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Sermon Overview & Prayer: "Fortified by the Future"

1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 | SERMON PRAYER POINTS

These written prayers are intended to fuel your meditation on this passage and your enjoyment of God in prayer.

1 Thessalonians 4:16 "For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and so we will always be with the Lord. Therefore encourage one another with these words."

PRAYER: Father, please fill my heart with renewed faith and eager anticipation of the second coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Keep me from passive resignation and from anxious trepidation. Impassion me to steward this life for your glory – becoming more like Christ, building your church, and bringing the gospel to the hopelessly lost.

  1. 4:13 Eschatology is rooted in the gospel of Jesus Christ

PRAYER: Father, whenever I thank you for the incarnation, the crucifixion, the resurrection, the ascension, and the miracle of your saving grace, please prompt me to include gratefulness for the consummation of your great salvation. 

  1. 4:15-16 Eschatology is centered on the return of Christ

PRAYER: Lord, please keep me from a preoccupation and speculation about extraneous “particulars” regarding the last things and the end times – when? how? signs? in what order? for how long? Holy Spirit, fill me with the awesome wonder that Christ’s return will be personal and visible to all; that Christ’s return will be climactic – the end of all that was, with all things then made new;  and that Christ’s return will be triumphant – every knee will bow and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord to the glory of God the Father. 

  1. 4:17 Eschatology looks forward to perfect fellowship in the presence of God

PRAYER: Lord God, we humbly acknowledge that we have such a limited grasp of the wonder and glory of your unobscured presence. The thought and anticipation of seeing you, face to face, brings us to our knees with unspeakable joy, and awe-filled worship. As we eagerly await that day (the not yet), inspire and empower us to live this day (the already) in humble and faithful obedience, mindful of your presence now, and as we yearn for your presence then.

  1. 5:1-3 Eschatology pronounces the coming justice of God

PRAYER: Father, when I am tempted to decry injustice, unrighteousness, and blasphemous wickedness, remind me that I have been saved from the same, only by your mercy and grace. May grateful humility inform my responses in this fallen world, and may your mercy to me compel my witness to others. Open my heart and my soul to the reality of your perfect justice, and to the righteous wrath and judgment that awaits all who have despised and defied your rule and reign. As I find comfort in knowing all will be made right; stir a compassion to warn others of Christ’s return and a coming judgment.

  1. 5:4-11 The purpose of eschatology is to provide hope & motivation for our daily lives NOW.

PRAYER: Lord God, I confess that much of life perplexes, confuses, tempts, or disappoints me. When I find myself in such straits, take me to the cross. Remind me that the event which appeared most wickedly unjust was accomplishing a glorious purpose beyond all imagination. Let that miracle assure me:

- everything that comes to me passes through your wise, strong, and tender hands

- every trial, every heart-ache, every pain, every ambiguity—is being molded by you to bring me good  

Eschatology functions in two main ways:

  1. To encourage us with hope in a certain future
  2. To exhort us to live consistently with our hope & expectation

PRAYER: Father, through your Word and Spirit, help me ponder the things that at times capture my heart and the things in which I am tempted to find hope. Reveal to me the uncertainty and futility of trusting in that which is temporal or hoping in that which is fleeting. Please keep me from a love for anything in this world that keeps me from a passionate affection and anticipation of living for Christ and his return.

 

OVERVIEW OF THE SERMON:
The earliest church struggled with fear as they faced suffering and death prior to Christ’s promised return, confused by many different end-times predictions. Paul corrected and informed the Thessalonians of a biblical eschatology in light of the gospel of Jesus to assure them that God’s purposes will prevail, motivating them to live faithfully in the meantime. Eschatology is rooted and centered on Jesus and His gospel, and apart from this doctrine, disillusionment will prevail. It gloriously points to perfect fellowship with God and final justice. This is good news for those in Christ, but dreadful judgment for the unbeliever who hasn’t received Jesus' sacrifice in their place. Finally, even in the face of suffering and death, a Christ-centered eschatology provides the church with hope and motivation for our daily lives until that day when Jesus returns!

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS:

  1. Has your soul grown tired from bad news? How was this sermon refreshing or strengthening to you?
  2. As Jeff pointed out, your attitude toward Christ’s return is a gauge of your present spiritual condition. What is your attitude toward the return of Christ and what is competing for your affections?
  3. What does it look like for you to keep sober or awake as you seek to glorify God with Christ's imminent return?
  4. How does knowing that your future is certain (verse 5:4) affect you today as it pertains to relationships, time, beliefs, work, or marriage?
  5. In verses 4:18 and 5:11, Paul tells us to encourage one another in light of Christ’s return. How can you use a proper understanding of eschatology to encourage and/or pray for those in your community group?