Living in the Light of Hope: 4 Ways to Prepare for Christ’s Return (Part 2)
By: Alyssa Mendez
How should we be spending the precious gift of time and the life we have been blessed with as we wait for Christ to return or call us home? We turn to Phillipians 1:9-10, which reveals four key ways we can make the most of the here and now while bringing glory to God.
Last week on the CCA Blog, we talked about heaven and how we as Christians should be genuinely looking forward to making our home there with Jesus at any given moment. Until then, the Lord has us here on Earth where we should be doing His work and living a life that is honoring to Him and in accordance with His will.
So what does that look like practically speaking? How should we be spending the precious gift of time and the life we have been blessed with as we wait for Christ to return (or call us home)?
Before we dive into answering those questions, we need to first establish that NO ONE knows the day or hour Jesus will be coming back to Earth to rapture His people (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). However, in Mark 13, Jesus tells us that there are signs we can look out for, and He also commands us to remain vigilant for His return. Reading these verses, I can’t help but start singing the classic Jesus jam People Get Ready by Crystal Lewis. Am I dating myself? Probably . . .
As we aim to be on guard for the events that are to come, we can use Phillipians 1:9-10 (NLT) as our guiding verse to help us make the most of the here and now while bringing glory to God in the process; this verse is chalk full of great, practical advice!
“I pray that your love will overflow more and more, and that you will keep on growing in knowledge and understanding. For I want you to understand what really matters, so that you may live pure and blameless lives until the day of Christ’s return.”
SERVE and love on others sincerely, in word and deed | “that your love will overflow more and more”
Jesus tells us that the most important thing after loving God with all of our being is to love our neighbor (Mark 12:30-31). When we show others love — whether they are close to us or complete strangers — we are ultimately reflecting the deep love God has for each and every person on this planet. Passages like 1 John 4 and 1 Corinthians 13 detail what Christ-like love should look like. We will inevitably fall short when it comes to expressing this love, because we are imperfect humans, but these should be the #goals we strive for every day.
When we show others love — whether they are close to us or complete strangers — we are ultimately reflecting the deep love God has for each and every person on this planet.
Another way we can love others well, as we are instructed to do, is by discovering each other’s primary love languages. The 5 Love Languages are based off of the best-selling book by Christian author Dr. Gary Chapman and is based on the premise that each person has their preferred way to receive and give love — in the form of quality time, gifts, words of affirmation, acts of service, and physical touch. Once we are able to identify what those languages are for the people in our lives — friends, family, spouses, children, coworkers, etc. — we can be more mindful about expressing love in a manner that will be best received by them. Talk about emotional efficiency, am I right? You can take the Love Languages quiz online by clicking here!
STUDY and pursue your craft with excellence | “keep on growing in knowledge and understanding”
It could be so easy for us to use Jesus’ return as an excuse to not work hard or continue learning. However, He wants us to do what He has called us to do in an excellent manner because that will point back to His excellent nature. For that reason, pursuing excellence is one of our core values here at CCA that we emphasize to our students and staff. What we do and how we do it, especially during challenging seasons like the one we are currently facing, matters to Jesus! (Colossians 3:23-24)
What we do and how we do it, especially during challenging seasons like the one we are currently facing, matters to Jesus!
Another verse that comes to mind when I think of growing in knowledge and understanding is Proverbs 9:10, which states: “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.” This verse challenges me to look beyond earthly wisdom and knowledge, which is what first comes to mind when I hear these terms. We should first and foremost be pursuing a greater understanding of who Jesus is; the more we know about Him, His heart, and His will, the more overall understanding we will have.
We should first and foremost be pursuing a greater understanding of who Jesus is
Wisdom is one of those words that’s easy to recognize when you experience it but tough to articulate with words. Perhaps the best definition I’ve encountered was in a spiritual gifts assessment I did through Calvary Women’s LEAD Course, which I highly recommend for all you ladies out there! The assessment described wisdom as “the intimate understanding of God’s Word and His commandments, which results in holy and upright living” and “speaking to the life of an individual or to a specific situation with a righteous perspective”. Therefore, recognizing and living in continual reverence of the Lord’s holiness and using that as our frame of reference for everything we do and say is one way we can grow in wisdom right now. James 1:5 also tells us that we can pray and ask God for it!
SEEK the right priorities | “understand what really matters”
How we choose to spend our time reveals what we value and what our priorities are. Sometimes our priorities are not what they should be, and we find ourselves spending time on activities that are unhealthy and can cause spiritual, emotional, and social stagnation. I’m not here to condemn you for watching some Netflix or playing video games after a long day to relax. Now, if those things are being carried out for excessive periods of time and are being prioritized over spending quality time with the Lord and loving others in the way we discussed in point #1, then I would caution you to consider setting some boundaries that will help you focus on the things and people who are truly deserving of your time and attention.
How we choose to spend our time reveals what we value and what our priorities are.
In Ephesians 5:16, we are told to “make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.” If this is something you’re currently not doing or struggling to do, ask the Lord to reveal these opportunities to you so you can become better prepared for His return. You can also ask the people closest to you for feedback, as we sometimes have blind spots that prevent us from seeing our personal areas of weakness. As Christ followers, we can live a purposeful and fulfilling life when we continually trust in Him, seek His presence, and allow Him to use us as vessels for His glory. At the end of the day, that’s what should matter most.
As Christ followers, we can live a purposeful and fulfilling life when we continually trust in Him, seek His presence, and allow Him to use us as vessels for His glory.
SEPERATE yourself from sin and pursue holiness instead | “live pure and blameless lives”
1 Peter 1:15-16 tells us that the Lord calls His people to be holy like He is holy. To be holy means to be “set apart”. Our actions and words should make us stand out and reflect the fruit of the Spirit — love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23). Although we are not to “conform to the behavior and customs of this world” (Romans 12:2), I believe our intentions and heart behind doing what’s right in the sight of the Lord is just as important.
A key part of my testimony has involved striving for perfection and obeying rules just for the sake of maintaining my reputation and track record, gaining the approval of others (especially superiors), and fearing their disappointment. My heart to live a pure and blameless life wasn’t rooted in genuine appreciation of God’s goodness and a true desire to draw more people to Him, but rather in self-righteousness, pride, and legalism. And as a result, my own willpower eventually failed me on multiple occasions. But thank Jesus for His grace, mercy, and the blessing of community that can help keep us accountable until the day of His return!
Our hope draws near, friends. Ready or not, here He comes!
As we purpose ourselves to serve, study, seek, and seperate, we can also keep other believers accountable by encouraging them to redeem the time (Ephesians 5:16) with actions that will not only bless our Father’s heart, but also prepare our hearts for His triumphant return. Our hope draws near, friends. Ready or not, here He comes!
Alyssa Mendez joined the CCA family this year and serves as the Content Specialist on the Marketing and Communications team. She is a UF grad, wife to a chef, and proud dog mom to one of this year’s CCA Auction puppies named Sadie. Alyssa is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Leadership at Nova Southeastern University and will be graduating from the program this June.
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