Monday, June 28, 2010

“God's Cosmic Plan” Adult Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Sunday July 4, 2010

Purpose: To recognize that Christian hope and commitment are fulfilled within the cosmic context of God's intentions for all creation

Scripture Text: 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11(NRSV)

1 Thessalonians 5:1-11
(1) Now concerning the times and the seasons, brothers and sisters, you do not need to have anything written to you. (2) For you yourselves know very well that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night. (3)When they say, ‘There is peace and security’, then sudden destruction will come upon them, as labour pains come upon a pregnant woman, and there will be no escape! (4)But you, beloved, are not in darkness, for that day to surprise you like a thief; (5)for you are all children of light and children of the day; we are not of the night or of darkness. (6)So then, let us not fall asleep as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober; for those who sleep sleep at night, and those who are drunk get drunk at night. (8)But since we belong to the day, let us be sober, and put on the breastplate of faith and love, and for a helmet the hope of salvation. (9)For God has destined us not for wrath but for obtaining salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, (10)who died for us, so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live with him. (11) Therefore encourage one another and build up each other, as indeed you are doing.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

Do you enjoy waiting? Neither did the Thessalonian church. Do you enjoy waiting more or less when you know that what is coming will happen? I have often said when I was a young boy growing up in Indiana that Christmas took forever, I thought it would never come. Now that I have passed three score and ten, it seems like it comes every other week or so. I think our waiting is influenced by our expectations. When I was a boy Christmas had no negatives, now that I have to put up decorations and buy presents, my expectations have changed.

Paul is faced with a similar problem with the Thessalonian church. They were expecting the promised return of Jesus to happen during their lifetime. In fact, many sold their possessions, and just waited on the Lord to return as promised. Now Christ will come again, that is the great hope of today's Church, but it will happen on God's time and not human time. Paul was right in telling them to be prepared, but once we have accepted Christ into our lives the time really does not matter.

The words translated as “the times and the seasons” come from two different Greek words. The first word is “chronos” and it means “clock time.” It's where we get such words as “chronology” and “chronometer.” The other word is “kairos” but the translations is more difficult, while some translations use “seasons” or “dates”, probably the better translation would be “right time” or “appropriate time.” I choose to call it “God's time.”

Regardless of when this event happens, as Christians, since we know that it is a sure thing, it should never take us by surprise. Also since we know it will happen we should be looking towards that time and keep ourselves ready for that moment. We cannot force the issue and make it happen at our bidding, often our motives for wishing it to happen is; we are unhappy with our situation and we want God to somehow bail us out. Isn't if funny how we never think that much about it when everything is going good in our lives.

Paul assures all believers that there is nothing to fear here, only that we should be vigilant and sober. A thief cannot surprise someone when they are expected. Since we are children of light rather than darkness, we should only be concerned about our faith, love and hope. God did not call us to be followers of Christ, so we would have fear, but rather that we would receive the salvation that he went to great pains to provide for us. Knowing this, our responsibility is to encourage the discouraged, and provide hope for the hopeless. We can do all of this because of our faith, which has enabled us to receive, by God's grace, our salvation, and for all of eternity we will live with Jesus. Now that is something to look forward to.

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