Prepare the way

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By Tom Wiles

He is a voice of one shouting in the wilderness, “Prepare the way for the Lord’s coming! Clear the road for him!” — Mark 1:1-15

“Make sure your chin strap in is on tight. You don’t want your helmet spinning over your face when we hit the rapids. Keep your hand on the very end of your paddle. If you don’t, a bounce will send that paddle handle right into your teeth.”

I appreciated those coaching tips and the others our whitewater river raft guide gave us.

I kind of like seeing where I’m going, not to mention keeping my teeth!

Adventure preparation at its best.

John the Baptist had a big job.

He was the one charged to clear off the debris of religious hypocrisy, sin accommodation and spiritual apathy.

The hearts of the people simply weren’t prepared for Jesus’ arrival.

His message was straight forward.

“Turn from sin! Turn to God for forgiveness!”

It was a message of truth and grace.

The truth — you’re a sinner and far from God.

The grace – God loves to forgive and bring you near.

Before Jesus returned to heaven, he gave his disciples John the Baptist’s job.

Prepare the way for Jesus’ return.

It’s a job responsibility every believer in Jesus has assigned to them.

He’s coming back.

Are we ready?

Are we helping others get ready?

How do we help others get ready?

Great questions to consider.

Without a doubt, part of the answer includes sharing the same message of truth and grace that John did.

Obedience and outcomes

“But if any place refuses to welcome you or listen to you, shake its dust from your feet as you leave to show that you have abandoned those people to their fate.” — Mark 6:1-13

Recently, my friend’s son just completed Navy SEAL training and received his Trident.

As a rightfully proud papa, he was telling me about the graduation and had pictures of the events of the weekend.

It was awesome.

Of the many themes of the training, one that stood out as it does with all our military branches — do what your told. Pretty simple, really. Obey the commands. In doing so, those in charge have confidence of mission success ,which includes everyone making it through alive.

In Mark 6, we see both Jesus and the disciples doing what they were told.

Preach, heal and cast out demons.

Jesus’ hometown crew was deeply offended.

Who does he think he is? He was just here making stuff in the wood shop.

Even relatives and members of his own family were unbelieving.

The disciples were left shaking the dirt off their sandals when the towns they performed miracles in rejected the message.

Even still, neither Jesus nor the disciples failed. They were obedient.

In our world, outcomes get all the press.

In a relationship with Jesus, it’s about obedience.

For a Jesus follower, obedience equals success.

Do what he tells you to do.

Outcomes are his responsibility.

Only the Holy Spirit can convict someone of sin, righteousness and judgement.

Only the father can draw someone to Jesus.

Only the Lord can grant repentance.

With God’s help, we do what he tells us to do and he will produce with it exactly want he wants to produce.

Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.

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