In the Wasteland, Prepare the Way

A Voice Cries
Isaiah 40:3-5 ESV

“A voice cries:
‘In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up,
and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
and all flesh shall see it together,
for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.’”

Another word for “wilderness” is “wasteland.” “Waste” is what is unwanted, unused, discarded, excess, and surplus, or it is uncultivated, barren, and fallow, or it is garbage, trash, and rubbish. As well, it can be to devastate, ruin, and destroy, or it can be to squander, fritter away, or throw away. And land can be the earth, a territory, home, or country where we live.

Well, I don’t know about other countries, but this definitely describes America, our society, and our culture, and it describes the attitudes, thinking, and behaviors of many people here, including within the church. We live in a garbage in garbage out culture, where time is squandered away, and where on a spiritual level what is healthful for us is often discarded as too serious, while what is spiritual junk is embraced, instead.

As believers in Jesus Christ our time is to be given over to the Lord for his kingdom work, and yet so many people who profess faith in Jesus Christ are wasting what precious time we have left on this earth on entertainment, self-gratification, self-pleasure, and stuff that has no bearing at all on where we will spend eternity. They are frittering away what time they have left on stuff that is meaningless in light of eternity, and in light of the salvation of human lives.

Now, I am not saying that we should all go hide in monasteries and pray and read our Bibles all day long. And I am not saying that we can’t find some pleasure in the things of this world, for the Lord gave us some of these things to enjoy. But I am saying that Jesus needs to be Lord of our lives, and that our lives are to be surrendered to him, and that as his children we are to be about the King’s business, and not wasting what time remains.

For example, we are supposed to be the light of the world and the salt of the earth, and we are to proclaim the excellencies of God who called us out of darkness into his wonderful light. And we are to make disciples of Jesus Christ of people of all nations, and we are to teach them to obey our Lord. And if we have the Holy Spirit living within us, we are the Lord’s witnesses. So, these are the kinds of things we are to be doing with our time, plus we are to be growing to maturity in our walks with the Lord.

And we are to teach the true gospel of Christ and not that cheap grace gospel which is permeating today’s modern church in America. We are to teach that Jesus died on that cross that we might die with him to sin and live to him and to his righteousness. And we are to teach that we are to leave our lives of sin behind us and to follow Jesus in obedience to his commands.

People have jobs, they have children, they have responsibilities. I get that. They have houses and vehicles and properties to care for, and food to buy and to prepare, etc., and that all takes time. I understand. But that does not alter the fact that Jesus is to be Lord of our time, and that our time is to be given over to him, and that we are to be letting him lead us in the way that he wants us to go. And we are not to be charting our own course.

When we believe in Jesus with God-given faith, and the Holy Spirit comes to live within us, Jesus now becomes Lord of our lives, and we are now his possession. For Jesus shed his blood for us on that cross to buy us back for God (to redeem us) so that we would now honor God with our lives. For, Jesus gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.

Yes, we are not saved by our own good works done in our flesh, but we are saved to do the works of God, as his workmanship, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them. We are to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in us both to will and to work for his good pleasure. And, we are to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work.

[Eph 2:8-10; 1 Co 15:58; 2 Co 9:8; Php 2:12-13; Col 1:9-14; 2 Thess 1:11-12; 2 Tim. 2:21; Tit 2:11-14; Jn 15:1-11; Tit 3:8; Jas 2:17; 1 Pet 2:9; Matt 5:13-16; Matt 28:18-20; Acts 1:8; 1 Co 6:19-20; 1 Pet 2:24; Lu 9:23-26; Rom 6:1-23; Rom 8:1-17; Eph 4:17-24; 1 Jn 1:5-9; 1 Jn 2:3-6]

A Voice Says
Isaiah 40:6-8 ESV

“A voice says, ‘Cry!’
And I said, ‘What shall I cry?’
All flesh is grass,
and all its beauty is like the flower of the field.
The grass withers, the flower fades
when the breath of the Lord blows on it;
surely the people are grass.
The grass withers, the flower fades,
but the word of our God will stand forever.”

We, as humans, are flesh and blood. And one day we are all going to die unless the Lord returns before we die and he takes those of us who are his to be with him forever. And we all have the propensity to sin against God, to fail. So, as humans, we may fail one another, either on purpose or accidentally. For, people don’t always tell the truth. They don’t always keep their promises. And they aren’t always who they portend to be, either.

So, if we depend on other people to tell us the truth or to be faithful to us or to lead us in the right direction, we may be disappointed. For, there are many liars and deceivers out there, and many who cheat and betray those they are to love and to protect. There are many who manipulate others and who take advantage of them. And there are many who will lead us willfully to our deaths if we put our faith and trust in them.

So, the counsel here is to not put our faith and trust in other humans to where we trust their words without question or concern. Even if we are following the Lord, and even if our hearts are in the right place, that doesn’t mean we know everything or that we have everything right. And since there are so many liars and deceivers out there, it behooves us to test everything that we read or hear or think we see, for anything can be faked.

But the Word of our God will stand forever. It can be trusted. Now, not all translations of God’s word are completely accurate, so we still need to be discerning and pray for the Holy Spirit to guide us into all truth. And we still need to study the Scriptures in context, for many false doctrines stem from Scriptures taught out of context. And we also need to be putting the word of the Lord into practice in our daily lives and to follow Jesus where he leads us.

A love song to our Lord Jesus

You’re still the one I run to
The one that I belong to
You’re still the one I want for life
You’re still the one that I love
The only one I dream of…
Ain’t nothin’ better

[Lyrics taken from a secular song called “You’re Still the One” by Robert John Lange and Shania Twain]

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