The Voice Crying In The Wilderness
The work of John was to prepare the way for the Lord. He was not trying to impress the world and he did not conform to the world around him. From John we learn that we must be in the world but not of the world. John’s food and clothing was far from being fashionable, even in his day. “John had his raiment of camel's hair, and a leathern girdle about his loins; and his meat was locusts and wild honey.” (Matthew 3:4) He called sin sin and demanded repentance. “Then said he to the multitude that came forth to be baptized of him, O generation of vipers, who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits worthy of repentance, and begin not to say within yourselves, We have Abraham to our father: for I say unto you, That God is able of these stones to raise up children unto Abraham. And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: every tree therefore which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.” (Luke 3:7-9) We cannot but admire the courage and the honesty of this great man of God. We are introduced to the work of John the Baptist in these words, “Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judaea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Ituraea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins; As it is written in the book of the words of Esaias the prophet, saying, The voice of one crying in the wilderness, Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. Every valley shall be filled, and every mountain and hill shall be brought low; and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough ways shall be made smooth.” (Luke 3:1-5) John was "The voice of one crying in the wilderness.”
Prepare ye the way of the Lord, make his paths straight. John’s special work was to prepare the way for the coming Messiah by bringing a spiritual reformation in the hearts of the people. John conveyed a simple but important message that still applies today about repentance from all sins. Many of the people cooperated with John in making preparation for the Messiah. How did they do this? In Matthew 3:6 we see the answer to that question. “And were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.” (Matthew 3:6) John the Baptist created a favorable environment to make it easy for Jesus to enter into and live in the lives of people. I must also give the Lord a road or way into my heart and life. We must repent of any unforgiven sins in our life, turn from them, and be baptized to receive God’s forgiveness. (Acts 2:38) By repentance of our sins and baptism into Christ we prepare the way for Jesus to live in our lives!
Every valley shall be filled. What valley in your life needs to be filled? Doubt is a valley in many lives that needs to be filled with faith. In one of the great New Testament moments Peter stepped out of a boat and walked toward Jesus on the water. Amazing! Peter then found himself in the valley of doubt and trouble came. “But when he saw the wind boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink, he cried, saying, Lord, save me.” (Matthew 14:30) Jesus lifted him up and asked him why he doubted. “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matthew 14:31) We overcome doubt with strong faith in Jesus. (1 John 5:4) Discouragement is another valley that needs to be filled. David wrote, “I am troubled; I am bowed down greatly; I go mourning all the day long.” (Psalm 38:6) When Satan attacks you and discouraging things comes, do not think it unusual. God allows this kind of fiery testing for all of His saints. Peter wrote, “Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you.” (1 Peter 4:12) Discouragement is a trial God’s people must overcome; fill up that valley!
Every mountain and hill shall be brought low. The pride of the Pharisees was nn issues that Jesus dealt with daily. Self-righteousness has always been against the will and wishes of God. “The wicked, through the pride of his countenance, will not seek after God: God is not in all his thoughts.” (Psalm 10:4) The Lord has respect unto the lowly in heart. “The LORD is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit.” (Psalms 34:18) Pride is a mountain that needs to be brought low. False religion is another mountain that must be brought low. The Devil does not want you to serve God. His desire is to turn everyone away from God. One way the Devil works to turn people from God is through false religion. (2 Corinthians 11:13-15) A religion is false if it does not teach the truth found the Bible. False religion is like counterfeit money; it may look like the real thing, but it is worthless. The mountain of false religion must be brought down.
The crooked shall be made straight. God has no place for crooked things or for crooked lives. Double-minded men are strangers to the God of truth. “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.” (James 1:8) The crooked way is deceptive in nature. It promises one thing and delivers another. It appears to be a level, easy way, but when traveled that sinful path brings misery and heartache. If heaven is our goal we must leave the cooked and sinful path and journey on the path of submission to God and obedience to the Word of God. “Lead me, O LORD, in thy righteousness because of mine enemies; make thy way straight before my face.” (Psalm 5:8)
The rough ways shall be made smooth. The stumbling-blocks of sin must be removed, and rebellion must be uprooted. Sin is a rough way. “Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.” (Proverbs 13:15) We must remove rough things like gossip, envy, anger, unforgiveness, slackness, hatred, bad temper, bad habits, arrogance, tardiness, prayerlessness, impurity in talk, actions, thoughts and motives. The rough way of sin must be made smooth. The rough ways of hopelessness, helplessness, guilt and shame must be made smooth. “Sow to yourselves in righteousness, reap in mercy; break up your fallow ground: for it is time to seek the LORD, till he come and rain righteousness upon you.” (Hosea 10:12)
A messenger of God like John the Baptist can be arrested and put in prison. He can have his head cut off, but the word he has spoken for God can never be silenced. God give us gospel preachers with enough courage to preach Christ and His church. God give us gospel preachers with enough courage to preach faithful Christian living. God give us gospel preachers with enough courage to continually set forth the gospel plan of salvation. To become a Christian you must hear the gospel (Romans 10:17), believe in Jesus as the Christ (John 8:24), repent of all sins (Acts 17:30), confess Christ as Lord (Matthew 10:32) and be baptized to be saved. (Mark16:16) John himself was not the light, but he came bearing witness to the light. Let us do the same!
