Ready Prepared Preparation Readiness Preparedness


As Christians, we often speak of the Gospel, the Good News of Jesus, the Son of God. But, if asked, can we give an immediate, concise answer (2 Timothy 4:2)? A dear friend and spiritual mentor taught me to always have a one-minute, five-minute, and twenty-minute message “in my pocket.”

Be Ready in Season and Out

His thinking and I found it true, was that at a moment’s notice, I may be called upon to testify to a person, speak to an ad hoc group, or be called upon to preach a message. In those situations, we would have no time to prepare.

I saw this displayed on a street in Cluj, Romania. As a small group of us walked along a wide city sidewalk, we came upon a young Eastern Orthodox priest. He stopped us because he heard us speaking English and wanted to find out if we could understand him when he spoke English. To his delight, we did understand him.

With that out of the way, we began an enjoyable conversation. At one point, he asked how our beliefs were different from his. My friend had the answer. Within five minutes, the young priest was energized and uplifted. But when my friend asked if he could pray for the priest, the veil of orthodoxy fell, and the priest immediately took off down the street.

Our Joy Is to Share the Gospel

It’s never our job to force the outcome from a divine appointment, but it is our job to be ready with an answer. (1 Peter 3:15) Speaking of answers, here is the answer to what is the Gospel of Jesus Christ:

3 The Good News is about his [God’s] Son. In his earthly life he was born into King David’s family line, 4 and he was shown to be the Son of God when he was raised from the dead by the power of the Holy Spirit. He is Jesus Christ our Lord.Romans 1:3–4 NLT

Our joy is found in Jesus, so let’s be ready to share Christ’s Good News anywhere with anyone at any time. Amen!

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Construction backhoe driving down the road

Get to Where God is Working

Jesus told them, “This is the only work God wants from you: Believe in the one he has sent.”

John 6:29

So, what work does God require of every person that desires salvation? That work is to believe in the One – Jesus the Messiah – that God sent for the salvation of all who seek with sincerity. And faith can only be holy faith if it works with love. (Galatians 5:6)

Our salvation comes by using the faith God has given each person. Everything we hope to accomplish in and through and for God is secured by faith. The very same faith that we used to believe in Jesus was active in us when our faith combined with God’s grace and transformed us from death to life.

23 Now before faith came, we were kept in custody under the Law, [perpetually] imprisoned [in preparation] for the faith that was destined to be revealed, 24 with the result that the Law has become our tutor and our disciplinarian to guide us to Christ, so that we may be justified [that is, declared free of the guilt of sin and its penalty, and placed in right standing with God] by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under [the control and authority of] a tutor and disciplinarian. 26 For you [who are born-again have been reborn from above—spiritually transformed, renewed, sanctified and] are all children of God [set apart for His purpose with full rights and privileges] through faith in Christ Jesus.Galatians 3:23-29 AMP

This faith is the same that we use to bear our own cross. It is the faith we use in prayer, which results in healed families, and the recovery of wayward children, allows the Holy Spirit to heal our mortal bodies, and will someday hear Christ’s trumpet call. It will be by faith that we rise to meet Jesus in the air.

And what is this faith? The very thing that allows us to enter the throne of God and make our petitions! God’s Word tells us that it is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1) The building material of our hope is faith. And faith is the thing that enables us to have a vision, a goal, a purpose and to see it fulfilled by the power of the Holy Spirit working in us through faith.

Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.

Romans 5:1

So, what is it that God has laid on your heart? What have you “seen?” God’s Word says, “The people perish without a vision.” (Proverbs 29:18) The “vision” in this verse refers to divine communication as from a dream, revelation, or prophecy.

So, with what is the Holy Spirit challenging you? Only through faith can any work of God be accomplished. Faith is not an “end” in itself, It is like a vehicle on God’s highway. It’s the transportation that gets us from where we are to where God is working.

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Manual Typewriter

Book Two

Well, I’m underway on my second book. I intended it to be a small pamphlet, but it seems that God’s plan is bigger. If you have a moment, please pray that I will write the book He expects from me. Thanks!

#WritingCommunity #christianposts #publishing

help wanted sign

Work Isn’t a Four-Letter Word!

Well, yes, work has four letters, but it should not be thrown in with THE four-letter words. I read a meme yesterday that said, “The best job to have right now is making ‘Help Wanted’ signs!” I have never seen so many job openings in my life.

Homemade Scripture

Years ago, I heard a sermon titled, “Homemade Scripture.” It was a fascinating message, but I only remember bits and pieces. One example that he used was “God helps those who help themselves.” This phrase is not found in the Bible. It originated with Algernon Sydney in 1698 in an article titled Discourses Concerning Government (pdf). Nevertheless, God expects people to work. The apostle Paul’s statement in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 is that people who don’t work, with they can, shouldn’t receive handouts from the Church. Likewise, we find Paul writing to Timothy:

But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

1 Timothy 5:8

God Helps the Helpless

Of course, God helps the helpless. We find in Romans 5:6 NASB-1977, “For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly.” And in James 1:27 BSB, “Pure and undefiled religion before our God and Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their distress, and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” And, again, in Hebrews 13:16, “Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God.

