Summary: Just as we prepare for guests to come to our house, we must also prepare ourselves for Jesus to come.
Preparing for guests to come: clean and straighten the house, cook food, prepare drinks, dress appropriately
Jesus is coming soon. How are you preparing for his arrival?
John the Baptizer was sent to prepare the people of Israel for the coming of the Messiah. He called people to repentance. He called the people to prepare themselves for the Messiah’s arrival. How were they to prepare themselves?
John gave four ways to prepare for Jesus to come.
1. We confess our sin to God.
Then John went from place to place on both sides of the Jordan River, preaching that people should be baptized to show that they had turned from their sins...
Four preachers met for a friendly gathering. During the conversation one preacher said, "Our people come to us and pour out their hears, confess certain sins and needs. Let’s do the same. Confession is good for the soul." In due time all agreed. One confessed he liked to gamble and would sneak off when away from his church. The second confessed his struggle with lust and the third one confessed to materialism. When it came to the fourth one, he wouldn’t confess. The others pressed him saying, "Come now, we confessed ours. What is your secret or vice?" Finally he answered, "It is gossiping and I can hardly wait to get out of here."
From time to time, we need to be reminded of our sinfulness. We live good, honest lives. But we are still sinners.
Sin is a lot like kudzu. It’s hard to get rid of. Like the vines, you can remove the acts of sin from your life. But the root continues to remain. As long as the root of kudzu remains in the ground, it can sprout new growth at any moment.
Susanna Wesley told her young son, John, "If you would judge of the lawfulness or the unlawfulness of pleasure, then take 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 Mrs. Wesley’s counsel about sin. Listen again to her description of sin: "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."
John the Baptizer was preaching that people everywhere should repent of their sin. Repentance begins with confessing our sin.
When we confess it means that we agree with God that we have sin. You may not have a sinful act to confess, but you still have a nature of sin that you must bring before God every day. Only God can keep the root of sin dormant.
Repentance also means turning away from sin. When John addressed the Pharisees who were coming to hear him, he condemned them for being hypocrites. They talked a lot about the Law of Moses and they prayed three times every day. But they were guilty of spiritual pride. They believed they were better that others because of their discipline. Jesus said they prayed and fasted to impress people, so their spiritual discipline meant nothing to God.
Sin can be very subtle. Occasionally, a cow will wonder off and get lost. One cattle farmer described how it happens this way.
The cow starts nibbling on a spot of green grass, and when it finishes, it looks ahead to the next spot of green grass and starts nibbling on that one, and then it nibbles on a spot of grass right next to a hole in the fence. It then sees another spot of green grass on the other side of the fence, so it nibbles on that one and then goes on to the another. The next thing you know, the cow has nibbled itself into being lost.
If we do not confess our sinful nature everyday, we will find ourselves nibbling our way away from God. We’ll wake up one day and ask, “How did I ever get here?”
After we confess our sin...
2. We receive forgiveness from God.
...and turned to God to be forgiven.
The psychiatrist, Dr. Karl Menninger, once said that if he could convince the patients in psychiatric hospitals that their sins were forgiven, 75 percent of them could walk out the next day!
We have a deep need to know that we are forgiven.
In his book, A Forgiving God in an Unforgiving World, Ron Lee Davis retells the true story of a priest in the Philippines, a much- loved man of God, who carried the burden of a secret sin he had committed many years before. He had repented but still had no peace, no sense of God’s forgiveness.