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Discernment: Light for Darkened Eyes

Image of Discernment text

If you haven’t noticed, In The Word Ministries has dedicated at least one teaching series each year to the general topic of truth.  We’ve delved into truth through series on the whole counsel of God, seeking truth, and the wisdom of God, just to name a few.  And now, in support of  this year’s theme, 20/20 VISION, we are focusing on the topic of discernment.

Why discernment?

So what!  Why should we care about discernment?  Without spiritual discernment we risk “the light within us becoming darkness”.  There are many factors that affect our ability to know truth.  For purposes of this teaching, I’ll share two that immediately necessitates the need to cultivate a spirit of discernment.

Truth redefined  

In the 21st century there is little understanding or agreement as to what truth really is.  As defined in the postmodern world absolute truth does not exist. Supporters of postmodernism deny long-held beliefs and conventions.  They maintain that all viewpoints are equally valid.

Political posturing and social jockeying have taken the pursuit of truth to new levels.  Individuals and organizations utilize misinformation (the unintended sharing of false information) and disinformation (the deliberate creation and sharing of information known to be false) to influence advocacy and individual agendas.   Even institutions once deemed guardians of truth—media, government, business, and non-governmental organizations—are now viewed suspiciously.[1]

[1]  The 2020 Edelman Trust Barometer Global Report

The Heart wants what the Heart wants

People reject a standard for truth because of their greater desire to do “that which seems right in their own eyes”.  But what is right?

A recent Barna Research study, The End of Absolutes: America’s New Moral Code, found no agreement on the definition of morality today.

What is it based on? Where does it come from? How can someone know what to do when making moral decisions? According to a majority of American adults (57%), knowing what is right or wrong is a matter of personal experience. This view is much more prevalent among younger generations than among older adults. Three-quarters of Millennials (74%) agree strongly or somewhat with the statement, “Whatever is right for your life or works best for you is the only truth you can know,” compared to only 38 percent of Elders. And Millennials (31%) are three times more likely than Elders (10%) and twice as likely as Boomers (16%) and Gen-Xers (16%) to strongly agree with the statement.  

People want “what they want” including freedom to choose what fits their preference and life style, even if it means disobedience to God.

The Need for Discernment

Your eye is the lamp of your body; when your eye is sound, your whole body is full of light; but when it is not sound, your body is full of darkness.  Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness.    Luke 11:34-35 (RSV)

In our text Jesus teaches the “Parable of the Lighted Lamp” to the Pharisees and the crowd.  Jesus uses the metaphor, the “lamp of the eye” to describe the use of the eye for more than “sight” but also for “light”.   Jesus explains when the “eye is bad”, the problem is not due to a lack of light—but due to a lack of perception or how they see truth.   Even with light, only those with eyes to see will see it.

Discernment is needed to provide “light” within us to contrast error with the goodness of God.  The lack of spiritual discernment is like color-blindness–it may not seem that important initially but its harm become evident when your life depends on it.  Error paints the world, not in terms of black and white, right or wrong, but in dangerous “shades of gray.”  Be careful lest the light in you be darkness.

Spiritual Discernment: A Request for Discernment

Then God said to him: “Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice.”  1 Kings 3:11 (NKJ)

Discernment, the process of keen insight and good judgment, has always been desired by men as they attempt to successfully execute their duties as leaders, managers, and advisors. Requesting spiritual discernment, on the other hand, is something that requires a fuller understanding of its power and personal responsibility.

In the Old Testament, Daniel depended on spiritual discernment in his role as ruler over the province of Babylon and chief administrator over all the wise men in Babylon.  As Daniel interpreted his vision to King Belshazzar, he acknowledges it was “he (an angel) who told me and made known to me the interpretation of these things.” (Daniel 7:16)   Daniel sought spiritual discernment.  The psalmist asked the Lord to “open my eyes that I may see wondrous things from your law.” (Psalm 119:18) “Opening the eyes” metaphorically described supernatural vision enabled within the psalmist to comprehend the astonishing things God revealed in His Word—that which could not be physically perceived.  The Psalmist prayed for spiritual discernment.

In the New Testament, Paul describes the dilemma of the unregenerate as they attempt to receive spiritual discernment.  “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.” (1 Corinthians 2:14)

The unregenerate is denied spiritual discernment.

In our study text (1 King 3:9-14), King Solomon, upon ascension to the throne of Israel, asks the Lord for what he feels is essential in order to serve this great nation.  Here Solomon models for us the key essentials in approaching God and requesting spiritual discernment.

