The After Christmas Spirit
36 Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age and had lived with a husband seven years from her virginity; 37 and this woman was a widow of about eighty-four years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day. 38 And coming in that instant she gave thanks to the Lord and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.
39 So when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned to Galilee, to their own city, Nazareth. 40 And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.
Another Christmas has passed, now what? What do we do now? Do we just forget about our Savior birth and just wait till next December to praise our Lord Jesus?
In the Scripture today Jesus is 41 days old, and in vs. 22 His parents have taken Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. While they were there, the Holy Spirit made sure that they crossed paths with a very devoted man named Simeon. Vs. 26-32 tell us that, “It had been revealed to him by the Holy Spirit that he would not see death before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. So he came by the Spirit into the temple. And when the parents brought in the Child Jesus, to do for Him according to the custom of the law, he took Him up in his arms and blessed God and said: ‘Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.’”
1. So as we look beyond Christmas -- Now what? First, stay close to the Lord in every situation.
This elderly widow named Anna teaches us to stay close to the Lord. Listen again to her life-story in vs. 36-37, “Now there was one, Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Asher. She was of a great age and had lived with a husband 7 years from her virginity; and this woman was a widow of about 84 years, who did not depart from the temple, but served God with fasting and prayers night and day.”
Anna may have been over 100, because vs. 37 may mean that she had been a widow for 84 years. And over her long life, Anna teaches us that we should stay as close to the Lord as possible. Stay close to the Lord in every situation -- Even in times of stress and sorrow. Anna knew all about sorrow. She had only been married 7 years when her husband died. Did he get sick and suffer from a lingering illness? Was he killed in a terrible accident? Was he killed by a robber or a Roman soldier?
However he died, it must have broken Anna’s heart. But Anna did not make the tragic mistake so many people make. Anna did not pull away from God. Vs. 37 tells us that she did not depart from the Temple, and this tells us that Anna stayed as close to the Lord as she possibly could. That’s exactly what we should do. Even in times of sorrow.
We must stay close to the Lord in every situation. And the great news for us is that through Jesus Christ we can get closer to the Lord today than Anna had ever dreamed. Even when she was looking right into the face of baby Jesus. We can get closer to the Lord because Jesus has now died on the cross for our sins. We can get closer because Jesus is risen from the dead. We can get closer because the Holy Spirit of Christ is at work in our world right now in a way that He did not work before the cross. We can even have the Lord right here in our hearts… if we will open our heart to receive Jesus as Savior and Lord. So get close to the Lord. And stay close to the Lord.
2. As we look beyond Christmas, stay close to the Lord in every situation. -- And serve the Lord every way you can.
Anna served the Lord every way she possibly could. In vs. 37 she “did not depart from the temple but served God with fasting and prayers night and day.” There is no way for us to measure the blessings that came from Anna’s service.
-It was spiritual service. -- We see that in her prayers.
-It was sacrificial service. -- We see that in her fasting.
-And it was steady service. -- Anna served the Lord night and day for a long, long time.
Whether she was 84 or over 100, the Lord blessed her with a very long life, and she made the most of her life. Anna served the Lord every way she could, as long as she possibly could. And one lesson for us is that we are never too old to serve the Lord. But a bigger lesson is that we must serve the Lord while we can. Most of us will not live to 84. -- Almost certainly not to 100.
Time is short. We must serve the Lord while we can, trusting God to use our faithful service in ways we cannot see. Anna had no idea that God would add her story to His Word, or that millions of people would be blessed by it down through the centuries.
3. As we look beyond Christmas, serve the Lord every way you can. -- And trust God to surprise you with joy.
God loves to surprise His people with joy. I have no idea what kind of day Anna was having when she walked across the temple court. But I can imagine that she was in some pain -- achy shoulders or knees. Her sight must have been failing. She might have been lonely. Anna might have been carrying some heavy burdens that day. But she had no idea of the wonderful thing she was about to see.
In vs. 38, as Anna was going about her normal day, she ran right into the new-born Savior. Suddenly Anna received a new burst of joy in her life! God made sure that she got there just in time to see Simeon take the baby in his arms and say, “Lord, now You are letting Your servant depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation which You have prepared before the face of all peoples, a light to bring revelation to the Gentiles, and the glory of Your people Israel.”
