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The Gift of Hope

Because GOD is faithful, we have Hope!

Scripture: Psalm 16; Judges 17:6, 21:25; Genesis 25:29-34; Exodus 29:40-41; Leviticus 23:13; Numbers 15:5-7; Philippians 2:17; 2 Timothy 4:6; Psalms 1:1; Proverbs 1:5, 8:14; Acts 13:34-37; 2 Corinthians 6:2; Isaiah 49:8; Acts 2:25-36; 1 Corinthians 15:20-34; Romans 8:38-39

A Prayer and a Promise for Unfinished People

Paul brings his first and deeply affirming, encouraging letter to the Thessalonians to a close. He prays that their sanctification, God’s will for them, will be finished and through at the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ. And he promises them that their faithful, heavenly Father, the God of peace, will surely do it!

In the midst of all the rigor of this call to walk in a way that pleases God more and more, in the face of opposition that seems unrelenting, he urges them on through his prayer and his promise.

As followers of Jesus in a world broken by sin and pressing hard against our faith in Christ, and in this life with its temptations pulling on our flesh, we often feel the discouragement and a kind of futility in living this life to which we’ve been called. We feel very unfinished, with the finish line nowhere in sight. But through his prayer and promise, Paul urges them and us, not to lose heart today because on that day He (our faithful Father) will make what’s unfinished glorious!

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28; Romans 8:29; Hebrews 2:11

No One Left Behind: Hope and Comfort in the Face of Death

Christians ought to be indistinguishable from others in society in many ways. And yet, our lives should be extraordinarily different in particular ways. Death is a universal human experience, but for the Christian, it should be very different.

Death had forced the believers in Thessalonica to say goodbye to some of their loved ones. They were grieving and they had questions: “When Jesus returns, will my loved one be left behind, left out?” “When Christ returns, will they miss it?”

Paul writes to fill in the gaps about what they know and to tell them that when death forces you to say goodbye to a loved one in Christ, grieve with a sure hope and comfort one another with this truth: because Jesus is risen, He will leave no one behind at His return.

For Christians, there’s a difference: a different death, a complex grief, and a sure hope. There are four reasons why no one is left behind: Return, Resurrection, Rapture, and Reunion. So how will you respond?

Scripture: 2 Corinthians 5; James 2; Philippians 1; Genesis 50:11; John 11:35; Mark 13:26-27; 1 Corinthians 15:50-57; Ephesians 2:1-2; John 14:1-3

The Church that Lasts

We face questions in life that are different at every stage. But after 20+ years of building a career or family, there is one question that keeps you up at night. “Will it last?” That is Paul’s question about the work he and his team started in Thessalonica, about the Church that was born over those three short weeks.

In this text, we see Paul write more emotionally and vulnerably than anywhere else. And it’s clear that the church that lasts has four characteristics: It is loved by her leaders; stabilized by personal ministry; tested through afflictions; and lasts by faith.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 2:17, 3:5; Hebrews 13:7; John 16:33; Revelation 7:15-17

Evidences of Grace

The “Nones” are the fastest growing part of our population in the US. They’re the people who check the box “None” on survey’s asking, Which religion do you most closely identify with? They’re not closed to faith, they’re “spiritual, but not religious.” They want to know what you believe and why, so they’ll have the conversation. But they also want to see your faith lived out in your life.

In the first century, there was a group of believers who were models of what authentic Christian faith looks like. Paul wrote them a letter we know as 1 Thessalonians. In chapter 1:1-3, Paul points out their “work of faith, labor of love, and steadfastness of hope” are three evidences of God’s grace transforming their lives.

Scripture: 1 Thessalonians 1:1-3, Acts 17:1-7; James 2:14-17

The Glorious King

Isaiah gives hope to God’s people by describing a Glorious King who would usher in a Kingdom that would provide a glorious rest.

Scripture: Isaiah 11:1-10

God Is Omniscient and Omnipresent

Omniscience and omnipresence are not words that we use in casual conversation. They are reserved, with few exceptions, to discussions related to the study of the Person of God. The reason that we infrequently use these terms is that nothing else in our world is omniscient or omnipresent. These are attributes of God alone.

Omniscience means that God knows everything that He desires to know. He has complete awareness of the past, with all of its intricacies and mystery. He knows exactly what is going on at this moment, including everything, everywhere. Finally, He has no questions about the future; He knows what will happen. Omniscience is a double-edged sword. On the one side, we can’t get by with anything. God knows. On the other hand, because He loves us, we can see that He holds our futures and has promised to help us.

God knew every doubt that you would suffer, the sin you would commit, and failure that would come in your life. Still, He chose to save you. So, we can say with accuracy that our salvation is not based upon our performance.

Likewise, omnipresent is another God-centered word. Where is God right now? He is in heaven. But there is more to it than that; God is everywhere at the same time.

Again, this attribute has two sides. On the one side, you cannot run away from Him, no matter how much you try. At the same time, we understand that He will never forsake us.

Scripture: Psalm 139:1-4; Jonah 1:1-9

The Commitment to Bless Despite Sin!

God hasn’t forgotten you. You don’t fight alone. You don’t go out into this crazy world alone. You will never be alone (a lie from the enemy). No matter how desperate and alone you feel, no matter how much opposition you face, no matter how precarious your circumstances become, no matter the difficulty and physical suffering, He has said, “I will be with you.”

Scripture: Genesis 5:1-6:8

The Nature of Our Resurrection

Is heaven a real place? Or is it merely symbolic? Wayne Grudem writes, “Stephen did not see mere symbols… It was rather that his eyes were opened to see a spiritual dimension of reality which God has hidden from us in this present age, a dimension which nonetheless really does exist in our space/time universe, and within which Jesus now lives in his physical resurrected body, waiting even now for a time when he will return to earth.”

Scripture: Revelation 6:9-11; 1 Corinthians 15:42-49

The Call to Be Heavenly Minded

The man who is about to sail for Australia or New Zealand as a settler is naturally anxious to know something about his future home, its climate, its employment, its inhabitants, its ways, its customs. All these are subjects of deep interest to him. You are leaving the land of your nativity, you are going to spend the rest of your life in a new hemisphere. It would be strange indeed if you did not desire information about your new abode. Now surely, if we hope to dwell forever in that “better country, even a heavenly one,” we ought to seek all the knowledge we can get about it. Before we go to our eternal home we should try to become acquainted with it. -J.C. Ryle.

Scripture: Luke 16:19-31; Philippians 1:21; Colossians 3:1