Discover His heart: “For the Lord Himself will come down from heaven…” for His loved ones
The power of the written word! This is something I don’t take lightly. From this power, countries have formed, wars have commenced and love has flourished. The written word is a powerful impacting force that affects our lives every day. Facebook has become a new form of written communication that delivers spontaneous and immediate information, sometimes this is a good thing and sometimes it’s not. A post can be removed with a simple tap of the finger, but for those few moments it remains online, the words are out there with a destiny that is difficult to predict. As a rule, once the written word leaves our hand, it’s difficult to retrieve and impossible to control how it is perceived. Paul found this to be true in his own life.
Paul’s first letter to the church at Thessalonica was intended to be one of encouragement and hope regarding future events, but instead, it brought confusion and distress to the church. Some in the church were grieving over fellow believers who had died, and Paul wrote these words of comfort in 1 Thessalonians 4:16-18, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven with a commanding shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet call of God. First, the Christians who have died will rise from their graves. Then, together with them, we who are still alive and remain on the earth will be caught up in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. Then we will be with the Lord forever. So encourage each other with these words.” Well, I don’t know about you, but these words make me want to shout! They bring encouragement to us; but for the Thessalonians, not so much.
False prophets took Paul’s first letter and ran with it saying that this prophecy had already begun, and they caused fear and turmoil for many in the church. Paul assured them that it was not true and other events would first occur before the prophecy was fulfilled. (2:1-4) Others adopted an “escapism” mentality and thought Christ’s imminent return was an excuse to quit work and wait for the shout and the trumpet. They sat around leeching off others and meddling in their business. Paul, not one to mince words, reminded them, “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.” (3:10) I like that.
Strange that these same responses to Paul’s first letter still happen today, but in this day and age, we are without excuse. At the writing of the letters to the Thessalonians, little to none of the New Testament had been written and circulated. The church had grown through oral teachings based on the life of Christ and the Old Testament. Today we are privileged to read the entire Word of God – the Old Testament prophecies, the Gospels with the prophetic words of Jesus, Paul’s Holy Spirit inspired messages of the end times and the glorious Revelations of John. The written Word is powerful, and I am encouraged just as Paul intended!
When I was young, I was often called over to the window or to the kitchen screen door by my mom where she would point to the sky and say, “See those clouds, Phyllis. Someday Jesus will come back in those clouds to take us to heaven. Make sure your heart is ready for Him and listen for His shout, listen for the trumpet. He’s coming back.” She anticipated His imminent return. However, she didn’t just sit back and wait for that day. No, she worked every day for Him and testified to hundreds and hundreds of individuals about Jesus until the day she died. One thing I know from Paul’s writing, and there’s no debate here, is that should the Lord return for us today, my mom will rise first to meet Him from the grave, and she would like that.
Moving Forward: I went to my window this morning and looked at the clouds hoping to see Him and to hear the shout because I’m expecting Him to come any moment. Until He comes, however, I’m going to work for Him just as hard as I can.
Tomorrow @ Leviticus 25-27