Laying face down, the floor stained with tears after hours of prayer and travail, Pastor Howard slowly stood to his knees. “Yes Lord,” was all he could say. He picked up his Bible and headed toward the sanctuary. His message today was not “googled” off the Internet. No “special goody” would be served. No, this word was a word in season. The sanctuary was unusually crowded, but the pastor hardly noticed. With his thoughts very serious and intense, a powerful boldness arose within him.
“Take me past the outer courts, into your holy place, past the brazen altar, Lord, I want to see your face,” the people sang.
Pastor Howard could barely contain the words within himself. He moved forward toward the podium as the song came to its end. Laying his Bible down on the podium he gazed out at the crowd, “People, we are going to skip announcements if you don’t mind. Choir, you are dismissed. Never in all my years of ministry have I ever been so stirred to deliver a message. I can truly relate to the Prophet Jeremiah—what he said about God’s Word. It’s like a fire shut-up in my bones. Father in the name of Jesus, I ask for your help. Let not a word come out of my mouth that is not coming by your Holy Spirit. Let all who have ears to hear, hear. And all who have eyes to see—see. Let no life leave here without knowing they have heard from you. Oh Lord, give me clarity. I pray for your glory, in Jesus’ name, Amen. The title of this message is simply, ‘ARE YOU READY?’”
He opened his Bible to 1 Corinthians 15 and began to read:
“Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.”
The pastor thundered with great passion. His heart’s cry was that no one in the building would be found wanting when that moment in time came to pass. He preached as if this would be his last message. A flame of emotions burned in his soul knowing the terror of the Lord. He begged and pleaded with all who would hear.
“Today is the day of salvation and now is the appointed time. Many of you might be tempted to scoff at this message saying, ‘Oh sure, we have heard Jesus is coming many times and it has been 2000 years and yet the world continues.’ Peter said this, ‘Beloved, I now write to you this second epistle (in both of which I stir up your pure minds by way of reminder),that you may be mindful of the words which were spoken before by the holy prophets, and of the commandment of us, the apostles of the Lord and Savior, knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days, walking according to their own lusts, and saying, ‘Where is the promise of His coming?’
I tell you the truth. Jesus will descend with a shout and call his church home. If you neglect such a great salvation today, if you harden your heart, if you mock or turn a deaf ear, you will find yourself an enemy of God heading for a time of his wrath that is to come. If you happen to die in your sins, you most certainly are appointed to stand to face the Lord at the Great White Throne Judgment with the condemnation of an eternity in a lake of fire.
You might think that this is too much condemning preacher but that’s why I’m standing here, preaching with everything in me. Hear me: This is a final call to someone here today. I feel it in my spirit. Jesus came not into this world to condemn, but he came to save!”
The pastor continued spelling out for the crowd what the Bible says will happen during the seven years of the Tribulation.
“In closing, I want no head bowed and no eyes closed, for Jesus said this: ‘If you will confess me before men, I will confess you to the Father. But if you deny me before men, I will deny you to the Father.’
If you want to KNOW that you ARE READY and that your sins have been forgiven, and you are ready to make a public declaration of your faith and devotion to Jesus Christ, I want you to get out of your seat and run up to these altars. Fall on your knees and say this very simple prayer, ‘SAVE ME JESUS’”
Inside that great sanctuary, a holy fear of God had fallen. When the pastor’s call went out, hundreds got out of their seats and ran to the altars. With tears flowing, people believed and repented.
Just a few weeks later the pastor walked past some new Bible-study classrooms in session. A joy sprang up in his soul seeing the rooms completely filled with new eager students. That night the pastor and those new converts heard the shout, “COME UP HERE!”
They were ready!
Footnote: This is the second of a series of short stories from my, Sounding the Alarm Preludes to the Rapture collection. Please feel free to download the stories as formatted and use them as witnessing material.