Advent Introduction: Advent Theme- Awaiting the power of the Holy Spirit.
Songs: My Soul Magnifies The Lord - Chris Tomlin
Hallelujah To The King Of Kings/Hallelujah Chorus - Ron Kenoly
Let the Praises Ring - Travis Cottrell He Shall Reign Forevermore - Chris Tomlin
Scripture: Luke 1 - Mary 46-55 and Zechariah 68-79
Songs: Medley - Michael W. Smith Father, Spirit, Jesus - Casting Crowns Offering - Umobile Worship
Sermon: “To Make Ready”
Closing Song: Holy Spirit Rain Down- Hillsong
Benediction: 1 Samuel 10:6 “The Spirit of the Lord will come powerfully upon you, and you will prophesy with them; and you will be changed into a different person. 7 Once these signs are fulfilled, do whatever your hand finds to do, for God is with you.” Mark 16:19 “After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.”
Advent Introduction: Our Advent theme this year is awaiting the power of the Holy Spirit. If we are to be ready for Jesus to return, we must have the power of the Holy Spirit fall on us once again just like Pentecost and subsequent outpourings. Last week we celebrated Jesus Christ our king. That was the last Sunday of the liturgical calendar, thus Advent is the beginning. Now as I said, you don’t want to be on a perpetual cycle of Christmas, Easter, Christmas, Easter for the rest of your life. We need the power of Pentecost in our lives once again. Advent is also the beginning of the end of all things. So while Advent is defined as a “time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas, now it is about expectant waiting and preparation for the return of Jesus at the Second Coming.” This is why I said the beginning of the end and we must prepare for it. No I’m not talking about becoming a survivalist but turning back to God because when Jesus returns, that is the end of this world and the beginning of eternity. David said in Psalm 61:4 “I long to dwell in your tent forever and take refuge in the shelter of your wings. 5 For you, God, have heard my vows; you have given me the heritage of those who fear your name.” We must prepare ourselves and be ready for the return of Jesus. Matthew 24:42 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. 43 But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. 44 So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.” Paul said 1 Corinthians 15:51 “Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed— 52 in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16 “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.” 2 Peter 3:10 “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything done in it will be laid bare. 11 Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives 12 as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat.” I will only touch on this briefly as we are talking about the power of the Holy Spirit. Yes it is true that these passages have been altered to reflect the rapture and all that goes with it but sadly this teaching only keeps people from turning from their wicked ways and seeking God’s power as they continue to follow doctrines of demons. 1 Timothy 4:1 “The Spirit clearly says that in later times some will abandon the faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons.” These teachings have caused many to abandon the truth.
When talking about the Advent of our Savior, we don’t need to focus as much on the first coming. Yes it was important but if you are still there, you are not ready for the power of the Holy Spirit. 1 Corinthians 3:1 “I could not address you as people who live by the Spirit but as people who are still worldly—mere infants in Christ. 2 I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. 3 You are still worldly.” While this event at the manger changed the world, we now kneel at the throne of our king as “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” Jesus already is the king who reigns on David’s throne. Jesus changed everything but as we read previously when he returns everything will be destroyed so we must be prepared and wait expectantly for His return. We must be prepared by turning from our wicked ways and waiting for God to save us.
