And this is the testimony of John, when the Jews
sent priests and Levites from Jerusalem to ask
him, "Who are you?" He confessed, he did not deny,
but confessed, "I am not the Christ." And they
asked him, "What then?   Are you Elijah?"  He said
"No." They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us
have an answer for those who sent us. What do you
say about yourself?" He said, "I am the voice of
one crying in the wilderness, 'Make straight the
way of the Lord,' as the prophet Isaiah said."

John 1:19-23

Something was about to happen which had never happened in
Israel before. The long awaited Kingdom of God was coming.
A prophet named John had announced that the Messiah was
about to be revealed and that those who had any hope of
being included in this new thing which God was about to
do had better make themselves ready.

How do you make yourself ready to see the Messiah and to
enter his kingdom?

    - You repent.

 -  You clear the sin and confusion out of your life.

      - You remove from your heart and from your daily
    behavior those things which block the path of
    the Holy God.

They said to him then, "Who are you? Let us
have an answer for those who sent us. What do
you say about yourself?" He said, "I am the
voice of one crying in the wilderness, 'Make
straight the way of the Lord,' as the prophet
Isaiah said."

It was from among the people who obeyed John's call,
who made straight the way of the Lord in their own hearts,
that Jesus chose his disciples ... men and women who cleared
a path so that the living word from his lips could penetrate
to their hearts.

- They repented.

- They got rid of the things that blocked
the way of God's Spirit.

And because they cleared the way within them,

- their eyes could recognize Jesus for who he was,
- their hearts could
grasp his word.

They took hold of the kingdom, and the kingdom took hold
of them.   They became the means by which Jesus' death
and resurrection have changed the course of this earth
and are still changing it.  No king was ever used to
bring such momentous change to this planet as these
who made straight the way of the Lord. The Lord
came in and set fire to their lives and they set fire
to the earth.

Every new wave of redemptive change that sweeps over a
nation or a city by the Spirit of the Lord begins with
a handful of people who answer that voice crying in the
wilderness, "Make straight the way of the Lord."

God alone knows what things are about to erupt in this
or this nation, or on the earth at this hour. But
whatever is going on in the dimension of his kingdom
wilt be done by men and women who have been preparing
the way for him in their own lives.

If we want to be included in the authentic work of God's
kingdom at this hour, the one thing we need to do is
make straight the way of the Lord.

God doesn't need geniuses or celebrities.

God doesn't need millionaires,
or movie stars,
or professional athletes,

or professional evangelists.


All God needs, and this he will have, are people who will
give him a straight path into their hearts and into their

In Jesus' day there were people like Mary Magdeline or
Levi the tax collector whose lives were weighed down with
gross sins. When they came to Jesus, they knew what had
to go. They knew clearly what changes they had to make to
clear the path, and they received grace from God, and power
to make those changes. And the Spirit of God came into
them and moved through them to set fire to the earth.

But there were also religious people ... people like we are
who were living decent lives, who weren't involved in
gross sin. Yet there was no way God's life could get into
them because their hearts too were hopelessly cluttered
and polluted. In God's sight their hearts were more
abominable than the gross sinner's. When these people
heard the message, "Make straight the way of the Lord,"
they didn't know what that meant.


"I haven't committed adultery.
I haven't stolen.
 I haven't cheated in business.

                  - I live a decent life.

Why are you telling me to make straight the way
of the Lord? How can I possibly be more straight
than I am? I pray.

I read scripture.
I worship with brothers and sisters.
I give to the needy.

How can you say to me, 'Make straight the way of
the Lord?'"

Yet, there it was ... the call of the living God addressed
to them too, to clear a path.


And that same call comes to us ... to us who likewise feel

that we've already opened the door to God as wide as it

will open.   We're doing everything we know.

"Lord, how can you possibly be telling us to
clear a path?"

"I will do a redemptive work in your life.

I will use you to draw many into my kingdom.
My word will burn in your heart and on your
tongue if you will get rid of the clutter,
clear a path, make straight a way for me

There are three things that clutter the lives of

most professing "religious" Christians ... three things that

block the path of the Spirit of God into our hearts.

They are

1. The dead letter.

2. The lying spirit.

3. The loose ends.

1. We need to make straight the way of the Lord by getting
rid of the dead letter .

Now when the Pharisees gathered together to him,
with some of the scribes, who had come from Jeru-
salem, they saw that some of his disciples ate
with hands defiled, that is, unwashed.   (For the
Pharisees, and all the Jews, do not eat unless
they wash their hands, observing the tradition of
the elders; and when they come from the market
place, they do not eat unless they purify them
selves; and there are many other traditions which
they observe, the washing of cups and pots and
vessels of bronze.) And the Pharisees and the
scribes asked him, "Why do your disciples not live
according to the tradition of the elders, but eat
with hands defiled?" And he said to them, "Well
did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is

'This people honors me with their lips,
but their heart is far from me; in vain
do they worship me, teaching as doctrines
the precepts of men.'

You leave the commandment of God and
hold fast the tradition of men."  Mark 7;1-8

- The commandment of God is the living Spirit.
- The tradition of men is the dead letter ... empty rules.

