April 25 – Be Ready – Be Ready for Christ’s Return!

Read Matthew 24:42-51

The other day, referencing a place which will remain unnamed, I said that I wouldn’t want my worst enemy to go there. Obviously, this place is temporal and just holds a negative place in my heart based on my own opinion. But days later, the Spirit pricked my heart. It was as if the Holy Spirit was asking me if I felt that same intensity about those who are headed to hell, a place of eternal separation from God.

In today’s passage, Jesus emphasizes the importance of being alert, prepared and ready for His return and the consequences if we are not. He tells us three things concerning His eminent return.

First, Jesus makes it very clear that His return will be unexpected. Have you ever been burglarized? I haven’t, but family members had their car broken into while visiting us. The following morning, we realized what had occurred in our own driveway while we were sound asleep. Of course, if we had known a thief was coming, we would have been much more prepared! Instead, we climbed into our cozy beds and slept through the entire ordeal.

Jesus compares His coming to this scenario and warns us to be ready for we do not know the day or the hour He will return.

Secondly, Jesus tells us to be alert. What does it look like to be a vigilant servant? At the beginning of Matthew 24, Jesus describes how we should not only be knowledgeable, but also attentively keeping our heart’s radar tuned in. In verses 37-39, Jesus refers to the time of Noah. Prior to the flood, life continued as usual. Despite the unusual sign of an enormous ark in their neighborhood, the people ignored the warning and did not understand until the flood came. Jesus says, “So shall the coming of the Son of Man be.” (verse 39)

Know the signs. Stay alert.

Last, but not least, Jesus holds us accountable for our faithfulness. We are blessed if at Jesus’ return He finds us carrying out our responsibilities as His servants. Jesus describes a faithful servant as one who provides food for others at the proper time. Are we to care for the physical needs of the poor and hungry? Yes, but even unbelievers do that. So, what makes the faithful servant stand out from others? As Jesus often did, He used earthly symbols to point us to a heavenly meaning. Perhaps the word “food” implies spiritual sustenance. We see this clearly in John 4:32 when the disciples were urging Jesus to eat. But He said to them, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” Jesus said this on the heels of sharing the gospel with the woman at the well. Jesus, who came to serve, provided a wonderful example for us to follow. We are to be watchful, seeking the proper time to give spiritual food to others. This requires us to share the gospel with unbelievers as well as giving a timely word from His Word to fellow believers. (Proverbs 15:23)

Let’s be found faithful. As John says, abide in Him so that when He appears we may have confidence and not shrink away from Him in shame (1 John 2:28). Are we continually “feeding” others? Are we looking for opportunities to share the gospel with those who are spiritually hungry? Jesus is coming soon and those who do not know Him will go to a place where we wouldn’t want even our worst enemies to go. We must remain faithful by feeding others the Bread of Life.

Charline Engle

April 24 – Be Ready – Be Ready to Proclaim Truth

Read 2 Timothy 4:1-5

The book of 2 Timothy is the final letter the Apostle Paul is known to have written while in prison for preaching the Gospel and written just prior to his execution for his faith in Jesus.  Paul is writing to Timothy, who is his son in the faith -someone in whom he has discipled and invested.  The letter to Timothy is a bold charge to persevere for the Gospel despite suffering (which is mentioned in every chapter of this letter: 1:8, 1:12, 2:3, 2:9, 3:11, 4:5).  And what Paul was telling Timothy about 2,000 years ago applies to all who claim to follow Jesus Christ today as well. 

Paul tells Timothy in verse 2 that, at the end of the day, we are going to be held accountable before God and give an account of what we have done.  Do we believe what we claim?   It is of eternal importance to preach the Word and to proclaim the Gospel.  Paul says we should be ready in season and out of season.  We are to be so saturated by the Word of God in our lives that, when an opportunity presents itself for us to proclaim the Gospel, to share the truth, to share the reason for our hope, we are ready!

Paul also says to “rebuke, correct, and encourage with great patience and teaching”.  This may sound intimidating to some.  The Greek for rebuke is epitimao meaning to warn or correct.  Pastor Voddie Baucham Jr says, “I don’t write the mail, I just deliver it”.  We are to share with complete passion and patience.  If someone does not understand it, explain it to them. 

