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!

Image by Wokandapix from Pixabay

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Changing Roles and Responsibilities

7 And he [John the Baptist] preached, saying, “After me comes he who is mightier than I, the strap of whose sandals I am not worthy to stoop down and untie. 8 I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit.”

Mark 1:7-8

Has there ever been a place in your life when it was time for you to leave so someone else could fill your role? I’ve been on both sides of this, and it can be challenging.

One thing that blessed me in my local church was this elderly gentleman named Fuzzy that played an upright, string bass. His talent was marvelous. One day, after I’d been a member of a local church for several years, the music director told me that Fuzzy was going to retire from playing bass, and he made the request that I fill his spot – I played electric bass.

When Fuzzy and I met to talk through “his” role, I was saddened. He loved the decades he’d spent playing bass, but he had been praying for someone to replace him; his age interfered with his talent. His prayer was answered, but the reality was brutal. I think John the Baptist may have felt some of this.

I’m not diminishing John’s joy. But there’s a message here for us:

2 Now when John heard in prison about the deeds of the Christ, he sent word by his disciples 3 and said to him, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?” 4 And Jesus answered them, “Go and tell John what you hear and see:

Matthew 11:2-4

When John the Baptist was in prison, he no longer preached to huge crowds, no longer baptized throngs of people. He was even isolated from his home and his way of life. Doubts were pummeling him. I don’t think he sinned, but he needed confirmation that he had been correct. Fuzzy kind of did that with me.

For several Sundays, he sat close to where I played. He wanted to know if I played the songs correctly and was doing the right things to fill his role. He wanted to know that he had chosen correctly.

We all have times when we surrender our role, our position, to someone else; it’s tough, and you want to know that it was the right decision. I’ve seen this at work, and I’m seeing it in the stages of our lives.

There was a time when I thought I was ready to conquer the world, then my first child was born. Then God gave me more children. The next thing I know, I’ve become a grandparent. What happened to conquer the world? What happened to my role in raising children? Now I am being silently asked to move to the role of an elderly person. This is how God works. John the Baptist experienced it, and every one of us will experience it if we haven’t already.

The good news is that God determines the times and circumstances when His preordained will touches our lives and moves us to a new place to share the gospel and glorify Jesus.

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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

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash

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Just the way Jesus is

One of the many surprises I experienced when my family and I moved to Romania was that I had to register our work as a cult. We were in Romania to help a local pastor and work in orphanages but we were not Eastern Orthodox.

I don’t know if things have changed but when we were there any religious organization that wasn’t Eastern Orthodox was considered a cult. It kind of creeped me out to tell officials that my work was part of a cult!

Christianity is not a religion or cult or social movement. Yes, “The Church” is the Body of Christ. We are in The Church and The Church covers this world and therefore it carries a lot of responsibilities. Still, salvation is the most intimate relationship anyone can have with God. Out of this intimate relationship flows life to everyone in our world, if we allow it.

By grace, through faith, God saves us. Our flesh and bones are still under God’s curse so they will die. But you and I, by Christ’s work on the cross, can be reborn, and be a new person, a person not under the Curse.

Jesus is our Savior, Redeemer, King, Lord, Lion of Judah, the Lamb slain before the foundation of the world, Brother, and more. He is more than you or I have ever hoped for.

Jesus knows us; the “us” no one knows, not even our spouses, best friends, or parents. Nevertheless, we have this promise: “being confident of this, that he [God] who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6)

I once was in a meeting with David Wilkerson when he made this statement regarding Philippians 1:6. He said, “Jesus always finishes whatever He starts.” The work Jesus has started in us will be completed because that’s just the way Jesus is.

Photo by Fancycrave on Unsplash

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