“Prepare to meet thy God” (Amos 4:12)
How many of us are aimlessly travelling through life just hoping to reach Heaven by the skin of our teeth? All journeys need careful preparation if we are to reach our destination, so what are we doing about eternity? After accepting Christ as Saviour there can be no greater event on our future calendar than meeting Him face to face. Do we look forward to this with joy or foreboding? Like it or not, the day has been set for us to meet our God. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27) … “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10). It takes a lifetime to get to Heaven, no one arrives there accidentally, instead it is prepared by Christ for a prepared people.
A solemn warning to Israel
Under Jeroboam II (793-753 BC) the northern tribes of Israel enjoyed great prosperity and expansion. They were truly living a blessed existence, but soon this started to fade as they turned their hearts away from obeying the Lord. It did not take long for them to forget about God altogether and become worse than the heathen nations around them. They probably thought that they were doing enough by attending the worship services in the Temple, but it was all show and no substance. Whatever the priests preached fell on deaf ears, for the word of God had no influence upon them. All they had was superficial religion.
God was fully justified for being angry with these people. He tried to get their attention through natural disasters, but to no avail (Amos 4:6-11). Since He is a God of mercy and compassion, He sent the prophet Amos to call them to repentance. He told them that they had to prepare themselves to meet God. Sadly they refused to listen, and so in 721 BC God punished them by allowing the Assyrians to overcome the land.
A solemn warning to the church
Though this warning was issued to a people living a long time ago, its message applies just as much today as it did back then. Christians in our generation think they have just enough religion to make it to Heaven, our churches have become social clubs, and the word of God is either ignored or explained away. Let us remember that what happened to Israel all those centuries ago can happen again to us if we ignore the Lord’s voice. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4). How can we think that God will not hold us accountable for not preparing ourselves to meet Him? For instance, if we opened Matthew 25 we would find three warnings about the need to be ready.  The parable of the ten virgins (:1-13),  The parable the talents (:14-30), and  The coming judgement (:31-46). Have we conveniently forgotten that Jesus said, “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 24:44)? The apostle Paul wrote in Titus 2:12-13 that God is “Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.” Therefore “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3)?
In spite of these solemn warnings the majority of Christians live as though they have never known Christ. They do not bother to obey the word of God. They listen to preachers who tell them that once they have said a sinner’s prayer they are saved for eternity. They hate those who call them away from their godless living to follow holiness and righteousness. Do you not think that Amos’ message applies here? Whilst it is easier to point the finger at the obvious culprits, what about our own lives? Are we prepared to meet the Lord? If we want to be ready, then we we must do it God’s way. “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Peter 1:3-4).
If we truly desire to be prepared to meet God, then here are some of the absolute essentials we must have completed and be willing to do:- There has to be faith toward God in our hearts. “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6). We must repent of all known sin for God “commandeth all men every where to repent” (Acts 17:30). We must be willing to tell others about Christ. “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world” (Matthew 28:19-20). Our lives must be dedicated to faithful service toward God. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God” (Romans 12:1-2).
We can have no greater aim in life than to serve Christ every moment of every day until the time He calls us or comes again. We have to be honest with ourselves here. Are we ready to meet God? If not, we can start right now. Death is coming ready or not. Christ is coming ready or not. It is far better to be ready! “Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready” (Revelation 19:7).