GETTING READY FOR JESUS – Conducting a spiritual inventory, and taking the necessary steps to avoid being “all dressed up with nowhere to go”!

by admin

 

You’re familiar with the idiom: “All dressed up and nowhere to go”, no doubt?  It means that one is extensively prepared for something that    isn’t going to happen.

 

In Matthew 22, Jesus tells a parable of a king who prepares a royal marriage and feast for his son, and invites a great number of guests.  As was the custom then, with the invitation to a royal marriage, a wedding garment is provided, so that all the invited will be properly attired.  But in His parable, there’s one particular guest who shows up at this regal affair, garbed in his own apparel, rather than the robe that had been supplied.  The short version of this man’s fate is that he is briskly escorted from the banquet hall, and he is excluded from the festivities.

 

This parable represents the final judgment.  The King    is Our Heavenly Father, and the invitation     is the Gospel message.  The guests    are those who accept the Gospel invitation; and the wedding garment     is the pure, white linen of Christ’s Righteousness, which replaces our own shabby attire.

 

What, then, does the guest,  who wore his own suit of clothes,  represent?  Well, that would be the individual who claims salvation, while relying on his own merits, as opposed to depending on the Righteousness of the Savior.

 

Was that man “All dressed up with nowhere to go”?   The shoe fits, doesn’t it?

 

So, how can we avoid being found “all dressed up with nowhere to go”?   How can we keep from making the fatal mistake of being unprepared for the Lord’s return?  How can we have confidence   that we’ve made all   of the necessary preparations?

 

I’ve gleaned and compiled from the Scriptures, and from some trustworthy ministries, a good portion of the following materials.  And if we were to produce from this wealth of counsel   a definitive reference manual for the outfitting of the Saints  for the Kingdom, it just might read something like this.

 

An excellent place to begin would be    to…

 

Earnestly search our heartsThe Apostle Paul gives us this advice: “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith.  Test yourselves” (II Cor 13:5)

 

And the prophet Jeremiah puts it this way: “Let us search out    and examine our ways,    and turn back to the Lord”  (Lamentations 3:40)

 

Here are 7 key questions, based on Biblical principles, that we can apply to our lives – seven areas of self-examination, in preparation for the Savior’s return.

 

Does sin still have dominion over you?  If we are addicted to anything other than Jesus Christ, we can’t be healthy Christians.  Everyone, at some time or another, experiences the occasional lapse, or stumble. (II Chronicles 6:36) “…for there is no one who does not sin”.  But, is there a   habitual sin that still has hold of us?

 

Thru God’s power, we can – and we must – break that pattern, no matter the cost, so that, as Romans 6:14 states, “sin shall not have dominion over you”.

 

… and Proverbs 28:13 says, “He that covereth his sins shall not prosper,

 but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them, shall have mercy.”

 

Nearly 40 years ago, a trusted friend, who has since become my doctor, gave me a book by Jess Lair, titled I Ain’t Well, But I sure Am Better.  One of the author’s  healing principles was, “I must take out my garbage every day”.

 

The prophet Isaiah testified that Israel’s “sins can not be forgiven, because they are not willing to repent.”  They wouldn’t give up their garbage.  Every day, take

out the trash.  Confess it, forsake it, turn from it, leave it at the feet of the Savior.

 

Have you forgiven others who have hurt you?  This includes not “nursing” offenses against anyone. “Be ye kind,   one to another,   tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God, for Christ’s sake, hath forgiven you”  (Ephesians 4:32)

 

We all    desire    to be forgiven of our past offenses, don’t we?  And Jesus taught us to pray, “… forgive us our trespasses,   AS we forgive those who trespass against us.” I understand that as, in proportion to the forgiveness that we grant.

 

When I was in California in 2009, I became acquainted with a woman who,   as a child,   had been subjected to a traumatic indoctrination program at the hands of a religious organization, where, over a period of time, she says, unspeakable things were done to her, many of the scars of which she still struggles with every day, to this day.  I recently forwarded to her an encouraging email message that I had received from a good Christian brother. We’ll simply call her “Miss Grace”, as her reply   reveals God’s grace  is well-at-work   in her healing process:

 

“I acquired a new coping skill yesterday. I found out that if I have feelings of hate for someone who mistreats me, that I can just repent of my feelings  every time they come up,    and they are gone.  A huge jump ahead for me!  They may deserve my hate, or maybe not. That doesn’t matter. What matters is that the Lord can help me  with this passionate hatred,  thru His Spirit.”  She concludes, “All the suffering  I went through as a child     was just    “child’s play”, compared to the blessings I’ve received from the Lord’s hand”.   Miss Grace is moving on!

