Friday, March 21, 2008

Make Straight the Way of the Lord. . .

Isaiah 40:3-5
The voice of him that crieth in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low: and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain: And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together: for the mouth of the LORD hath spoken it.

Matthew 3:1-3
In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea, And saying, Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand. For this is he that was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.

Why was John the Baptist sent before the arrival of Jesus? What did John do that Jesus could not have done for Himself? He was told, his purpose was to "prepare ye the way of the Lord." When a king travels, when President Bush travels a man or more likely a team of men are sent ahead of his visit to make sure that everything is ready for his arrival. It surely would not do for such an important man to waste his time waiting while proper accommodations were found. This was the purpose of John, to prepare the people to receive Jesus.

Before you are ready to receive God, your heart must be convicted that you have a need for Him. Who will accept anything that they are not convinced that they need? We have lots of wants in our lives that we do not act upon. When our desire changes from a want to a need, we act upon it. We act upon that which we believe we need.

Smart marketers of new products attempt to through advertising, create an excitement, they try to create a hunger within us, they try to make the market see what they offer not as a want, they try to elevate what ever it is they are selling from an option to something that is a necessity. For the shelves of every store are filled with things that are merely wanted. Shopping carts are filled with things that are seen as needed. . . They prepare the way for the arrival of their product by creating a hunger in the people for it. That was the purpose of John, to convict the people in their hearts, to show them that they had a need of change.

John went around the Hebrew nation preaching a message of how sinful the people were and how much they needed to repent, how much they needed to change their ways.

Repentance has two levels to it. In the Old Testament, in the Hebrew there are two words both often translated into English as repent. The first word:

Strong's H5162 nâcham means to sigh, to breath heavily, to be emotionally convicted.

Jeremiah 15:6
Thou hast forsaken me, saith the LORD, thou art gone backward: therefore will I stretch out my hand against thee, and destroy thee; I am weary with repenting.

God is saying that He is tired of being sorry. This is repentance without action. This is the first level of repentance. We can be convicted in our hearts that we need to lose weight or quit smoking or start exercising and it may be that our conviction stays at only that level. If we do not act upon our conviction we have only attained the first level of repentance. It doesn't do us any good. Belief without action is not worth much.

The second word:

Strong's H7725 shûb means to turn around, to change direction

Ezekiel 14:6
Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord GOD; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.

The word is used twice here. It is repeated: shûb shûb repent and turn. This is the second level of repentance. Do not just change your belief, but God is calling the house of Israel to physically turn away from their idols and every other sin.

We are called the same as John called the Jewish people, not just to be convicted in our hearts, but to act upon our conviction. John called them not just to believe that they needed to change, but demonstrate through an act of faith, the act of being baptized that they were willing to change their behavior.

This was necessary before the people could receive their Messiah. Before you can enter into a close relationship with God you must be convicted in your heart that you have a need in your life for Him and you must also be convicted to act to fill that need. This is the purpose of the baptism of John. It is first of all an act of faith, an acting upon your belief that you are a sinful person and need to change. Then the Bible says in this act of baptism your sins are remitted, they are washed away by God:

Acts 2:38
Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.

Change your heart, change your ways, come to full repentance and then act upon it by being baptized in water in the name of Jesus Christ, but do not stop there. There are two baptisms:

This is John the baptist speaking:

Matthew 3:11
I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire:

After the baptism of John, after John has made the way straight for the Lord in our hearts, we are to be then baptized by Jesus, This is the second baptism spoken of by John in Matthew 3:11. This is not a baptism of water. This is not a baptism that man can have anything to do with, This is the entry of Jesus into the heart that was made right for Him through repentance. This is the coming of the Lord into that prepared land of our heart.

How were you baptized? Were you baptized into repentance? That is a wonderful and necessary thing, but do not stop there. Seek the second baptism, the baptism of Jesus. Ask Him to come into your heart. . . ask Him for the baptism of the Holy Ghost and with fire!!!!

I love you my God. . .
I thank you for opening my eyes. . .
I thank you for my repentance. . .
I thank you for washing me clean. . .
I thank you for remitting my sins. . .
I thank you for your baptism. . .
I thank you for your Spirit living within me. . .
I love you my God. . .


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