Year 2 Day 351
Read - 1 Thessalonians 5v1-11
Message - Scott Woodburn
We finished last week's devotions with a discussion about eschatology which is the study of the things that will happen in the final days of history. Paul reminded the Thessalonians that Christ was coming, He would bring dead Christians with Him and all of those who loved Christ would be raised to everlasting life. The Christian dead would receive their resurrected bodies first and this would be followed by Christians still alive at Christ's return.
The Thessalonians understood this and so Paul fully admitted that they were well aware of "the times and seasons" (v1). These weren't men and women caught in a day dream. They were paying attention and they knew full well that the return of Christ was and is an awe inspiring reality. They were fully aware that the day of Christ's return would "come like a thief in the night" (v2). In other words it would be unexpected. Just as a thief doesn't tell you that he will rob your house at 4:21am next Friday, so too we do not know the day or the hour of Christ's return.
Many people laugh at any notion of Christ's return. Jesus is merely a swear word for them or a piece of jewellery or a fictional figure trusted by fools. Such individuals think the world will never end, they say "peace and security" but in reality they are in supreme danger. Paul tells us that Christ's return will bring destruction upon the unprepared (v3). He uses the image of a pregnant woman going into sudden labour to prove his point. Christ will come suddenly and the unbeliever will not escape.
Yet the Thessalonians weren't living in the dark about these matters (v4). They (like all Christians) were children of light and children of the day. The child of God does not live in darkness (v5). God has opened our eyes to the light of His truth. Nevertheless Paul urged the Thessalonians to stay awake and sober (v6). Night is a time for sleep and those who wish to get drunk do so at night (v7). But the Christian belongs to the light of day and not the dark shadows of night (v8a).
The mature Christian understands that we are living in the last days. The next great event of human history will be the return of Jesus. Therefore we are to be awake, sober and alert. We protect our hearts with the breastplate of faith and love (v8b). We have received Christ by faith, we love Him and we love His people. We are to protect our minds with the helmet of the hope of salvation (v8b). We live in troubled times but we focus our minds on our blessed hope - we have trusted in Christ and we will not be put to shame.
The Christian should frequently consider Christ's return but they should never fear it. Jesus will come like a thief in the night but one who has trusted in Christ is ready. God has not destined us to meet with His righteous anger but instead to obtain salvation (v9). Christ has died for us and therefore if the Christian dies before the return of Christ (asleep) or if the Christian lives to see Christ coming in the clouds (awake) our destiny is the same - we will live with Jesus (v10).
Paul urges us once more to take these words and to encourage one another with them (v11). Additionally we are to build one another up. This is our great challenge as Christians. The world is a dark place and life is often hard. The temptation is to put the head down and focus on our own wee corner. But we are part of the church of Jesus Christ. We are a community of redeemed sinners who live in the light of day. Therefore brothers and sisters I urge you to daily remember that Christ is coming back and this world is fading away and to excel in encouragement. Stay awake, be alert, live in the day for our destiny is not wrath but salvation.
Q103 What do we pray for in the third petition? In the third petition, which is, Thy will be done in earth as it is in heaven,” we pray, that God, by his grace, would make us able and willing to know, obey, and submit to his will in all things, as the angels do in heaven.