 

Are you sharing your faith?  If you are the only person who knows that you’re a Christian … you might not be one!  Mark 8:38 says, “If any man is ashamed of me and my words, in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His Father’s glory with the holy angels.”

 

We are the Heavenly Father’s royal priesthood. We are to be His representatives, His messengers. We’re to be Ezekiel’s “watchmen on the wall” – called to sound the judgment warning, and to pass on His invitation to the Kingdom.

 

So, we want to be sharing our faith     by giving of our means, of our time, of ourselves,  showing mercy and graciousness.  I recently read of a heart-warming example - a portrait of mercy.  Let’s visit a third grade classroom, and watch mercy and grace on full display…
A nine-year-old boy is seated at his desk, when suddenly he notices,     there is a puddle between his feet,   and the front of his pants is wet.  He feels his heart is going to stop because he can’t possibly imagine how this has happened. And he knows that when the boys find out, he won’t hear the end of it.  And when the girls find out, they’ll never speak to him again.

In desperation, he lowers his head and prays, “Dear God, this is an emergency! I need help now!”

He looks up from his prayer, and here comes the teacher with a look in her eyes that says his secret has been discovered.  But, as the teacher approaches his desk, his classmate, Susie, comes forward, carrying a goldfish bowl that is filled to the brim. Susie stumbles in front of the teacher and inexplicably dumps the entire goldfish-bowl of water into the boy’s lap, thoroughly drenching his trousers.

 

The boy pretends to be angry, but all the while is silently saying, “Thank you, Lord! Oh, thank you!”

Now, instead of being the object of ridicule, the boy is the subject of sympathy. The teacher rushes him downstairs and gives him a pair of gym shorts to put on while his pants dry, as the other children are sopping and mopping the floor around his desk.

 

The sympathy is wonderful, but the shame that would have been his      has been transferred to Susie.   She tries to help, but they tell her to go away.

Finally, at the end of the school day, as the children await the bus, the boy walks over to Susie and whispers to her, “You did that on purpose, didn’t you?”

Susie whispers back, “Uh-huh!  One time, I had an accident like that, too.”

We can do this! The Apostle Paul, in 2 Corinthians 5, says that we’ve been given the ministry of reconciliation – commissioned as God’s ambassadors of mercy and grace.  We are    our brother’s keeper.  Pray for God to reveal to you those opportunities to do good, to be gracious, to show mercy, and in doing so, we will reveal His character    to a judgment-bound world    that needs to know its Savior.

Next, are you bearing fruit?  A good tree will bear good fruit. The fruit, the evidence, will be on the tree!  So, are you     bearing fruit?  Those who become new creations in Christ will experience the “fruit of the Spirit”, a term that describes the visible characteristics of a true Christian life: “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance.” Galatians 5:22, 23.  But remember, even non-Christians can, at times,  reflect these traits.

 

Matt 7:16-20 “By their fruits ye shall know them.”  If it’s a genuinely good tree, the evidence will be plain to see. And, the reverse of that  is equally true!  You’ve heard it said: Simply going to church doesn’t make you a Christian any more than     going to the barn makes you a horse!  “By their fruits     ye shall know them.”

 

Do you spend regular time with God -  in prayer and study of His Word?  “Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine,” (I Timothy 4:13).  “Pray without ceasing” (I Thessalonians 5:17).  Our personal devotions, with the guidance of His Spirit, are the fuel  hat powers our relationship with God.

You can read  any book for information   or for entertainment,   but when you open God’s Book, you permit Him the opportunity to speak directly to your heart  and to advance the process of reproducing – of restoring His image in you.

 

John 17:17 says, “Sanctify them by Thy Truth; Thy Word is Truth.”  God has ordained the process whereby we are sanctified – made holy and Christ-like – by beholding Him in His Word, and yielding to the promptings of The Holy Spirit.  Invite His Spirit to lead you, to guide and direct you,   into all of God’s Truth.

 

Are you generous toward God and man?  “Honor the Lord with your possessions, and with the fruits of all your increase” (Proverbs 3:9).  “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.” (Proverbs 28:27).  What can we actually give that we have not received?  Loving God and loving one another, real Christians will choose to be cheerful givers.

 

Are you experiencing spiritual growth?  Looking back over the past year,    do you see progress in modeling the character of Jesus?

(Steps to Christ p. 57) “The character is revealed,  not by occasional good deeds and occasional misdeeds,   but by the tendency of the   habitual words and acts.”

