Are you ready for Christmas? If you have finished your Christmas shopping raise your hands. If you’re only half finished. If you haven’t even begun. The stores are a mad house, aren’t they? People running here and there. Buying this and that. Traffic everywhere. Those huge parking lots that are always half empty are full.

How about the decorating? Everyone who has their tree raise your hands. Is it decorated? Who isn’t even going to bother with one? How many people have mailed their Christmas card? How many people have already wrapped their presents?

There is so much to do to get ready for Christmas. It is such a huge task. Where do you start? The tree, the gifts, the parties, the cards! Mark the Gospel writer, faced a similar dilemma. He had a huge task before him. God had inspired him to write the story of Jesus’ life.

Where do you begin to tell of Jesus’s story? There were the miracles, the teachings, the sayings, and the selfless acts of love. Matthew and Luke started with Jesus’ lineage and birth. John went all the way back before creation. But Mark began with John the Baptist.

IMG_3293.JPG

Mark the Gospel writer, faced a similar dilemma. He had a huge task before him. God had inspired him to write the story of Jesus’ life.

John was a voice in the wilderness crying, “Get ready for the King is coming.” He told the people to straighten out their lives so Christ could enter their hearts. People came from all over to hear him and responded.

Prostitutes, thieves, tax collectors and many others confessed their sins. They repented and vowed to turn from their wicked ways. John said, “I have baptized you with water. But the one who comes after me is so much greater. He will baptize you with the fire and Holy Spirit.”

We should begin where Mark begins his Gospel. By hearing a voice in the wilderness of Christmas lights, mall traffic, and rushing shoppers. A voice that cries, “Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths.”

John the Baptist calls us to prepare our hearts for Christ’s arrival. We should confess our sins and repent by turning from our sinful habits. We should straighten out our lives and get right with God.

If you have never repented of your sin, now is the time. If you have never asked Jesus into your heart, do it now. Just say, “Jesus I am a sinner, come into my heart and be my Lord.” You will be ready to celebrate Jesus’ birth. You will be ready to celebrate when he comes again.

You may have asked Jesus in your heart years ago. But God always has a new depth of mercy and grace for us to experience in Christ. Ask Jesus to open up new spiritual depths in your life. Dedicate yourself to serve Christ. Get ready to experience God’s love in new ways.

At this time of the year, we all have an opportunity to feel closer to God. Do you want to feel closer to God? Do you want to know the real Joy of Christmas? The Joy of Christmas is not found in the hustle and bustle of material preparations. It is the Joy of knowing that God has sent a Savior. That your Savior has come and is coming again.

Get your hearts in order. Admit your need for forgiveness and your need for a Savior. Confess and repent. Then you will be ready to celebrate. Your hearts will be ready. And he will cover you and fill you with his holy presence. And Christ’s spirit will live in you.

Come to Christ. Repent and confess. Ask God to show you a new depth of his mercy. The malls and stores are full of people preparing for Christmas. The churches should be crowded with joyful people.

If you have never given your life to Christ, do that now. Christmas will catch you unprepared and you miss its real Joy! If you’re Christian, then seek to know Christ in a deeper way in this Christmas season.

John had baptized the people and said, “I have baptized you with water but the one who comes after me will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.” I am sure most of the people whom John baptized were moved. Many had just been freed from sins and they felt the peace of love.

If you make Jesus a priority in your Christmas preparations he will do more. He will fill your soul with his love and peace. You will know the Joy of Christmas in a way you have never known it before.

“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” He will come and fill your hearts with his love and joy. Shalom and Amen! 

Scripture: Mark 1:1-8