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Until Then!

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11

"Some golden daybreak, Jesus will come.
Some golden daybreak, battles all won.
He'll shout the victory; break through the blue;
Some golden daybreak for me -- for you!"

Until that blessed return of our Lord Jesus, you and I have very vital and urgent responsibilities.

A patient in the hospital knocked over a cup of water, which spilled on the floor beside his bed.
The patient was afraid he might slip on the water when he got out of the bed,
so he asked a nurse's aide to mop it up.

The patient didn't know it, but the hospital policy stated that small spills were the responsibility
of the nurse's aides, while large spills were to be mopped up by the hospital's housekeeping group.

The nurse's aide decided the spill was a large one, and she called the housekeeping department.
A housekeeper arrived, and declared the spill a small one.
An argument followed.

"It's not my responsibility," said the nurse's aide, "because it's a large puddle."
The housekeeper did not agree. "Well, it's not mine," she said, "the puddle is too small."

The exasperated patient listened for a time, then he took a pitcher of water from his night table
and poured the entire pitcher on the floor.

"Is that a big enough puddle now for you two to decide?" he asked.
It was, and that was the end of the argument.

What are your responsibilities in this life?

If you are a parent, grandparent, or a husband or wife, then each of you has a distinct set of responsibilities.
Possibly, you have several responsibilities where you work, and several people depend on you.

What responsibilities do you have as a Christian?
Are there some specific things you should be doing before Christ comes back?

Here is what the Bible has to say:

Read 1 Thess. 5:1-11.

This is one of Paul's earliest letters and one of the earliest churches in Christianity.
Like most Christians, they were concerned and preoccupied with the future.
They wanted to know all the details about Christ's return.

Paul does not try to set a specific time for Christ's return.
Instead, he explains what they should be doing before He comes again.
He tells them of their responsibilities in light of Christ's coming.

The readers must have gotten Paul's message.
The church, despite a few problems, flourished in Thessalonica.
In fact, Christians stayed so faithful throughout the persecutions, that their city became known
as "the City of Orthodoxy."

They knew their responsibilities in light of Christ's coming.
This enabled them to know how to live until Christ returned.

Paul's advice is still relevant.
People are still saying peace and safety.

How should you live?
What should you do to prepare for his coming?

What are your responsibilities?

The first responsibility is to be alert. (v. 6)

People who do not know Christ, who belong to the darkness, do not know they need to be alert or "watchful."
Some scholars have defined Paul's use of being alert to mean: "work at the task assigned."

We know Christ is coming back, and because He is,
we must be alert and watchful.
We should be looking expectantly for His coming.

This means He will find us faithful when he returns.
This means that we will have been busy at our assigned task.

What could that be?
Remember, the Great Commission?
We must be telling others about Jesus Christ.
It means that we will be always looking for ways to increase the Kingdom of God.

We must be alert!

It may seem that no one around you lives expectantly for Christ's return,
but you have a responsibility to do so.
Do not miss an opportunity to increase His Kingdom.

If someone has a need, and you ignore it, you have not been watchful.
Possibly, by meeting that need, you could have brought that person to Christ.
In your conversations, look for opportunities to share with other people about your church
and what your faith in Jesus Christ means to you.

Don't miss those opportunities.
Do not let them slip through your fingers.

You are a child of the King!
BE ALERT AND WATCHFUL!
You can never realize the consequences of a missed opportunity.

During the Revolutionary War, a loyalist spy appeared at the headquarters
of Hessian commander, Colonel Johann Rall, carrying an urgent message.

General George Washington and his Continental army had secretly crossed the Delaware River that morning
and were advancing on Trenton, New Jersey where the Hessians were encamped.

The spy was denied an audience with the commander, and instead, wrote his message on a piece of paper.
A porter took the note to the Hessian colonel, but because Rall was involved in a poker game,
he stuffed the unread note into his pocket.

When the guards at the Hessian camp began firing their muskets in a futile attempt to stop Washington's army,
Rall was still playing cards.

Without time to organize, the Hessian army was captured.
The battle occurred the day after Christmas, 1776, giving the colonists a late Christmas present
-- their first major victory of the war.

How many defeats does the Kingdom of God suffer, because of our missed opportunities?

Christ is coming!
One day, there will be the shout of command, the cry of the archangel, and the trumpet blast of God and Jesus will come.
Until then, you and I have urgent responsibilities. . .
We have a responsibility to be armed. (v.8)
This should remind us of the armor of God in Ephesians 6.

In order to be alert in a world that is not expecting his return, we must be armed.
We must have faith in Christ, and let the truth of His future return energize our lives.
Otherwise, we will be sidetracked by the same things that sidetrack people who live in darkness.

Most of our world chase after money, power, possession, sex, and other things that are too numerous to mention.
We should be chasing after Jesus Christ and increasing our faith in Him.

Our faith is our armor against the teachings of our world, and will protect us as we battle a hostile world,
The helmet is most important to have.
It is the helmet of salvation.
The helmet only comes when a person receives Jesus Christ as his Saviour and Lord.
It protects the most vital area a person has.
It protects his eternal soul.

Be armed!
Be armed spiritually and mentally.

Trust in Jesus Christ.
Place your faith in God, not in the world.

You have trusted Him enough to come to church this morning.
So, trust Him when you are out in the world this week.

Have you trusted him with your eternal soul?
If you have, then trust Him for the little things, like money or what's happening at your job.

In order to have the breastplate, you need to know all you can about your King.
Read your Bible, talk to Him in prayer, and come to church to be taught about Him,
and talk with other Christians who also know Him.
It really makes a difference!

If you do not do these things, you are woefully unprepared for the world in which you are living.

Some time back, National Geographic had an article about the Alaskan bull moose.

