Ready at All Times

Are you ready at all times? Do you take time off from being ready? Are you looking forward to the day? Will you be ready if the day is today? Do you consciously think about being ready or simply stumble along?

Jesus tells us to be ready at all times. He states that we don’t know when we will meet Him face-to-face. No, I don’t believe He will come back riding on the clouds today. I do believe His warning for us is real.

Having recently finished leading a Bible study on the book of Revelation, I do not believe we are in the end times. The chaos we see in our world today is a drop in the bucket compared to what Revelation says will come prior to Jesus returning riding on a cloud.

I do believe Jesus truly meant we could meet Him on a moment’s notice. I believe what He was referring to is that we could find our time on this earth is up at any moment. We may say that, but I don’t believe we really believe it. Yet there are many reasons why it may come true.

We don’t talk about death much in our culture. Other cultures do, but we avoid it. Why? It is as natural as catching a cold. Each one of us will face it. Each one of us will go through it. When we do, we will face Jesus face-to-face or be held for judgment. If we are followers of His and ready to see Him, we will be with Him in heaven. If we are not His followers, we’ll be sent to Hades to await judgment. Hades is not Hell. It is a place of spiritual holding.

We are to be ready at all times. Jesus tells us we don’t know when the heart God gave us will stop. No, that is not a fatalist point of view, rather it is a realist point of view. Jesus will be there waiting for us. Do we want Him to welcome us with open arms or turn His back on us?

Folks, there are only two options when we leave this world. You don’t get a second chance. There is no reincarnation to work your way into His favor. We cannot believe the false teachings we hear. We must read our Bible and be able to discern sound teaching. We must be ready at all times.

I pray we take time to evaluate our current standing. I pray each one of us decides to be a follower of Jesus Christ. I pray we all are ready at all times. Be ready when your time comes. Be the servant waiting for the master to return. Look forward to the day you will go to heaven. Jesus has promised it and He keeps His promises.

Luke 12:35-38 “Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them watching when he comes. Truly I tell you, he will dress himself to serve, will have them recline at the table and will come and wait on them. It will be good for those servants whose master finds them ready, even if he comes in the middle of the night or toward daybreak.”

Be Like Jesus

Do you seek revenge? Do you look to pay someone for treating you badly in like manner? Do you heap insult upon insult in repayment for someone insulting you? Or are you willing to love the person instead?

We see much repaying evil for evil in our culture today. It seems to be all around us. Too often, we allow ourselves to be caught up in it as well. If we were to open our eyes, we would see that we are seeking revenge. Not only are people repaying evil with evil, but often repaying with more than they received.

Isn’t it funny? We can see this is everyone else, but not in ourselves? We fail to take time to think before we react. We fail to take time for some introspection. We fail to look in the mirror at ourselves. Yet, we will complain about the other person who does the same.

We are called to something different entirely. If we are to be the light in this world, we must be different than this world. We are called to be like-minded with other Christians. In order to do that, we need to read and study our Bibles. We need to understand God’s plan, which comes from His Word.

We are to be sympathetic with those who are suffering. Jesus provides us several examples of being sympathetic. Many times, His sympathy was displayed along with sorrow and a heavy heart that wept for those who suffered.

We are to love one another. This is an action word. We are to show our love through actions, being there for one another. We are to show our love for our fellow Christians first, then to the world. We are called to a brotherhood, sisterhood that cannot fail.

We are to be compassionate toward our brothers and sisters in Christ. That compassion is to drive us to support each other. It should cause us to wrap our arms around those who need our comfort.

We are to be humble. Being humble doesn’t mean we must allow people to push us around. It does mean we let go of our pride and submit to obeying God. We are to be willing to go where God calls us to go and do what He calls us to do.

I pray each one of us will take on being who God has called us to be. I pray we all look to follow Jesus’ example. I pray we become the light in this world God has called us to be. Be like Jesus. Be of Christian mind. Be sympathetic. Love one another. Be compassionate. Be humble. Submit to God. You will reap a great reward.

1 Peter 3:8-9 Finally, all of you, be like-minded, be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult. On the contrary, repay evil with blessing, because to this you were called so that you may inherit a blessing.

