1. We can prepare by recognizing Christ’s passion and patience.
2. We can prepare by reflecting Christ’s servanthood.
3. We can prepare by revering Christ’s honor and glory.
4. We can prepare by remembering Christ’s promises of heaven.
When one young man returned from the war in Afghanistan, his parents threw a party like nothing you have ever seen. Probably the most memorable aspect of the celebration was the soldier’s father. Richard was an engineer who checked all the boxes. He was far more likely to be seen than heard, and he would gladly avoid both if possible. But not this day. Richard was beyond exuberant as he recounted his son’s heroism that had “brought every one of his men home safely.” He showcased hand-crafted posters of his son’s regiment, naming each soldier as he went along. Men and women who had spent long months praying for the soldier’s safe return raised their hands and voices in glad praise. It was a glorious day.
Now consider this: One day, Jesus Christ will return to earth as the Lord of Heaven’s Armies, and He will claim the most decisive victory this world has ever seen. All that is wrong will be made right. Satan will lose his grip on human affairs, and perfect peace will be restored. Not one of God’s people will be lost. When Christ returns, God and His angels will celebrate all the way from heaven to earth. Matthew 16:27 tells us, “The Son of Man will come in the glory of His Father with His angels, and then He will reward each according to his works.”
Revelation 22:12 records a similar promise: “Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.” Both passages connect the Lord’s return with rewards for our earthly efforts. In other words, we have work to do! We may not know the day or the hour of His return, but we can be ready. Let’s look at four ways we can begin preparing for Christ’s Second Coming today.
We Can Prepare by Recognizing Christ’s Passion and Patience
For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.
Most people today do not fully understand the kind of person Jesus was. The idea of Him as “lowly, meek, and mild” falls short of capturing His strength, passion, commitment, and courage. In Matthew 16, He asked His disciples who people believed Him to be. They replied, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets” (verse 14). These men are three of the fieriest, courageous, rugged prophets in the Bible. If Jesus had been as passive as He is often portrayed, He never would have been mistaken for such individuals.
A passage in John 2 provides a glimpse of Jesus’ zeal. The city of Jerusalem was packed with Jews who were preparing for the Passover Feast. Each family was required to sacrifice a lamb on the day of the Passover and eat it that evening, and the temple priests were using the pilgrimage for their advantage—selling sacrificial animals at inflated prices. As Jesus watched His Father’s representatives exploit others, He was filled with righteous indignation that we do not find elsewhere in Scripture (verses 15-16).
Jesus did not hesitate to act. With a whip, He drove the animals and sellers and moneychangers out of the temple court, turning over their tables and spilling their coins on the ground. He accused the priests of turning His Father’s house into a “house of trade” (ESV). Jesus could not bear the thought of dishonest priests defaming the temple of God. His fervor reminded the disciples of David’s zeal for the house of the Lord, which is recorded in Psalm 69:9.
- How does Jesus’ zeal point to God’s majesty?
- Using a Bible concordance, look up passages that contain “zeal” or “zealous.” What do they say Christians should be zealous about?
- Why is Jesus waiting to return in judgment? (Romans 2:4; 2 Peter 3:8-9) How does His patience give you hope?
Lord, I cry out to You as the great Judge who upholds justice and mercy. When the time is right, You will enact justice and destroy evil. One day, Your truth will be proclaimed throughout the world. God, I trust You to avenge. Thank You that final justice is not my responsibility. I will strive to live at peace with everyone, knowing vengeance is Yours. Lord, I trust Your timing, Your power, and Your promises. Your zeal for righteousness is consuming, yet You are long-suffering with sinners, awaiting their repentance. Thank You for Your mercy.
We Can Prepare by Reflecting Christ’s Servanthood
He who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves. For who is greater, he who sits at the table, or he who serves? Is it not he who sits at the table? Yet I am among you as the One who serves.
Paul gave one piece of evidence to illustrate the humility Christ displayed when He came to earth: He took “the form of a bondservant” (Philippians 2:7). There is a divine connection between humility and service. Jesus said of Himself that “the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). He also taught that greatness comes through service. In fact, there is a priority of promotion: servanthood before sainthood (Matthew 20:26-27; 23:11).
