Summary: This is the first sermon of the new year. It is a call to watchful and ready for Christ's coming
Looking Forward and Keeping Watch – 2020
Happy New Year everyone! When I was a kid growing up in the 70’s I never thought I’d see the year 2020… it just seemed so far off for me. If you had asked me back then what our world was going to be like, I probably would’ve told you it was going to be like Star Trek or something similar to that… But here we are – 2020… we don’t have teleporters… we can’t go warp speed, and as far as I know, androids don’t dream of electric sheep.
But I do think it’s important to look forward as we step into this new year, and I think it’s important to ask questions about where we’re going, what lies ahead, what do you and I want to achieve in the year 2020? What God would like to do with our church? And of course the big question… I ask it every year… is this going to be the year that the Lord returns? Now for some of those questions, we’re all going to have different answers and ideas about what we would like to do this year, and where we see ourselves as a Church, and what our church does… but as for that last question we have to look at Scripture. And of course the Bible says, “No man knows the day or the hour of the Lord’s return.” (That’s Matthew 24:36). So we can’t say for certain that this is the year that the Lord will return. But we can know that it is drawing near. And Jesus says that if we are alert and watchful, we won’t be caught off guard… in Matthew 24:42-44 He says, “Therefore, stay awake, for you do not know on what day your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known in what part of the night the thief was coming, he would have stayed awake and would not have let his house be broken into. Therefore, you must also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.”
So what I want us to do this morning is zero in on something that points to the Lord’s return, and I think this is a sign that is saying it is close… it is soon… SO BE READY! And I’m not going to be preaching like I would normally… this is going to be more teaching, and more for your information, so that you can pray in an informed way, and make informed, well-reasoned, thought out decisions. And I might just go a little longer today than normal… just fair warning. With that in mind - Please take your Bibles and open them up to 1 Thessalonians 5:1-6 (READ)… now turn with me over to the next book, 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12 (READ).
Now let me give you the background to these two passages… Paul is writing to believers in Thessalonica… and they had obviously contacted him in some way, either by a letter or by a message they sent, and they were concerned about the coming of the Lord, and our being gathered together to Him. In his first letter… 1 Thessalonians 5, Paul says kind of the same thing I just said to you – that the Day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night, but if you’re watchful and alert… and because you are children of light and not in darkness, we shouldn’t be surprised as that day approaches… because we’re seeing the signs. But in the second letter, in 2nd Thessalonians… he goes into more specifics. Apparently someone had been telling the Christians in Thessalonica that the Day of the Lord was either right on the door step, or that they had somehow missed it, and that because they had not been raptured, they were about to face the coming wrath upon the world.
Now we don’t know who told them that, or where they got that idea, but Paul writes to them and explains to them how it’s going to go down. So look again at verses 1 & 2, Paul says, “Concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and our being gathered together to Him…” So that’s what he’s referring to – the Coming of Jesus, and us being gathered to Him… traditionally we’ve called that gathering the rapture of the Church. So… concerning that – don’t be “quickly shaken in your mind, or alarmed, either by a spirit or a spoken word, or a letter that seems to be from us to the effect that the Day of the Lord has come.” So Paul calls that time, when the Lord comes and we are gathered together to Him – THE DAY OF THE LORD. And then in verse 3 Paul says, “Don’t let anyone deceive you – IN ANY WAY.” And then he explains what we’re supposed to be watching for.