Adapting and Saving

Do you adapt to different situations? Are you willing to change your language, attitude, and body language to reach someone who is different from you? Are you aware of the differences you come across? Do you take offense at the differences or look at them as an opportunity?

As normal human beings we are most comfortable around other people who are like us? Usually, that means the environment in which we grew up. It may mean being around people in the same profession. When we are thrown into large groups, we will seek those we think will make us most comfortable. This is human nature.

If we continue to follow this pattern, will we learn anything about someone who is different? Notice I didn’t say the other person was weird or odd or strange or any other word to describe them. Too often we think of those words when someone is different. We would be much better off to think of the other person as different and look at it as an opportunity to learn something from them.

When we look at it as an opportunity and ask questions regarding their culture or background, we gain insight. We can then apply that insight to our behavior while we are with them. This leads to another great opportunity—telling them about Jesus.

Paul approached each culture in that manner as he traveled what we call the Middle East and parts of Europe. He certainly ran across different cultures, different languages, and different backgrounds. He adapted to each situation in order to bring them the gospel of Jesus Christ.

Paul also had a sense of urgency. He knew with certainty there are only two options for someone in eternal life and that choice is made while living on this earth. He understood that Jesus came to save the lost and Paul’s mission was to compel as many as possible to be saved.

We have the same mission today. No, we may not be Paul. But we are to tell people about Jesus and convince them to make the decision to be His follower. We also need to have a sense of urgency. We also need to adapt to the situation we find ourselves in. Jesus is counting on each of us to work for Him.

I pray we learn to adapt to our situations. I pray we all decide to stop seeing others as strange and look at it as an opportunity to learn. I pray each of us take on a sense of urgency to tell others about Jesus. Adapt to the situation. Learn from others. Seek opportunities. Speak the gospel. Save the lost.

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some. I do all this for the sake of the gospel, that I may share in its blessings.

Unite With God

Who do you support? Who do you stand with? Do you stand with family? Do you stand with friends? Do you stand with co-workers? Do you stand with any number of other groups we see in our society today? Do you stand with God?

We see people divided into more groups in our society today than ever before. Not only are we divided, but we are so passionate about our position that we are unwilling to listen to another point of view. We see groups who are willing to hurt their own cause in order to make a point.

We see it in groups that either believe we need to wear masks or not wear them. We see the divide on race. We see it in division over whether to fund or defund our police forces. We even see it in owners versus players in Major League Baseball. I’m sure many of us could continue to name more divisions among people as well.

Unfortunately, all this division is happening within our beliefs. Just when we were starting to see multiple denominations starting to work together to further God’s kingdom, we now see people within the same church working against each other. This goes against everything God and Jesus teach us.

If we are unwilling to talk with each other in a calm and logical manner, what do we expect but division? In a time such as this, our churches need to be even more united than ever before. We need to do our research, we need to read, we need to study, we need to be the sanity in the chaos. God does not sow confusion (1 Corinthians 14:33).

Have we, as Christians, forgotten that we can make a difference, if we stand united? We don’t need to stand physically shoulder-to-shoulder. We can stand virtually shoulder-to-shoulder. We can use the tools and technologies that God provided to make a positive difference.

Perhaps we have been slow to adopt technologies in our churches, thinking they are the devils’ doing. Perhaps we have lumped them into the same boat our parents or grandparents lumped contemporary Christian music. Perhaps we need to learn from history and learn to use them to unite our people, making our churches stronger than ever before. Perhaps God is tired of us ignoring them and is now forcing us to use them.

Jesus used parables to teach during His time on earth. He used language and examples of the time to communicate to people. Should we not use today’s methods of communication to reach more people? I believe we should. Let’s stand with Jesus in our time with our tools.

I pray we all decide to read, research, and study God’s Word. I pray we are determined to stand with Jesus. I pray each of us will use the tools at our disposal to reach people. Unite with God. Unite with Jesus. Use what God has made available to you. Reach others for Jesus.

Romans 6:5 For if we have been united with him in a death like his, we will certainly also be united with him in a resurrection like his.

