BE PREPARED

Boy Scout Motto

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Last year, the Lord kept telling us to “BE READY.” Well, that’s a little cryptic, if you ask me, but we’re talking about JESUS, here… He spoke in parables and said things that were hard to understand! He didn’t volunteer explanations, either – except His disciples, IF they asked. So, we asked…

Ultimately, God’s warning reflected His desire for us to draw closer to Him, to spend more time in His presence, and to listen more, as we are out and about. Basically, He was inviting us into His secret place and urging us to stay there throughout our daily activities. It all seemed important to Him, even urgent. Now, we see why … at least in part.

Our God is a good Father, but He doesn’t just dole out understanding. There is a reason for this: He wants us to SEEK HIM. He knows that when we seek Him, we will find Him, if we seek Him with our whole heart. So, He intrigues us, and we ask questions. Sometimes, He even perplexes or frustrates us, if necessary, to call us to His side. Ultimately, God is after what He created us for, and it is always what He wants: Our fellowship and obedience. He does not want us to live life apart from Him; He wants us to have ETERNAL LIFE!

Jesus spoke these words, lifted up His eyes to heaven, and said: “Father, the hour has come. Glorify Your Son, that Your Son also may glorify You, as You have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him. And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. (John 17:1-3)

What we are witnessing today may be but a foretaste of what is to come. It may be a rehearsal, if you will, for the main event – or it could be the prelude even the opening of Act 1. Let me explain…

The things we are experiencing, may be what Jesus called “the beginning of sorrows?” (Matthew 24:8) If so, we may be entering into what Paul calls the “birth pangs” of the new creation. (Romans 8:22) We know that God is making all things new – beginning with us – to culminate in a new creation, a new heaven and a new earth! (Revelation 21:1ff)

If we follow the “birth analogy,” we know that having a baby is a big deal… That is why most expectant parents are diligent to prepare. They read the books and go to the classes, get ultrasounds and pick out names. The mother’s body starts to change, so she gets maternity clothes. Since babies seem to need all manner of specialized equipment, these days, they get research, make lists, and gather what they will need. Friends and family help. In their excitement, many couples even paint the nursery and assemble the crib well before their “nesting instinct” kicks into high gear. Ultimately, they know that they will need to pack a bag and arrange for the birth, itself – either at home or at the hospital.

Thankfully, God gives us several months to get ready – mentally, emotionally, and physically – for the blessed event. The further we go, however, the more real it all becomes… and the more uncomfortable. No one that I know really looks forward to labor pains, but we all look forward to the baby! Birthing is necessary to the process, so it’s best if we can get through it as gracefully as possible. Being ready and having everything in place is, definitely, the best-case scenario. So, we prepare, because we know it’s happening. Ready or not, the baby is coming! And, so it is with the end of the age…

Without going into all the reasons that this may be so, know that Jesus will, indeed, return to the earth – and it could be in our lifetime! Regardless, He wanted His people to LIVE READY, because it’s only prudent. Living in the reality of Christ’s return, regardless of when it may happen, gives us the eternal mindset we need to be effective disciples. So, being prepared is always in style…maybe more now than ever.

OK. So, how do we prepare for the end of the age?

Firstly, we need to prepare spiritually by drawing closer to HIM. That should always be our number one priority, because HE needs to be our number one priority. Living in close fellowship with Jesus is always necessary, and especially so in trying times. Actually, it can make all the difference.

I had a fairly disastrous first birth, but it produced a wonderful child. However, I wasn’t so wonderful going through it, if you know what I mean… So, I begged the Lord to show me how to endure that much pain in victory – and He did. It may not be for everyone, by my birthing method became WORSHIP. That’s right. I sang through the two subsequent deliveries, connecting my spirit with His in a way that seemed to carry me above the pain. These deliveries produced equally wonderful babies – but I was much easier to live with!