Anna was surprised by joy. And many times, the Lord will do the same thing for us. Maybe it’s the joy of a new baby or grandbaby, or a special time with friends, or a good report from the doctor. God likes to surprise us with His joy, and it can come in the smallest things of life. But the best joy comes as it did that day from our close encounters with the Lord. Those times when He allows us to see His Hand at work. Those times when He gives us a special touch.
Believers, God wants to surprise you with His joy. And this is so important, because Nehemiah tells us that the joy of the Lord is our strength. And joy is one of the most, Godly characteristics we can have in our hearts. The fruit of the Spirit is love…Then joy!
Joy is a good and proper and Godly thing. And what do you think I will do if I have this Godly joy? I will do the same thing Anna did in vs. 38: “She gave thanks to the Lord, and spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem.” Anna shared her joy with everyone she possibly could. And that’s what the Lord wants us to do.
You see, many around us today are living in fear because of this pandemic. As they should be. This is a scary situation our world is in. It is even scarier to handle, if one does not have the Lord in their hearts. That is when we can tell them about the peace that we have in Jesus.
You may not feel very joyful today, but don’t give up on the joy of the Lord! Ask the Lord to restore His joy to you… And He will. That is of course…if you are living in sin, then joy will be really hard to find. Because sin is blocking your joy… your relationship with Christ.
4. As we look beyond Christmas, trust God to surprise you with joy. -- And strengthen your life with spiritual growth.
The Lord Himself is our model for spiritual growth, as we see in vs. 40, “The Child (Jesus) grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him.”
God never wants us to get stuck in a spiritual rut. As long as we are in this world, the Lord wants us to be growing spiritually. God wants us to grow strong in His wisdom and grace. In Ephesians 4:13&15, Paul tells us that we should grow…
13 till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; 14 that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, 15 but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ.
Peter also reminds every believer the same thing…
2 Peter 3:18
18 but grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be the glory both now and forever. Amen.
Pastor/Author Selwyn Hughes (some of you may remember him for your devotional, Everyday with Jesus) helps us see God’s high standards with these questions:
-Am I trying to grasp things from God’s hands or are my hands relaxed and empty so that I might receive?
-Do I shrink from painful experiences or do I welcome them in the knowledge that they will make me a more sensitive person?
-Am I so sure of God and His resources that I am free from a spirit of “demandingness” and over-concern?
-Is my goal to be happy, or is it to be holy?
-Am I more taken up with getting pleasure out of God than I am with giving pleasure to God?
-Do I have a deep compassion and concern for the plight of others?
-Is my heart clean and pure?
-Have I experienced an inner cleansing that has reached to the deepest depths?
-Am I a reconciler -- one who seeks to reconcile others to God and, where necessary, to each other?
Pastor Hughes asked these questions and then added: “Don’t be discouraged if you can’t see all of these beautiful attitudes at work in your life. Remember, we grow in grace.”
Spiritual growth does not just happen once you are saved, even if you attend services regularly. Churches are filled with people who’ve attended for their entire lives, yet they are still spiritual babies. Spiritual growth is not automatic with the passing of time. The writer of Hebrews sadly noted, ‘though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again’ (Hebrews 5:12). Millions of Christians have grown older without ever growing up.
The truth is that spiritual growth is intentional. It requires a commitment to grow. A person must want to grow, decide to grow and make an effort to grow. Discipleship begins with a decision.
Make the commitment today. Don’t let your spiritual life get stuck in a rut. Don’t let your past mistakes or failures keep you in the past. God DOES NOT, want you there. There is no growing by staying in the past. God wants all Christians to grow spiritually. But how are we going to do it? There is a whole lot to say about this, but today let me just focus on two requirements for spiritual growth…
1-Of course, we must feed ourselves on the Word of God. Peter was speaking to believers when he said: “As newborn babes, desire the pure milk of the word, that you may grow thereby” (1 Peter 2:2). One problem many Christians have today is that they are starving themselves from the Word of God. And I am not just talking about coming to church on Sundays. I am talking about taking in some of God’s Word every day. Baptist Pastor, Jerry Vines said, “An unread Bible is like food uneaten, a love letter never read, a buried sword, a road map unstudied, gold never mined.”
2-We must feed ourselves on the Word of God in order to grow, but also realize that you cannot grow alone. The truth is that Christians need relationships in order to grow. We don’t grow in isolation from others. We develop in the context of fellowship. Belonging to Christs’ body.
Christmas has passed once again. But that’s not the end for us. Make it a glorious beginning.
-Stay close to the Lord in every situation. Serve the Lord every way you can.