First, Solomon recognized his position as a servant before the Divine Regent of the world (Is. 33:22).  He was retained by God to administer all the functions of government on behalf of God.  Solomon was to be judge, lawgiver, and king.  Secondly, Solomon requested an understanding heart to judge the people.  Solomon was concerned with possessing not only compassion and tenderness for the people but that he would perform his duties with virtue and integrity so that the people would feel they were treated justly, honestly and free from bias.  Finally, Solomon asked for the ability to discern between good and evil.  To discern (shama) is interpreted to mean to perceive or to hear.  More specifically it means to hear in such a way as to give one’s undivided listening attention.  The main idea behind shama is the need to “perceive the message being sent”.  In other words, Solomon is asking that he will hear a word from God to help him distinguish between good and evil.

The Message paraphrase expresses Solomon’s request this way: “Give me a God-listening heart so I can lead your people well, discerning the difference between good and evil.  For who on their own is capable of leading your glorious people?”  

Because of Solomon’s request for discernment, God honored Him with more than he could have ever imagined (1 Kin. 3:12-14).

To discern good from evil has become more difficult as evil rapidly gains new levels of acceptability each day.  Just listen to the news or read your favorite blog.  People are calling what’s wrong right and what is right as wrong (Is. 5:20-23).   Charles “Chuck” Swindoll, Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher, has noted three troubling changes in our nation that highlight the need for spiritual discernment.

  1. The blurring of the line between right and wrong, truth from error, and between morality and immorality
  2. The growing ignorance of biblical knowledge and the following of Scripture as our moral guide
  3. The intensified embracing of post-modernism and secularism by Christians

Read 2 Timothy 3:1-5, 16

Imagine in your spiritual mind…

  • What this nation would be like if our elected officials asked for understanding to discern justice as they administer their duties?
  • What would our cities look like if people had God-listening hearts to guide their relationships with others?
  • How would our churches operate if they asked God for spiritual discernment to serve the communities with understanding hearts?

It is time for us to be intentional in our pursuit of spiritual discernment as we continue in these “evil and wicked days” (Ep. 5:15-21).  Like Daniel, we must seek it.  Like the psalmist, we must pray for it.  Like Solomon, we must humbly yet boldly ask for it.

Spiritual Discernment: Our Error Detection System

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ. Philippians 1:9-10   (ESV)

In television technology, Error Detection and Handling (EDH) protocol is commonly used as part of the standard interface.  This protocol allows a television receiver to verify that each field of video is received correctly.  The EDH contains certain “bits” to signal that a prior link in a broadcast or transmission chain contained an error.  The EDH protocol does not provide for error correction, only error detection.  Why are we talking about television technology, errors, and correction systems?  We too need spiritual methods to not only detect moral errors that are so prevalent in this present world system but that also provide a way to correct them.  We need discernment.  Today we introduce a new series, “Discernment:  Seeing with 20/20 Vision”.

Discernment involves the process of keen insight and good judgment.  People are usually discerning about things that are important to them.  For example, if you are watching your weight, you will be very discerning about the food you select and its preparation.  If you are in need of legal advice, you will exercise great discernment in the selection of the best lawyer to assist you.  In similar manner, spiritual discernment helps believers “judge well”.

Spiritual discernment encompasses separating divine truth from error.  This is a difficult task as we are torn between the world’s influence, our human flesh, and Satan’s deception.  First Thessalonians 5:21 advises us to “Test all things; hold fast to what is good.”  The world has told us there is no such thing as “good”—no standard of right or wrong; it is all relative, based on each person’s unique situation.

When the Church exercises spiritual discernment, it is accused of being intolerant: individuals who “hold fast to what is good” are labeled as narrow-minded and bigoted.  If believers, individually and collectively, are to be “salt and light” in a fallen world (Matt. 5:13-16), spiritual discernment must be practiced and protected. Spiritual discernment equips believers to clearly recognize error by “seeing through God’s eyes.”  It finds its basis in God’s Word and the Holy Spirit.

God’s Word is the ultimate source of truth.  It becomes the spiritual “EDH” by which we can detect error and is the perfect standard by which we distinguish right from wrong.

    • For the word of God is living and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart. (Heb.  4:12)
    • The entirety of Your word is truth, And every one of Your righteous judgments endures forever. (Ps. 119:160)

The Holy Spirit, living within us, is the Truth Discerner, who will lead us into all truth.  He knows the mind of God and will direct us based on God’s purpose and plan for our life.