God helps the helpless, but He disdains those who can provide for themselves and their families but don’t. In Proverbs 13:4 NLT we find, Lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper.And in Proverbs 6:10-11, “A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber, and want like an armed man.

Work Isn’t a Four-Letter Word

Let’s all work as “unto the Lord.” (Colossians 3:23) And, happy Labor Day!!!

The only place success comes before work is in the dictionary.

Vince Lombardi

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fire insurance - house fire

More Than Fire Insurance

The house fire

When my wife and I first started dating, we shared family stories. We found these stories fascinating. Early on, my wife-to-be told me about a fire that burned their home to the ground. We even drove by the empty lot where their house had stood.

My wife and her sisters were young kids at the time of their fire, my wife being 7 or 8. It was a terrifying experience and one that left the family homeless. However, they had a tight-knit extended family, so they had shelter while my father-in-law searched for a place to raise his brood of kids. He found one, and more than half a century later, my in-laws still live there.

The kitchen fire

Shockingly, that was not their only fire. A few years after my wife and I married, and while some of her sisters still lived at home, they had a kitchen fire that gutted the kitchen. Fire insurance paid for the rebuilding of their home – exterior and interior.

Sadly, shortly after the fire, my wife’s grandmother passed away, leaving my mother-in-law an inheritance that paid for new cabinets, countertops, and other pleasant things for her kitchen. Thankfully, my in-laws haven’t experienced a fire for nearly forty years!

Fire changes beautiful things into carbon

Fires do happen, and when they do, it’s shocking how they can completely change beautiful things into carbon, useful for nothing.

If history has taught us anything, it’s that the things we build and the things we treasure will eventually be burned, buried, or broken. My sister and I have had the unpleasant task of dispensing our mom’s stuff after she died and my dad’s things after he passed. Once a person passes, it’s astonishing how much “unwanted” things remains after family and friends get what they want.

What I’ve learned

Here’s the wisdom I’ve gained from family stories and family funerals: Jesus is more than fire insurance.

In imperceptible ways and ginormous events, God takes care of His children. I’ve learned that we are not born God’s children. We are born as rebels against God, and we have His wrath upon us. I’ve learned over the years that very few people understand that God is furious with them.

Have you ever loved someone, but that person did something that made you so angry that you couldn’t stand to be in the same room with them? Well, multiple that by a gazillion, and that’s how God feels.

Why? Because God desires to lavish His love upon humanity, but every single person chooses worldliness over God – “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of GodRomans 3:23 And, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.” – John 3:36

Jesus is more than fire insurance

Notice the switch up in this passage. To believe implies obedience. And notice that God’s wrath is already upon people; upon us unless we believe and are reborn. Great, you may think, but what does this have to do with today’s topic? Well, Jesus is more than fire insurance.

When we believe and receive Jesus as our Lord and Savior, we are born anew, born as citizens in God’s kingdom, and that’s just the beginning. God has work for us to do in this life and work in our lives to come. In heaven, we don’t float on clouds and play harps throughout eternity. Consider this passage of scripture:

11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames.

1 Corinthians 3:11-15

We have work to do

First, notice that Jesus is the only salvation available to humanity. Next, see that once we are “born anew,” we have work to do. God planned your work and my work before He began creating the heavens and the earth (Ephesians 2:10). We can only do our chores by using faith in God.

If we are lazy or sloppy, we build God’s kingdom with things that won’t last. When tested by fire, they burn up, leaving you or me with nothing to show Jesus. We literally will come before God empty-handed and suffer a great loss! However, if you and I do the work that God planned for each of us and do it diligently, faithfully, and for the Lord, then we build God’s kingdom with gold, silver, and jewels – things that survive fire! We will receive a reward from God for our obedience!

We can show God that our work has eternal value

So, you see, Jesus is more than fire insurance. Living for Jesus saves us from hell, but God also allows us to show Him that our work has eternal value.

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Bee Busy

Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. – Mt 24:45-46

Bloom Where You Are Planted

Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. – 1 Thes. 4:11 (NLT)

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macbook pro displaying group of people

Don’t Waste Your Pain

I heard a preacher say, “God never wastes our pain.” The moment I heard this, it resonated in me. This statement is true. And, as the way God works, I had just finished reading:

But Jews came from Antioch and Iconium, and having persuaded the crowds, they stoned Paul and dragged him out of the city, supposing that he was dead. But when the disciples gathered about him, he rose up and entered the city, and on the next day he went on with Barnabas to Derbe. – Acts 14:19-20


The apostle Paul suffered much for the cause of Christ. Most of his Christian life, he was a man on the move. I relate to that. During my career, I traveled all over America and around the world. I can’t tell you how many times I would be someplace and longed to share it with my wife and kids, but they were home, and I wasn’t. Sorry, that’s a rabbit trail.