I am going to talk briefly about 4 types of people and how the return of Jesus affects them. The first group is aware of His coming but God’s schedule doesn’t line up with theirs, so they say where is this coming. 2 Peter 3:3 “Above all, you must understand that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and following their own evil desires. 4 They will say, “Where is this ‘coming’ he promised? Ever since our ancestors died, everything goes on as it has since the beginning of creation.” 5 But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens came into being and the earth was formed out of water and by water. 6 By these waters also the world of that time was deluged and destroyed. 7 By the same word the present heavens and earth are reserved for fire, being kept for the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. 8 But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day. 9 The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. Instead he is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.” The second group are those who are simply oblivious to His coming. Matthew 24:37 “As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 38 For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; 39 and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. 40 Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. 41 Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.” This verse simply describes that life will be happening and then it will be over. The third group of people are those un-informed and deceived. Malachi 2:7 “For the lips of a priest ought to preserve knowledge, because he is the messenger of the Lord Almighty and people seek instruction from his mouth. 8 But you have turned from the way and by your teaching have caused many to stumble; you have violated the covenant with Levi.” Lamentations 2:14 “The visions of your prophets were false and worthless; they did not expose your sin to ward off your captivity. The prophecies they gave you were false and misleading.” Some have been taught that because you were baptized or you said a little prayer and you were even elected, you are good to go; so don’t worry all is good yet they don’t search for what is missing. They stop seeking and fearing God. Some were also taught doctrines of demons and will miss the bridegroom as they were not prepared. Matthew 25:10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Matthew 25:11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ 12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ 13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.” The fourth group are those waiting expectantly for His return. Luke 3:15 “The people were waiting expectantly and were all wondering in their hearts if John might possibly be the Messiah. 16 John answered them all, “I baptize you with water. But one who is more powerful than I will come, the straps of whose sandals I am not worthy to untie. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. 17 His winnowing fork is in his hand to clear his threshing floor and to gather the wheat into his barn, but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” 18 And with many other words John exhorted the people and proclaimed the good news to them.” Luke 2:28 “Simeon took him in his arms and praised God, saying: 29 “Sovereign Lord, as you have promised, you may now dismiss your servant in peace. 30 For my eyes have seen your salvation, 31 which you have prepared in the sight of all nations: 32 a light for revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of your people Israel.”
So as we wait we believe that God will do as he said. Jesus will return and take us to be with Him. We believe he will save His remnant of faithful followers. Ezra 9:8 “But now, for a brief moment, the Lord our God has been gracious in leaving us a remnant and giving us a firm place in his sanctuary, and so our God gives light to our eyes and a little relief in our bondage. 9 Though we are slaves, our God has not forsaken us in our bondage. He has shown us kindness in the sight of the kings of Persia: He has granted us new life to rebuild the house of our God and repair its ruins, and he has given us a wall of protection in Judah and Jerusalem. 15 Lord, the God of Israel, you are righteous! We are left this day as a remnant. Here we are before you in our guilt, though because of it not one of us can stand in your presence.” Acts 2:38 “Peter replied, “Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” 40 With many other words he warned them; and he pleaded with them, “Save yourselves from this corrupt generation.” 41 Those who accepted his message were baptized, and about three thousand were added to their number that day.”
Are your ready for the return of Jesus? Will He find faith? Will He say to you, well done or I don’t know you?
As we talked in our Advent introduction we are waiting for God to turn His face to shine on us once again thus, clothing His church with power once again. We read in Acts 2 “The promise is for you and your children and for all who are far off—for all whom the Lord our God will call.” As we take this journey, we wait expectantly, hopefully and joyfully because God has given us His word that He will do as he said if we are faithful to His gospel. Though we are captives and the land lies desolate we have hope in the one who sets captives free and releases them from darkness. It is obvious that the church is not doing as it should and definitely does not have the power of the Holy Spirit. To get perspective on this, we look to Samson. Several times Judges tells us “The Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon him.” This was also said about David. 1 Samuel 16:13 “So Samuel took the horn of oil and anointed him in the presence of his brothers, and from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.” Scripture gives us a very clear picture of what power means. We saw this with David and Samson does all these supernaturally powerful things but then he disobeys. Judges 16:17 “So he told her everything. “No razor has ever been used on my head,” he said, “because I have been a Nazirite dedicated to God from my mother’s womb. If my head were shaved, my strength would leave me, and I would become as weak as any other man.” His parents were told Judges 13:5 “You will become pregnant and have a son whose head is never to be touched by a razor because the boy is to be a Nazirite, dedicated to God from the womb. He will take the lead in delivering Israel from the hands of the Philistines.” He knew this, yet he disobeyed just like King Solomon did. So because he disobeyed, he was defeated. Judges 16:20 “Then she called, “Samson, the Philistines are upon you!” He awoke from his sleep and thought, “I’ll go out as before and shake myself free.” But he did not know that the Lord had left him. 21 Then the Philistines seized him, gouged out his eyes and took him down to Gaza. Binding him with bronze shackles, they set him to grinding grain in the prison. 22 But the hair on his head began to grow again after it had been shaved.”
