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Twenty-fourth Sunday after Pentecost

November 15, 2020 Speaker: Murray Keith Series: Pentecost

Passage: 1 Thessalonians 5:1–5:11

†††In the Name of Jesus†††
Pastor Murray Keith
Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
Date: November 15th, 2020; Pentecost 24; Series A
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.
  • St. Paul tells us in his letter to the Thessalonians that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. 
  • The Last Day, when our Lord will return to judge the living and the dead and usher in the new heaven and new earth - will be unexpected. 
  • The timing of it at least.
  • We know that it is going to happen, but we don’t when.
  • Some have tried to figure out the exact day by looking at the signs of the times, things happening in the news, that they then use to try and calculate the Last Day - and many predictions have been offered throughout history.
  • Obviously, since we are all here today, these predictions have all been wrong.
  • We learn from Matthew 24:36, “But concerning that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father only.”  
  • God’s appointed day of judgment could be today, tomorrow, or a thousand years from now.  No one knows.
  • But what we do know is that the day is on God’s calendar.  It will happen.
  • We learn from the Bible that the Last Day will be a day of destruction and judgment.
  • The text we heard from Zephaniah gives us a sobering description, “…The day of the LORD is near, near and hastening fast…A day of wrath is that day, a day of distress and anguish, a day of ruin and devastation, a day of darkness and gloom, a day of clouds and thick darkness…” (Zephaniah 1:14-15).
  • In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth, and each day of creation God brought into existence order, and light, and joy, and life.
  • Sin has caused all of this to be reversed and the full effects of this reversal will be experienced on the Last Day.
  • Instead of order - there will be chaos.  
  • Instead of light - there will be darkness and gloom, clouds and thick darkness.
  • Instead of joy - there will be distress and anguish.
  • Instead of life - there will devastation and death.
  • These are not easy things to hear.  
  • We are warned that these will be extremely difficult times.
  • But God has promised that the difficulties are only temporary. 
  • We have God’s promise that these days of chaos, darkness, distress, devastation, and death will end - and love, and light, and life will be restored.
  • In our Epistle lesson, St. Paul uses the imagery of labour pains.
  • A mother in labour experiences great pain.  But it ends. 
  • The pain gives way to life, love, and great joy as she holds onto her newborn.   
  • So it will be on the Last Day for God’s people.
  • We are warned to be prepared - to stay awake and be sober.
  • We are warned not to allow anything to distract us because the end will come like a thief in the night.
  • We are warned that those who forsake God, those who stay in the darkness, those who continue in their sinful ways, those who are not prepared for our Lord’s return - will be cast into the outer darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
  • These are terrifying words of warning.
  • They are especially terrifying because we have not stopped sinning and cannot possibly clean ourselves up enough for our Lord’s return on our own.   
  • We all fall short of the glory of God and we do deserve to be cast into the outer darkness. 
  • But thanks be to God for his love, mercy, and gift of eternal life.
  • Christ Jesus is the Light of the world - and now we are not in darkness.  
  • God’s Word is a lamp to our feet and a light for our path (Psalm 119:115).
  • St. Paul proclaims in our epistle lesson that, “…God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us…” (1 Thessalonians 5:9-10).
  • Our Lord took upon himself God’s wrath against sin and now, “There is therefore no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1)..  
  • And so, we watch the passing of time with a different perspective.  We realize that the appointments on our calendars are not all that there is to life. 
  • We know that one day - all time, all of our appointments - will give way to God’s appointed day.  
  • St. Paul describes us, we who have been enlightened by the Gospel, “For you are all children of light, children of the day.  We are not of the night or of the darkness” (1 Thessalonians 5:5).  
  • We do not live in spiritual darkness.
  • Having been baptized into Christ we are his people who bask in his light through faith.
  • We no longer live as slaves to sin and death.  
  • Christ has freed us from the guilt and power of sin.
  • In Romans chapter 6 we read, “We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin.”
  • Through our baptism, through the gift of faith that is given to us, we live in Christ and he lives in us.  
  • We live clean and sober lives in Christ.  
  • Being baptized into Christ we have put on the breastplate of faith, we have put on the helmet of salvation and we no longer need to fear God’s wrath because Jesus has already endured it for us.  
  • We live in the hope of a glorious eternal future, not the dread of unknown months and years ahead.  
  • We, live soberly in the light of day, anticipating the fruit of our faith when Christ returns to claim his own.  
  • We encourage one another, build each other up in the faith as we gather to receive God’s gifts, as we gather to hear his Word and receive his true body and blood.
  • In these last days, we watch for Christ’s return - filled with peace, comfort, and hope knowing that God has destined us to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.  Thanks be to God! Amen.
The peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus unto life everlasting. Amen.

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October 18, 2020

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