    • But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all truth. He will not speak on his own; He will speak only what He hears, and He will tell you what is yet to come. (John 16:13)
    • So I say, live by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the sinful nature. (Gal. 5:16)

God has given us His Word and His Spirit to guide us in all wisdom and knowledge, that we may live righteous and holy lives (2 Pet. 1:3-4).  If we seek only to be “healthy, wealthy, and wise”, we will not be spiritually discerning.  It is our responsibility as children of light (Eph. 5:8) and defenders of truth (1 Pet. 3:15) to embrace and cultivate spiritual discernment.

Dare to be a Truth Teller

I will speak of Your testimonies also before kings, And will not be ashamed.

Psalm 119:46, (NKJ)

Are you a truth teller?  This might seem like a strange question to ask but it provides a great starting point for personal reflection as we close this series.  We began by asking the question, “Can you handle the truth?”  We defined truth as the meaning and reality of life defined by God versus truth shaped by postmodern thinking.  The believer’s source of truth is presented by God Himself in His Word and through the direction of the “Spirit of Truth”, the Holy Spirit.  Truth defined by God becomes the compass by which believers are able to discern truth from error (1 John 4:6) therefore allowing them to live out their God-ordained purpose (Ep. 2:10).

How well am I doing with being truthful?   Following God’s truth may result in rejection and personal persecution.  Inside the safety of the church walls it’s easy to agree with the ethics and morality inherent in God’s truth.  However, once outside the “physical boundaries” of the church, it is the “heart” which must reflect God’s truth.  It is the heart that directs the mind, will, and emotions (the soul) to sieve the noise of the world through the filter of God’s truth.  Truth and obedience are closely connected as believers must choose between God’s instructions or man’s acceptance (Matt. 10:28).

Does the world want to know the truth?  Or is truth simply a remnant of the 20th century—no longer relevant in today’s fast-paced, high tech world?  Unfortunately, truth is often defined by what’s trending on social media.  To further complicate the search for truth, corporate/community leaders and aspiring politicians create “untruthful” responses to difficult social issues that simply satisfy people who don’t really want to know the truth; so the community and nation are given a lie (instead of truth) to make them feel better.  Unfortunately people would rather believe a lie than the truth—think about that for a minute!  Are people really being deceived or are they simply choosing to believe a lie? It’s easier (2 Tim. 4:3-4).

Am I ready to be a truth teller?  We must ask ourselves why we sometimes choose to believe a lie rather than the truth.  The truth may be related to our life style, our family, or even about us personally.  Perhaps we are judgmental, critical, or unforgiving.  That’s why it is so important to regularly pray that the Holy Spirit expose those areas that interfere with receiving the truth of God.

To be a truth teller requires boldness to stand for holy “rightness” (Heb. 13:6) and to proclaim what is God’s truth versus what is politically or socially correct (Luke 12:4-5; Ps. 119:46). When Jesus taught the Beatitudes to His disciples, He established a new standard of truth that was to be actualized in the life of the believer—a standard that would result in holy and sanctified (set apart) living.  Paul declared himself to be a truth teller.  While it resulted in his persecution and polarization from the mainstream, he boldly proclaimed:  “None of these things [persecution and prison] move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I can finish my race with joy.” (Acts 20:24)  Dare to be a truth teller.

The Spirit of Truth

 

“And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor who will never leave you.  He is the Holy Spirit, who leads into all truth. The world at large cannot receive him, because it isn’t looking for him and doesn’t recognize him. But you do, because he lives with you now and later will be in you.”   John 14:16-17 (NLT)

John F. Kennedy, the thirty-fifth President of the USA, shared the following observation about truth.

“The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie — deliberate, contrived, and dishonest — but the myth — persistent, persuasive, and unrealistic.”  

Likewise regarding truth, the Apostle Paul warned the young minister Timothy of the dangers that await him as new converts would “turn away their ears from the truth, and be turned unto fables” (2 Timothy 4:4).  Truth, unfortunately, is being packaged in many forms; many are more speculation and creative editorializing, than substantive truth.  Because of this trend, it is important that believers have a “real-time” reliable and trustworthy compass by which to navigate in this world.  While our primary guide is the Word of God, as we discussed last week, God has also provided another source—the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth.

