Thessalonians – Hope
“Oh, we can’t wait to go the beach for vacation!” The family has decided and are committed to going. They have set the date. Hope drives every thought as they dream about being there. Their hearts fill with joyful expectation. As the date approaches, they work hard in every way until the day of departure arrives. Parents diet getting bodies ready to look good on the beach in less clothes. They exercise for energy for the extra curricular activities they will enjoy with family. They buy products to protect their skin. They make lists of what food to take. They make lists of miscellaneous items to buy that probably won’t be needed but they are so joyful in just thinking about the trip that they buy it anyway. There is as much fun and joyful expectation in planning a great event as in actually experiencing it. Mm.
What future event gives us a heart of joyful expectation? What are we hoping for? Maybe a better question is, WHO is our hope?
The way we conceive the future sculpts the present, gives contour and tone to nearly every action and thought through the day. If our sense of future is weak, we live listlessly. Much emotional and mental illness and most suicides occur among men and women who feel that they “have no future.” (Eugene Peterson)
The Christian faith has always been characterized by a strong and focused sense of future, with belief in the Second Coming of Jesus as the most distinctive detail. From the the day Jesus ascended into heaven, his followers lived in expectancy of his return. He told them he was coming back. They believed he was coning back. They continue to believe it. For Christians, it is the most important thing to know and believe about the future!
Are you a Christian who believes what Jesus said? Do you believe He is coming back…just as He said?
The practical effect of this belief is to charge each moment of the present with hope. For if the future is dominated by the coming again of Jesus, there is little room left on the screen for projecting our anxieties and fantasies. It takes the clutter out of our lives. We’re far more free to respond spontaneously to the freedom of God.
All the same, the belief can be misconceived so that it results in paralyzing fear for some, shiftless indolence in others. Paul’s two letter to the Christians in Thessalonica, among much else, correct such debilitating misconceptions, prodding us to continue to live forward in joyful expectancy for what God will do next in Jesus.
Read, pray, meditate on Paul’s words that give hope and joy as we wait for the grandest event yet to come…Jesus. Prepare for the trip of our lives!
1 Thessalonians 1, The Message
I, Paul, together here with Silas and Timothy, send greetings to the church at Thessalonica, Christians assembled by God the Father and by the Master, Jesus Christ. God’s amazing grace be with you! God’s robust peace!
Convictions of Steel
2-5 Every time we think of you, we thank God for you. Day and night you’re in our prayers as we call to mind your work of faith, your labor of love, and your patience of hope in following our Master, Jesus Christ, before God our Father. It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. When the Message we preached came to you, it wasn’t just words. Something happened in you. The Holy Spirit put steel in your convictions.
5-6 You paid careful attention to the way we lived among you, and determined to live that way yourselves. In imitating us, you imitated the Master. Although great trouble accompanied the Word, you were able to take great joy from the Holy Spirit!—taking the trouble with the joy, the joy with the trouble.
7-10 Do you know that all over the provinces of both Macedonia and Achaia believers look up to you? The word has gotten around. Your lives are echoing the Master’s Word, not only in the provinces but all over the place. The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore—you’re the message! People come up and tell us how you received us with open arms, how you deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. They marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of his Son, whom he raised from the dead—Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.
Think about it…
–Do others look up to us because of our faith and joyful expectancy?
–Have we fully deserted the old ways so we can fully embrace and serve God. (Can’t hang on to both!)
–Do we live as redeemed people with committed hope for the future return of Jesus Christ, our Lord?
Dear Heavenly Father,
Thank you for Your Word that reminds us that You are indeed coming back for your own. Thank You, Holy Spirit, for your guidance and conviction. As the chorus goes, I have decided to follow Jesus, no turning back. As Paul writes and I agree, I know Whom I have believed and am persuaded and committed to follow You! I wait with hope and joy for You! I have a future! Help my mind, heart and soul get ready. Transform me. Transform your church. Transform the world.
And I’m singing,
“When we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory!”