The church looks similar to this. We were given all the power we needed to defeat the enemy. We then disobeyed and went our own way and followed man’s word and did not adhere to the gospel. Now if we stopped there that would be hopeless but as Samson’s hair grew back over time, his power returned. Most of the church has no idea that the power of the Holy Spirit has been removed. They don’t know anything different but Samson did. Yes presently the enemy thinks it is victorious but that is not true. 2 Chronicles 23:3 “Jehoiada said to them, “The king’s son shall reign, as the Lord promised concerning the descendants of David.” Judges 16:23 “Now the rulers of the Philistines assembled to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god and to celebrate, saying, “Our god has delivered Samson, our enemy, into our hands.” 24 When the people saw him, they praised their god, saying, “Our god has delivered our enemy into our hands, the one who laid waste our land and multiplied our slain.” 25 While they were in high spirits, they shouted, “Bring out Samson to entertain us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he performed for them. When they stood him among the pillars, 26 Samson said to the servant who held his hand, “Put me where I can feel the pillars that support the temple, so that I may lean against them.” 27 Now the temple was crowded with men and women; all the rulers of the Philistines were there, and on the roof were about three thousand men and women watching Samson perform. 28 Then Samson prayed to the Lord, “Sovereign Lord, remember me. Please, God, strengthen me just once more, and let me with one blow get revenge on the Philistines for my two eyes.” 29 Then Samson reached toward the two central pillars on which the temple stood. Bracing himself against them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other, 30 Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines!” Then he pushed with all his might, and down came the temple on the rulers and all the people in it. Thus he killed many more when he died than while he lived.”
The same happened when Sennacherib attacked. He mocked God, yet in the end he was defeated along with His army. Hezekiah said 2 Kings 19:3 “This day is a day of distress and rebuke and disgrace, as when children come to the moment of birth and there is no strength to deliver them. 4 It may be that the Lord your God will hear all the words of the field commander, whom his master, the king of Assyria, has sent to ridicule the living God, and that he will rebuke him for the words the Lord your God has heard. Therefore pray for the remnant that still survives.” Isaiah responds “This is what the LORD, the God of Israel, says: I have heard your prayer concerning Sennacherib king of Assyria. 21 This is the word that the LORD has spoken against him: “ ‘Virgin Daughter Zion despises you and mocks you. Daughter Jerusalem tosses her head as you flee. 22 Who is it you have ridiculed and blasphemed? Against whom have you raised your voice and lifted your eyes in pride? Against the Holy One of Israel! 30 Once more a remnant of the kingdom of Judah will take root below and bear fruit above. 31 For out of Jerusalem will come a remnant, and out of Mount Zion a band of survivors. “The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”
So while the enemy mocks, thinking they have won, God will once again rise up and all will know that the Lord God He is God. The remnant will once again rise up in power. Isaiah 27:6 “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” God’s promise to David was that there would always be a remnant. In order for us to bear fruit, we must be filled with the Holy Spirit and go out in power. God told Noah Genesis 9:1 “Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.” We, the people of God are to bear much fruit. We must be sure we are following the true gospel of Jesus Christ and not worshipping in vain. Yes many people think they are bearing fruit yet the follow a false gospel. Luke 6:43 “No good tree bears bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. 44 Each tree is recognized by its own fruit. People do not pick figs from thornbushes, or grapes from briers. 45 A good man brings good things out of the good stored up in his heart, and an evil man brings evil things out of the evil stored up in his heart. For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of.” By following the true gospel we will flourish. Psalm 92:12 “The righteous will flourish like a palm tree, they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon; 13 planted in the house of the LORD, they will flourish in the courts of our God. 14 They will still bear fruit in old age, they will stay fresh and green, 15 proclaiming, “The LORD is upright; he is my Rock, and there is no wickedness in him.” Acts 1:4 “On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The problem is as John the Baptist said. Luke 3:7 “to the crowds coming out to be baptized by him, “You brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the coming wrath? 8 Produce fruit in keeping with repentance. And do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I tell you that out of these stones God can raise up children for Abraham. 9 The ax is already at the root of the trees, and every tree that does not produce good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire.” Haggai 1:5 “Now this is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 6 You have planted much, but harvested little. You eat, but never have enough. You drink, but never have your fill. You put on clothes, but are not warm. You earn wages, only to put them in a purse with holes in it.” 7 This is what the Lord Almighty says: “Give careful thought to your ways. 8 Go up into the mountains and bring down timber and build my house, so that I may take pleasure in it and be honored,” says the Lord. 9 “You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house. 10 Therefore, because of you the heavens have withheld their dew and the earth its crops. 11 I called for a drought on the fields and the mountains, on the grain, the new wine, the olive oil and everything else the ground produces, on people and livestock, and on all the labor of your hands.” John 15:5 “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. 6 If you do not remain in me, you are like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. 7 If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. 8 This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
