May 13 - Living In The Present While Looking To The Future.

Living In The Present While Looking To The Future

May 13, 2018

1 Thessalonians 4:13 - 5:11

 

LIVING IN THE PRESENT WHILE LOOKING TO THE FUTURE

May 13th, 2018

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 5:11

 

Today I am continuing in our series through Paul’s first letter to the church in Thessalonica, a church he had started maybe 6 months prior to writing to them.  Beginning in v.13 of chapter 4, he picks up the topic of Jesus’ return.

 

Now what do you picture when you think of the judgement day, or the end of the world?  What comes to mind?

 

Do you think of a giant asteroid hitting the earth?

 

Or do you think of an all-out war that ends in a nuclear war that wipes out most if not all of life on earth?

 

Or perhaps, the so-called rapture comes to mind, the removal of all believers from the earth?

 

Or maybe, you’re thinking of natural disasters, floods, and earthquakes, and the sky turning dark.

 

Maybe a lake of fire comes to mind.

 

Where do these images come from?  You’d be right in saying that they are, at least in part, a reflection of what is found in the Bible.  The next number of slides indicate some of the main passages that speak of the end times.  The first one recounts the prophecy of 70 weeks in Daniel.

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

70 weeks for Jerusalem and nation to finish transgression

 

 

 

69 weeks from the decree to rebuild Jerusalem until the anointed one (Messiah), the prince.

 

 

 

After 62 weeks the Messiah will be cut off and the coming prince will destroy the city and temple

 

 

 

For 1 week a covenant will be made, but sacrifices will cease, the abomination that makes desolate is set up, until the one who makes desolate is destroyed

 

 

 

 

We are not going to be spending a lot of time on any of these slides.  Just note that it speaks of the coming of a Messiah, the Messiah’s death, the destruction of Jerusalem and the temple, and the arrival of the abomination that makes desolate. The next slide contains Jesus’ prophecies as recorded in Mark 13 and John 6.

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

 

Many will come in my name and mislead you.

 

 

 

Wars, rumours of wars, earthquakes, famines, persecution

 

 

 

Good news preached to all nations.

 

 

 

Abomination of desolation stands where it shouldn’t

 

 

 

Jesus speaks of false Christs, wars, persecution, and the abomination of desolation being set up, the last being a direct reference to Daniel. 

 

But Daniel and Jesus weren’t the only ones who spoke of the end times.  The apostle Paul and the author of the book of revelation did as well.  And all of them spoke of a time of trouble or tribulation or distress.

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

Time of distress

The holy ones are given into the hands of the destroyer for a time, times and half a time before the everlasting  kingdom will be given to them.

Time of great tribulation; false Christs and false prophets.

Great falling away, the son of destruction (the man of lawlessness) will do great signs and wonders and take his seat in the temple

Great tribulation (seven seals, seven trumpets, seven bowls);

1/3 of mankind killed.

Persecution, plagues and war. 

 

 

Particularly in the book of Revelation, the time of tribulation is discussed in greater detail.  Both Jesus and the book of Revelation point to something that will happen with the “lights in the sky”.

 

SLIDE 10 - End time predictions cont.

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

 

 

 

 

Sun, moon no longer give light.  Stars fall to the earth

 

6th seal - Great earthquake, sun turns black, moon turns red. Stars fall to the earth.

 

So something would happen with the sun, moon and stars, a reflection also of Isaiah’s prophecy about the day of the Lord when Babylon will be destroyed (Isa 13:10-13).[1] 

 

Both OT and NT point to a more than human figure, the Son of Man.

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

The beast will be destroyed and one like a son of man will come with the clouds of heaven and present himself before God and receive an everlasting dominion.

Many of the deceased will awaken to eternal life or eternal contempt

The son of man will come in the clouds with great power.

 

I will raise them up on the last day.

At Christ’s coming the trumpet will sound, the man of lawlessness will be destroyed and believers will be raised from the dead.  The living and those resurrected will be transformed and given spiritual bodies.  They will meet Christ in the clouds and be with him forever 

One like a son of man sitting on a cloud.