Earlier we defined truth as that which agrees with reality. For the believer, our reality has been defined by what God has placed in His written Word.  For the disciples in our text today, however, there was no written Word as they faced a hostile world without the presence of their Beloved Jesus (John 15:18-20).  It was Jesus’ presence that gave them the courage to challenge the spiritual tyranny of the religious leaders.  It was Jesus’ loving response to the diseased and disenfranchised that modeled what true love looked like.  They would need God’s truth as they turned their focus to witnessing (Acts 1:8), baptizing and teaching (Matt. 28:19-20).

In John 14 Jesus promises to send the Spirit of Truth that would abide with them forever.  It was the Holy Spirit Who would now come to live within them.  We generally think of the Holy Spirit in terms of gifting or empowering believers to accomplish the purposes and ministries of Christ.  However, the attribute Jesus chose to share with His disciples in John’s text focused on “truth”.  It would be the Spirit of Truth that would assist the disciples as they were persecuted for their belief in Jesus Christ.  They would be tempted to denounce and deny Him Whom “the world could not receive, because it neither saw Him nor knew Him” (v. 17).  They would need the Spirit of Truth to call “to remembrance” the life and ministry of Jesus Christ—especially His work of salvation for sinners (John 14:26).  The Spirit of Truth would assist the disciples in accomplishing the “greater works” promised by Jesus (John 14:12).   Jesus was indeed “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”.  After Jesus’ departure, the ministry of truth would continue because the Spirit of Truth.

Like the disciples of the first century, believers in the 21st century have the assistance of the Spirit of Truth to assist them especially in exposing the spirit of error.  The spirit of error is seen in the morays and life styles of the world.  For unbelievers, it leads them to be deceived and disobedient to the purposes of God in their life (Ep. 2:2).  For the believer, the spirit of error tempts them to doubt God truth and draw them away from the leading of the Holy Spirit (2 Thess. 2:15).  The Spirit of Truth stands ready to silence the lies, myths and fables of the 21st century.  Our confidence lies in the promise, power, and presence of the Spirit of Truth.  He is our True Compass as we search for truth.

Can You Handle the Truth?

“…and you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.”

John 8: 31-32 (NRSV)

Can we handle the truth?  Especially when that truth is measured against the authority of Scripture and the lordship of Jesus Christ?   To walk in biblical truth while living in a postmodern world will be a major challenge for believers as we enter into this second decade of the 21st century.

With all the political rhetoric and social bantering, it is clear that this world is in need of truth.  But can we handle it?  Behind the news bytes and sound bits, there is an intention movement currently underway to redefine what truth is and what it isn’t.  This is nothing new.  This inclination to “repackage” the truth comes directly from the father of lies, Satan himself (John 8:44).   Be careful how you define truth or you too may fall prey to the subtly of deception.  “Did God really say you must not eat any of the fruit in the garden?” (Gen. 3:1, NLT)

In decades past, people could depend on the media to communicate the “truth” with regard to specific issues of the day.  Newspapers, magazine publications and newscasters were committed to operate at the highest ethical standards.  In addition, people could depend on their local leaders—civic or religious—to offer truth, as they knew best.  But over time that has changed.  Unfortunately both media and individuals can only offer their own opinions based on personal agendas or corporate bias, leaving individuals still “in search for truth”.  Truth is now shaped by social media and image consultants—by the number of “likes”, “retweets” and “followers” one can amass.

What is truth?  Truth is defined as that which agrees with reality.  The believer’s reality and meaning is grounded in God.  That reality began in the Garden of Eden.  Created in God’s image, our purpose and destiny is tied to our identity in Him through Christ (Col. 3:3).  This reality was sidetracked by sin and replaced with Satan’s counterfeit that placed self on the throne where only Christ was to be seated and exalted.  Because of Jesus’ atoning work on the Cross, our sins were forgiven and we are now reconciled back to God (2 Cor. 5:18, 19).  When we affirm our faith, we acknowledge that we have died to our old sin nature (Gal. 5:24) and walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4).  We no longer follow the worldview—its influence was negated by the Blood.  Our meaning and reality is now realigned with God (2 Cor. 5:15).   “For in Him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28a).

More than ever before, believers must connect with the only True Source of Truth, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior (John 14:6).  God’s Word and the Spirit of Truth stand ready to silence the lies, myths and fables we might hear  (2 Tim. 4:3-4).  God is the only source of truth for our lives.  Can you handle the truth?

