by Phil Enlow

A title like, “Getting Ready,” begs the question: ready for what? Recently, my mind was drawn afresh to Jesus’ warnings to “be ready,” but with an emphasis on what it takes to truly be ready, and on God’s plan to prepare us, to make us “ready.”

This principle can be readily seen in the military. Someone who joins the military as a soldier is, in one sense, ready for military action. But it should be obvious that their sincere intention is not the same as actually being ready. They need a lot of training and preparation before they can be effectively sent into action.

Much has been written concerning Jesus’ instructions to his followers regarding the “end of the age” and his “coming.” We know that, in accordance with the plan of a sovereign God, our present earthly lives fall within what scripture calls, “this present age.” Mark 10:30. Jesus also referred in that verse to, “the age to come.”

I believe a fair definition of “age” as scripture uses the term, at least with respect to the present age, would be a period of time set by a sovereign God in which He accomplishes something He has purposed and planned beforehand. Scripture makes it plain that His purpose in this present age is to gather and prepare a people, a family, for a wonderful eternal future in harmony with Him. Eph. 1:1-14 is one passage that clearly sets forth that truth. Eph. 2:7 even speaks of “coming ages,” plural!

Jesus often shared truth with his listeners using parables, earthly stories with heavenly meaning. One of them is the parable of the weeds in Matt. 13:24-30. He tells of a man who sowed good seed in a field only to later discover that weeds had been sown among the wheat. The weeds were blamed on an enemy and the man’s servants were told to await the harvest when they would be separated, the weeds to be burned, and the wheat to be gathered into the barn.

In verses 36-43 we find Jesus explaining the parable to his disciples. The field is the world. The one sowing good seed is the “Son of Man,” referring to himself, of course. The good seed stands for the “people of the kingdom” and the weeds, the “people of the evil one.” The harvest is “the end of the age” and the harvesters are angels. The results of that harvest are set forth: a “blazing furnace” for one and shining “like the sun” in the kingdom of their Father for the other.

And the distinction between the two kinds, and their respective destinies, is just that clear. I’m glad that “the Lord knows them that are His.” 2 Tim. 2:19. I’m also very glad for the words of Jesus in John 6:37 – “All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away.”

In John 6:44-45, Jesus also said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. It is written in the Prophets: ‘They will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard the Father and learned from him comes to me.” I’m trusting that you are one who has truly “heard” the Father and also “learned” from Him. The world of lost men refuses to hear and is rapidly heading for destruction and they don’t realize it.

Indeed, the people of the world in general vainly imagine that everything will continue right on and that they must find ways to keep things going. They want to “save the planet” and “travel to the stars.” Yes, there is indeed a variety of other ideas and beliefs about the future, but one way or another, Satan has been allowed to blind the eyes of lost mankind. Who are they? Those who steadfastly refuse to hear. Thus they are blind to the purpose of a Sovereign God being carried out through His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ. He reigns and they know it not.

Thus, the world will not go on and on; there is an expiration date, a day already marked on God’s calendar when this present age will end. And this present creation will end with it in fiery destruction. That day will mark a terrible end for many but a glorious beginning of a never-ending future for others. 2 Peter 3:3-13.

If there is the smallest doubt in your mind as to which group you are in I strongly urge you to seek the Lord with your whole heart. That’s what He desires: your “whole heart.” He is well able to save completely. Heb. 7:25. He desires that you find true spiritual rest, not in any qualification you might seek within yourself but only in the perfect finished work of Christ! Matt. 11:28-30, Col. 2:6-10, I Cor. 2:1-5. He is not looking for righteous people – there are none – but sinners who can be brought to true repentance and faith – and that through grace, an ability only He can give. Luke 5:32, Eph. 2:8-9.

As to that day on God’s “calendar,” Jesus likened it to two different historical events: the flood of Noah’s day, and the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah. Luke 17:26-30. In both cases God removed His followers from the scene and EVERYONE left behind perished. And God’s judgment was totally unexpected by those who perished. Argue with Jesus if you want to but that is what he plainly said.

In Matt. 24:30-31 Jesus painted a clear picture: his coming would be a very open event, with “power and great glory.” Angels would gather the elect from everywhere on earth. A loud trumpet would sound. There will be nothing secret in any of this: sudden, but not secret. See also 1 Thess. 4:13-5:11, 2 Thess. 1:6-10, 2:1-11.