The world’s idea of leadership is that leaders are at the top of the pyramid with all the servants below them. But in the kingdom of God, the pyramid is inverted; the leader is now at the bottom as the chief servant of everyone else. That is called servant leadership. Your eyes are taken off you and put on those you are committed to serving.
Gaining a biblical perspective on our role in life will keep us humble. As Paul wrote leading up to his discussion of Christ and His humility, “in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others” (Philippians 2:3-4). –A Life Beyond Amazing study guide
- What guidance for cultivating Christlike humility do you find in the following passages?
- Psalm 119:22-24, 140
- Matthew 5:38-42
- Luke 18:16
- Luke 22:26-27
- Romans 12:3, 16
- James 4:10
- 1 John 3:16-18
- One way to serve God is to serve others by finding a need and filling it. Ask God to show you a specific need that you can meet.
- Could you take a meal to someone who is undergoing medical treatment or experiencing a prolonged illness?
- Does a single mother in your neighborhood need help with yard work?
- What about volunteering at your local school, hospital, nursing home, or food pantry?
- How does studying humility help you to understand the Lord better? How does His servanthood reveal His majesty?
We Can Prepare by Revering Christ’s Honor and Glory
Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to God our Savior, who alone is wise, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and forever.
When our hearts face the imponderable, that is when we most need the Lord. When there are problems that we cannot resolve, we may wonder if we are the only ones to ever question God. But we are not. The prophet Habakkuk was a man who questioned God. His book is a dialogue with God over the imponderables of life….
As you turn to the last chapter in the book, Habakkuk has gone from why to wonder to worship…. [Habakkuk 3:17-19] is one of the most incredible passages in all of Scripture. It is like a man standing up in church after he has lost the most precious thing in all his life and saying, as Job did, “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” I will worship God regardless of the circumstances and my understanding of them.
Habakkuk’s worship transcends the circumstances. How could he be like that? Where does he find the inner strength to go from tragedy to triumph in three short chapters? Habakkuk understood one tremendous truth: You worship the One you trust, and you trust the One you know. –My Heart’s Desire study guide
- Read the book of Habakkuk. What do you notice about Habakkuk’s journey from why to wonder to worship?
- Spend time listening to worship songs and meditating on Scripture that increases your awareness of God’s majesty and wonder.
We Can Prepare by Remembering Christ’s Promises of Heaven
Then I, John, saw the holy city, New Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from heaven saying, “Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and He will dwell with them, and they shall be His people. God Himself will be with them and be their God. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes; there shall be no more death, nor sorrow, nor crying. There shall be no more pain, for the former things have passed away.”
What difference does heaven make? Consider two people who lived across the street from each other. One man thought about heaven all the time—especially when the setting sun turned the sky into a painting. On such evenings, he would sit on his porch and think about heaven. He followed the Bible’s directive to “set [his] mind on things above” by studying the topic of heaven in the Bible (Colossians 3:1-4), and he often went to bed visualizing the scenes recorded in Revelation 21 and 22 about heavenly Zion. But the man’s neighbor never thought of heaven. He busied himself with his work, family, hobbies, and golf game—never pausing to think about his eternal future.
These two men lived on the same street but in different worlds. One man’s interest was on things below; the other man’s mind was on things above. Which of the two men lived most happily? Which was the most productive? Which busied himself with optimistic works of goodness? Which lived with promise, perseverance, and purpose? It’s not hard to guess. Those who think the most about heaven do the greatest work on earth. Keeping heaven on our minds keeps hope in our hearts and the Gospel in our mouths.
- If we search for lasting happiness on earth, we will never find it. What reason(s) do you find in Ecclesiastes 3:11?
- First Corinthians 15 presents Christ’s resurrection as a fundamental truth of Christianity and our basis for hope. Read the chapter and explain, in your own words, why is the Resurrection so important to Christianity.
Lord, You have promised to prepare an eternal home for me that is free from sin and sickness and sorrow. I can’t wait to be there! Thank You for enabling me to rejoice despite my present circumstances. I can look beyond the disappointments of this life because I believe Your promises for the future. Thank You for trusting me with temporary trials, which help me to appreciate the glorious future that awaits me. Thank You for the hope I have in Jesus!