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Synopsis of Is There Anything I Can Do ?
Good and joyful day today on this particular Sunday as we prepare for the celebration of the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ. Pull up a chair, pour yourself a cup of coffee, or tea, or milk, or whatever is your favorite. We’re about to slice a piece of the bread of life, the Word of God. And today’s slice comes from Luke speaking of John the Baptist
LUKE 3:3 through 6 3 And he went into all the region around the Jordan, preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins, 4 as it is written in the book of the words of Isaiah the prophet, saying: “The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord, make His paths straight. 5 Every valley shall be filled and every mountain and hill brought low; and the crooked places shall be made straight and the rough ways made smooth; 6 and all flesh shall see the salvation of God.’ “
Now I want to drop down to verse 10 through 14 “So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” 11 He answered and said to them, “He who has two tunics, let him give to him who has none; and he who has food, let him do likewise.” 12 Then tax collectors also came to be baptized, and said to him, “Teacher, what shall we do?” 13 And he said to them, “Collect no more than what is appointed for you.” 14 Likewise the soldiers asked him, saying, “And what shall we do?” He said to them, “Do not intimidate anyone or accuse falsely, and be content with your wages.”
Each year, millions of people go in search of the real spirits of Christmas. True, some want to find it only so they can try to package it and sell it. But others wonder… What is this all really about? Sure, we know the story of Christmas, but what is the spirit of Christmas. Does it exist? And if so, how can we hope to find it? When all is said and done, we still wonder what fuels our Christmas sentiment. Is what we are feeling the true Christmas spirit or just remnants of “Santa Clause.?” To discuss this let me take you to the title of today’s message…. “Is There Anything I Can Do?”
You hear it from well-mannered guests, “Is there anything I can do?” It is the polite question to ask the hostess as she gets up to make the final preparations for the meal. Usually the answer is, “No. Just sit there, be comfortable, everything is taken care of.” At other times people will ask, “Is there anything I can do?” when someone is in trouble, or when they are in sorrow, or sickness. There are just times when it is the right thing to do. It is good manners and a sign of thoughtfulness.”
There was a time, 2000 years ago, when it was the most commonly asked question of serious-minded people. “Is there anything I can do to prepare the way for the Messiah?” You see, in those days it was believed that the Messiah would not come until everything was ready. Not until this world was put into shape, tidied up. Then the Messiah would come. We as Christians believe he came before the world was ready.
The prophets also then described John the Baptist baptizing in the River Jordan. And, after he baptized them he answered their question with “Who ever has two coats share with someone who has none, and same with food and collect no more than what is prescribed to you, and do not extort money from others or use false accusations.”
Sounds familiar? Lack of compassion for the poor. Misuse of power for personal gain.
Is there anything we can do to prepare for the Messiah? Yes, stop doing these things. You can get rid of all in your life that is phony, trivial, cheap, and unworthy of a child of God. Just get rid of it and know only what is excellent. Exercise some discernment. What a wonderful word discernment. It means making choices on the basis of having some standards in your life.
We live in an age in which just about everything is permissible, everything is tolerated, all in the name of freedom. Freedom of speech and freedom of most behaviors. That’s fine, but, just because everything is tolerated doesn’t mean that everything is of equal value. So what is needed is discernment.
We have a choice. That is what John is saying to us today. Use your discernment to fill up the interior of your life. As he said to the Romans…. “Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of our mind, that you may know what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
Christmas actually proclaims that He came before we had everything ready. But, it also says, only those who expected Him, saw Him. It’s the same today. Those who don’t expect a Messiah, that is a Savior, won’t see Him. He is here, He has already come. But they don’t even look for Him. Look at the Christmas story. Only two kinds of people saw Him in that story, Wise men, who saw the signs and had open minds, the shepherds who heard the announcement, and those with open hearts.
When the people would come up to John and ask, “Is there anything we can do?” John says, “Yes. Whoever has two coats must share with him who has none. And whoever has food must do likewise”. To the tax collectors: `Yes. Collect no more than the amount prescribed for you.’ To the soldiers, `Do not extort money from anyone by threats or false accusations, and be satisfied with your wages.'” Today the question still is…”Is there anything I can do?” You have two coats? You have food? Do likewise. And if you are not proud of the way you are living, then stop it.
Now that we are in a repentant and heartfelt mood let’s get into that Christmas spirit I just spoke of. Perhaps my wife Sue can help us arrive there with a song…. my favorite Christmas carol…. Mary Did You Know.
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