Are you ready for some good news? We get a breather today and some words of encouragement.
God’s people have always suffered the awkwardness, and sometimes even persecution, of not being like everyone else. The God of Abraham comes with strict rules and a more defined revelation of who God is than other gods have. Jesus said the way we follow is “narrow” (Matt. 7:14, niv).
But we also have treasures not available to those who aren’t in conscious relationship with God. We have hope for the life to come. Paul writes to the Thessalonians about the future of Jesus with his people, “that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope” (esv).
Our hope is based on what Jesus has done on our behalf and on what Jesus will do in the future. Paul explains, “For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep” (esv).
Jesus, who comes to us in the flesh, who dies, rises, and ascends, is Jesus who will return. The “coming of the Lord” (esv) is a key part of our hope.
I once asked a Christian from an officially atheist country about living there. He told me that he could talk about Jesus as long as it was about the past. Jesus the great teacher was no threat. But he could not proclaim openly the return of Jesus because a returning king threatens present claims to authority. No nation or ruler will last when the Son returns to establish his reign. Even death will give way.
This is the hope we have, no matter who seems to hold power in the present. For the dead in Christ will be raised. And “so we will always be with the Lord” (esv).
Even so, come Lord Jesus! Amen.
Although God miraculously has brought the Israelites into the Promised Land, some continue to worship foreign gods. Joshua tells them that they must choose whom they will serve and warns of the dangers of unfaithfulness. After they declare that they will follow God, Joshua reminds them of the laws given by God. The psalmist affirms the importance of this kind of reminder; telling the story of God’s faithfulness in the past encourages us in the present. The New Testament readings address Christ’s return. The Thessalonians are concerned that those who have died might miss the final resurrection, but Paul assures them that this will not be the case. Jesus tells a parable to highlight the fact that his return will be unexpected, so we should always be ready.
Read Joshua 24:1-3a, 14-25. We are prone to wander. When have you failed to keep promises you have made to God?
Read Psalm 78:1-7. How do you put your hope in God? What are you doing to awaken faith in the next generation?
Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. How does the promise of the “coming of the Lord” provide hope when present authorities seem to have a stranglehold? How does the notion that the coming Lord will hold us all accountable encourage you?
Read Matthew 25:1-13. How do you daily choose your faith? How do you keep awake?
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