The apostle Paul suffered. He was a man on the move, ministering in places that had never even heard of Jesus. Paul wrote:

and thus I make it my ambition to preach the gospel, not where Christ has already been named, lest I build on someone else’s foundation, but as it is written,

“Those who have never been told of him will see,
    and those who have never heard will understand.”

– Romans 15:20-21

The Prison Epistles

Paul was a man on the move, but God locked him up in prison. Can you imagine how painful this must have been for Paul? No longer could he get back on the road to visit and encourage the churches he planted. So, from prison, Paul wrote. And from Paul’s pain came Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Without these four Prison Epistles, we would not have:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.Ephesians 2:8-9

Now let’s turn our attention to you. If you’re a Christian, what pains do you have? Now name one. “I have a broken marriage.” “My child hates me.” “I have cancer.” Now that you’ve pulled your pain out of the clutter in your mind, pray, and ask Jesus to show you how to use your pain. Ask Him to give you opportunities to use your pain for the good of others.

Let God use Your Pain

Yes, ask our Heavenly Father, in the name of Jesus, to heal the cause of your pain, but don’t let your pain be wasted. This same preacher said, “Do what you can with what you have where you’re at.” If you have pain, then that’s what you have. Ask God to use your pain.

Be bold in your faith in Jesus. It’s okay to say, “I’m a Christian. I have MS, and I’m scared.” But don’t go on that journey alone; don’t waste your pain.

Talk to people, go to support groups, and say, “I know Jesus is with me and He cares for me. I’ll pray for anybody that’s scared.” Put yourself out there. The Holy Spirit lives in you. Life is in you, even if you’re dying. God will use your pain to point others to Jesus, to pour hope into people that desperately need hope.

Don’t linger in your pain, but until your pain is gone, let God use it to help people.

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Are You A Project Person?

My wife is a project person. At any one time, she always has two or three projects that she’s doing, and that doesn’t count the people-projects that God gives her. We’ve been married a long time, and she’s never run out of projects.

Project People

Nehemiah was also a project person. One day he heard about the distress of his fellow Jews in Jerusalem as well as the condition of the city itself. When he heard this news, God called him at risk his own life to tackle the restoration of the people and the city.

As soon as Nehemiah hears the need, we see Nehemiah fasting and praying “for days” for God’s guidance (Nehemiah 1:4). Next, when Nehemiah understands that God has laid this work upon him, we read, “…And I said to the king, “If it pleases the king, and if your servant has found favor in your sight, that you send me to Judah, to the city of my fathers’ graves, that I may rebuild it.” Nehemiah 2:5

God gave Nehemiah a project. For Nehemiah, it was a massive project, and one larger than he probably understood, at first. Nehemiah’s assignment is how God works. And if you have placed your faith in Jesus, then God will have projects for you, too. How do you know when God has a project for you? It usually starts in your heart.

A Burden from the Lord

Old-timers call it a burden from the Lord. It’s a heaviness in your heart and a reoccurring thought in your mind. When you become aware of it, you begin to take it to the Lord in prayer, and you find an unusual receptiveness; access to God that may not be typical for you.

When you receive an assignment from God, you should keep at least two things in mind. First, God shares His glory with no one (Isaiah 42:8). All the honor and praise for your work belongs to God, alone. Secondly, where God guides, He provides. This second statement can promptly be confirmed by reading the books of Nehemiah, Ezra, and Esther.

Will you be a Project Person?

As you go about your daily life, keep your spiritual ears open. I do not doubt that our Lord Jesus will speak to you by the Holy Spirit and give you projects to advance the kingdom of God.

Photo credit: VFS Digital Design on / CC BY

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a yoke of oxen

A Yoke is a Tool for Work

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. (Matthew 11:29)

Matthew 11:29 seems to be a key verse for me. I’ve written several devotionals about this, I’ve even preached this a couple of times and taught this in Sunday School classes. I find so much value in this one verse. Today I’d like us to consider the first four words, “Take my yoke upon you.” 

A Yoke is a Tool

I don’t know if you’ve ever had a boss that was a pleasure to work for, but I was blessed with one. I took a job at a new company so I had a new boss and it was like a breath of fresh air. My boss knew what he was doing.

In my previous job, every day was filled with blaming, politics, and crises. With my new boss, we still had our share of problems, but the attitude was different. We focused on solving problems rather than finding scapegoats. I think this employment experience has helped me to better appreciate Matthew 11:29. 

We Still Have Work

Notice in this verse that Jesus didn’t say, “Take your old yoke off and go play in God’s pasture.” There’s no intent from our Lord that  His followers will be free to wander wherever their hearts take them.  We still have work to do!

We still have a yoke, we still have a Master, and we still have our Master’s work to do. Christ’s promise is that He will not be a cruel taskmaster, He will be reasonable and understanding, and He will ensure that we won’t be chasing our tails; we won’t be exhausted from futility; we won’t be burdened with responsibilities while being withheld from the authority and tools to fulfill our assignments. Jesus will equip us for the work He gives us.

How wonderful Jesus is to those that are His. We find rest for our souls in our work for our Lord. It’s kind of like getting a new boss that’s really good at taking care of His people.


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