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How to ‘stay alert’ until Christ returns

Jesus The Video Bible
Jesus is depicted in a graphic illustration from The Video Bible. |

According to the Olivet Discourse (Mattew 24-25; Mark 13; Luke 21), Jesus prophesied that the world would grow darker before returning for His Bride, the Church.

We see the escalation of deception and confusion consuming the world and the ensuing threats from adversarial countries.

Jesus warned, “Nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom” (Matt. 24:7). Jesus predicted that His followers would experience intense persecutions and even death for some (Matt. 24:9). Peter prompted his readers that severe persecution would come and that in the “last days scoffers will come, mocking the truth and following their own desires” (2 Peter 3:3).

Paul vigorously wrote that there “will be terrible times in the last days” (2 Timothy 3:1), and in the “last times some will turn away from the true faith” and that they would even “follow deceptive spirits and teachings that come from demons” (1 Tim. 4:1).

Thus, it should not surprise us when we see things progressively get darker and more unsettling in our culture.

But although things may seem grim, it doesn’t mean Christians should have a “gloom and doom” outlook on life or ignore the times we live in today.

Quite the reverse.

The Bible explicitly tells us to “be on guard and stay alert” (Mk. 13:33) until Christ returns. That doesn’t sound like someone who is paranoid or shirking their responsibility.

In Matthew 25:14-30, Jesus shares a parable of a master giving a portion of his talents to illustrate the significance of working and waiting for his return. Upon his return, the master found that two of his servants brought profitability to his investment. Unfortunately, the other servant had buried his talent, producing nothing (25:24-25). The master responded, saying, “You wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and gather where I have not scattered seed” (25:26)?

The understanding of the parable is abundantly clear. Jesus has given you specific gifts and talents to invest in for a greater return. You are not to dilly dally or take what the Lord has given you for your selfish gain. You are called to be “salt and light” in the culture and take every opportunity to reinvest what God has given you for His glory and honor.

But perhaps your perspective on life is a bit jaded. Maybe you’re finding it hard to have a “work hard” and “stay ready” mentality as you live day-by-day.

Whatever is tripping you up or causing you to be ineffective in your faith, here are three self-reflective questions to reignite a preparedness in your spirit to live your Christian life with great anticipation.

Do you yearn to be holy like God?

God has not called you to conform to the world but be transformed by His perfect will for your life (Romans 12:2). And what is God’s will for your life? To be holy as He is holy (see 1 Thessalonians 4:3; 1 Peter 1:15-16).

What about you? Are you too wrapped up in the comforts of life that you hardly yearn for the holiness of God?

In his classic book, Pursuit of Holiness, Jerry Bridges expressed this sensible truth: “As we become soft and lazy in our bodies, we tend to become soft and lazy spiritually.”

No doubt, upon reflection, you will uncover lazy streaks in your life, lots of excuses that you’ve made for all the selfish reasons, and “respectable” sins that you’ve justified but now might make you cringe.

But don’t let the weight of your sin drag you down. John wrote: “My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world” (1 John. 2:1-2).

The more diligent you are in confessing sin and pursuing holiness, the more your life will be used for God.

How mature is your faith?

A dear friend once told me, “Salvation is the same for everybody, but Christian growth is different for everybody.”

That is so true.

So, allow me to ask you, how much time do you devote to reading, studying and memorizing Scripture?

The Bible is like any other subject. You won’t know much about it if you don’t spend time learning from it.

To have a mature faith, you need to be in the Word of God.

Being in the Word of God daily will sharpen your faith and give you the wisdom needed to make wise choices. The Bible promises you that if you grow in your faith, you will not be “ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Pet. 1:8).

Paul gave this charge to Timothy, and the same applies to you and me: “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth” (2 Tim. 2:15).

Are you living a faithful life?

Every Christian is to walk in faithful obedience to God and fulfill the Great Commission (Mk. 16:15).

A great example of someone in the Bible who lived a faithful life is Daniel. God called Daniel to resist a hostile environment in Babylon and lead a charge against its false idols and worship.

Daniel didn’t refuse the call of God just because he felt out of place or outnumbered. The Bible says that Daniel “resolved not to defile himself” (Dan. 1:8) but remained faithful to God’s law.

Daniel’s bold allegiance to God demonstrates an unrelenting desire not to compromise and give in to worldly pressure. His God-honoring response amid extreme pressure and hostility is the sort of example for you to emulate in the world today.

Those who desire to live faithful lives must be willing to give over their lives for the sake of the Gospel.

Is that something you’re willing to do?

Remember, my friend, when you hit your limits and come to your wit's end, it is God who is faithful and will love you no matter what. 

So, as you pursue holiness, maturity, and faithfulness, ask the Holy Spirit to fill your life with more love, passion, conviction and hunger for Him.

The Holy Spirit will do just that if you ask in simple faith.

Jason Jimenez is president of STAND STRONG Ministries, a faculty member at Summit Ministries, and the author of Challenging Conversations: A Practical Guide to Discuss Controversial Topics in the Church. For more info, check out www.standstrongministries.org.

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