 

Notice that one like a son of man arrives on or with the clouds.  This arrival is often connected with the resurrection of God’s people from the dead.  And Jesus understood himself to be this son of man. 

 

As I already mentioned, the book of Revelation goes into much greater detail when it comes to the time of tribulation.  I’ve only listed very few points, those having to do with a 1000 year reign of Jesus and those who had been martyred for their faith.

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

 

 

 

Gathering at Har-Magedon.

Lightening, thunder, earthquakes, hail

 

 

 

War against the Lamb and his army. Babylon is destroyed.

Enemies of Lamb are destroyed.

Satan bound for 1000 years.

Martyrs are resurrected and reign with Christ

 

 

 

After the 1000 years, the rest are resurrected

Satan is released, gathers a massive army, defeated and thrown into the lake of fire.

 

End time prophecies in the Bible are also connected to a day of God’s judgment. 

 

Daniel 7-12

Matthew 25

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

 

When the Son of Man comes in his glory and all his angels with him, he will separate people like a shepherd separates sheep and goats

We must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ. 

 

Judgment takes place

 

 

 

Christ reigns until all his enemies are conquered, the last enemy being death

Death and hades thrown into the lake of fire

 

At the end of the judgement, death is done away with.  Jesus and the apostle Paul referred to what we often think of as “heaven” as the kingdom of God

 

The book of Revelation speaks of a new heaven and earth, terminology that is taken from the OT book of Isaiah (65:17; 66:22), something also reflected in the NT book of 2 Peter (3:12-13).

 

Daniel 7-12

Mark 13

John 6

1 Corinthians; 1&2 Thessalonians

Revelation

 

 

Believers are saved from God’s wrath.

The unrighteous cannot inherit the kingdom of God

There will be a new heaven, a new earth, and a new Jerusalem

Ungodly thrown into the lake of fire

 

 

 

God’s throne in the city.

No more curse or night

 

 

 

The saints reign forever

 

The difficulty is how to combine the various accounts into one coherent entity, or whether such an attempt should even be made. 

 

Now, there has always been an interest in the church about the events surrounding the end times.  Jesus’ disciples asked him about what would happen.  As we can see, it is likely that the Christians in the churches that Paul planted also wanted to know what would take place. 

 

What likely had caused consternation in the church in Thessalonica was Paul’s teaching that Jesus would return very soon.[2] 

 

Now it seems reasonable to assume that one or more believers had died in Macedonia since Paul had been there.  Since Jesus had not returned as yet, does that mean that they missed out on the Kingdom of God?  That they would not make it to heaven?

 

It is this question that Paul is dealing with.  So let’s begin reading in 1 Thess 4, beginning with v.13.

 

Brothers, we do not want you to be uninformed about those who have died, so that you won’t grieve like the rest who have no hope.  For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with him those who have died in Jesus.                     1 Thessalonians 4:13-14

 

At this point all that Paul points out that when Jesus comes, God will bring with him all believers who have died prior to Jesus’ return.

 

We tell you this by the word of the Lord: we who are alive and remain so until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.  The Lord himself will descend from heaven with a commanding word, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God.              1 Thessalonians 4:15-16a

 

Paul mentions that his teaching is “by the word of the Lord”.  Jesus taught explicitly about his second coming.[3]  And Paul believed that what followed accurately reflected Jesus’ teaching on the end times.[4]   

 

So Paul points out that when Jesus returns, he will come with a great noise - a great shout and a great trumpet call.  This is clearly a reflection of Jesus’ own teaching.  In Matt 24, when Jesus speaks of his coming on the clouds of the sky, he also mentions the sound of a great trumpet (Matt 24:31).

 

In the OT, the trumpet was blown to summon soldiers for battle (cf. Jud 3:27; Neh 4:18), or prior to making some great announcement (2 Sam 20:1), or in order to sound alarm should enemies approach a city (Ezek 33:2-6). 

 

The trumpet call was associated in the book of Joel with the day of God’s judgment (Joel 2:1) and in the book of Isaiah with the restoration of Israel from exile (Isa 27:13; Zech 9:14).

 

Paul refers to the trumpet in another letter as “the last trumpet that will be sounded at the resurrection of the dead (1 Cor 15:52), something he also mentions in our letter.

