Summary: how we respond in light of Jesus’ Second COming.
December 15, 2002 1 Thessalonians 5:16-24
16 Be joyful always; 17 pray continually; 18 give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.
19 Do not put out the Spirit’s fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
23 May God himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. 24 The one who calls you is faithful and he will do it. (NIV)
Have you ever gotten bored while listening to a sermon? That’s kind of a dumb question, now isn’t it? Sometimes when I read my own sermons to review for Sunday I fall asleep. But I have always had a hard time keeping attention for a long period of time. When I was in high school my mind could not stay focused for more than five minutes most of the times. One professor remarked that I had the attention span of a gerbil. Not exactly a compliment.
One thing that bothered me was being taught something I already knew. Repetition is the mother of learning. But it can also be the father of boredom. Now let me ask you this - how many times have you heard the story of Jesus’ birth? How many times have you heard that you are a sinner? How many times have you heard that Jesus died for you? Most of us have been told that we are sinners in need of salvation for years. We’ve also been certain of our salvation for years. It’s nothing new. Does that mean we should be bored with Christianity? Is there nothing to do? Paul answers that question today. Just because we are sure of our salvation doesn’t mean that we have to be bored as Christians. We still have things to do. So the theme for today is,
I’m Going to Heaven. Ok, Now What?
I. Have the right attitude
First of all - have the right attitude. Christmas is getting closer and closer. Have you noticed the attitude and change in atmosphere around the stores? I can walk in a store, and I’m ready and willing to smile at people and say “hi.” And people are smiling back. That’s a good attitude. It’s that time of year when I am in a good mood, and so is everybody else.
But it isn’t always that way. I can remember working at Shopko during high school. I had to help promote for Christmas by putting up the signs and making the store look nice. I was an environmental engineer - in other words - a janitor. It was fun for a while. I used to love the Christmas season. But after a while, the season lost it’s fun. They would start promoting the holiday so early, that by the time it got here, I was already sick of all of the Christmas songs and everything else. Day after day they would be pumping the Christmas music through the speakers, and all of the people would come streaming in. Finally, I got sick of all the hoopla. It took a lot of work to keep the store clean and prepare for the season. So by the time it got closer, I just couldn’t wait for it to get over.
As we prepare for Christmas and the second coming of Christ, do we have the same temptation? Have you become a Christian Scrooge? The Thessalonians had good reasons to be spiritual scrooges. The minute they were brought to faith in Jesus, the Jews started persecuting them. They were waiting and waiting for Jesus to come rescue them on Judgment Day, but He wasn’t coming. They could have very easily gotten frustrated with life and become crabs.
This can easily happen to us. The longer we live on this earth, the easier it is to become more and more frustrated with life. I remember visiting with a shut in in Norfolk when I was vicaring there. This may sound bad, but I couldn’t stand visiting this guy. He had been in a nursing home for years. He had all kind of health problems. That’s not what bothered me. It was this guy’s attitude. He was one of the crabbiest men I ever knew. Every time I went to visit him he had a terrible attitude. I’d knock on the door, and he’d yell out, “what do you want!” As hard as I tried, I did not enjoy visiting with this man. He was cranky with me and with everyone else. I tried to put myself in his shoes and understand his attitude, but I could not and I still cannot understand being that angry and disgusted with life.