>Week 2 Day 4: Matthew 3:1-6

In those days John the Baptist came, preaching in the Desert of Judea and saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near.” This is he who was spoken of through the prophet Isaiah:”A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him.’ “(NIV)

The rest of the passage from Isaiah says, “Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of the LORD will be revealed, and all mankind together will see it. For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 40:4-5, NIV).

Isaiah’s spoke of the obstacles people face in approaching God. Low valleys, high mountains, rough ground, and rugged places make finding God difficult. John the Baptist fulfilled Isaiah’s prophecy by preparing the way of the Lord. John’s mission was to straighten the obstacle course between people and God.

One of the things I love about Brookwood Church is that part of our mission is to accept people where they are. Think about it. Where else could we accept them? Well, we could certainly accept part of them, but reject disagreeable parts of them. This creates obstacles to God. If God will accept me, “just as I am,” then who are we to say that we will only accept people as they should be.

Think about people you know. What are the obstacles between them and God? Do they feel disappointment and pain? Are they leery of unconditional love? Have they had a bad experience with the church in the past? Ask God how you can help this person find a straight path to Him.

As we’re in a rush to find the right gifts for our loved ones, think about people in our community who face many obstacles in connecting with God. Maybe they lack warm coats or food. How can you and your family lower some mountains for these folks this Christmas?

For many of us, when the last gift is unwrapped and the last toy is broken, we look around and think about our Spring garage sale. Use your earthly means to bless others, even strangers, this year. For ideas on how to give this Christmas, go to: www.brookwoodchurch.org/christmas

Copyright © 2009 by Allen White

Scripture quotations taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.