Instructions for the Last Days
Posted on 10/25/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
No public prayer requests this week.
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
SING A NEW SONG
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
Sing unto the Lord a new song
Sing unto the Lord all the earth
For God is great
and greatly to be praise
God is great
and greatly to be praised
HIS NAME IS JESUS
He is the King of Kings
He is the Lord of Lords
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
Oh -- He is the King
His name is Jesus, Jesus,
sad hearts we've no more
He can heal the broken hearted
open wide the prizon doors
And he's able, yes he's able
to deliver evermore
I STAND IN AWE
You are beautiful beyond description
too marvelous for words
Too wonderful for comprehension
like nothing ever seen or heard
Who can grasp your infinite wisdom
who can fathom the depth of your love
You are beautiful beyond description
majesty enthroned above
I stand, I stand in awe of you
I stand, I stand in awe of you
Holy God to whom all praise is due
I stand in awe of you
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
The title of today's message is "Instructions for the Last Days."
Last week, we talked about how close to the end we seem to be. The day after that, I heard about some sort of U.N. agreement that would give authority to the U.N. over any country that signed it, supposedly for the purpose of stopping global warming.
Of course, the earth has been cooling for about ten years now, but that's not the point. The reason I mentioned this is because it validates what we talked about last week, that we are quickly heading toward a one-world government, and the return of Jesus is very near at hand.
There are some passages in Scripture which are packed to overflowing with practical instructions for life, and today I'd like for us to take a look at one of those.
Let's start with 1st Thessalonians chapter five, verses 1 through 11:
1 Thessalonians 5:1-11 (NKJV)
1 But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you.
2 For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night.
3 For when they say, "Peace and safety!" then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape.
Have you ever wondered how so many people can see all the things that are happening in the world and can be so clueless as to what it means?
There are even churches that don't seem to get it. Some think the church is going to establish a kingdom rule; others think a one-world socialistic government is a good thing and is progress; still others think we're a very long way away from the end, while a few think Jesus has already returned.
But this says that they will say "Peace and safety!" Peace and safety. It sounds so nice.
Maybe if we all start talking and acting in only policitally correct ways, and submit to the vision of a one-world government, there will be peace.
Maybe if we all destroy our bombs and the new government takes all our guns away, there will be safety.
But don't be fooled, brothers and sisters. If you didn't already know this, you're hearing it today from the Word of God; "When they say, 'Peace and safety,' then sudden destruction comes."
Let's read on, verse 4:
4 But you, brethren, are not in darkness, so that this Day should overtake you as a thief.
Hear that? If we are walking in the light of the Spirit and the Word of God, then we should not be surprised when Jesus rolls back the heavens as a scroll, for we see the signs of the seasons, and the return of our Lord is at hand!
5 You are all sons of light and sons of the day. We are not of the night nor of darkness.
6 Therefore let us not sleep, as others do, but let us watch and be sober.
7 For those who sleep, sleep at night, and those who get drunk are drunk at night.
8 But let us who are of the day be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and as a helmet the hope of salvation.
9 For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ,
10 who died for us, that whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with Him.
11 Therefore comfort each other and edify one another, just as you also are doing.
Now, I'd like for us to take a look at the chapter just before this one. What we just read talks about faith and love, and the hope of Salvation. It tells us that we should not sleep, that's spiritually speaking, and we should remain sober. It tells us that since we walk in the light, we should recognize that when it looks like peace and safety is coming upon the world, it is really just the mask of destruction, and the return of Jesus is at hand.
In chapter four, we read a little more about Jesus' second coming, and we also read some very practical instructions which, if the Church as a whole would simply obey this plainly-spoken part of the Word of God, we would change very dramatically.
1 Thessalonians 4
1 Finally then, brethren, we urge and exhort in the Lord Jesus that you should abound more and more, just as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God;
2 for you know what commandments we gave you through the Lord Jesus.
3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality;
4 that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor,
5 not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God;
6 that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified.
7 For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness.
8 Therefore he who rejects this does not reject man, but God, who has also given us His Holy Spirit.
It's becoming a frighteningly popular belief that you can practice fornication or homosexuality and still be a Christian.
But this says that we must abstain from sexual immorality, because the will of God for us is that we be sanctified, set apart from sin and consecrated to God to please him in all things.
