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Tuesday, May 23, 2023
This fixer-upper on a rural road north of Lititz PA is in need of a little TLC but we were impressed with the blended "family" that had taken up residence here. I, Brooksyne, never weary of seeing animals alongside the road, especially goats, sheep, cows and horses. I suppose my collection of photos have more animals than humans, especially since we now have four dogs which can be very entertaining.
"Always Be Prepared"
Message summary: Let us always be prepared!
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“But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have” (1 Peter 3:15).
We had lunch last Friday at the local Career and Technology Center (CTC) culinary school here in Mount Joy with Nick Nichols, a long-time local friend. Nick is a colorful man in his eighties who has had a plethora of life experiences. But he told me of one that I suppose is unique among anyone I know; he flew on Air Force One with the president (President Kennedy).
At the time he was a young airman in the Air Force and had the duty of making calls from the plane for the president and always being ready for any incoming call. He told me that his duty required that he always maintain complete focus on the equipment. When the president entered the plane he walked right behind him but Nick was not to turn around and look at him let alone say anything. He was to always be prepared to perform the duties required of him.
Today we want to focus on just one phrase from our text, “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have'. Nick had a vitally important role during his Air Force One experiences but so do we, as committed believers, that requires us to always be prepared. In light of eternity it is all the more vital.
This Scripture teaches that we are to always be prepared with our witness for Christ and truth. Our witness is not something we should be able to turn on or turn off. Paul wrote that we are to “be wise in the way we act toward outsiders; making the most of every opportunity” (Colossians 4:5). The fact is you are witnessing every day, whether effectively or not. Paul wrote of the Corinthian believers, “You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody" (2 Corinthians 3:2). What are people “reading” from your life?
The word “answer” is the Greek word “apologia” from which we get the English word apology. But it doesn’t mean that our answer is something we are sorry for! We also get the word apologetics, which is the defense of our faith against all false systems. In fact several versions use the word "defense" in this passage and this is what we are doing. We need to be always be prepared to defend our faith.
Although having a knowledge of the Bible and theology is important, the primary reason for defending our faith according to this passage is “to give the reason for the hope that you have". This world needs the hope we have in Christ. Do you know the reason for the hope that you have? “My hope is built on nothing less than Jesus blood and righteousness!”
This is a big and growing responsibility with the dominance of secular humanism along with the preponderance of scores of competing religious systems vying for converts. Today know what you believe and why you believe it and stand unashamedly for the Gospel of Jesus Christ! Your life can be a message of hope for a world that is searching for genuine hope.
Let us always be prepared!
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Daily prayer: Father, as we set You apart in our heart from everything that is common, we begin to lay hold of Your holiness, Your power and goodness, justice and truth which also gives us an even greater reason for the hope that we have in You. The basis of our hope is in the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, who conquered the enemy of our soul. We defend our faith with gentleness and respect lest we espouse a superior attitude or reveal any attitude that is inconsistent with Your compassionate and just nature. May Your indwelling Spirit guide us as we remain prepared and ready to reach others with the message of hope and forgiveness through Christ Jesus our Lord, in whose name we pray. Amen.
Added Note: When talking with Nick last Friday he told us he has been reading about our riding e-bikes in our messages. The men's group in his church is planning to take some bike rides and he wanted to join them. He also told me he hadn't ridden a bike in some 60 years. He went to a local bike shop to test ride an electric bike and they gave him an e-bike to try without any instructions and he told me it was quite a ride especially since the test track had some tight curves! Wow! We're glad he was able to keep the bike upright.
He was over to our place yesterday to try out our e-bikes but I gave him some instructions first before his take-off!
Bible teacher Ken Boa has an interesting outline and notes for the passage today:
• “Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts.” In other words, be certain Jesus is Lord of your life and affirm your utter dependence upon Him. Remember that when you are talking with someone embracing another worldview, this is a spiritual battle. Your task is to be faithful in proclaiming the truth. It is God’s business to change the person.
• “Always being ready.” Know God’s Word and know how and when to use it. In doing so, you will be prepared to correct misconceptions about biblical Christianity.
• “To make a defense.” Always keep the discussion focused on Jesus and His finished work on the cross. Stay away from minor issues and do your best to prevent the other person from focusing on his or her misconceptions. Stay focused in a friendly, God-honoring manner, and do not be sidetracked by the other person’s unique claims or errors.
• “To everyone who asks you.” Pray that God will give you opportunities to share your faith in this pluralistic culture. Above all, be a good listener and ask for permission to express your view in the discussion. Do not be pushy or arrogant.
• “To give an account for the hope that is in you.” It is your personal relationship with the living God that is the source of your power and strength. Do not be afraid to recount your personal experiences of all that God has done for you. He is your hope and strength.
• “Yet with gentleness and reverence.” Show patience, respect, and love as you talk. Always look for common ground and seek to develop a relationship of trust and confidence that God can use to bring that person to Himself. (From James P Eckman, The Truth About Worldviews)
Many years ago there was a radio program in Kansas City with George Westlake, a local pastor who had a Call-In radio show on Sunday evenings. Listeners could ask questions about the Bible and he would do his best to answer them. I suppose this was before the quick access you now have by using a computer. Yet Pastor Westlake had a deep knowledge of God’s Word and was always ready to give an answer based upon Scripture.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"Living Hope" Click to listen on YouTube Shane and Shane The hope that we have is a living hope!
"Yet Not I But Through Christ In Me" Click to listen on YouTube CityAlight This morning I will conduct the funeral service for Ron Boyle, the father of Rachel Caldwell. Rachel and her husband Rick are very good friends. I dedicate this song to them and especially consider the words of the chorus:
To this I hold, my hope is only Jesus
All the glory evermore to Him
When the race is complete, still my lips shall repeat:
Yet not I, but through Christ in me!
Ron has an interesting distinction. He was honorably discharged from both the Marines and Air Force. While in High School he was recruited and wanted to be a Marine. He went through the training but fell below the size requirements and was honorably discharged. He went back to the same recruiter who suggested the Air Force in which he served, attaining rank of Lt. Colonel before another honorable discharge!
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