Monday, November 19, 2007

I Thessalonians 5:1-11


I have been asked over and over again, "Is this the end?" Well, here we have some insight given to us in this chapter.

1 Now, brothers and sisters, about times and dates we do not need to write to you, 2 for you know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 3 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.

NOTE the trio says that there is no need in talking about times and dates, because the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. What does that mean? It means that the end will come upon us suddenly and it is impossible to escape its inevitability.

4 But you, brothers and sisters, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief. 5 You are all children of the light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. 6 So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night.

This is interesting! Those believers in Jesus, the brothers and sisters, are children of the light and not the darkness. Since we are in the light, the end should not surprise us nor should we be shocked that this will all happen swiftly.

8 But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. 9 For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. 10 He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him.

NOTE that God did not appoint for us to suffer wrath, but to receive salvation through Jesus. Since He died for us, whether dead or alive, we may live together in Him. How are we to respond as we approach what might be the end? We are to put on faith and love and hope in Jesus. Although this passage is used to say that believers won't go through the Great Tribulation, it seems more appropriate to see it as saying that in the midst of whatever level of tribulation we may encounter, we must embrace our salvation through Jesus.

11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

NOTE this is not saying to take these truths about the end of time and scare the hell out of those who may be listening on. Nor does it say that we must figure out the timing of the end and find our place in prophecy. What it is saying is that we are to use these truths to encourage one another and to build each other up in the midst of the world pressures and struggles that may come upon us.

You know what? I think the essence of what is being said in this section is, "There is only one way to get through this life and to get out of here alive and that is through Jesus."



THANKSGIVING-2007. Erma Bombeck made a fascinating observation about Thanksgiving. She said, "Thanksgiving dinners take eighteen hours to prepare. They are consumed in twelve minutes. Half-times take twelve minutes. This is not a coincidence." She may be on to something here.

Whatever the Thanksgiving season means to you, there is a most important direction for you to focus your thanks and that is to the God of gods. There is an interesting story where Jesus makes a point about being thankful.

The story is found in Luke 17:11-19: 11 Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!"

NOTE that Jesus was on His way from Galilee to Jerusalem to offer Himself as a sacrifice for the world and He travels on the border of Samaria and Galilee. The Jews and Samaritans were arch enemies. They would have nothing to do with one another. The Jews viewed them as lesser than or half-breeds. They certainly would never view any Samaritan as a good or righteous person.

Jesus encounters 10 lepers along that border. And it's interesting to me that they didn't ask for Jesus to heal them. They asked of Him the same as they have been asking all others as they passed by. "Jesus, Master, have pity on us!" "Jesus, just show us some pity and compassion and contribute to our needs the best you can."

14 When he saw them, he said, "Go, show yourselves to the priests." And as they went, they were cleansed. This is such a different healing experience. Jesus didn't touch them nor did He pronounce them healed, but gave them something to do. Go to your priests and show yourself to them. You see, the only one who could pronounce these lepers clean was the priest. This was the requirement of the Law. What's interesting is that this was not a common occurrence that lepers were healed. In fact, the Jewish leadership had taught them that only the Messiah would be able to heal lepers.

These lepers listened to Jesus and did what He said. And then it literally says, "In the act of going, they were cleansed of their leprosy." When you do what Jesus says to do, you, too, will experience a healing of your "leprosy". Now NOTE what happens.

15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus' feet and thanked him-and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, "Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?" 19 Then he said to him, "Rise and go; your faith has made you well."

All of the lepers were cleansed or healed of their leprosy, yet only one came back to express his gratefulness. And, Jesus makes it clear that the only one who came back to give thanks was not a Jew, but a Samaritan.

NOTE something here: We live in the same way. Even though we experience His cleansing and healing in our lives, it's so easy to take it all for granted. Only one out of ten are thankful. I think this is about right!

But NOTE, the one who returns to be thankful is not only cleansed, but Jesus says, "Rise up and go; your faith has made you well." "Made you well" is the word for salvation. Your faith-your act of thankfulness-has saved you. All of the others were healed, but only this one was fully saved and made whole.

This reminds me of the passage in the first chapter of Romans. Paul says, "For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools."

I think it comes down to this: GRATEFUL PEOPLE ARE THE ONLY ONES WHO CAN FULLY ENJOY ALL THAT GOD HAS FOR THEM. So today, are you thankful? Be sure to say so. Tell God and tell others you love how thankful you really are, then look out for God's fullness and wholeness in your life!