Summary: There is good news for those how feel far away from God right now. Preparing for the coming of Christ through repentance. Second Sunday in Advent, year B.

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[Preview the Isaiah reading with a description of what Isaiah is writing to. Isaiah wrote hundreds of years before Jesus at a time when his people, God’s people, were threatened by destruction from a foreign nation. God saved them, but the warning from Isaiah and other prophets of that time was that another nation would come and conquer them because of their disobedience. And they would be shipped off, exported to a foreign land. They would spend 70 years there. But in these verses I am about to read Isaiah reminds them that even though their situation would be bad, it will seem like God has forgotten them, he had not. It was the consequence they had to face because of their sin. Don’t think for a second God forget them. Through Isaiah God shifts gears and gives a message of hope and comfort to his people. Listen to these words of Isaiah.

[Read Is. 40:1-11]

[Read Mark 1:1-8]

Today we are in the second Sunday of Advent, Advent means "coming" or "drawing near." During the season of Advent we are reminding ourselves what this Christmas season is really all about, we are celebrating God drawing near to us in Christ Jesus. The Bible tells us if we want to know what God is like we can look at Jesus because he is the visible image of the unseen God (Col. 1:15).

We celebrate God’s coming near to us. Last week we recognized that not only has God come near to us in the birth and life of Jesus, but that he will come again. We don’t know the day or the hour, but he will return and set all things right, and reign with peace, justice, and righteousness. Part of setting things right will be to gather all people to face judgment. So Advent is also a time of preparation. How do we prepare ourselves for the arrival of Christ? Obviously we are not talking about decorations, and buying Christmas presents. Last week we spent some time reminding ourselves of what Jesus said we must do to prepare ourselves for his return. Jesus told three stories or parables teaching us that: 1) We need to be spiritually ready. How is our relationship with Christ? Do we have a relationship with Christ? Are we filled with his Spirit? Jesus said before his return there will be a time of tribulation or persecution for Christians. Is our faith deep enough, strong enough, to handle people ready to kill us for our faith? He said there would also be false teachers and prophets who will try to cleverly steer us away from the truth. Do we recognize the Good Shepherd’s voice and his Word enough to recognize the truth? 2) Jesus taught about using our God given resources for his purposes. We’re talking about our time, abilities, money. 3) And in the third parable he told us what those purposes are, namely to help others in their need, particularly other Christians, whether that is a spiritual need (their need for Christ), or a physical ("I was hungry and you fed me, I was thirsty and you gave me a drink," etc.). These are ways we get ready. If you’re doing these things, you’ve got nothing to worry about. If you’re not…

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