Prince Of Peace
6 For unto us a Child is born, Unto us a Son is given; And the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. 7 Of the increase of His government and peace. There will be no end,
Upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, To order it and establish it with judgment and justice. From that time forward, even forever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.
To start, I would like to share the story behind one of our favorite Christmas hymns, “I Heard the Bells on Christmas Day.” At the time of it’s writing Henry Wadsworth Longfellow was happy in his life, enjoying a widening recognition, and elated over the election of Abraham Lincoln. He believed Lincoln’s election signaled the triumph of freedom and redemption for the nation. On July 9, 1861 Longfellow’s wife, Fanny, was near an open window when her dress caught fire and she was engulfed in flames. Her husband, sleeping in the next room, was awaked by her screams.
As he desperately tried to put out the fire and save his wife, he was severely burned on his face and hands. Fanny died the next day. Longfellow’s severe burns would not allow him to attend Fanny’s funeral. His white beard was one of the results of the tragedy. The burn scars on his face made shaving almost impossible. In his diary for Christmas day 1861 he wrote, “How inexpressibly sad are the holidays.” In 1862 the toll of war’s dead began to mount and in his diary for that year Longfellow wrote of Christmas, “A merry Christmas say the children, but that is no more for me.” In 1863 his son who had run away to join the Union army was severely wounded and returned home in December. There is no entry in Longfellow’s diary for that Christmas.
But on Christmas Day 1864 – at age 57 – Longfellow sat down to try to capture, if possible, the joy of the season. He began, “I heard the bells on Christmas day, Their old familiar carols play, and wild and sweet the words repeat of peace on earth, good will to men.”
As he came to the third stanza, he was stopped by the thought of the condition of his beloved country. The Battle of Gettysburg was not long past. Days looked dark, and he probably asked himself the question, “How can I write about peace on earth, good will to men in this war-torn country, where brother fights against brother and father against son?” But he kept writing – and what did he write?
And in despair I bowed my head: “There is no peace on earth”, I said, for hate is strong, and mocks the song of peace on earth, good will to men. It seems as if he could have been writing for our kind of day. Then, as all of us should do, he turned his thoughts to the One who gives true and perfect peace, and continued writing: Then peeled the bells more loud and deep; “God is not dead, nor doth he sleep! The wrong shall fail; the right prevail, With peace on earth, good will to men.”
I want to ask you a question, are you experiencing peace today? I once read about an interview that was conducted with movie actor, Harrison Ford, concerning the subject of possessions. Harrison Ford’s movies have brought in several billion dollars at the box office. In the interview he expressed his disappointment with money. Ford said, “You only want what you do not have.” The reporter pressed him further by asking, “What do you not have?” Ford paused and muttered, “peace.”
All people need peace. God would like to give you peace during this Christmas season. Jesus is the source of that peace? We have been looking at four descriptive titles given to Jesus, as recorded in Isaiah 9:6. The last title is “Prince of Peace.” This word peace in the Hebrew language is “shalom.” This was a word of greeting used by the Hebrew people. A greeting is a pleasant word. It is a word whereby you wish a person a good day. You wish them good things. God wishes to give you good things. God wishes you well. If Jesus is the prince of peace what will that do for you?
Peace comes when we find restoration with God. Relationships can become strained and restoration needs to take place. Anytime there is division there will be discomfort. Peace will be lacking and restoration is in order.
• If a husband and wife are at odds there will be discomfort. Somebody may have to sleep on the couch.
• If workers at the office are at odds there will be discomfort. Jokes will be few and far between.
• If parents and children are at odds there will be discomfort around the house.
There was a Peanuts cartoon with Lucy saying to Charlie Brown, "I hate everything. I hate everybody. I hate the whole wide world!" Charlie Brown says, "But I thought you had inner peace." Lucy replies, "I do have inner peace. But I still have outer obnoxiousness"
The Bible says our sins separate or alienate us from God, but Jesus will bring peace. But now you belong to Christ Jesus, and though you once were far away from God, now you have been brought very near to Him because of what Jesus Christ has done for you with His blood. For Christ Himself is our way of peace. He has made peace.
13 But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ. 14 For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation.
5 But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities,
The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed.