Matt. 24:36 says, “But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.” According to 1 Thess. 5:4, God’s people will not be surprised like the world, but yet only the Father knows exactly when it will be. But it WILL be and no devil in hell can prevent it. There is an end, and it is coming.

It should be obvious that when Jesus comes, everyone’s fate will be forever sealed. There will be no “second chance” for some “left behind.” As Paul wrote in 2 Cor. 6:2, “… now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.” So, the admonition of Jesus to “be ready” clearly involves having the issue of our destiny settled before that day comes. Are you ready?

And yet, I am convinced that the admonition to “be ready” involves more than just being ready for the actual day the trumpet sounds. It also involves being ready for conditions leading up to that day.

When God speaks to human hearts, there are two very different ways in which people respond. Some listen and, by grace alone, are brought to a place of true repentance and faith. They alone constitute the “harvest” the Lord is seeking from this present world.

 But what about the others? From the beginning of the age the great majority of people have hardened their hearts to God’s voice, however it has come. Paul describes this clearly in Rom. 1:18-32. One way or another God’s truth has been made known but men in general have “suppressed” that truth “by their wickedness.” Rom. 1:25 says, “They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised.”

So then what happened? “God gave them over to shameful lusts.” Verse 26. Remember what God said in Noah’s day. “My Spirit will not contend with humans forever.” Gen. 6:3. There comes a time when choices have been made, hearts are fixed, and destinies are sealed. Jesus used what happened then to describe the time of his coming.

Don’t forget that all this does not happen in a vacuum. Satan is referred to in scripture as the “god of this age.” 2 Cor. 4:4-5 says, “The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Satan’s weapon is the lie.

From the beginning Satan has actively sought to bring the human race under his total control, driving out the influence of the one true God entirely. Of course, God has allowed that as part of His plan and there is nothing Satan can do that will ultimately succeed.

Thus, we are called to serve God in the midst of a world order ruled over by the prince of darkness. God will have an eternal family that knows about good and evil, but chooses good. And His grace is more than enough to bring all of His people through. And remember, grace is God’s power at work saving unworthy sinners.

But what of the end of the age? What are God’s people to expect, to be ready for? Again, remember the words of Jesus regarding the days (plural!) of Noah. His words were not merely about the day (singular) when the flood came but also about the time leading up to that day.

In Noah’s time we see the human race reaching a point of no return. All destinies were sealed. Noah and his family chose to listen to God and serve Him and He made perfect provision for them. Meanwhile the world around them lived blindly on, preparing for a future that never came.

Gen. 6:5 says, “The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.” Verse 11 says, “Now the earth was corrupt in God’s sight and was full of violence.” And in the midst of all that, there was Noah, leading his family to serve God and carry out His loving instructions, instructions that led to their salvation despite conditions everywhere around them.

Since the beginning of the gospel age Satan’s plans to unite mankind against God have been thwarted time and again so that the gospel might reach out to the world. But even as it was in Noah’s day, God will not contend with man forever. There comes a time of decision, of reckoning.

2 Thess. 2:1-11 speaks of the time of Christ’s coming. In direct connection with this he speaks of the coming of the “man of lawlessness” (verse 3) as happening prior to Christ’s coming. He describes the “secret power of lawlessness” as being restrained in his day. He also speaks of that restraint being removed before Christ’s coming. The condition of those under the influence of lawlessness is described as living under a “powerful delusion.” Their destiny is to perish. Paul says, “They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” Verse 10.

There are various ideas as to the identity of the “man of lawlessness,” but it should be clear that Paul was speaking of satanic power and influence through spiritual deceit. I’m glad that Paul writes that the Lord will “destroy” the lawless one “by the splendor of his coming.” Verse 8. There it is again, judgment and destruction upon the world of lost and wicked men at the same time Christ comes back for his own. Don’t forget verse one that introduces this passage in these words: “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered to him ….”

Are we not living in the hour when the restraint has been removed? This present world order is like the proverbial “house of cards.” Wars, hatred, violence, threats of more of the same, economic uncertainty, division, moral rebellion: it wouldn’t take much for it to collapse and set in motion the openly stated vision of many of a new world order to arise. Such an order would definitely not honor and serve God.

