pastor Doug Henry tells this story: “I was in Wal-Mart a few months ago with a mission. It was the end of the summer season, so I went to the lawn and garden section to check out the sales on all the stuff you use to keep your yard and property looking nice. I went there with the intention of buying a weed eater if the price was right, and I wanted to see what else I could find a bargain on. As I entered into the lawn and garden section of the store, I noticed that they had already started putting out the Halloween decorations. It was nearing the end of September, so this was to be expected; however, I was soon to discover that Halloween was not the only holiday they were ready for. After two aisles of vampires, jack-o-lanterns, and ghosts, I ran smack dab into Frosty, Rudolph, Santa, and the rest of the Christmas gang. I looked at my wife and asked, “Do they really have Christmas stuff out already?” hoping that she would pinch me and I would wake up from a nightmare. Sure enough, Wal-Mart was ready for Christmas in September. It won’t be long until you walk in there to buy sparklers for the Fourth of July and you will have to walk past the giant inflatable snow globe to get them.”

How many of you, here, don’t start getting ready for Christmas until After Thanksgiving?

Wouldn't it be nice if we could take our holidays one at a time? Now there is nothing wrong with those of you who have been ready for months, but you may be suffering from Christmasitis, which is an addiction to the Christmas holiday.

Here is a test that can help you determine if you have contracted this disease.

Give yourself a point for every question you answer yes to.

1. Do you have more than five giant inflatable or wooden lawn decorations?

2. Do you buy next year’s Christmas presents at the after Christmas sales each year?

3. Do you leave your Christmas lights up all year and try to pass them off as lights to celebrate other holidays?

4. Have you ever bought an artificial tree because real ones don’t last for three months?

5. Do you rent or own a shed or storage unit because you have more decorations than your house can hold?

But seriously let me ask you a question: Are you ready for Christmas?

Normally when this question is asked we can point to a number of things that determine how ready we are.

a. Do we have our tree out and decorated?

b. Are all the decorations and lights hung?

c. Is our shopping completed?

d. Did we send out our Christmas cards?

e. Do we have everything wrapped?

After each step is completed, we can check off everything that gets done.

However, this is not what I mean when I ask the question, “Are you ready for Christmas?” I want to know if you are ready spiritually.

Do you remember our first message? We talked about the angel bringing the message to Zachariah that he and Elizabeth would have a son and he would be the forerunner of the Messiah. We call him John the Baptist and he came before Jesus Christ to give the people a message. His message was to get ready for the coming Messiah.

Let’s take a look at this message. Turn your Bibles to Matthew 3:1-10.

There are four key words that are spoken in this passage. We must heed these words if we wish to fully prepare for Him at Christmastime. This morning, I want to take a look at what John the Baptist told the people of Israel so they could be ready for the coming of the Lord.

1. The first word I want to look at is: Prepare

When we think about getting ready for Christmas, we immediately think about putting up the tree, hanging the lights, shopping, just to name a few.

But there is one thing that must be done before anything else. You have to prepare your house to receive these things.

In our house all the spots, where Suzanne places the snowman knick knacks, the snow globes, and even our Christmas tree are occupied by other decorations and furniture, during the rest of the year.

So, in order to have space to put ALL of her Christmas stuff out, we have to get the other stuff out of the way.

John the Baptist is the one whom Isaiah spoke about when he told there would be a voice calling in the desert. Listen to Isaiah chapter 40 beginning in verse 3.

A voice of one calling: “In the desert prepare the way for the Lord; make straight in the wilderness a highway for our God. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

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