Summary: God has prepared a place for us, prepared a work for us to do and we are to prepare ourselves
“A Prepared People”
“Then an angel of the Lord appeared to him (Zechariah), standing at the right side of the altar of incense. When Zechariah saw him, he was startled and was gripped with fear. But the angel said to him: “Do not be afraid, Zechariah; your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son, and you are to call him John.
He will be a joy and delight to you, and many will rejoice because of his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord. He is never to take wine or other fermented drink, and he will be filled with the Holy Spirit even before he is born. He will bring back many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God. And he will go on before the Lord, in the spirit and power of Elijah, to turn the hearts of the parents to their children and the disobedient to the wisdom of the righteous—to make ready a people prepared for the Lord.”
This is the birth announcement of John the Baptist – and kind of a job description – all rolled into one. It’s kind of a neat thing for a parent to hear. The angels says this about the unborn baby: Many will rejoice because of his birth; he will be great in the sight of the Lord; he will never taste alcohol in his life; he will be filled with the Holy Spirit; he will bring back many people to the Lord; he will have the spirit and power of Elijah; he will unite families; he will turn the hearts of the disobedient to become righteous; and he will prepare a people for the Lord.
That’s pretty neat stuff, but what I want to focus on this morning is that last thing. “He will prepare a people for the Lord.” Or “Make ready a people prepared for the Lord.” I kind of relate to that. That’s my job. I am to prepare you to meet the Lord. So I teach you; I encourage you; I minister to you; I try to equip you – and so on. When we all meet the Lord, I want you to be able to stand before God – with no fear or hesitation – because you are prepared.
I never realized before how much I do that. I guess what started me thinking about it is the talk I am preparing to give at the Tea Party that meets on Thursday’s at our Church. It’s on “Emergency Preparedness” and it has five points. Here’s a portion of it:
The boy scouts have a motto: “Be prepared. "Be prepared for what?" someone once asked Baden-Powell, the founder of Scouting,
"Why, for any old thing." He said.
My cousin, Lt. Col. Dave Grossman, when he instructs military or law enforcement personal, teaches them that the best antidote to stress is preparation. So on the one hand, I do believe we need to trust God. On the other hand, I think we need to be prepared. The wisest man who ever lived said,
“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools devour all they have.”
Jesus said, “Suppose one of you wants to build a tower. Won’t you first sit down and estimate the cost to see if you have enough money to complete it? For if you lay the foundation and are not able to finish it, everyone who sees it will ridicule you, saying, ‘This person began to build and wasn’t able to finish.’
“Or suppose a king is about to go to war against another king. Won’t he first sit down and consider whether he is able with ten thousand men to oppose the one coming against him with twenty thousand? If he is not able, he will send a delegation while the other is still a long way off and will ask for terms of peace.” Luke 14:28-32
Jesus is teaching us that the wise thing to do is to “count the cost”. In other words, he is teaching us we ought to think ahead, plan ahead, consider the consequences, and be prepared. This does a couple of things. It relieves stress in our lives, and enables us to help others. If you aren’t prepared – you are scrambling to take care of your own needs in an emergency situation. But if you ARE prepared – you can help others.
I want to talk about emergency preparedness in a couple of categories. First, emergency preparedness financially; secondly, Emergency preparedness in your vehicles; and thirdly, emergency preparedness in your home; and fourthly, personal emergency preparedness or self protection preparedness, and lastly “Spiritual Preparedness”.
I am happy for this opportunity to encourage people to be prepared – and what is more important than spiritual preparedness?