When it's a word from God ... when it's living Spirit ... it
always deals with the inside of our life ... the heart.

When it's the tradition of men which turns the word of God
into a dead letter ... dead words ... it deals with the outside
                         ...the appearance.

The dead letter is some religious rule that you can
measure people by.

- The way we dress.
- The way we talk.
- The way we worship.
- The people we hang out with.

We make the rules about these things and call them
"Christian principles"...always aimed at the outside.

And he called the people to him again, and said
to them, "Hear me, all of you, and understand:
there is nothing outside a man which by going into
him can defile him; but the things which come out
of a man are what defile him." And when he had
entered the house, and left the people, his dis-
ciples asked him about the parable. And he said
to them, "Then are you also without understanding?
Do you not see that whatever goes into a man from
outside cannot defile him, since it enters, not
his heart but his stomach, and so passes on?"
Thus he declared all foods clean. And he said,
"What comes out of a man is what defiles a man.
For from within, out of the heart of man, come

evil thoughts, fornication, theft, murder, adultery,
coveting, wickedness, deceit, licentiousness, envy,
Blander, pride, foolishness. All these evil things
come from within, and they defile a man."

Mark 7:14-23

It's what's within that matters, so the word of God speaks
to the heart.   Jesus deals with the heart ... the dead
letter deals with the outside.

- Anything we add to Jesus,
- Anything we use as a guide apart from Jesus,

always turns out to be the dead letter of the law. It
may seem good, it may seem religious, it may seem
spiritual, but it's blocking the way of the Lord. Re-
move it whatever it is ... anything other than Jesus
himself...and make straight the way of the Lord. For-
get the rules and regulations and let Jesus take over
your life and guide you in his holiness and his love.

2. We need to make straight the way of the Lord
getting rid of the lying spirit.

The lying spirit? What Christian would ever tolerate a
lying spirit?

Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test
the spirits to see whether they are of God; for
many false prophets have gone out into the world.
By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit
which confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the
flesh is of God, and every spirit which does not
confess Jesus is not of God.   This is the spirit
of the antichrist, of which you heard that it was
coming, and now it is in the world already.

1 John 4:1-3

And where is the spirit of the antichrist most at work?
Out there in the evil world? No! the church
the Body of Christ. And the spirit of the antichrist
comes to us in sheep's's respectable,

it's plausible.

Through words that we may hear from some human mouth
or thoughts that race through our minds the lying spirit
misleads us in three ways:

1.   The lying spirit offers us a distorted Jesus...
     usually a Jesus without a cross. A short cut to the
     goodies without any pain. A Jesus who never commands
     you to carry a cross.

2.   The lying spirit fills our minds with all kinds of
     weird thoughts about our brother or our sister. He is
     the accuser of the brethren that seeks to divide us from
     each other. When you're walking around with attitudes,
     what spirit is behind you?

3.  The living spirit fills our minds with strange ideas
     about ourselves .... we're the greatest,

we're the worst,
we're the only one with integrity,
we're hopeless.

"Make straight the way of the Lord," means that we ask

ourselves whether the thoughts which occupy our minds,

the words we listen to are really coming from the crucified

Lamb and leading us to love our brother.

And if we find ourselves walking with a Jesus who has no
cross, suspicious and critical of our brothers, and a
warped view of our own importance, we're dealing with the
spirit of the antichrist. We need to renounce it end
send it away. "Make straight the way of the Lord," so
that he can come in and rule.

3.    We need to make straight the way of the Lord by getting
rid of
the loose ends
...unfinished business...changes
we know are called for, but we haven't made them...
attitudes that were rebuked one hundred times by the
Spirit of God ... yet we still entertain them.

So if you are offering your gift at the altar,
and there remember that your brother has some
thing against you, leave your gift there before
the altar and go; first be reconciled to your
brother and then come and offer your gift.

                                                   Matthew 5:23-2l,

The need to be reconciled with your brother is a loose end
which flies around in the breeze and blocks the path of
God.  You don't let that loose end dangle ... you take care
of it before you offer your gift to God.

"Make friends quickly with your accuser while you
are going with him to court...."

Get it right quickly. Don't let that loose end dangle or

you'll soon be handed over to the the judge to

the guard and you'll be in prison.


In many of our lives there are loose ends dangling and we
know what they are.  If we don't, God will surely show us.


When we know, we need to act. Because those unforgiving attitudes,

those unreconciled conflicts, those unchanged habits are blocking

the way of the Lord into our lives. Just as surely as John the Baptist

prepared the way of the coming of the kingdom of Israel by crying,

"Make straight the way of the Lord,"

so the Spirit of God is pressing down on the Body of
Christ at this hour speaking the same words.

If we have any hope of being included in the authentic
work of God's kingdom on the earth at this hour we need
to answer the call to "make straight the way of the

Some of us may know of sin that must be repented of and
turned from, but all of us have obstacles which clutch
our hearts and the time has come to remove them.

We need to clear away the dead letter,
                                     the lying spirit,
                                     the loose ends,
that the Lord Jesus may move in us with freedom and
and grace.