Summary: What's the world missing? Hope. Jesus gives us hope in the most hopeless of situations - death.
Chapel Monday Nov 10
I'm starting to wonder if one of the Devil's ultimate goals is that you would have no hope. The reason I'm starting to wonder this is because our culture is showing more and more evidence of being a place where people have no hope. We have money, we have technology, we have sports, we have music and entertainment - we have a lot of things in this culture, but if there is something that is slowly fading away from our American culture, it is HOPE. Can you see the symptoms?
First of all, what is hope? There are lots of ways to define it. Let's try this - "HOPE" is an acronym - "Hanging On with Patient Expectation." You're expecting something good to happen in the future. You're patiently waiting for something good. And maybe life is getting hard for you or bad things are happening to you, but you're hanging on. You're not giving up. You're patient. You're expecting something good. That's hope!
Have you noticed all the hopeless people in our culture? What are the symptoms of not having hope? So many people, especially in the state of Wisconsin, are medicating themselves with alcohol abuse. Why is alcohol abuse one of the top past times of our culture? Because people have no hope. There's nothing good that's going to happen in my future. My life is painful. I'm not going to hang on anymore. I need something to dull the pain of my life. Drink away the pain, the Devil says. Destroy yourself. And so the pain goes away for a few hours, but then it comes back worse than before. That's what it looks like to have no hope.
Why is our culture so excited about the legalization of marijuana? Same thing - if you have no hope - if you look at your future and you say to yourself - nothing good is going to happen to me - why hang on with patient expectation? Let go, the Devil says. Smoke away the pain. Destroy yourself. And so once again the pain goes away, for a little while, and then comes back worse than before.
I could go on and on. Do you know why school shootings are on the rise? Do you know why suicide is on the rise? The Devil's ultimate goal is to cause people to have no hope.
Do you have hope? The section of the Bible that we are going to look at this week gives you and me a great deal of hope. It starts out talking about one of the most hopeless situations in the world - when someone you love dies. And God here gives you hope. You can hang on with patient expectation, and the Apostle Paul tells us how right here.
Let me read this whole section to you and today we'll focus on just a part of it…
1 Thessalonians 4:13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 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. 16 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. 17 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. 18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
Do you see how that first verse describes our culture? To be ignorant about those who fall asleep means that you have no clue what happens to a person after he or she dies. To grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.
And so let's pretend that someone close to you dies. Maybe one of your parents suddenly passes away and you never saw it coming. Or let's say it's your brother or sister. Or maybe it's your best friend. Someone you care about dies and you can't believe it and you're in shock and your whole world is turned upside down. How do you deal with that that's not like the rest of the world? How do you have hope?
Here's how - verse 14 - it starts with believing in Jesus Christ - We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him." This section is talking about Judgment Day. God the Father will bring Jesus back, and look who's coming with Jesus: "Those who have fallen asleep in him." That's your Mom or Dad or loved one that died. The Bible uses that term "fallen asleep" for those who die believing in Jesus Christ.