The males of the species battle for dominance during the fall breeding season,
literally, going head-to-head with antlers crunching together as they collide.
Often, the antlers, their only weapon, are broken.
That ensures future defeat.

The heftiest moose, with the largest and strongest antlers, triumphs.
Therefore, the battle fought in the fall is really won during the summer, when the moose eats continually.

The one that consumes the best diet for growing antlers and gaining weight
will be the winner in the fight.
Those that eat inadequately will have weaker antlers and less bulk.

There is a lesson for us.

Spiritual battles are ahead!
Satan will choose a season to attack.
Will we be victorious, or will we be defeated?

Much depends on what we do now -- before the wars begin.
The bull-moose principle: enduring faith, strength, and wisdom for trials are best developed
before they're needed.

Sad to say, but many Christians forget that they are wearing a helmet.
It is their best source of protection from the world.

Do you get worried about things?
Stressed out at times?
Maybe, about money?
Your health?
Possibly, things that are going on in your family?

Guess what?

Let me tell you a secret, this life is not all that there is.
Remember, no matter what problem you are facing, at this time is so very, very, very, short
in the cosmic scheme of things.

Remember your helmet!
Remember, as a child of Jesus Christ, you will be with Him in Heaven after this short life!

In the book, A Thinking Man's Guide to Pro Football,
Paul Zimmerman quotes a physicist who made a startling discovery.

When a 240 pound football lineman (capable of running 100 yards in 11 seconds)
collides with a 240 pound running back (capable of covering the same distance in 10 seconds),
the resultant kinetic energy is enough to move 66,000 pounds--or 33 tons--one inch.

The scientist says further that in all likelihood, the collision would deliver
to the player's helmet a blow nearly 1000 times the force of gravity.

Wow, what would happen, if one of those guys was not wearing a helmet?
Ouch!

Same thing happens, if you have never believed in Jesus Christ.
Horrible!
You do not go to heaven when you die.

Christian, if you forget you are wearing a helmet, and turn and run the other direction,
that big problem might just smack you in the back!

Remember, your responsibility!
Know how to live!
If that challenge from the enemy comes tomorrow, be armed!

Your responsibilities concern more than yourself.
It also affects many other people..
Until He comes, you have a responsibility to be an asset to others. (v.11)

Paul complimented the Thessalonians, because they were already doing this.

Being citizens of the king and children of the light, living in a dark world,
we should be encouraging each other all the time.
This is what Paul urges them to do.

This is our responsibility until the Lord returns!


It is still our responsibility!
We should be encouraging each other all the time.

Can you think of 5 negative things to say about the person next to you?
How about 5 positive things?

The negative ones are easier for most of us.
It is much easier to tear someone down, than to build them up.

Compliment people!
Tell them they are doing a good job.
Tell people how much you appreciate them.
Tell them how you admire their faith.
It makes a difference!

A man, who was ousted from his profession for an indiscretion, took a job carrying concrete blocks.
He took the job so he could put bread on the table.

He was suddenly plunged into a drastically, different world; instead of going to an office each day,
he was hauling loads of concrete block up to the fifth level of a construction site.

Gone was the piped-in music in the corridors; now he had to endure blaring transistors.
Any woman who walked by was subject to rude remarks and whistles.
Profanity shot through the air, especially from the foreman,
whose primary tactics were whining and intimidation;
He would scream: "For---sake, you ---, can't you do anything right?
I never worked with such a bunch of --- in all my life
..."

Near the end of the third week, he felt he could take no more.
"I'll work till break time this morning," he told himself,
"and then that's it. I'm going home."

He had been the butt of more than one joke, when his lack of experience caused him to do something foolish.
The stories were retold constantly thereafter.
"I just can't handle any more of this," he said to himself.

A while later, he decided to finish out the morning and then leave at lunchtime.
Shortly before noon, the foreman came around with paychecks.

As he handed the man his envelope, he made his first civil comment to him in three weeks.
The foreman said, "Hey, there's a woman working in the front office who knows you.
Says -- she takes care of your kids sometimes
."

"Who?" he asked.

He named the woman, who sometimes helped in the nursery of the church where the man and his family worshiped.
The foreman then went on with his rounds.

When the man opened his envelope, he found, along with his check, a handwritten note from the payroll clerk:
"When one part of the body of Christ suffers, we all suffer with it.
Just wanted you to know that I'm praying for you these days
."

He stared at the note, astonished at God's timing.
He didn't know the woman worked for this company.
Here at his lowest hour, she had given him the courage to go on,
and to push another wheelbarrow of mortar up that ramp.

When was the last time that you encouraged someone?

Or, you told someone you were praying for them?
When was the last time you praised someone about the good job, they were doing, or simply refrained
from pointing out all their mistakes?

You and I have a responsibility to be an asset to others, encouraging them and building them up.
Be an asset to the body of Christ, not a detriment by tearing people down.

Christ is coming!

He could come tonight! Or...

Until then, we have a responsibility to be alert, to be armed, and to be an asset to other people.

I hope that Christ finds all of us faithful in our responsibilities at His coming.

A young man's Mom and Dad traveled to California for a seminar on counseling.
They would be gone for almost two weeks.
He stayed at the house by himself.

The folks were not due back until February 27.
So, the young man thought he had plenty of time to straighten the house up.
So, day after day, he put it off!

But, they returned on the 25th.

First, they stopped at their friends to say "Hi,"
and then they went to their daughter's house.
Word came to the young man that his parents were in town and on their way home.
So, he called his sister, who heard a pathetic voice on the phone ask, "Tell me it's not true!"

I hope a similar thought doesn't cross your mind, when your King returns, and you find yourself unprepared!

Sermon By Dr. Harold L. White
Email Dr. White at hleewhite@aol.com