John the Baptist stayed faithful to His calling. He was sent to prepare the people to receive the Messiah. Because of the message he was preaching, people would ask, “Who are you?”, his answer was “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, clear the way for the Lord’s coming.” John’s boldness in standing for the truth eventually got him beheaded. The same thing is happening, on a daily basis, to our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. Does our daily lifestyle cause people to wonder who we represent? Every second of every die, our words and actions are a testimony. Would the world know that we represented Jesus by the way we walk and talk? Do our actions deny or affirm that we know Jesus? If we were confronted with the choice: “Deny or die!”, what would our answer be? Would it be: “I am a follower of Christ, I have come to tell you about the Lord’s return”? Or would we hang our heads in shame and walk away?
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” -Anonymous
Before the advent of televisions, satellites, cell phones and all of the assorted high tech stuff that is available to us today, people would wonder how God would get His message out to the whole world. How would the whole world be able to watch as the two messengers in the book of the Revelation lay dead in the streets of Jerusalem? Now, we can see how easily that can be accomplished. Yet, God had a plan before all of this came to pass. Nature gently prods us with His story every day. The stars, the sun, and the moon tell us His story every day and night. We are even told that if we refuse to praise the Lord, the rocks will cry out.
God had a plan from the beginning. Even if there is an EMP that destroys all of the electronics, God can still get His message out to the ends of the world. All of nature tells one story, one message that there is only one God who created and rules over the whole universe. The old ‘gods’ are now known to be based on myths and one day, the whole world will see that all religions are based on deceptions and half-truths. Only one story will survive and that is the story of Jesus. Where we spend eternity depends on our relationship with Him.
“The Gospel has come to you because it’s on its way to someone else.” – Anonymous
God the Father confirms that what is planned will bring glory to His name and that Jesus is doing what He has come to earth to accomplish. Even after hearing the voice that some thought sounded like thunder and others thought was the voice of an angel. they still did not understand and believe. Jesus tells them that the voice was for their sake, not His. He is completely confident that He is doing exactly what He is supposed to do. The world was judged to be sinful and all that sin was put on Jesus. The very moment that Jesus dies, God accepts His sacrificial death as payment for all of our sins. The master plan of satan has been defeated. Now it is up to each of us to believe this and accept it. God made the plan of salvation simple enough for a child to understand and accept. But that acceptance is just the first step on a journey with our Savior and Lord. The journey might get rough in spots, but His grace is more than sufficient to carry us.
14 Satisfy us each morning with your unfailing love, so we may sing for joy to the end of our lives. 15 Give us gladness in proportion to our former misery! Replace the evil years with good. 16 Let us, your servants, see you work again; let our children see your glory. –Psalm 90:14-16 NLT
God has an abundant supply of Love and Mercy. As we arise each morning and acknowledge Him as our Savior and Lord, His Spirit renews us and prepares us for the battles of the day. Immediately, satan attacks our minds filling them with fearful thoughts of what the day will bring, reminding us of all the things we have failed to accomplish in the past. The devil, the father of lies, begins to tell us that we will not be able to make it through the day without some sort of catastrophe. The Holy Spirit speaks peace, love, and joy, telling us to lean on Jesus and He will fight our battles for us. We must learn which voice to listen to and heed. Jesus said that His sheep know His voice, they follow Him and He gives them eternal life so that they will never perish. If we listen to His voice, we will learn to live in peace. He will restore all the things that satan has taken away from us and replace the evil with good. Let us learn to listen and live the abundant life that Jesus died to give us. Let us spend less time each day focused on the lies of the evil one and more time on the goodness of God. Those around us will see that and get a glimpse of the glory of God.
