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The Comfort of His Coming

1 Thessalonians 4:13-4:18

How many of you have lost a loved in the last five years? How about in the last ten years? No matter how long it’s been, you never stop loving them. You never stop missing them. You never stop longing for the day when you can be together again.

The good news is that this day is not far away! Jesus is coming back from heaven with our Christian loved ones, and we will meet again in the most joyful reunion there has ever been!

Today, I want to talk about HOW this is going to happen. Then I want to talk about what God wants us to do UNTIL this happens.

We’re looking at 1 Thessalonians chapter 4. Paul wants the church to continue its faithful service to the Lord until He returns.

But they were confused. Some of the church members were dying off. And the ones who were still alive were thinking, "They’re going to miss out on the return of Christ! I might never see them again."

And beginning in verse 13, Paul is saying “Calm down! We do not want you to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope.”

Notice that Paul isn’t saying that you shouldn’t grieve at all. He’s saying that you shouldn’t grieve the way non-Christians grieve! They get all upset because they think that once a person’s dead, he’s gone forever.

But we KNOW that there is more to life than just this life. We know that our born again loved ones are in a better place than Potter, Wisconsin. We know that they are safe and sound in the arms of Jesus! And we know that someday, God’s going to bring them back in brand new resurrection bodies! As believers in Jesus Christ, we have hope!

Verse 14 says that “we believe that Jesus died and rose again, and so we also believe that God will bring back with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”

And on that day, we’re going to say “Thank you Jesus! Thank you for bringing back my wonderful beautiful Christian wife! Thank you for bringing back the Christian people that I love!

“But most of all, thank you for loving me so much, that you came back for me! Thank you that I finally get to see you face to face!”

This reminds me of another beautiful reunion from the Bible. In Genesis 37, Jacob is led to believe that his son Joseph is dead. And he says in Genesis 37:35 “I’ll never get over this as long as I live. My gray head will go down to the grave in sorrow for my son."

But years later, his older kids come back and say, "Dad, we have something to tell you! Joseph is alive!" At first, he doesn’t believe it. But then his spirit revives. He says, "Praise God! My son’s alive! I will see him again!"

And then Jacob travels all the way to the land of Goshen to meet his son. And in Genesis 46:29, they see each other for the first time in almost 25 years. And Joseph says, "Dad! It’s me!" And he throws his arms around him. And they cry for a long time. Because they are together again at last!

That’s what it’s going to be like at the Rapture. We will be reunited with the Lord and with our Christian loved ones, and it’s going to be an awesome celebration!

You say, “Pastor Marc, this sounds really good. But how do you know that this is going to happen? Where’s the proof?”

Look at verse 15. It says "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. For the Lord himself will come down from heaven."

In other words, I’m not just giving you my opinion. The Lord HIMSELF says that He’s going to come back! This isn’t just my idea. It’s GOD’S idea! In Matthew 26:64, Jesus says that “In the future you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of the Mighty One and coming on the clouds of heaven."

And in Revelation 3:11, Jesus says “I am coming soon. Hold on to what you have, so that no one will take your crown.”

There are a lot of things about Bible prophecy that are hard to understand. But the one absolute fact of all history is that Jesus Christ is coming back! It could be today. It could be tomorrow. It could be next year. But we need to be ready every single day of our lives!

So far, we’ve been talking about the promise of His coming. But beginning in verse 16, we see the manner of His coming. It says that “The Lord will come down from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air.”

The Greek expression “caught up” means to snatch away by force. The word is used in Acts 23:10 when the Roman soldiers yanked Paul away from the rioters in the Jerusalem council chamber.

The word is also used in Revelation 12:5 to describe the messianic child being snatched up to heaven by God to protect him from the red dragon.

And so Paul is saying that when Jesus Christ returns, we will be snatched from the earth to meet Him in the air. And we will be His bride forever.

In first century Jewish weddings, the groom spent the engagement period preparing a home for his bride. The bride knows that the groom is going to come back and take her hand in marriage, but she doesn’t know the day or the hour.

When the groom’s father says it’s time, the groom goes to the bride’s house in the middle of the night. He takes her by the hand, and he escorts her to the home he has prepared for her, and then they will live together as one.

That’s what happens here. Jesus comes back to earth for His bride. He escorts us back to the home He has prepared for us in heaven, and we will be with the Lord forever.

This theme of being with the Lord shows up all over the place. In John 14, beginning in verse one, Jesus says “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God, trust also in Me. In my Father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with Me, that you also may be where I am.” In other words, “I’m not just coming back so that we can have a temporary living arrangement. I’m coming back so that we can be together forever! I’m coming back because I love you! I’m coming back because I want you to be with me!” This passage of scripture makes it absolutely clear that we will be with the Lord forever.

And in Colossians chapter 3, Paul is talking about the importance of setting our hearts and minds on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. And then in verse four, Paul says that “When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory.” I don’t have every single end time detail figured out. But one thing I do know is that when Jesus Christ comes back for us, we will be with the Lord forever.

There’s a story about two guys who just heard a sermon about the end times. And the first guy says, "I don’t understand this stuff. It’s way over my head."