In most of the world today true believers are often serving God despite severe opposition and persecution. I fear that we in America have somehow been led to believe that it “could never happen here,” that life as we know it will just go on and on. But that is not the picture scripture paints. I certainly don’t claim to know exactly how and when things will progress, but progress towards God’s appointed end they will. What will it be like for true followers of Christ in a world increasingly under the control of Satan? Are we truly ready?

Again, there is more to being “ready” than just being ready for the trumpet to sound. In Matt. 24, Jesus spoke of many things to come. Some of them had to do with the lives of the disciples to whom he spoke and some with the very end of the age itself. He spoke of persecution, wickedness increasing, the love of some growing cold, hatred, betrayal, things we have seen throughout the age.

But to his own he said, “the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” Matt. 24:13. Thus being “ready” involves standing firm in the midst of the conditions that prevail in human society prior to his coming. Far too many in our day have been taught that being ready simply means being “saved” and expecting to suddenly vanish into thin air to be with Christ before any real trouble starts.

In the eleventh chapter of Daniel, the prophet is given a detailed look ahead at events that would unfold in the world of his day. He spoke of a powerful “contemptible” king who would arise. Daniel spoke of a time when this wicked king would invade Israel and defile the temple itself, turning it into a place of heathen sacrifice, and causing many Israelites to compromise with his wickedness.

But verse 32 speaks of others: “…but the people who know their God will firmly resist him.” Obviously, they were spiritually “ready” for what happened and stood firm in their trust in God. But how did that happen? Do you suppose that they were simply living ordinary earthly lives and then suddenly flipped a spiritual switch and became steadfast believers, strong enough to stand? Of course not. Clearly, they were people who had had a relationship with God well before things got tough. They had lived a God-conscious life, learning to trust Him day by day, long before this heathen king showed up.

That was then. We have been called, as they were, to live and serve God in a particular time and place. Daniel 11 follows chapter 10. In chapter 10 Daniel fasts, seeking God for three weeks. After that time an angel comes to him after a battle with a demonic prince. This angel is sent to show Daniel things that were yet to happen. In verse 21 we find these interesting words spoken by the angel: “I will tell you what is written in the book of Truth.”

The angel then tells him about many things to come. Note: this wasn’t information from a “history” book; these were events that hadn’t happened yet! And yet God had them all written down in a book! We have an amazing God, and the truth is that from His point of view, history has already been written! We are still experiencing events as they unfold but God knows the end from the beginning.

In Ps. 139:16, David was inspired to write, “…all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” David realized that God had already written his story!

Do you realize that this same God has already written your story – and mine? We surely have a part to play, choices to make, but God knows all that ahead of time and is able to weave it all together to perfectly fulfill His ultimate plan! Don’t forget, even the hairs of your head are numbered! Matt. 10:30.

God knew in advance that many Jews would be scattered through the Persian empire and that a great plot to destroy them would come from a wicked, but important man, in that empire. God arranged for a beautiful young Jewish girl to become queen, winning the favor of the king over many others. She had a godly uncle who had been a major influence in her life.

That wicked man, Haman, succeeded in getting the king to issue an edict, to be carried out on a certain day, that would have resulted in a great slaughter of the Jewish people. Uncle Mordecai went into open mourning and when Queen Esther wondered why he sent word, explaining Haman’s wicked plot. Mordecai wanted Esther to go to the king to try to fix the situation, but she expressed fear for her own safety if she tried to see him without an invitation.

But it was the words of Mordecai in Esther 4:14 that are significant: “…who knows but that you have come to your royal position for such a time as this?” Clearly, Esther had indeed come to her position to meet a very specific need and there is no doubt that God used her to counter something the devil had inspired.

But the truth is that every one of God’s elect is called to live in a particular time and place and to fulfill a particular purpose in God’s overall plan. His plan takes in everything that happens in this present age and yet gets right down to where you and I live from day to day. Our place in the plan might not seem all that important but each of us is unique, with a special place that matters to Him. We are not just “numbers”; God knows our names!

We are all familiar with Rom. 8:28 – “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” We often quote it to reassure ourselves when something unexpected – and often unwelcome! – happens. But it is true, and the verse concludes with a very significant word: “purpose.”

The things that happen in our lives are not accidents. God has already written our story and that story is unfolding under His all-wise and loving direction. The major focus of that purpose is stated in the next verse: “For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.” Everything God has planned, everything He does, is about family, His family!

