Summary: While examining the word that came to John "Prepare the way of the Lord" this sermon discusses the life-giving influence that occurs when God sends His word and discusses what it means to prepare the way of the Lord.
Prepare the Way of the Lord
The action in our text this morning begins with a powerful Hebrew statement. Luke 3:2 “...the word of the Lord came to John...” When God wants to strike a holy match and set His people on fire, that is the match He uses—“the word of the Lord came”. Business picks up when the word of the Lord comes. The Greek word in our text is rhema rather than logos. It was not the whole of truth that came to him; but a specific message from God.  Just a few words can bring amazing results when it is a word from God. “The word of the Lord came to John.”
I was greatly encouraged when I thumbed through the Bible and looked at times when “the word of the Lord” came. I want to share with you a few highlights of those occasions.
In Gen. 15 Abraham was weary from a battle in which he rescued Lot. He was discouraged because God’s promise to him concerning a son had not come to pass. Since it wasn’t happening he had even come up with an alternate plan. Listen to what he says to God in verse 3, “And Abram said, ‘You have given me no children; so a servant in my household will be my heir.” Got any promises from God that has not yet come to pass?
Now watch God light a new fire of hope in the mind and heart of Abraham. Gen 15:4
“Then the word of the LORD came to him: ‘This man will not be your heir, but a son coming from your own body will be your heir.’ 5 He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” Isn’t that precious the way God helped and encouraged Abraham’s faith? When I read that passage I see a loving Father tenderly taking his son by the hand and leading him outside the tent and directing his attention to the vast heaven above. Genesis 15:5 He took him outside and said, ‘Look up at the heavens and count the stars--if indeed you can count them.’ Then he said to him, ‘So shall your offspring be.’” From that day forward every time Abraham looked at those stars he was reminded of God’s promise to him. Abraham’s response is in the next verse, “6 Abram believed the LORD, and he credited it to him as righteousness.” Faith is strengthened when “the word of the Lord” comes.
1 Kings 18:1 “After a long time, in the third year, the word of the LORD came to Elijah: ‘Go and present yourself to Ahab, and I will send rain on the land.’” “The word of the Lord came to Elijah...I will send rain...” Do you remember how Elijah responded to that word? He confronted the prophets of Baal and called the people back to God. Here’s something I like about Elijah. He spoke in faith the word that God had put in his heart. 1 Kings 18:41 “Then Elijah said to Ahab, ‘Go up, eat and drink; for there is the sound of abundance of rain.’” (NKJV). Does anybody hear “the sound of abundance of rain” for 2005? I think I may be hearing some holy thunder in the spiritual realm. This is a good example of a true word of faith. Speaking in faith is not me coming up with what I want God to say and then confessing in such a way that He has to do it. Elijah was simply speaking what God had already said to him. It took faith because externally there was nothing happening to verify that word. They ground was just as cracked and dry as it had ever been. There was no one cloud in the sky. But Elijah had this in his heart, the word of the Lord had come to Elijah. His response to “the word of the Lord” was not passive in any way. We see him on the top of Mount Carmel interceding for the rain God had promised. A word from the Lord is a call to spiritual activity, not some apathetic wait and see mentality. Six times he sent his servant to look for some token of God’s answer to prayer. Six times the servant came back with nothing to report. But on the seventh time—if we can just persevere to the seventh time—on the seventh time the servant reported “A cloud as small as a man’s hand is rising from the sea.” I think the servant may have been a bit apologetic about such a small token of promise. Could you expect a might outpouring based on a tiny cloud the size of a man’s hand? I grew up in the panhandle of Texas and I never saw a “gully washer” rain come from a cloud as small as a man’s hand. Before a huge outpouring of rain the sky would be full of dark, rolling clouds. It doesn’t require much faith when the sky looks like that. Everybody believes its going to rain when the sky is full of thunder clouds. I don’t think this servant was especially excited about that tiny cloud as small as a man’ hand. But that was not all that Elijah had to go on—for earlier “the word of the Lord” had come to Elijah.