Building Tombs & Monuments: When Walls Become A Tomb & Prison

Today’s selected reading continues in and concludes the first New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica. More specifically today’s passage is found in verses twelve through twenty-eight of the fifth chapter. “And we beseech you, brethren, to know them which labour among you, and are over you in the Lord, and admonish you; and to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake. And be at peace among yourselves. Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men. See that none render evil for evil unto any man; but every follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men. Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. Quench not the Spirit. Despise not prophesyings. Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. Abstain from all appearance of evil. And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faith is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (1 Thessalonians 5:12-24).

 

            “Brethren, pray for us. Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss. I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (1 Thessalonians 5:25-28).

 

            When you come to this particular portion of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul written unto the Thessalonian saints you will find words and language used to close out this epistle. What makes this particular epistle so incredibly unique is when you consider the fact that it was written by the apostle Paul from the city of Athens. If you take the time to read the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts you will discover that after the apostle Paul departed from the Macedonian city of Philippi he would journey through a couple other places before arriving at Thessalonica. The entire seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts is centered upon the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Thessalonica as well as the city of Berea and ultimately Athens itself. I am absolutely convinced that in order to understand the words which are found in this first epistle you must needs understand the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts. It is in the seventeenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we discover the apostle Paul arriving at the city of Thessalonica and teaching and preaching in the synagogue of the Jews as his custom was. What we find regarding the time the apostle Paul spent in the city of Thessalonica is tremendous resistance, opposition and blasphemy of the Jews as they rose up against the apostle Paul—and not only against the apostle Paul but also against the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

 

So incredibly severe was the resistance and opposition of the Jews that the disciples and brethren had to send the apostle Paul away from Thessalonica unto Berea. It would be there at Berea the apostle Paul would teach and preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ before the same Jews which resisted the apostle Paul in Thessalonica would make there way unto Berea to create and wreak havoc there against the apostle Paul and the word of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ. Eventually the apostle Paul would need to be sent forth from Berea as well and would ultimately come to the city of Athens in what is considered modern day Greece. When you read the words which are found in the final portion of the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonians you will find that he wrote this epistle from the city of Athens. What adds even more weight and significance to this is when you consider the fact that this first epistle written unto the Thessalonian saints was not only the first epistle written unto them but it was also the first epistle written by the apostle Paul throughout his years. In addition to teaching and preaching unto the Athenians while in the city of Athens the apostle Paul would also take and find the time to pen a letter unto the Thessalonians—perhaps to address certain questions and concerns they had within their hearts and minds. It is with this in mind I invite you to turn and direct your attention to the words which are found in the seventeenth chapter of the book of Acts beginning with the first and opening verse:

 

Now when they had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia, they came to Thessalonica, where was a synagogue of the Jews: and Paul, as his manner was, went in unto them, and three sabbath days reasoned with them out of the scriptures, opening and alleging, that Christ must needs have suffered, and risen again from the dead; and that this Jesus, whom I preach unto you, is Christ. And some of them believed, and consorted with Paul and Silas; and of the devout Greeks a great multitude, and of the chief women not a few. But the Jews which believed not, moved with envy, took unto them certain lewd fellows of the baser sort, and gathered a company, and set all the city on an uproar, and assaulted the house of Jason, and sought to bring them out to the people. And when they found them not, they drew Jason and certain brethren unto the rulers of the city, crying, These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also; whom Jason hath received: and these all do contrary to the decrees of Caesar, saying that there is another king, one Jesus. And they troubled the people and the rulers of the city, when they heard these things. And when they had taken security of Jason, and of the other, they let them go” (Acts 17:1-9).

 

And the brethren immediately sent away Paul and Silas by night unto Berea: who coming thither went into the synagogue of the Jews. These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind ,and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so. Therefore many of them believed; also of honourable women which were Greeks, and of men, not a few. But when the Jews of Thessalonica had knowledge that the word of God was preached of Paul at Berea, they came thither also, and stirred up the people. And then immediately the brethren sent away Paul to go as it were to the sea: but Silas and Timotheus abode there still. And they that conducted Paul brought him unto Athens: and receiving a commandment unto Silas and Timotheus for to come to him with all speed, they departed” (Acts 17:10-15).