Celebrate

What are your celebrations about? Are they celebrations of birthdays, graduations, and holidays? Do you celebrate accomplishments at work? Are your celebrations short lived? Do you rejoice and give thanks to God for all He has provided?

We see people celebrate of a lot of different things. In fact, we can celebrate something every day as a national day of something. Many times there are multiple things for the national day of celebration. In an attempt to remain on a perpetual high, we’ve gone far beyond the ten federal holidays.

Some of the national days make sense. Having a national day to celebrate brothers or sisters or cousins is good. Though I wonder why we don’t rejoice and gives thanks for them every day. I suppose the same is true for mothers and fathers, yet I can understand those days being called out specifically in respect to our elders.

Take a look at some of the national days to celebrate and you find days to celebrate coffee, eclairs, HVAC tech, onion rings, pink, hydration, pecan sandies, pralines, and parchment. It seems we are a desperate people looking for something to bring joy to our lives. We are looking for something to celebrate rather than being joyful that God has provided us another day to serve Him.

Might I suggest that we take time to stop and smell the roses, as the old saying goes. If we slow down just a bit to enjoy what we have and the day we have been given, we just might find that we are more joyful and don’t need all those national days.

I don’t know about all of you, but I get caught up in the rat race. I have too much to do in too little time. My mind is racing, I’m frantic, and I forget to slow down to enjoy God’s creation. Perhaps we need to stop adding to our to-do list and enjoy what God has given us.

Here’s something I have discovered: when I slow down, I think better. When I appreciate what God has given me, I’m happier. When I put things in God’s hands, they turn out better. My problem, and I suspect most of us suffer from the same problem, is I don’t slow down often enough.

I pray each of us will slow down a bit to appreciate what God has provided us with. I pray we rejoice in His gracious gifts. I pray we all give thanks to God for giving us another day to serve Him, learn from Him, and appreciate all He does for us. Take a moment to breathe and focus on God. Follow God’s guidance for your life. Rejoice in all He has done for you. Praise His Holy Name. Give thanks to God.

Psalm 9:1-2

I will give thanks to you, Lord, with all my heart;

I will tell of all your wonderful deeds.

I will be glad and rejoice in you;

I will sing the praises of your name, O Most High.

Thirst Quencher

How thirsty are you? Have you ever been so thirsty that you could drink just about anything? What is your favorite drink? Does it change based on your mood or situation? Do you want something different to drink after mowing the yard versus when you first wake up?

We drink all types of drinks, don’t we? Many of us drink coffee first thing in the morning. We may drink water during the day. Perhaps we have iced tea or a soda at supper. We might decide to have a glass of milk or orange juice for breakfast.

When we go to a store, just about any store, we find all kinds of drinks available to us. There are energy drinks, sodas, juices, milk, coffee, and more. We can get them as fountain drinks or in cans or in bottles. We may spend an exorbitant amount of time choosing something to drink because of all the options available.

There is one offering of drink that can’t be bought at a store. It is the wellspring of eternal life that comes only by believing in and following Jesus Christ. He has promised it to us implicitly in His discussion with the woman at the well. We see in Revelation that it is not only promised but delivered.

Too often we go around thirsty. No, not physically thirsty. Thirsty in our soul. We are looking for something to quench our thirst and don’t find it. When we find ourselves in this situation, it means we are looking for it in the wrong places. We are looking for it in human terms on this earth. Instead, we need to be looking at Jesus and asking Him to give us the life water we long for. He will give it to us, but we must yearn for it more than our morning cup of coffee.

Jesus has offered us a wonderful gift. He is the One we can trust to always deliver on His promises. All we need to do is quit chasing after earthly sips that don’t satisfy and ask Him to give us what He has offered. It’s not as simple as it sounds, is it? It’s tough to give up our earthly sips, even if they don’t really satisfy.

I pray we all decide to ask Jesus for the water of life. I pray we seek it more than our unsatisfactory earthly sips. I pray each of us will make a choice to seek eternal life with Jesus over this earth. Choose Jesus. Choose eternal life with Him. Choose the wellspring of life. Ask Jesus and He will deliver.

