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April 21, 2013 “Living With Hope” 1 Thessalonians 4:13-5:11 (To print the lesson click here for Word document: Living with Hope Sunday School Lesson or click the print button below. Enjoy!)
In light of the events that occurred at the Boston Marathon on this Monday, April 15, 2013, a lesson of hope is needed more than ever.
Hope. How many through the centuries have searched for it? What extreme lengths has man taken to obtain it? Yet, hope cannot be sought after like a long-lost treasure. It is instilled in the one who has faith that what was said will come to pass. Hope is assured in the one who has planted the seed of God’s Word and promises deep within their souls, waiting in expectation for the fruition thereof.
Often when I turn on the new (which is rare these days) it is littered with stories of unnecessary violence (as if any violence is necessary). Why is it that people resort to such destructive behaviors? I would venture to say that one of the reasons may be that people have no hope. Most people walking on this earth are not living their lives in expectation of something better. Especially when it comes to spiritual matters. Hope is not being stored up in them as a means of something better to look forward to in the future.
Hope, or the lack thereof, leads one in how they live their lives. To the one who has hope every day is an opportunity to build up yourselves on your most holy faith, Jude 1:20. But, to the one who is devoid of such faith, the days before him may appear to be as dreariness and despair with nothing positive to look forward to.
Thoughts like these troubled those newly converted Christians in Thessalonica. Paul, on his second missionary journey, preached to them the gospel of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:1,2). In his preaching, he taught them of the resurrection of Jesus Christ (Acts 17:3). The resurrection of Christ was a foundational truth for them to lay hold of. In that teaching they would find hope for their own future when Christ came back. But, what of those who had gone on before? What will their final end be? How will those who passed away before Christ makes His return be dealt with? Were they going to miss out on obtaining the promise of God?
“But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren.” One time I attempted to go fishing in a particular area. An official came by requesting a license from everyone. As she approached us I was a little nervous because we heard she wanted proof of a fishing license of which I didn’t have. I tried to explain as she started writing a ticket that I wasn’t aware of the need for one. Her response was, “Ignorance of the law was not an excuse.”
When it comes to his spiritual children in Thessalonica, Paul wanted them to be fully aware of not only what would take place but how it would happen. Their concern for their loved ones was real (as any of us would be) and they needed consolation of their future security as well. The resurrection is real. The second coming of Christ is real. People who have in it need the knowledge to be fully prepared for it. This is what Paul was seeking to do. Instill in them the knowledge to fortify their hope “concerning them which are asleep.”
“That ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.” Paul is not seeking to diminish the sadness of heart when a loved one is no longer with us. His goal here is to bolster the faith of the believer. When one who has passed on has been secured in the faith of Christ (His salvation), they don’t have to dread/worry for their eternity. To those who pass on in the faith, death is not the final say. Proverbs 14:32 tells us “The wicked is driven away in his wickedness but the righteous hath hope in his death,” (KJV). Though the righteous may die, they still have a future up ahead. But, for those “which have no hope,” the wicked, have no such security for they will be “driven away.”
“For if we believe.” What we believe lies at the center of whether or not we are living with hope. From the time of our conversion, what we believe decides what we will or will not do with our faith. Christ’s resurrection is a central theme of the gospel. Because Christ rose from the dead as promised – then they that are in Christ are to expect the same return on their faith. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, whom according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,” (KJV). What we believe is centered on that “lively hope!”
“Them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.” Even in death, those who were in Christ Jesus are secured. The psalmist said, “But God will redeem my soul from the power of the grave: for he shall receive me,” (Ps. 49:15, KJV). The blood of Christ that was shed on Calvary’s cross did so to “redeem,” those who had faith in Him! Those that had faith and accepted the redemptive power of Christ are “received!” They are made His own. And when Christ comes back there is the promise of overcoming the power of the grave (1 Cor. 15:55) and being raised up with “Him!”
Before He died, Jesus showed command over death. In Luke 8:52 He told the family of the weeping girl, “Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth,” (KJV). “Sleep” is referred as death, but when Jesus is in the mix it is also a temporary state. There will be a time of “quickening,” (Ps. 71:20). A time when life is renewed and brought back. A time when the shackles of death have to fall off and we are loosed from the grave clothes as Lazarus was, and are free to come out of the grave to meet Jesus where He is!
“For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord.” What we speak is not an invention of the human origin. The things we tell you are from God! “And now, O Lord God, thou art that God, and thy words be true, and thou has promised this goodness unto they servant,” (2 Sam. 7:28, KJV). His words are unfailing. His words are true. When His words are wrapped up in a promise regarding our future, they can be believed!
It used to be that a man’s word was his bond. Not anymore. But, with God, “There hath not failed one word of all his good promise . . .,” (1 Kings 8:56, KJV). His word is “perfect” and without error (Ps. 18:30, KJV). So, when the apostle was assuring them of the fate of their loved ones, he declared it can be believed and hope in because “this we say unto you by the word of the Lord.”
