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Christmas Forerunner is a sermon by Mark Hollingsworth.
What was or is your parental ambition...those of you who have or plan to have children? Did you really plan for your child to live in the wilderness and eat locust and wear camel hair clothes?
“What would we give to our beloved?” asks one of our poets. What would we ask for our children if we might have our hearts’ desire? When the young father or mother looks down on the little child, and then looks on to the future, what is the parental hope concerning him? What is that which, if it could only be assured, would give “joy and gladness”?
The history of our race, the chronicles of our own time, even the observation of our own eyes, give abundant proof that the child may rise to the highest distinction, may wield great power, may secure large wealth, may enjoy many and varied pleasures, and yet be a source of sorrow and disappointment.
On the other hand, these same authorities abundantly prove that if the parent is only true to his convictions and avails himself of the resources that are open to him, there is every reason to expect that his child will be such an one as to yield to him a pride that is not unholy, a joy that nothing can surpass.
Not necessarily on the same scale, but after the same manner, every man’s child may become what Gabriel told Zacharias his son should be. Our children and we ourselves can become a Christmas Forerunner like John.
What are the characteristics of a Christmas Forerunner?
I. ONE WHO IS GOD HONORING.
“Great in the sight of the Lord.”
By faith in Jesus Christ our child may become a “son of God” in a sense not only true but high (see John 1:12). “And if children, then heirs, heirs of God” (Romans 8:17). Obedience will ensure the friendship of God (see John 14:23; 15:14). Earnestness will make him a fellow-laborer with God (1 Corinthians 2:9; 2 Corinthians 6:1).
The acceptance of all Christian privilege will make him a “king and priest unto God” (Revelation 1:6). Who can compute how much better it is to be thus “great in the sight of the Lord” than to be honored and even idolized by men?
II. ONE WHO IS SPIRIT FILLED.
“He shall be filled with the Holy Ghost.”
God desires to dwell with and in every one of his human children; and if there be purity of heart and prayerfulness of spirit, he will dwell in them continually (Luke 11:13; John 14:17; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; Revelation 3:20).
III. ONE WHO IS CHRIST CONTROLLED.
“He shall drink neither wine,” etc.
By right example and wise discipline any man’s child may be trained to control his own appetites, to regulate his tastes, to form temperate and pure habits, to wield the worthiest of all scepters — mastery of himself.
IV. ONE WHO HAS CHRISTIAN CHARACTER.
“He shall go in the spirit and power of Elijah.”
In John the Baptist there lived again the great Prophet Elijah — a man of self-denying habit; of dauntless courage, that feared the face of no man, and that rebuked kings without flinching; of strong and scathing utterance; of devoted and heroic life.
In any one of our children there may live again that One who “in all things in which John was great and noble, was greater and nobler than he.” In the little child who is trained in the truth and led into the love of Christ there may dwell the mind and spirit of the Son of God himself (Romans 8:9; Philippians 2:5).
V. ONE WHO IS A KINGDOM SERVANT.
"...to turn the hearts...to make ready a people prepared for the Lord."
What nobler ambition can we cherish for our children than that, in their sphere, they should do as John did in his — spend their life in the service of their kind for their King?
We could use some Christmas Forerunners this Christmas as well as in these end days to prepared the world for Christ's second coming.
Like John the Baptist our children and we may:
1. Make many a home holier and happier than it would have been.
2. Prepare the way for others to follow with their higher wisdom and larger influence.
3. Be instrumental in turning disobedient hearts from the way of folly to the path of wisdom.
4. Earn the benediction of "many" whom they have blessed (verse 14).
To ensure all this, there must be:
1. Parental example in righteousness and wisdom.
2. Parental training as well as teaching.
3. Parental intercession.
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