13 We do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, concerning those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve like the rest, who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, in the same way, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have fallen asleep. 15 For we say this to you by a word from the Lord: We who are still alive at the Lord’s coming will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are still alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore encourage one another with these words.

1 Thessalonians 4:13-18

Written by Johnny Mathis from the Brentwood Campus

Life moves at a dizzying pace. We are in constant movement physically and emotionally as we grow into adulthood, move into careers, and experience life with its ups and downs. It seems there is no time to do anything but keep up or fall behind. Here it is autumn 2020 in a year full of uncertainty, turmoil, sickness and griefs of many kinds. It may almost be too much to bear. And then, Christmas is around the corner. For many it’s just something else to add to their already overloaded plate.

If we are not mindful, the cares of this life and the “tyranny of the urgent” can choke out any joy the Advent season brings with it. What is that joy? It’s Jesus, our Lord and Savior, the first fruits of the resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20-23). His birth, death and resurrection accomplished something remarkable for us. Christ brought us salvation and guaranteed our place with Him upon His return to set up a kingdom that will never end. It is cause for true lasting hope that can overcome any obstacle (1 John 3:1-3).

You must accept these truths if you are to walk daily in the hope of Christ’s return. Jesus is returning again (Matthew 24:27-31). We do not know when He will return (Matthew 24:36-42). When He returns to set up His kingdom (the Second Coming), both those who have died as Christians and those who are still alive will be gathered together to be with Him forever (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Finally, He is returning for you. We can be encouraged by that (1 Thessalonians 4:18)! It is not something to gloss over; it’s truth and your sure destiny. Though we grieve the loss of a loved one, remember they are not sad, because they are with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15).

The Thessalonians worried about Christians who died before Jesus had returned. Paul assured them, and us, that grief is normal, but it should always be tempered by the sure hope of Christ’s return. There is a new focus for grief, a new meaning, a hope. It is not the end. It is a hope that should permeate every fiber of your being. You have an eternal future in the kingdom of God waiting for you. Declare it! Exult in it! For the sure return of Christ is part of the foundation of your very life.

Questions to Ask Yourself

  1. In the mid-1970s the song “I Can’t Wait To See Jesus” by the Pat Terry Group was extremely popular. It catches the joy of anticipation in seeing Jesus our Lord when He comes again. Listen and enjoy!
  2. Do you live your life in expectancy of Christ’s return at any time? It is true that you must live your life with all of its opportunities, challenges and daily demands, but are you walking with a consciousness of the coming Kingdom? Examine yourself and think of practical ways you can promote that in your life during this coming Advent season.
  3. Memorize and meditate on Revelation 22:20 (CSV), “He who testifies about these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon.’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” Do you believe it? Do you want Christ to return soon?

Family Activity
As Christians, this passage is comforting. Many of us have had loved ones pass away, and it is incredibly sad, but we can have hope that if they followed the Lord, that they are with them forever. We can also have this same hope for ourselves. It is okay to be sad, but we can be happy and sad at the same time. Sad that our loved one has died but happy that they are now with Jesus. This brings to light how urgent it is that we share Christ’s love with others so that they can have this same hope in Him. Today, grab a jar and popsicle sticks, or small slips of paper, and make a family prayer jar. Write the name of someone you know maybe a neighbor, someone at school, or a family member on that popsicle stick. Every day this month, pick one of those names and pray for that person. That they would know Christ, feel His love and comfort, and have hope in everlasting life with Him.

Missions Prayer
Pray for global workers from our church family Steve and Joy, and their two sons as they work to reach East Asians with the gospel. Pray for wisdom, favor with local believers and local government, and for those they work with to respond to the gospel.

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