If we are to receive the powerful presence of God, we must prepare ourselves. John the Baptist was God’s messenger to help people prepare to receive the Savior of the world. John preached unwaveringly: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). Those who heard John’s message and prepared their lives recognized Jesus when He came, and they left all to follow Him. This was especially true of the disciples, whose hearts God Himself prepared (Matt. 16:17). Preparation must precede God’s presence!
God’s instruction for preparation is specific: repentance! This involves a complete change of mind, heart, will, and behavior toward Him. He is Lord, and your life must be prepared to receive Him as your Lord. Anything less is inadequate. Some were obviously unprepared to follow Jesus and missed the opportunity (Luke 9:57-62). The religious leaders of Jesus’ day were largely unprepared for His arrival. They knew the Messiah was coming. They even knew where He would be born (Matt. 2:4-6). Yet when word came that the Savior had been born, they made no effort to join Him, preferring instead their religious ritual.
If you are unprepared, you, too, will miss the opportunity to experience Jesus. You may practice religion, but you will miss God. While others encounter the Lord personally in worship, your heart will remain unmoved. As others receive a fresh word from God, you will experience a painful silence. Religious activity can never substitute for a heart that is pure before Him. Purity comes only through repentance. Pray, as the Psalmist did, that God will examine your heart and reveal your need to repent of your sin (Ps. 139:23-24).