Reader: “Until the end of time when the Lord returns. . .”
Response: “how should we live?”
Scripture: I Thessalonians 4:1-12
Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you in the name of the Lord Jesus to live in a way that pleases God, as we have taught you. You live this way already, and we encourage you to do so even more. For you remember what we taught you by the authority of the Lord Jesus.
God’s will is for you to be holy, so stay away from all sexual sin. Then each of you will control his own body and live in holiness and honor— not in lustful passion like the pagans who do not know God and his ways. Never harm or cheat a fellow believer in this matter by violating his wife, for the Lord avenges all such sins, as we have solemnly warned you before. God has called us to live holy lives, not impure lives. Therefore, anyone who refuses to live by these rules is not disobeying human teaching but is rejecting God, who gives his Holy Spirit to you.
But we don’t need to write to you about the importance of loving each other, for God himself has taught you to love one another. Indeed, you already show your love for all the believers throughout Macedonia. Even so, dear brothers and sisters, we urge you to love them even more.
Make it your goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not believers will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others.
Reader: “The word of the Lord,”
Response:”from the Apostle Paul.”
We have mentioned several times previously regarding the importance of seeing the season of Advent in the larger context of the whole of God’s plan of ultimate restoration of the whole created order. By this we mean, the Return of Christ, the establishment of his eternal kingdom, and the renewal of all parts of his entire creation making everything new. In these immediate days we are looking forward to the celebration of the birth of Christ, but we are reminded again and again throughout the New Testament to be looking forward to the Return of Christ. In fact, the verses and chapter immediately following the above passage is one of the classic places in Scripture describing the Second Coming. But Paul is always practical in his writing: “The Lord is coming, but for now . . .” The logical question is, “Until Christ returns, how should we live? What should we be doing this Monday, December 9th?” His words put simply, “live in a way that pleases God.” And how is that? Be holy. And what does that look like? Stay away from sexual sin. Doesn’t it seem that sex always immerges as a primary problem for human beings?! Paul points out that the sexual sin is actually a sin against the Holy Spirit and a rejection of God as demonstrated by the above italicized word “Therefore.” Secondly, his words are to live with integrity. We are to love fellow believers. We are to live a quiet life. How are you doing at these? A “quiet life” sixteen days before Christmas?? Paul admits, it takes work to be still! And we are to mind our own business. Again, how is this going? Finally, we are to work with our hands. The Greeks, to whom Paul was writing, were prone to do no labor, feeling that work was beneath them and fit only for their slaves. Some believers were so convinced that Christ would return at any minute, they quit doing anything. So if you ever wonder what is the will of God for you, it could not be more clear, obedience to his will is holy living. This Advent season 1) love your brothers and sisters, 2) mind your own business, 3) be quiet, 4) be holy, 5) wrap those presents!
Music: “O LIttle Town of Bethlehem” Salt Lake Vocal Artists These 8 minutes will help you be quiet. Just listen. It’s gorgeous!!! Arr. Dan Forrest
Gracious God, I seek Thy presence this day, beseeching Thee to create a little pool of heavenly peace within my heart ere I lie down to sleep this night. Let all this day’s excitements and anxieties now give place to a time of inward recollection and quietness, as I wait upon Thee and meditate upon Thy love. Give me tonight, dear Father, a deeper sense of gratitude to Thee for Thy mercy, a mercy great enough to blot out all my sins. May I not lose the joy and comfort of knowing that I have peace with Thee through the blood of Thy dear Son, my Savior and Lord in whose name I make this simple prayer. Amen.
―from A Diary of Private Prayer, by John Baillie, revised and adapted Daniel Sharp