Teach them and don’t give up on them.

In verse 5 we read “but as for you, exercise self-control in everything”.  The Word of God should be so in our blood stream that it floods out the word to men.  This way, when we face any situation, we can ask ourselves, “What does Christ want of me?”  I have heard it said before that you may be the only Bible a person reads.  People are watching your actions.  People are watching how you respond to all sorts of things.  People are watching the things you post on social media.  People are watching how you are handling the current events. 

Do you handle it in a way that lines up with the Word of God?

As the apostle Paul writes this from a Roman jail cell, he also tells Timothy that he will endure hardship.  Think of the faith witness and testimony of Paul, the Apostles and the early church.  Many of them faced persecution and hardships.  Faithfulness to God will typically come with some sort of suffering. 

Putting your faith in Jesus will cost you something. 

We are reminded to do the work of an evangelist, to proclaim and share the Good News.  By doing these things we are fulfilling our ministry.  Every Christian is in ministry.  We all have a gift and a calling.  And this final charge that Paul wrote to Timothy also applies to each of us who follow Jesus today.

Starting today, pray for opportunities to share the hope that you have with others! Is there anyone in your sphere of influence that you can share such hope with now?

Are you ready?

Nate Mills

April 23 – Be Ready – Be Ready to Share the Hope of Jesus

Read 1 Peter 3:13-18

“…and if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”

Do you remember the little boy in the movie “The Polar Express” – the one who tries to impress the other children with his knowledge about trains? He is such a know-it-all! This type of person usually can’t be told anything because they already know everything there is to know! They have an answer before you even ask!

I’d like to be like that, at certain times, wouldn’t you? When someone asks me to recall the name of the place I stayed on vacation three years ago, I hope I can recall the details. Or when asked about a sibling of a student in my class…their face pops up but I draw a blank on the name. Or when my kids ask me questions of which I wish I had the answers.

Where are my shoes? Where is my mask? What’s for supper today?  Are we ever going to get a dog?  These aren’t such serious questions that I need to ponder an answer; however, they can and do ask more thought-provoking questions such as:

Why do we have to move? Why did our pet die? Are God and Jesus the same? Why do we have to go to church?

While some of these questions can be exhausting to respond to daily, the deeper questions deserve a thought-out response. As Christ-followers, Peter tells us to each be prepared to respond to people who question our faith.

“And if you are asked about your Christian hope, always be ready to explain it.”

In other words, be ready to respond to the questions you might get from people who observe you. They may notice how you conduct yourself with kindness, gentleness, self-control, and joy when others around you do not. They may notice you have hope in a seemingly hopeless situation. These onlookers may desire to know how you do it. We don’t have to be a know-it-all, but we should be ready with an answer.

One way I have prepared myself to explain the hope I have because of Jesus in my life is to mark these verses in my Bible: Romans 3:23, Romans 6:23, John 3:3, John 14:6, Romans 10:9-11 and Revelation 3:20.

If a person is open to hearing what the Bible teaches about becoming a follower of Christ, these verses will help you lead that discussion. To help myself, I just remember Romans 3:23 as the beginning. This verse levels the playing field and reminds us that we all sin, we all mess up and need God’s forgiveness. On this page in my Bible, I wrote the next Scripture reference, so I know where to go next in my conversation with my friend. Where Romans 6:23 is found, I wrote the Scripture reference for the next verse and so on. This is a handy tool to use if you get a chance to share from the Bible why you have hope in Christ.

So often though, people are inspired by our own personal stories. They may have noticed your joy despite pain in your life, humility in the midst of acclaimed success, or gentleness in the face of adversity. Your personal story about how God has met you in the crossroads of life can help others find God in their crossroads. They will be able to relate to your story.

So be prepared.

Write it out.

Share your story with a spouse or trusted friend so you are prepared to share the hope you have in Christ!

Tammy Finney

April 22 – Be Ready – Be Ready to Give

Read 2 Corinthians 9:1-11

“Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.”2 Cor 9:7 NLV

He had been with the Corinthian people and they had pledged generous gifts; he is checking in with them, reminding them of their promises. Paul realized that the follow through was the hard part.  Things happen.  People forget or they realize that they had pledged way more than they could really afford.  Paul was reminding them of what they had said and to plan on completing their promise so they can do it willingly and not begrudgingly.

