Updated: Oct 4, 2019
In the movie, Home Alone, Kevin McCallister is accidentally left home when his family leaves for Christmas vacation. When he first discovers he has been left he is excited to be there all alone, however he soon becomes frightened. Kevin encounters two burglars who are targeting homes of those away on vacation. Kevin sets up elaborate traps to try and keep the burglars from getting into his home.
Unlike Kevin, most people do not have the leisure of knowing when their home is going to be broken into. Break ins occur without warning, while people are away at work or on vacation. Thieves do not broadcast the fact that they are going to break into your home. Break ins happen when we least expect them and most people are caught off guard, unprepared.
In 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul likens the coming Day of the Lord to a thief breaking in at night. The "Day of the Lord" refers to the coming wrath and judgment of God on sin.
Another analogy Paul uses to explain the Day of the Lord is that of a woman in labor. He says this day will come suddenly, like labor pains on a pregnant woman. When I read passages that reference labor pains, I think of the births of our five children. Each time we found out we were expecting we knew a baby was coming, we just didn't know the exact time. Yet we prepared. We readied the nursery. We packed a bag with the necessary things. We made a plan. We were ready for each child's arrival.
The same is true of Christ's return and God's judgment of sin. We know both Jesus' coming and God's judgment will happen suddenly, without warning. We need to prepare as best we can. We ready our hearts by confessing our sin. We pack our bags by accepting Jesus as Savior. We make a plan by allowing His Spirit to guide us through life, helping us live in obedience to God. Then when the Day of the Lord comes we are ready to stand before our God.
Gathered manna from 1 Thessalonians 5:1-4 is:
Prepared faith knows Jesus and judgment are coming.
What do you need to do to ensure you are ready when Christ returns? How are you prepared? In what ways are you "planning" for His return; how are you allowing the Spirit to guide you each day?
Verse four of 1 Thessalonians 5 begins with the little word "but". In our English grammar "but" is a preposition which indicates a contrast between two things.
"But you, brothers and sister, are not in darkness so that this day should surprise you like a thief."
Unbelievers are in the dark. They are not prepared. They will be taken by surprise when the day of God's wrath comes. Paul goes on to say:
"You are all children of light and children of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. Therefore, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be awake and sober. For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk, get drunk at night. But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet." 1 Thessalonians 5:5-8
Paul is not referring to day and night in the physical sense, this is yet another analogy. Day and light refer to a believers spiritual status; night and darkness to an unbelievers. In essence Paul is saying: Christians must be morning people; wide awake, alert, ready to face the dawn of God's day.
Morning people wake up before the sun
Morning people are wide eyed and alert before the alarm clock rings.
Morning people are ready to face the day.
Morning people wipe the sleep out of their eyes and hit the floor running toward whatever the day may bring.
As Christians we must be morning people.
We must wake up before the Son comes again.
We must be wide eyed and alert before the trumpet sounds.
We must be ready for our Lord.
We must wipe the sleep from our eyes and hit the floor running ready to face whatever life may bring.
Are you a morning person?
God never intended for His children to live in fear. He doesn't want us to be uninformed and uncertain about the future. He sent Jesus to ensure our deliverance from His judgment. He gave the Holy Spirit to guide us into His purpose. While we each have a unique God-given purpose to fulfill; God's universal purpose for all of His children is to live with Him forever. Jesus said:
"There is more than enough room in my Father's home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? When everything is ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me where I am." John 14:2-3 NLT
Jesus called Himself the light of the world:
"When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, 'I am the light of the world. Whoever follows Me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.'" John 8:12
Just as physical light dispels darkness, so the spiritual light of Christ in us dispels the darkness of sin. Once we have accepted Jesus as Savior we are changed into a new creature and our conduct now reflects His light in us; we are children of light. God expects His children to live lives of spiritual stability, not being fearful of the times but firmly planted in Him.
Part of our spiritual stability is being dressed in the appropriate clothing. Many times in his letters Paul likened Christians to soldiers. In 2 Timothy 2:3-4 he tells Timothy to be a good soldier and not become entangled in the affairs of the world but do what pleases God. Indeed this is how God desires His children to live; not entangled in the things of this dark world but living in the light of obedience to God.
Paul's most famous soldier analogy is found in Ephesians 6:10-18 where he describes the spiritual armor every child of God should be wearing. Two pieces of this armor match the pieces mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 5: the breastplate and the helmet.
In verse 8 of 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul describes the breastplate as faith and love. Much like the modern day bulletproof vest, a breastplate was meant to protect the soldiers most vital organs, especially the heart. As Christians when we place our faith in Christ as Savior our heart is covered and protected from God's wrath on sin. The more we get to know Christ, the more our love for Him grows and that love is what keeps us from sinning or causes us to run to Him in confession when we do sin. The helmet protected the soldiers head, his brain. When Paul says to put on the "hope of salvation as a helmet" he means we have assurance of our salvation.
