Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Semper Paratus: Always Ready

 Semper Paratus is the motto for the United States Coast Guard. According to their website:
The U.S. Coast Guard is one of the five armed forces of the United States and the only military organization within the Department of Homeland Security. Since 1790 the Coast Guard has safeguarded our Nation's maritime interests and environment around the world. The Coast Guard is an adaptable, responsive military force of maritime professionals whose broad legal authorities, capable assets, geographic diversity and expansive partnerships provide a persistent presence along our rivers, in the ports, littoral regions and on the high seas. Coast Guard presence and impact is local, regional, national and international. These attributes make the Coast Guard a unique instrument of maritime safety, security and environmental stewardship.
 Since we depend on the Coast Guard for homeland security, we can find relief in the fact that their goal is to always be ready.  They may face a national tragedy, a large-scale event involving a few hundred people, a small-craft emergency or even a military or terroristic threat. If any of these situations were to occur, lives are depending on them to be ready to spring into action and anticipate any scenario they may encounter.

Scripture tells the believer that we are to be always ready: "...sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence..." (1 Peter 3:15)  As those who have been changed by the truth and those in whom the truth lives, we are also in the life-saving business. Therefore we are called and have a responsibility to always be ready. At any moment we could encounter someone who is perishing without Christ. If you were counting on the Coast Guard to help you and they showed up and proceeded to tell you that they didn't know how to help and then began to list all the reasons why, how would that make you feel? You would probably wonder why they signed up for the Coast Guard and why they even bothered to come to where you are. So you and I MUST always be ready. 
Here are some ways you can be ready: 
1.      Live a holy life that reflects God's glory accurately.
As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;  because it is written, "YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY."(1 Peter 1:14-16)
We must keep ourselves from all things that are contrary to the character of God.However, since we are incapable of being perfect, we must also quickly admit when we have sinned and get back on course so as not to lead others astray. 

2.      Take an evangelism training course. 

The best way to be ready is to take intentional steps to prepare. If you and I keep telling ourselves that we can’t do it, then we will get exactly what we are expecting. However, if it is important (and it is) then we must exert effort to prepare.
There are many different courses and there is not one “right” one. Check with your church and see what they offer. If they don’t offer one, request one! 
3.      Prepare and practice your own testimony.
People are more interested in actual results than they are about potential results. It doesn’t matter if you are trying to sell something or simply convince someone to try something. The most convincing evidence you can present is how it changed your life. Regarding evangelism, the most convincing evidence is what has changed in you and how you continue to be effected. So try this: Write three paragraphs. The first is what you were like before you met Christ. The second is how you met Christ. The third is what your life has been like since you met Christ.  You could fit this on one to two hand-written pages. (See 1 Peter 3:15 above)

 And most of all…
4.      Pray and trust God

And when they had prayed, the place where they had gathered together was shaken, and they were all filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31)

God’s desire is for people to know Him and to be saved from the wrath to come. So, He wants you to succeed. However, you must be ready.

"But when they hand you over, do not worry about how or what you are to say; for it will be given you in that hour what you are to say.” (Matthew 10:19)

For God's Glory,
Chris S. Sweet

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