John 4:13-14 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

Decisions, Decisions, Decisions

Who is in charge of your life? Do you think you are in charge of your life? Do you ever stop to spend time to think through who is controlling your life? What will you do when you find out you are not as in charge as you think? Will you allow Jesus to take charge?

We think we are in charge of our decisions, and we are for the most part. Yet our decisions are based on our experience, our beliefs, and what we have learned. Our decisions are influenced by outside sources. Our decisions can often be predicted by others based on prior decisions, our behavior, and our normal attitude toward life.

Does it bother you that you are predictable? Many of us have probably not thought about how predictable we are. Yet we will make decisions based on how well we can predict someone else will react to them. Stop and think about how you do this.

If we are so predictable, how can someone else predict how we will react? They are observing us. They catalog all our reactions. So, when we react negatively toward something, that is filed away. When we react positively, that is also filed away. When we react one way when we are in one mood and differently when we are in a different mood, that is filed away.

We are influenced by the people we are with. We are influenced by our current situation. We are influenced by our education, whether formal or informal. The factors that influence our decisions are far greater than we often realize.

We do have a choice concerning those influencers. We can spend time educating ourselves, whether formal or informal. We can choose who we spend time with, whether in person or through movies, television, or internet. We have choices.

Since we have choices, how will we choose in the future? Will we choose to improve our decision-making process? The better choices we make regarding our influencers, the better our decisions will be. When we choose to do the proper thinking and research, we can make decisions that are better for us.

Why wouldn’t we choose to have the One who is in charge of all things be our guide? Jesus has had everything in His hands to control. The Father placed this world and all of us into Jesus’ hands. When we choose to follow Him and allow Him to be the major influence on our decisions, our decisions are better, and our lives are better. Perhaps we should put the advice of Carrie Underwood’s song, Jesus Take the Wheel into action.

I pray we all decide to allow Jesus to be our main influencer for all our decisions. I pray we take time to think and research each of our decisions. I pray each one of us will turn to God in prayer before making decisions. Put your life in Jesus’ hands. Trust Jesus with your whole being. Allow Jesus to guide your thoughts. Make your decisions based on Jesus’ teachings.

John 3:35 The Father loves the Son and has placed everything in his hands.

Reflections

Do you ever step back and evaluate your experiences? Have you looked back over your life and see how it has changed over the years? Do you take in the changes and learn lessons from past decisions? Have you looked back to see how God has moved in your life?

I venture to say that not many of us will look back across our lives to see how God has worked in them. Oh, we will remember and reminisce with family and friends about this or that. We’ll enjoy some good laughs and maybe a few tears as we remember the past. Often, we remember the good times more than the bad. But we will often laugh at even the bad times.

Why is it we are so negligent in looking back at our past to learn from it? In today’s world, we have put more emphasis on the right now, this very moment and its experience than we put on bettering our lives. It’s about living in the moment, experiencing it, rather than learning to make the next one better.

We also don’t put much stock in listening and learning from others. We can learn a lot by listening to others who have had a wide array of experiences. I know I certainly was less likely to listen to others when I was much younger than I am today. I’m not sure if that is due to getting older or having had the experience of listening to someone else and finding their advice to be true that has caused me to be more open to listening. Either way, I’m glad I listen more today.

Through reflection and listening to others, we can see God working in our lives. In fact, it is often through others that He is giving us advice. This is especially true if the advice is coming from our immediate family or our church family. God works through those who care about us to give us good advice. He also uses them to give us the hard advice sometimes, the type of advice we don’t really want to hear.

We need to take time to reflect. We need to find a quiet time and space to sit down and think about how God has worked in our lives. We need to recognize how it happened and apply those lessons in our lives as we go forward. It will make us wiser and help us be better listeners and decisionmakers going forward.

I pray we all take time to reflect on how God has worked in our lives. I pray each one of us will set aside a time and space to be quiet and reflect. I pray we learn valuable lessons during our reflections. Spend quiet time with God. See how He has worked in your life. Learn the lessons He wants you to learn. Become wiser. Be a better decisionmaker. God is working for you.

