Look! The Lamb of God

Posted by admin on December 29, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

The Anza-Borrego Desert Wilderness

     This year’s late November Thanksgiving plummeted us into the season of Advent, looking ahead to Christmas, perhaps before we were ready to celebrate it.  Now the New Year advances upon us.  Maybe if we had celebrated Advent as a season of reflection, maybe if we had rested in the promises of Christ’s coming, maybe if we had not gotten tangled in Christmas preparations, just maybe we might feel ready for a new year.  But are we ready?  Am I ready to see Emmanuel and follow Him?    

Read John 1:29-42.

     John’s mission was to prepare the way for the Lord, to turn hearts in repentance toward the coming Messiah.  He himself did not know Who this might be, although he and Jesus surely met as boys at Passover in Jerusalem.  Two serious young men, devoted to the Scriptures, strong in the Lord, might well have looked forward to their annual reunions. Did they ever discuss the stories related by Mary, Elizabeth, Joseph, and Zechariah, tales of miraculous births, mysterious prophecies, and angelic proclamations of their very names and destinies? 

     Perhaps, but there in the wilderness, baptizing at the Jordan River, John was not at all sure Who was coming.   Crowds surged to hear his message of repentance and be baptized; Pharisees questioned his identity and authority.  He was sure of his calling as forerunner and herald.    Yet, like all of us, John needed the Spirit of God to open his eyes.

     Then Jesus came to be baptized, and, suddenly, John saw Him, saw his cousin for Who He really was–the One who never sinned, the Son of God, the prophsied Messiah. He protested, “I need to be baptized by You, and yet You come to me?” (Matthew 3:14)  Jesus insisted; He wanted to identify Himself with sinners, a first step in obedience to God’s plan of salvation.  And so He was baptized.  The heavens opened up, the Spirit of God descended on Him, and the Father proclaimed, “This is My beloved Son.  I delight in Him!” (Matthew 3:16-17; Mark 1:9-11; Luke 3:21-22; John 1:32-34)

    “Look! The Lamb of God!” John exclaimed.  “Here is the Lamb of God Who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about.”  So enthusiastic was his witness that some of his own disciples left to follow Jesus.  That was all right with John.  He was totally prepared to be eclipsed by the Messiah.  He was filled with joy and kept on baptizing, telling everyone that the Son indeed had come. (John 3:22-36)

    Lord, once I walked in darkness, no, cowered in darkness.  Darkness consumed me until You came into my life.  Then I saw You, Lamb of God, Savior, Lover of my soul!  What a relief, what a joy to turn my eyes to You, and walk in Your light!  Help me see You at work this year in my life and all around me.  Give me that holy enthusiasm of John to point others to You, even in my present circumstances and season of life!  For You are with me, Emmanuel, ever present, Faithful and True. 

    Thank You, Lord, for Your words of assurance from Scripture, even as You faced the cross: “Your heart must not be troubled.  I go to prepare a place for you.  The world does not see me, but  you will see Me. Because I live, you will live also.” (John 14:1,2b, 19 paraphrase)

     Look! The Lamb of God!

 

I Am the Voice

Posted by admin on December 1, 2013 under Encouraging Words | Comments are off for this article

IMG_2370First Sunday of Advent in our Journey Through John

Read John 1:19-28

John the Baptist declared, “I am the voice of one crying out in the wilderness:  Make straight the way of the Lord!” (John 1:23)

I have a friend who was homeless for over a year, sleeping on other folks’ sofas and floors as she looked for work.  Though she struggled with the Lord through issues of abandonment and fear, she continued to read her Bible, pray, attend church, and seek opportunities to share her faith.  Wherever she went, she was a voice for the Lord.

John the Baptist was called before birth not to make a name for himself but to prepare the way of the Lord.  He did not promote himself–he invited others to open their hearts to God.  He was only a voice in the wilderness, a wild and inhospitable world where he subsisted on whatever provisions (locusts and wild honey) the Lord provided.  He was rugged and roughly dressed, but people flocked to him, as sheep to a shepherd.

The religious leaders did not recognize him as the last of God’s Old Covenant prophets.  “What can you tell us about yourself?” they demanded.

John could have said he was cousin to the Messiah; he could have pointed to his Levitical heritage.  He could have told the miracle of his conception and birth–how an angel had visited his father, how he had been born to an elderly couple far past the years of childbearing.  But John said nothing about himself; he was only “the voice crying out” to any who would listen.

John was first to recognize the Messiah when Jesus came down to the river to be baptized (1:29).  He said, “I have seen and testified that  He is the Son of God!” (vs. 34) Soon even some of John’s own disciples left him to follow Jesus. 

John was not focused on advancing his “own” ministry.  Only Jesus mattered.

Lord, like my homeless friend and like John, I may find myself in a wilderness. Yet You have preserved my life, and You still provide for me.   I am an unlikely and unworthy servant, but You have called me.  I am not called to make a name for myself but to proclaim Yours.  Prepare my heart to recognize You where I am.  Straighten in me what is crooked, and smooth what is rough and unfinished.   Give me a willing heart to open my schedule, my purse, and my voice to serve You.    May I be a faithful voice to announce Your coming and lead others to You.  Amen.