“YOU ALSO MUST BE READY”
1. On April 7, 1985, twenty-five years ago last Sunday, I had the privilege of standing before this church in this role for the first time.
a. For our family, the whole week before that had been one long list of things that had to be done: things that, for us, were exciting, emotional, and exhausting.
b. It was hard to find the time and the presence of mind to do the main thing: get ready for that meeting.
c. Since I was becoming real familiar with the difference between being prepared or unprepared, I decided to use the occasion to speak about the ways in which all of us needed to be ready for what was ahead of us.
2. Today it is my intention to make the same points I made then, not because that presentation was any masterpiece or because of the years that have passed, but because I am even more convinced of their importance and practical truth.
a. Being ready may be the difference between being like God or not, for he is a God who prepares the way for what he does (Mk. 1:2-3).
b. Being ready was the difference between wise maidens and the foolish ones in the parable (Matt. 25:10).
c. Being ready is the difference between a servant who is faithful and wise and one who is wicked (Lk. 12:47).
3. The Lord said, “You also must be ready...” (Lk. 12:40).
a. It was an instruction that he meant to have application in every life (v. 41f).
b. It falls after a paragraph on not being anxious (v. 22-34) and before one about facing responsibility (v.49-53), as if to say that being prepared is what lets a person keep his balance.
c. The rest of the New Testament teaches that a person is prepared to live when he is ready to do these three things:
1. Be ready to submit to God.
a. Conditions in the world or circumstances in a life are always subject to unexpected change, but there is an attitude that makes a person ready for anything.
i. Even where we have weaknesses, we can improve if we start with it.
ii. Lk. 22:33 – “Peter said to him, ‘Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.’”
iii. Acts 21:10-14
b. The absence of that readiness to submit to the Lord’s will always leads to trouble in people’s lives.
i. The Pharaoh of Egypt allowed ruin to come upon his nation and tragedy to come into his family before he was ready to submit to God.
ii. Jonah, the prophet who ran the other way, was hurled overboard into the sea and swallowed by a great fish before he was ready to go God’s way and do God’s work.
iii. Even the great apostle Paul, before he was ever ready to do anything for the name of the Lord but persecute it, had to learn that it was hard for him to kick against the goads (Acts 26:14).
c. On the other hand, the rewards of being ready to let the Lord have his way with your life are many.
i. Reuel Lemmons had sermon in which he referred to those who obey God as “the invincible obedient.”
ii. When you are ready to do what he says, you have a direction about what is right and a simplicity about what is first, and you can live when you’ve got those two things.
iii. You have confidence that comes from knowing that you have dug deep and laid your foundation on the rock, and that the life you are building will withstand the floods that arise (Lk. 6:46-49).
iv. When your are ready to let the Lord have his way, you gain strength to endure trials and courage to take on responsibility.
v. Each one of us will be better off when we are ready to submit to what God says immediately, completely, and continuously.
2. Be ready to serve God.
a. Of course, any one of us who would submit to God will have to be ready to serve, for that is what he says he wants of us.
i. It’s very much the spirit of the song that says:
“Ready to go, or ready to stay, Ready my place to fill;
Ready for service, lowly or great, Ready to do his will.”
ii. Titus 3:1, 8, 14
iii. 1 Peter 3:15
b. Christians who are ready to serve the Lord not only enrich their own lives but are also the building-blocks of great congregations.
i. When any good work awaits, they are ready to do what they can to help.
ii. When any spiritual activity that involves the grace and knowledge of Christ is ongoing, they are ready to participate.
iii. When any door of opportunity for the Lord’s cause is open, they are ready to take advantage of it.
iv. The reason is simple but profound: they care!
v. “The difference between a plug and a thoroughbred”
c. All of us are ready: some ready to serve, others ready to let them! The Lord wants us to be in that first company.
i. 2 Timothy 2:20-21
ii. 2 Corinthians 8:12
(1) It has been well said that God “measures us not by our achievements, but by our longings to achieve. He judges us not by what we have in our hands, but by what we have in our hearts. He crowns us not for the great task that we actually accomplished, but for the great task that we long to accomplish.” (C.G. Chappell)
(2) The poet Browning said, “It is not what a man does, but what a man would do, that exalts him.”
iii. Romans 1:15 (ASV)–“So, as much as in me is, I am ready to preach the gospel to you also that are in Rome.”
3. Be ready to see God.
a. There are at least three ever-present reasons why it is so necessary for us to be ready to meet God.
i. One is the brief and uncertain nature of life in this world.
(1) James 4:14
(2) We know that because it is undeniable; it would be wrong to proceed arrogantly as if it were not so.
ii. Another is the possibility of the Lord’s return.
(1) 1 Thessalonians 5:2-4
(2) Matthew 24:44
iii. The other is the certainty of giving account to him.
(1) 2 Corinthians 5:10
(2) Preparing to do that is the one pursuit that gives life meaning.
b. We know about preparing for matters of lesser importance....To fail in preparation for the most important thing of all would be a waste of life and an abuse of our calling.
i. The possibility of seeing God is not a privilege to be taken flippantly (Matt. 22:11-13).
ii. It is not something to be put off or to be distracted from (Matt.25:10-13).
iii. Neither is it something to be known about, but rejected and ignored (Lk. 12:47).
c. What a joy to have made ready for the highest hope of all!
i. Luke 12:42-44
ii. Revelation 19:6-8
iii. A great old song puts it this way:
“When with the ransomed in glory His face I at last shall see,
‘Twill be my joy thro’ the ages To sing of His love for me.”
1. Ephesians 6:15 (ESV)–“And, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace.”
2. Scripture tells us that God is ready: He is ready to forgive (Neh. 9:17) and he is ready to judge the living and the dead (1 Pet. 4:5).
3. You and I must also be ready: ready to submit to God, to serve God, and to see God. We can be through the blessed gospel of Jesus Christ!