What God is Saying

Sing to the LORD; praise his name. Each day proclaim the good news that he saves. Publish his glorious deeds among the nations. Tell everyone about the amazing things he does. — Psalm 96:2-3

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Jesse Tree - Preparing our Hearts (Day 23)

The scallop shell represents baptism

"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, to give his people the knowledge of salvation through the forgiveness of their sins," Luke 1:76-77

"the word of God came to John son of Zechariah in the desert. He went into all the country around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. 
As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: 'A voice of one calling in the desert, Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God's salvation.' " Luke 3:2-6

"(All the people, even the tax collectors, when they heard Jesus' words, acknowledged that God's way was right, because they had been baptized by John. But the Pharisees and experts in the law rejected God's purpose for themselves, because they had not been baptized by John.)" Luke 7:29-30

Monday: John the Baptist
Bible Reading: Luke 1:57-80, 3:1-20 7:18-35
Jesse Tree Symbol: Scallop Shell (go to Jesse Tree ornaments 2)

Preparing hearts -- that was the mission of John the Baptist. "John told the people to make a highway in the desert for their God. He told them to make the crooked ways straight and to make the rough places smooth.

John wasn't really talking about building a highway upon which Jesus could travel. He was really talking about the hearts of the people. He was calling people to prepare their hearts to receive Jesus so that he could walk among them and live with them." This excerpt was taken from the children's message Prepare the Way from Sermons4kids.

Those who had prepared their hearts, following John's preaching, were able and eager to believe that what Jesus said was good and right. They left John the Baptist to follow Jesus. John had prepared the way to Jesus. But those who scoffed at what John said, those whose hearts were too puffed up with pride and judgment of others, missed out on the Messiah. They were not prepared when He came and they did not believe His message.

In this time of holiday preparation, with only 6 days left until Christmas, are we preparing our hearts for Jesus? Is there room, amongst the presents and lights and parties, for Him to walk? Are we focused on Him as the celebrated guest at His birthday party or will we even notice that His place has been filled by things of the world...by the trappings of the holiday?

I encourage you, in these last few days before Christmas, to take time each day to prepare your heart to celebrate His birth and then, spend some time preparing your children's hearts.

May we greatly anticipate the celebration of His birth and prepare our hearts for His ultimate return!

The above commentary on Luke is part of a 4-week Advent Reflection for the Jesse Tree. The Jesse Tree is similar to an advent calendar. Every day you will read a Bible passage to your child(ren), discuss what it means to them in personal terms and color an ornament to hang on your Jesse Tree. A fuller description of this can be found at The Jesse Tree

When you are finished today, you might want to discuss how Christmas is about giving much more than getting. One way that your family can give is through their daily prayers. This might be a good time to pray for a specific country or for a group of people who do not know about Jesus. Today, over 2 billion people, 1/3 of the earth's population, have never heard the Gospel message. They don't know about a God who loves them, made them unique and celebrates who they are. They need our prayers. 

Two great websites to help you do this are:
Operation World  go to Featured Nation and click on Country Profile

Another way to give is by giving a gift to those, throughout the world, who have very little. It might be a chicken, or sheep or a goat...maybe you can help pay for the digging of a well or provide a sewing machine to a widow so she can provide for her family. There are many ways to help this Christmas. Visit  Gospel for Asia and take a look at their Christmas Catalog. 

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