 

Then the dead in Christ will rise first, and we who are alive, who remain alive, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air.  And so we forever will be with the Lord.  Therefore, comfort one another with these words.   1 Thessalonians 4:16b-18

 

As Paul is answering the question about what would happen to those who had died prior to the second coming of Christ, he makes one point - and states it twice. 

 

There is eternal life with Christ even for those who passed on prior to his return

 

Death is not the end for the believer’s hope in eternal life, because, at the point of Christ’s return, both those who had died prior to that time, and those who are alive at that time, will join Christ and be with him forever. 

 

Paul not only mentions this point here, but he will return to it again in chapter 5 (5:10), that’s how important it is to him. 

 

And the believers in Thessalonica are to remind themselves of this fact, the hope that they have, the hope that brings comfort to those who have lost a loved one through death.

 

If someone close to you has died, you will know the deep pain, the immense sense of loss that this will bring with it.   The believers in Thessalonica were to comfort one another with the knowledge that death is not the end.  That there will be a reunion. 

 

In chapter 5, Paul continues on this same theme, but he shifts gears because he anticipates that the topic of the timing of Jesus’ return would be important to his readers.  However, he doesn’t try to put a date on it.  Rather, he reiterates a point that Jesus made - while no-one knows the exact day and hour, not even Jesus himself (Mark 13:32; Matt 24:36), it will happen at a time when many simply will not expect it

 

But concerning the times and seasons, brothers, you have no need to be written to.  You yourselves know perfectly well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.  When they are saying, "Peace and safety," it is then that destruction will come on them suddenly, like labour pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.            1 Thessalonians 5:1-3

 

Paul writes that he really has no need to tell them something they already know.  He had already taught them about what Jesus had said with regard to the unexpected nature of his return. 

 

“The day of the Lord” is an expression often found in the prophetic books of the OT (Isaiah 2:12; Daniel 12:12; Amos 5:18; Joel 2:31). The day is described as the time when God would judge the world, punish the wicked and save the righteous.[5] 

 

The expression “like a thief in the night” is something that Jesus himself said with regard to his return in order to tell his followers that they should be alert for and ready at all times for his return (Matt 24:44; Luke 12:40).[6] 

 

So Paul makes the point that the wicked will be blissfully unaware that something is about to happen.  They will think everything is hunky dory, and suddenly, unexpectedly, they will face God’s wrath. 

 

Many have tried to figure out when Christ would return.  Luther and many early Anabaptists were convinced it would happen in the 1500’s. Nostradamus, alive at that time, predicted the end of the world would come in 1999. 

 

In North America there was a particularly strong fascination with the return of Christ from the mid-1700’s to the mid-1800’s, probably because of the so-called Great Awakenings which were followed by the civil war. 

 

End time teachers and preachers, who made predictions about the second coming of Christ, were able to draw large followings.  Let me give you some examples.

 

The Shakers[7] under the leadership of Mother Ann Lee, predicted that the world would end in both 1792 and 1794.[8] 

 

John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist church, predicted that the millennium would start in 1836.

 

William Miller, whose followers were known as the Millerites, calculated from the book of Daniel that Christ would return and the world would end in October 1844. Many Christians firmly believed Miller and when nothing happened in 1844, the reaction was termed “the great disappointment.” 

 

Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, based on Miller’s calculations, also predicted that Christ would return in 1844.

 

 

John Wroe, the founder of the Christian Israelite Church, predicted that the millennium would start in 1863 and that Armageddon would begin in 1977. (Couldn’t find a picture of him).

 

Charles Taze Russell (founder of the Jehovah’s Witnesses) predicted that Christ would return in 1874.  Subsequently he also predicted the world would end in 1914.

 

Joseph Smith (founder of the Mormon Church) predicted in 1835 that the end time would happen within 56 years (by 1891 at the latest).

 

Ellen White (founder of the 7th day Adventist church), taught that the 1800’s were the beginning of the great tribulation and that the day of judgment was near.  To her credit, she never set a date as far as I’m aware of.