The second guy said, "I think I get it. And I can sum it up in two words. "We win!!"

We need to share this message with the hurting Christians in our lives. Maybe you know someone who just lost a loved one. You can say, “I know that you miss your spouse. I know your heart aches till it nearly breaks. But she loves you. And Jesus loves you. And someday we will be with the Lord forever! In Jesus Christ, we win!” 1 Thessalonians 4:18 says “Encourage one another with these words.”

And if you ask Jesus to be the Savior and the Lord of your life, then you too will be with the Lord forever. You too, will have a home prepared for you in eternity.

The Voices of Peace sing a song that says “I want us to be together in heaven. I want to walk down the streets of pure gold. I want to run through the fields of green clover. See the mansion, smell the flowers, hear them singing, it’s all ours. See the rivers gently flowing, hear the gentle breezes blowing. I want us to be together in heaven.”

And that’s how God feels. 1 Timothy 2:4 says that He wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth. Jesus is knocking on the door of your life right now. He’s saying, “Let me lead you through this life. Let me be your guide, let me be your savior, let me be your King.” I invite you to Him this day. Let’s pray.


)


God’s Gifts under Christmas Tree

Romans 8:7-8:8

Introduction: Just a few days before Christmas, a postal worker at the main sorting office found an unstamped, handwritten, messy envelope addressed to God. Curious, he opened it and discovered that it was from an elderly woman who was in great distress because all of her savings—$200—had been stolen. As a result, she wouldn’t have anything to eat for Christmas.

The man went to his fellow postal workers and took up a collection for the woman. They all dug deep and came up with $180. Putting the money in a plain envelope, with no note or anything, the postal workers sent it by special courier to the woman that very day. A week later, the same postal worker noticed another unstamped letter that had been addressed to God in the same handwriting. In it, he found a brief note:

Dear God, Thank you for the $180 that you sent me for Christmas, which would have been so bleak otherwise. P.S. It was $20 short, but that was probably those thieving workers at the post office. In Romans 5 God gives us His Gifts.

1.The Gift of Justification
Therefore being justified by faith, Romans 5:1

Justification is the divine pronouncement of God that we are acquitted from sin’s penalty, God’s judgment for sin, and made acceptable before God even though we are sinners.
Swindoll writes: "Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner--while he is still in a sinning state," in other words, while we still sin and have a sinful nature.

2. The Gift of Peace with God
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Romans 5:1

"Peace with God" in essence means reconciled to God. It means the barriers of hostility and enmity that separated us from God, barriers like our sin, our spiritual death or lack of spiritual life. The barriers have all been removed by the person and work of Christ. "Peace with God" means the peace of salvation through the Prince of Peace. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, Ephes. 2:14

Today, the root of the troubles of the world is not the failures of government, nor even the absence of money to finance new programs, but the fact that man is at enmity with God. What men need is "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." So, on that glorious night when He was born, the angels sang, "glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace."

3. The Gift of Access to God
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, Romans 5:2

The apostle Paul reminds us here that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. And the author of Hebrew (4:16) tells us to come boldly before the throne of Grace to find grace to help in our times of need. How? Through Christ who has given us access into the very presence of the Almighty as believers in His Son. Furthermore, Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 issues this invitation

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Christianity is the way of ACCESS. Does this impress you? It should because all the other religions of the world shut man out from God; they provide no access to God. Why? Because they keep man from God by turning them away from Jesus Christ, because they do not seek to come to God by way of God’s Christmas tree, the person and work of the Jesus Christ.

4.The Gift of the Love of God and the Holy Spirit
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5

In the context of this passage, this is God’s love for us, the extent of which is expressed in the verses which follow as they develop and stress the work of God in Christ as the expression of His love cf vss. 6f and particularly vs. 8). The Apostle John expressed it like this,

"By this the love of God was manifested in (among) us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the World so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn. 4:9-10).

God’s love gives assurance and removes fear and doubt or shame when we fail, and we all do, and so that it gives significance and meaning to life, is very much a work of the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God who assures our hearts of God’s endless and unconditional love. Paul furthermore tells us in Romans 8:34-39

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [36] As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In John 14 Jesus tells his disciples that He is going home to be with His Father, but he promises them the someone will come after Him.

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- [17] the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [18] I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18

"All this I have spoken while still with you. [26] But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:25-26

5. The Gift of Deliverance From Wrath (5: 9)
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5:9

Wrath here refers to the judgment of God that must be poured out on a Christ rejecting world. Notice carefully, the "much more" emphasis which follows the statement of verse 8, "that Christ died for us." This verse, like many others, promises that those who have put their trust in Christ will not come into judgment or face God’s wrath because Jesus Christ, our Savior, took God’s judgment in our place.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

Hardly anybody talks about the wrath of God but the Old Testament testifies of this on those who does not obey his commands.

You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? Psalm 76:7"The great day of the Lord is near--near and coming quickly.

Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. [15] That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, [16] a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. [17]I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. [18] Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth." Zeph. 1:14-18




 

)


God’s Gifts under Christmas Tree

Romans 8:7-8:8

Introduction: Just a few days before Christmas, a postal worker at the main sorting office found an unstamped, handwritten, messy envelope addressed to God. Curious, he opened it and discovered that it was from an elderly woman who was in great distress because all of her savings—$200—had been stolen. As a result, she wouldn’t have anything to eat for Christmas.

The man went to his fellow postal workers and took up a collection for the woman. They all dug deep and came up with $180. Putting the money in a plain envelope, with no note or anything, the postal workers sent it by special courier to the woman that very day. A week later, the same postal worker noticed another unstamped letter that had been addressed to God in the same handwriting. In it, he found a brief note:

Dear God, Thank you for the $180 that you sent me for Christmas, which would have been so bleak otherwise. P.S. It was $20 short, but that was probably those thieving workers at the post office. In Romans 5 God gives us His Gifts.

1.The Gift of Justification
Therefore being justified by faith, Romans 5:1

Justification is the divine pronouncement of God that we are acquitted from sin’s penalty, God’s judgment for sin, and made acceptable before God even though we are sinners.
Swindoll writes: "Justification is the sovereign act of God whereby He declares righteous the believing sinner--while he is still in a sinning state," in other words, while we still sin and have a sinful nature.

2. The Gift of Peace with God
we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: Romans 5:1

"Peace with God" in essence means reconciled to God. It means the barriers of hostility and enmity that separated us from God, barriers like our sin, our spiritual death or lack of spiritual life. The barriers have all been removed by the person and work of Christ. "Peace with God" means the peace of salvation through the Prince of Peace. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid. John 14:27
For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, Ephes. 2:14

Today, the root of the troubles of the world is not the failures of government, nor even the absence of money to finance new programs, but the fact that man is at enmity with God. What men need is "peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ." So, on that glorious night when He was born, the angels sang, "glory to God in the highest, and on earth, peace."

3. The Gift of Access to God
By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, Romans 5:2

The apostle Paul reminds us here that there is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. And the author of Hebrew (4:16) tells us to come boldly before the throne of Grace to find grace to help in our times of need. How? Through Christ who has given us access into the very presence of the Almighty as believers in His Son. Furthermore, Jesus in Matthew 11:28-30 issues this invitation

"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. [29] Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. [30] For my yoke is easy and my burden is light."

Christianity is the way of ACCESS. Does this impress you? It should because all the other religions of the world shut man out from God; they provide no access to God. Why? Because they keep man from God by turning them away from Jesus Christ, because they do not seek to come to God by way of God’s Christmas tree, the person and work of the Jesus Christ.

4.The Gift of the Love of God and the Holy Spirit
And hope does not disappoint us, because God has poured out his love into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, whom he has given us. Romans 5:5

In the context of this passage, this is God’s love for us, the extent of which is expressed in the verses which follow as they develop and stress the work of God in Christ as the expression of His love cf vss. 6f and particularly vs. 8). The Apostle John expressed it like this,

"By this the love of God was manifested in (among) us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the World so that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins" (1 Jn. 4:9-10).

God’s love gives assurance and removes fear and doubt or shame when we fail, and we all do, and so that it gives significance and meaning to life, is very much a work of the gift of the indwelling Spirit of God who assures our hearts of God’s endless and unconditional love. Paul furthermore tells us in Romans 8:34-39

Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died--more than that, who was raised to life--is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. [35] Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? [36] As it is written: "For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered." [37] No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. [38] For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, [39] neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

In John 14 Jesus tells his disciples that He is going home to be with His Father, but he promises them the someone will come after Him.

"If you love me, you will obey what I command. [16] And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever-- [17] the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you. [18] I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you. John 14:15-18

"All this I have spoken while still with you. [26] But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you. John 14:25-26

5. The Gift of Deliverance From Wrath (5: 9)
Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him! Romans 5:9

Wrath here refers to the judgment of God that must be poured out on a Christ rejecting world. Notice carefully, the "much more" emphasis which follows the statement of verse 8, "that Christ died for us." This verse, like many others, promises that those who have put their trust in Christ will not come into judgment or face God’s wrath because Jesus Christ, our Savior, took God’s judgment in our place.
Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, Romans 8:1

"I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life. John 5:24

Hardly anybody talks about the wrath of God but the Old Testament testifies of this on those who does not obey his commands.

You alone are to be feared. Who can stand before you when you are angry? Psalm 76:7"The great day of the Lord is near--near and coming quickly.

Listen! The cry on the day of the Lord will be bitter, the shouting of the warrior there. [15] That day will be a day of wrath, a day of distress and anguish, a day of trouble and ruin, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and blackness, [16] a day of trumpet and battle cry against the fortified cities and against the corner towers. [17]I will bring distress on the people and they will walk like blind men, because they have sinned against the Lord. Their blood will be poured out like dust and their entrails like filth. [18] Neither their silver nor their gold will be able to save them on the day of the Lord’s wrath. In the fire of his jealousy the whole world will be consumed, for he will make a sudden end of all who live in the earth." Zeph. 1:14-18




 

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