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Summary: John the Baptist was a prophet who came to prepare the people for the First Advent of Christ. His story teaches us how we can get ready for Christmas, so that we can receive Christ into our hearts and our homes.

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GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS

HUMOUR: A politically correct holiday greeting

Best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral, winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most joyous traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, but with respect for the religious persuasion of others who choose to practice their own religion as well as those who choose not to practice a religion at all.

OPENING:

I love Christmas. To me, it really is, “The most wonderful time of the year!” Share personal stories of being a child growing up in Saskatchewan, driving with my family to go spend Christmas with my grandparents. My desire to make Christmas special for my kids.

JOKE: I try to be creative at disguising obvious gifts when wrapping Christmas presents. One year I bought a video for my four-year-old son, and not wanting him to guess what it was, I put it in a cereal box, wrapped it and put it under the tree. Christmas morning he tore off the paper, let out a whoop and exclaimed, "Look, Mom, I got breakfast!"

THE HEROES OF THE CHRISTMAS STORY:

Who are some of the heroes of the Christmas story? We often think of Mary and Joseph – baby Jesus of course – and then the shepherds or the wise men. But what about John the Baptist?

THE BIG IDEA: John the Baptist was a prophet who came to prepare the people for the First Advent of Christ. His story teaches us how we can get ready for Christmas, so that we can receive Christ into our hearts and our homes.

GETTING READY FOR CHRISTMAS:

In the natural realm, there are many things we do to get ready for Christmas:

• Shopping (I’m a Dec. 24th shopper myself!), Christmas baking, decorating, etc.

In the spiritual realm, we need to get ready for Christmas as well!

TEXT: “The beginning of the gospel of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As it is written in the Prophets: Behold, I send My messenger before Your face, Who will prepare Your way before You. The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ’Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’

• The beginning of the Gospel – the Good News about Jesus – started with John.

• John the Baptist was a messenger who came to prepare the way before Jesus.

• The church of his day was experiencing a wilderness – they were far away from God.

John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then all the land of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and were all baptized by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Now John was clothed with camel’s hair and with a leather belt around his waist, and he ate locusts and wild honey. And he preached, saying, There comes One after me who is mightier than I, whose sandal strap I am not worthy to stoop down and loose. I indeed baptized you with water, but He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” (Mark 6:1-8).

• How did John prepare the people? He baptized them, and preached repentance.

• Then He pointed people to Jesus – “One who is mightier than I!”

WHAT SHOULD WE DO TO GET READY FOR CHRISTMAS?

I. CHANGE YOUR LIFE:

“And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: "The voice of one crying in the wilderness: Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight. Every valley shall be filled And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough ways smooth; And all flesh shall see the salvation of God." Then he said to the multitudes that came out to be baptized by him, "Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ’We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire." (Luke 3:3-9).

• The first thing John said was that the people who bear fruits of repentance

• John said: “It’s not good enough to have parents who were believers. You need to have a personal relationship with the Lord for yourself!”

• John was telling them that they needed to change their lives. Quote Matt. 1:21 - Jesus came to save His people FROM their sins.

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