Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The God Who Prepares

 In the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who will judge the living and the dead, and in view of his appearing and his kingdom, I give you this charge: Preach the Word; be prepared in season and out of season; correct, rebuke and encourage—with great patience and careful instruction.

2 Timothy 4:1-2

Preach the word: whenever, wherever, to whomever, however. There is only one other option and that is silence. A silence that shouts of indifference to those whom might hear. A silence that screams of your selfishness that rationalizes your silence.

We are God’s ambassadors. Ambassadors speak the message of the King.

We are filled with the Holy Spirit. There’s one thing the Holy Spirit makes people do throughout the book of Acts and all of Christian history and that is speak.

Yet I (Daniel), and most likely, many of you have remained silent at times when God has urged us to speak. The events have been orchestrated, the audiences prepared, and yet our mouths remained empty of any Good News. But why? Why would we keep this Gospel to ourselves? Why would we not carry out the will of our Savior?

Fear. Fear of what they might say. Fear of how they might react. But more often, fear that we will not know what to say. We want to be prepared. We want to have every answer for every question. We want our outlines and notes prepared. We want the details of our speaking engagement and a survey of the audience we will be speaking to. We want to be prepared. And so we remain silent until we are.

The reality is we are prepared. Our past, our experiences, and our personality have prepared us for the work God is calling us to.

The ten days I spent in Kisumu were a crash course in realizing this. Of the nine times I spoke in front of a group only four times did I know the night before that I was speaking the next day.

Sometimes these unprepared messages were short and simple. I was asked to share the Gospel message to the group of kids we played soccer (football in non-American English) with.

Other times God seemed to simply be having fun with me. I found out at lunch that I was to give a word at a revival that afternoon. Ok, I can do that. A word in my mind translates to about 10-15 minutes. That I can do. When I got to the revival the pastor asked me how long I expected to take. I still had no clue what I would speak about so I asked him how long he was expecting me to take, his reply, “Around forty minutes.” Apparently a word in Kenya means 40 minutes worth of words . But God was faithful; He provided me with a message that not only proclaimed the Gospel to those who had not heard it, but which challenged those who have already believed.

And one time I could clearly see that God had clearly been preparing me for what I didn’t even know was coming. We were supposed to speak at a leadership seminar. Jim said he had it covered so I went to bed glad that I would have the day off from speaking. But when we got up, Jim was sick, leaving the seminar without a speaker. I volunteered thinking I would be a speaker in the seminar, but of course that thought was also proved incorrect as I was the speaker for the seminar. But God was faithful. Two semesters ago I took Leadership in Ministry at Ozark; God was already preparing me. Then earlier in the summer I had felt compelled to reread Bill Hybels book Courageous Leadership; God definitely prepared me.
No matter how unprepared I felt, God had arranged experiences and circumstances in my past that prepared me to deliver His message to the people put in front of me: people varying from church leaders to 150 primary school students. I didn’t think I was prepared, but God had prepared me.

He brought me into the situation. He prepared me. I did not have an opportunity to back down. I had no escape route. There was no plan b. All I had to do was open my mouth and speak. Speak His words of truth and life, speak his Good News to the nation, and speak whatever words the Holy Spirit lead me to speak. Though I did not consider myself prepared, it did not matter, God just wanted me to open my mouth; He supplied the words.
There is no excuse to not preparing when there is time allotted for preparation. But often ministry happens in the interruptions, when God places an opportunity into our lap unexpectedly. In those moments we must simply speak and let God take over. To remain silent is to silence the voice of God calling out to His children, “I love you.”

So speak. By all means speak. Do not back down. And when you are faced with a situation where you feel you cannot speak because you are not prepared, for the sake of those before you, open your mouth and let the Spirit speak.

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