 

And of course there were many who would follow, including Herbert W. Armstrong (1936, 1943, 1972, 1975), Pat Robertson (1982, 2007), Marshall Applewhite [Heaven’s Gate cult] (1997), Jerry Falwell and Tim LaHaye (2000), Sun Myung Moon (2000), Harold Camping (2011), John Hagee (2014/15) and many more - all of them wrong. 

 

But you, brothers, are not in darkness, so that The Day should come on you like a thief.  You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to darkness.  So then, let us not sleep [be spiritually unaware] as others do, but let us keep watch and be sober.                                       1 Thessalonians 5:4-6

 

Jesus made the point that a thief breaks into a house when people are asleep and do not expect him to show up.  If the thief was to announce his arrival to the homeowner, then the owner would have taken precautions and been prepared to defend his home (Matt 24:43; Luke 12:39).[9] 

 

Paul begins these verses with “but you”!  Things are to be different for believers because they do not belong to the night, or to darkness. They are children of light and day.  In first century Judaism, the dualism between day and night or light and darkness, was a common way of speaking about

  • God, goodness, kindness, moral purity, ethically sound behaviour on the one hand, and

  • Evil spiritual forces, sin, hate, impurity, and moral compromise, on the other.[10] 

 

Paul notes that the believers at Thessalonica are to be both sober and watchful for the very reason that they belong to the day and the light (1 Thess 5:6).

 

Being sober and watchful describes the attitude and actions of a watchman as he stands on the walls of a city and keeps a look-out. For the sake of the city, he needs to be awake, alert, and attentive.

 

The second term that Paul uses is the term translated “sober”.  The opposite of being sober is being drunk.  But here Paul uses the term figuratively. 

Being drunk points to a muddled mind and a muddled life.

Being sober denotes sound thinking and decision making.  It speaks of having good judgment, of having discernment.  More than that, being sober also speaks of a life and lifestyle that is impacted by sound decisions and good judgement. 

 

When hearts and minds are sober, they will not just focused on short term pleasure and gratification.  They will look at the long term and make good choices accordingly so that their actions reflect the moral will of God.[11] 

 

For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.  But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and the hope of salvation for a helmet, because God has not appointed us for wrath, but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.                                                                  1 Thessalonians 5:7-9

 

Paul uses some of the parts of the armour of a foot soldier, much like he does in Eph. 6, to describe the three most important qualities that are to characterize a believer ... the qualities that should be in the hearts and minds and lives of believers in order for them to be sober. 

 

Faith (proper belief) - particularly with regard to what is believed about Jesus,

love (proper behaviour) - what guides our actions in the present - and

hope (proper anticipation) - what we look forward to - the blessings of eternity (being with God, loved ones...). 

 

Maybe these terms bring to mind the so-called love chapter, 1 Cor 13, where Paul writes, “These three remain:  faith, hope and love ... but the greatest of these is love” (1 Cor 13:13). 

 

So here Paul makes the second major point:

 

Jesus will return abruptly at any time,

therefore be prepared for it at all times

 

We should be absolutely aware of the fact that every day could be our last day on earth.  The reality is that we have no guarantee that we will be around tomorrow or the next day. 

 

However, most people, especially those who are young, assume they will live for many, many years to come.  And they act accordingly. 

 

They postpone the things that deep down they know are really important – like visiting a friend, or telling the people who they love how important they are to them.

 

I’m sure that those who died so suddenly on 9/11, or those who were mowed down in the streets of Toronto last month (Apr 23rd, 2018), or the man who was hit and killed in Saanichton while walking at on the side of the Pat Bay Hwy a few weeks back (Apr 26th, 2018), none of them likely had any inkling of what would happen to them when they left home that morning. 

 

Were their last words to their loved ones harsh or loving?  Were they upset or happy?    

 

When we are consciously aware that we could meet Jesus any day, It shouldn’t make us morbid or fatalistic, nor should it move us toward abandoning our responsibilities. Instead, it should lead us to make better, kinder, more caring choices, and it should leave us without fear about meeting our maker. 

 

Paul then finishes this section, as he did chapter 4, with repeating the first main point, followed by a command.

