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Jesus says, "Be¬Öready." "Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24:44).
Am I ready?
To be ready means to live continuously in readiness for the Lord¬ís coming. Some say, "I¬ím not ready, but I hope to get ready before it¬ís too late." Christian, the only safe place is to be always ready! At any cost! Jesus never spoke idle words. He is the Head of the Church (Eph. 5:23). He is our Lord and Master. He knows what He is talking about. If there is any thing, small or great, which is a barrier between your soul and God, or between you and any person on earth, get that thing attended to at once! If you are not in full victory along any line pray through no matter what it takes until you know you are ready for His appearing.
If your heart condemns you along any line whatever (1 John 3:19-24), do not rest, do not be diverted, do not delay, but apply yourself in fasting and prayer until you know you are ready for the coming of the Lord! Then stay ready! The fact that Jesus specifically commands us to "be" ready shows that it is tremendously important, not only that we get ready but also that we continuously live a victorious, overcoming life and be ready for His appearing. Grow in grace, and at any cost live continuously in a position before God where our heart does not condemn us (See Gal. 5:16; 1 John 3:2-3; Rom. 8:1). We are in fact to be ready while continuing to get ready, walking in all the light God gives us and at the same time pressing on and seeking further instructions from God. Press toward the mark (Phil. 3:14). Paul needed to press and most certainly we do. God wants us to honestly face the actual conditions in our own hearts and lives and to keep humble before Him.
Evangelist Charles G. Finney received a mighty baptism with the Holy Spirit and found that his words brought conviction of sin on the hearts of people with whom he spoke. Sometimes, however, he discovered that this power was lacking ¬Ė had leaked out or something. Then, he states, that he could not rest till every thing was clear between his soul and God, and again the power of God was flowing through his life.
If we ourselves have not prayed through to a place of real, abiding victory in Christ, with what face can we preach holiness to others? If I am a thief, how can I teach others to be honest? If I live an unclean life, how can I exhort others to be holy and without blemish? If I have no control over my tongue, how can I preach the bridled tongue to others? Jesus by no means minces matters. He says, "Thou hypocrite, first, cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother¬ís eye" (Matt. 7:5).
The way to find God, in the answer to prayer, in the supply of every need for spirit, soul and body, is to seek Him with all your heart. We may think that we have sought the Lord with all our heart and not found Him ¬Ė but let us by no means deceive ourselves. The Scripture is true. It cannot be broken, "Ye shall seek Me, and find me, when ye shall search for Me with all your heart" (Jer. 29:13). Beware of a lukewarm, half-hearted condition! God gives victory (1 Cor. 15:57). Be an overcomer yourself ¬Ė then preach to others the overcoming message in the power of the Holy Spirit.
Blow the trumpet in Zion. Awake God¬ís sleeping people on every hand. Tell them to be ready, for "the coming of the Lord draweth nigh" (Jas. 5:7-9). He will have a ready people, for we are told that when the Bridegroom came, "they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" (Matt. 25:10). Will you, brother, will you, sister, be in that ready company? It requires taking heed to ourselves (Luke 21:34-35); it requires denying ourselves; it requires watching and praying always (Luke 21:36), that we may be accounted worthy to escape all the things that shall come to pass and to stand before the Son of man.
We now have this light from God¬ís Word showing the absolute necessity of being ready for the coming of the Lord. Let us walk while we have the light, lest darkness come upon us (John 12:35). If we do not whole-heartedly obey the Lord, beware lest we, too, get into gross darkness as others have done by trifling with God¬ís Word!
When you feel a hunger for God, seek Him lest you lose that tender wooing of the Holy Spirit. If you are not exceedingly eager to live an overcoming life and to glorify God all you possibly can, you should be terribly alarmed at your state. "Woe to them that are at ease in Zion" (Amos 6:1). The lukewarm, self-satisfied, are to be spued out (Rev. 3:16-17). Stir up yourself (Isa. 64:7) as Jacob did (Gen. 32:24-28); as Daniel did (Dan. 9:3-4). Be desperate, and whole-hearted, and at any and all costs pray through as Jesus did in Gethsemane (Luke 22:39-46). If you trifle with God and do not seek Him earnestly, especially, if you put off yielding to that urge, that wooing of the Holy Spirit to pray and to pray through, beware lest you lose that tender hunger for God out of your soul. "From him that hath not (does not use for God, what he already has, does not yield to the urgings of the Holy Spirit already moving on his heart) shall be taken away even that which he hath" (Matt. 25:29). But thank God, instead of trifling with God in that way, let us do as the first part of the verse says, "Unto every one that hath (uses for God what he already has received, responds to the movings of the Holy Spirit already working on his heart) shall be given, and he shall have abundance." At any cost live continuously in victory!
