THE LIVING WORD TRANSCRIPT
Program Air Date – 3-20-11
LESSON TITLE: “LET YOUR LIGHT SO SHINE: PREPARATION”
“Our Lord is gracious and full of compassion, slow to anger and great in mercy,” Psalm 145:8! No wonder we have assembled this day to laud and magnify His Wondrous Name!
Let me welcome each of you to the Living Word program on this glorious Lord ’s Day morning! How wonderful it is to know that you have chosen to put God first this day and to assemble for this time of worship before His Mighty Throne!
As always, it will be our privilege to offer sacrifices to God this morning, with the fruit of our lips and the obedience of our actions, may we all be encouraged on this the Lord’s day. However, may we each do our part so that ultimately we will offer praise to God according to His truth as is found in His Precious Will. So as we begin our focus on the Creator, will you bow with me in prayer?
This morning we want to begin our songs of praise by thinking about the condition of our heart before God. Are we living our lives and serving our God in such a way that is pleasing in His sight? Furthermore, we must ask, “Are we doing such from the heart? Now let’s join in our first hymn of the day. It’s name, “Is Thy Heart Right With God.”
(SONG # 1)
In the Bible we learn of many things which bring joy to and which please our Lord. One such thing is found in Psalm 133:1, where David proclaimed, “Behold, how good and how pleasant is it for brethren to dwell together in unity!” Doesn’t this just make perfect sense?
I want us to remember what Jesus said about unity, in His prayer of John 17, beginning in verse 20, “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are one:”
God’s desire is that we are all one in Him, just as He is one. This means we are to be completely unified, in spirit and truth, striving to remain in unison and harmony concerning all those teachings which are given according to the doctrine of Christ.
A final and familiar verse we mention is found in Ephesians 4:3, there Paul speaks to the church at Ephesus and encourages them to, “…endeavor to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.” Notice that this unity as clarified by the Holy Spirit, is again a unity of oneness, common belief and principles, with God and His Will being at the heart. We never find that God encouraged, condoned or even accepted a unity based on compromise, or on getting along at any cost. The only unity that pleases God is based on where He is, “in the light,” and that’s where all true fellowship must begin, remain an end to be pleasing in His sight - 1 John 1:7. Are you striving to achieve the unity which Christ taught? Why not follow and obey this very important command of our Creator!
Today we will continue our studies taken from Jesus statement made in Matthew 5, “Let Your Light So Shine...” Our specific lesson this day is entitled, “Preparation.” So please stay with us this morning and after our next song together, I will lead us in the main thoughts of the day. Now it’s time to join in our second song, the name of this hymn, “Jesus Calls Us.”
(SONG # 2)
By Ray Sullins
In Genesis chapter 22 and verse 1 the Bible says, “Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham and said to him, ‘Abraham,’ and he said, ‘Here am I.’ Then He said, ‘Take now your son, your only son, Isaac, whom you love and go to the land of Uriah and offer him there as a burnt offering in one of the mountains that I shall tell you.’ And so Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey and two young men were taken with him and Isaac, his son. And he split wood for the burnt offering and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.”
When we look at the story here, the beautiful story of the testing of God of Abraham in relationship to when he challenged him to offer his own son, Isaac, we find here an interesting quality about the man, Abraham. Certainly we might notice many qualities such as his faith and his willingness and his interest to do what God had said, but what about his need to prepare properly? I find it interesting that several things in verse 3 indicate to us his willingness to be ready. In fact, the first thing it says is that “He rose early in the morning.” I am certainly not a morning person but he was willing to get up bright and early in order to prepare for the journey that he might take to go and worship God. He made ready those that would go with him, including his son, and then even Abraham himself, it says, “split the wood for the burnt offering and then rose and headed toward the place.” All of these things Abraham was doing to prepare ultimately to accomplish the worship to God Almighty. And now when we think about that worship of God, we also are challenged in our own lives to do the same.
I now call you to Exodus chapter 19. You might recall there when Israel arrived at Mt. Sinai. There at the foot of Mt. Sinai they were challenged to prepare, in fact it says, “In three days I will come and you will worship Me.” So for three days they prepared. They washed their clothes. They made themselves ready to meet God and to worship God. You see we need to be people who prepare, who not only prepare for worship but for other aspects of our Christian lives.
