“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God . . .” (I Thessalonians 4:16)
For years my family has lived by a maxim of sorts that has defined the way we think about our life. In the midst of troubles both great and small we always come back to it. It goes like this: ” . . . but then, Jesus could come back tomorrow and this (trial, worry, disappointment, need) won’t matter anymore.”
It never fails to help us regain our footing, re-adjust our priorities, and revitalize our hope.
Well, recently I’ve been reading through I Thessalonians in my Bible and I noticed that the end of each chapter emphasizes living every day in anticipation of Jesus’s return.
“For they themselves report to us . . . how you turned to . . . serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven . . .” 1:9-10 (Emphasis mine.)
“For who is our hope or joy or crown . . . is it not even you, in the presence of our Lord Jesus at His coming?” 2:19 (Emphasis mine.)
” . . . so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints.” 3:13 (Emphasis mine.)
“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout . . .” 4:16 (Emphasis mine.)
“. . . may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 5:23 (Emphasis mine.)
Three things stood out to me: 1) Jesus’s return is important 2) Jesus’s return is imminent 3) He expects us to be ready for it, whether we are in a trial or not.
Now, I’m not going to get into eschatology, I’m just going to ask one question: If God’s trumpet blew and Jesus descended today, would you be ready for Him?
Without being spurred by a season of trial, I confess there are many days I wouldn’t be ready. Yet, the Bible emphatically states that Jesus is coming back–and soon.
So how can we prepare ourselves today for Jesus’s return?
Fortunately, whenever God promises something, He faithfully provides everything we need to secure the promise. And in I Thessalonians 5:4-8 God gives us four simple steps we can take to prepare for that trumpet call of Christ.
“But you, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you like a thief; for you are all sons of light and sons of day . . . so then let us not sleep as others do, but let us be alert . . . since we are of the day, let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet, the hope of salvation.”
1) Be alert – Know what’s going on in our culture, in our world. Study the Bible to learn what world events signal Jesus’s return is near.
2) Be sober – Commit to live a self controlled, God-honoring life. When He does return, He will find you faithfully living for Him.
3) Put on the breastplate of faith and love – Guard our hearts through:
Faith in God; Choosing to trust God’s Word, plan, and goodness.
Love for others; Loving others as Jesus commanded.
4) Put on the helmet of the hope of salvation – Guard our minds. This “hope of salvation” refers to both immediate help and to a promised future hope of an eternity of fellowship with our Savior, Jesus, and with each other, too. This hope preserves our mind, even as a helmet protects the head of its wearer.
It lifts us from the pit of any present trouble and directs our gaze toward eternity. It changes the way we think and live.
It prepares us for Jesus’s return.
And just as the author of I Thessalonians didn’t want his readers taken by surprise when Jesus returned, God doesn’t want us taken by surprise either.
So He exhorts us,
“. . . stand up and lift up your heads, because your redemption is drawing near.”
In what ways does the promise of Jesus’s imminent return encourage you?
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