If we are going to be what we need to be to fulfill our place in the new creation, there are some major changes that need to be made! And God is faithful to make that happen one way or another. Remember what Paul wrote in Phil. 1:6 – “…being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Whatever it takes, whether here on this present earth, or in heaven awaiting that day, God is faithfully at work!

Of course, God’s purpose is not only about our character, our likeness to His Son, but also about our place of service while we live out our earthly lives. We each have a place even if our place doesn’t seem all that important to us. Everyone matters to Him.

Each one of us has a “call,” not merely a general call to embrace the gospel and follow Jesus, but a call to that special place only we can fill. The church, the body of Christ, is not complete without us if we are a part. That simple truth has probably never been more important than now, at the end of the age. God seeks a people who are awake, aware, about the Master’s business, who know their God.

One of God’s major purposes at the end of the age is the harvest of which we spoke earlier. It was the same when Jesus was sent to the nation of Israel in the first century. He came seeking his “sheep.” They were “lost,” but he, the good shepherd, had come seeking them. Most of Israel were not his sheep. John 10:14-29. As in every age, the people of earthly Israel were of two different kinds with two different destinies. Remember the words of John the Baptist in Matt. 3:7-12. And so, it was harvest time.

Matt. 9:36-38 says, “When he saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd. Then he said to his disciples, ‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest, therefore, to send out workers into his harvest field.’”

And so it is today. God is reaching out in unusual places and unusual ways to gather His own before the end comes. Remember that Christ promised to build his church and that the gates of hades would not stand in the way. Nothing Satan can erect in the way of spiritual prisons can stop Christ from gathering every single one of God’s chosen ones! Matt. 16:17-19.

God’s people need to “stay tuned” to Him to play whatever part He desires us to play. Central to that is prayer: “Ask the Lord of the harvest….” Satan is well aware of what God is doing and a major part of his strategy to hinder it is to do everything in his power to put the saints to sleep, to keep them on the sidelines, bogged down with the affairs of this life.

But what do you think Satan’s strategy is for those who are awake and engaged in the affairs of God’s kingdom? We don’t have to guess. The words of Jesus and history itself testify that Satan will inspire men to oppose God’s influence on planet earth by any and every means he can.

Remember the words of Jesus as he prepared his disciples for what was to come, not only in their own ministries but looking all the way down to the end of the age. Matt. 24:9-14 says, “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

How do you think it will be at the end of the age as Satan knows that his time is short? It certainly is not a popular message, but I am convinced that the great majority of God’s people will die before Jesus comes. That is part of standing firm to the end. Remember the words of Rev. 12:11, describing the victory of saints over the devil: “They triumphed over him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony; they did not love their lives so much as to shrink from death.”

Remember Christ’s words to the saints in the city of Smyrna. He referred to those of the “synagogue of Satan” “who say they are Jews and are not.” Then he said, “Do not be afraid of what you are about to suffer. I tell you, the devil will put some of you in prison to test you, and you will suffer persecution for ten days. Be faithful, even to the point of death, and I will give you life as your victor’s crown.” Rev. 2:10.

Jesus even said that, “… the time is coming when anyone who kills you will think they are offering a service to God.” John 16:2. That sounds like some powerful delusion to me!

Of course, that described Saul the Jew before he met the risen Christ on the road to Damascus! Despite his deceived state he clearly hadn’t reached that point of no return, but many have. And then Saul, who became known as Paul, was sent on to Damascus to await Jesus’ instructions. Then we read that the Lord sent a man named Ananias with a message: “This man is my chosen instrument to proclaim my name to the Gentiles and their kings and to the people of Israel. I will show him how much he must suffer for my name.” Acts 9:15-16. There is a cost in serving Jesus!

The only one anointed and sent out with the gospel message in the first century that didn’t die a martyr’s death was John. No doubt that was because God had a special purpose for him that involved what we know of as the book of Revelation. That fact also illustrates the truth that God’s purposes for His own are unique to each individual. John’s own earthly brother, James, was one of the first Christian martyrs. Acts 12:1-2.

In Mark 8:34-37, Jesus said “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

There is a false gospel in many places that tries to make a difference between just being “saved” and being a “disciple,” as though Jesus’ words don’t really apply to all believers. That is utterly false. Earthly circumstances certainly vary in different times and places but no one who values his own earthly life above God’s promise of eternal life will ever possess that life. And, they will lose the only life they have, forever.

