Hope For the Future (Reprise)

Today we come to the end of what has been a very encouraging and inspiring journey through the book of 1 Thessalonians. I hope it has been a blessing to you.

The underscore of this letter is, quite simply, hope. I have called this series, “A Real Life Faith,” because I believe that faith is about embracing hope. When we are reminded of our great and glorious hope in Jesus’ promised return, our faith surges, our endurance strengthens, and our determination to see through the temporary trials and rest in the promised deliverance is built up.

You see, Paul makes very clear that, at the end of our days upon this earth as it now stands, God will finish the transforming work he began when first we believed. In chapter 5, he repeats a phrase used earlier in the letter:

“…And may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Thess 5.23.b).

What a glorious thought, isn’t it?

When that day comes that Jesus returns and calls us up and out of this sin-cursed world, the transforming of out lives that started when we put our trust in him will be fully and finally completed. And, as Paul taught us in chapter 4, “and so we will always be with the Lord.” I don’t think we can quite grasp the significance of that statement. We will be with him… never separated again, never to ache for his presence because we are in it.

My brothers and sisters, in this is hope.

Whatever life throws at us, it is only temporary. The eternal is sure. This is a real life faith.

And a real life faith is hope for the future.

Father, thank you for your promises that provide a hope beyond our ability to fully grasp. May that hope stir and strengthen and motivate our faith until that day comes.

To Finish Well (Reprise)

We’ve been walking through this amazing letter of 1 Thessalonians over the last several weeks. It has been challenging and encouraging to me and I hope it has to you as well.

As Paul seems to look back over the themes of this letter in the last chapter, he makes a simple, powerful statement:

“He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it,” (1 Thess 5.24)

There is a settled confidence in this sentence. God, who has called us to this faith, is indeed faithful. He is worthy of our confidence and faith.

He will do what he promised. You can count on it.

Why is this simple statement so important?

We explored the idea several days ago that a real life faith wants to finish well. The first half of this last chapter made a strong case for that premise.

But the great news in all of this is that, while He calls us to sanctification and to pursue a life of holiness, he does the work in us.

And because we are aware that God himself does the real transformation, we can take great confidence in him and his ability and willingness to accomplish this purpose in us.

A real life faith really does want to finish well. And the One who has called us is faithful. He will surely do it.

Father, give us the grace to lean into the work you are doing in us, grant us the grace to finish well.

Yet Unfinished (Reprise)

This faith of ours…

It’s an ongoing work, always moving forward or falling back.

It has been a long wrangling in my spirit to come at last to the recognition that my faith is simply not yet finished.

Indeed, in this life, it is not and will not be finished. But that day will come.

As he recaps the scope of his letter, Paul declares his desire for his pupils:

“Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely,” (1 Thess 5.23a)

Do you see that?

He prays that God will do this work of renewal, he calls it “sanctification,” and do so “completely.”

As he challenged us in chapter 4 to give ourselves over to this sanctifying work, we know that if we are still here, if we remain in this life, his work in us is ongoing.

He will do it. We must yield to it.

We do so because we want to be with him, to be known by him, to know him.

So today, would you pause to remember with me this truth?

A real life faith is yet unfinished.

Father, remind me, convince me, and grant me the grace to embrace that my faith is yet unfinished.