“We which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.” The word “prevent” in our modern English definitions usually speak of prohibiting or stopping a process from occurring. Not so in the ancient Greek. There the word means “to go before or precede.” When Jesus comes back to claim the inheritance of His people, we that are still “alive” will not take precedence over those who have gone on before us. When that day comes, those that have already died will get to be the first ones to meet Jesus in the air. Not only are they assured in their hope of still meeting Jesus, but they have a special privilege that those who are still alive do not have.
To really hammer the point home, Paul gives a short description of how these events will play our. First, “the Lord himself shall descend from heaven.” In our lesson on April 7, 2013, it showed us where Christ ascended (Luke 24:51) to heaven. The disciples were told by the two angels, “This same Jesus, which is take up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven,” (Acts 1:11, KJV). The Bible tells us, “a cloud received him,” (Acts 1:9, KJV).
While on earth Jesus warned of false christ’s appearing in various places. He, Himself, stated that the Son of man coming down from heaven (compare Mt. 24:27; Luke 17:24). John described His coming in Revelation 1:7, saying, “Behold, he cometh with clouds; and every eye shall see him, and they also which pierced him: and all kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him. Even so, Amen,” (KJV). When He “descends” it will be an event like no other. And, “every eye shall see him.”
Heavenly noises will accompany His return. “With a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God.” Not only will every eye bear witness to His return, but every ear will hear God affirming the authority of His Son who is the “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS,” (Rev. 19:16, KJV).
If you have ever viewed a royal processional up close or on television you get familiar with the process. When royalty are involved in big events such as weddings, funeral, celebratory jubilees, and such – they just don’t go to the event. They GO to the event in style. There is music play, people and guards dressed in their finest apparel, trumpets blowing, with special cars and/or carriages to bus the family to their destination. In other words, you know the event is set apart from everyone else’s event because this is for royalty.
When Jesus comes back everyone will know that the true King has arrived! Some will dread at His coming and some will be ecstatic. The King has returned to take back what is rightfully His!
“And the dead in Christ shall rise first.” Paul reiterates that the first meeting privileges go to those who have gone on before. The Thessalonians have nothing to fear about their deceased loved ones. If they were in Christ, they get to meet Jesus first. “First!” “First” is a position of honor. God honors the “dead in Christ” by allowing them to go “first.”
“Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air.” Then, it’s our turn! What will that day be like? What will it be like for us who are alive? What will it be like for the unsaved who are left behind, prohibited from this glorious celebration?
“And so shall we ever be with the Lord.” We will be “caught up” (raptured) to live with Christ for “ever,” never to be removed. Wow! What assurance against the backdrop of hopelessness we see in the world, particularly the events of this week. No more crying. No more heart-break. No more trouble. “So shall we ever be with the Lord!” Now, that’s hope!
“Wherefore comfort one another with these words.” “Wherefore” implies that because of the promise of hope we have before us, that we are to exalt “one another” and “comfort” them to remain in the truth of “these words.” “These words” will make the difference between someone holding onto their hope or letting go. Learn to edify one another today (compare 1 Thes. 5:11; Rom. 14:19). We need “one another” to build upon.
“But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you.” Jesus said, “But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only,” (Mt. 24:36, KJV). Too many times we have seen cases that didn’t pan out of false revelations of the end of the world. Jesus never focused on the time, because it could happen at any time. His focus was always on preparedness. “Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh,” (Mt. 24:44, KJV).
“The day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night.” Jesus said, “If the goodman had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up,” (Mt. 24:43, KJV). Thieves are not known for announcing their arrival. The element of surprise works in their favor. It catches people off guard, when they least expect it. Here we are told that when we least expect it “the day of the Lord so cometh.”
“Peace and safety; then sudden destruction.” The worse things seem to happen in conditions that make us feel at “peace and safe” (compare “Boston Marathon”; 9/11 – not recommended in children’s lessons, use for adult comparison if your audience is ready to receive it. Be sensitive to your students of all ages. – On both of these days, the sun was out, weather was right and people felts secured. The, sudden destruction occurred). Governments are clamoring for “peace” to make the world in which we live “safe.” But as a woman’s labor pain “suddenly” begins so will that day be. “They (the unready/unprepared) shall not escape.”
“Ye . . . are not in darkness.” Because of your affiliation with Christ who is the Light of the world, (John 8:12), and have now become a light yourselves (Mt. 5:14), “that day shall not overtake you.” Because you have accepted Christ and opened yourself to live, love and learn of His Light, you are identified “children of the day” (see also Acts 26:18; 1 John 2:8).
Compare with word “us” and “they.” For “us,” we do “not sleep” but we “watch” and are “sober,” (vs. 6). “They,” “sleep in the night,” and are “drunken . . . in the night,” (vs. 7). Day and night do not mesh with one another. Those of the day are diligent and watchful, knowing that day could unfold at any moment. The “us” live for God so that when that day does arrive they would not be ashamed and miss out on the greatest event to ever happen. The “they” - those of the night don’t care to pay attention to the “times and seasons.” They waste away their lives in unholy pursuits.