28 Father, bring glory to your name!” Then a voice came from heaven, “I have brought glory to it, and I will do it again.” 29 The crowd standing there, who heard the voice, said it was thunder. But others said, “An angel has spoken to him.” 30 Jesus said, “That voice was for your sake, not mine. 31 Now is the time for the world to be judged; now the ruler of this world will be thrown down.—John 12:28-31 (NCV)
God the Father confirms that what is planned will bring glory to His name and that Jesus is doing what He has come to earth to accomplish. Even after hearing the voice that some thought sounded like thunder and others thought was the voice of an angel. they still did not understand and believe. Jesus tells them that the voice was for their sake, not His. He is completely confident that He is doing exactly what He is supposed to do. The world was judged to be sinful and all that sin was put on Jesus. The very moment that Jesus dies, God accepts His sacrificial death as payment for all of our sins. The master plan of satan has been defeated. Now it is up to each of us to believe this and accept it. God made the plan of salvation simple enough for a child to understand and accept. But that acceptance is just the first step on a journey with our Savior and Lord. The journey might get rough in spots, but His grace is more than sufficient to carry us. 9 Each time he said,“My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 10 That’s why I take pleasure in my weaknesses, and in the insults, hardships, persecutions, and troubles that I suffer for Christ. For when I am weak, then I am strong.—2 Cor.12:9,10 (NLT)
11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep. 12 The worker who is paid to keep the sheep is different from the shepherd who owns them. When the worker sees a wolf coming, he runs away and leaves the sheep alone. Then the wolf attacks the sheep and scatters them. 13 The man runs away because he is only a paid worker and does not really care about the sheep. 14 15 “I am the good shepherd. I know my sheep, as the Father knows me. And my sheep know me, as I know the Father. I give my life for the sheep. 16 I have other sheep that are not in this flock, and I must bring them also. They will listen to my voice, and there will be one flock and one shepherd.—John 10:11-16 (NCV)
A good shepherd will not allow any of his sheep to be harmed. Someone who is paid to keep sheep or is just tending the flock for his own benefit might run from the dangers and leave the sheep alone. David was an example of a good shepherd, he fought the bear and the lion and literally took the sheep from their mouth. 34 But David said to Saul, “I, your servant, have been keeping my father’s sheep. When a lion or bear came and took a sheep from the flock, 35 I would chase it. I would attack it and save the sheep from its mouth. When it attacked me, I caught it by its fur and hit it and killed it. –1 Samuel 17:34-35 (NCV)
Jesus is a better shepherd than David. He loved us so much that He gave up His glory in heaven to come to earth so that we could be redeemed. He became human and dwelt among us. He came so that we would know His voice and choose to follow Him. He died to redeem and reconcile us to God. He is still in the reconciliation business. He fights every battle for us and yes, He even pulls some of us from the mouth of hell. Jesus hates the sin but loves the sinner. He expects us to have that same attitude. There are those God has put in our paths that He has chosen for us to shepherd. Be a good shepherd and love them into the fold just as Jesus did for us. 22 Show mercy to some people who have doubts. 23 Take others out of the fire, and save them. Show mercy mixed with fear to others, hating even their clothes which are dirty from sin—Jude 22 (NCV)
1 Jesus said, “I tell you the truth, the person who does not enter the sheepfold by the door, but climbs in some other way, is a thief and a robber.2 The one who enters by the door is the shepherd of the sheep. 3 The one who guards the door opens it for him. And the sheep listen to the voice of the shepherd. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he brings all his sheep out, he goes ahead of them, and they follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger. They will run away from him because they don’t know his voice.” 6 Jesus told the people this story, but they did not understand what it meant.—John 10:1-6 (NLT)
It is often heard that sheep are dumb,stupid animals. That statement is, of course, up for debate. Sheep are gregarious and are natural followers, this is for their own protection and it also makes them easier to herd. They do have an excellent sense of hearing which could explain why they know their shepherd’s voice. They will follow the shepherd because they know his voice. Without a shepherd, they will follow the lead sheep wherever he goes, even unto death. Where there is only one sheepfold, all the shepherds put their sheep into that holding area for the night. It is guarded by a gatekeeper who allows only the shepherds to go in the next morning and call their sheep. Only that particular shepherd’s sheep will follow him because sheep will not follow a stranger. Jesus wanted the people to understand that there was more than one shepherd in the world. Would they follow the voice of the True Shepherd or the voice of the deceiver? At birth, we humans are all in the same sheepfold and hear those same voices today. Which voice will you learn to recognize and follow?
