I want to share on an important topic, “How to be prepared”. Often times our problem is that we are not prepared, we are taken off-guard by many things.
When a man gets in an extreme situation he starts to panic, be it a car-accident, an airplane crash or getting lost in the woods or in a dessert – first few minutes determine it all, because the man has to make the right decision. Usually these are the minutes of panic. But if you were to wait for help, you have to settle yourself, make a shelter and wait, because if you go you will die. Or the opposite – you must move on, because if you stay, you will not survive, as in a situation a man stayed in his tent instead of going a couple tens of kilometers and died of bad water.
Therefore, we must be prepared. Professional people are prepared people. In special forces they don’t primarily train physical power, but endurance and psychological ability to hold pressure, endure tortures, extreme situations and be psychologically stable, because all that is the greatest strength. Physical strength “wanders” – if you feed it it’s there, if you don’t feed it it’s gone. But the strength of the spirit is always with you.
This readiness is what Christ had – He was prepared to go on the cross. He prepared Himself for the suffering. He prepared Himself to die for the sins of mankind. He was engaged with this all His conscious life – He was preparing Himself for the Cross of Calvary. He wasn’t relaxed, walking around, enjoying food and environment, and then suddenly decided to prepare Himself for the cross. No, He was preparing for it all His life.
So, we must obtain this readiness in ourselves, because sometimes we are taken off-guard by the evil day. We don’t know when it comes and when it goes, the Lord did not promise to keep us from the evil day. He said to “take up the whole armor of God that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand”(Ephesians 6:13), not to simply avoid it.
“But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night”. (1 Thess. 5:1-2)
A thief. For some reason the day of the Lord comes not obviously. They don’t announce it with a trumpet sound “Tomorrow the Lord is coming” like they do with festivals, so that everyone may prepare. NO! Do you hear it? He shall come so suddenly, that you never expected. This is the way He will come. Why does He come namely this way? – Because we must be prepared every day! If He said He would come in two years we would all turn into a porridge. But what if He comes this night?
There are several comings of Christ.
First is His actual coming for His church. Second is your death day, which is Christ’s coming personally for you, when you can’t change anything anymore.
The Lord’s Supper is also His coming, when we examine ourselves, in order to receive it worthily.
Visitation of the Lord and His Angels is also His coming. When the anointing falls and we get filled with the Holy Spirit – all these are the forerunners of His coming. So we must always be in the condition of readiness.
“… the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. For when they say “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them – that is, they are not expectant of it – as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this day should overtake you as a thief. You are all sons of light and sons of the day.” (1Thess. 5:2-5)
Christ also said: “If the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched…”
What is this condition of watching? This is what I want to speak on today.
The condition of the church must be a condition of readiness. I travel a lot and see that many churches are not prepared, they conduct themselves like children. They get together to celebrate something, but at home they are not prepared at all.
There’s one thing that can give you an assessment – it is how you spend your free time. People normally get relaxed, rest or entertain. But there are others, who develop, stay on watch or serve. In every 24 hour, outside your duties, there’s your free time, when you are its master, and how you spend it gives you an assessment. The way you manage it – this is who you are, this is how you love the Lord.
“Therefore, let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night” (1Thess. 5:6-7)
Not long ago I witnessed how one of our ministers was passing away. When I saw him last, I saw he was prepared. What we did with him we spoke of Jesus visiting him, angels and revelations, and laughed a lot.
What are you prepared for? Until you experience something you never know how you will behave. We don’t have any guarantee against any trouble, including death bed. And no need to be afraid to die of cancer. Listen, people die. Or is death from pneumonia any better that of cancer? Or COVID, or heart attack or a stroke? People die, and you better stop this charismatic stuff. “O, you have people die of cancer? Do you not have the Lord?” – Wait a second, don’t your people die? What’s the difference what you die from? This is only the means that the door worked by, but you are leaving. And how you are leaving – this is most important, not because of what, not what doctors diagnosed, not what they put in your death paper, but how you left, what memory the saints have of you, what has become of you, what you are carrying with you.
Therefore, do not fuss and bustle. Stop getting hysterical about secondary things.
