Preparing for Purity Is Often Painful
These are the readings for the Second Sunday in Advent.
God’s Word for This Week
Many people look for easy fixes for their problems. God, though, often puts his people through a long, painful process to prepare us to embrace the Savior he has sent. God always works through his Word to develop in us a life that shows the fruit of the purity he has put around us in Christ.
Traditional First Lesson – Malachi 3:1-4
Look at Malachi 3:1. Who is the messenger who will prepare the way before the LORD?
Here Malachi prophesies about John the Baptizer. (See Matthew 11:10 for details.) John would prepare people for the arrival of the master they were seeking when they complained, “Where is the God of justice?”
What will the coming of the LORD be like?
When Jesus, God’s messenger, came the first time, Malachi said he would be like strong soap or hot fire to purify people. These images picture the often-painful process God uses to remove people’s selfish ways and to create lives of faith which honor the God of justice.
Traditional Second Lesson – Philippians 1:3-11
What brings Paul joy when he thinks of the Philippian congregation?
He is excited because God has shared that same grace with them that he has experienced through the gospel. This is his underlying joy through everything. (Does this endear you to your fellow Christians?)
What does he want for their lives (and ours) up to the time of Christ’s return?
He prays that they will be able to understand clearly and make the right choices of what is best. This will lead them to exhibit a life without blame before God. This comes from a knowledge and depth of insight connected with Jesus. (Is your spiritual life progressing?)
Supplemental Second Lesson – 1 Corinthians 4:1-5
How did Paul want Christians to think of men like Apollos, Peter, and himself? (See 4:1.)
Paul wants us to think of apostles—and then pastors, etc. today—as “servants of Christ and as those entrusted with the secret things of God.”
If someone’s conscience is clear, does that make him or her innocent? Why or why not? (See 4:4.)
If your conscience is clear, that does not make you innocent before God. The Lord Jesus will judge all people on the Last Day.
Jesus will not judge superficially on the Last Day. How will he judge? (See 4:5.)
Jesus will bring to light what was hidden in darkness. He will expose the motives of everyone’s hearts.
Gospel – Luke 3:1-6
In contrast to some of the great men of that era, to whom did the word of the Lord come? Where?
God did not speak directly to the Roman emperor or the Jewish high priest. He spoke directly to John the Baptist, in the desert of all places. (Today too, God casts down the mighty from their thrones, but he lifts up the lowly.)
On what did John the Baptist center his preaching?
John was known for his baptizing. People were prepared for it by repenting. In Baptism, they found forgiveness of sins through faith.
How had the prophet Isaiah described John’s task?
John would be a lone voice getting people ready to see the Messiah when he arrived on the public scene. It was to be a preparation like that of an arriving king. This spectacular coming would rescue the whole world.