Posted by: pastormikemcdowell | March 3, 2015

March 3, 2015 “The Ultimatum”

And so John the Baptist appeared in the wilderness, preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.” (Mark 1:4)

Good Morning Everyone! This is the Day the Lord has made! Let us rejoice and be glad in it!

Today, the Prime Minister of Israel, Benjamin Netanyahu, will address the congressional leaders of the United States regarding the tense situation that exists in the Middle East and the threat that the country of Iran represents to the nation of Israel. This speech is being delivered at a time when our own government is engaged in an effort to reach an accord with Iran, seeking a diplomatic solution to curtail the possibility of nuclear proliferation that will threaten the region. It is not my intention with today’s post to speculate as to which is the wiser path for our nation to pursue regarding relations with Iran and Israel, but to draw a parallel between current events and the proclamation of the Gospel. What’s the connection?

In the years between the conclusion of the writing of the Old Testament scriptures and the coming of Christ, a period of over four hundred years, two great world cultures emerged and intermingled…the Greeks under the leadership of Alexander the Great rose to power, followed by the Romans and the rise of that sweeping empire. There were no prophetic voices , and God seemed strangely “silent”. But I think of that time as being akin to a “gestation period” in which God was preparing the world for the coming of his Son. After four hundred years of silence, along comes a man with “the voice of one calling in the wilderness, ‘Make straight the way for the Lord.'” His name was John, known as “The Baptist”, and his gospel was a gospel of repentance. It was time for the people to turn their hearts back to God…to abandon their foolish, sinful ways, because something wonderful beyond imagining was about to take place. God’s promised redemption was drawing near. John preached this gospel with complete boldness. There was nothing diplomatic about his call to repentance. He proclaimed it with an urgency that drew the attention of even the great religious leaders of his day. No one had spoken like this in hundreds of years. So out to the wilderness they came to hear what this “wild man” had to say. His was not a message of gentle persuasion. It was more of an ultimatum. “Make straight the way of the Lord.” In other words…”Get your ‘house’…your life in order. The King will soon be here! Repent! 

John’s call is one for us to heed today. Pastor A.W. Tozer, makes this observation:

“We are not diplomats but prophets, and our message is not a compromise but an ultimatum”.   

Diplomacy may be an acceptable approach to use when negotiating with other nations, but diplomacy is ineffective when it comes to establishing an acceptable relationship with the God of Angel-Armies. Repentance, submission, obedience and total surrender are the only acceptable terms when dealing with the One whose Name towers above every name in heaven and on earth. The good news is that in our capitulation to His Lordship we inherit not servitude but salvation…not condemnation but commendation. The ultimatum carries with it both a warning and a promise...”Repent and be baptized, every one of you, in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. And you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” ”  “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Let’s pray!

God of Grace and Glory; I humbly acknowledge and repent of my sin, and all that would separate me from dwelling forever in Your magnificent presence. You are my Redeemer and King, and I live to serve You alone! May Your Name be ever on my lips in praise and worship, for this I pray in Jesus’ Name. Amen!






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