It also says that sexual immorality defrauds our brother.
This one point could turn into a series of sermons, because sexual immorality defrauds others in so many ways. We could go down a very long list, including soul ties, flash backs, weakening the bond with a future spouse, separating both of you from God, and placing you both in the number of those the Bible says will not enter the kingdom of heaven.
Now, if you watch enough television or listen to enough secular music or read enough trashy magazines, it just might be a little difficult for you to understand how deadly and destructive sexual immorality really is.
But the Word of God doesn't tiptoe around the issue trying to not offend us. In fact, 1 Corinthians chapter 6, verses 9 and 10, says this:
1 Corinthians 6:9-10 (KMV*)
9 Don't you know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor homosexuals, nor sodomites,
10 Nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor swindlers, will inherit the kingdom of God.
So, do you really love that other person? Then don't do things with them that will take you both to eternal torment in hell. That's not love, that's lust, no matter how pure and right it feels. Remember, we don't live by how we feel, but we live by faith in the Word of God.
You wouldn't say, "I love you so much that I want to help you go to hell." So why would you say, "I love you so much that I want to make love to you, even though we're not married, or we're the same gender?"
Even if you really mean it, that's just because you don't really believe the Word of God; you believe your own feelings more than the Scriptures, which Jesus said cannot lie.
Just as love is not a just feeling but an action, so hate is not just a feeling but an action. If you feel the feelings of love but you do the actions of hate, you are actively hating the one you think you love.
All these spiritual leaders who say Jesus is only one of many ways, or who say it's okay for you to practice fornication, or who say it's okay to live a homosexual lifestyle -- they are not full of love, because if they were full of Godly love, they would not be sending people to hell.
And that's what a lack of belief in the Word of God results in -- hate. You cannot love without believing and obeying the Word of God. It is impossible. You can FEEL love, but you cannot truly love, not in action, for even some of your best intentions will destroy others in ways you could not even imagine.
And what does verse eight say? It says, "Therefore, he who rejects this does not reject man, but God."
We've seen people come to this island, stand or sit out in the circle, and say that people are wrong who say homosexuality is wrong, and they know they're right with God no matter what those people say.
But according to Scripture, they are not rejecting what people say about their sin; instead, they are rejecting God. And if you live your life rejecting God and teaching others to do the same, do you really think you're going to stand before that righteous Judge and hear him say, "Well done, you good and faithful servant?" For those who reject God cannot know him, and the only words they are certain to hear are, "Depart from me, you worker of iniquity, for I never knew you!"
So think very carefully before accepting the lie that ANY sexual sin is not really all that bad. Not fornication. Not adultery. Not homosexuality. Anything sexual outside of the privacy and sanctity of marriage will keep you out of heaven and will drag you to hell. And as Jesus said, "God created them male and female, and for THIS reason, a man will leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife, and the two will become one flesh."
And yes, this even includes things you only "pretend" to do here in the virtual world. Jesus said lust is adultery in the heart, so anything you do with your avatar here in Second Life is real, in God's eyes, for you are doing it in your heart.
Let's move on, starting with verse 9:
9 But concerning brotherly love you have no need that I should write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another;
10 and indeed you do so toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, that you increase more and more;
11 that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you,
12 that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
So we are supposed to grow in love. How do we do this? Well, verse nine says that we are taught by God how to love. And how do we hear from God? By getting close to him; by removing things from our lives that do not please him; by studying and obeying the Holy Scriptures; and by spending time in prayer and praise.
Next, this tells us that we should aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind our own business, and to work with our own hands.
"Well, I guess a quiet life rules out my traveling around as part of a Christian rock band." Haha... Not quite, not any more than this would keep you from working a loud construction job or being a street preacher.
This is talking about a different kind of quietness.
The words "aspire to lead a quiet life" are actually only two words in the original greek.
The word translated "aspire" means "to strive earnestly, to make something your aim."
And the word translated "lead a quiet life" means "to rest, to cease from labor, to hold one's peace, to lead a quiet life, said of those who are not running here and there, but who stay at home and mind their business."
