Monday, August 29, 2011

Prepared, Ready, and Fit

13-18Be prepared. You're up against far more than you can handle on your own. Take all the help you can get, every weapon God has issued, so that when it's all over but the shouting you'll still be on your feet. Truth, righteousness, peace, faith, and salvation are more than words. Learn how to apply them. You'll need them throughout your life. God's Word is an indispensable weapon. In the same way, prayer is essential in this ongoing warfare. Pray hard and long. Pray for your brothers and sisters. Keep your eyes open. Keep each other's spirits up so that no one falls behind or drops out.
(Ephesians 6:13-18)

Be prepared - isn't this one of the mottoes of the Scouts?  Preparation is really a a state of being properly expectant - the idea being that we are equipped and ready for whatever comes.  How many times do we hear people tell us, "That caught me off-guard!" and wonder just how something that seems so "simple" to us was almost "overwhelming" to another?  It is not uncommon for us to say that we feel "ill-equipped" or not quite comfortable with the events of the moment.

The key to this passage is the next statement - you are up against far more than you can handle on your own!  The fact is that we are up against stuff that we haven't faced before and may never have to face again.  In those situations, we don't have the "natural" ability to face them - we need the "divine" ability to do so.  Paul tells us that there are actually "issued" weapons for the one who follows Christ - those things that are both defensive and offensive in our armor.

When we realize that we cannot walk alone - we begin to look for assistance.  Think of the baby that reaches out to mom or dad in confidence that their hands will hold them upright, allowing them to toddle along in supreme confidence each step of the way.  That is exactly what our Lord does for us when we reach out to him in our "unsteadiness" of daily choices.  We are asking for his "steadying" influence over our walk.

One that is "prepared" is ready for the challenge - there is a sense of being in a "fit" condition and able to take immediate action.  Preparation is a daily thing - it doesn't just come "magically" when the moment of challenge arises.  In fact, that is when we get caught off-guard and find ourselves calling out for mercy!  Preparation is described as using the tools we have been given by God on a consistent basis so that we develop a familiarity with their use.

Consider just two of these "tools" - prayer and the Word.  We are to pray hard and long - speaks to our tenacity with the prayer.  We are to pray for each other - lifting up the other because no one can go it alone.  The Word is a defensive weapon - likened to a sword.  It is indispensable - we cannot make headway without it.  Think of a warrior without any defensive weapons - they may be able to avoid being "beat up" by the armor they wear, but will they drive the enemy back by just standing there in their shiny armor?  Not likely.

Prayer is as much a defensive weapon as it is an offensive one.  It builds us up and keeps us connected to the source of all hope.  It also drives the enemy back and puts him in his place.  The Word used in prayer is like a double-whammy!  Try it sometime - pray the Word.  Stand upon it and see what God can do in sending the enemy to flight in the power of his spoken Word!

Armor is of no use in the closet - we have to put it on.  True, it is a process and takes us some getting used to, but without it, we are sitting ducks for every wacky idea or scheme of the devil.  Truth applied to our minds acts as a filter for the messages we are hearing.  Righteousness applied is a covering over our hearts to keep us focused on the fact that we are not made right in any action we take, but in the completed action of Christ on the cross.  Peace and faith go hand-in-hand.  Peace permeates our emotions, gives us balance, and keeps us calm enough to hear the Lord's instructions.  Faith gives us the "umph" to make the next move as he directs.

Salvation is more than words - it is a lifestyle.  Worked out every single day in every aspect of our lives.  We put on our armor, take up our weapons, and walk strong into the battle.  Be prepared!  Be ready!  You haven't done this before!  When we think we have done it all, we are in a dangerous place.  God makes every day new for a reason - new challenges, new victories!  Without challenge, we don't grow.  We grow through resistance, not through comfort.

So, put on what you have been given.  Begin to live as PREPARED citizens of heaven.  In doing so, you will be less likely to be caught off-guard by what comes your way today.

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