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Summary: And on the way home Jana said, with great satisfaction "I had the main part in the play!" "You did?"wondering why she thought that. "Yes," she said, "'cause I showed everybody how to find Jesus!" Wouldn't that be a wonderful way to be remembered.

For those not familiar with an Anglican Service there were three readings assigned for this day: Malachi 3:1-4; Philippians 1:3-11 and Luke 3:1-6

Having overnight guests.... Requires much preparation: ....clean, .....dust ...... vacuum....new sheets on the beds,.....fresh towels in the bathroom.... shopping for food, .....preparing the food, ....the list goes on ....and on....and on.

And my wife Lee will tell you .... her list.... is far longer .....than mine. Did I just hear an Amen.

Beloved ....Advent also ....is a time.... for preparation..... for being .....prepared.

We will see our Lord ....either through His second Advent.... or by leaving this side of eternity...through death.

Are you prepared ... are you prepared .....to meet the Messiah?

John the Baptizer ...was sent ...to prepare the way of the Lord..... to prepare the people ....for the coming ....of the Messiah.

He called the people ......to repent.

He called the people ....to prepare themselves .....to be prepared for ....the coming of the Messiah.

Yet.....How were they to prepare .....themselves?

John shares .....the way ....to prepare .....for the coming of the Messiah.

First (1 Finger) We are called to confess our sin to God.

Hear again .... our Gospel text this day: BIBLE "He (John)... went into all the region around the Jordan, ....proclaiming a baptism of.....repentance .....for ....the forgiveness of sins...." END Luke 3:3

Beloved ....confessing ...admitting that we are a sinner ....is at the heart ....of repentance.

We are called.... to repent....we are called .....to confess our sins. (Pause)

Four pastors met .....for a friendly gathering.

During the conversation .....one pastor said:

"Our people come to us... and pour out their hearts, .......and confess their sins..... and their needs.

"Confession ....is good for the soul..... Let us do the same .....with each other. "

One confessed .....he had a gambling problem ....and would sneak off to a casino ....when he was out of town.

The second confessed ....his struggle... with lust.

The third one confessed ........to materialism.

When it came to the fourth Pastor,.... he remained silent.

The others pressed him:... Finally he answered, "It is gossiping .........and I can't wait ....to get out of here....to tell someone" (Long Pause)

Beloved.....From time to time, ....we need to be reminded ....of our sinfulness.

We try to live good, and honest lives......yet we all are sinners.... All have sinned ....and fall short of .....the glory of God. Romans 3:23

Sin is a lot like.... the kudzu vine....a vine that is destroying many of the forests .....in the south.

You cannot destroy it .....by cutting back the growth....you must dig it up......and destroy ....the root.

As long as any part of the root of the kudzu ....remains in the ground, .......it can sprout.... new growth.

Beloved ....you can remove acts of sin from your life.

But nothing eternally will change ....until you address ......the root of sin ....in your life. (Pause)

Susanna Wesley ....told her young son, John,..... Whenever you judge the lawfulness.... or the unlawfulness ....of pleasure, ...then use this simple rule:

"Whatever weakens your reason, .....impairs the tenderness ...of your conscience, .....obscures your sense of God, .....and takes off the relish of spiritual things.........that to you .......is sin."

That is sound advice.

We would do well ....to heed Susanna Wesley's counsel.

Hear again her words:

"Whatever weakens your reason, .....impairs the tenderness ...of your conscience, .....obscures your sense of God, .....and takes off the relish of spiritual things.....that to you .......is sin." (Pause)

John the Baptizer .....was preaching ......that the people ......must repent .....of their sin.

And repentance can only begin .....when we are willing ....to confess our sin..... to confess ....that we are .....a sinner.

We all have ....a nature of sin .....that must be brought .....before God.

For only God.... can address ...the root....of sin.

Repentance .....begins with confession .....which in turn .....leads to a ....."turning away" ... a life that moves ......away .....from sin.

When John the Baptizer ....addressed the Pharisees.....he condemned them .....for being hypocrites.

Jesus had strong words concerning the Pharisees, .....and what awaits them:

BIBLE " "But woe to you,..... scribes and Pharisees,.... hypocrites! ....For you shut the kingdom of heaven in people's faces..... For you neither enter yourselves ....nor allow those who would enter... to go in" END (Matthew 23:13 ESV).

They believed they were better than others.... that they were Holier.... then others.... because of the rules and the laws..... that they kept.

They were guilty ....of spiritual pride.....and their false spiritual discipline ..... meant nothing.. to God.

Sin can be very subtle....it can ....and it will sneak up on you .....if you let it. (Pause)

This children's fable ....may help illustrate ......sin's subtle nature:

One cold night,..... as an Arab sat in his tent, ....his camel ....named ....."Sin" ....gently thrust his nose under the flap ...and looked in.

"Master,".... he said,.... "let me put my nose in your tent.......It's cold and stormy..... out here."

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Scott Ralston

commented on Dec 6, 2018

Jeff I always love your sermons. I love your insights and the way you speak to your congregation. This is another great one. Thank you! May God bless you this day and all your days!

J Jeffrey Smead

commented on Dec 7, 2018

Scott. Thank you for taking time to respond and even more so for your kind words. Blessings Always. Your brother in the Faith. Jeff.

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