My focus for the last couple of weeks as well as the weeks that lie ahead is on Ephesians 6:10-17, dealing with Spiritual warfare and the armor of God. In verse 13 we’re exhorted to “take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist (stand firm) in the evil day, having prepared everything…” Having “prepared” is the phrase that struck me. So I looked up “be prepared” in the Bible and found that it specifically instructs us to be prepared for five things in our spiritual lives. Surprisingly, the first thing is to “give generously.” That’s what 2 Corinthians 9:5 teaches about our giving. Paul instructs the Corinthians to be “prepared” to give when he arrives “a generous gift and not as grudgingly granted.” Beville wrote a commentary on Ezra and titled it “The Secret of Spiritual Success.” He writes, “The apostle Paul stated clearly how God looks on giving: ‘Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver’ (2 Cor. 9:6–7). We are exhorted to open-handed giving. It is one thing to desire God’s work to be done and even to pray fervently to that end but it is another thing to contribute financially to see that vision become a reality.” When we receive God’s love as He expressed it on Calvary’s cross, we are moved to return that love in worship. Part of worship is giving to God out of our love for Him.

We are to be prepared to learn also. Actually Paul tells Timothy (2 Timothy 4:2) to be prepared to preach and teach God’s Word. Many mainline denominations argue that this exhortation is only for pastors and teachers. I’d argue it’s for every believer. Before we can teach others about Christ and His good news, we must learn all about it ourselves. Thus when we come to worship we should be prepared to love (give), learn (study) in order that we will know what God wants us to know preparing us to pass on God’s truth to others in whatever environment He places us. Paul knows that lives are truly enriched when they learn, grasp, the “breadth, width, depth, and height” of God’s love. We must love! We must learn!

We also must be prepared to live. Paul tells Titus to “…be prepared for every good work” (3:1). God wants us and calls us to use the gifts He has blessed us with to serve others. It is a crucial part of His plan and purpose for our lives. Nothing is more fulfilling than using the gifts God blessed us with to serve others. It’s one of the most rewarding things of life. These rewards will span time and eternity. Jesus’ last quote recorded in the Bible is in the book of Acts. He said, “it’s more blessed to give, than to receive.” Happiness is the result of generosity. Fulfillment and purpose and meaning is the result of service. But there is one more thing that God tells us to be prepared for. It’s sharing our faith with others. 1 Peter 3:15 says “always be prepared to give an answer explaining the reason for the hope you have.” Love, Learn, Live!! That’s what being a disciple is all about.