So this phrase, "aspire to lead a quiet life," could also be said like this:
"Strive earnestly to live a life that is at rest, at peace, not running here and there getting into everything, but being solid and stable, taking care of your responsibilities and growing in the Lord."
Then it says we should mind our own business. The words translated here as "mind your own business" could also be translated as "to be busy with that which is yours." This doesn't just mean to not poke around in other people's business, but it also means to make sure we keep up with what has been put in our care.
Do you have a spouse? If you're not spending time with him or her every day and growing your relationship, then you're not living the kind of life the Bible's talking about here.
Do you have children? The same thing applies -- you need to be tending to your business of raising them in the way they should go, to help them discover and grow their gifts, and to teach and show them the love and fear of the Lord. If you aren't doing this, you're not living the kind of life the Bible tells us to live here.
Do you have gifts? They are arrows pointing you in the direction of God's callings on your life. If you are not tending to your gifts to use them, grow them, and do with them what God leads you to do, then you're not living this kind of life.
But we should strive earnestly to live like this. This should be our aim. And as we continue to make adjustments to move closer and closer to this, and as we continue to pray for wisdom, direction, and strength to do so, then we'll get closer and closer to it.
Then it tells us to work with our own hands. Don't mooch off of others, even if it's through government-dictated redistribution (usually called welfare). Sure, there are people who cannot work because of a disability or a significant life circumstance. But what CAN you do? How much thought and effort are you putting into being productive and pulling your own weight?
Work with your own hands, whatever that means for you.
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.
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.
18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
And this is where we started, with the second coming of Jesus. In the next chapter, after it says what we read before about the second coming and seeing the warning of "peace and safety," it continues with more practical instruction. But in the middle of it all is the return of our Lord.
So as we do these things, we should do so in the light of the shadow of Jesus Christ and his soon return.
We're living on borrowed time. We don't own the time we spend. It is loaned to us by God. He alone owns all time. And he alone can split time in two by coming into the earth as a baby, just as he alone can permanently mark time again when he returns as the conquering king.
And as we keep our eyes on Jesus and on the day we will see him face to face in all of his glory, then there will be much more meaning in doing the things we're reading here in Scripture, and he will grow within us the power to overcome.
Let's read a few more verses in 1st Thessalonians chapter five, and then we'll close with a time of prayer and ministry.
1 Thessalonians 5:12-24 (NKJV)
12 And we urge you, brethren, to recognize those who labor among you, and are over you in the Lord and admonish you,
13 and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. Be at peace among yourselves.
14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
15 See that no one renders evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue what is good both for yourselves and for all.
16 Rejoice always,
17 pray without ceasing,
18 in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
19 Do not quench the Spirit.
20 Do not despise prophecies.
21 Test all things; hold fast what is good.
22 Abstain from every form of evil.
23 Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
24 He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it.
Anyone here on the ministry team can come to the front now.
I encourage you to study these verses. To memorize them. To read them or recite them every day.
We've moved so far away from this kind of solid, Godly lifestyle, that we need to start cleaning up our minds with the Word of God.
And verse 24 is such a beautiful promise. It says, "He who calls you is faithful, who also will do it." God has called you, and he is faithful. He himself will sanctify you completely, and he will preserve your whole spirit, soul, and body blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
We cooperate with him, growing in love by growing in obedience to his Holy Word. And even though our own efforts could never succeed in preserving us completely blameless at his coming, God himself, the one who has called us, will preserve us blameless, for he is faithful!
This altar is open for prayer and ministry, and you're all invited to get out of your seats and come gather at the front.
If you have not come into the family of God, then come. Ask God to forgive you for your sins, and give them up, walking with him instead.
If you have been compromising with sin, come and get things right between you and God. No compromise is acceptible, but God is faithful, and as you step toward him, he will hold you up in your weakest hour, and will preserve you blameless, spirit soul and body, at the coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
If you just want to spend some time in prayer or worship, then come.
Get out of your seats and gather at the front, as we seek after God and surrender all we are to his hand.
If you need to go, you may do so. If you can stay until after this time at the altar, you're invited to come to the room to your left for a time of fellowship.
If you'd like someone to pray or speak with you, you can instant message me or someone else on the ministry team. For those listening outside of Second Life, go to almcyberchurch.org and click the prayer room or the pastors' offices.
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen!