Wait on the LORD: be of good courage,
and he shall strengthen thine heart;
wait, I say, on the LORD.
- Psalm 27:14
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He is coming again! 11/13/11
1 Thessalonians 5:11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do

Each Sunday that we come together in worship, we celebrate the victory that we live in through the finished work of Jesus Christ, for He has lived, He has died, He arose, He ascended to heaven and He is coming again! In our culture, we often view Sunday as part of the weekend and Monday as the beginning of a new week. But in reality, today is the first day of the week for it is the day of the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. The Russian people are reminded of this each Sunday because the translation of their word for Sunday means Resurrection. It is from this coming together in fellowship with God and Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and therefore with one another, that we are encouraged and edified to go into the new week with confidence and boldness.

We are enabled to do this because we know who we are in Christ Jesus, and this knowledge trumps any theories that our flesh, the world and the devil will try to throw at us to cause us to fear the return of Jesus Christ. God has not appointed us to wrath, but He has appointed us to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

Today God is speaking to us out of the First Letter that Apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonian congregation. One of the primary topics that is addressed in this letter is the concern that the believers had for the second coming of Jesus Christ, for it seems that a number of them expected him to return in their lifetime. They had the same questions that we have today: When is He coming, Is He coming soon, what are the signs of His coming, what will happen to those who have died before us, what will happen to us if He comes in our lifetime, and so on. These are common questions that Christians of all time have wondered about.

We pick up this topic in chapter 4, verse 13 and it reads in this manner:

He is coming again: How?
1 Thess 4:13 But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
15 For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (precede) them which are asleep.
16 For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
17 Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
18 Wherefore comfort one another with these words.

Here Paul addresses what is real: All believers in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ live in the expectant hope of being united with Jesus Christ upon His return, a union which will last forever. We are to comfort one another with this eventual reality, for God has said that this is what will take place.

He is coming again: When?
KJV 1 Thessalonians 5:1 But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.
2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.
3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.
4 But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.
5 Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober.
7 For they that sleep sleep in the night; and they that be drunken are drunken in the night.

He is coming again: Wow!
8 But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
9 For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.
11 Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do.

In view of the fact that we are children of the light, we are called to comfort one another and to edify one another. Paul then alludes to the reality that this is not something that is new to you, for he writes that this is your manner of life in Christ today. Note how he says, "even as ye (plural) do." That is a signficant part of what is said here. Why is it so?

To comfort someone means that we come alongside them in some manner to console them, to cheer them up, to encourage them. The context points us back to the topic, that you are God's child by the work of Jesus Christ: Through faith in His promises, through the experiencing of His love in your heart and in the expectant and anticipatory return of the true lover of our soul, Jesus Christ, one lives!!! He is the bridegroom and we are the bride. We are called to remind people of God's attitude towards them as it is brought out in this text.

Secondly, we are called to edify one another, to build one another up. The Greek word used for edify is the same one that is used to refer to the building of a structure. Here it is used metaphorically to illustrate both the building up one on in the Christian graces such as humilily, love, peace, joy and so on, but it can also be understood in the sense of being built up together as members of the universal church, the body of Christ.

He encourages them to continue to live in this present world, but with a mind that is set upon the promises of God in Christ Jesus. He then builds their confidence by showing appreciation of the fact that they have been doing this and are doing it today. This type of approach is one that is well worth noting, for it is similar to how Paul approached another situation which is recorded in the book of Philemon. Here are the verses which relate to this instance. He is appealing to Philemon to take back a slave who has run away and has possibly stolen things from him in the process. Note how Paul assumes that Philemon will not only receive the slave, Onesimus, but will do even more than that. He assumes that grace will pour out of the heart of Philemon towards the one that wrong him. For Paul says, "knowing that you will do even more than I say."

Philemon 1:20 Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.
21 Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.

We might say that Paul gave Philemon a push toward the abundance of grace as opposed to the stinginess of just doing what is right. Doing right is good, but better is to extend grace and favor to others even as we have been graced and favored by God.

Jean Nidetch, a 214 pound homemaker desperate to lose weight, went to the New York City Department of Health, where she was given a diet devised by Dr. Norman Jolliffe. Two months later, discouraged about the 50 plus pounds still to go, she invited six overweight friends home to share the diet and talk about how to stay on it. Today, 28 years later, one million members attend 25,0000 Weight Watchers meetings in 24 countries every week. Why was Nidetch able to help people take control of their lives?

To answer that, she tells a story. When she was a teen-ager, she used to cross a park where she saw mothers gossiping while the toddlers sat on their swings, with no one to push them. “I’d give them a push,” says Nidetch. “And you know what happens when you push a kid on a swing? Pretty soon he’s pumping, doing it himself. That’s what my role in life isI’m there to give others a push.”

Bethany Hamilton, who is the main player in the Soul Surfer movie which details her life as a surfer who lost an arm to a shark attack, learned the reality of what it means to give encouragement, but it took years of struggle and pain for her to be able to say, "I could never have embraced this many people with two arms."

Her life is no longer hers, it is now the life of Jesus and she lives it for the sake of others. She lives in the faith of Jesus Christ; because she has been loved by God she loves others towards their souls salvation; and she lives in the expectant hope of His return.

Jesus lived, He died, He arose and He is coming again!!

May the Holy Spirit today cause our eyes to be fixed on Jesus, the Author and the Finisher of our faith. May those eyes of faith be fixed on what God has told us today so that we will bask in the love that He has given us and so that we will watch for His return even as we watch for the morning sunrise. May we say with the Apostle who John loved, who said at the end of the book of Revelation in reference to the Lord's imminent and quick return:

Rev 22:20b-21 Even so, come, Lord Jesus.
The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen.

Pastor Orval Wirkkala

Posted on 13 Nov 2011 by Pastor Orval Wirkkala
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