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Transforming The Christian Family

(Preparing for Christ’s Return – Part 2)

By Kim Butts

    Last month, we began to study ways to prepare ourselves and our families for the return of Jesus Christ. Scripture has much to say about how we are to be living in the last days, the primary ones being the two greatest commandments given by Jesus in Matthew 22:37-39: "Jesus replied: ‘"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind." This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: "Love your neighbor as yourself. "’" By following the first great commandment, we will become equipped to follow the second. It is impossible to follow one without the other. Below is a continuation of specific ways that families can live out lives of active transformation as we get ready for the return of Jesus:

Be Faithful!

    "However, when the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8b). When Jesus returns, will He find families filled with the kind of faith that perseveres in prayer and steadfastness? In Romans 12:12, Paul states that we are to be "faithful in prayer." It is important to maintain communion with God at all times, whether in good times or bad. Prayer is the action of faith!

    In Matthew 24, Jesus’ disciples ask Him what the signs of the end of the age will be. One of the signs He warns us about is deception. There will be many who will come claiming to be Jesus Christ, and will lead even believers astray. There will also be wars and famines and earthquakes. Jesus says, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved" (Matthew 24:12-13). Probably the most unnerving word in that passage is the word "most." It is faith that will keep our families on course with our eyes fixed upon the Lord. It is faith that will keep us on our knees, seeking the face of the Father in prayer and asking for wisdom and discernment because of the evil of the days in which we live. Faith in knowing the hope of the glory to come will cause us to remain loyal to the end.

Trust the Words of Jesus

    Jesus has left us with so many wonderful promises. In John 14:1-4, He has said, "Do not let your hearts be troubled.  Trust in God; trust also in Me.  In My Father’s house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you.  I am going there to prepare a place for you.  And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me that you also may be where I am.  You know the way to the place where I am going."

    Can we, as families, trust Jesus enough to believe this promise? Isn’t it wonderful to imagine what the place Jesus is preparing for us is like? It will be the place where God is – we will be in the presence of the Almighty, All-Powerful King of Kings forever and ever! It is the place where worship is continuous and beauty beyond our imagining abounds. Talk about the beauty and majesty of heaven as a family. Help them to know without a doubt that it is where our home is! Point out the promises of God in Scripture and continually trust that He is and will continue to keep them: "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding…" (Proverbs 3:5). The only way we can live in such a way that our lives are a true testimony to God, is to give up trying to do it our own way. He knows the beginning from the end and we don’t. Teach your children that God always has our best interests at heart, and that if we simply trust Him with childlike faith, He will guard our steps. "Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord, is the Rock eternal" (Isaiah 26:4).

Don’t Let Anyone Take Your Crown

    "I am coming soon.   Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.  Him who overcomes I will make a pillar in the temple of My God.  Never again will he leave it" (Revelation 3:11-12). It is so important to be sure that your family understands how vital it is to protect against the schemes of the enemy. Sometimes it is easy to slip or take a detour into the very tempting realm of the devil’s activities. We must remember, and teach our children to know that even a momentary lapse in judgment could come at a very high price. Our crown was bought and paid for by Jesus. It is important that we represent Him well throughout our lives.

Do Not Give up Meeting Together

    Hebrews 10:25 says, "Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another  and all the more as you see the day approaching." Acts 2:42 describes the lifestyle of the early believers: "They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer." It is so important to the Christian walk, especially during the last days, that we remain connected to one another. Without encouragement and ministry we will falter. "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds" (Hebrews 10:24).

    Discuss as a family how you can encourage one another to fulfill the plans and purposes of God in each of your lives. Now put these things into action. Talk about why it is important to meet together with other Christians. What are some ways that your family could minister to others in your church? Could you invite one or two other families over to your home for a meal or a family night? Reaching out and developing and maintaining relationships with one another is crucial to standing firm in difficult times. Why not get together with other families to pray about what is happening in the world around you?

