There is something fascinating and inspiring about hearing words clearly and powerfully shared. Here John is without doubt as he cries out in the wilderness into that “region of the Jordan River” (CEB). He is determined and passionate as he proclaims that everyone needs the work of salvation.
It is easy to lose sight of what bold and holy righteousness looks like today and to become complacent about how and where we share the good news. It takes people of faith to encourage others to come to know what genuine Christian experience is all about. To inspire others to live in the righteousness of Christ may require some of us to participate in church meetings, serve in worship, or call a prayer line. For others, those traditional means may not represent the most engaging path for revealing the presence and love of Christ, so they serve in other ways.
Without attention to the needs of those on the receiving end of our words, we will fail at following John’s lead. Too often Christians try to inspire without knowing the culture or understanding the background of those to whom they are speaking. We must remember that the wilderness in the regions of our present day are different, so our voices need new and exciting words and images to offer while we remain rooted in the gospel. There is unending joy to be spread, just as there is eternal truth to be told. This life in Christ is not an easy life, but it is a fulfilling life. People need honesty which touches the already-present realities rather than hiding the challenges we must face. For those we reach, our passion must be evident from our first encounter to the last.
Lord, teach us, guide us, and press our hearts so that we may be creative witnesses who offer hope-filled inspiration to all as we “prepare the way for the Lord.” Amen.
The prophet Malachi speaks of a future day when God’s messenger will come to prepare the way for the Lord. The Lord will then purify the people and restore proper worship of God. Christians believe that John the Baptizer was this messenger, preparing the way for Christ. In Luke 1, the Holy Spirit fills Zechariah, John’s father, who proclaims that the fulfillment of God’s promises to their descendants has begun. Luke continues the story of John in chapter 3, describing John’s ministry of calling people to repentance. They need to prepare the way of the Lord in their own hearts, thus fulfilling Malachi’s prophecy. Paul in Philippians focuses not on the advent of Christ but on the ongoing power of Christ’s presence to make us blameless and righteous in God’s sight.
Read Malachi 3:1-4. How have you encountered the refiner’s fire? What was your experience?
Read Luke 1:68-79. In what ways have you experienced God’s tender mercy in your life?
Read Philippians 1:3-11. How do you make expressing your gratitude for others a daily habit?
Read Luke 3:1-6. How are you preparing the way of the Lord? What crooked paths are you helping to make straight?
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