Summary: This sermon is about hearing the voice calling in the wildernesses of our hearts to embrace the only change that matters, to become more like Jesus by following four steps!
Making Every Path Straight!
Online Sermon: http://www.mckeesfamily.com/?page_id=3567
How should one respond to the voice calling in the wildernesses to “make our paths straight”? When John the Baptist originally spoke these words, many people chose to repent and be baptised so that their hearts would be ready to meet their Lord, Saviour and King! Despite having been commanded by Jesus Himself to make our paths straight so that we might be found faithful and wise upon His return, to our shame our response has been an occasional “hot flash” of drawing close to Him but for the most part has been an attitude of indifference! It is not that Christians today don’t want a close personal relationship with their Savior, they certainly do, but living in a world where change and fast pace seem to be the only constants, they have inadvertently made self rather than Christ the ruler of their hearts! This sermon is about hearing the voice calling in the wildernesses of our hearts to embrace the only change that matters, to become more like Jesus!
Seeing in the Wilderness (Luke 3:4)
As it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: “A voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for Him.
The “ambassador” of the King, John the Baptist’s message some two thousand years ago was spoken in the Desert of Judea (Matthew 3:1), a “barren and rugged land west of the Dead Sea.” While his clothes were made from Camel’s hair, his belt made of leather and his diet of locusts and wild honey (Matthew 3:4) were not impressive by ancient standards, his message was so provocative that it was perceived either as an attack on the Jerusalem establishment (Matthew 3:7) and other powerful social groups (Luke 3:10-14) or an outright fulfillment of Isaiah 40:2 … the emissary of the Messiah had arrived! Like an OT emissary to a king whom was sent to cleanup the environment where he was to visit, John was sent to warn the people that they needed to clean their hearts to meet their Master or face the wrath of God for being faithless (Matthew 3:7) ones merely concerned with an external appearance of holiness. For the people to be ready to meet Jesus John taught that they needed a radical change that can only come from a contrite (Isaiah 57:14-17) and repentant heart! The mountains, valleys and crooked places of their hearts that were keeping them from fully submitting to the authority of God must be repented of and in their place put a genuine desire to love Him and one another (Matthew 22:37-49; Luke 3:10-14)!
While the Messiah has already arrived and atoned for the sins of humanity this does not negate His message and urgency for Christians today to make their paths straight. In Matthew 24 Jesus told us to keep watch for we do not know the day or hour that He will return. Then in chapter 25 Jesus warned that those who are unsaved upon His return will be excluded from the marriage feast (1-13), thrown outside into the darkness (14-30), and will suffer the fate of the devil and angels (31-46). And just because believers are justified by faith in Christ this does not mean that they will be exempt from judgement for their deeds as well (Romans 14:19, 12; 1 Corinthians 3:12-15; 2 Corinthians 11:15). He who has entrusted and given us life expects in return not mere “moments” of hot and mostly cold indifference to His existence but allegiance in the form of undying love and commitment to His commands (James 1:22) and will for our very lives (Hebrews 13:20-21)! This sermon is going to outline four steps to preparing one’s heart to please Jesus both now and upon His return: 1) “dig up” one’s pride and carnal passions, 2) straighten one’s ways through confession, 3) fill one’s calendar with service to God, and 4) smooth out the “rough patches” of life by continually focussing and submitting to the pioneer and perfector of our faith, Jesus.
“Dig up” Pride and Carnal Passions (“Every Mountain and Hill made Low” – verse 5b)
Before one will ever be willing to live by the Spirit one must fulfill Christ’s command to deny (Mark 8:34) and have self crucified with Christ (Galatians 2:20). One of the main reasons why Christians are “cold” or “indifferent” to their Creator is due to pride. Pride is a sin of the attitude of the heart that says “I” am the master of my destiny and as such I am the “best” one to seek and establish my future! These “mountain peaks” of arrogance and haughty eyes (Proverbs 21:4) “removes God as the center of one’s life and exalts self, attributing to self the honor due God.” Is not God’s word to be a “lamp unto our feet” (Psalms 119:105)? Are not Christians told to “trust in the Lord with all our heart and lean not on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5-6)? Surely, He who had bought us at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20) has more than paid the price for our allegiance, devotion and undying love to make Him alone the center of our lives! We must never forget that while we are the “creator” of temporal things, Jesus alone is the eternal Creator and ruler of all things both seen and unseen (Colossians 1:16). Until one’s goals and dreams are crucified on the cross one’s cold attitude towards God will remain and be subject to present and future judgment!