Prepared 5

1 Thessalonians 5:8-9

It is surprising how many jobs and activities require a type of uniform. Certainly those workers who must wear the same type of outfit as co-workers, often with their name and company logo on them, are people who have uniforms. Those in the military, those who serve in hospitals or in laboratories certainly have specific clothes to wear. Our children have sports uniforms in the school colors that they wear. Even farmers and those who work outdoors have certain clothes they wear for the job they will do.

It may not seem like it, but even a pastor has a uniform – often a nice shirt, tie, maybe a suit jacket.

In Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians he talks about being prepared for the coming of the Lord. He encourages them to be watchful. As people who “belong to the day” – that is, walk in the light of God – what are we to do? What uniform should we wear? What is God’s intention for us?

There are many who complain about having to conform to standards and bemoan losing one’s individuality, but uniforms – no matter what form they take – can be useful. As I dress for church I am aware that I am preparing to do my best and that I am going to a special gathering. My clothes help me remember my responsibility.

Casual Fridays in previous occupations were intended to help employees feel more relaxed, ultimately so they may work better. But I found that when I dressed to relax my attitude was relaxed and my job performance was poor.

As uncomfortable as a uniform – or shirt and tie – may seem, it helps us to get into the spirit of what we will do.

The same is true of our attitude in dealing with God. God intends for us to receive salvation. He intends for us to receive His grace and goodness.

But how can we be prepared to receive from God when our spiritual attitude has become lax? How can we be alert to doing God’s will if we have allowed ourselves to become distracted by worldly or selfish things?

Our “uniform” as Christian believers is self-control, faith and hope. These are the things we must “put on” so that we are prepared to serve God and to be in communion with Him.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you put on your Christian uniform?

Prepared 4

Revelation 22:17-21

I receive a great deal of flyers and notices and invitations to workshops in the mail. Most of them now-days have as part of the invitation an explanation – “Who should come to this? Those wanting deeper understanding of the Bible.” Or “Those who need to learn the tax laws,” and so on.

This is an attempt to avoid wasting your time and their time. If you fall into such and such a category you should come. If not, this might not be for you.

But the Bible ends with a broad invitation from God. Who offers the invitation? Who echoes it? Who should come?

What warning is presented in verses 18 and 19? What promise does Jesus make?

We are all invited to come to God, to take part in His love and mercy. Who should come? All of us. Who invites us? The Holy Spirit and “the bride.”

The bride of Christ is the church, that body of believers who follow the teaching of Jesus and who are obedient to the will of God. And so, we who believe in God should join with the Holy Spirit and invite all to come to the Lord’s table. Then all who hear the good news of salvation, who hear about the cleansing love and power of God, should also take up the invitation.

God’s goodness is open to all who thirst for that goodness, who hunger for mercy and holiness. All those in need of healing, spiritual rejuvenation, spiritual strength and solace, are invited to freely partake in God’s love – His gift of new life.

Since the Holy Spirit joins together with the bride – that is, the church – then church worship is an opportunity to wash our robes, to cleanse our souls, to prepare to accept Christ’s invitation. So, how do you respond to this invitation to worship? Do you enter in with a heart desiring to connect with God? Do you take part in worship with a heart desiring to invite others to join in this goodness of God?

The Spirit says, “Come!” Will you as the bride or as one who hears also say, “Come”? Will you take freely of the water of life, and will you bring others to this wellspring of love?

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you prepare yourself to receive and offer an invitation?

Prepared 3

Revelation 22:12-16

An apparent trend in bigger cities is people going to clubs, waiting in line and hoping they will be the ones selected as “hip” and “trendy” enough to enter in. They hope that they will be the ones acceptable enough to be granted entrance into this exclusive gathering.

Fortunately for us we are offered an even better banquet and party than these clubs. Our invitation is to come to the table of God and enjoy the wonderful mercy and graciousness of our eternal Father. And it isn’t how we look or how we dress or how we stand that will get us in. Instead, it is what is in our hearts that grants us entrance into this incredible experience of communion with God.

But what are the details of our invitation? How are we to be prepared?

Today’s passage speaks to that. What is Jesus bringing with him? How does Christ describe himself? Who is allowed in? Who is left outside? Where do we get this information (verse 16)?