When Jesus came everything was supposed to change. We read earlier what Mary and Zechariah said. Mary said “He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.” Zechariah said “He has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of his servant David 70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago), 71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us.” Isaiah 11:1 “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will bear fruit. 2 The Spirit of the LORD will rest on him— the Spirit of wisdom and of understanding, the Spirit of counsel and of might, the Spirit of the knowledge and fear of the LORD— 3 and he will delight in the fear of the LORD.” Isaiah 9:6 “For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the LORD Almighty will accomplish this.”
We have great hope if we would just obey God’s word. In Luke an angel of the Lord appeared to Zechariah, standing at the right side of the altar of incense. Luke 1:12 “When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. 13 But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John. 14 He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, 15 for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. 16 He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. 17 And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” If we are to be a people prepared for the Lord, then we too need that same filling of the Spirit.
Before I go on I want to talk briefly about Elijah. Many groups such as the Mormons believed that Elijah would present himself as they say he did to Joseph Smith. Other groups are waiting for Elijah who will precede the return of Jesus to usher in the Messianic Age. But this is really quite simple because Jesus already gave us the answer. This answer shows you that the Mormons are a cult and that other groups have missed the Messiah and others waiting for the two witnesses, will miss the Messiah’s return. Jesus said, Matthew 11:3 “For all the Prophets and the Law prophesied until John. 14 And if you are willing to accept it, he is the Elijah who was to come. 15 Whoever has ears, let them hear.” Obviously many don’t have ears. Matthew 17:12 “But I tell you, Elijah has already come, and they did not recognize him, but have done to him everything they wished. In the same way the Son of Man is going to suffer at their hands.” Mark 9:11 “And they asked him, “Why do the teachers of the law say that Elijah must come first?” 12 Jesus replied, “To be sure, Elijah does come first, and restores all things. Why then is it written that the Son of Man must suffer much and be rejected? 13 But I tell you, Elijah has come, and they have done to him everything they wished, just as it is written about him.” This comes form Malachi 4:5 “See, I will send the prophet Elijah to you before that great and dreadful day of the Lord comes. 6 He will turn the hearts of the parents to their children, and the hearts of the children to their parents; or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” So Elijah did come yet they killed John the Baptist and put Jesus to death. We continue to follow in them by following false gospels therefore rejecting the word of the Lord. We still crucify and trample our Saviour. Men and women change the bible so that it lines up with their man-made and demonic doctrines. Look at the last line in Malachi; “or else I will come and strike the land with total destruction.” We live in a day of deception, desolation and there is only a remnant of faithful followers left. The good news is that God wants to pour out His Spirit on those who willingly turn from their wicked ways. He will reside in us, if we obey His word. Elijah was an amazing man of God who had great power, of which that power is available to us. James 5:17 “Elijah was a human being, even as we are. He prayed earnestly that it would not rain, and it did not rain on the land for three and a half years. 18 Again he prayed, and the heavens gave rain, and the earth produced its crops.” If we look back we see that Elijah had a protégé named Elisha. This is the amazing part because Elisha asked for a double portion of Elisha Spirit and God gave it to him. 2 Kings 2:9 “When they had crossed, Elijah said to Elisha, “Tell me, what can I do for you before I am taken from you?” “Let me inherit a double portion of your spirit,” Elisha replied. He did amazing things because of that power. 2 Kings 4:42 “A man came from Baal Shalishah, bringing the man of God twenty loaves of barley bread baked from the first ripe grain, along with some heads of new grain. “Give it to the people to eat,” Elisha said. 43 “How can I set this before a hundred men?” his servant asked. But Elisha answered, “Give it to the people to eat. For this is what the Lord says: ‘They will eat and have some left over.’” 44 Then he set it before them, and they ate and had some left over, according to the word of the Lord.” Sound familiar? God wants to bless us with His presence. Job received double. Hannah received a double portion. Isaiah tells us Isaiah 61:1 “The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me, because the LORD has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, 2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, 3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor. 4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations. 5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks; foreigners will work your fields and vineyards. 6 And you will be called priests of the LORD, you will be named ministers of our God. You will feed on the wealth of nations, and in their riches you will boast. 7 Instead of your shame you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace you will rejoice in your inheritance. And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.”