It is so easy to get swept away in the moment when you see starving children or abused animals on TV.  We sometimes find ourselves pledging everything under the sun to the cause!  Sometimes our emotions take the place of logic and we give out of a sense of duty rather than generosity!

I remember a church service when we were first married.  We were expecting our first baby, I wasn’t working, and we were living on my husband’s salary.  At that service we were asked to make a promise to God on what we would give.  Being newly married and living from paycheck to paycheck, we didn’t have a lot of money to give.  But my husband promised we would always give whatever we could.   I remember putting on my card that I would dedicate my life to service within the church.

We kept both of those promises.

When an opportunity came up to help teach a Bible school class, I did it.  The next year I got to teach the class by myself, which lead to teaching Sunday school.  I really liked teaching by then and, when Jon got laid off work again, I decided to go back to college to get my teaching certificate. With my mom’s help and a series of events that made it possible, 3 years later I had my degree and my first official teaching job. 

I never forgot my promise to give of myself to God’s church and continued teaching Sunday School and Bible School. In the meantime, my husband, being the manager of our finances, faithfully kept putting our offering in the offering plate every week.  Sometimes, when he was laid off, working for $1 per hour shoveling manure, the offering was small but we always gave what we could. Forty years of teaching and fifty years of marriage later, we both agree that that was one of the best pledges we ever made! Were we miraculously made rich?  Financially, no! Spiritually, God has given us riches untold!

What is God asking you to promise to give to Him, His church and His people? Remember, God doesn’t just want your money.  He wants YOU!  He wants your dedication!  He wants your time, talent, and your heart and He doesn’t want you to give sparingly or begrudgingly.  We are told to give willingly and generously!

Is it time for you to have a talk with the Master to see what He wants from you? In what way can you best serve God and His Kingdom?

If you let Him lead you, you won’t regret it!  

Pat Arnold

April 21 – Be Ready – Ready to Do Good (part 2)

Read Titus 3:1-10 

Alexander Graham Bell invented the telephone. His wife and his mother were deaf and he was trying to find a way to communicate better with them. Chicken Soup for the Soul wrote that, when Bell invented the telephone, he called the President of the United States, Rutherford B. Hayes in 1879 to tell him. The President responded with, “Great invention, but who would ever want to use one?” Bell thought the invention of the telephone was an intrusion of his real work as a scientist and he was not ready to have a phone in his study.

In 2021 we are in the Digital Age as 95% of Americans own some type of cell phone and are ready to use it at practically all times. Most have a computer. Many people now have virtual lives as well as physical ones. Many are ready for the virtual life to project a “perfect” physical life. We are ready to have knowledge at our fingertips, thanks to smartphones, but many use it mostly for shopping and picking arguments with strangers.

“Never pay back evil with more evil. Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honorable. Do all that you can to live in peace with everyone.” Romans 12: 17-18

Are we ready to thoughtfully respond – not knee jerk react – to a disagreement, whether it is in person or on social media? How can we encourage others with our response? Can we demonstrate the way Jesus spoke and acted?

Some are ready for selfish ranting and venting on social media. Does this have worth?

We can respond with God’s weapons of patience, kindness, gentleness and self-control. Or do you react and rant?

In Titus 3 we are told essentially to be ready to respect the people we are talking to and consider their side of the story. Maybe we don’t know their side of the story but we think we do. Avoid slander and avoid a quarrel.

“Be gentle and show true humility to everyone.”

Self-control is key. Since God has given us a new birth and new life in the Holy Spirit, we can use the ideas in verses 4-7 to respond. We can disagree with others with kindness, love, mercy, grace and confidence – for those who have been born again through Jesus Christ. This is the right thing to do all the time.

If my neighbor is upset with me for whatever reason, I need self-control, kindness and patience in my relationship with them.

Do I respond with patience or do I just react?

“Do all the good you can, by all the means you can, in all the ways you can, in all the places you can, to all the people you can, as long as ever you can.”

John Wesley

President Rutherford B Hayes was a successful lawyer but he was not ready for the invention of the phone.

Are you ready to respond kindly to others?

What are some ways that you can show kindness to others? Is there a wrong that you need to make right?