The way prepared people leave is beautiful. I know, faults can always be found, and people serving them close may say different things, but I won’t listen. Because poetry goes above the smoke, the bird flies not above the garbage damp, but it flies in the air.
Thus, we need to prepare ourselves, brothers and sisters.
What to prepare for?
It is written: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various temptations” (James 1:2-3)
There, we need to be prepared for temptations, and temptation is always painful, it is always not clear, it is always unexpected, it is always unpleasant, it always effects negatively other people. Temptation is temptation. Even Jesus was tempted in the wilderness from the devil, and He went through pain and suffering, He had to overcome. Never can temptations be pleasant. And we need to be prepared for temptation. As it is said, if you set your heart to serve the Lord, prepare yourself for temptation and adversity in life, which you cannot interpret.
“…count it all joy when you fall into various temptations, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing … Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him” (James 1:2-3,12)
What should we be prepared for?
Here are a few things that I’ve been meditation on for years.
What is man prepared for least of all is loneliness. Loneliness is one of the major fears of man, it goes beyond the fear of death. People are afraid of death because they are afraid to stay alone somewhere in cosmos, in eternity. Death in loneliness also scares people. Fear to remain single, unmarried. Fear to stay alone in your old days, when your children leave you. So man is afraid of loneliness, he is not prepared. Instead of getting ready for it, and many people will never escape it. For some this is inevitable. Even among you in this place… you live alone, or you are two, and your spouse will leave soon. I realize that “it is better not to think of this, close your eyes or get your head into sand”, but it will happen one day.
My message is one today – that you may be prepared. Because when you are prepared it won’t find you off-guard. You know, it happens when an old person dies, the spouse dies a year later because of discouragement. But others live further: “Abraham again took a wife, and her name was Keturah.” (Gen.25:1) He begot again sons and daughters – I like this! He gave life to so many more people. But if he weren’t prepared, he would turn sour and within a year follow Sarah.
There are different types of loneliness. It can be negative, more of isolation, when a man goes through circumstances regardless of his will and can’t handle it. He gets frustrated, gets sour and passes into eternity in sorrow.
But there’s a conscious loneliness, when man chooses to be alone with the Lord. There is insomnia, and some people are afraid of it and make every effort to get rid of it, they fear and suffer. But others do not fear, because insomnia allows you be effective if you stay awake.
I know one man’s example when he kept fighting insomnia until he understood the arrangement of his physiology. He is now a very prosperous man in business. He tried to sleep eight hours a day, but remained miserable and broken in his bed fighting his reluctance to sleep. Then when he decided to try and sleep as much as he wanted, he saw that four-five hours of sleep were enough for him. The rest of the time he was able to use effectively for the benefit – he saw he was special. Four or five hours were enough for him not because he was “workaholic”, but because it was his physiology. So he enjoys his four hours of sleep, because they are quality ones, deep and restful, and more time of his day was released to do things that require taking time, especially when it refers to fellowship with God. This is where you never rush – when you are with your Heavenly Father.
When you are not prepared for loneliness, it can crush on you and eat you up: man gets into depression, fears and eventually dies in his phobias. I am not even talking of physical loneliness. Many people are lonely in church. There are people, and you come to shake off your loneliness, but you return to your empty house and still feel you are alone. I want to tell you this is wrong. Even in this format, in this position you can be happy. You need to find a way to fill the emptiness.
The next thing you should be prepared for is the loss of interest in you, to your person. You were “top”, the leader, but something happened, you left the job etc., and you feel how people lose interest towards you. This is very painful, especially if your self-esteem is high. You are there, but no one is interested in you. I realize I need to be prepared for the loss of interest in me. Well, interest in you is a cunning thing, as man is full of cunningness and lies. If you say, you are the most faithful, I won’t believe you. It is written that every man is a lie. And popularity is a cunning thing. As soon as you make a mistake people split into several categories: there will be indifferent ones, who will step away, there will be those who are happy to see you fall (they kept silent when you were successful) and there will be friends, who will have compassion. Even friends will split into those who will be of real help and those who keep the distance and get farther and farther.
