First Sunday of Advent 2018.
Christmas begins on December 25, when we celebrate the birth of our Lord. In Advent we assume the prophesied ministry of John the Baptist.
- A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Isaiah 40:3
- In those days John the Baptist came preaching in the wilderness of Judea,2 “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”3 For this is he who was spoken of by the prophet Isaiah when he said, “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; make his paths straight.’” Matthew 3:1-3
Every year Christians reflect upon what “preparations” they should make for the arrival of Jesus on December 25th.
The word advent comes to us from Greek to Latin to English. It carries the meaning of arrival and arriving.
In advent we prepare ourselves for the arrival of Jesus, past, present and future.
- Jesus physically arrived about 2024 years ago.
- 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to give birth. 7 And she gave birth to her firstborn son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn. Luke 2:6-7
- Jesus arrives in our lives in various ways today.
- And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20
- Jesus will return to earth with a glorious and grand “Second Coming of Jesus.”
- For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
‘Awaken! Remember that God comes! Not yesterday, not tomorrow, but today, now! The one true God, “the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob”, is not a God who is there in Heaven, unconcerned with us and our history, but he is the-God-who-comes.’ Pope Benedict XVI, Celebration of First Vespers of Advent, Vatican Basilica, December 2006
Our Advent celebration is founded in the reality that “The Maker has Made Himself Known.”
The Maker made Himself known to John the Apostle through personal encounter, friendship and demonstration.
14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. 15 (John bore witness about him, and cried out, “This was he of whom I said, ‘He who comes after me ranks before me, because he was before me.’”) 16 For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace. 17 For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. 18 No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known. John 1:14-18
The Maker made Himself known to the Apostle Paul by revelation.
For this reason I, Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus on behalf of you Gentiles—2 assuming that you have heard of the stewardship of God’s grace that was given to me for you, 3 how the mystery was made known to me by revelation, as I have written briefly. 4 When you read this, you can perceive my insight into the mystery of Christ, 5 which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. 6 This mystery is that the Gentiles are fellow heirs, members of the same body, and partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel. Ephesians 3:1-6
God loves to make Himself known:
- In material things, natural provision and finances.
- In physical strength, health and healing.
- In peace, joy and love.
- In relationships.
- In removing sin, guilt and condemnation and replacing with righteousness and a pure conscience.
A most interesting story of “preparing the way of the Lord” is found in Judges 7:2-7
2 The Lord said to Gideon, “The people with you are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hand, lest Israel boast over me, saying, ‘My own hand has saved me.’ 3 Now therefore proclaim in the ears of the people, saying, ‘Whoever is fearful and trembling, let him return home and hurry away from Mount Gilead.’” Then 22,000 of the people returned, and 10,000 remained.
4 And the Lord said to Gideon, “The people are still too many. Take them down to the water, and I will test them for you there, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall go with you,’ shall go with you, and anyone of whom I say to you, ‘This one shall not go with you,’ shall not go.” 5 So he brought the people down to the water. And the Lord said to Gideon, “Every one who laps the water with his tongue, as a dog laps, you shall set by himself. Likewise, every one who kneels down to drink.” 6 And the number of those who lapped, putting their hands to their mouths, was 300 men, but all the rest of the people knelt down to drink water.7 And the Lord said to Gideon, “With the 300 men who lapped I will save you and give the Midianites into your hand, and let all the others go every man to his home.”
Gideon and Midian by the Numbers
- 32,000 warriors at the beginning
- 22,00 warriors sent home due to fearfulness and trembling.
- Of the 10,000 warriors remaining, 9,700 are sent back to their homes.
- God made Himself known to all the world in and through 300 warriors.
Is there something in your life that God is reducing to prepare the way of the Lord?
Welcome God’s work in you because He has promised to make Himself known to you.
I (Kent) felt the Lord say to me, “I will make myself known and I will leave no doubt.”
- I left no doubt to Abraham on the Mountains of Moriah.
- I left no doubt at the Red Sea.
- I left no doubt to Daniel in the lion’s den.
- I left no doubt to the three Hebrew boys in the fiery furnace.
- I left no doubt to Mary, Martha and Lazarus at Lazarus’ tomb.
- I left no doubt following the death of Jesus on the cross.
If you reduce with God, He will make Himself known and leave no doubt!
When you seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. Jeremiah 29:13