Prepare The Way Of The Lord
Over 700 years before John the Baptist came on the scene, God had spoken through the prophet Isaiah of his coming and his mission: "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" (Isa. 40:3). Johnís ministry was essentially a call for repentance from sin, calling for the renouncing and forsaking of sin in the life. Many of the common people of Judea and Jerusalem flocked to where he was baptizing in the Jordan River, confessing their sins. Doubtlessly lives were changed, perhaps affecting the whole spiritual atmosphere in Judea. Through John, God in tender mercy gave light to His people which helped prepare them for the fuller revelation which would come through the teaching and preaching of Jesus.
Many years ago, when Sarah Foulkes Moore, co-founder of Herald of His Coming, was still among us, she shared with the Herald staff, her understanding that while it was divinely ordained that John the Baptist was a single individual preparing the way for the Lord Jesusí coming ministry, it would be a John-the-Baptist company of saints which God would use to make a people ready for Christís coming again to this earth. Thank God for the company of messengers today who are faithfully, fearlessly preaching the message of making straight in the desert of this increasingly sinful world a highway for the return of our glorious Lord!
Brother and Sister Moore felt the Lord pressing them to print again and again in Herald of His Coming messages on repentance Ė genuine, life-changing repentance that involves a putting away of sin and a striving to walk in the way of holiness. Jesus tells us that it is a strait gate and a narrow way that leads to life. In his commentary, Albert Barnes suggests this figure of speech might come from a city wall of those days, which had a broad gate through which companies of people could enter together, in contrast to narrow gates through which solitary travelers would enter one at a time. "Enter ye in at the strait gateÖ," Jesus earnestly entreats, "because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it" (Matt. 7:13-14). What a sobering admonition this is to all of us.
Anyone seeking to help others prepare their hearts and lives for Christís coming must themselves be prepared. And so Brother and Sister Moore strongly encouraged the staff to take the messages in Herald of His Coming to heart. As a result, through the years, along with receiving good instruction in the deeper things of God, there were also humblings of ourselves, repentance, prayer and a sincere effort to walk in all the ways of the Lord Ė for it is written, "Öbe ye clean, that bear the vessels of the Lord" (Isa. 52:11). The more we love the Lord the more willing we are that He point out to us our sins, that we might repent and overcome by the grace of the Lord. We want nothing between our soul and our Savior!
In Luke 3:7-14, we learn what some of the fruits of genuine repentance are. John the Baptist instructed those who repented to give evidence of their life change. For instance, they should replace selfishness with generosity to the needy, they should replace deceitfulness with honesty, they should show kindness in place of harshness toward others.
The Fruit of the Spirit Is LoveÖ
Godís intent and provision is that the sin-bound life be changed into a Spirit-filled, love-filled life. It is a wonderful pursuit that draws on and on the soul eager to be among those who "walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us" (Eph. 5:1-2). It pays to read First Corinthians thirteen frequently, or memorize it if possible, and examine our love lives by this Word. It helps us know where we lack and for what we need to seek God earnestly. Most of us have dealt with the visible, external sins that are obvious and unworthy of a Christian, but the inward sins of the disposition we tend to cover or to disregard at the same time we long to be freed from them.
How do we learn more about loving as Christ loved? Godís Word is to abide in us as a transforming agent. And if we are willing and teachable, God will use the ups and downs of daily life and the variety of personalities we touch regularly to press us deeper into a life like His beloved Son. Happenings and people that we seek to avoid may be the very instruments God would use to make us more Christlike. Is not this the life that prepares Christís people to be joined forever with Him? Is not this what Christ desires to see in His beloved Bride, the church? Is it not this that makes us worthy citizens of Christís kingdom?
Friends, can we pray one for the other that we as brothers and sisters in Christ may be "knit together in love" (Col. 2:2) and that we might love God with all our heart, and soul and mind? Pray that souls who have left their first love will hasten to return. And let us pray that we will love lost sinners with the love shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit, willing to sacrifice that they be saved, remembering that Christ sacrificed His all that you and I might be brought into His kingdom.