 

One popular evangelist says, “If an airplane loses its forward motion, it will stall and fall to the ground.  The Christian life is, similarly, a dynamic experience.  We never just stand still.  Either we are pressing forward or we are losing altitude”.  We want to keep our spiritual life  straight on-course,  moving steadily   forward.

 

In Daniel 9, we find the criteria for Israel’s probation – they were allotted 70 prophetic weeks, or 490 literal years to put their spiritual house in order:

- Finish the transgression

- Make an end to sin

- Make reconciliation for iniquity – make things right with God and man

- Bring in everlasting righteousness

- Seal up the prophecy – to confirm, or ratify – to fulfill God’s plan

- Anoint the Most Holy – to receive the Messiah, welcome the Savior

 

If these were the conditions that God established for the probation of Israel-of-old,   would there be any reason    that God would require any less   of His Last-day Israel,   as we  put our house in order, in preparation for the Savior’s return?

 

In Revelation 3, verse 14, we find God’s counsel to the luke-warm, self-sufficient, spiritually-disillusioned, Laodicean church.  The first item that He counsels the Last Day Church to “buy from Me” is …“Gold tried in the fire” – which is faith the faith of Jesus.  Faith, Scripture teaches, comes from hearing the Word of God.  His sheep    need to be grazing,    feeding    on His Word, daily .

 

Our Heavenly Father also instructs the Last-day Church to purchase from Him

“Eye-salve” – which represents spiritual discernment – that we may see our true condition, and that we may correctly distinguish Truth from deception and error.

 

“Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts, and let him return unto the Lord,   and He will have mercy upon him.”  (Isaiah 55:7)

 

Now, if we pursue these key, Biblical principles, we’ll soon see fruit on the tree.

The Fruit of Genuine, Personal Revival– when these fruits appear …

When the church comes together     to pray sincerely    and fervently …

When separated brethren     forgive each other …

When strained marriages     are healed and restored …

When people give     sacrificially     to see the lost saved …

When God’s people exhibit    primitive holiness,   and hunger for the Word

then,   you have  revival!  There’s a quickening pulse   in the Body of Christ.

 

Our Heavenly Father has raised up His Church    a royal priesthood, a holy nation (there are OT and NT refs).  We are His “Israel”, His overcomers, His representatives.  Ancient Israel overcame thru   earnest repentance   and by relying on God’s saving power.  It will be no different    for His end-time Israel.

 

Romans 13:11“… knowing the time, that it is already the hour (the KJV says ‘that now is it is high time’) for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us    than when we (first) believed.

Verse 12:  The night is almost gone, and the day is near.    Therefore, let us lay aside     the deeds of darkness      and put on      the armor of light.” NASU

 

The Psalmist invites his Lord, “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me, and know my thoughts;  and see if there be any wicked way in me,  and lead me in the way everlasting (Psalm 139:23, 24)

 

We have such a kind, loving, gracious Heavenly Father, Who will not require anything of us     without providing the full means to achieve it.  E.G. White testifies, “All His biddings    are enablings”.  We have God’s assurance that He will guide us thru every test and trial, until we’re fully outfitted for His Kingdom.

 

I John 1:7 assures us, “If we walk in the light as He is in the light,     we have fellowship with one another,    and the blood of Jesus Christ, His Son,   cleanses us from all sin.”

 

No more “All dressed up with nowhere to go!” -     Blood-washed Robes!

 

So, there’s no need for anyone to be caught “all dressed up with nowhere to go”?   We’ve been given the white linen robe of Christ’s Righteousness.

And Revelation 7:14  says that the redeemed of the earth “… have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb”

 

We can be fully-prepared  for the Lord’s return, and have confidence  that we’ve made all   of the necessary preparations.

 

Cling  to the Savior!

 

Pray without ceasing for God’s sanctification … and contend  for the faith.

 

As the 3rd verse of Jude counsels: “I … appeal to you to join the struggle in defense of the faith, the faith which God has entrusted to His people once and for all.”   So, let us contend for the faith.  It’s been given to us … it’s yours and it’s mine.

 

Our Heavenly Father:  In the words of the one whom God referred to as “a man of My own heart”,  “May the words of our mouths and the meditations of our hearts be acceptable in Thy sight, O Lord, our Strength and our Redeemer.”Search us  and know our hearts; try us, and know our thoughts; and see if there be any wicked way in us, and lead us in the way everlasting .  For the sake of our blessed Savior, Jesus Christ, in Whose holy name we pray.

Amen!

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