 

He died for us, so that, whether we are still alive or have died, we might live together with him.  Therefore, encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you are doing.     1 Thessalonians 5:10-11[12]

 

Believers should encourage and uplift each other with these words.

 

Today there is much discussion as to the various events surrounding the end times and the second coming of Christ.  There are various views on whether or not the rapture is identical with the second coming of Christ, and, if not, whether or not 1 Thess. 4 and 1 Thess. 5 even speak of the same event. 

 

The various views may include a rapture prior to the tribulation (pre-trib), after the tribulation (post-trib), or during the tribulation (mid-trib).  They may include the rapture prior to the 1000 year reign of Christ (pre-mill), or after the 1000 years (post-mill).  Or they may view all of the end time comments in spiritual terms. 

 

Idealism

 

Idealism was a popular belief in the early church, beginning with the church father, Origin.  All eschatological writings, including Revelation, give a symbolic or allegorical description of a continuous conflict between good and evil.

 

Historical

 

The Historical view was very popular in evangelical church between 1300 and 1900.  Very similar to idealism, eschatological writings give a symbolic or allegorical description of a cycle of conflicts throughout history.

 

Preterist

 

This view began around 1550 but is gaining more popularity over the last 50 years.  In this view, the tribulation took place in the earliest church and ended when Christ returned in 70 AD.  Most or even all portions of Revelation are believed to have already been fulfilled, including the return of Christ. People are judged upon their death. 

 

Amillennial

 

This view also began early on in church history, was popular around the time of the Reformation, but is held by many Christians today.  In this view, the millennium kingdom and Christ’s rule are in heaven while the church on earth is experiencing the time of tribulation until Christ returns. 

 

Postmillennial

 

The Postmillennial view was the most common view held in evangelical circles for 800 years, between 1100 and 1900.  As Christianity spreads, the world will become better and end in a peaceful rule of Christ.  WW1 and 2, served as a severe blow to postmillennialism. 

 

Classic Premillennial

 

The Classic Premillennial view, while held by some early church fathers, really has come in its own in North America since the 1900’s.  The church is seen as having replaced Israel.  After the church age, the great tribulation takes place and then Christ returns and the rapture takes place.  Christ then reigns 1000 years on earth prior to the judgment.

 

Dispensational Premillennial

 

The Dispensational view was first formulated in the 1830’s, but it has become the most popular view since the 1900’s.  After the church is raptured, the time of tribulation takes place when Israel is the key player, the temple is rebuilt.  This is followed by Christ’s return and the millennium.

 

Dispensational Premillennial

 

Some Dispensationalists argue that the rapture takes place not prior to the great tribulation, but sometime during that time of trouble.  

 

Of course, my drawings are a great oversimplification of the events that are said to take place.  Here is just one example of how some people combine the various elements of the Bible. 

 

I’m not at all sure that Paul, who never read the book of Revelation, was even thinking in terms of a millenium, a tribulation, or a rapture in the way that they are held today.   

 

Paul’s main concern, as I’ve already mentioned, was to tell the believers what the eternal fate would be of those who had died prior to Jesus’ return, and to encourage them to be ready at all times for Jesus’ return. 

 

In Paul’s mind, Christ’s return and the judgment day seem to both fall on the so-called “day of the Lord.”  He definitely seems to tie the display of God’s wrath and salvation to the event of Christ’s return (1 Thess 5:9). 

 

So what should we take of our passage today?  Do you remember the two main points?

 

  1. There is eternal life with Christ even for those who have died prior to his return.

  2. Jesus will return abruptly at any time, therefore be prepared for it at all times.

     

    I thought of these points in terms of

  1. honouring or celebrating the past instead of being stuck in it,

  2. living in the present instead of wasting it, and

  3. looking forward to the future instead of dreading it or obsessing about it.

     

    So today is mother’s day.  I think we can honour the past if we look back to when we were kids and our mother cared for us.

    We can live in the present by making sure that our mother’s know we love them or, if we’re female, by trying to be the best mothers, grandmothers, aunts, and sisters we can possibly be.

    And we can look forward to the time when gender truly becomes irrelevant (we will be like the angels), or when we see our deceased mom’s in heaven.

     

    Presently we in a season of change at the church here as well.