When we accept Christ as Savior that very moment our sin is forgiven and we are delivered from its penalty. With Christ's Spirit living within us we continue to be saved from the power of sin as we yield to His Soverignty. And in the future when Christ returns we will be saved from the presence of sin as we live with Him in holiness.
Many Christians today are fearful of end-time events. We don't know when Christ will return for His church. He told His disciples:
"But about that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. Be on guard! Be alert! You do not know when that time will come."
Scholars disagree on the timing of these events. Some place the rapture of God's people before the judgment of sin, some place it during, still others believe the rapture will take place after the Day of the Lord. What Paul teaches in these verses of 1 Thessalonians is: Regardless of the timing of these events, we can know that Jesus and judgment are coming.
If we have accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior we do not need to fear God's coming wrath. Jesus died to save us from that wrath to eternal life. Our sin has already been judged on His cross. Jesus is our only hope of escape. Whether we are alive when Jesus returns or have already died, all who belong to Him will escape God's wrath and eventually be with Him.
Gathered manna for 1 Thessalonians 5:5-11 is:
Prepared faith knows Jesus is our only hope of escape from God's judgment and is not fearful.
How are you living in the light? Where do you need to dispel darkness? In what ways do you dress in God's armor each day? How can you live without fear of God's judgment?
In the final section of 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul discusses the importance of good relationships within the church. Someone jokingly said, "Church would be great if it weren't for the people!"
And its true isn't it?! Relationships are difficult. We all have our oown personalities, likes, dislikes, ways of thinking, speaking, and doing. When we put all these different personalities and styles together things can get complicated and sometimes a little ugly. And church is no different. In order for Christians to be effective witnesses outside the church we must have healthy relationships within the church.
Paul viewed the church as a family. Many times in his letters he addressed his recepitants as "brothers". In 1 and 2 Thessalonians alone he used this term 27 times. Just as our biological family cannot thrive when we lack respect and honor for one another, so the local church cannot thrive when its members neglect to show honor and respect for each other. In order for a church to truly grow the members must love and respect each other but even more, they must love, honor, and respect the leadership of the church.
Honor, respect, and love are the trifecta of healthy relationships. When we honor, respect, and love the leaders of our churches we are honoring, respecting, and loving God; for He is the One who placed these leaders over us.
"Now these are the gifts Christ gave to the church: the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, and the pastors and teachers. Their responsibility is to equip God's people to do His work and build up the church, the body of Christ." Ephesians 4:11-12 NLT
And Peter told the pastors:
"And now, a word to you who are elders in the churches...Care for the flock that God has entrusted to you. Watch over it willingly, not grudgingly - not for what you will get out of it, but because you are eager to serve God. Don't lord it over the people assigned to your care, but lead them by your own good example." 1 Peter 5:1a-3
Gathered manna for 1 Thessalonians 5 :12-13 is:
Prepared faith recognizes and submits to the spiritual leadership God has ordained.
Who is your spiritual leader? How have you honored him/her lately? What can you do to show your respect and love for this person?
After addressing how we are to treat our spiritual leaders Paul moves into a discussion of our relationships with each other. Paul often used the analogy of a body to represent the church. Just as the systems in our physical body support each other, so the members of the body of Christ within a local church need to support one another.
Paul lists five specific ways church members are to relate to each other:
warn the lazy
encourage the timid
care for the weak
be patient with everyone
always try to do good
The latter in this list is the key that unlocks the door to healthy church relationships. When we are always trying to do good to each other we will be patient. We will care for the weak. We will encourage the timid. We will lovingly warn those who are lazy. When we are always trying to do good we prove we belong to God.
"Dear friends, let us continue to love one another, for love comes from God. Anyone who loves its a child of God and knows God. But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love. God showed how much He loved us by sending His one and only Son into the world so that we might have eternal life through Him. This is real love - not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as a sacrifice to take away our sins. Dear friends, since God loved us that much, we surely ought to love each other. No one has ever seen God. But if we love each other, God lives in us, and His love is brought to full expression in us." 1 John 4: 7-12
Gathered manna for 1 Thessalonians 5:14-15 is:
Prepared faith is proven through love of others.
How do you treat those within your church family? What can you do today to show your love for others in your church? Who needs to be lovingly warned, encouraged, cared for in their weakness, dealt with patiently? How can you always try to do good to others?
In verses 16-22 Paul discusses personal relationship and devotion to God. These verses contain a list of 8 commands all Christians should follow. These commands are in the present imperative tense which means they are to be continual in our lives.
As God's children we should continually:
1) be joyful
3) be thankful in all circumstances
4) keep from quenching God's Spirit
5) keep from rejecting God's Word
6) test all teaching against God's Word
7) hold to what is proven right and true
8) avoid every appearance of evil
Certainly we cannot be continual in these things without the Holy Spirit helping us. Christians get sad but we have a deep abiding joy which comes from knowing Jesus. Our Lord said He taught us the Father's commands in order to fill us with joy:
"I have told you these things so that you will be filled with My joy. Yes, your joy will overflow!" John 15:11
When we listen to and obey God's commands we can have a joy that overflows no matter what we are going through in life.
