Last week we talked about how important it is to read but this week we highlight being READY. Once we read (Bible) we get READY (battle).
Three weekends ago (Oct 1, 2011) I was worshipping with my family at my home church in White Plains, MD at our Sunday morning worship. In the month of October I have the privilege to minister in eight states in 31 days but it was one of those Sundays were I could worship with my family and friends. FACT: I don’t attend church because I am booked to preach on stage but because God is on the throne and worthy of my worship. That Sunday the service started, the choir sang, the announcements were made, the soloists sung and my precious friend and beloved pastor, Rev Marvin Harris got up in the pulpit, opened his Bible and said: “I don’t feel well today.” He looked at the crowd and said: “I believe we need to have someone come fill in for me. Frank Shelton come up here and preach.”
Holy Smokes! READY OR NOT – here I come!! No notes and no notice!!! Without missing a beat, I grabbed my battered Bible, said a silent prayer, stood up and walked to the pulpit at the 11AM service. Pastor took off his lapel mic as he began placing it around my neck and with an opening joke we went straight to Jesus and GOD SHOWED UP! What an honor to assist my pastor and preach to my home church and God gave me such liberty to preach that morning. With no notes and completely off the cuff – God blessed and folks flooded the altar after the message. PRAISE THE LORD!
The Bible says 2 Timothy 4:2 “Be READY in season and out of season.” Oswald Chambers said “Many of us suffer from the unbalanced tendency to “be ready” only “out of season.” The season does not refer to time; it refers to us. This verse says, “Preach the Word! Be ready in season and out of season.” In other words, we should “be ready” whether we feel like it or not. If we do only what we feel inclined to do, some of us would never do anything. There are some people who are totally unemployable in the spiritual realm. They are spiritually feeble and weak, and they refuse to do anything unless they are supernaturally inspired. The proof that our relationship is right with God is that we do our best whether we feel inspired or not.”
Being ready has nothing to do with emotion but DEVOTION. Believe it or not we are in a battle. The Bible tells us to “fight the good fight” of faith. If you don’t know your target you will miss it every time. It has been said: “Planning to fail is failing to plan.” When I read the Bible I am preparing to get ready. The Bible is not only a blue print but the game plan. I read in the morning and get ready to execute what was just read. Reading the Bible is my classroom but being ready and rolling is my homework. Instruction without application leads to constipation. Hello! Not glamorous but Gospel truth.
Since childhood, we have all heard the words: Ready, Set, GO! When I leave my house, I’m ready (EXPECTING) God to show up. If I had prayed the night before for me to be a blessing I am now ready and watching for God to move or move me to be an extension of His Hands and Feet. My focus must become like flint and set on Christ and now out the door I am gone with God. Henry Blackaby penned “Experiencing God” noted “see where God is working and join Him.”
Meadowlark Lemon shared with me that his late friend, Sammy Davis, Jr the iconic entertainer had a saying: “The world is my stage and if I don’t feel like being on stage I don’t leave the house.” Right or wrong, “Mr Candy Man” knew that you cannot dispense candy (hope, joy, peace) to the world if he wasn’t prepared (READY). God is willing and able (ready) but too often we are not willing or watching for God to move in our midst.
Personally, God died not only to save us but use us! God is at work all around us but we tend to miss Him. Yes, God is MAGNIFICIENT but often works in the mediocre and mundane. In school, I prayed if I could be a blessing to someone discouraged, a smile to a frown or offer hope to the hurting let me be that guy. I read it in the Word but now needed to be READY to share with the world. The blessing is we don’t have to be the best but we must give our best. So as I headed out to school I was not only ready but on the LOOK OUT to join God in His work. The greatest blessing is to be a blessing.
In RAMBO II, once Stallone got his orders to take pictures for potential POW’s one of the best scenes is when he is preparing (getting ready) for battle at the beginning of the movie. The camera zooms in on his tanned, massive muscles as he carefully inspects his weapons, gently places the grenades in his bag, puts his 12 inch survival knife in its sheath, checks his assault rifle and double checks the explosive arrow tips and as the music builds to a frenzy, Sly’s out the door and on the plane. He was a man on a mission.
The Bible urges us to get ready. Ephesians 6:10-17
“Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power.11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood,but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”
Stallone had a double edged sword (survival knife) fit with a compass, matches and hooks in case of an emergency. Friends, we are in an EMERGENCY – we are closer to Christ’s return than ever before and we are not left ill-prepared. We also have a double edged Sword (Bible – Word of God). Christ is our Compass, the Master himself is our Match because He is The Light of the world and Jesus not Obi-Wan Kanobi is “our only hope.” We are to be fishers of men and we need to get hooked on Him!
Evangelist Billy Graham said it best: “You’re not ready to live until you’re ready to die.” Part of the preparation makes us ready for life but certainly in death. This helpful hint has been a big part of my life. When I pray to God I expect Him to come through. We must put feet to our prayers and prepare and promote Him in the process. Get a burden for friends who need Jesus. Be a blessing to someone burdened. The best way to forget your problems is to concentrate on Christ and help someone else. Look to be an answer to someone’s question, fill a gap, extend a hand and meet the needs of others. Today is time that we stop doubting Divinity, cease questioning The Answer and trust His Promises even when you cannot feel His Presence.
In “RETURN OF THE JEDI” a dying Darth Vader wanted to see his son, Luke Skywalker with his own eyes. He also knew taking off his mask (helmet) that he would die. Today, as humans the first step in getting ready is to get REAL. Once we get real (recognize the fact that we are sinners separated from God. That we are hopeless without God’s intervention and we cannot get to Heaven on our own merits or anyone except for trusting Christ as atonement of our sin) and then and only then can we find reconcilation. Once we get real (take off our masks), repent and reconcile with our Maker and others then we can truly get READY and REACH out to a world in desperate need of God. In the words of Todd Beamer (9/11 flight #93 passenger that crashed into PA) after possibly saving hundreds of lives in DC said before helping overtake the terrorists on that plane shouted: “Let’s Roll!” The world learned Todd Beamer’s metal in death but he was made long before anonymously by thousands of ordinary days in life. Todd was a born again Christian and his commitment and consistency behind the scenes with his passion for God and Country was manifested in death when we needed him most.
God is READY are you?
Great article on Todd Beamer’s readiness http://www.post-gazette.com/headlines/20010916phonecallnat3p3.asp