“But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.” We see in Ephesians 6:10-18 where Paul goes into greater detail of putting on the “Armor of God.” But, I want to focus on “the hope of salvation.” For this was the very reason Paul was trying to encourage those at Thessalonica. They had to believe that the salvation they had was sure. If you are born again (see Acts 2:38- and also last week’s lesson), then believe it for yourself. Carry that knowing on your mind as a helmet.
“God hath not appointed us to wrath.” There’s that word “us” again. “Us,” we, have a hope! The “wrath” of God is unmatched in its horror. In Revelation 6:16-17 we see people crying out for mountains to fall on them, “For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand,” (Rev. 6:17, KJV). But, not so for “us.” That is not our destiny. We are appointed “to meet the Lord in the air,” (1 Thes. 4:17, KJV).
“To obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 4:12 tells us, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved,” (KJV). Matthew 1:21 confirms our salvation in Jesus through the angel Gabriel before His birth. “And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name Jesus: for he shall save his people from their sins,” (KJV). Jesus, Himself, said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me,” (John 14:6, KJV). There is no other way to “obtain salvation” outside of the “Lord Jesus Christ.”
“Who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him.” It doesn’t matter our physical status when He comes (wake or sleep), what matters is our spiritual status. If our spiritual status is right then “we should live together with him.”
Then, we have a repeat to “comfort . . . and edify one another,” again. Through the hardest times of life, particularly in dealing with those who have gone on before us, we can lift “one another” up in the promise of God and the salvation we have through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Below you will find a some activities that can accompany your lesson to make a greater impact. Enjoy!
“Living with Hope Draw the Scene”: Living with Hope Draw the Scene
Additional Activities for the Lesson:
Make a Card:
Our lesson is dealing with hope. In our lesson we are encouraged twice to comfort one another. The events that occurred at the Boston Marathon this week were tragic. You can have your students make homemade cards, banners or signs to show support of the victims. Take pictures of your class and upload them to sights accepting them or mail them. Enjoy!
Hope Promise Book:
Fold construction paper in half. Next, cut or fold page inserts: Hope Promise Book Page Inserts and staple into the book. Attach our cover verse: Hope Promise Book Cover Verse Printout. Let students decorate any way they choose. Students can then use their promise book to draw pictures that will remind them of these promises of Hope that God has given us. Enjoy!
Going to Meet Jesus Craft:
Using this Jesus in the cloud coloring sheet from Kidopo.com and this coloring sheet of a group of people from Picturesforcoloring.com, I put together this craft of making people going up to meet Jesus in the air. Color and glue the Jesus coloring sheet on construction paper. Print out the group of people on cardstock or attach to construction paper also. Punch holes into the bottom of Jesus picture and the top of the group pictures. Weave yarn or string through and tie onto the group of people. Attach a clothes pin to the top of Jesus picture. Slip yarn or string through the hole of the clothespin. This allows you to slide the people up and down to meet Jesus. Make sure students leave plenty of yarn or string for the people to go up and down. When not in use, wrap excess string around the clothespin to put away. Enjoy!
Additional Coloring and Activities:
“Ressurrection Tag” from Free Children’s Bible Lessons!
“Hope” Coloring Page from the Isaiah 43:1 Project
Another “Hope” Coloring Page from Hellokids
“Everything Will Be Okay” Great Coloring Sheet for Older Children. Really Beautiful from Beauty That Moves
“Jesus’ Second Coming“:
“Jesus’ Second Coming/Ascension” Coloring Page from Free Christian Coloring Pages
“Jesus’ Second Coming” Coloring Page from Abdaacts (suited more to older children)
“Jesus’ Second Coming” Coloring Page from Daniel Revelation Bible Studies
“The Second Coming” Activities and Coloring from Calvary Curriculum
“As a Thief in the Night” Activities and Coloring from Calvary Curriculum
“Jesus’ Return to Earth” Coloring from Christiananswers.net
“Create – A – Crown” Craft from Crayola.com
“The Day and Time Not Known” from Missionarlington.org
“When is Jesus Coming Back” from Missionarlington.org
“Jesus is Coming Again” Activities and Coloring from Sermons4kids
“Craft Ideas on the Second Coming” from Ehow.com
“1 Thess. 4:17 – the Rapture“:
“The Rapture” Activity from Elephantgrace.com
“1 Thess. 4:18 & 5:11 – Encourage One Another”:
“Encourage One Another” from Sermons4kids
“Kids Encouragement Game” from Ministry to Children
“Encourage One Another” Coloring Page from Gwhizteacher
“By the word of the Lord” 1 Thess. 4:15:
“The Word of God” Activities from Kids Sunday School Place
“Bible Crafts for Kids About God’s Word” from Ehow.com
“The Word of God” Sunday School Lesson from Ministry to Children
“God’s Word the Bible” Activities from Msss Crafts
“1 Thess. 5:5 – Children of the Light“:
“Light of the World Kids Crafts” from Ezinearticles.com
“Being a Light to the World” from Suite101
“1 Thess. 5:9 – Salvation“:
“Salvation” Activities from Kids Sunday School Lessons
“Salvation Activities” from Ehow.com
“Salvation Object Lesson” from Ministry to Children
“Salvation Games” from Ehow.com