Prayer is essential if we are to have a vibrant, loving relationship with God. Prayer is our communication line to our Father. Jesus, who was God in the flesh, often went away to pray. We must do the same!
Being thankful is different from being joyful. Being thankful is expressing our gratitude to God for all He has done for us. We can be thankful no matter how much or how little we have because of what Jesus did for us on the cross. The writer of Hebrews said:
"Since we are receiving a kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping Him with holy fear and awe." Hebrews 12:28
In verse 19 of 1 Thessalonians 5 Paul says:
"Do not quench the Spirit."
The word used for quench is "sbennumi" and it is speaking about putting out a fire. In the Old Testament the fire on the altar was never to go out.
"The fire on the altar must be kept burning, it must not go out. Every morning the priest is to add firewood and arrange the fat of the fellowship offerings on it. The fire must be kept burning on the altar continuously; it must not go out." Leviticus 6"12-13
Our heart is now God's altar. We must keep the fire burning through daily confession of sin, daily time in prayer, daily reading and studying God's Word, daily submission to the Spirit's leading. As we learn to do these things more and more the fire of God's Spirit is kept fresh and burning within our lives.
The next three things in Paul's list regard God's Word. We are not to reject anything in God's Word. Hebrews 4:12 says:
"For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart."
God's Word is truth and we are to hold Scripture in high regard. Everything we listen to, read, or watch must be tested against the truth of God's Word before we accept it as truth. We hold only to the things we know hold true to God's Word.
When we live by God's Word we will avoid all appearances of evil. We are ambassadors of Christ. An ambassador is a diplomatic representative who acts as a figurehead for his/her country at different functions. An ambassador is held to a high standard of behavior because what they do reflects the leadership of their country.
As Christ's ambassadors we are to live differently from those around us. The world looks at Christians with eyes searching for any semblance of wrong. We are under a microscope simply because we bear the name of Christ. What Paul is saying in these verses is that we are not to give those of the world any reason to discredit Christ. We are to live holy and set apart lives.
Gathered manna for 1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 is:
Prepared faith represents Christ well to others.
How is your devotion to God? How well do you represent Christ to those around you? What can you do to represent Him better?
1 Thessalonians ends with a prayer. The emphasis of Paul's prayer is the sanctification of the believers. He first identifies the One doing the work: "God Himself, the God of peace." God is interested in every aspect of our lives and everything He allows into our lives is for the purpose of our sanctification. Sanctification simply means to be made holy. The goal of our lives is to be holy as God is holy.
"To put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness."
Ephesians 4:22-24 ESV
God is a finisher. What He has begun in us He will bring to completion. We will be made like Jesus and be kept blameless until the day of His coming, just as Paul prayed.
"Now you have every spiritual gift you need as you eagerly wait for the return of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will keep you strong to the end so that you will be free from all blame on the day when our Lord Jesus Christ returns. God will do this, for He is faithful to do what He says, and He has invited you into partnership with His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord."
1 Corinthians 1:7-9
When God saves us His sanctifying work begins, it continues throughout our earthly life, and cumulates the moment we stand before Him in glory. Our past is pardoned, our present progressive, and our future protected.
Gathered manna for 1 Thessalonians 5:23-28 Is:
Prepared faith yields to God's Spirit in order to become more Christlike.
Where is the Spirit working to sanctify you? What do you need to do to allow His sanctifying work to continue? How have you seen God work in you to make you holy?
The longer we have been walking with Jesus in faith, the more we should be becoming like Him. Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:15-16:
"Those who are spiritual can evaluate all things, but they themselves cannot be evaluated by others. For, 'Who can know the Lord's thoughts? Who knows enough to teach Him?' But we understand these things, for we have the mind of Christ."
"Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts. But whenever anyone turns to the Lord, the veil is taken away. Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is there is freedom. And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord's glory, are being transformed into His image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit." 2 Corinthians 3:16-18
Gathered manna for 1 Thessalonians 5 is:
Prepared faith is mature faith.
How prepared are you in your faith? How mature is your faith? What do you need to do to grow to maturity?
I pray we all have prepared faith, mature and ready to face our Lord!
Until next time keep gathering manna, growing deeper, and gaining intimacy!
God bless and keep you,
1) Read 1 Thessalonians 5. Mark any repeating words or phrases which stand out to you.
2) Prayerfully answer the questions found in this lesson.
3) Read the following Scriptures and list what you learn the Day of the Lord:
Isaiah 13:4-11; Jeremiah 46:10; Ezekiel 30:3-4; Joel 3:12-14; Matthew 24:30-31; Revelation 6
4) Read the following Scriptures. How can you be prepared for this coming day?
Matthew 25:1-13; Mark 13:33-37; Romans 13:11-14; Colossians 4:2; 1 Peter 4:7-8; 1 Peter 5:6-9