 

Now while Paul waited for them at Athens, his spirit was stirred in him, when he saw the city wholly given to idolatry. Therefore disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. Then certain philosophers of the Epicureans, and of the Stoicks, encountered him. And some said, What will this babbler say? Other some, He seemeth to be a setter forth of strange gods: because he preached unto them Jesus, and the resurrection. And they took him, and brought him unto Areopagus, saying, May we know what this new doctrine, whereof thou speakest is? For thou bringest certain strange things to our ears: we would know therefore what these things mean. (for all the Athenians and strangers which were there spent their time in nothing else, but either to tell, or to hear some new thing.) Then Paul stood in the midst of Mars’ hill, and said” (Acts 17:16-22).

 

Ye men of Athens, I perceive that in all things ye are too superstitious. For as I passed by, and beheld your devotions, I found an altar with this inscription, TO THE UNKNOWN GOD. Whom therefore ye ignorantly worship, him declare I unto you. God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is the Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; and hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; that they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring. Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandmeth all men every where to repent: because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead” (Acts 17:22-31).

 

And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. So Paul departed form among them. Howbeit certain men clave unto him, and believed: among the which was Dionysius the Arepagite, and a woman named Damaris, and others with them” (Acts 17:32-34).

 

It’s actually quite interesting and unique when you read and consider the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what begins with the apostle Paul in Thessalonica would eventually transition to the place where the apostle Paul would be in Athens. There in the city of Athens the apostle Paul would preach the word and gospel unto them in the midst of Mars’ hill. What makes me so incredibly unique is when you think about the fact that sometime while the apostle Paul was in Athens he would find time to write unto the Thessalonians. It would be there in the city of Athens at some point the apostle Paul would take the time to write this first epistle written unto the Thessalonian saints. Upon reading the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints you will find him beginning with the greeting of himself, Silas and Timothy—this despite the fact that while he was in Athens neither Timothy or Silas were with him for they would still abide in Thessalonica. When writing unto the Thessalonian saints the apostle Paul would begin and open up with the apostle Paul greeting these saints as the church of the Thessalonians which were in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ. In order to understand the words which are found in the final chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Thessalonica we must needs recognize that this would be the first of the thirteen epistles the apostle Paul would write unto the saints of God and churches within Asia and Europe.

 

If you begin with and from the second verse of the first chapter you find the apostle Paul giving thanks to God always for them making mention of them in their prayers. The apostle Paul remembered them without ceasing their work of faith, their labour of love and their patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God and our Father. The apostle Paul made it very clear that even after he had departed from Thessalonica and was present in Athens he continually and daily lifted up these dear saints before the throne of God. In the opening chapter of this epistle the apostle Paul made sure to declare unto them how he gave thanks to them always, how he made mention of them in his prayers, and how he remembered without ceasing your work of faith, their labour of love, and their patience of hope in the Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of God and our Father. This would immediately be followed by the apostle declaring unto them their election of God and how their gospel came not unto them in word only but also in power and in the Holy Ghost and in much assurance. If there is something I can’t help but think about when I read in this passage of Scripture I can’t help but think about three unique realities present while among the Thessalonian saints. If you begin reading with and from the fifth verse of the first chapter you will find the apostle speaking of the gospel, you will find the apostle speaking of the power and the Holy Ghost and you will find the witness and testimony which were among them. It is truly astonishing when reading the words which are found in this passage of Scripture for what we find here is the gospel of the Lord Jesus, the power of the Holy Ghost, and the witness and testimony.

 

As I sit here today I can’t help but think about the tremendous truth found in this passage of Scripture I find myself being absolutely and entirely captivated with the words which we see here. I find myself coming face to face with the wonderful truth of what is needed within our lives as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is not a doubt in my mind when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture we are brought face to face with the incredible truth of essential realities within our lives. If we truly consider ourselves to be the saints of God and the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ we must recognize that in order to be truly effective there must be the balance of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ, there must be the power of the Holy Ghost and there must be “the manner of men we were among you.” There is a tremendous emphasis most place on the preaching of the gospel and of the power of the Holy Ghost but there is very little emphasis that is placed on the preaching of the gospel and even an emphasis that is placed on the power of the Holy Ghost and yet there are very few who recognize the importance of the witness and testimony that is needed in direct relation to the gospel and the power. There are a number of men and women who choose to focus so much and so heavily on the preaching of the gospel and the power of the Holy Ghost and yet they fail to realize that perhaps more important than the preaching of the gospel is the witness and testimony we have within our hearts and lives. One of the greatest realities we have within our hearts and lives is that silent witness that is presented not by what we say or even by any demonstration of the Holy Spirit but simply in how we live our lives and conduct ourselves among those we interact with on a daily basis.

