Summary: A short graveside message.

-Our culture is fascinated with the afterlife. They can’t get enough of it.

-Hollywood makes movie after movie about it.

-Authors write books about it.

-The national enquirer writes “news” stories about it.

-One of the big news magazines like Time or Newsweek will have a story related to it just about every year.

-Everyone wants to know what happens when they die.

-There isn’t a person alive who would like to know where they are going to go when they die.

-I think one of our fascinations about it is based on fear.

-Woody Allen summed up the feelings of many Americans when he said a number of years ago, “I don’t mind dying. I just don’t want to be there when it happens.”

-When you lose a loved one, many thoughts race through your mind.

oHow am I going to go on without them?

oWhere are they going to spend eternity?

oWill I get to see them again?

oWill we recognize each other?

oWhere am I going when I die?

-One of these questions has already been answered for _____________

-Where he/she spends eternity has already been determine.

-We don’t know exactly whether we will be able to recognize one another in heaven but it appears so since Jesus’ disciples were able to recognize Him after His resurrection.

-Whether you see them again is based obviously on where you are going to spend eternity.

-The text I read doesn’t answer the question of who goes to heaven and who does not.

-However, the bible does answer that question.

-In Mark 16, it says that everyone who believes and is baptized will be saved. When we are baptized, God creates faith in our hearts, as long as we don’t turn away from the Lord, God will certainly continue to nurture the faith that he started in us.

-Just like little newborn babies need a near constant supply of formula in order to keep them strong and healthy, we too need a regular supply of God’s word to help our faith to stay strong and healthy. {PAUSE}

-When you watch little kids at school, everyone wants to be the line leader, everyone wants to be the first in line

-Being the first in line means that you have special privileges

-You get to choose whether to get white or chocolate milk

-You get to make sure that you have first choice on all the foods

-If you don’t dawdle, you have might have the opportunities for seconds

-Being first has many privileges

-The Thessalonians in our text today seemed to think that maybe those that had already died might miss out on some privilege when Jesus returns

-They had obviously learned about Jesus’ return from heaven and about the resurrection of the dead but they didn’t know what the relationship between the two actually was

-The Apostle Paul cleared up the issue for them.

-He wrote, “According to the Lord’s own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep.”

-There is no advantage to being alive when Jesus returns in all His glory

-In fact, there is an advantage to having died

-Paul writes, “For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.”

-Those who have died already will be first in line.

-They will be raised from the dead first.

-What about those that are still alive when Jesus returns?

-Do they then lose out on the reward?

-Not at all!

-Paul writes, “After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.”

-Being second or third or even last in line isn’t so bad. You still get to eat in the same extraordinary restaurant. You don’t have to eat in the cafeteria. The gospel writer St. Luke, writes, “People will come from east and west and north and south, and will take their places at the feast in the kingdom of God.”

-We get to dine with the king.

-Now, what are we supposed to do with this information?

-Paul writes, “Therefore encourage each other with these words.”

-You too can have a place in line if you place your trust in Jesus who paid the price for all of your sins by dying on the cross and rising again on that very first Easter morning.

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