While we await Jesus to return (oh blessed day!), we are encouraged in Scripture to occupy ourselves with His Kingdom work. Basically, this includes growing in holiness, spreading the gospel, and encouraging other believers.
Studying the Bible:
The Bible is to our spiritual health as food and drink are to our physical health. Without an adequate intake of “spiritual food”, we wither spiritually.
“Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35)
“All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness” (2 Timothy 3:16)
But he answered, “It is written, “‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’” (Matthew 4:4)
“For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions” (2 Timothy 4:3).
Personal Bible study is extremely important so we can grow in knowledge, understanding, and discernment. Personal Bible study is also essential to be able to teach others.
Praying Without Ceasing:
Prayer should be a part of our daily lives. Talk to God as you go about your day: rejoicing in thanksgiving, casting your cares upon Him, asking for help in temptations.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18)
Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has ascended into heaven, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold firmly to the faith we profess. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to empathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are—yet he did not sin. Let us then approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. (Hebrews 4:14-16)
Partaking in Communion:
We are to regularly remember Christ’s sacrifice for us, and how it points to our ultimate complete redemption.
“For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.” (1 Corinthians 11:26)
Preaching the Gospel:
Being reconciled to God is the main purpose of this earthly life. We are to spread the good news to those around us, so that they, too, may know Jesus! Each one of us is a unique witness exactly where and when God has placed us. We are ALL called to be Seed Planters!
“I charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by his appearing and his kingdom: preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.” (2 Timothy 4:1-2)
Once we have planted seeds, it’s up to God to do the rest – “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” (1 Corinthians 3:7)
Salvation is a one-time event, by grace, through faith in the finished work of Jesus at the cross of Calvary. Once we have been “born again”, we are sealed by the Holy Spirit – we can do nothing to “earn” or “maintain” our salvation. It is the free gift of God, that no one should boast!
“Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you.” (Matthew 28:19-20)
Being a disciple of Christ, and making disciples, isn’t just about an initial commitment to Jesus. The Christian walk is a day by day turning from sin and towards God. No, this isn’t a salvation issue, but it is an obedience issue as children of God!
Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?
“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
and chastises every son whom he receives.”
It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it. (Hebrews 12:1-11)
We need to constantly be picking out the rocks and pulling out the weeds in our own soil, so that we can bear fruit for His Kingdom. Likewise, we come alongside others to help them with their rocks and weeds. We are ALL called to be Sprout Waterers!
Getting Together with Other Believers:
The early church “devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer” (Acts 2:42). We are to follow that example and do the same things.
“Do not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encourage one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching.” (Hebrews 10:25)
This can include church attendance, but the early church had no specific building.
“Every day [the early church] continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts” (Acts 2:46)
Regularly meet with other believers specifically for the sake of growing in Christ. This meeting can be anywhere – home groups, coffee dates, online chats, Facebook. It’s better in person, but for some that’s difficult. The main point is to keep our focus on God and good works, and to encourage others to do the same. Choose your companions on this earthly journey wisely!
“Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20)
Confessing Sins to One Another:
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working.” (James 5:16)
We are to confess our sins to one another; particularly those that grip us tightly, the ones hat we fall into over and over again. Harboring secret sin allows it to bloom in our hearts – confessing it releases its’ power over us. Admitting our sinfulness to brothers and sisters in Christ also sets us up to be accountable to one another!
Forgiving One Another:
“And be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving one another, just as God also forgave you in Christ.” (Ephesians 4:32)
Jesus taught a lot about forgiveness. In His model of prayer, we are to ask God to forgive us as we forgive others who sin against us. The debt we owe God is higher than what anyone else can owe us, and He has wiped our debt clean (Matthew 18:21-25). Harboring unforgiveness in our hearts not only hurts us emotionally, but hurts our relationship with God. Sometimes absolutely terrible things happen in this world. I know it’s easier said than done, but release it to God.
“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” (Romans 12:19)
Showing Love to Others:
“May the Lord make you increase and abound in love for one another and for all, as we do for you, so that he may establish your hearts blameless in holiness before our God and Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all his saints.” (1 Thessalonians 3:12-13)
“By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Love can be a feeling, but showing love to others is a choice. 1 Corinthians 13 explains how to do this well:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” (v 4-7)
In all our interactions with others, let’s strive to show love.
Encouraging One Another:
“But encourage each other daily, while it is still called today, so that none of you is hardened by sin’s deception.” (Hebrews 3:13)
We need each other. As a part of a collective body, what WE say and do influences the other parts of the body! God has given each of us unique talents and personalities. Let’s be builders of the body of Christ, with whatever abilities God has gifted us.
“So if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it.” (1 Corinthians 12:26)
“And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works” (Hebrews 10:24).
Resisting the Devil:
Our enemy, the devil, prowls around looking for any opening he can take to pull us away from God. He tells us there are “little sins” that are “no big deal”. He tells us the Bible is “boring” and that it “doesn’t matter if we miss one day”. Whatever your personal weaknesses are, guard your heart against the clutches of the fallen ones. They are actively trying to get you to stumble and stray from the narrow path that leads to life.
“For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens.” (Ephesians 6:12)
Storing Treasures in Heaven:
Instead of accumulating worldly goods, we are to use our resources – talents, time, abilities, money, energy – to store our “treasures” in heaven.
“Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21)
There is no greater treasure than a human soul! Thus, storing treasures in heaven goes along with making disciples and preaching the Word. Anything we do for other believers is credited as having been done for Jesus Himself! What an honor!
“The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’ (Matthew 25:40)
Seeking His Kingdom:
“But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
God knows we need food, water, shelter, and clothing. We also need health and safety. Most other things are “wants”. If we spend our time, attention, and resources on God’s kingdom, He will ensure our needs are met. Money won’t literally fall into our laps, but He will provide a way for us to earn or be given what we need.
“If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (Colossians 3:1-2)
Abiding in Christ:
“And now, little children, abide in him, so that when he appears we may have confidence and not shrink from him in shame at his coming.” (1 John 2:28)
To be a Christ-follower is to walk with God. We try to please Him in all we say and do. We even try to please Him in our thoughts and the attitudes of our heart. In this way, we can be a fragrant aroma, pleasing to God.
“For the grace of God has appeared with salvation for all people, instructing us to deny godlessness and worldly lusts and to live in a sensible, righteous, and godly way in the present age, while we wait for the blessed hope and appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.” (Titus 2:11-13)
Above all, WATCH, and BE READY for the appearance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
Are you CERTAIN of your Salvation, beyond a shadow of a doubt? Do you KNOW that no matter when the rapture occurs, you will be counted worthy to escape? If not, please read How to Escape All These Things.
There are many resources available to help us “occupy”, but these are the ones I highly recommend:
- Bible – Reading plans can be found online, I like the ESV version myself
- The Pursuit of Holiness – Jerry Bridges
- The Practice of Godliness – Jerry Bridges
- A Life That Matters – Ron Hutchcraft