- - - - Charles Box
News & Notes
1. Prayer List: Stabler Hospital: Bobby Terrell, Baptist Hospital: Carlton Whittle, and Children Hospital Birmingham: Ethan Flowers Diamond. In Need of Prayer: Willie Ainsworth, Lorene Beverly (surgery Monday), LeRoy Boutwell, Mary Ann Bozeman, Willie Frank Burnett, Brenda Burkett, Camren Coleman, Bonnie Croley, Debbie Cunningham, Marietta Faulkenberry, Michelle Flowers, Gail Gipson, Devin Hawkins, Doris Hayes, Patrick Hicks, Felice Kendrick, Patricia Kennemore, Peggy Lassiter, Alice Little, Arthur Little, Larry Lucas, Annie McKee, Jewel McNaughton, Betty McQueen, Charlotte Miller, Jeff Miller, Jane Owen, Candice Parker, Elizabeth Perdue, Emma Peterson, Payton Pierce, William Pierce, Tina Pouncey, Shane Prater, Amber Raines, Dan Raybon, Lydia Ann Raybon, Peggy Rice, Brenda Richburg, Timothy Rowell, Rosie Rudolph, Chuck Shepherd, Nathan Simmons, Margaret Skipper, Preston Steven, Bobby & Sylvia Taylor, Mary Lou Terrell, Arlene Thomas, Corrine Till, John Tindoll, Jenny Trawick, Bobbi Walker, Dannie Waller, Leroy Waller, Gladys Warren, Jim Watts, Jim Wood, and Cody Yelverton. Crowne Health Care: Helen Autrey, Dorothy Buck, Jewel Cauthen, Gladys Childs, Arlene Coletrane, Betty Findley, Kathy Johnson, Sarah Knight, Nelda Sanders, Annie Ruth Tetter, and Alice Thompson. Georgiana Nursing Home: Earl Lowery (nephew of Agnes Hammonds and Dennis Lowery).
2. Sympathy Expressed: Our love and sympathy is expressed to Michelle Flowers and her family in the death of her husband Trey Flowers.
3. Bible Class Teachers: You are a special group of people. You teach God’s word in our Bible classes and you change lives. Thank you!
4. Basics Training: Mitch Bozeman is in basic training at Fort Seal, Oklahoma. Please keep him in your prayers.
5. Birthdays: Celebrating birthdays this week: November 11th Elease Brown and Annie Palmer, November 14th Josiah Holladay, and November 15th Joan Barr.
6. Thank You: Dear Walnut Street Family, Thank you so much for all the cards, phone calls and especially your prayers for me during my time of sickness. We love you all. Lydia Ann Raybon
7. Jerry Barr Mission Fund: Please contribute to the “Jerry Barr Mission Fund.” This fund was set up by Joan and other members of Jerry’s family. This money will be used to help with mission trips, build building and support other mission needs. Make checks to Walnut Street Church of Christ – “Jerry Barr Mission Fund.” Jerry’s love for mission work lives on.
8. Carl Sessions Camp Fund: Please contribute to the “Carl Sessions Camp Fund.” This makes it possible for all Walnut Street Children to attend Bible camp. Make checks to Walnut Street Church of Christ and mark them “Carl Sessions Camp Fund.” A very special “thank you” is given to everyone who has given to this great work. Lives are being changed!
9. Pray For Our Elders: Elders in the church have great responsibility. Pray for Mike Bagents and Bobby Terrell daily.
10. Be a Daily Bible Reader: It take about seventy-two hours to read the Bible completely through at an average reading speed. Fill your heart with the word of God daily.
11. Bring a Visitor: Set your goal to make an honest effort to bring a visitor to the services of the church. There is someone that we can all influence to go to heaven. Let us all join together and win souls for Jesus. “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that winneth souls is wise.” (Proverbs 11:30)
12. Pray For Our Nation and Her Leaders: God said, “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34) PRAY “For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” (1Timothy 2:20)
He Is Here
Where is God? I get asked this question from time to time by a certain inquisitive three year old. But let’s not kid ourselves and say we don’t all wonder the same thing from time to time. It is not only the little children who long to SEE or somehow FEEL God. In the end, with the information we have, there will still be some loose ends and some “I don’t know’s.” but rest assured, God wants to be found by us.
In Psalm 104, we are given a beautiful gaze into the nature of our God. And in that chapter it seems God intended to make His presence known. Listen to the word pictures here that place God very close to us. “Covering yourself with light as with a garment, stretching out the heavens like a tent.” (Psa. 104:2) I look up and see rays of light beaming through the clouds as they sometimes do, and I can see God, for He “covers Himself” with that light. The starry heavens above me are but a tent to God.
“He lays the beams of his chambers on the waters; he makes the clouds his chariot; he rides on the wings of the wind;” (Psa. 104:3) God can make something as unstable as water be solid like a rock. But just look at the images God wants us to see as we read these verses. He is clothed with light, which is all around us. His chambers are built on water, which is everywhere. The heavens are His tent, He rides on the clouds and the wind. There is no direction we can look without seeing one or more of these things, and our God wants us to picture Him NEAR us. He is present! “Where shall I go from your Spirit? Or where shall I flee from your presence? (8) If I ascend to heaven, you are there! If I make my bed in Sheol, you are there! (9) If I take the wings of the morning and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, (10) even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me. (Psa. 139:7-10)
Deists believe that God created the universe, sent it spinning, and has left us completely alone until such time as He sees fit to return. But the Bible teaches that “…he is not far from each one of us.” (Act 17:27) The word of God should awaken our senses to the presence of God and should comfort us the way that a child is comforted when his father is near. Take refuge in the confidence that God is here, and He loves you. - - - - Darrell Powell
Don’t just own a Bible; read it!
Walnut Street Church of Christ
P.O. Box 551
Greenville, Alabama 36037-0551