Now certainly worship would be important for us. I don’t know how many brethren maybe stay up until all late hours of the night on Saturday and then they expect to come to worship and to pay attention and to be involved in worship when they are just worn out and they really haven’t properly prepared. Or maybe on the way to church you have that fight with your wife or that argument with your wife or you listen to things on the radio or something on your CD that really isn’t about the things of God and really doesn’t get your mind proper. Well, we need to prepare. We need to be a people who understand what it means to be prepared. Because what good is it if we offer things to God but yet we have not prepared ourselves properly?
Well let me explain to you. It would be no better if I were to go fishing and I love to go fishing, but what if I were to go fishing and I decided, “Well I’m not going to take a pole,” or I don’t take a pole or I don’t take any extra line, or I’m not going to take any extra lures or jigs or bait, and I’m just going to go fishing. Well what type of fishing am I going to do? How successful will I be? Not successful at all. Or what about gardening? I go out and I look at a spot to put out maybe some tomato plants or some other types of vegetables or even fruits that I might like and instead of cultivating or preparing that garden and getting the weeds out and maybe even getting the fertilizer and nutrients for the ground that are necessary, I just say, “Well I am just going to take these seeds and just scatter them among all the grass and weeds and we’ll just see what happens.” Preparation! You see, it would be just as foolish for us in our worship to God or us in our daily life or sacrifice to God to simply just do things without really preparing.
You see this has always been the case. In fact, Jesus many times spoke about the need we have to prepare as those who love Him. In fact, we might note that in the Bible what we generally refer to as those texts that are called the “Gospel” there are several times that Jesus indicates to us the truth of being prepared. For instance, in Mark chapter 13 He says there in verse 33, “Take heed and watch and pray.” He says watch out. Why? Because we don’t know when the master of the house will be coming. Well that certainly means that we must be ready. How do we get ready? We prepare! We make ourselves ready by studying the Word of God and knowing what He wants and living the life that He wants us to live.
But then we can also see even in an example that Jesus gave in Luke chapter 14 where there He said, “How many of you really intending to build a tower,” verse 28, “do not first sit down and determine if you have the money or the ability to complete it?” Preparation! And in that context really what He is dealing with is: Are we willing to take up our cross and bear it no matter what the cost in order to follow Christ? Well you see we must prepare ourselves. Prepare ourselves every morning just like we get out of bed and we get ready for work and we go to work and we make preparations for that. We must prepare ourselves as spiritual soldiers of God in order that we might do the work that God has set before the faithful.
Once such text that might as well help us is found over in the book of Ephesians there, chapter 6. You might recall the discussion that Paul here gives to the Ephesians about the armor of God and really what he is talking about with the armor of God and putting on the armor of God in order that they might be able to stand as well as withstand evil is all about preparation. Preparing by doing what? Girding the ways. Preparing by doing what? Putting on the breastplate. Preparing by doing what? Well getting that helmet on and getting that sword in your hand and putting on the shoes of your feet and on and on and on we go. Why? That you might go out in battle. I want you to imagine that soldier who would go out in battle without any of that preparation and then all of a sudden he stands on the battlefield and the others are coming toward him, the enemy is coming, and he does not have a shield, a sword or anything but yet he is supposed to fight. Well you see again the problem would be a lack of preparation. You see it would be just as silly for me as a Christian not to prepare spiritually, not to make sure that I have really focused myself into the Word of God, that I have really engaged in it, and really put my mind in depth in looking at its pages to find out what God asks of me as the faithful.
In fact, is that not what we have also learned there in the book of Timothy? As we find there Timothy being challenged to be one who took up that Word of God, who studied it. Verse 15 of 2 Timothy 2, “Be diligent to present yourself approved of God, a worker who does not need be ashamed but who is rightly or willing to rightly divide the Word of Truth.” You see that preparation. How do I do what my God wants if I do not know what He wants? Well what I do is I study or I diligently commit it to my heart and my life. I talk to others. I listen to others. I listen to sermons. I listen to teachers. I try to imitate those who are living a good life and in doing all of those things again, what do we find? We find that our God is glorified. We find that our God is honored because of our faithfulness.
