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HERE I COME!


1 THESSALONIANS 4:16

“For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first.” 

I know people who are afraid they are going to miss Christ’s return. Seriously? He’s coming with a shout, the voice of the archangel and a trumpet. If you are a believer, your ears will be tuned to that frequency. There will be no missing this. HE will make sure of that. You will know He has arrived. Yahoo!

I can’t wait! I am so ready to go to glory. But…there are many of my friends, neighbors and loved ones who, if He came right now, would not be joining me. That makes me sad. That breaks my heart. I want them to go, but I can’t sneak them into heaven. They have to make that decision on their own. And that is only possible by surrendering to Jesus.

APPLICATION

Ask your child today who they want to go to heaven with. Now, I know, they are not going now, but ask them. Let them name everyone they can think of. Now make sure they understand that in order for them to go with them they ALL have to be Christians. They all must have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Savior. Encourage your child to share Christ with them, if they are not saved. People will respond to little children sometimes quicker than they will to an adult.

Of course, your child must also make this decision. No child gets into heaven based on their parents’ faith. Once they have reached that age where they understand the gospel (age of accountability – which is whole other subject), they must make their own decision for Christ. Then automatically, their ears get tuned into that trumpet call. Then they will hear that shout and the voice of the archangel.

Are you ready? Are your friends and family ready? If not, get ready! He’s coming. It could be today. It could be tomorrow. But He is coming. If you are ready, do all you can to reach as many as you can as fast as you can. 

You are returning one day, O Lord. I am ready. Help me reach all I can before that great day!

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NOT FIRST


1 THESSALONIANS 4:15

“For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord, will not precede those who have fallen asleep.” 

Come on now, be honest. Don’t you like to be first in line? We want that from our childhood. When children line up to go to lunch or recess at school, many of them want to be the first in line. Most teachers avoid this fight and assign daily line leaders. We don’t want to be bring up the rear. We want to be first.

But Paul tells us that if we are alive when Christ returns, we will NOT be the first to go. All those saints who have died before His return will precede us. They will burst forth from their graves, or wherever their bodies were laid, a precede us in the air to meet our Lord and Savior. But don’t worry. It will happen so fast you won’t even realize it.

APPLICATION

The next time your little Johnny or Susie fight to be first, read them this verse. First isn’t always better. Show them in this verse that if we are alive when Christ returns, WE will get to see that. Wouldn’t that be grand? Get your child to draw a picture of what they think that might look like. That’s worth being second, isn’t it?

Also, by giving up that fight to be first all the time, we have the opportunity to serve others and lead them to Christ. All those who have gone before us don’t have that opportunity anymore. But while we wait on Jesus to return, we can talk to others about Him and perhaps they can join us on that day.

What are you waiting for? Are you pushing to be first all the time? Don’t! Step back and let others go ahead of you. That can even work in traffic (God forbid, lol). Yield to Jesus. Let Him always be first.

I fight this battle every day, Lord. I want to be first in all my endeavors. Let me learn the humility of being in back of the line so I can serve others.

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IF WE BELIEVE


1 THESSALONIANS 4:14

“For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.” 

Man, that’s a huge statement! IF WE BELIEVE! Do you get what Paul is saying here? If you truly believe that Jesus died for your sins and rose again to give you new life, why in the world would you NOT believe that He will bring us with Him when He returns? Even this early in the history of the church speculations were abounding. People were saying He had already returned. Others were denying His physical resurrection and ascension. Hmmm, sounds like today, doesn’t it?

If you believe, I mean really believe, won’t you trust anything He says in His Word? If He said it, that settles it. Your belief in it doesn’t change the factual truth of His Words. But your belief in Him and what He says about His return will give you hope in the darkest days.  Hallelujah!

APPLICATION

Ask your little Gertrude if she believes you when you tell her something. Now hopefully you don’t have a habit of lying to her. If she says she does, ask her why. She may say something like, “Because you love me” or “Because you are my daddy.” Such simple trust, right? That’s how we need to trust our heavenly Father. He is totally and completely trustworthy, unlike us.

If you have ever broken the trust of your child, make that right. Remember, your earthly family (as a believer) should mirror your heavenly family. It should be one that is full of peace and love and trust, not anger and tension and conflict. Ask your child that tonight. Does their family reflect Jesus?

Boy, this is tough, isn’t it? Who would have thought today’s verse would have sparked this discussion. IF YOU BELIEVE! Do you? Do you really? Then trust that He is coming back for you. Who knows when, but He is. Are you ready? Is your family ready? Are your neighbors? 

Father, I know You sent Your Son once and He is returning. I know and believe that the saints will return with Him. I look toward that day with anticipation.

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DON’T BE IGNORANT


1 THESSALONIANS 4:13

“But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are asleep, so that you will not grieve as do the rest who have no hope.” 

Don’t be ignorant! That is what Paul is saying! He didn’t want the Thessalonians to believe the wrong stuff about the death. He says they are just “sleeping,” which was a term used to refer to someone who had died. Sleeping implies they are going to wake up, right? That’s the cool part.

You see, we know as believers that we are going to spend eternity with the Father. Our bodies will not be resurrected until Jesus returns. So, until then their bodies “sleep.” They wait for that glorious day. Waiting, waiting, waiting!

