Our Unpredictable Journey and Christian Preparedness

25th Sunday after Pentecost - 11/19/2023 | 1 Thessalonians 5:11 ESV

Wide Awake in Hope for the Lord’s Second Coming

The path of life is like a winding river. It meanders through unexpected twists and turns, presenting us with a series of surprises, both joyous and somber. From unexpected gifts and surprise celebrations to the jolting impact of job loss or the heart-wrenching news of a family accident, life's surprises catch us off guard, leaving us to wrestle with their profound and often life-altering repercussions. Some surprises arrive with a gentle knock. Yet, other surprises burst into our lives like unexpected storms.

The Unknown Timing of the Lord's Return

The anticipation of the Lord Jesus' Second Coming casts a sobering shadow for some. Forewarned by the Lord Himself, His final appearance as the Judge of the living and the dead will unfold precisely when least expected, a stark contrast to the well-publicized events that often capture our attention. Unlike life's surprises, the exact date of this reckoning remains a mystery, known only to the Father.

The Day of Judgment: A Moment of No Return

Among events that demand preparation, the Day of Judgment undoubtedly holds the highest significance. Unlike life's surprises, which often offer a grace period for adjustment or reconciliation, this event allows no room for delay. 

Eternity, whether in heaven or hell, will abruptly confront every individual, ready or not. The stark reality of this irreversible moment demands a sobering reflection and a commitment to preparedness.

Christian Preparedness: Staying Awake for His Arrival

For Christians, the Day of the Lord's coming should not catch us off guard. We are called to be wide awake, vigilant, and prepared for His imminent arrival. 

As St. Paul emphasized to the Thessalonians, believers are instructed by God's Word regarding the certainty of Christ's return. This belief, grounded in the promises of Scripture, should permeate every aspect of our lives, shaping our decisions and guiding our actions.

The Day of the Lord Comes Like a Thief in the Night

St. Paul warned, "The day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night." Similar to a thief catching us unaware, the Lord's return will happen unannounced, catching the world engrossed in its daily pursuits. This element of surprise, this unexpected intrusion into the status quo, should serve as a wake-up call, spurring believers into active preparedness.

The Advantage of Knowledge

Christians have an undeniable advantage over those unaware of Jesus' Second Coming. While others may be caught entirely off guard, believers have been equipped with the truth of salvation through Jesus Christ. 

This knowledge, a beacon of hope amidst the uncertainties of life, provides a firm foundation for navigating the twists and turns of our earthly journey. The confession of faith resounds in worship services and echoes in our hearts, reinforcing the certainty and purpose of Jesus' judgment.

Deniers of Eternal Judgment

In an age often characterized by a desire to escape the harsh realities of life, some deny the concept of eternal judgment. Dismissing the idea of eternal accountability, they cling to a utopian belief in peace and security for all. 

However, St. Paul's words resonate with believers, reminding us that we are children of the light, not of darkness. We are called to stand up for the truth, however challenging it may be, and to prepare accordingly.

Living in the Light and Resisting Shadows

As children of the light, believers need not be deceived by the false ideologies of the world. The truth in the Gospel of Christ serves as our guiding light, illuminating the path and enabling us to discern between right and wrong. 

It allows us to remain alert to Christ's unexpected coming, prepared to face whatever challenges may arise. Believers, like the children of Israel in ancient times, are protected by God's grace and truth. Believers have light in the darkness, a beacon of stability in a world of fleeting shadows.

Equipped with Spiritual Armor to Stand Firm in Faith

Through the Word of Truth centered on Jesus Christ, believers are fitted with spiritual armor, a protective shield against the empty words and deceptive allurements of the world. This armor, consisting of faith and love, safeguards hearts and souls from spiritual harm. Remaining steadfast in the Word ensures believers stay in the light, resisting the seductive temptations of the dark world.

The Helmet of the Hope of Salvation

The Word of Christ places on believers the helmet of the hope of salvation. Regardless of the challenges and uncertainties that may arise in this dark world, the hope given in Christ covers souls like a helmet. 

Believers can take courage, knowing that God has not appointed them for His wrath but for eternal salvation through Jesus Christ. This hope, a firm anchor in the storms of life, sustains us through trials and tribulations, reminding us of the promise of eternal life in Christ's presence.

A Bold Prayer: "Come, Lord Jesus!"

In His mercy, God has appointed believers to obtain eternal salvation. Despite the unknown day and hour of His arrival, believers have the assurance that His coming signals not eternal torment but final salvation from the effects of sin. Therefore, the daily prayer of believers can be bold, "Come, Lord Jesus!" Amen!

As we prepare for the Lord's return, let us remember that life is an unpredictable journey filled with joyful and sorrowful surprises. Let us embrace these surprises, not with fear or trepidation, but with faith and hope.

Let us use life's surprises as opportunities to grow in our relationship with God and to prepare our hearts for His Second Coming. Let us live in the light of His truth, armed with the spiritual armor of faith and love, and filled with the unwavering hope of salvation. When the day of the Lord's return arrives, let us greet Him with open arms, ready to enter into the eternal joy of His presence.

More 2023 Pentecost Sermons

Genuine Christian Faith

Revealing the Hidden Saints

Soli Deo Gloria

Crossroads of Faith and Civic Duty

The Key to God's Kingdom Revealed


Sermons from Trinity Lutheran Church in Miles City, MT