<div><p><span style="color: #231f20; margin-top: 0px; margin-bottom: 0px; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px;"> <span style="color: #2ea3f2; font-family: Arial,Helvetica,sans-serif; font-size: 14px; margin-bottom: 0px; margin-top: 0px;"><b>Advent Day 26 - Thursday, December 21</b></span> <br> <br></span></p><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><div><p><i>“Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” Matthew 3:3</i><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->The word <i>prepare</i>, in Isaiah 40:3 and Matthew 1:3, is probably the most recognizable use of the word in the Bible. After all, we are now preparing for the second coming of Jesus Christ and so “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight” is very applicable to us today. <i>Prepare </i>is in the Bible over 200 times and is often the Advent theme for many churches.<!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->One year when the Advent theme at our church was “Prepare!” God provided an opportunity for Megan, my youngest daughter, and I to experience a dramatic lesson in being prepared. We were visiting family in Nebraska City, Nebraska, right after Thanksgiving, and I decided to go for a walk. Megan wanted to come along and we went to the shore of the Missouri River, about a mile away. It was unseasonably cold, large chunks of ice had already formed on the river and were moving quickly downstream. We heard a dog crying out and saw a German Shepherd coming toward us, in the freezing water, and unable to get out on the icy banks. I found a large branch and gave it to Megan, took off my boots and coat and found a large sheet of ice on the bank that the dog was approaching. The dog was exhausted. I lay down on the ice and got a grip on him and pulled him to safety. I put my boots on and dried off and wrapped the dog in my coat. He had a collar with tags that indicated he lived close by. After 20 minutes the dog seemed to fully recovered, so we all walked toward his home. When he could see his house he ran straight to the door and it all ended with very happy dog owners. <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Megan was pretty excited by this experience and had lots of questions. I grew up in Minnesota, by many lakes and rivers, and had first-hand experience with people getting in trouble ice skating, fishing, and snowmobiling on ice. (It was difficult as a child to wait for the lake to freeze so we could play hockey!) I also spent a lot of time on lakes and rivers as a lifeguard. So I knew what to do around water. I told Megan the branch was to help me if I fell through the ice, and I’d taken off my boots and coat so I could get out of the water easier and have dry boots and coat to warm up. <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->When she shared the story back home, Megan used the word <i>prepared</i>. This sparked a conversation about the Advent theme “Prepare!” and we had a deeper appreciation of the season of Advent because of it. <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->I pray that I will never stop preparing myself and others for an eternity with God. Our theme this year at OSL is “Magnify!” How do we magnify? I’m going to do these three things: <br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->1. <i>Pay Attention!</i> Slow down in the frantic pace of this world and look for God in everyday life. <br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->2. <i>Participate!</i> Get a closer look at God, dig deeper into the scriptures, songs, and sermons. <br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->3. <i>Be Still and Know!</i> Spend more time with God in prayer, being sure to take time to listen. <br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->God bless you and your family as you “Prepare the way of the Lord, make his paths straight.” <!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] --><br><br><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->Gene LeVasseur</p></div><!-- [et_pb_line_break_holder] -->