Look Up

LifeLink Devotional

Thursday, November 8, 2018

1 Thessalonians 4:13 – 18 (NIV) 13Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope.  14We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him.  15According 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.  16For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.  17After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.  18Therefore encourage each other with these words.

There are a variety of encouraging responses we could share with a person who has just shared their hurts, disappointments, and discouragements with us. We could tell them about our own struggle with some of those same issues and how we got through it. We could give examples of other people who have survived. We could try and refocus their attention on some other area of life that is showing signs of success. Or we could just sit and listen and comfort them with our friendship and understanding.

One response that probably doesn’t get used very much or even considered in such times of suffering is to talk about the imminent return of Jesus Christ. I wonder how people would respond to us if after intimately sharing their hurts and pains we said, “I understand, but Jesus may come back today.”

At the church in Thessalonica there was much discouragement. Paul had been able to spend only three weeks with these new Christians when he planted this church. He had not had sufficient time to adequately disciple them to stand against the trials that would come because of their new faith. The people of the church were being persecuted by their own countrymen, some even to the point of death. Paul needed to get them some basic information that would strengthen them and encourage them to remain true to the faith.

In his letter to them he reminds them of the quality of their faith. He tells them how encouraged he is by the reports of their faith and works. He sent Timothy to them to encourage them, and Timothy returned with a great report of their growth and commitment. He tells them how well they have done at imitating the example of his own life of perseverance and productivity for Christ. And yet Paul knows there is still one thing necessary to truly encourage them and keep them from letting the hurts and pains of everyday life drag them down into despair. They must keep their hearts and minds focused on the return of Jesus Christ to take them to glory, or the world would quickly smother them. The imminent return of Jesus Christ to rescue us from this world of sin and suffering is the one thing that truly gives us hope and encouragement to press on.

Years ago, when I was spending time with my mother before she died, I observed this hope in her life. Not a day went by that she didn’t look for the return of Jesus. She wanted Him to come back and take all of us to glory together. Even as her body weakened and the reality of the day of her death approached she didn’t stop looking for Jesus to return. The knowledge that all of life’s losses would be totally obliterated by the gain of glory kept her smiling and at peace right to the end. She was encouraged by the promise that Jesus was coming for her, and she was looking for Him. She was not looking for man’s solutions to earth’s problems. She was looking for Jesus. She prayed for healing so that she might live longer on the earth, but she was content in knowing that the ultimate healing is to live forever in glory. One of the songs she used to sing was, “To be with Him will crown it all.” She not only sang it, she lived it.

Maybe you and I have spent too much time trying to encourage others by looking for man’s solutions to earth’s problems. I think it’s time we add some new responses to our vocabulary that can be shared with hurting people. These responses will be an encouragement to others if we truly believe them and live them ourselves.

Here are some ways to encourage others with the hope of the imminent return of Jesus. I’m sure you will be able to think of more. Don’t let Satan convince you that they are shallow or unfeeling or insensitive or that they lack true understanding and compassion. They are the greatest words of hope anyone can hear. Use them to strengthen your own faith, and then use them to encourage others.

  • It will be worth it all when we see Jesus.
  • Because He lives we can face tomorrow.
  • All this will seem so small when we see Jesus.
  • Look at the present through the promise – Jesus is coming.
  • And if Jesus comes back today why will this matter?

Let me close with the words of a great hymn written in 1955 by Jim Hill (CCLI License #545997). Be encouraged, and use this to encourage others.

There is a coming day when no heartaches shall come-

No more clouds in the sky, no more tears to dim the eye.

All is peace forever more on that happy golden shore.

What a day, glorious day that will be.

There’ll be no sorrow there, no more burdens to bear,

No more sickness, no pain, no more parting over there.

And forever I will be with the One who died for me.

What a day, glorious day that will be.

What a day that will be when my Jesus I shall see,

And I look upon His face, the One who saved me by His grace.

When He takes me by His hand and leads me through the promised land,

What a day, glorious day that will be.

Pastor John

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