-Are you Prepared?

Are you Prepared?

In a 2006 USA Today article, Mimi Hall stated that most Americans have not taken adequate steps to prepare for a natural disaster. Indeed, only one-third of persons have even made a plan for communicating with others during a crisis, she wrote. I believe that now (5 years later) we are still in about the same situation – not only in the natural world, but also spiritually.

When we discuss being spiritually prepared, a few questions come to the minds of many Christians. First, do we really need to be prepared when the Lord is going to come and rapture the Church before the tribulation starts? Second, when we prepare for disasters are we operating out of a lack of faith by not relying on God to take care of us? Finally, what is our responsibility to prepare? As I discuss further below, the answers are: (1) yes, we need to prepare; (2) no, we are not lacking in faith; and (3) our responsibility to prepare is huge.

Regardless of whether you believe in the rapture occurring before, in the middle, or at the end of the tribulation (so-called pre, mid, and post-trib beliefs), we are called to prepare for whatever might come. Let’s face it – we’re already facing natural disasters that require us to be prepared both spiritually and in the world. In the aftermath of something like Katrina, for example, I would hope that someone with a tent would do better with someone without.  Likewise, someone with a firm grounding in God’s word would undoubtedly face whatever disaster with the advantage of the kind of peace that only faith and knowledge of God’s purpose can bring.  So, for those of you who believe in a pre-tribulation rapture – hey, you might be wrong!  Better prepare!  And you mid-trib folks better prepare too!  I mean, if you go early, you can always leave your worldly preparations to someone who didn’t make the trip.  And even if you miss the last half of the tribulation, the first half is a pretty nasty situation that requires a bit of thought to get through.  The fundamental point is that spiritual preparedness requires us to know God’s word, and God’s word consistently tells us to be prepared in the world.

There are several instances in the Bible where God called His people to prepare, and in these notes we will look at three of them.

The first is located in Genesis 6-9 – yeah, you guessed it – the story of Noah. You may recall that Noah was called to build an ark to save his family and himself from an impending flood. He was mocked and ridiculed by his neighbors, but in the end Noah was victorious and pleased God! The story of Noah’s faith and his obedience to prepare is referred to several times in the New Testament as impact of the importance of his actions. Hebrews 11:7 states,

By faith Noah, when warned about things not yet seen, in holy fear built an ark to save his family. By his faith he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness that is in keeping with faith.

Also, see Matthew 24:37, 38; Luke 17:26-27; I Peter 3:20 and 2 Peter 2:5. The first two of these scriptures liken Noah to the second coming of Jesus, warning that many people will be caught unprepared.  Remember, God speaks through his prophets first, and the prophets that I am hearing today are telling us to get ready.

Our second example comes from the story of Joseph being sold into slavery by his brothers. You may recall that Joseph persevered in his trials as a slave and was ultimately asked to interpret a dream of Pharaoh. In that dream Pharaoh saw seven fat cows and seven skinny cows. The Lord revealed to Joseph that the fat cows indicated seven years of abundance and the skinny cows meant seven years of famine. Pharaoh was so pleased with Joseph’s interpretation that he placed him in charge of all of Egypt. During that time, Joseph used the wisdom from God given by the dreams to save all of the surplus grain during the seven abundant years so that there would be food during the seven years of famine. The story of Joseph begins at Genesis 30:24 through chapter 45. Genesis 41:48-49 states,

Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure.

This is a clear example of God guiding his people – through prophetic revelation – to prepare for a disaster.

The final example is the parable of the ten virgins found in Matthew 25:1-13, which states,

At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’ ‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’ But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

This example speaks specifically to the coming of Christ, but the message is clear that God means for us to be prepare for the future.

As I said earlier, as Christians, that means both spiritual and natural world preparation.

The first step is to be prepared spiritually. We must have a solid spiritual grounding, with strong and deep spiritual roots. To accomplish this, it’s important that there be no doubt about our salvation. As a believer in Christ, you will attain the best preparation possible – the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. It is the Holy Spirit that will comfort you in times of trouble, who will guide you in detecting right or wrong action, and who will give you prophetic insight. Moreover, as a believer in Christ, you will have assured yourself of an eternity with God – something that I look forward to more and more each day.

If you have ANY doubts about where you will go when you leave this earth, please pray the following prayer from your heart.

Lord, I know that I am a sinner, and I come to you to ask for forgiveness. I believe that you sent your Son, Jesus, to die on the cross as a final sacrifice for my sins. I believe that by this act I am forgiven. I believe in a life after death with you in eternity. Come into my heart and cleanse my soul so that I may forever turn my back on sin and follow Jesus Christ.

It’s okay to re-commit your life to Christ if you aren’t sure of your salvation. God gives us new mercies everyday because He understands the faults and limitations of our flesh.

As part of being prepared spiritually, we must also guard our spirit and keep it fed and strong. We can do this through focused time in prayer (including prayer on our knees), fellowship with other Christians, and time in the Word. It’s critical that we keep growing our roots strong and deep. We’ll need this when the difficult times come so that we will not fall away, and thus we will preserve our status as part of the prophesized church remnant during the last days. The parable of the sower in Luke 8 talks of seeds spread on a rock – illustrating that some people will receive the Word with joy but fall away in the time of testing.  Don’t let that happen to you!

The second step of preparedness is physical preparedness in the natural world. This encompasses two categories: (1) physical health preparation; and (2) the act of preparing goods and supplies for any impending disaster. I will send out a separate set of notes with all of my emergency supply preparedness information. But suffice it to say that no matter how much “stuff” you have to get you through a disaster, it’s important to be healthy, in good physical fitness condition, and have positive mental fitness. If you haven’t started to think about getting fit, NOW is a great time to get out and walk and build up your stamina, cardio and endurance. In the last days, when so many will be panicked and confused by the events unfolding in the world, it will be the followers of Jesus who offer an explanation and a solution to those in need simply by saying, “I am prepared because all that is happening has been foretold in the Bible. Come with me, and find strength in my faith. Follow God and do not fear.”

I close with one of my favorite scriptures that addresses our need to be prepared, Matthew 24:36-44,

But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man. Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left. Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come. But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what time of night the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into. So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.

We act in faith when we know what the Word says about a situation, we listen to what the Lord says, and we obey. Saints, be obedient! The Lord is speaking to us to be prepared. Look at the signs: the economy, the world unrest, the earthquakes and disasters, the persecution of our brethren around the globe, and the unsustainable depletion and pollution of our natural resources. We are just like Joseph.  We have had a time of abundance, and now we must plan for the famine. We must have faith that God will take care of us, but he also wants us to partner with Him and do the work we can here on Earth.

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