You’ve probably heard someone say, “They’re heart wasn’t in it.” You’ve probably also heard someone say, “Get your mind in the game!” In both of these cases, the person was either distracted or they were not prepared for what was going on and they were suffering the consequences. In many cases, it’s very obvious when a person hasn’t prepared mentally for something. They struggle to get through it and they’re not focused. On the flip side, you can see the determination and focus of someone who came prepared with the intent on winning.
So what does that have to do with us? In John 16:33 jesus said, “In this unbelieving world you will experience trouble and sorrow” (TPT). Somehow many of us are surprised when that happens to us. We haven’t prepared mentally for the difficult times that come into our lives. It shouldn’t come as a shock to us when we face troubles. We need to make sure we are prepared for them and that we have the heart to endure them. 1 Peter 1:13 says, “So then, prepare your hearts and minds for action!“
I know what it’s like to not be prepared for troubles and difficulties. You go through a period of being shell shocked and then it’s like you’re spending all your energy trying to play catch up. If we prepare our hearts and minds ahead of time, we get the strength to endure those times. To do that, we need to have a mindset that is ready for battle at all times. We also need to be vigilant in prayer before something happens. When we are prayed up and full of God’s Word, and when we are ready for action, we won’t be knocked out by what the world throws at us. Remember Jesus concluded John 16:33 with, “Be courageous, for I have conquered the world.”
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The Boy Scout’s motto is “Be prepared.” It means that you should always be prepared to do what’s necessary to help others. I think it’s a great motto that we as believers should adopt as well. We should always be willing to help others and to do what is necessary, not just what is expedient. You will never become great by doing what’s easy. You have to be willing to pay a price that others won’t. As a Christian, that often comes in loving others as you love yourself.
Timothy was the Apostle Paul’s apprentice in the faith and in ministry. In his second letter to him, Paul gives him advice similar to the Boy Scout’s motto. II Timothy 4:2 says, “Preach the word of God. Be prepared, whether the time is favorable or not. Patiently correct, rebuke, and encourage your people with good teaching” (NLT). His message then and now is to quit waiting for an opportune time to share your faith or help someone out. Do it now!
The time for preparation is before the times are hard. When a disaster is imminent, people rush to the stores and buy what they can in a panic. They may have what you need or they may be sold out. That is not preparation, that’s desperation. Where I live, we know hurricane season is June 1 – November 30. We know that sooner or later one will come. It’s better to be prepared before one enters the Gulf of Mexico. If you wait until it’s too late, you’re going to suffer.
That was Paul’s message to Timothy. He tołd him there was a storm coming. “For a time is coming when people will no longer listen to sound and wholesome teaching. They will follow their own desires and will look for teachers who will tell them whatever their itching ears want to hear. They will reject the truth and chase after myths.” Since that time was coming, Timothy needed to be prepared to use the Word of God to correct, rebuke, and encourage. With a storm time coming, the time to prepare was now.
For us, there is a time quickly approaching like there was for Timothy. When that time gets here, it says that people will not listen to sound doctrine. We can no longer afford to wait for an opportune time to correct, rebuke, and encourage our family members, co-workers, or friends. We must get an urgency about us like Noah had to get people into the Ark. The night is coming and we need to be prepared. We need to be prepared to preach the Word of God now with our mouths and our lives. Eternity depends on it.
As I was reading through the story of David and Goliath in I Samuel 17, I was tempted to pass over it. After all, I’ve heard the story since I was a kid and have heard numerous sermons about it. I decided to read it anyway and to not just scroll through it. As I read through it, I stopped often and looked at the words that were used. I tried to imagine myself on the hillside with the army of Israel so I could see what I had never seen before. With that different perspective, I saw three things that I had never seen before in the story. Here are three of them.
For 40 days, Goliath came out every morning and evening to taunt the army Israel. The Philistine army would stand on one hill and the Israelite army would stand on the other ready for battle. No one fought though they were set up to because fear is a paralyzer. Too many times we go to do something and stop before accomplishing it because we allow fear to hold us back. We stand armed and ready to accomplish what God has put before us, but then we allow fear to keep us from action. II Timothy 1:7 says that God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power love and a sound mind. Take the power God has given you and conquer your fear.
The next thing I saw came from verse 26. David asks, “Who is this pagan Philistine anyway, that he is allowed to defy the armies of the living God?” The word that stuck out to me was “allowed”. When I think of times when I haven’t done what God asked of me, it’s because I’ve allowed other voices to be louder than His. We accomplish so little in life because of the things we allow. When we quit allowing the voice of the opposition to dictate our every move, we’ll begin to live a more victorious life and others will follow.
The third thing I saw was in verse 40. It says that David picked up five smooth stones from the stream. I know I’ve heard sermons about Goliath’s four brothers and how David got a stone for each one of them. To me, I think David was being prepared. We fail in life and in doing things because we don’t count the cost ahead of time. David counted the cost and prepared for the worst possible scenario. He grabbed extra stones just in case the first one missed. He knew that God doesn’t always deliver us the first time we ask or open the door the first time we knock. What if He didn’t deliver the giant with the first stone? David had faith, but he also counted the cost.
If you’ve been paralyzed by fear, take a step of faith in the power that God has given you. If you’ve allowed other voices to be louder than God’s, quit listening to them and find that still, small voice that God speaks with. If you’ve gone into things without counting the cost and have tried to get by with the bare minimum, it’s time to get better prepared. God is ready to take care of the Giants that stand in your way, but you’ve got to move past your fear, listen to His voice and step out in faith prepared for whatever God may do.