Matters of Faith: Making Preparations

‭‭‬‬‬‬‭‭20161113_JLRussellMAKING PREPARATIONS!

By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv.

Luke 3:4-6 (KJV)‬‬
“As is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet: ‘A voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low. The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.”

Isaiah 40:3-5
“The voice of one crying in the wilderness: “Prepare the way of the Lord;
Make straight in the desert, A highway for our God. Every valley shall be exalted.
And every mountain and hill brought low; The crooked places shall be made straight And the rough places smooth; The glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
And all flesh shall see it together; For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

This is the season of great celebration in the Christian community. Those of us who consider ourselves to be followers of “The Way” (what we were called before we were called Christians), are making preparations for the greatest event in our faith. Last week, we presented the candles of Christmas, examined the meaning of each, and defined the purpose of Advent. This second Sunday is the day that the Candle of Preparation is lit. It is a candle that reminds us that we must prepare to receive Christ when He arrives.

When Luke penned the book that bears his name and referenced the prophetic words of Isaiah (Is. 40:3-5), he saw the similarity in John the Baptist’s making preparation for the coming Messiah and the servants referred to in Isaiah’s text. One paved roads ahead of the king so that his chariot wouldn’t get stuck in the mud. The other was to make a clear path for the arrival of Christ by preaching repentance of sins. In both cases, those who made preparations had to be prepared for the task at hand. The ones who went before the king to pave roads had to first know how to flatten, level, and cover rocky terrain in order to make the road smooth for the king to pass. John the Baptist had to have an understanding of sin and its consequences in order to preach repentance and salvation in order for his King be the living sacrifice.

Webster’s Dictionary says that to prepare is to make ready, to work out the details of, or to plan in advance for the arrival of someone or something. The word that is used for prepare in the Greek Lexicon is Hetoimazō (pronounced he-toi-mä’-zō) and describes the act of preparation from both the ancient (Isaiah) and contemporary (Luke) view:

  1.  sending on before kings on their journeys persons to level the roads and make them passable,
  2. to prepare the minds of men to give the Messiah a fit reception and secure his blessings.

From either view, in order to be of effective service, one has to make preparations. In order for road builders to make smooth roads, they have to be ready for some hard work. They had to know how to swing a hammer and how to move huge stones. In today’s culture, they would have worn Timberland boots, a hard hat, and construction gloves. They were prepared for hard work to usher in their king. John is described in similar fashion; eating locusts and wild honey, clothed with camel’s hair and a leather belt around his waist. John was prepared to challenge the nation in their thinking that their heritage was a factor in their salvation. He prepared and declared that it took more than attendance in the congregation to gain entrance into the eternal Kingdom of God. He had made preparations to fearlessly and boldly admonish both the sin and the sinner to prepare for his Kings arrival.

Our preparation for the Advent of Christ is going to take hard work. We have to make preparations to pave the rocky roads of procrastination, to remove boulders of indecision, challenge complacency, confront misunderstanding, be prepared to speak to the deep hurt people have experienced in the church, and be ever ready to stand firm on our saving grace — the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

The Candle of Preparation reminds us to be prepared to receive the Lord. But before that light shines on this second Sunday of Advent, we must ask ourselves if we have made those preparations, and are we prepared for His arrival?

Be Blessed!

Rev. J. Loren Russell is an associate minister at both Goodwill and The Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx, President/CEO of The JLR Company for Church Financial & Strategic Consulting, and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio, Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM. Listen here or by phone at 626-226-1448. Be sure to friend “Matters of Faith” on Facebook, follow on Twitter @jlorenr, and email us at

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