DEVOTIONAL THOUGHT FOR THIS WEEK
Last week we looked at Paul's advice on how to prepare for Jesus' second coming in 1 Thessalonians 4:14, where the apostle points out that Jesus will lead "those who have fallen asleep in him" in a victory parade. In that passage, Paul's main point is that you have to be in Jesus, and the best time to start being in Jesus is now - because you may not get the chance later. But just to make sure he's not misunderstood, Paul then moves to clarify himself in 1 Thessalonians 4:15: "According to the Lord's word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep" (NIV). Paul is clear that those who have died do not instantly go to be with Jesus. It is not from heaven that Jesus leads those who have died in him; instead, they simply join him when he has almost reached the earth. Those who are left behind when a loved one has passed - "we who are still alive" - will not receive our reward before "those who have fallen asleep." Neither the dead nor the living receive their eternal reward from Jesus before each other. All of his friends receive from Jesus an eternity of love, peace, and bliss at the same time when he comes again. So how do we prepare for this event? Paul gives a clue with the words "according to the Lord's word." Paul knew Jesus had promised he would simultaneously save the living and the dead at his second coming, and he knew this because Jesus had given his word. What the Thessalonians needed to do was trust that Jesus would do what he had promised. Friends, do you trust Jesus and believe that he will fulfill his promise to rescue you from death and sin at his second coming? The best preparation for the second coming of Jesus is to trust that he is returning to deliver you. God bless.
By Nathaniel Gamble