The old Scouts motto of “be prepared” has stood the test of time. In whatever endeavor one undertakes, preparation is of the utmost importance. I think of two of the all-time greats in professional football: Peyton Manning and Jerry Rice. When anyone who is knowledgeable about the sport speaks of these men, their unsurpassed work ethic and relentless preparation in plying their craft is mentioned. Peyton Manning, according to the experts, spends more time in film study of his opponents and his own team than any other current quarterback. He understands the talents of his team and knows the tendencies of his foes. When he enters a game, he has a firm grasp on what plays he needs to call without being greatly surprised by what he sees on the field. Jerry Rice had a workout routine during the off-season that made him a superior physical specimen, which complimented his skill as a receiver. When others attempted to adopt his workout, they often felt it too tough, and quit. These men prepared themselves to be the best they could possibly be and the results prove their efforts were worth the work of preparation.
Most of the religious world is under the belief that getting to heaven requires little or no preparation or hard work on an individual’s part. God, they think, requires little or nothing on our part to be saved. God told Israel in Amos 4:12 to prepare to meet their God. It was not for the good but for evil they had done that they needed to be prepared. Are we prepared to meet God in victory or in defeat?
We are not in a battle with the Green Bay Packers. Satan is our opponent. He has proven throughout the history of man’s existence that he is a formidable opponent. In the beginning, Adam and Eve had not prepared themselves for the cunning of their opponent. They sinned. When we are poorly prepared, we sin. Paul wrote the Ephesians about our warfare that takes place with the prince of this world, Satan. In his encouragement to them about putting on the whole armor of God, he told them “having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace” (Ephesians 6:15, NASB). This phrase is in the past tense. We are to do battle with our feet already shod with the preparation of the gospel. When we prepare ourselves, there should be no real surprises when confronted by our vicious enemy; who is not only vicious, but also relentless. 1 Peter 5:8 tells us the devil is like a “roaring lion” prowling around to find someone to devour. Peter admonishes the reader to be sober (clear thinking) and alert (watchful). In other words, be prepared.
As relentless as the devil is in trying to devour our souls, we need to be that much more diligent in preparing ourselves to preserve our souls. If we are to attain the victory, our preparation is not going to come from any other source than the gospel. Not with self-help books, textbooks, or any other research books; only the gospel which God has graciously given us. It contains the game plan from God to gain the victory. If we will see victory, it will only come through our knowledge and obedience of the gospel. We cannot fight this battle alone. Jesus is the ultimate victor. According to Romans 1:16, He has given us the “power of the gospel” to guide us. He has given us prayer to call on Him “so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need” (Hebrews 4:16, NASB).
Peyton Manning and Jerry Rice did not read the game plan and automatically have success on the playing field. They studied it until they thoroughly understood it and were prepared to execute it without flinching at whatever the opponent threw at them. Paul told the Ephesians to “understand what the will of the Lord is” (Ephesians 5:17, NASB). It can be understood! To not have the understanding of the gospel by diligent preparation, according to Paul, is “foolish.” Ephesians 5:15 tells us we have a choice to be wise (understand His will) or to be unwise (not understand). It is up to me and you; He allows us to choose. Joshua chose to follow God. God told him to be strong and courageous and He would give him the victory. Joshua and the Israelites were required to fight, but God gave the victory. The victory was attained only by following God’s plan and going to Him for consultation. When they did that, they were victorious; when they didn’t, they experienced defeat.
Let it not be said of us what the psalmist wrote in Psalm 78:8 (KJV) of Israel’s forefathers; “And not be like their fathers, a stubborn and rebellious generation, a generation that did not prepare its heart and whose spirit was not faithful to God.”
Let us prepare our hearts with the gospel and have a spirit to be faithful to God. Let us be prepared and enjoy the victory that God promises us through His son Jesus.
-by Ron Adams
Some time ago I cut an old plum tree down that had grown in our yard since we have lived here. Due to the spring rains and other responsibilities I did not remove the stump until just recently. Even though the tree was gone and the stump looked like it was drying up, some small green shoots of growth came up from the base of the stump.
I remember years ago when dad would replace an old fence post with a new one cut from a locust tree when the sap was rising. Some time when the conditions were right a new sprout would grow from that locust post even though it had been cut from the tree and all visible signs of life were gone.
These two instances remind me of the Scripture in Job 14:7-9. Here God through Job is comparing the cutting down of a tree to the death of man in verse 12. I will not quote the whole but verse 7 says, “ for there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down it will sprout again”. The roots may grow old in the earth and its stump may die in the ground yet at the presence of water and proper conditions it will bud and sprout new growth.
Now lets look at what Job says about the other living part of God’s creation. In verse 12 he says “so man lies down and does not rise till the heavens are no more, they will not awake nor be roused from their sleep.”
May we take note of the comparison here; the tree is cut down, dies, and from the decaying stump sprouts an identical new plant just like the original.
Man dies and is put in the grave to return to the ground from whence he came. Unlike the tree no new physical life has ever come from the dead body of man that decays, and is dissolved; for the man breaths out his last breath and returns to dust.
Notice Job’s response to man’s plight in verse 13. “Oh, that you would hide me in the grave, that you would conceal me until your wrath is past, that you would appoint me a set time and remember me.” Job expresses this to be a privilege to be hidden from physical affliction and distress. To be kept in secret until all the unpleasant things of earth are no more. Job indicates, “I will rest here where you have concealed me until the appointed time for me and you will remember me”.
In verse 14, Job says, “If man dies shall he live again, I will wait till my change comes.” Here Job assures us of the certainty of a resurrection.
Isn’t the following Scripture enough to assure us that through Jesus Christ we will be remembered in the resurrection in the last day? In John 11:24, Martha said to Jesus concerning Lazarus, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection at the last day.”
Jesus said “ I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me, though he may die he shall live.”
In the comparison of the tree stump and the man in Job 14, man’s spirit will return to God in the last day through faith in Jesus and his body will dissolve back to the ground from whence it came. What a great and significant difference.