Jesus came so that we would have an abundant life. He came to destroy the word of the devil and he gave us power to continue that work. We are told to be blameless as we wait for his return. Philippians 1:9 “And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, 10 so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ—to the glory and praise of God.” Paul also prayed in Ephesians 1:17 “I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. 18 I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, 19 and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is the same as the mighty strength 20 he exerted when he raised Christ from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly realms, 21 far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come. 22 And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, 23 which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.”
Today we wait expectantly, not only for the return of Jesus Christ but the return of His power when we will once again be clothed with power from on high. We then will be able to go to the ends of the earth. We then will have the fruit and the gifts of the Spirit in operation. Everywhere we set our feet will be ours and no man will stand against us. “The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of His Messiah, and He will reign for ever and ever.” To make ready, we must believe and hold onto God’s word with everything we have. Joshua 1:7 “Be strong and very courageous. Be careful to obey all the law my servant Moses gave you; do not turn from it to the right or to the left, that you may be successful wherever you go. 8 Keep this Book of the Law always on your lips; meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do everything written in it. Then you will be prosperous and successful. 9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Mark 16:14 “Later Jesus appeared to the Eleven as they were eating; he rebuked them for their lack of faith and their stubborn refusal to believe those who had seen him after he had risen. 15 He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will accompany those who believe: In my name they will drive out demons; they will speak in new tongues; 18 they will pick up snakes with their hands; and when they drink deadly poison, it will not hurt them at all; they will place their hands on sick people, and they will get well. 19 After the Lord Jesus had spoken to them, he was taken up into heaven and he sat at the right hand of God. 20 Then the disciples went out and preached everywhere, and the Lord worked with them and confirmed his word by the signs that accompanied it.” Before John the Baptist died he needed to be sure Jesus was the Messiah. Jesus said Matthew 11:6 “Blessed is anyone who does not stumble on account of me.” The answer Jesus gave describes the power of the church. He said “Go back and report to John what you hear and see: 5 The blind receive sight, the lame walk, those who have leprosy are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised, and the good news is proclaimed to the poor.” During the harvest we saw the results of the seeds being planted. The ground was prepared, they waited and they harvested. We are not just waiting for nothing we are waiting for God to turn His face to shine on us once again so we too can be fruitful.
As we wait we must believe, even though we do not yet see what we read, but that doesn’t mean it isn’t coming. That is what faith is. You plant a seed and wait believing it will grow and there will be a harvest. At this point we keep proclaiming truth until God moves and we are clothed with power. John the Baptist had the most important task ever and that was to prepare the way of the Lord. Luke 1:76 “And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High; for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him, 77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins, 78 because of the tender mercy of our God.” Yet it was his words that prepared the way. John 10:40 “Then Jesus went back across the Jordan to the place where John had been baptizing in the early days. There he stayed, 41 and many people came to him. They said, “Though John never performed a sign, all that John said about this man was true.” 42 And in that place many believed in Jesus.” Luke 7:28 “I tell you, among those born of women there is no one greater than John; yet the one who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” Do you believe the words about Jesus and the words about His church? If you do, those words will come just as Jesus said they would. Matthew 3:11 “I baptize you with water for repentance. But after me comes one who is more powerful than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire.”