Sermons

Summary: Jesus will return and is in the process of returning. Are we living as expectant advent-people who are ready?

WE’VE ALL BEEN THERE: ENTERTAINING GUESTS IN OUR HOME. HOWEVER, THERE IS A BIG DIFFERENCE BETWEEN KNOWING THEY ARE COMING AND WHEN THEY ARE JUST DROPPING BY FOR A VISIT.

IT IS ALWAYS AN ADVANTAGE TO KNOW THEY ARE COMING TO PREPARE, CLEAN, GET GROCERIES AND BE FULLY CAPABLE OF PROVIDING MEALS, LODGING AND FELLOWSHIP.

BUT, IT IS AN ENTIRELY DIFFERENT STORY WHEN WE ARE STARTLED BY THE DOORBELL AND SOON DISCOVER AFTER PEAKING OUT THE WINDOW, THERE ARE UNEXPECTED GUESTS STANDING RIGHT OUTSIDE YOUR FRONT DOOR.

WHATEVER IT MAY BE….BOSS CALLS ON YOUR DAY OFF TO SEE IF YOU CAN COME IN TO COVER A SHIFT….TEACHER CALLS ON YOU TO ANSWER A QUESTION….THE PASTOR ASKS YOU TO PRAY….IT IS RATHER STRESSFUL TO GET CAUGHT OFF-GUARD. WE LIKE TO BE READY. PREPARED. CAPABLE OF GIVING A PROPER RESPONSE.

PREPARATION IS ONE OF THE SUPPORTING LESSONS IN THE BIBLE FOR BELIEVERS. GENESIS 1:1 TO REVELATION 21:22, HIDES NOTHING FROM US IN WHAT GOD IS DOING AND HAS PLANNED IN REGARD TO HIS COMING KINGDOM. GOD’S MESSAGE REVEALED IN THE BIBLE IS EXTENSIVE, YET CLEAR IF ONE IS WILLING TO READ, STUDY, LEARN, OBEY AND LIVE IT COMPLETELY.

DO WE HONESTLY HAVE ANY EXCUSE AS TO WHY WE CANNOT BE FULLY PREPARED AND READY FOR THE RETURN OF JESUS? WE MUST BE LIVING WITH MORE THAN JUST A MENTAL AWARENESS THAT “ONE DAY” IT WILL HAPPEN. WE ARE LIVING SPIRITUALLY ALERT AND MORALLY PREPARED ALL THE TIME. WE LIVE IN EXPECTATION THAT IT CAN HAPPEN NOW RATHER THAN LATER.

OUR LESSON FROM 1 THESSALONIANS IS NOT THAT WE GO BACK TO MINDING OUR OWN BUSINESS OR GO BACK TO WHAT WE WERE DOING IN LIFE. THE LESSON IS THAT THERE IS PLENTY OF WORK TO BE DONE. MATTHEW 9:37-38, “[JESUS] SAID TO HIS DISCIPLES, “THE HARVEST IS GREAT, BUT THE WORKERS ARE FEW. SO PRAY TO THE LORD WHO IS IN CHARGE OF THE HARVEST; ASK HIM TO SEND MORE WORKERS INTO HIS FIELDS.”

IT IS GOOD THAT WE DON’T KNOW EXACTLY WHEN JESUS WILL RETURN FOR US. IF WE KNEW THE PRECISE DATE, WE WOULD MOST LIKELY BECOME NEGLECTFUL, DISTRACTED, AND EVEN TEMPTED TO BE LAZY OR INDIFFERENT TOWARDS OUR WORK FOR JESUS.

WORSE YET, DUE TO OUR FALLEN NATURE, WE MIGHT KEEP ON SINNING AND WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MOMENT TO TURN TO GOD FOR FORGIVENESS AND SALVATION. ONE SHOULD NEVER GAMBLE WITH THE STATE OF THEIR EARTHLY LIFE OR ETERNAL SOUL.

WE MUST REMEMBER THAT OUR WORK IS NOT COMPLETE ONCE WE BECOME BORN-AGAIN. HEAVEN IS NOT OUR ONLY GOAL. OUR SPIRITUAL MATURITY IS AT STAKE AS WELL AS THE CRUCIAL TASK OF TELLING OTHERS ABOUT JESUS.

I LIKE WHAT OUR FREE METHODIST CHURCH SAYS ABOUT THE RETURN OF JESUS: WE AFFIRM THAT CHRIST IS COMING AGAIN, BUT WE DON’T KNOW WHEN. IN EVERY AGE THERE ARE “ANTI-CHRISTS” AND “SIGNS” SIMILAR TO THOSE DESCRIBED BY SCRIPTURE. THUS, WE CALL EVERYONE TO BE ABOUT THE FATHER’S BUSINESS OF BRINGING THE MESSAGE TO AS MANY AS POSSIBLE. IF WE ARE FAITHFUL TO THE GREAT COMMISSION, THE MUCH DEBATED DETAILS OF THE ACTUAL RETURN OF CHRIST WILL UNFOLD IN WAYS SUCH THAT WE WILL NOT BE EMBARRASSED. WE MAY WELL HEAR, “WELL DONE, GOOD AND FAITHFUL SERVANT.”

I BELIEVE THE LESSON TODAY IS ONE OF ENCOURAGEMENT. PAUL IS EMPHASING THAT THOSE WHO HAVE RECEIVED SALVATION THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST HAVE MANY BLESSINGS: WE HAVE THE JOY OF LIVING IN THE LIGHT OF CHRIST. WE HAVE THE HOPE OF EXPECTATION THAT ONE DAY WE WILL LIVE FOREVER WITH HIM IN GOD’S KINGDOM. WE ARE AN EXPECTANT PEOPLE! AFTER ALL, WE HAVE A LOT IN WHICH TO LOOK FORWARD!

THAT IS WHY THIS MESSAGE IS ENTITLED, “PAROUSIA!” (PAIR-ROO-SEE-UH). THIS IS A GREEK “NOUN” AS IT REFERS TO A “PERSON” WHO IS JESUS CHRIST. THE WORD MEANS “COMING,” “ARRIVAL” “PRESENCE,” AND “ADVENT.”

THE TERM IS USED IN REGARD TO PREPARATIONS FOR THE ROYAL VISIT OF A KING WITH FULL HONORS. THE EARLY CHURCH USED THE WORD TO NOT ONLY MEAN “THE SECOND ADVENT OF CHRIST,” BUT THE RETURN OF CHRIST IN POWER AND GLORY.

THE RETURN OF CHRIST IS WHAT PAUL WOULD WRITE LATER IN THIS LETTER IN 1 THESSALONIANS 4:16-17, “FOR THE LORD HIMSELF WILL COME DOWN FROM HEAVEN WITH A COMMANDING SHOUT, WITH THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL, AND WITH THE TRUMPET CALL OF GOD. FIRST, THE BELIEVERS WHO HAVE DIED WILL RISE FROM THEIR GRAVES. THEN, TOGETHER WITH THEM, WE WHO ARE STILL ALIVE AND REMAIN ON THE EARTH WILL BE CAUGHT UP IN THE CLOUDS TO MEET THE LORD IN THE AIR. THEN WE WILL BE WITH THE LORD FOREVER.”

THE LESSON FOR US IS MORE THAN THE RETURN ITSELF. THE LESSON FROM PAUL, TO US, IN 1 THESSALONIANS 5:1-11, MAKES A SINGLE POINT: THE SUDDEN AND UNEXPECTEDNESS OF THE END REQUIRES AN IMMEDIATE AND APPROPRIATE MORAL LIFE NOW!

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