A tenant waiting for a visit from the landlord would work hard to ensure that the landlord was pleased with how the property looked. Even if the landlord is a nice person there would still be an element of dread.
In the same way, God owns everything and has leased his possessions and responsibilities to us as his tenants. Jesus often warned us, in his parables, that he will be coming back, and, unlike human landlords in the UK, he doesn’t have to give us 24 hours notice. We should be prepared for his visit.
God often prepares his servants over a long period of time to work things into their hearts (e.g. Moses as a shepherd, Joseph in prison, David on the run, Hannah in her childlessness). Likewise, John the Baptist prepared the way for Jesus.
The message of today’s sermon is “are you ready?”
Are you ready to meet with Jesus (perhaps for the first time)? Are you ready for him to speak into your life? Are you ready for his return?
There are many things which can distract our hearts from Christ, including worries, desires, longings and false-promises.
There are valleys, mountains, crooked paths and rough places which can obscure Christ to us, and obscure Christ in us.
When we are born again, we are given new hearts and can gaze on Christ with unveiled faces. The more clearly we see him, the more clearly others see him in us.
Biblically, valleys are places of refuse, decay and death, places where the sunlight does not reach.
What are the hidden things which we tolerate in ourselves and are not bringing to the light of Christ? What are the things that need to be confessed to another trusted brother or sister (James 5:16)?
Christ has been punished in our place for the vile things that we have done, yet some believers still live in shame. We should remember that both David and Peter committed terrible sins as believers and yet were restored (see Psalm 51, John 21). We can be trapped by the hidden shadows of the heart, let us bring these things to the light (1 John 1:9), remembering that we are to be the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).
Mountains are insurmountable objects. Guilt, shame, the fear of other people, addictions, futile ways of thinking etc. can be like Goliaths in our lives, mocking our attempts to be Christlike.
The answer to this is remember that the LORD is lord. Too many believers are tragically unimpressed with God. If we consider who God is, and make him our dread, he will subdue the other dreads in our lives (2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Colossians 2:13-15).
3. Crooked paths
Crooked people can put a spin on things to make themselves look better than they are. However, God is truth, it is impossible for him to lie (Titus 1:2, Hebrews 6:18). We should not be devious, manipulative or hypocritical.
A big element of British culture is that we don’t tell the truth to one another in love (e.g. being far too ready to say “I’m fine” when we are hurting). Let the Spirit deliver us from this cultural baggage (Ephesians 4:25, Matthew 18:15-17).
4. Rough places
These are things in our lives which may not seem like great sins but which still obscure Christ in our lives (e.g. holding to to a sense of humour full of bawdy jokes and put downs, critical talk, gossip, control, things which are part of the “old” us). We need to clear these boulders out of the way (Psalm 139:23-24).
In conclusion, we must engage and face issues in our lives for the glory of God. We are not to be sin-focussed and introspective but we must be responsive to the Spirit, and deal with what he reveals in our lives.
Jesus is coming back, we will see him face to face and all will be well. Let us live our lives now in the light of this truth.