Jesus is called the Prince of Peace. Webster says a prince is “a preeminent person in any class or group.” The word prince comes from the Latin word “princeps” which means first or chief. Thus, Jesus is the chief of peace. There is another interesting observation from Webster. One of the descriptive phrases says a prince is a ruler whose rank is below that of the king. That also describes Jesus. His rank is below that of our Heavenly Father. Jesus brings peace. He controls peace. If you want to find peace you find it in Jesus Christ.
Have you given Jesus first priority in your life? Some of the hard sayings of Jesus were directed toward people who were struggling with their spiritual priorities. “When Jesus saw great multitudes about Him, He gave a command to depart to the other side. Then a certain scribe came and said to Him, “Teacher, I will follow you wherever You go.”
And Jesus said to him, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.” Then another of His disciples said to Him, “Lord, let me first go and bury my father.” But Jesus said to him, “Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead.” Mt. 8:18-22. When you study the context of that passage it is obvious that the question was asked by a man who was trying to trap Jesus. Jesus was not cold hearted. He wants us to be concerned for our families. However, He wants to be first in our priorities. Is Jesus first in your heart? If your answer is YES, then you should have peace in your heart. Everything should fall in place. Your relationship with God is in the right place and also your relationship with your neighbors.
Some people might register a complaint against God because there seems to be no peace in our world. Sound familiar! Why Isn’t God doing, with everything that is going on in our world? Well… He is! This is all part of His master plan. Remember…He is still the One in control!
Was God making an empty promise in the book of Isaiah? Was God a liar? Before registering a complaint against God let me remind you of something. When Isaiah wrote this book, God’s people were not experiencing peace. They were in the midst of trials. They were experiencing turmoil. Maybe God had something else in mind? Let me offer a suggestion. When God gives the comfort of peace it will be in one of three forms.
The book of Philippians is one such example. Paul was in prison when he wrote this book. He was in the midst of a storm. In chapter 4 of that book Paul shares an awesome word of comfort. He says…
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
I recall… that the word guard is a military term. It is the term used to describe a soldier standing guard. See the thought? When we come to God in prayer… He will give us peace that will guard our hearts.
There once was a king who offered a prize to the artist who would paint the best picture of peace. Many artists tried. The king looked at all the pictures. But there were only two he really liked, and he had to choose between them.
One picture was of a calm lake. The lake was a perfect mirror of peaceful towering mountains. Overhead was a blue sky with fluffy white clouds. All who saw this picture thought that it was a perfect picture of peace.
The other picture had mountains, too. But these were rugged and bare. Above was an angry sky, from which rain fell and in which lightning played. Down the side of the mountain tumbled a foaming waterfall. This did not look peaceful at all.
But when the king looked closely, he saw a tiny bush growing in a crack in the rocks behind the waterfall. In the bush a mother bird had built her nest. There, in the midst of the rush of angry water, sat the mother bird on her nest - in perfect peace.
Which picture do you think won the prize? The king chose the second picture. Do you know why? "Because," explained the king, "peace does not mean to be in a place where there is no noise, trouble, or hard work. Peace means to be in the midst of all those things and still be calm in your heart. That is the real meaning of peace."
When Isaiah wrote, God’s people were out of God’s will. They were living in rebellion and disobedience. A person living in rebellion will never find peace. When Adam and Eve committed the first sin, they experienced turmoil. They immediately ran from God. They hid themselves. They lived in fear. There was no peace for them.
Jonah learned this lesson the hard way. God called him to preach in the city of Ninevah. Ninevah was a wicked city and one of the bitter enemies of the Israelite people. Jonah would have a natural prejudice toward the people of this city. Jonah thought he could avoid God’s will by running to a place called Tarshish. The Bible says Jonah sought to flee “the presence of the Lord.” He thought Tarshish would be a safe place. What he found was a whole different story. He experienced a horrible storm. He experienced the wrath of the sailors on board the ship. Ultimately, he spent three days in the belly of a large fish. Life outside of God’s will was not a pleasant experience for him.
Let me give you a verse to live by…
You will keep him in perfect peace, Whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.
What an awesome Christmas present you would receive if you submit to God’s will today.
(1) God will sometimes comfort by taking away the storm. Jesus did this for His disciples. On one occasion Jesus and His disciples were on the Sea of Galilee when a storm arose. Jesus disciples were overwhelmed by fear. Jesus spoke to the storm as if it were a puppy and calmed the storm. Sometimes He will take away the storm.
(2) God will sometimes comfort through inner peace. God will give hope that comforts. Isaiah gave a promise that God’s people would find hope in Jesus Christ.
