"…Ready to distribute, willing to communicate" (1 Tim. 6.18)
INTRO.: A song which points out that evangelism means that we must be ready to distribute and willing to communicate is "Ready" (#110 in Sacred Selections for the Church). The text appeared in the English Keswick Hymn-Book attributed to Asa C. Palmer (1845-1882). The identity of this author and the original source of the text are both unknown. The tune (Tillman) was composed by Charles (Charlie) Davis Tillman (1861-1943). The song first appeared in his 1903 book The Revival No. 4, where the author was identified with the initials S. E. L. Later James C. Moore explained that S. E. L., a term which he had adopted from Tillman, simply stood for "selected." In other words, the text was anonymous. In the original, there were five stanzas, but Tillman used one of them for the refrain.
Among hymnbooks published by members of the Lord’s church during the twentieth century for use in churches of Christ, the song appeared in the 1948 Christian Hymns No. 2 and the 1966 Christian Hymns No. 3 both edited by L. O. Sanderson (who made some slight alterations in the text). Today it may be found in the 1971 Songs of the Church and the 1990 Songs of the Church 21st C. Ed. both edited by Alton H. Howard; the 1983 edition of the 1978 (Church) Gospel Songs and Hymns) edited by V. E. Howard; and the 1992 Praise for the Lord edited by John P. Wiegand; in addition to Sacred Selections and the 2007 Sacred Songs of the Church edited by William D. Jeffcoat.
The song admonishes us to be ready to serve the Lord in whatever capacity that we can.
I. Stanza 1 tells us to be ready to suffer
"Ready to suffer grief or pain, Ready to stand the test;
Ready to stay at home and send Others, if He sees best."
A. Christians in general and those who are trying to teach others especially must be ready to endure grief, pain, and hardship: 2 Tim. 2.3
B. These hardships are tests or trials which can produce patience: Jas. 2.2-3
C. While those who teach the gospel should be ready to go, sometimes patience suggests that it may be necessary to stay at home and send others, as the Jerusalem church did with Barnabas: Acts 11.22
II. Stanza 2 tells us to be ready to go
"Ready to go, ready to bear, Ready to watch and pray;
(Sanderson changed it to "prepared to bear")
Ready to stand aside and give, Till He shall clear the way."
A. If we do have the ability and opportunity, then we should be ready to go: Mk. 16.15
B. In our going or staying, we should always be ready to watch and pray: Matt. 26.41
C. However, whatever we do should not be done for our glory, but we should be ready to stand aside and let others receive the glory, as did John the Baptist: Jn. 3.27-30
III. Stanza 3 tells us to be ready to speak
"Ready to speak, ready to think, Ready with heart and brain;
Ready to stand where He sees fit, Ready to bear the strain."
A. Christians need to use their hearts and brains to think and be ready to speak: 1 Pet. 3.15
B. They must also be ready to stand: Eph. 6.11-13
C. And they must be ready to bear whatever burdens come their way: Gal. 6.5
IV. Stanza 4 tells us to be ready to warn
"Ready to speak, ready to warn, Ready o’er souls to yearn;
Ready in life, ready in death, Ready for His return."
(Sanderson changed it to "alert to warn," "Ready His way to learn," and "no fear of death")
A. One reason that we need to be ready to speak is to warn: Acts 20.31
B. The motivating factor for this being ready to warn is a yearning over souls, as did Paul: Rom. 10.1-3
C. But most importantly, in everything that we do, we need to be ready in both life and death for Christ’s return: Phil. 1.20, 3.20-21
CONCL.: The chorus continues to remind us of the need to be ready in the Lord’s service.
"Ready to go (or), ready to stay, Ready my place to fill;
Ready for service, lowly or great, Ready to do His will."
The original stanza used for the chorus read:
"Ready to go, ready to wait, Ready a gap to fill;
Ready for service, small or great, Ready to do His will."
There is an old joke about the song leader who had a feud with the preacher and would often use as the song right before the sermon, "Ready to suffer." All kidding aside, because we live in a world of people lost because of sin and we never know when opportunities will be presented to share the gospel message, we should always be "Ready."