After my morning walk, we had breakfast, showered and went to the shops. We needed some food and Jen needed some wool to knit a baby jacket, pants and cap set. Once back home, we had a late lunch and, because it was 3pm, I decided to take it easy for the rest of the day. What I thought interesting on this morning’s walk was a mother and father pushing their two children in “sport prams”. They were all dressed in winter tracksuits, gloves, tackies and beanies. Their pace was rather brisk. They were prepared for their walk. When I left home, the temperature was 6º C. The app on the cellphone said it felt like 3.2º. So, although not that cold compared to places where the winters are minus degrees (like Illinois and Nebraska in the U.S.), to prevent illness, it is wise to prepare for and dress appropriately for winter walks in the mornings. That mom and dad were prepared. To me it seemed they are seasonal walkers.
In thinking of preparedness, my thoughts drifted to our Christian preparedness for life and eternity. Maybe I need to ask you the question I asked myself … “to what degree am I prepared to serve Jesus whilst I live out my life here on planet Earth, and to what degree am I ready to enter glory, should Jesus call me home today?” As simple as those two questions are, they are actually provocative! These questions intend intimate reflection with honesty.
You can’t cheat when walking on a cold morning. If you go out without a tracksuit or warm jacket, you will notice it immediately. You will be cold and most likely contract a cold or the flu. But spiritual preparedness is very different to winter preparedness. The one is felt immediately, the other not. The one is physical, the other spiritual. The one is experienced by the senses, the other is experienced as the Holy Spirit works in the soul. The point I’m making is that the physical is immediate, forcing the need to act urgently. The spiritual however, driven by the Holy Spirit making the soul aware of its need … or it’s driven by the soul’s enemy, the devil, to deaden the soul’s ability to feel its need. It’s much like the frog in a pot of water on the stove. As the water heats up the frog is oblivious to the danger, and before long the frog boils with the water. By the time he realizes he needs to escape, it’s too late. Sadly, this tends to be the response of many believers to the constant need for spiritual reflection. Generally, we are not prepared for service, warfare or eternity!
There are many, but I think of two main reasons for the Scriptures in our hands. The first is to point us to God’s rescue plan for man through His Son Jesus Christ. The second is for us to prepare ourselves for service, warfare and eternity. The closing words of Ephesians are vital and important. Paul uses the imagery of a Roman soldier. He was extremely familiar with this sight due to his incarceration.
Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.
18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
His letters start off with doctrine and then switch over to application. He wants his readers to be strong in the Lord … that is, prepared to follow Jesus effectively because the enemy is a cunning schemer (10-11)! In verse 12, we are reminded that the enemy is not physical (like winter’s coldness) but spiritual, invisible and deadly … to the point where Christians need to be fully prepared for action (put on the full armor of God) so that when (not if) the onslaught comes, you are able to be solid and secure and stable in Christ (13). Verses 14-17a deal with Paul’s soldier illustration, but all those aspects such as truth, righteousness, peace, faith and salvation are learnt and applied through the Bible and through prayer (17b-18).
Spiritual preparedness (dressing properly for service, warfare and eternity) is governed and driven by the Word of God (sword of the Spirit) and prayer in the Spirit. To pray in the Spirit simply means that you take the Word provided by the Spirit (the Bible) and pray its very promises back to God through truthfully applying the teaching to your soul. That is how spiritual preparedness shapes the soul for service, warfare and eternity.
Dear God, forgive me for treating Your special gift of Scripture so lightly. Help me to use it correctly, praying through Scripture and applying Your teaching to my soul so that I will be dressed appropriately for life and eternity. Amen.