     

    We can celebrate the past, taking note that 42 years ago Pastor Ernie and Connie and their family started Friendship Community Church.

     

    This is the best church I have ever had the privilege to serve in and I know it is because of the wisdom, love, hard work and genuine desire to serve God by those in leadership and in the congregation who were here before me.

     

    We can celebrate our own past as well.  Not because things were easy or better.  Not because we had less aches and pains. But because there were good things that happened and good people who were part of our lives.

     

    And we should be able to celebrate the past without getting stuck in it.  Unfortunately, some people live in the past because it seemed so much better than today.  Their greatest triumphs were in the past.  And so they pine for the past.  They can’t let go of the past.  Their whole life is predicated and controlled by the past.  They have great difficulty accepting change, even though change is inevitable.

 

Other people are stuck in the past because it was bad.  Can you think of someone who can’t get over what happened to him or her?  Maybe you are that person – not able to get over how a parent treated you, or how a friend treated you, or someone at church treated you. 

 

Even though those events are long past, they become alive again as we rehearse them.  They can make us angry all over again.  It is easy to become absorbed in, or even worse, riveted to, our bad memories.  And when we do, it is as if the bad events are happening all over again.  

 

The reality is that we would be bent out of shape all the time if we focus on all the painful things that have happened to us.  Instead, here I am, here you are – in one piece. 

 

We need to learn to recognize the past for what it is – it no longer exists, it is no longer real – except in our memories, in our thoughts.  And thoughts and memories can’t hurt us, at least not without our consent. 

 

With the help of God we are able to stop them from continuing to haunt us.  With the help of God we can make a decision not to relieve past hurts over and over again, not to wallow in bitter thoughts about the past, all of which keeps us from moving forward.  

 

I need to celebrate the past – but I need to learn not to live in it.

 

 

Just as importantly, we should look forward to the future instead of dreading it.  To have hope.  We ought to be those who know that we are on the winning team.  As Paul writes, we are destined for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (5:9) so that we will be with him forever.  At that forward look will help us to keep perspective on the present.

 

The problem is that some people worry an inordinate amount about having enough in the future.  And so they obsess.  They spend their lives trying to get ahead, only to find out that they are never really happy or satisfied.  It is a chasing after the wind.  They are trying to win the rat race and find out that they turned into a rat. 

 

Nevertheless, even though our true home is with God, that should not mean that we are foolish about the future.  That is part of Paul’s admonition to work for a living and not become a burden on others (cf. 1 Thess 4:11).  However, this should not morph into greed nor should it keep us from doing what is best in God’s eyes.

 

And lastly, we should live in the present, instead of wasting it.  Irrespective of what happened yesterday or last year, and what may or may not happen tomorrow, the present moment is where we are at – always!

 

We can live in the present as we are thankful for all the good that currently is happening with our children, youth, young adults, small groups, missions’ endeavours, worship, church plants, and as we are involved serving God in whatever capacity we can. 

 

Many people allow past problems and future concerns to so dominate the present moments that they end up anxious, depressed or frustrated.  When we live in the past or the future, then often we live in a world of fear, anticipation, regret, anxiety and stress.  Whether it’s dwelling on a painful event or worrying about the future. 

 

Some people assume that, for whatever reason, tomorrow is going to be more important than today.  And that is silly.  We are here today, and today we can do something, while there are no guarantees about tomorrow. 

 

Think of it this way.  Let’s say that the place you live in burns down while you and your loved ones are traveling.  You can be consumed by grief because of all the special items you lost in the fire.  You can be consumed by anxiety because of the difficulties you will face in finding a new place and replacing furniture and the like.  Or, you could thank God that the fire is out, that no one was hurt, that you have insurance.

 

I make this point not to minimize the tragedy of a fire, nor to say that we won’t miss the special things or that we won’t care.  I’m making the point that we need to live in the present moment.

 

Jesus said as much in the Sermon on the Mount when he told his followers not to be eaten up with worry about what may be in the future, but to focus on dealing with the problems of today instead (cf. Matt 6:34).