What I Learned in 2019

 

The door to 2019 has closed marking the end of our first decade in the 21st century.  I didn’t see all the contraptions featured in “The Jetsons” but I did note changes that, centuries earlier, were only described in science fiction.

As a society, are we better off as a result of man’s accomplishments these past ten (10) years?  Only history will determine that.  The Apostle Paul warned the church at Corinth to “judge nothing before the time, until the Lord comes, who will both bring to light the hidden things of darkness and reveal the counsels of the hearts. Then each one’s praise will come from God” (1 Cor. 4:5).  We would do well to follow his advice.  I can, however, share what I learned in 2019.

To learn is defined as “acquiring knowledge or skill by study, instruction, or experience.”  As I prayed over this annual exercise of “things learned”, three (3) areas surfaced which fit within the range of this definition.  The things I learned in 2019 are the practice of gratitude, the power of simplicity, and the privilege of family.

The practice of gratitude taught me to appreciate God and to be thankful for His provision, His protection, and His presence.  Failure to practice this spiritual habit often resulted in envy, jealousy, greed and bitterness—fostering dissatisfaction and discontentment. Practicing gratitude equipped me to live life emotionally confident and spiritually content (2 Pet. 1:2-3).

Also read, “Gratitude

The power of simplicity redirected my attention from the trivial to the important things of life.  Jesus sent out His disciples with the bare necessities to accomplish their extraordinary mission (Luke 9:3; 10:4).  The pursuit of simplicity helped me to eliminate “the extraneous” from my life.  This included both things and relationships that hindered my spiritual journey by keeping me tethered to this world (1 John 2:15-17).

The privilege of family reminded me of the value of memories, tradition, and heritage.  As my family came together to celebrate my 70th birthday, they shared bittersweet stories and family customs with a new generation.  It was within the confines of the family that I witnessed our collective identity and shared values entrusted to us by our parents and other relatives long gone but not forgotten. The privilege of family began at Creation (Gen. 1:28; 2:24) and its importance is still critical as we enter this new decade.

Am I better off as a result of the things I learned?  Absolutely!  With each experience, I have learned to see God with greater clarity—His ways and His works—His goodness and His greatness.  It is with this renewed clarity that I can focus on:  #1 what’s truly important, #2 what’s of eternal value, and #3 what glorifies God.

Now it’s your turn.  What did you learn in 2019?

Living Life on the Dash

So teach us to number our days that we may gain a heart of wisdom.  Psalm 90:12

I’d like to share a few thoughts to consider as we prepare for 2020.  New Year’s gives us the opportunity to both reflect on the past year while considering how we want to spend the upcoming year.  To help us with this insightful exercise, I’d like to pose this question, “how do you want to live the rest of my life?”  I refer to this as “the dash”, the timeframe between birth and death.  We see it on cemetery tombstones to frame one’s lifetime but do we seriously consider the possibilities that lay “on the dash”?

The subscript for Psalm 90 is “A Prayer of Moses the man of God” and deals specifically with the eternality of God contrasted with the mortality of man.  The thrust of this magnificent prayer is to ask God to have mercy on frail human beings in a sin-cursed universe.

Moses remembered God’s protection, sustenance, and stability as He guided over 4 million people across the desert to God’s Promised Land. He was their dwelling place—their sanctuary in the desert (Ps. 90:1-2).  Verse 2 says, “Before the mountains were brought forth or the earth and world was formed,

God was.  Almighty God is dependent on nothing or anyone for sustenance or favor.  He will forever be Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.

Man, in contrast, was formed from the dust of the ground and came into existence after God breathed the breathe of life into his nostrils (Gen, 2:7). This life was spirit—it was that part of man that would never age and would, like its Creator, live forever. Then man became a living soul—with a mind, a will, and emotions.  Man was dependent upon God for all things.  God could be trusted to guard man’s life.