(3) God will sometimes comfort by giving peace in the midst of the storm. God never promised that He would always take away the storm. Sometimes the miracle is to find peace in the midst of the storm.
The Day Of The Lord
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night. 3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness. 6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night. 8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation. 9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him. 11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Ever since Christ promised that He was going to prepare a place for His own- and one-day return, Christians have been “looking up” and speculating as to when this glorious day will occur. When faced with a crisis or upon getting older human beings who are naturally curious about the future are more likely to speculate that the “end times” are near. While hearing many false case that Christ will appear during one’s lifetime is quite invigorating but, does not predicting that which not even the angels or Christ knows (Matthew 24:36) not only seem arrogant but foolish for when the predicted date comes and goes it often leads many to question the accuracy of the entire Gospel message?
In today’s passage, Apostle Paul states that since the date cannot be predicted then the best humanity can do is to be alert and self-controlled, always living one’s life in certainty that the Day of the Lord will come. While this will be a day of judgment and wrath for unbelievers, for God’s own they will rejoice for on that day they will receive their new bodies and be taken to spend an eternity in heaven with Jesus! The following sermon is going to look at Paul’s teaching on “The Day Of The Lord”.
Sudden: Will Come as a Thief in the Night (verses 1-2)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-2
But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. 2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
Paul told the believers at Thessalonica that he did not need to write about the date of the Day of the Lord because, as they were fully aware, such a date would inevitably come but at a time and hour that only the Father knows. The New Testament writers “for all intents and purposes identified the Day of the Lord with the Second Coming of Christ.” Since the timing of Christ’s return was to be compared to a thief in the night, who was unknown and unpredictable, Paul implored the Thessalonians to channel their theology away from estimating the date to responsibly serving the Lord continuously so that upon His return they would be found faithfully doing God’s will.
Sorrow: False Peace and Security (verse 3)
1 Thessalonians 5:3-5
3 For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. 4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief. 5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
Paul warned the Thessalonians that when the Day of the Lord comes those who feel secured in their safety and peace would soon face sudden destruction and pain like that of a pregnant woman giving birth. In verse three Paul sharply critiqued the “slogans and propaganda about the Pax Romana ( Latin: Roman peace) of his time. It was a time that suggests, a long period of peace. The main importance was that all the land was at peace because everyone was under the Roman law.
In verse three Paul stated how foolish it was for the unbelievers, even if they were part the Pax Romana, to think that peace and safety could ever be secured by their accomplishments. “God in Christ is the One who will bring justice, peace, and security once and for all, not the emperor.” Like the people in Noah’s or Sodom’s day unbelievers of Paul’s day will feel they have peace right up until the moment Christ arrives and judges the living and the dead!
Anyone found on that day not “with the Lord”, will experience great sorrow and pain because it will be too late for them to escape the judgement of being eternally separated from God. Paul is not trying to scare the Thessalonian believers but to encourage them that the Day of the Lord poses no threat to them, but is only to be seen as assurance that their enemies will one day be judged and in the mean time they ought to pray for them that they might come to know the Lord.
Sound: Christians Know what to Expect (verses 4-5)
In verses four and five Apostle Paul used dark/light imagery to reassure the Thessalonians that as children of the light they knew what to expect upon the Coming of the Lord. Darkness and light are not to be taken literally but as metaphors contrasting those who are still spiritually ignorant and under the rule of Satan (darkness) versus those who have been born again through their faith in the atoning sacrifice of Christ (light).
Light and darkness for Paul pointed to the truth that some people are “insiders” and others “outsiders” of God’s kingdom (Luke 16:8; John 12:36; Eph. 5:8; 1 John 1:6–7; 2:9–11). “Night for Paul was a time for thieves whereas daylight was the time for truth. The “thief in the night” suddenness of Christ’s return will not “catch insiders off guard” because when they walk in the truth as “children of the day,” darkness cannot overtake them! Since one cannot have fellowship with God while walking in darkness (1 John 1:5-6)
Paul implored the Thessalonians to not be “careless or indifferent to what they have received” but to “be ready” for Christ’s return by “putting on the armor of light” so that they might be found faithfully walking in the very steps of Christ who purchased them at a price (1 Corinthians 6:20)!
