Before I forget. Happy Valentine's days. Let’s open up that love letter God wrote us for a bit before we start on the Valentine’s day cards and chocolate. Boy, has God got a gift He wants us to share with those we love and know.

Every time I open my New Testament, I am reminded of how it fulfills and answers the cry of the Old Testament. The second verse in the Gospel of Mark takes us back to Isaiah’s prophecy of the coming Messiah and gives us of some of the details that were to accompany that Messiah's return. This Messiah that was coming was to have a messenger ahead of Him who would prepare the way for His arrival. John the Baptist is that messenger. He serves God as God has called him to serve and does not hold back. He accepts his role just like the long-awaited Savior will accept His role in God’s redemptive plan. Soon his ministry will be cut short, and he will be laying down His life. Jesus does not save us and call us to anything less than the greatest plan of all eternity. That plan where He will lay down His life for the sin problem every human being has.

Mark's Gospel unfolds with that messenger living out in the wilderness clothed with camel’s hair, a leather belt around his waist, and a diet of locusts and wild honey. How odd it must have seemed. I remember preaching at a camp one time in a 3-piece navy suit with 600 kids from the city that were bussed out to the camp. Boy, was I dressed wrong! Felt a little intimidated by the crowd but still blessed to share the same message of God’s grand story to a crowd who needed to hear God’s story of redemption. I’m living proof God can use you no matter how you’re prepared, and the outcome is never about you. (So glad they changed that 3-piece suit teaching rule) John was preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins. And for those who believed God’s messenger and ran out to meet him, their lives would never be the same. So, it is with us when we accept God’s redemptive plan of salvation.

After 400 years of waiting for the Messiah to come those who held on to the truth of that coming would welcome the Messiah and seek this new Baptism and the forgiveness of their sins that John was preaching about. They became part of a new group of God’s people that would be baptized with the Holy Spirt and come to trust Christ as their Savior. Born again and part of God’s grand story of redemption for sinful men. Those with hard hearts would soon seek to take his life and destroy God’s messenger, just like they would seek to destroy God’s one and only Son in the days that followed.

There is a great fight that happens in a person’s life who rejects God’s Savior and Son. Immediately after Jesus was baptized, He is taken out to the wilderness Himself for 40 days and tempted. Those wilderness days are tough and a place that God does some of His biggest work? Ever been in one? The people of Israel spent 40 years in the wilderness and the whole older generation died off because of their unbelief. That unbelief, when man decides they are right and God’s plan is wrong, causes consequences that are very high and eternal.

John was an amazing man who choose God’s promised plan and made himself available to be used in God’s plan. Is it not the same choice for us today? God used a messenger-type friend in my life called Doug to share the message of a saving Messiah with me. How about you? As I think about this today God still desires to use messengers. People like you and me willing to proclaim God’s redemptive plan. Are you in? Pass the locusts and honey….

by Jerry Hull, Children's Ministry Pastor

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