Friday, July 2, 2010

An international Sunday school lesson commentary

For Sunday July 4, 2010

(Live in the light of faith, hope, and love)
(1 Thessalonians 5:1-11)

The term “The day of the LORD” refers to a time when GOD will be more directly and dramatically involved in world affairs than any time since the days of JESUS’ three-year earthly ministry. It will be a point in time that will come shockingly and suddenly to those who are still living. It will be a time that can be likened to when a thief surprises a sleeping and unsuspecting homeowner in the middle of the night. It will happen at a time when world conditions will appear to be calm and serene and unusually lacking in any major crises or calamities. And while the world will not be completely annihilated at that time, the unmistakable sting of GOD’s wrath will be felt greatly with the onset of “The Great Tribulation” period that has long been forecast by the Holy Scriptures.
Here in 1 Thessalonians 5, verses 1-11, the Apostle Paul, just like the prophet Daniel in his day (Daniel chapter 12), gives us a vivid description of the “End Times”. These biblical accounts are given to encourage believers, not to make us afraid, or cause us to withdraw from the world. As believers, we must continue to work in the world spreading the Gospel of JESUS CHRIST, so that as many as will accept it, will be “saved”.
Understandably, it is very hard for us “not” to wonder if what is said by these men of GOD will occur in our lifetime, and certainly in their writings, they too, give us hints of their own concerns for that possibility. However, just like Daniel and Paul, we would be wise if we focus our attentions beyond this world, to GOD. Remember, JESUS HIMSELF cautioned us in Matthew 24:36 that no one, including HIM, knows when the end will come, and that, only GOD the FATHER holds the answer to that question.
It would also be wise for us to remember what our LORD and SAVIOR said in Matthew 25, verses 31-46, concerning the final judgment. There JESUS paints a vivid mental picture, using the analogy of the shepherd who comes to separate HIS sheep from the goat, as a way to describe HIS second coming. It is one of the most vivid parables that JESUS ever spoke, and the lesson remains crystal clear even today. There HE tells us quite plainly that we will be judged according to our reaction to human need. HIS judgment won’t depend upon the knowledge we’ve amassed, or the fame we’ve acquired, or, the fortune that we’ve gained. We will, quite simply, be judged on the unselfish help that we’ve offered and given.
It is no man’s duty to speculate on what only GOD can know. It is our duty to prepare ourselves, with help from the HOLY SPIRIT, and then, wait on mercy from JESUS CHRIST unto eternal life. These verses in 1 Thessalonians 5, and, in Daniel 12, serve to remind us never to become so engrossed in “time” that we forget about “eternity”. We should never let our concerns for worldly affairs completely distract us from remembering that there is a GOD at work, and the issues of life and death has always been, is now, and will forever be, in HIS hands. And, whenever HIS call does come, morning, noon, or night, hopefully, it will find us, ready to go.
Faith, hope, and love are the three great enduring things, and of the three, love is the greatest. All that we know now, is partial and incomplete, and there will be no signs that will indicate the precise day or time that LORD JESUS will return. Theologians often speak of the imminence of JESUS’ return, which simply means that it could happen at any moment in time. But until then we must continue to rely on our faith, hope, and love to see us through this life.
As believers, we do not stumble around in the darkness, but rather, we walk in the light of CHRIST. And as a result, we can continue to be alert and strive to retain our gift of self-control, which we have gained through diligent testing from GOD. And, knowing that JESUS might return at any moment, should motivate us, to live our lives circumspectly, eagerly anticipating, not fearing, HIS return.

A Sunday school lesson by,
Larry D. Alexander

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