Psalm 86:17

Give me a sign of your goodness, 

that my enemies may see it and be put to shame,

for you, Lord, have helped me and comforted me.

Overcome Fear

Are you fearful? Do you fear losing your job? Do you fear being attacked? Are you afraid of going into a relationship? Are you afraid of losing a relationship? Do you fear our world is crumbling? Are you afraid of where you will spend eternity?

There are many things going on in our culture today that can generate fear in us. Watching the news can fill us with fear. Our bosses can instill fear in us. Sometimes we are in relationships where one party or the other dominates through fear. Often, we are afraid of failure.

With all these reasons to fear, how can we overcome them? It is not as easy as it sounds, but the answer is to turn to God and trust Him. Satan will do all he can to keep us from doing that. He wants us to live in fear. He wants us to follow his lead in fear with false hopes of things getting better. He shows us a new shiny object or answer that promises to end our fear and then disappoints badly. Then we reach out and grasp for the next shiny object or answer, only to be disappointed again.

Fear can completely immobilize us. It can cause us to go into hiding. It can cause us to lose the abundant life that Jesus promised to us (John 10:10). Yet Jesus also promises us that He will take away our fear, if we will trust Him. (John 14:11).

There is a line in the Newsboys’ song No Longer Slaves that says, “I’m no longer a slave to fear, I am a child of God.” When we finally believe that line with all our hearts and truly realize we are a child of God with no reason to fear, fear will no longer have a hold on us. It’s not simply an intellectual decision, though that’s certainly a part of it, but it is also very much a heart thing. We must believe it with our heads and our hearts, with no doubts.

It is terrible to be controlled by fear. Yet there is a pathway to leave that control and kick fear out of our lives. It is not easy. It takes work and study and prayer and coming to full belief in God. We all need to step out of living in fear and live as a child of God.

I pray each of us will come to believe that God has us in His loving arms. I pray we all overcome fear by trusting in God. I pray we do the work to build our belief and faith in God. Conquer fear. Trust God, trust Jesus. Turn your life over to God. Believe He is in control.

Luke 12:4-5 “I tell you, my friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body and after that can do no more. But I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after your body has been killed, has authority to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him.”

Possessiveness

Are you possessive? Do you hold on to everything? Do you dislike it when someone else wants to use your things? Are you unwilling to share with others? Do you realize that God is the One who has blessed you and expects you to share His blessings with others?

We live in a culture where it is typical for people to want to hold on to their possessions. True, there are many who are willing to donate money to a cause. Yet, it is often those same people who are angry if someone were to ask to borrow a shirt.

Even though we are going through a tough time in our country at the moment, we are still the richest country in the world. Despite the unemployment numbers, our workers make far more than any others in the world. True, our cost of living is higher as well, but not high enough to overcome the compensation disparity.

In all our richness, we have become people of possessions. The more toys we can accumulate, the higher we climb the status ladder. Unfortunately, that status ladder is a mirage. It’s false. Our true status is accounted for by God.

There are multiple parables spoken by Jesus that teach us about using what God has blessed us with to create a greater return to Him and bless others. We find that Jesus is more about community and less about self. He is more about serving God and serving others than serving ourselves.

Do we understand that through His teaching on such subjects that He is implying that we should be of the same mind? If we are striving to be more like Him, shouldn’t we also be more about sharing, giving, and serving?

We see in today’s passage from Scripture that Jesus made no bones about what He meant. If we are given much, much is expected. In other words, if we are blessed by God with a lot, we are to share those blessings with others. This is our struggle. We want to hold on to what we have, and God wants us to give it away.

I remember a woman I went to church with a number of years ago saying, “You can’t out give God. The more you give, the more He gives.” Such a true statement. This doesn’t mean just giving to a charity, but also giving and sharing with those we see every day.

I pray we all decide to share. I pray we all become more about community and less about self. I pray each of us will choose to follow Jesus’ teaching to share God’s blessings. Share what you have. Give to others. Trust God to give to you in return. Follow Jesus.

Luke 12:48 “But the one who does not know and does things deserving punishment will be beaten with few blows. From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has beenentrusted with much, much more will be asked.”