This is part 14 in a 14 part series entitled Don’t Panic – Survival Guide to the Apocalypse. Full PDF Download available free here: Don’t Panic – Survival Guide
Occupy Until He Comes
Perhaps you have read through this book. You have chosen to believe what God says about what is happening around you, and you have chosen to follow Him. What next?
He said therefore, A certain nobleman went into a far country to receive for himself a kingdom, and to return. And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come. (Luke 19:12-13)
Jesus is coming back for you. Your story does not end here, and it does not end with your death! While you await Jesus to return (oh blessed day!), you are encouraged in Scripture to occupy yourself with Kingdom work. Basically, this includes growing in holiness, spreading the gospel, and encouraging others to grow in the faith.
Talk To God. This can seem awkward at first, but talk to Him as you would to a best friend. Nothing fancy, no complicated words or phrases, just talk to Him. Tell Him how you feel, what you’re doing, what questions you have, what you need. God’s not a magic genie – he doesn’t give us things for our selfish purposes. He wants you to see yourself in His bigger picture. He wants you to grow in holiness, to become more like Him. If you ask God to help you know Him better, to help you understand His word and how He wants you to live, he always answers those prayers!
Prayer should be a part of your daily life. 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)
Read The Bible. The Bible is more precious than gold – find one and keep it safe! Try hard to read it every day. A suggestion might be to start in the book of John, then Romans, and then read the rest of the New Testament. The prophetic sections that pertain to the time in which you are living include Revelation, Daniel, Matthew chapter 24-25, Zechariah, and portions of other books. Each time you read, ask God to help you understand.
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). Personal Bible study is extremely important so we can grow in knowledge, understanding, and discernment. “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 also essential to be able to teach others.
Apart from the Bible, there are books and articles and sermons online you can learn from. I’m not sure what access you will have though – it’s entirely possible that technology and even electricity will be disrupted. Print articles out if possible.
Obey God. Ask Him to help you. As you read the Bible, He will teach you what He wants you to do. Deliberately choose to stop doing things He doesn’t like and commands against. Deliberately choose to allow Him to help you be more like Him – patient, kind, forgiving, joyful, serving, gentle, self-controlled, honest. You will still struggle with doing what you don’t want to do, and not doing what you want to do. When you sin, ask God to forgive you, then don’t dwell on it. Get right back up and keep on going. Jesus wants you to keep your eyes on HIM, not on yourself (neither your failures nor your successes!), and not on the fearful things occurring around you.
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)
Be Baptized in the Name of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. This can be done in any body of water and can be performed by any true follower of Jesus Christ. It should be done by full immersion (under the water) if possible. Baptism isn’t necessary for salvation, but it is an important act of faith and obedience. If you have an opportunity to do so, you should take it. Through baptism, you symbolize your spiritual death and resurrection, and publicly declare your decision to follow Christ.
Find Other Christians. Our friends can influence our attitudes and behaviors. Find other people who are willing to forsake all for the Gospel of Jesus Christ. You will need the support of other believers, and they will need you. Regularly meet with other believers specifically for the sake of growing in Christ. This meeting can be anywhere – I am not sure if you will have internet access, if you will be able to get together in groups, or if you will have to hide. The main point is to keep our focus on God and good works, and to encourage others to do the same. “Walk with the wise and become wise” (Proverbs 13:20). Choose your companions on this earthly journey wisely! This truly will be a time that hearkens back to the days of the “Acts 2” church. The book of Acts in the Bible can tell you about the early days of the first believers.
They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
Teach Others. As a follower of Christ, your eyes are opened and you can see! Tell others of the spiritual battle that is going on and help deliver them from deception. In this way you will literally pull them out of the flames of eternal fire! Encourage others in the faith!
Being reconciled to God is the main purpose of this earthly life. We are to spread the good news to those around us! 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)
“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) 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. 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!
Never stop planting, watering, and praying!
Observe Communion. We are to regularly remember Christ’s sacrifice for us, and how it points to our ultimate 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)
Confess Sins. “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 so that we can be healed. Harboring secret sin allows it to bloom in our hearts – confessing it releases its’ power over us.
Forgive. “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. He has stated “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)
Show Love. “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) 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.
Encourage 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).
Store 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! So this goes along with making disciples and preaching the Word. As well, anything we do for other believers we do as for Jesus Himself. “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 ESV) 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 ESV)
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 ESV) 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 ESV)
, pray specifically. God’s Spirit works where the gospel of Jesus is being preached and where people are desperately seeking Him. He WANTS to help you. Pray for healing, protection, and deliverance. With that said, trials of faith will most certainly be on your path. Trust God in both the little and the big things in life. Put your faith in Him.
Anyone who is destined for prison will be taken to prison. Anyone destined to die by the sword will die by the sword. This means that God’s holy people must endure persecution patiently and remain faithful. (Revelation 13:10)
What if I Still Struggle With Sin?
Of course you will still struggle with sin. Even the godliest people struggle with sin – doing what we don’t want to do, or not doing what we want to do (Romans 7:15-20). However, our hearts and minds are freed from being enslaved to it. If we call for help, God will provide a way out – even if it’s hard. The trick is identifying temptation early, and halting it before we are sucked into full blown sin.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it. (1 Corinthians 10:13)
You can be sure you will be tempted – often!
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. (1 Peter 5:8)
Predators look for weakness. Our enemy looks for ANY opening he can find to pull us away from God. He tells us there are “little sins” that are “no big deal”. He tempts us, saying “surely this one time won’t make a difference”. And if we fall, he hisses in our ears that we are guilty, shameful. We are “too bad” for God to save. He tells us the Bible is “boring” and that it “doesn’t matter if we miss one day”. He says God doesn’t care and doesn’t answer. My friend, what makes you question your faith? What makes you turn away from Jesus and towards the world? You can be sure that the enemy will sink his teeth into those specific weaknesses. Have you already been targeted? Think again if you have put something down to “chance”, “bad luck”, or “accidents”.
For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. (Ephesians 6:12)
Coming to Christ, and abiding in Christ, puts a huge spiritual target on your back. God won’t allow us to be tempted beyond what we can bear, but He certainly allows us to be tempted. While no weapon formed against us will succeed, weapons will most certainly be formed against us (Isaiah 54:17)!
Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. (James 4:7)
While you will still do wrong things, you should have a desire to get back on track. If you don’t, examine your heart as to why. Are you desiring to hold back a part of your life from God? Have you surrendered to Jesus fully, or only partly? Is there anything in your life that is worth more to you than God? Remember that Jesus frequently turned half-hearted followers away and finds lukewarmness repulsive (John 6:53-66, Revelation 3:16). That is incredibly sobering! If you can continue in habitual sin without feeling remorse and guilt then you should be very concerned and take up the matter before God.
When the Holy Spirit convicts you of sin, it is your job to listen to Him and follow His lead. Apologize to God with a sincere heart, and determine to practice taking sinful thoughts captive before they bloom into action.
Who can discern his errors?
Declare me innocent from hidden faults.
Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins;
let them not have dominion over me!
Then I shall be blameless,
and innocent of great transgression.
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O Lord, my rock and my redeemer.
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)
Maintaining a pure heart before God will cause you to progress in holiness (sanctification), and become more like Jesus. It will also ripen His fruit in your life (love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control – Galatians 5:22-23).
Above all, WATCH, and BE READY for the appearance of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!