Besides these things, I also would like you to notice with me the fact that we can see examples in scriptures of those who are very much ready and willing to prepare themselves in the work of God. We can actually go throughout the New Testament and we can begin yet again in the gospels and we can see men like John. Do you remember John the Baptizer and how he was actually sent by God to do what? Prepare the Way! Even God said he needed to prepare the way so that even when Jesus came or the Son of Man came that the world would be ready. What did John do? He prepared himself for that ministry. He did that work and he accomplished everything that his God commanded.
We go from there and we find that on the Day of Pentecost the apostles, as we call them disciples at that point, had been told by Jesus to go and to wait in Jerusalem for the power to come on high. And what were they doing? They were gathering together there in the upper room preparing to accomplish the task that God had given them. So when the Spirit came they were ready. They were well blessed and ready because God would fulfill His promise to use them if they were willing to use themselves to His glory.
We move on from that period when the church was established and we see time and time again individuals like Paul who at one time was Saul, who spent literally years preparing himself, years of being under Barnabus, years of being under a period of going into the wilderness and studying or focusing only on spiritual matters concerning the things of Christ. Before he ever did what? The work that was before him.
Then we go on from there and we see time and time again that even young evangelists as we’ve even read today like Timothy and Titus were brought under the wing of great men like Paul, and guess what for periods of time, yes even years at times, they would learn from the best. They would prepare themselves for the ministry in order that they might be able to be successful because we know that if we don’t prepare we cannot succeed.
Think about that in life with anything. Think about that in life in relationship to even in the occupation or preparation for occupation or any type of work that we might do. I like some types of sports. I really enjoy soccer and in relationship to soccer, you know you see those guys out there for over an hour running on that field non-stop. You wonder: How can they do that? Well they do it because they prepare. They don’t just walk out there because they have not run or they have not exercised or they have not set things in order. They walk out there confident and ready because they have prepared themselves.
You know that brings us really to another thought. When we have that preparation and control and we’ve made that preparation, guess what happens. We find confidence. When I know I’m ready to do the work of God and I’ve done my homework and I’ve accomplished everything He wants me to up to this point and I know I’m ready to accomplish the goal that has been set, oh how beautiful it is to see that my God uses me to His glory and that by preparation and His blessings I am able to do great and mighty and wonderful things because of what He has promised to do through me. You see it is possible. It is possible that we are successful in this life and we can look to God and know what it is that He wants us to do.
Another aspect of preparation that I am so thankful for is that my God hasn’t just said to “love Me or believe in Me” and then hasn’t given me a guide or a way to prepare. My God has clearly given you and I that element to prepare with, that essence that we can be ever ready with by knowing exactly what is required, and then not only ourselves living it but teaching it to others. Preparation!
How much do we encourage those of this life to prepare themselves for the fight, for the battle, for the reward and yet as Christians sometimes we fail? So I would challenge all of us to do a better job with one another as those who love God by trying to help each other be ready, to be ready and understand the urgency, the urgency not only in relationship to the fact that the Lord will come again and we don’t know when that time is as we read earlier, but the urgency to see that we are ready for whenever He comes, but not only ourselves but others who will hear, believe and obey as well.
I like there what is found in the book of Timothy yet again when Timothy was challenged there in chapter 4 to be an example to believers in verse 12, but then later there in around verses 14-16 he also is told to, “Continue to give heed to reading, to encouragement and exhortation.” He wanted him to continue in the things of God because he knew that when he prepared and made himself ready not only could he live in character, as God said, but he also could live spiritually to motivate others to obey God as well. Isn’t that the privilege we have as Christians? Showing that we are prepared. Showing that we are ready. Not only that we know that we can do what God wants unto eternal life, but we can help others to know as well.
Have you done what God said? Have you responded to His Word? Have you repented and been baptized so that you can be added to the church by your God? And once added and found faithful in the end you will receive that great reward. The Bible says, “A mansion over the hilltops, a place prepared for you.” Are you ready to meet your God?
(SONG # 3 - “It Is Well With My Soul.”)
Let me thank you again for choosing to be with us today, in this offering to God. I know our time together has been an encouragement and blessing to all of us. We invite you back every Sunday morning at 7:30, as we commit ourselves to this service of God!
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I pray to God that we are all living in such a way as to show forth the true workmanship of God in our daily lives. Are those around us able to see God in us through all that we do and say? Make sure today you are right with God and glorifying Him in all things!