The choice is that radical. And that is surely why we need the grace of God! Human strength and resolve are never enough. We need divine power to even make that choice, let alone to follow through and stand firm to the end. I’m sure glad that God’s grace and power are available to every willing heart!

But that brings us back to the original question: how are God’s people made ready for the end of the age, a period of time in which Satan is allowed to pursue his dream of uniting humanity against the kingdom of God and everyone who is a part of it?

I believe that a simple summary of what that involves is found in the life of Noah. In Gen. 6:9, we read, “Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked faithfully with God.” He didn’t “sleepwalk” through life but had a daily, conscious relationship with God. When God spoke, he listened, and obeyed. It really is that simple!

Only God knows the particular path He has called us to walk, the specific place we are to occupy in His kingdom. And He alone knows how to prepare us for whatever lies ahead. It is probably a good thing the Lord does not show us all of that because we would probably throw up our hands in despair! I doubt anyone reading this is ready at this moment to be a martyr. I’m surely not. But God is faithful and knows how to bring His people all the way to glory regardless of the particular path He chooses for us.

So, I believe we have established the basic truth that “being ready” involves “getting ready.” But how does that happen? Is there a special course to take, a special book (other than the Bible) to read? Is there any earthly group or church to join who are “the only ones”? There are so many ideas out there and I believe that most of them are designed by the master deceiver to confuse and misdirect God’s people, not to mention those who are merely religious and not God’s people at all.

Of course, getting ready does indeed involve learning about the things of God. And that involves ministries of teaching and preaching that God anoints for that purpose. Such ministry is not just a matter of learning theology in school and then organizing speeches that convey those ideas. We need more than tradition or even words that God spoke in the past. We need what God is speaking NOW.

Remember the principle God taught those who could understand in Israel’s wilderness journey. Deut. 8:3 says, “… man does not live on bread alone but on every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord.” Note the word “comes.” It is present tense. That is a reminder that God wants a people with a listening ear, ready to hear what He IS saying in the present. He will always honor and use scripture but we need to know His present message. Most often that will involve focusing our attention on particular scriptures, basically breathing life into the words and applying them to the present need.

Of course, “ministry” highlights the truth that, while walking with God is personal, it is not private. That is, we are not called as God’s people to walk alone but rather as a functioning part of the body of Christ. 1 Cor. 12, Rom. 12:3-8. We are all called to walk together and “minister” to one another according to our gifts and callings.

God will form those divine connections for everyone with a willing heart. There may indeed be those who are seemingly alone in their earthly circumstances, yet their hearts are connected with God’s people and His kingdom. As God has always dwelt with His people and led them through their earthly journey, we have His promise to be with us till the end of the age. Matt. 28:20, Heb. 13:5-6.

The danger is that individual believers can, if they are not careful, treat Bible truth as essentially correct doctrine, information to acknowledge and believe in their minds. We must never forget, however, the admonition of James in James 1:22-25 where we are warned of the danger of merely “hearing” the word without actually “doing” what it says. Those who do so deceive themselves.

God doesn’t want people to sit in church, listen to the word, file it away in their minds, and then walk out the door to live their everyday lives like everyone else. He doesn’t want us to separate “spiritual” life from everyday life. Truth He shares, by whatever means, is meant to be translated into our whole lives, transforming us more and more into the likeness of His Son. Rom. 12:2, 8:28-29.

The truth I believe the Lord shared with me about all this is simply the fact that our everyday life IS our basic training for whatever is to come. How foolish it would be for a soldier to sit through lecture after lecture about guns – but never actually fire one! He could sit through a lot of “lecture” training but that alone would never prepare him for actual battle.

And so it is with us. God wants to share truth with us, to change the way we think, and to shape our character, but what good is that if that truth is never expressed in our daily lives?

How often do we quote the encouraging truth expressed in Phil. 1:6 where Paul wrote: “… being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” Think about what He is saying! Do we actually believe that God is actively working in our lives – today – in everything that happens? And do we connect the things that happen daily with His overall plan for our lives? We should!

Scripture is full of examples of this principle. Of course, we mostly read about the “important” people like Joseph, Moses and David and unconsciously suppose that the principle doesn’t really apply to us in quite the same way since we are not that “important.” But the truth is that in God’s kingdom we are ALL important. As we have said, we each have our unique special place and God’s ways apply to us all.