APPLICATION

What a fun verse to teach your kids. Tonight, when you tuck them in, talk about it. Just as they will go to sleep and awake in the morning, we will lay down our bodies one day, only to have it awoken by Jesus at the rapture. Our bodies will be changed and glorified. Therefore, we have no reason to grieve, as those who have no hope.

It is so important to teach our children that death for a Christian is just a passage to Jesus. When we die will be instantly in the presence of God. What could be bad about that? Our fleshly body will be buried, but WE AREN’T IN IT! It’s literally an empty shell. Death need not scare us. As believers in Christ, we are guaranteed entry to heaven. 

Are you ready? What about this worries you? It shouldn’t. Don’t let your “ignorance,” your lack of knowledge or experience about death cause you to grieve unnecessarily. The Lord Jesus can take away all the sorrow. I am reminded of Paul’s words to the Corinthians, “O death, where is your sting?”

I am thankful, Lord, that I am secure in You. My earthly death allows me to enter into my heavenly home. My body may stay behind, but I am with you. Hallelujah!

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ARE YOU PROPER?


1 THESSALONIANS 4:12

“so that you will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” 

I love to see the difference between English translations and the original languages of the Bible. Sometimes the translations are very different than the original meaning. We just don’t have adequate words to make that translation closer. But the truth of the Word is still there.

This verse is one of those verses. “Behave properly” in the Greek could read “walk in good form.” You get the idea. Paul is telling us and the Thessalonians to represent Christ in their dealings with outsiders (non-believers). Why? To draw them toward Christ and not drive them away. Our actions and behavior should always mirror Christ.

APPLICATION

One of the best things we can teach our children is that their behavior matters. It doesn’t matter just for us. It matters to our Lord. I never wanted to do anything to damage my family name. But I am more concerned that I don’t do anything to harm the name of Jesus. That’s what we teach our children.

If they tell people, especially lost people, that they are a follower of Christ and then live like the world, why would those people want to surrender their lives to Christ? Ask your child what they could do to live differently around their lost friends. I bet they can tell you a number of ways. Then encourage them to do exactly that.

Are you behaving properly? Are you walking in good form? Does your walk resemble your talk? Ask yourself today if your lost friends see the difference Christ has made in your life. If they can’t, perhaps it’s time to re-examine your commitment to Him. Let your light shine today.

I want to draw my lost neighbors and friends to Christ. I desire to see them freed from the bondage of sin. Give me the discipline to live in such a way that others ask me what makes me different.

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JUST BE QUIET


1 THESSALONIANS 4:11

“and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you,” 

Have you ever just wanted to go somewhere and be quiet? I mean, sometimes it is good to get alone and be quiet and meditate on the things of God. You may have wanted to escape work or home to get some peace and quiet. My mom used to say all she wanted for Mothers’ Day was some peace and quiet. I am sure she was talking about my siblings and not me, lol.

Paul was instructing the Thessalonians to not be meddlesome or talkative. He even says for them to “attend to your own business.” There must have been some who wanted to attend to everyone’s business. There usually is someone like that in every church. But Paul’s advice is good – mind your own business and live a quiet life.

APPLICATION

The next time you have to tell your Elrod or Gertrude to be quiet (and I am sure it won’t be long), read this verse to them. Now, living a quiet life does not mean just not talking. It’s not just about being silent. It’s more about a lifestyle. It involves not butting in to other people’s stuff. Even children can understand that.

Siblings have a habit of getting into their brother’s or sister’s “stuff.” They pester them and their friends. They watch for things they can report to Mom or Dad. That’s what this is talking about. They need to be more concerned about their walk with Christ and influencing others to walk with them.

Are you too busy watching others that you don’t watch yourself? Most of us are. We can point out the faults in those around us quickly. We can judge them. But we seldom see how far from God we have drifted. Live that quiet life today. Attend to your own life. That pleases the Lord.

Father, when I am tempted to point at others, remind me that I have three fingers pointing back at me. Show me the error of MY ways. Let me lead others by my life.

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ABOVE AND BEYOND


1 THESSALONIANS 4:10

“for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more,”
 

You’ve heard the expression, I’m sure. Paul is urging the brothers and sisters in Thessalonica to go above and beyond what is expected of them. He wants them to love more than ever. He wants them to excel in love. He wants them…. You get the picture. 

Do you know people who do that? They are willing to sacrifice for the sake of others. They will put aside their own wishes and desires for the common good. They will give up their own dreams for others. I think of “It’s A Wonderful Life.” George Bailey gave up his dreams of traveling around the world for his family. He, of course, in the end finds out family is all that really matters.

APPLICATION

Children don’t normally want to give up what they want for others, especially their siblings. But this is so important to teach them when they are young. If they can learn how to sacrifice for others, God can use them in ways He couldn’t otherwise. A selfish Christian is normally an unusable Christian. God wants us to be willing to give and give and give for others.

Ask your little Johnny what he would give up for his brother or sister or friend. Ask him if any of his possessions mean more to him than another person. If so, you have some correction to do. Turn that around. Things don’t matter. People do.

But how about you? Do you put your stuff above others? Do you put your plans and dreams first? There is nothing wrong with having dreams. There is nothing wrong with achievement. It’s just that all those things don’t rise to the level of others. Just ask Jesus.

Lord, thank You that You put us above Your own self. You are God, yet You gave Yourself for me. Help me give myself for others.

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