I wonder what would happen if Christians spent their time before Christmas in Bible study and prayer rather than shopping.
Of course, the very thought is heresy in our consumer-driven world, but it is supposed to be reality in many churches. The season of Advent was established so that there would be four weeks of spiritual preparation before Christmas.
The word “advent” comes from the Latin word that means “to come” so each year, we have this time to prepare for the coming of Christ yet again.
Yes, Jesus is coming again in the clouds just as he said, but this time in great glory.
Jesus, in Luke 21, made it clear that many will be caught unaware at the time of his second coming. So I was thinking that what we need is an end times preparedness plan (ETPP). We live in a world of plans for hurricanes, droughts, floods, weddings, birth of a child and other special occasions. So why not one for the second coming of Christ?
My ETPP would first include becoming knowledgeable of the end-times prophesies in the Bible. How can we be prepared if we don’t know what to look for?
Jesus gave us lots of hints in Matthew 24, Mark 13 and Luke 21. Therefore we need to study these passages of Scripture so we know the signs.
Jesus said we’ll know that summer is near when the fig trees put forth leaves so when we see the signs that he prophesied we will know that the kingdom of God is near.
The second part of my plan would be to guard our hearts and keep them uncontaminated by the desires of this world. The heart is the spiritual center of our being and our spiritual Achilles heel.
Jesus said in Luke 21, “Be on guard, so that your hearts will not be weighted down with dissipation, drunkenness and the anxieties of life, and that day will not come on you suddenly like a trap.”
King David prayed in Psalm 51, “Create in me a clean heart, O God.”
We must guard our hearts from contamination from fleshy desires. We can only do this if we are walking by the Spirit as Paul tells us in Galatians 5:16. We must be controlled by the Spirit, or the desires of the flesh will take control.
The third, and final part of the plan is to watch and pray so that we may be able to escape all that is about to happen, and that we may be able to stand before the Son of Man.
The scariest verse of all Scripture is Matthew 7: 22, “Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name cast out demons, and in your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you, depart from me, you who practice lawlessness.’”
The question is not whether you know Jesus, but whether Jesus knows you. And prayer is the only way to establish and maintain this personal relationship with Jesus so he does know you.
We must have a strong personal relationship with Jesus, be daily in his word and in prayer, to be still and listen. It is a two-way conversation.
Banks is the pastor of First Presbyterian Church of Hinesville and a member of the United Ministerial Alliance.