Through the author of Revelation Jesus is communicating to all believers. He proclaims that he is coming. Again, we can look at this as the second coming of Christ, the Rapture, the Apocalypse, the end of time.

But we can also view this on a personal level. Perhaps Jesus is coming to each one of us individually when we are ready to accept him as Savior. This would help explain Matthew 24:36 – that no one knows the day or hour.

Regardless of your personal interpretation of what is meant, the fact remains that only those who “wash their robes” have the right to the tree of life. And Jesus is not talking about outer garments. It is not important what we wear, but what is in our hearts and souls.

Have we washed the robes of our hearts? Have we cleansed our souls? Are we prepared to accept the invitation of God to be in His presence?

We must be prepared to receive Christ in whatever manner he comes to us. We must set our hearts and minds on the kingdom of God. We must make our hearts humble and contrite before the Lord, accept his invitation, and allow ourselves to be transformed by our relationship with him. Then we will be prepared to enter in to the banquet and sit at the Lord’s table.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you “wash your robes” to prepare yourself for God’s table?

Prepared 2

Matthew 25:1-13

Weather during spring soccer meets in our area can be deceptive. I have gone to watch our daughter play when the sun is shining and I think the evening will be warm. But then the wind picks up and I end up huddling in my lawn chair looking with envy at the other parents who came prepared. They have warm blankets, hooded sweatshirts and even a thermos of coffee or cocoa. And I wish I had been prepared.

Today’s passage is one of Jesus’ parables to explain about the kingdom of God. Who are the people involved? What do half of them do? What do the others fail to do? What is the end result of those who are foolish?

The story is simple. Five virgins (or bridesmaids or young women) are prepared for the duty that is in front of them. They have thought ahead and planned ahead. They are prepared.

The other five haven’t prepared themselves for what is to come. As a result they will be left out of the final reward, the celebration, the banquet of abundance that has been provided.

We, of course, are to be like the wise virgins. We may not need to have extra jars of oil, but we need to be prepared.

What are we to be prepared for? The coming of Christ. We need to be spiritually and emotionally ready for the return of Jesus. We should also be ready at all times to do the work of Christ in the world.

While it is wise to ready our souls for the end of days and our eternal reward, we should also ready ourselves as Christians to live as Christians, to serve as Christians and to honor the Lord. We should not be caught sleeping. We can’t let our spiritual fervor and dedication to the service of God fall asleep or become listless.

Nor can we be caught without all the things we need. The oil for our lamps is a deep understanding of God’s message and Christ’s teaching. The things we need are a heart ready to love, a mouth ready to give praise, lips ready to share the good news of salvation, and hands ready to offer help to those in need.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How much oil do you have?

Prepared 1

Revelation 22:1-5

As I have watched my own mother grow older and seen family friends reach retirement, I have been witness to these individuals reaping the rewards of careful investments and disciplined saving. They are able to have a secure life in later years thanks to an accumulation of many years of money management. They have worked for years to be prepared for this time.

This passage from Revelation is a description of what the writer has seen to be awaiting the faithful in heaven. What was the river like? What grew on each side? What problems will be taken away? What will be done?

For many years I was afraid to read Revelation because I expected horrible images and descriptions of torment and torture. I believe many others may shy away from this conclusion to the Bible for the same reason.

But in fact there are many assurances of all the goodness we can expect and hope to receive from God. Our fate, if we are faithful believers and followers of Christ's teachings and God's commands, is a beautiful reward of comfort and peace.

The caveat is our being faithful and obedient. How can we receive the great reward God has for us if we are not prepared now and always to honor God's commands and follow the teachings of Christ?

These images and promises of healing and goodness await us at the end of time if we can prepare our hearts and souls now for God's kingdom. But I also believe we can experience such bliss in our lives today if we can prepare ourselves to take part in God's table of abundance.

We must prepare ourselves to be in communion with God by ridding ourselves of our sinful nature and sinful desires. We must discipline ourselves to live out the teachings of Christ, and in so doing we will feel the healing that comes from the tree of life.

DAILY CHALLENGE: How can you prepare yourself to live a more Christian life?