God can still be trusted today even in the midst of social, political, and financial upheaval.  Even in the midst of calamity, the beauty of the LORD—His delight, approval, and favor—is still available to those who turn their hearts to Him (Ps. 90:17).  In our frailty, God gives us His strength. “But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, so that the message might be preached fully through me” (2 Timothy 4:17)

Each of us has been given life by God.  We celebrate our beginning annually on our birthday—life before the dash.  Our “earthly end”—life after the dash—represents the end of our mortal life and the beginning of our eternal life with Christ.  God has created us for His purpose; it is in that place of created purpose, that we live our lives—we live our life on the dash.  This is where the daily events of living take place and we become “God’s workmanship” (Ep. 2:10).  As you prepare for 2020, make the most of your life on the dash.  Like Moses, pray, “Teach us to make the most of our time, so that we may grow in wisdom.”  (New Living Translation)

God Goes Before Us

The Lord Himself goes before you and will be with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Deuteronomy 31:8 (NIV)

As 2019 winds down, 2020 prepares to emerge with new opportunities and challenges. In Asian culture these two realities of life—opportunities and challenges—are often combined into one word which is interpreted as “change”.

In our text today, Moses is communicating several key changes for the Israelites. Moses announces that he will not be accompanying them into the Promised Land and that God had chosen a new leader to continue the Exodus journey. It will now be Joshua who must complete the work that Moses began. This announcement, I’m sure, caused great fear and anxiety for the 2+ million people who had put all their trust in Moses.

However, God wanted Joshua and the Israelites to know that they would not be expected to accomplish these new challenges by themselves. God would not send warriors or angels to help them but it would be God Himself Who would assure their success. God would go before them (vv. 3 and 8) and God would be with them (v. 6). To “go before and with them” speaks to God’s omnipresence. He is “everywhere present” in His totality and at the same time. No one but God could make such a promise. To further dispel their fears, God added His promise that He would “never leave nor forsake them”.   Jesus offered similar words of comfort to His disciples prior to His crucifixion (John 14:1-3).

Change comes on many levels in our lives.

Change may occur at a macro-level—that which deals with the events on a broad social, political, or economic level. Look at the affect world events have on the price of gas, or medical discovery has on the availability of adequate healthcare.

Change may surface on a micro-level–up close and personal. We may change our job, relocate to a new city, or introduce new people into our circle of friends. Wherever the point of entry of the change or the size of the challenge, believers must remember we are never left alone to face them.

God’s promise to the Israelites and Joshua should be a source of strength and comfort as believers today experience the enormous changes in the 21st century. God never changes. He is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Hebrew 13:8). All His promises are yes and amen (2 Corinthians 1:20).

Living in this fast paced, ever changing world, we need the Triune God Who will not only go before us but will also never leave us. We can rest assured that not only does God continually goes before us (Ps. 85:13) but we can confidently proclaim that we are never out of the presence of God (Ps. 139:7-10).

The Second Advent, Part 2

 

“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope–the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ. Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” Titus 2:11-14 (NIV)

Expectancy influences preparation. One’s expectancy allows them to anticipate and plan for events that could potentially impact their life. We rise early to watch the morning traffic report and weather forecast for the day. Why? Because we want to be prepared–no surprises! If it’s true that expectancy influences our preparation, how are we to prepare for the certain return of Christ?

We are to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions. The 1990 War on Drugs commercial instructed young people to, “Just say no!” We are to be of the same mindset as we resist the pull of this present age. Christ has redeemed us from ALL iniquity. He has paid the price for our “freedom from sin and death”, a price that no one on earth could ever pay (Heb. 2:14-15).

We are to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives. Christ has left us His presence and power to assist us in living a holy life. The Holy Spirit enables us to walk in newness of life (Rom. 6:4) Reading His Word and prayer daily transforms us into the image of Christ (Rom. 12:2). “He who began a good work in us, is able to perform it (keep us holy) until the day of Jesus Christ (His second return)” (Phil. 1:6).

We are to wait for the blessed hope. As we wait for His return, we are to be working. God desires that we be zealous, “eager to do good.” Uncertainty surrounding the future is the perfect backdrop for sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ. “The fields are already white for harvest.” (John 4:35)

Expectancy influences preparation.  Christ is coming again. He will first return for His Church at a time called the Rapture and take us back to heaven to be with Him (1Thess. 4:13-18).  Nonbelievers, however, will be “left behind” to enter a seven-year period of trouble and desolation known as The Great Tribulation.  At the end of the Tribulation, Christ will return to the earth to judge mankind for their unbelief and their sins (Rev. 20: 11-15).

Expectancy influences preparation. By anticipating future events, we can make adequate plans for events that could potentially impact our life. Christ’s return is a certainty. With His Second Coming the world, as we know it today, will change forever. That being the case, should we not give even more attention to prepare for His return? By accepting Christ as Lord and Savior TODAY, believers have made adequate preparation for Christ’s return TOMORROW because “God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thess. 5:9).