19 This was John’s testimony when the Jewish leaders sent priests and Temple assistants from Jerusalem to ask John, “Who are you?” 20 He came right out and said, “I am not the Messiah.” 21 “Well then, who are you?” they asked. “Are you Elijah?” “No,” he replied. “Are you the Prophet we are expecting?” “No.” 22 “Then who are you? We need an answer for those who sent us. What do you have to say about yourself?” 23 John replied in the words of the prophet Isaiah:
“I am a voice shouting in the wilderness,
”Clear the way for the Lord’s coming!’”—John 1:19-23 (NLT)
John the Baptist stayed faithful to His calling. He was sent to prepare the people to receive the Messiah. Because of the message he was preaching, people would ask, “Who are you?”, his answer was “I am a voice shouting in the wilderness, clear the way for the Lord’s coming.” John’s boldness in standing for the truth eventually got him beheaded. The same thing is happening, on a daily basis, to our Christian brothers and sisters around the world. If we were confronted with the choice: “Deny or die!”, what would our answer be? Would it be: “I am a follower of Christ, I have come to tell you about the Lord’s return”? Or would we hang our head in shame? 32 “Everyone who acknowledges me publicly here on earth, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven. 33 But everyone who denies me here on earth, I will also deny before my Father in heaven. 34 “Don’t imagine that I came to bring peace to the earth! I came not to bring peace, but a sword.—Matt.10:32-34 (NLT)
25 Be careful that you do not refuse to listen to the One who is speaking. For if the people of Israel did not escape when they refused to listen to Moses, the earthly messenger, we will certainly not escape if we reject the One who speaks to us from heaven! 26 When God spoke from Mount Sinai his voice shook the earth, but now he makes another promise: “Once again I will shake not only the earth but the heavens also.” 27 This means that all of creation will be shaken and removed, so that only unshakable things will remain. 28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe. 29 For our God is a devouring fire.—Hebrews 12:25-28 (NLT)
God sent Moses to deliver the children of Israel from the bondage in Egypt. Because of their stubbornness and disobedience to what Moses told them to do, the generation of people that left Egypt never made it to the Promised Land. Except for Joshua and Caleb, the whole multitude of people died in the land east of Jordan. Because of their faithfulness and obedience, Joshua and Caleb received the promised reward of entering into the Promised Land. They were allowed to partake of the blessings of eating crops they did not plant, drinking water from wells they did not dig, and living in houses that they did not build. We have a better message from a better leader than Moses. We have heard from God Himself. He sent His Son, Jesus, to die for our sins and show us the way home. Those that do not believe the message He brought will be shaken and separated like chaff from the wheat. But if we remain steadfast and unshakable, we shall sit at the banquet table and enjoy the wedding feast that Jesus has prepared for us. We shall live in a city not made with human hands and spend an eternity with Jesus Christ, our Savior and our Lord. A better way that brings a much better reward.
76 And you, child, will be called the prophet of the Most High;
for you will go before the Lord to prepare his ways,
77 to give knowledge of salvation to his people
by the forgiveness of their sins.
78 By the tender mercy of our God,
the dawn from on high will break upon[h] us,
79 to give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death,
to guide our feet into the way of peace.”–Luke 1:76-79 (NRSV)
These are the words of Zacharias, the father of John the Baptist as he prophesied that John was the one to fulfill the prophecy in Isaiah 40:3 A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
John was a faithful messenger. He knew that he was not the Messiah, but that he was a precursor to the Messiah coming. We need to be as faithful as John in delivering the Good News of the coming of Jesus Christ. We still live in a spiritual wilderness in our world today. It is getting spiritually drier everyday and it is up to us to be faithful in telling the world that not only has Jesus come, but He is coming again. People get ready.