Summary: How do we prepare our hearts for Christmas? Let's listen to the messenger God sent to prepare the way. Parts: A. A heart horrified at my sin. B. A heart rejoicing in Christ's kingdom. C. A heart producing real fruit in my life.

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Text: It's a Complete Change of Heart

Theme: Repentance: It's Not Just Words;

A. A heart horrified at my sin

B. A heart rejoicing in Christ's kingdom

C. A heart producing real fruit in my life

Season: Advent 2a

Date: December 5, 2010

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Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Amen. The Word from God through which the Holy Spirit prepares our hearts for Jesus is Matthew 3.

"In those days, John the Baptizer came preaching in the wilderness of Judea, saying, "Repent. For the kingdom of heaven is near." In fact, he's the one spoken of through the prophet Isaiah: "A voice of one calling in the wilderness: 'Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.'"

"This John was wearing clothes of camel's hair and a leather belt around his waist. His food was grasshoppers and wild honey. At that time Jerusalem, all Judea, and all the area around the Jordan kept coming to him. They were being baptized by him in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins.

"When he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming for his baptism, he said to them, "You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? So produce fruit worthy of repentance. And don't think to say to yourselves, 'We have Abraham as [our] father.' For I tell you that from these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. The ax already lies across the root of the trees. So every tree not bearing good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

""As for my part, I baptize you with water for repentance, but the One coming after me is stronger than I am, whose sandals I'm not fit to carry. He's the One who will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor. He will gather his grain into the barn, but burn the chaff with unquenchable fire." " (Matthew 3:1-12)

Dear friends in Christ, fellow saints washed clean in the blood of our risen Savior:

"Now tell him you're sorry!" How often haven't those words come out of the mouth of a parent or teacher. But is that what repentance really is, saying that you're sorry? Does adding the threat, "And you better mean it or else!" make it any more sincere? Repentance is not just words, is it? Christian repentance is a complete change of heart.

Only a repentant heart is ready to welcome the Christ Child. We know how to prepare our homes for the Christmas season. But what about your heart? Telling your heart to be repentant doesn't make it so. Saying the right words doesn't mean it's true. How do we prepare our hearts?

Let's listen to God's messenger sent to prepare the way for the Savior -- yes, sent to prepare our hearts. This voice, calling in the wild areas along the Jordan in uninhabited Judean countryside -- this voice was foretold by Isaiah over six hundred years earlier. He comes like Elijah of old, wearing the simplest of clothes, only coarse camel's hair and a leather belt. He lives off the land eating locusts and wild honey. His name is John, the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth. He comes baptizing the people in the Jordan River and preaching: "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near" (Matthew 3:2 NIV).

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