Sleeping: Christians Should be Awake (verses 6-7)
1 Thessalonians 5:6-7
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober. 7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
Paul now uses “sleep/awake” and “drunkenness/sober” as further metaphors to encourage the Thessalonians to be ready for Christ’s return that will come like a thief in the night. A thief can get away with a lot of stuff if the occupants are either asleep or drunk! Sleep for Paul does not mean physical death but moral indifference to the light in which one professes whereas drunkenness means a lack of moral self-control and therefore a lack of preparedness.
While sleep and drunkenness is natural to those perishing in their sins, Paul told the Thessalonians as children of the light they needed to be awake and sober at all times. To be drunk with the ways of this world and indifferent to the things of God is not acceptable because the “believer’s status as sons of the light demands a morality, a holiness, in keeping with Him who is light.
To constantly reject the views of those given over to their reprobate minds (Romans 1:28) is not an easy task but through the power of the Spirit of God it can be accomplished when one stays awake and sober. Paul encouraged the Thessalonians that they will be found faithful only if they constantly hold onto God’s standards by thinking about whatever is true, noble, right, pure, lovely and admirable in His kingdom (Philippians 4:8).
Sober: Christians Should Always be Alert (verse 8)
1 Thessalonians 5:8
8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
To be found ready when Christ returns, Paul recommended the Thessalonians remain sober by putting “on faith and love as a breastplate and the hope of salvation as a helmet.” Though darkness was all around them by wearing the right clothing the Thessalonians could be sober, self-controlled and walk in the light as God is light!
Paul implored the Thessalonians to imitate God’s example in Isaiah 59:17, where He puts on the breastplate of righteousness and helmet of salvation before doing battle against the ungodly. Faith and love helps “protect the believer from the attacks of doubt.” The helmet of hope helps protects one’s faith when life comes crashing down with persecutions and injustices by constantly reminding the believer one day Christ will return and make all things right.
By putting on the full armor of God (Ephesians 6:14-17) the Thessalonians can remain sober and alert, conquering any conflict that the realm of darkness might throw at them. This armor was not to be put on so that they could sit in their houses with Bible in hand and be paralyzed with fear and inaction but to constantly walk in the light so that they might please Christ (Matthew 24:45-46) when He returns, immediately or sometime in the distant future.
Salvation: Christians Escape Tribulation (verses 9-10)
1 Thessalonians 5:9-10
9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
Once again Paul reassured the Thessalonians that “God did not appoint them to suffer judgment and wrath in the future, but rather to receive salvation through “our Lord Jesus Christ.” It was God’s initiative to send His Son Jesus (John 3:16) to live amongst us and ultimately to pore His wrath upon His Son so that through Jesus’ atoning sacrifice all who believe in Him may pass from death to life.
To empty the severity of God’s wrath from salvation is to rob “real life” of much of its meaning because grace has been minimalized. “God made He who had no sin to be sin for us so that we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21).
Christ in His resurrection was the beginning of the new creation (Rev 3:14; John 1:1–5; 2 Cor 5:14–17; Gal 6:14–15; Col 1:15–18). Paul did not say that salvation came independent of the action of human beings but that through believing in the atoning sacrifice of the Son one becomes saved and subsequently a child of God (1 Thess. 5:10a; cf. Rom. 5:6, 8; 8:3; 14:15; 1 Cor. 15:3; 2 Cor. 5:14–15).
The fact that the return of Christ was nearer than when they first believed (Romans 13:11) should not scare the Thessalonians but should be a source of great joy that those physically dead or alive upon Christ’s return will eternally enter the new life that has been prepared for them by their Lord!
Solace: Comfort one Another with Hope (verse 11)
1 Thessalonians 5:11
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Having put on the armor of God and having stayed fully alert for Christ’s return through holy living was to be both an individual and a communal goal. Within the bonds of the Christian community Paul commended and also encouraged the Thessalonians to never stop comforting and helping each other to attain spiritual maturity. The Day of the Lord will come suddenly like a thief in the night. Since no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return except God, the only way to be found faithful upon His return is to always be doing what is right in His sight.
Even as alert, sober children of the Light wearing the armor of faith, hope and love the Thessalonians still needed the helping hands of other believers who were also trying to attain the full measure of Christ. With all the trials and tribulations, persecutions and injustices one inevitable has to face living in this fallen world that is not our home, isn’t it nice to know that we can get great a helping hand from other believers who like us are trying to remain faithful until Christ comes again!
Christ died so that His people might live … so with great faith and in an abundance of grace let’s build each other up so that upon His return we might hear the words “good and faithful servant” (Matthew 25:14-30)!
Pastor Richard Santos
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