 

Even as I am writing these words I am writing from a place where I lost my father due to COVID-pneumonia. Prior to my father contracting COVID-pneumonia he had spent years suffering and struggling with diabetes. If you knew my father you knew that he was in constant pain—regardless of whether it was in his hands, or in his feet, or in his fingers, or in various other parts of his body. Perhaps one of the most powerful examples and witnesses of my father is that regardless of how much pain he was in he would continue showing up for work. Regardless of how much pain and suffering my father was in he would continue to show up and be there for others. It wouldn’t matter how much pain my father was in or how much he was suffering for he would still show up and live his life as a powerful witness. There would be times my father would be collapsed on the floor of my parents’ house and would go to work the very next day. One of the most striking realities about my father is that even if you worked with him on a consistent and regular basis you would have never known the tremendous pain he was in. Even if you worked forty plus hours with my father and spent a considerable amount of time with him you would never know that he was in so much pain, agony and suffering. My father would show up for work and would continue showing up for work with a smile on his face and was perhaps one of—if not the most personable, friendly and outgoing men you will ever meet. He was always concerned with your well-being and would always put your needs before and above his own and you knew that you had a friend for life with him.

 

I sit here this morning thinking about and considering the words which are found in the first epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the Thessalonian saints and I am brought face to face with the incredibly awesome and powerful truth surrounding the silent witness and testimony that is missing from the lives of so many men and women who profess to be saints of God and the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. Even when I look over the life of my own father he spent more than twenty years in public ministry—from 1983 through 2007—not only as a youth pastor and associate pastor but also as a senior pastor. For more than two decades my father served as a minister of the gospel within the four walls of the church as well as went on various missionary trips to Israel and Venezuela. In 2007, however, my father would step away from ministry as he had known it—and not only as he had known it but also as we had known it. Over the past fourteen years my father did not serve in ministry in any official capacity in terms of being an associate or senior pastor. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about and consider it is when you realize that with this came a silent and unseen struggle my father had within his own heart and soul. That struggle my father—in addition to the constant physical pain and suffering he was enduring—was whether or not he was truly making a difference in the lives of those he would interact with on a daily basis. There were countless times when my mother would try and encourage my father and would declare unto him that he did not need to be behind a pulpit, nor in the four walls of the church, nor standing on a platform to make a difference and impact for the kingdom of God.

 

When my brother and I performed his memorial service only a couple of days ago we were amazed at the amount of people my father impacted and he never even had a clue he was doing so. One of the greatest truths surrounding my father is that although he had absolutely no clue that he was making a difference in the lives of people he was doing so silently. What adds even more weight to this is when you consider the fact that many of the people he impacted did not personally tell him what type of influence he was having on them. I am absolutely amazed at the stories and testimonies of people who knew my dad over the past few years and the impact he made on their lives. When performing my father’s memorial service I referred to the narrative of the ancient Hebrew prophet Isaiah and how in the year king Uzziah died he saw the LORD high and lifted up and his train filled the temple. I remember declaring unto those who were present at the service that more often than not we see in and through death what we can and don’t see in life. Although my father would ultimately go to the grave without ever knowing the countless lives he impacted for the kingdom of God I have personally heard testimonies and witnesses of how many people he touched. What makes these stories so incredibly unique and powerful is when you think about the fact that he made a difference without every picking up a microphone, without ever preaching from behind a pulpit, without ever opening up a Bible, and without ever even being in a church setting.

 

I have to admit that if there was one all-important and all-encompassing lesson my father taught me from his dying bed—and not only from his dying bed but also by and through his death it was the importance of showing up. My father taught me the importance of showing up—even when you didn’t feel like it, even when you were in pain, even when you were tired, and even when you would have preferred to do anything but what you knew you needed to do. One of the greatest ways my father made a difference in the lives of men and women was simply and solely by showing up day after day. What’s more is that not only would he show up but he would show up with a smile and would show up engaging everyone he interacted and came in contact with. I am absolutely convinced we must needs recognize and understand just how incredibly powerful this truly is within our own lives for there is a great need for us to be those men and women who show up—those who show up when we don’t feel like it, show up when we are tired, show up when we are in pain, show up when we would rather be doing something else. Not only this but my father would show up not letting anyone know the inner and secret struggles and battles he faced and would show up without complaining, without murmuring and without grumbling. From the stories I have heard about my father I never once heard anyone say that he complained, that he murmured or that he grumbled over what was being asked of him. My father showed up and fully engaged himself in the responsibility that was present before him in the midst his day.

