"Occupy 'til I come"

During this Christmas season, as we reflect on the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, we must remember why He has kept us here on earth. Though this world is not our home, and we look forward to the return of the Lord, we have a mandate and responsibility to remain in the world but not of the world. While we wait for the blessed return of Jesus, there is much work to be done ... we dare not abandon ship in the midst of the storm. 

The Apostle Paul strongly exhorted the church to awaken from sleep and walk wisely, carefully observing the conditions of our present world. "Redeeming the time" because the days are evil, we must understand in these times what the will of God is. 

See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.
— Ephesians 5:15-16

The exhortation continues with another mandate: be filled with the Holy Spirit, and be not drunk with wine wherein is dissipation. The enemy has a calculated plan to keep the world in darkness and as much as possible keep the church in a state of slumber and inattentive carelessness. 

Because these are perilous times the Apostle Paul warns young Timothy to be aware of conditions of the culture, and stay grounded in the Word of God. Too often we interpret these warnings as prophetic promises that cannot be resisted, instead of praying with confidence that God is still able to intervene in mankind's dilemma. No matter how dark the days are, there is still hope that God will enter the darkness with the light of redemption. 

At this season we are reminded of the prophetic promise of Isaiah 9:1,2 "the time of darkness and despair will not go on forever, the time is coming when those who walk in darkness will see a great light, the land will once again be filled with the glory of God, and those who live in the land of great darkness the light will shine." 

The people who walked in darkness
Have seen a great light;
Those who dwelt in the land of the shadow of death,
Upon them a light has shined.
— Isaiah 9:2

We actually have a responsibility to access the power of God in these dark times, understanding the "days are evil." We get to lay claim -  by faith - that God will again rise and shake the earth. As much as we might feel the need for rescue, the Spirit-empowered church. We can, and will,l rise and remain a redemptive force in the earth as we recognize the command to "Occupy 'til I come." 

The prophet Jeremiah, living in a time of captivity, encouraged the people of God to "build houses and live in them, plant gardens and eat the fruit of them, take wives and have sons and daughters, give your daughters to husbands that you may increase in strength and influence and not be diminished, seek the peace of your city, and from your occupying presence you will create an atmosphere of peace." Now that's a prophetic promise that gives hope!  As we come to terms with the days of crisis and turmoil, we find our hope and confidence in the promise of God in Jeremiah 29:11 "I know the thoughts that I continually think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace not of evil, to give you future and a hope."

For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.
— Jeremiah 29:11

So what do we do with the scriptural warnings? Do we sit idle and rejoice that things are falling apart and that soon Jesus will come and get us out of here?  No!  We must see our place in the prophetic promise of Isaiah's words in chapter 60 and Jesus declaration in Matthew 16:18: Upon the Rock (Jesus Christ the Son of the Living God) I will build my church and the gates (counsels, principalities and powers) of hell shall not prevail against it. 

On this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.
— Matthew 16:18 (ESV)

Isaiah 60 reminds us to, “Rise and shine for our light has come, and the glory of the Lord is upon us, His people. Though darkness shall cover the earth, and gross darkness the people, but the Lord shall arise upon you and the glory of the Lord shall be seen upon you."  This is the time for the people of God to rise and take dominion, subdue the earth and establish Jesus' desire, "on earth as it is in heaven.”

We have two addresses ... one here on earth and one in heaven. According to Ephesians 2:6 "he has raised us up together and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus."  As an occupational force, we get to insist on heavens best while resisting the encroachment of the enemy.

And it shall come to pass afterward,
    that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh;
your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
    your old men shall dream dreams,
    and your young men shall see visions.
Even on the male and female servants
    in those days I will pour out my Spirit.
— Joel 2:28-29 (ESV)

Finally, we need to understand two things are happening at the same time according to biblical prophecy, "evil men and seducers shall flourish, deceiving and being deceived” but Joel 2 says in the last days God will pour out His Spirit upon all flesh!