Who wants an unsuccessful man? He is a load. Who wants a sick person, in who you have to invest with no reward? – Only those want them who have the heart of Christ or those who have motivation.
David watched over this, taking thorough care of the one remaining of Saul’s house. He took Mephibosheth who was lame in his both feet and put him at his table. Because he held it inside to fulfill what he promised and to betray his friend Jonathan who was already in eternity. So we should never abandon each other. We can’t! We should keep the conscience not to forget. Though it happens…
This is a very interesting topic. Many people commit suicide after they retire and feel they are not needed. The interest in you is cut off and with the years no one needs you at all. Today it is especially evident as young people are impatient, with strong involvement into social networks. Everybody is in a hurry, always: since early morning, to have breakfast, to get to job, to get from job… It is if life were pushing us on our back. Is this Life?
I want to call you today to knock off this rhythm of this constant race for the goal. I don’t want to submit myself to this course. This is not the course of the time that the Lord gave me. I want to live with His rhythm. I have to overcome this life so that all this outer pressure may not form me, but Holy Spirit may form me. I resist this outer pressure with my inner strength. And I will pulsate with my heart the way the Lord determined it for me. For that I need strength and courage.
So many people end up with no interest in them anymore. The brighter the star, the more it hurts to dim away. Take cinema stars, the greatest ones – only a few leave with loving dear ones around them. But many are miserable and lonely, and all they have is a photo album and rewards. This is very serious. People were not ready.
I want to tell you today that you may be prepared. Christ said: “Watch!” That the day doesn’t take you off-guard.
This is the joy that I preach to you, so that you become strong and overcome anything that happens in life and become truly victorious people.
Your position in the spirit before God – this is serious. Eternity is already here.
We speak on things that actually work, that are truly important, not any abstract idea, but what makes us stronger and we face circumstances with readiness.
One more thing – Life with pain.
Pain can be of the soul and of the body. I know people, even young ones, who live with constant pain. People are afraid of pain, because it is “a younger sister” of death, it signalizes that our bodies are mortal. But people fear it and do everything possible to get rid of it, starting with painkillers to operations, because this is suffering. Certain kinds of pains are severe and require powerful painkillers that block your thinking. It is very hard to live under painkillers and be happy, as you simply want to get rid of pain.
How about when your soul is in pain, when you’ve been betrayed by a most loved man in a very low wicked manner? How to live with it? But we must live. And we must be prepared and receive this anti-dot from suicide, depression and different diseases.
So we gather together all these things, unclear, “why is this happening to me, Lord?”, “why so unbearable cross?” – and you seal it all and write on it “thank You”. Because there is nothing else you can do with this. There is no healing, no matter what you declare, what conference you visit, what apostle prays for you. You know there is lots of these things, which the Lord allows to happen. And you turn it into acceptance and gratitude. I know there are those who’ve turned their pain into good and live with it, they’ve made friends with this pain and not become bitter, negative, critical. They’ve deepened their spirituality, they have obtained.
Christ Himself is our example, and Paul lived with a sting in the flesh and turned it into spirituality and strength, saying “when I am weak, I am strong”.
All these things lie in Christ, if we immerse into co-crucifixion and His co-burial, there lies the key to healing, to the attitude to life.
The Lord has called us to co-crucifixion. Many Christians don’t pass co-crucifixion, they don’t know what Christ’s suffering is, they dissociate from them, accepting only “the Lord wants to bless us”, depicting Jesus with a lamb in His arms, such a child-like Jesus. This is not true. There is no such Jesus, we made Him up.
This is why our prayers often don’t work – this is not Him. Jesus is crucified and Him we preach. And we need to co-crucify and co-bury with Him. Connect with Him in death so that we may connect in life.
Christianity has not learned to go through death yet. We are infants. World Christianity is afraid to go through death. That is the biggest total problem of today’s church. She has no teaching about the death of Christ. She has no teaching on how to live in Christ’s death. She has no teaching on how to live in sweetness connected with Christ’s death. She abides in infancy, but the Lord desires that we may be mature.