 And so, scripture tells us of a young man named David. He wasn’t even that special in his own family, being the youngest, and was given the less-than-desirable job of watching the family’s flock of sheep. But regardless of how he was seen by others, God had plans for him. He was indeed a special young man in that he walked with God, worshipping Him, living a life conscious of God’s presence and interest in the mundane affairs of his life.

As wonderful as David’s active walk with God was, God knew what lay ahead and so He worked to prepare David. One important thing that lay ahead was the challenge of a giant named Goliath to the armies of Israel and, more importantly, to Israel’s God. David’s life of worship was great but God knew that he needed more actual experience of God’s faithfulness before he was ready to face Goliath. It is one thing to believe God in theory; it is another to experience God in the actual circumstances of life.

We read how God prepared him and it was far more than a lecture or a sermon! He actually sent, not just one, but two dangerous animals to attack the sheep, a lion, and then a bear. David was enabled, in faithfully carrying out his everyday duties of caring for the sheep, to overcome and kill both predators and thus save the sheep.

And so, both his life of walking with God, AND his experience of God’s faithfulness in circumstances that were beyond David’s natural abilities prepared him to trust God in facing Goliath. 1 Sam. 17:47 records part of his answer to Goliath’s challenge: “All those gathered here will know that it is not by sword or spear that the Lord saves; for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give all of you into our hands.” The God Who knew all about Goliath and the Philistine army was faithful to prepare David. And He used the “school” of everyday life to do it.

That lesson, “the battle is the Lord’s,” is central to all God does in the outworking of His plan. By nature, we depend on ourselves, on human strength and ability. And the only way we learn different in any practical way is to be thrust, through Divine providence, into situations far beyond that strength. Do we really understand that it is God Himself who sends the “lions” and “bears” into our lives?

But oh, how we complain when those kinds of challenges arise! We are told to be thankful in every circumstance (Eph. 5:20) yet our old nature cries out in protest! Life just shouldn’t be that way. What’s wrong? But our Heavenly Father knows best – and – He alone knows all that lies ahead.

The Lord knew, for example, that Peter was unprepared for his place and call. Peter thought he was strong and capable, but the Lord knew otherwise. He actually gave the devil permission to attack and put Peter to the test, a test Peter failed miserably. Luke 22:31-34, 60-62. So would we! I’m sure glad the Lord knew all about what would happen, prayed for Peter, and encouraged him in the future to strengthen his brothers! When that time came, Peter was ready, not because of human zeal and strength, but because of reliance upon God alone!

Apart from the Lord’s work in our lives, whatever that involves, not one of us is ready for anything that lies ahead in His plan. Whether we live to see all the events that will unfold at the very end of the age or whether we live out our earthly lives and go to be with our Savior before then, we need that work!

Walking with God means many things: waking up in the morning with a thankful heart, asking God to lead and provide that day; praying with the Spirit’s help and direction; facing life’s challenges, particularly the ones that go way beyond our limited resources, with trust and faith; seeking, with a surrendered heart, for God’s plan and not our own; walking with one another in love; in short, living out all that God has instructed us to do in His Word, trusting in divine grace at all times to make it possible.

Regular everyday activities, going to work, keeping house, going to school, paying bills, interacting with other people, and every other activity all have eternal significance. What kind of people are we each and every day? Do we live out God’s life or our own? Do people see Christ when they look at us – or just us, acting like everyone else?

Satan is doing everything he can think of to keep God’s people asleep, unaware of what is really happening, unprepared for things to come. At the same time, God is working in “all things” (Rom. 8:28-29) to prepare His own, to have a people who “know their God.” He wants us to live with an awareness of these things and cooperate with all He is so faithfully doing.

God is preparing a people who will be “ready,” ready to “persevere,” ready to be a light, ready and able to strengthen and encourage one another in an hour of darkness. That requires that we actually get to “know” Him and not merely to “know about” Him. That involves NOW, right now, each and every day.

May God work in each of us that we may take full advantage of every opportunity to “get to know” Him, not in mere Sunday morning theory but in everyday practical experience. “Basic training” is happening now. We have a part to play in all this, choices to make. May we be found faithful. He will always be faithful!

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