Let us pray: Dear Savior, we know that judgement day will confront each of us—whether we die before Your return to earth or not. We know that apathy and spiritual neglect are ongoing issues we all face, putting off for the future what we should be doing today. Lord, today we ask that you energize us to not only plan for our future with You, but to actively prepare for it, too, by living and breathing Your words of eternal truth. Amen
GRACE MERCY AND PEACE ARE YOURS FROM CHRIST, THE COMING JUDGE OF ALL PEOPLE!
TEXT: I Thessalonians 5: 1-11
Fellow Redeemed Sinners:
No matter your age, I want to take all of you back to grade school. Remember those dreaded tests for which you hadn’t studied? Remember that feeling of “lostness” when you got the test and really didn’t know the answers? Lack of preparation is a killer. Then in high school you were introduced to “pop” tests. I had a geometry teacher who loved to hit us with those, and since I wasn’t very good in geometry to begin with, a feeling of gloom and doom descended the moment he said: “Take out a piece of paper.”
I learned to counter “test worry” a bit in college. Yes, you’ll always have subjects that you struggle with, after all, no one is perfect. But, if you do your homework regularly, actually read the assigned material and keep up with it all, come test time you’ll breeze through it. (Or at least, your deodorant won’t get quite as big a work-out!)
Wars are won or lost not on the battlefield but in the preparatory logistics. Heart disease and cancer are generally preventable if you prepare via exercise and eating habits. Money woes can be alleviated if you actually plan during the 7 good years for the 7 bad years. Preventative maintenance on your car will usually stave off breakdowns or huge repair bills. In short, by getting your life under control and curbing your excesses you’ll sleep better, worry less, and cope better when the unexpected rears its usually ugly head.
Today most people discount or ignore God’s prediction of judgement day. It either seems terribly far away, so why worry? Or, preparing for it crimps their lifestyle—they don’t want to give up certain sins—so they live with a faint dread of it all. Is that how God wants us, His children of light, to live each day? Absolutely not! Instead, He wants us to view judgement day as a validation of our faith and a deliverance from the silliness of this world. So, how can you achieve that kind of serene existence? Simple. By heeding God’s message and putting it into every day practice. In short, by living your faith. God says all this in today’s text. To paraphrase its truths:
GOD WANTS YOU TO BE AN EVER-READY CHRISTIAN
On 9-11 judgement day came for thousands of people with the plane crashes and subsequent demolishing of the twin towers. None of the victims boarded those planes or went off to work that day thinking: “Today I’m going to die.” And if you had told them what was about to occur, very few would have believed it. That’s the way it is in America today when it comes to God’s judgement day. A few of us proclaim its coming reality, but very few believe it. Most either scoff at the notion, or pride-fully posture themselves with some flippant remark like: “When your times up, it’s up.”—All the time believing in their hearts that they’re somehow immune from it all.
When St. Paul wrote our lesson to the church at Thessalonica, they were living under Roman rule. They were recipients of the Pax Romana, the peace wrought by Roman power. They were the superpower of the day. And in their arrogance they feared nothing, including God’s judgement. So, most never prepared, except for those Every-ready Christians. “Now brothers, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. While people are saying, ‘Peace and safety,’ destruction will come on them suddenly, as labor pains on a pregnant woman, and they will not escape.”
We have an expression, “being in the dark.” It means a person is ignorant about what’s really happening. Today is your wake-up call. After today you have no excuse. You can’t say: “I didn’t know that God was going to judge all people including me.” He is. He will. So, get ready now while you still have time to prepare.
“But you, brothers, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.”
This play on words is just as true today as when Paul wrote it. Slumber and darkness go hand-in-hand. Drunkenness invariably leads to lethargy and the darkness of sleep, as well. And when you’re loggy with sleep and try to fumble yourself out of trouble in total darkness, you’ll be unable to save yourself from the burning house or from the burning hell.
“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. For God not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.”
We’re told in the Bible that “God is light and in Him dwells on darkness at all.” So, how do we live in His light? How are we saved? Paul tells us. We have received salvation through Jesus Christ. Jesus, God’s Son, suffered the darkness off hell, of alienation from God for us. Remember on the cross when the darkness descended? Remember when Jesus said: “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Right at that moment He was suffering judgement day for us. Right at that moment He was paying for your sins and mine with His holy blood. And in the process He was winning our freedom from future judgement. For God spent His anger against our sins by putting them all on Christ. And then via His love and forgiveness, His grace, God made us into children of light. He worked faith into our hearts. Through faith you and I wear love as a breastplate to ward off worry and fear from our hearts and a helmet of salvation to keep our heads to prevent us from giving into temptation. Yes, armed with Christ’s love we want to avoid greed, envy, and all those many forms of lust because we know they are counter-productive.
When I originally looked at this lesson I thought to myself: “For the Christian, armed with forgiveness, judgement day is a time of deliverance. A time when our faith is validated. A time when all anxiety is removed because we know we’re freed from the evil influences of this world and that heaven is our new home.” My friends, that quiet confidence can be yours if you follow the truths of this text and realize that God Wants You To Be An Ever-Ready Christian! So, “encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.” Amen