Rejoice in Suffering

    "But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when His glory is revealed" (1 Peter 4:13). This is a difficult verse! No one wants to suffer, and we certainly don’t want our families to endure hardships or to experience pain in any way. However, God has made it clear that whenever we suffer for the cause of Jesus Christ, He is there to comfort us: "For just as the sufferings of Christ flow over into our lives, so also through Christ our comfort overflows" (2 Corinthians 1:5). When tough times come in the life of your family, will you be prepared? Will you blame God or embrace His comfort? Teach your family that we have an enemy who wants to cause us harm. Satan would steal our faith by whispering discouragement into our minds and hearts whenever life is difficult. Our children must know that the strength of our Rock and Redeemer is always there for us, even when we suffer. They must know that we can learn and grow stronger in our faith as a result of the suffering we endure. In the last days, we will certainly be put to the test. If we are unable to deal with suffering, will the Lord be able to use us for His purposes, or will we be relegated to the sidelines, unable to be effective in the advancement of His Kingdom?

Know That You Do Not Lack Any Spiritual Gift

    "Therefore you do not lack any spiritual gift as you eagerly wait for our Lord Jesus Christ to be revealed" (1 Corinthians 1:7). So many young people, and even some adults, are waiting for the Lord to do something significant in their lives rather than going out and living meaningful lives for the Lord! By not exercising the gifts He has given, they will grow weak and useless. Help the members of your family to move at the impulse of the Spirit whenever there is kingdom work to be done. Please don’t let any of them fall into the trap of the enemy who would have them believe that they are too young, or that God hasn’t given them a gift yet, etc. The Scripture does not say, "Therefore, you will lack spiritual gifts until you are older, or until you have been a Christian longer, or until God zaps you with power." NO! God has given each of us gifts with which to minister to His body, the Church. They are gifts of grace and not of our own abilities. "Now about spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant" (1 Corinthians 12:1).

Action, Self-Control and Hope through God’s Grace

    "Therefore, prepare your minds for action; be self-controlled; set your hope fully on the grace to be given you when Jesus Christ is revealed" (1 Peter 1:13). Is your family prepared for action? "In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead" (James 2:17). Are you preparing them to be doers of the Word of God? Are you training your family in the practice of self-control? "The end of all things is near. Therefore be clear minded and self-controlled so that you can pray" (1 Peter 4:7). "Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour" (1 Peter 5:8). "So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled" (1 Thessalonians 5:6). "But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet" (1 Thessalonians 5:8).

    Is your hope fully set upon God’s grace extended to you by the forgiveness of sin through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ? "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead…" (1 Peter 1:3).

Remain in Him

    "As for you, the anointing you received from Him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as His anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit – just as it has taught you, remain in Him. And now, dear children, continue in Him, so that when He appears we may be confident and unashamed before Him at His coming" (1 John 2:27-28). Teach your family to stay connected to Jesus by reading and studying the Word, trusting in the anointing of the Holy Spirit for understanding and clarity. The best way to be prepared for His coming is to do what He says! Seek Him! Ask Him for wisdom and clarity through the power of His Spirit!

Keep Yourselves in God’s Love

    "Keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life" (Jude 1:21)Love God, and love others – the two greatest commandments. And so, we have come full-circle – ending with the same exhortation with which we began! God has yet uncompleted plans and purposes for His Church: Matthew 24:14 clearly states, "And this Gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come." Missions experts have said that the only reason the Great Commission has not yet been completed is because the Church has neglected to follow the command to love God. If we truly love Him, it will be demonstrated in our obedience to Him. We will love and care for our neighbors. We will share the Good News of Jesus with them – even to the ends of the earth.

    "‘Behold, I am coming soon!  My reward is with Me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.  I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End....’  He who testifies to these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’  Amen. Come, Lord Jesus.  The grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s people.  Amen." (Revelation 22:12-13, 20-21).