One morning, when I was out walking our dog Benji, I met some neighbors. In the course of our conversation, they told me that the husband had just competed in an ironman contest in Tempe, Arizona. An iron man contest is made up of three parts. Firstly, a 2.4 mile swim, then a 112 mile bike ride and finally you run a marathon. All told, it took over 15 hours to complete. I felt tired just hearing about such a feat. I then asked him the question, ‘How did you prepare?’ After all, you don’t get up one morning and say, ‘I am going to do the iron man contest today?’ You obviously would fail. You have to prepare, hence the question, ‘How did you prepare?’He told me how over a long period of time he had trained for the event. He swam in Lake Minnetonka, he ran and he cycled on the nature trails around here in beautiful Minnesota.
It caused me to think about ‘Preparation.’ All the preparation that was necessary for that one special day. It reminded me of a saying attributed to the famous coach of the Alabama Football Team Bear Bryant, ‘It’s not the will to win but the will to prepare to win that makes the difference.’ That’s quite an insightful thought. Preparation is the key. Remember this, even God prepares.
GOD PREPARED FOR THE COMING OF HIS SON
At this Christmas time, it is fascinating to consider how God prepared for the coming of His son, in the events taking place in the world at that time. Galatians 4:4 states, ‘But when the fulness of the time had come, God sent forth His son, born of a woman, born under the law.’
Think of that phrase ‘the fulness of time.’ In other words, when the time was right (i.e. Jesus came at just the right time, when the world was prepared for His coming). Indeed three nations were part of all that :
- Greece – Following on from the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Greek language became the international language of that day, just like English is in modern times. So, when Paul and the early Christian missionaries went out, they didn’t have to learn a new language everywhere they went. Consequently, it made the spread of the Gospel much easier. In turn,the Scriptures were written in the Greek language that everyone knew.
- Roman Empire – Following after Greece, Rome rose up and became the dominant power with the spread of the Roman Empire. This in turn produced a relative peaceful world that is referred to as the Pax Romana. Also the Romans built roads. All this made it easier to move around the world of that day and extend the kingdom news.
- Jews – The Jewish nation had been the custodian of the prophetic promises concerning the coming of the Messiah, such as He would be born in Bethlehem and eventually die on the cross as the suffering servant. A heritage rooted in by gone centuries as God’s chosen people.
So in the fulness of time, when the time was right, He came at just the right time. God had prepared the world for His coming.
PREPARING FOR HIS RETURN
Jesus is coming again and it may be sooner than we think. God is once again preparing for His return, as He did when Jesus first came. He is the sovereign Lord and he will bring events and nations together to fulfill what the Word of God has prophesied. So, let us be prepared for His return. “And the Spirit and the Bride say ‘come.'” Revelation 22:17 ” “He who testifies to these things, says, ‘Surely, I am coming quickly.’ Amen. Even so, Come Lord Jesus.'” Revelation 22:20
I will always remember the night Bob Mumford preached at the great Kansas City Conference in the summer of 1977 and he punctuated his message with the triumphal declaration ‘We win! We Win!’ The conference went into a sustained period of shouting, praising God for well over ten minutes. The electronic scoreboard lit up with the message ‘Jesus is Lord.’ That is the message church, in the midst of a world that is getting increasingly dark, both morally and spiritually, the good news is that He is coming back for His bride.’ ‘We Win!’
Most of us are impatient and want to see all that God has promised us, both in His word and by His Spirit, happen right now. But we have to wait for God’s time, the right time. As my wife Dorothy discovered years ago when she was waiting on finances to join me at the Olympic Games Outreach with YWAM in Munich, Germany, ‘Delay is not denial, only a postponement, for the best to become possible.’ If God makes a promise, then we must wait in faith and patience for Him to make it good. Meanwhile, let us ‘prepare to win!’