 

We shouldn’t allow our thinking ruin our day-to-day lives.  What I mean by that is while we live in the past or the future, our children are growing up, the people we love are moving away or passing on, our bodies are getting out of shape, we miss out on opportunities to enjoy our loved ones and to enjoy life and to do the important things right now.

 

Paul did not want the believers in Thessalonica to worry about Jesus’ return.  He wanted them to be ready for it by living as if every day was their last.  Think of it in this way:

 

Starting my day with love means that when I wake up in the morning, I thank God for the day and for his love and all the good that is in my lives, and praying that He will help me to be loving in every aspect of my life.

 

Living my day in love means that throughout the day, I remind myself of the importance of living my life with love as my absolute priority. 

 

And so, I will try to be loving, kind, gentle and patient in the way I act and in the choices I make.

 

I will let go of past hurts and stop dredging up the past to throw it in someone’s face.

 

I will attempt to maintain a good perspective on life.

 

I won’t take myself too seriously, not take events so personally, and not blow things out of proportion. 

 

I will make allowances for the imperfections of others and of myself. 

 

I will make a real effort not to be judgmental but instead to be generous and complimentary.

 

Ending each day with love means kissing my loved ones goodnight and telling them how much I love them.

 

It means thanking God for the good things that did happen to me and the love shown to me by others and by God.

 

Have I lost sight of eternity?

 

Have I lost sight of the uncertainty of life?

 

Have I lost sight of being a child of the light?

 

One way to think about eternity, the uncertainty of life, and being a child of the light, is to ask the question:

 

Should I die today, where would I stand with God?” 

 

Maybe some of you haven’t as yet asked yourself that questions. 

 

If so, what needs to happen?

What decision do I need to make ... today?

 

 

 

[1] Apocalyptic exaggeration:  Stars won’t shine, sun will be dark when it rises, the moon will be dark in the day of God’s burning anger when he punishes the world for its evil.

[2] This likely was due to the fact that Jesus predicted his return within the lifetime of his listeners.  See Matt 24:34; 26:64.

[3] No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father.  As it was in the days of Noah, so it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  For in the days before the flood, people were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, up to the day Noah entered the ark; and they knew nothing about what would happen until the flood came and took them all away. That is how it will be at the coming of the Son of Man.  Two men will be in the field; one will be taken and the other left.  Two women will be grinding with a hand mill; one will be taken and the other left.  Therefore keep watch, because you do not know on what day your Lord will come.  But understand this: If the owner of the house had known at what watch (i.e. time of night) the thief was coming, he would have kept watch and would not have let his house be broken into.  So you also must be ready, because the Son of Man will come at an hour when you do not expect him.  Matthew 24:36-44

 

[4] Gospel passages about Jesus’ teaching concerning the end times (Matt. 24:1-29; Mark 13:1-25; Luke 21:5-26), his return (Mark 13:25-27; Luke 21:27-28), and the unexpected nature of that return (Luke 12:39-40; 17:26-37; 21:34-36 and Mark 13:32-36).

[5] The day of the Lord is a term commonly found in the OT to refer to the judgment day of God when he would destroy the sinners and unrighteous (Isa. 13:6-9; Ezek. 30:3; Joel 1:15; 2:1,11,31; 3:14; Amos 5:18-20; Obad. 1:15; Zeph. 1:7,14; cf. Ezek. 7:19 – the day of the wrath of the LORD; Mal. 4:5 - the great and terrible day of the LORD; cf. 2 Pet. 3:10). 

[6] Compare Matt 25:13 - Keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.

[7] Originally the United Soceity of Believers in Christ’s Second Coming. 

[8] The UK founders of the Shakers (also known as Quaker Shakers) were James and Jane Wardley.  In 1774, the Shakers arrived in North America. Mother Ann Lee was their leader.

 

[9] If the master of the house had known at what time the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake ...

[10] Believe in the light while you have the light so that you will become the children of light - John 12:36; The children of this age vs. the children of light - Luke 16:8.

[11] Jesus said, as recorded in Luke (21:34) in the context of the return of Christ, that being alert means not having ones heart weighed down with a corrupt lifestyle (lit. dissipation), with drunkenness or with the worries of life that would keep.

[12] Lit. awake or have fallen asleep.