Rather than the feverish, self-important activities of a Martha (Luke 10:38-42), God prefers that we wait on Him that HIS strength may be ours (Isa. 40:29-31; Psa. 27:14). The flesh profiteth nothing (John 6:63). The way we do things even supposedly in God¬ís service often spoils every thing. If we are irritable and harsh and bitter, over-anxious and fearful, the Lord wishes we would just quit all our vain fussing around and wait on Him till His sweetness and His power and His wisdom dominate our lives.
"Let all things be done by you in love" (1 Cor. 16:14, margin). If we find that we are not doing all things in love, let us repent right away and by God¬ís help begin to move in love and speak in love and pray in love and think in love and act in love. In our busy activities even in the Lord¬ís work, it is easy to lose love out of our lives if we do not watch and pray always and obey the Lord and keep very humble before Him. We need to watch¬ókeep alert, as well as to pray¬ówatch our own spirit and see what kind of a spirit we are manifesting, watch for the tricks of the devil, watch for the uprisings of the old flesh life, watch to see that the results of our words, our deeds, our manner, are glorifying to God in the fullest sense. Oh, may God help those of us who are Christians to walk humbly before Him, confessing and forsaking our sins!
The thirteenth chapter of First Corinthians gives us God¬ís definition and valuation of real, genuine divine love. Often our most ardent and apparently our most self-sacrificing efforts, in the Gospel work even, are mere wood and hay and stubble because that tender first love is simply not there, and the way we do things, our manner of speaking, the sharp flash of the eye, the strained expression of the face, all indicate that it is not the Holy Spirit who is motivating us, but rather our own spirit or some other spirit. May God help us!
When we lose love, real divine love, out of our hearts and lives, the very bottom has dropped out in so far as acceptable service to our blessed Lord is concerned. "Remember¬Öfrom whence thou art fallen, and repent" (Rev. 2:5). Oh, may God help us! Oh, let us take time to remember and repent! Remember how we used to weep over sinners; remember how we used to keep a real spirit of prayer; remember how we used to grieve over the failures of other Christians and pray for them. Now, God have mercy on us, so often instead of praying for our stumbling brother or sister in the Lord, we rather criticize them and judge them and condemn them and gossip about them and imagine evil against them. Oh, let us remember and repent with that Godly sorrow which will restore the favor of God upon our lives (2 Cor. 7:9-11).
"If we love one another, God dwelleth in us" (1 John 4:12).
"God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him" (1 John 4:16).
"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God" (1 John 4:7).
Strange as it might appear, yet even in the midst of the Church of Christ, among God¬ís own people, there will be occasion when we must forgive other Christians for things they have said and done. Actually forgive ¬Ė not simply pass it by. "And be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ¬ís sake hath forgiven you" (Eph. 4:32). "Forgive, and ye shall be forgiven," Jesus says (Luke 6:37), and His words are straight to the point. Although through Paul are given many details concerning the church, Christ Himself is the Head, and Paul designates himself as a servant of Christ, a minister of Christ, a follower of Christ, and says, "The church is subject unto Christ" (Eph. 5:24). Jesus is the Mediator of the New Testament (Heb. 9:15), and He told His disciples to "teach all nations¬Öto observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matt. 28:19-20).
"Occupy Till I Come" (Luke 19:13)
Not with folded hands, in idleness, are we to await our Lord¬ís return. "Occupy" ¬Ė keep busy in God¬ís will ¬Ė till He comes. "Be ye not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is" (Eph. 5:17). Be diligent and faithful and fervent in glad service to our Lord till He comes! The rich man in hell was told, "Thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things" (Luke 16:25). We cannot drift along in luxury and ease and self-indulgence now, while God¬ís work, and the spreading of the Gospel are neglected, and while the real people of God suffer for want of support and encouragement¬óand then expect to receive a blessed reward when Jesus returns! Rather ¬Ė "Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and His righteousness" (Matt. 6:33)¬óregardless of what becomes of us. Make the advancement of the cause of Christ the very first concern of your life¬óthe very motive of your heart¬ís deepest desire and longing¬óthe very highest goal of your fondest ambitions!