Secondly, we need to prepare mentally and emotionally for the potentially tough times ahead. Is our outlook positive? Is it based on faith in His Word? Are we surrendered enough to persevere? The Bible is full of references to the suffering that will be ours, if we live godly lives. Though God, Himself calls us to live separated from the world and its ways, many of us tend to think and act just like the world does. We are afraid of what the world fears, because we want what the world wants. This should not be.

Ask God to search your heart. If this is you, take stock and make changes, lest a natural mindset of selfishness or entitlement trip you up. Like Jesus, we are here to serve, not to be served. This isn’t about us; it’s about Him – and them. We need to live holy and selfless lives of service to God and man – now – to prepare for a time when it may be harder to do so.

Jesus tells us that we should actually rejoice when we are mistreated because of Him, and Paul tells us that the trial of our faith is more important than gold! Are we in the right mindset to accept difficulties – and stay true to One who loved us enough to give His life for us? It’s time to prepare our hearts and minds. As it says in Jeremiah 12:5, “If you have run with the footmen, and they have wearied you, Then how can you contend with horses?” We need to be like athletes who condition themselves to win – physically and mentally.

So then, since Christ suffered physical pain, you must arm yourselves with the same attitude he had, and be ready to suffer, too. For if you have suffered physically for Christ, you have finished with sin. You won’t spend the rest of your lives chasing your own desires, but you will be anxious to do the will of God. (1 Peter 4:1-2)

Finally, we need to prepare in practical, physical ways. If this current crisis has taught us anything it’s that we need to have extra toilet paper on hand! Seriously though, this is true. We need to make sure we have reserves in our lives – of food, supplies, and money. Those who live to their extremes or even beyond them (on credit) will be in trouble. If you don’t have money available to pay your rent in an emergency, what happens? If you lose your job, what happens? If you are in debt – get out – as fast as you can. If you have no savings, change your lifestyle to put money away. These are actually Scriptural precepts, how we are to live all the time. (Deuteronomy 28:12-13; Proverbs 6:6-8, 22:7; Romans 13:8, etc.) If we do, we will also be prepared for the tough times.

It’s clear, in listening to the news, as well as a multitude of internet videos, that many Americans actually look to the government to save them. Oddly enough, somehow the government even thinks it should be able to do so! I’m sure we are all thankful for the temporary relief we are promised in the form of a government handout. As unprecedented as it is, however, governmental generosity won’t cover what many have already lost. Further, we’d be foolish to depend upon such benevolence – especially in light of the ramifications we will likely face in an inflated economy with a looming national debt!

If we have no God; trusting in man (and by extension, the government) is understandable. However, for the Christian, it isn’t understandable – at all – regardless of who is in power. God’s people need to take stock, to examine ourselves, and to make sure we are trusting in GOD – not man, not the best experts, not even the greatest nation with the strongest government in the world!

We can never look to men for help; no matter who they are, they can’t save us, for even our great leaders fail and fall. They too are just mortals who will one day die. At death the spirits of all depart and their bodies return to dust. In the day of their death all their projects and plans are over. But those who hope in the Lord will be happy and pleased! Our help comes from the God of Jacob! (Psalms 146:3-5)

This is what the LORD says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans, who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the LORD. They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land. “But blessed are those who trust in the LORD and have made the LORD their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.” (Jeremiah 17:5-8)

Some trust in chariots, and some in horses; But we will remember the name of the LORD our God. (Psalms 20:7)

So, be strong and courageous in this hour! Our current troubles may mark the beginning of the end – or just be preliminary. Those who have had babies understand… Sometimes the labor is real; sometimes it’s just contractions that prepare for birth. No one knows how much time we actually have, but if we are prudent, we will, as the Boy Scout Motto says: “BE PREPARED.” 

Then He spoke to them a parable: “Look at the fig tree, and all the trees. When they are already budding, you see and know for yourselves that summer is now near. So you also, when you see these things happening, know that the kingdom of God is near. Assuredly, I say to you, this generation will by no means pass away till all things take place. Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will by no means pass away. (Luke 21:29-33)

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