What's Next on God's Calendar? I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV)

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1 Message for THE LORD'S DAY MORNING, June 14, 2015 Christian Hope Church of Christ, Plymouth, North Carolina by Reggie A. Braziel, Minister TOPIC: The Return of Christ, Bible Prophecy ********************************************************************* What's Next on God's Calendar? I Thessalonians 4:13-18 (NKJV) Hanging on your kitchen wall or in some other room in your house is a calendar. Calendars serve to remind us of important upcoming events that we don't want to miss: events such as birthdays...anniversaries... upcoming weddings...doctor's appointments... vacation days...and your kid's or grand-kid's ballgames. Did you know GOD has a calendar? His calendar is not divided into days and weeks and months, like our calendars, because to our eternal GOD a day is as a thousand years and a thousand years is as a day. (II Peter 3:8) God's calendar is not marked with birthdays or anniversaries or holidays, but rather with prophetic events that relate to the fulfillment of His eternal plan. And God's plan is running right on schedule! There is nothing man can do to speed up or slow down God's plan. In this morning's message we are going to be looking at What's Next On God's Calendar. If you would, please turn with me in your Bibles to I Thessalonians the fourth chapter. And let's read verses I THESSALONIANS 4: But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep.

2 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. ******************************************* I N T R O D U C T I O N What's Next On God's Calendar? The return of the Lord Jesus Christ to get His Church. * In the fourteenth chapter of John's gospel, Jesus speaks of this glorious event in the form of a promise to His disciples on the night before He was crucified. JOHN 14:1-3 (NKJV) 1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father s house are many mansions;if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. (now listen very closely to what Jesus says next...) 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (In today's vernacular, Jesus is saying, I am coming back to pick you up and take you home with Me. )

3 In the fifteenth chapter of I Corinthians the apostle Paul refers to this next event on God's calendar as a mystery. I Corinthians 15:51-55 (NKJV) 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: Death is swallowed up in victory. 55 O Death, where is your sting? O Hades, where is your victory? Elsewhere in the New Testament, this next glorious event on God's Calendar is called the blessed hope,... the purifying hope...and the comforting hope. Some people refer to this event as the translation of the Church, or the rapture of the Church. Regardless of what we call it, the next event on God's calendar is IMMENENT. Imminent means, It is ready to happen at any moment. Christians in every generation since Christ ascended have lived their lives with the hope and expectation of Christ's imminent return. But there are things that have happened in our lifetime and are happening right now that has Christians on a heightened state of alert that Christ's return may be very close at hand: things such as the regathering of the Jewish people to Israel...the move towards a global economy and a one-world government... the growing apostasy in the Church...and the push towards peace in the Middle East. All of these things have heightened our awareness of Christ's imminent return.

4 But we must understand, Biblically speaking, no certain event has to happen, no other prophecy must be fulfilled before Christ comes. We don't need to be watching for SOME EVENT...or SOME SIGN...we must be watching for SOMEONE, and that someone is JESUS! In our scripture text, the apostle Paul gives us more detail about this next event on God's calendar than we find anywhere else in the New Testament. It is a message filled with comfort and hope! Let's look at it together. First of all, Paul gives us... I. A Comforting Word About Our FAMILY (vs. 13,14) 13 But I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. 14 For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 1. These words of Paul are very familiar to us; but we must remember the Church at Thessalonica had just been founded. The membership of this Church was made up entirely of young Christians who were still learning the elementary teachings of the Christian faith. 2. Though it was a new Church, she had already come under severe persecution. In fact, a number of the members of the Thessalonian Church had been martyred for their faith in Christ.

5 3. Those deaths raised all kinds of concerns among the Thessalonians about the status of their deceased loved ones. The greatest concern was that because these loved ones had died they would miss the return of Christ. 4. And so in verses 13, 14 Paul gives them a comforting word about their deceased loved ones. 5. First Paul tells them, But I do not want you to be ignorant brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep... (v.13a) That term fallen asleep is of course another name for death. But it is important to note the Bible never uses the term fallen asleep to describe the death of an un-believer----only the death of believers! The body, not the soul, sleeps in death. The physical body of the Christian enters immediately into a state of perfect rest, while the soul or spirit enters immediately into the presence of the LORD. In fact, do you realize when our Christian loved ones died, before we ever walked away from their bedside...before the doctor even pronounced them dead...they were already in the presence of the LORD. In fact, by the time we had their funeral service, they had already been in the LORD'S presence for two or three days. Isn't that a comforting thought?

6 Right at this very moment, our departed Christian loved ones are fully conscious of where they are. They have already seen Christ. They have already been reunited with Christian loved ones who preceded them in death. They have already been set free from a life of pain, and suffering and sorrow. And do you know what? If Jesus offered all of our deceased loved ones an opportunity to come back to earth to be with us, He wouldn't get a single taker! Not one of them would ever want to leave behind the life they now enjoy. This is why Paul tells us not to grieve like the rest of men who have no hope! Paul is NOT telling us not to grieve when a Christian loved one dies; he is telling us NOT to grieve like unbelievers who have absolutely no hope of ever seeing their loved ones again. 6. Paul goes on to say in verse 14, For, if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Him. GOD already has this date fixed on His calendar. On just the precise day, at just the precise moment, GOD will say to Jesus, Son, its time! And Jesus will say to all our loved ones who are now in His presence, Let's go get the rest of your family and your friends and bring them here to be with us! We can't even begin to imagine the excitement of that moment!

7 After giving us A Comforting Word About Our FAMILY,, Paul now gives us... II. A Comforting Word About Our FUTURE (vs ) 15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 1. For those whose only hope is in this world, the future looks very bleak. Many are filled with fear and anxiety over the prospects of an economic collapse...or a nuclear Holocaust...or another terrorist attack. 2. As Christians, we need not fear the future, because our hope is not in this world, our hope is in Jesus Christ. 3. Paul tells us when that day arrives on God's prophetic calendar for Jesus to return, two things are going to happen: (A) First, there will be a DESCENDING We have already learned that when that day comes, CHRIST will descend from Heaven, and with Him will be the living souls and spirits of our loved ones who died in Christ.

8 Paul tells us in verse 16 there will be three sounds to let us know Christ and the saints are coming for us: -The first sound will be A SHOUT. Who will be shouting? None other than CHRIST HIMSELF. The word shout that is used here is a military expression indicating that a command or order will be given. Christ will shout a command for His army, His Church to come to attention! And believe me, regardless of what we are doing or where we are when Christ shouts, you and I will come to attention immediately. In fact, Christ's shout will be so loud it will literally awaken the dead. -The second sound will be THE VOICE OF THE ARCHANGEL. Daniel 10:13 implies there are several archangels, but the Bible only mentions one by name and that is MICHAEL. Since Michael and the other angels are commissioned to protect God's people, it may be that he is present to protect God's people from Satan and his forces as they pass through his domain. -The third sound we will hear will be THE TRUMPET OF GOD. Since the days when Israel camped out in the wilderness near Mount Sinai, trumpets were used to call God's people together for an assembly. The Trumpet of God will call the LORD'S Church together for a giant assembly!

9 Will the entire world hear these sounds? Some say yes, while others say, no, only by Christians. Wouldn't it be neat if the whole world did hear those sounds? Imagine the stunned looks on the faces of all those liberal politicians, and atheistic college and university professors, and all those smug, arrogant Hollywood actors and actresses. I mean think about it! Wouldn't it be great if the LORD let us wave goodbye to all those people and say hasta la vista baby! Well, not only will there be A DESCENDING... (B) There will also be AN ASCENDING. (v.16) Paul tells us, the dead in Christ will be the first to ascend. Every Christian who has died since Christ ascended back to His heavenly Father will come forth out of their graves on that day. It won't be the decayed corpses of our loved ones that will come forth out of the grave, it will be the brand new, glorious, eternal bodies. And when those resurrected bodies are called forth from their graves they will be immediately inhabited by the souls and spirits of our departed loved ones who have come with Christ. After the dead in Christ ascend, every Christian who is still alive on that day will ascend. And according to I Corinthians 15, in the twinkling of an eye we will shed these old earthly, sin stained bodies and put on our new, glorious eternal bodies.

10 Well, Paul has given us A COMFORTING WORD ABOUT OUR FAMILY...and A COMFORTING WORD ABOUT OUR FUTURE.. Finally, Paul gives us... III. A Comforting Word About Our FAITH (v.18) 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words. 1. What are we to do with the information Paul has given us here? -Are we to sit around and try to calculate when this day is going to come? NO! For no man knows the day or the hour, not the angels in heaven, nor the Son of Man. -Are we to sell all our possessions and go live in caves until the LORD returns? NO! 2. Brothers and sisters, regardless of whether Christ comes today...or ten years from now...or after you and I are dead and gone...we have nothing to fear. We have a glorious resurrection and a glad reunion awaiting us! Therefore let us comfort one another and spur on one another in the FAITH with these words Paul has written!

11 CONCLUSION There is a special home in Union Grove, Wisconsin that ministers to the needs of the intellectually disabled. Its called The Shepherd's House. The Shepherd's House has a problem with dirty windows. You see, even though the residents of The Shepherd's House are mentally disabled, they love Jesus Christ and they understand He has promised to return one day and give them new bodies. And so every day, many of the residents go to the windows and press their noses against the glass to see if Jesus is coming! Do you have a problem with dirty windows at your house?

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