Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Waiting and Watching

The application of 1Thessalonians 5 is well known to most of us, especially verses 2 and 3 that warns the LORD will come "as a thief in the night."  But have you ever stopped to ponder, meditate, consider verses 4 and 5 and the message that is being implied?  "But you are not in darkness, brothers, for that day to surprise you like a thief. For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness."  As I read it last night, a deeper understanding was gained. Let me briefly exhort everyone who belongs to Christ with my feeble attempt at explaining how I perceive it to be. 

Once saved, the children of God are given understanding and discernment through the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.   Many of us are content with the basic knowledge of and belief in our salvation, but there are some of us who strongly desire more of God's wisdom.  And when that desire is expressed in prayer, He never fails to continue to fill us.  As verse 2 and 3 of 1Thess 5 expresses, God's timing is sovereign.  Only He knows the day and the hour.   Of that, I hope we can all agree.

But! (don't you just love that conjunction?)  God's children should not be suddenly surprised that the Day of the LORD has come upon us, because they should be watching and waiting for it to happen! That's where the discernment comes in with this particular verse.  Although we should not become anxious and fearful, we should recognize the signs (Matthew 24, Mark 13) that the return of Jesus Christ is imminent and be ready to meet Him when "...the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first [those who have physically died and are buried]. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord." (The Rapture of the church - 1Thess 4:16-17)

As many church leaders who are of the same opinion as myself are expressing, the world, including our own nation, is in moral, social, economic, and military turmoil.  Even creation groans in anticipation of what's to come (Romans 8:22-24).  Together we deeply yearn for that moment when our LORD's voice will call out from the heavens and draw us to Himself.  And because we "are not of the night or of the darkness," and carefully and confidently watch the signs occurring all around us, we wait for that moment with the peace that only Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit are able to give.  In other words, when that moment comes like a "thief," we should be expecting it to happen.  It shouldn't surprise any of God's children, if they remain in His Word, seeking His truth and not the world's perception of truth, and are "...sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation.   For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep [in the grave] we might live with Him." (1Thess 5:8-10)  To put it simply, that "thief" should be expected to break in.  We may not know the moment God has chosen for this spectacular event to occur, but it should not shock or "surprise" any of His children as long as they remain in the light and not slumbering away in darkness.

The apostle Paul ends these verses with this: "Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing." (1Thess 5:11)   We are called to remain ever vigilant and watchful, exhorting and encouraging each with the surety that what God has begun through His Son Jesus Christ, He will complete through His Son and our Savior Jesus Christ.

Be a "watchman on the wall" (Isaiah 62:6-7), watching for the signs of our Savior's return, and continue to herald the Gospel to the lost.  Time is short, salvation is available to all who come with a repentant heart and genuine trust and belief in Jesus Christ, and eternity awaits.

The LORD's grace and peace to all, and to Jesus Christ be given all glory and honor. 

Maranatha! 

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