Tom Weckesser

April 20 – Be Ready – Ready to Do Good!

Read 2 Timothy 2:15-22

Be ready…be “prepared for every good work.”

When you read that statement, you likely begin to think in terms of having your eyes open for opportunity to serve people. To be sure, that is an important aspect of blessing others. In fact, one of the defining characteristics of a Christ follower is the fact that he/she does good works (Matt. 5:14-16; Eph. 2:8-10).

Still, the thrust of this passage is less on having open eyes and more on having a clean heart. You probably noted how Paul is like a pendulum in his writing, swinging between a call to correct understanding of God’s word and its antithesis…false teaching. I am sure you saw how he contrasted ungodliness, iniquity, and youthful lusts on the one hand and righteousness, faith, and love on the other. Paul is concerned about what we believe and how we live…about faithful theology and God-honoring theopraxis. (The word theopraxis combines two Greek words: theos meaning God and praxis meaning practice.)

And with regard to the theopraxis, if we really want to be prepared for good works, we must experience cleansing.

The apostle’s illustration is clear, isn’t it? Your household has the kinds of containers that he describes. You have the fine china or dinner dishes that are only brought out for special occasions. They are used for honorable purposes. Meanwhile, there is also the trash bin…or maybe even more graphic, the container that is carried around when a person feels nauseous. It serves a less honorable purpose. God’s children are to be like the first kind of container.

We are to be…

  • A vessel for honor
  • Useful for the Master
  • Truly prepared to do the good works that are part and parcel of the Christian life

In order to do any of those, Paul reminds us that we must cleanse ourselves from the dishonorable things of life. In fact, here is the way that the Apostle John describes our cleansing.

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 Jn. 1:9)

Our role is that of confession…of acknowledging the shortcomings of our deeds, words, or thoughts to God. Then did you notice what He does? He forgives…He purifies.

Thank you, Jesus, for making us useful to the Master!

Steve Kern

April 19 – Be Ready – Ready for Judgment

Read Revelation 20:11-15

Well, that wasn’t super encouraging…

However, when thinking of what is to come on judgement day, Revelation 20:11-15 is a very real part of it.

A scary, sad part, but the reality nonetheless. 

Being ready is what believers have been doing since Jesus walked the earth.

Recently, Jake and I finished watching The Chosen, Season two’s first episode. In it, Jesus and his disciples go to the house of a Samaritan, a man who has done much wrong in his life named Milek. Milek’s wife asked Jesus, “The Messiah is going to save us from all suffering and heartache…when will this be?” Jesus simply responded, “I’ve come to preach the gospel of the good news and teach about a kingdom that is far greater than this world. I make a way for people to access that kingdom. But in this world, bones will still break, hearts will still break, but in the end the light will overcome darkness.” 

Our number one goal as followers of Jesus is to spread the good news of the gospel while striving to live like Christ. As we strive to live like Christ, we look, act and speak differently, which will plant seeds to those who are not followers of Jesus to wonder, “Why are they so different?” The Lord works in those hearts. As we strive to live like Jesus, we are changed from the inside out and our life is lived in the light. 

Being ready doesn’t mean sit and wait for Jesus to return. It doesn’t mean condemning those around us to turn from their ways and it doesn’t mean to scare people with even the verses we have read above. We must be ready with our lives lived like Jesus because of the verses above. We want to win souls for Jesus – for the kingdom that is far greater than we can imagine because He is King. 

No matter where you are at in your walk with the Lord, whether baby believer who is trying to figure it out or a seasoned believer who can recite the word of God easily, Jesus asks us to be ready to spread the gospel, to be ready to take up our cross and follow Him, and to be ready for our true home that is to come. 

When you look at your life, are you ready? 

I know that I suffer from looking at the world around us and asking the Lord to return because there is so much hurt and suffering. I admit that I long to be home, our true home with Jesus because life here on earth is just hard. Then I remember that my calling in this world is far greater than just living. It’s living to make disciples who make disciples who will spread the good news of the gospel!

So, I challenge you to evaluate your life. When reading the verses of Revelation 20, are you scared? Are you determined? Are you encouraged to keep fighting the fight to bring people into the light? 

Are you ready?

Kelly Lawson