 

The words which I have been writing here in this particular section are incredibly difficult to write for with them come a tremendous flood of emotions, thoughts and feelings. In all reality I have to admit that I spent a considerable amount of time not really working on having a relationship with my father. There were countless times when I would let his incoming calls go to voicemail rather than picking up the phone and speaking with him. I have to admit that in recent weeks and months I have tried being better with taking and making the time to speak with him and engage myself in having a relationship with him. What makes this all the more intriguing when you think about it is how many men and women respond to and treat their heavenly Father the same way I treated my earthly father. Their heavenly Father tries reaching out to them, tries speaking to them, tries communicating with them, tries calling out to them and they choose to ignore His voice, His words and His attempts to speak with them. There is not a doubt in my mind there are and there have been countless men and women who treat their relationship with the heavenly Father the same way I did my earthly Father.

 

I am writing these words and I can’t help but think about and consider another lesson my earthly father taught me—and not only a lesson he taught me but one I didn’t see while he was alive but saw through and as a result of his death. I know there were countless times when I would deliberately and intentionally let his calls go to voicemail and would always declare how I would speak to him later. There were numerous times when I would deliberately and intentionally miss the calls from my father simply because I didn’t want to talk. What is so incredibly amazing is how hindsight is always 20/20 and you always seem to see things clearer when looking back over past days, weeks, months and even years. If I am being honest with you I have to admit that I have a tremendous amount of regret within my heart at the amount of calls I missed and the amount of times I let incoming calls go to voicemails. I know that one of the unintended consequences and side effects of death is in fact regret, guilt and even condemnation. There are countless men and women who have experienced loss within their hearts and lives and have spent a considerable amount of time living in regret, in guilt, and in condemnation. In all honesty I wish I had devoted more time to talking and speaking with my father. Even as I am writing these words I can’t help but think about and consider how many men and women have treated and continue to treat their relationship to and with their heavenly Father the same way I treated my relationship with my earthly father. Oh dear God I have so much regret, guilt and remorse over the amount of calls I allowed to go to voicemail with my earthly father. I am unsure whether or not I will live with that regret for the rest of my life, however, what I can be absolutely certain I do is make sure that I don’t treat my relationship with the heavenly Father the same way I did with my earthly Father.

 

For those who are reading the words which are found in this section I would make a passionate and emboldened plea to you to be deliberate and intentional with your relationship to and with your heavenly Father. I am absolutely and completely convinced that your heavenly Father is calling out to you and is calling you by name—even as He called Samuel three times by name during the days of the judges. Perhaps one of the greatest questions we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we can and will be those who are ready, willing and able to devote our time and our attention to the eternal and heavenly Father. Are we willing to respond to Him when He calls out to us and when He calls to us by our name? Are we those who are ready, willing and able to not only hear Him when He calls out to and speaks to us but who also respond to Him? There is not a doubt in my mind that how I treated my relationship with my earthly father is how many people treat their relationship with the heavenly Father. I can’t help but get the strong sense within my heart and spirit that the very Spirit of the living God is calling men and women into a place of communion, conversation and fellowship together with the living God. There is not a doubt in my mind that the Spirit of the living God is indeed calling unto men to fully and completely engage themselves in a relationship with the one true and living God. I firmly believe the Holy Spirit of the sovereign LORD is calling out to men and women to be deliberate, intentional and purposeful with their relationship with the living and eternal God.

 

As I continue on in this writing I find it absolutely necessary to transition back to the witness and testimony of my earthly father. I have been absolutely and utterly amazed at the stories I have heard about my father and the lives he impacted and touched. What’s more is I am amazed at how he really didn’t have any idea or clue the number of people he impacted or affected while he was alive. It has been truly amazing and astonishing to hear the number of men and women whose lives he impacted without preaching a single sermon, without stepping foot into a church, and without ever standing behind a pulpit. This actually brings me face to face with an incredibly powerful truth I have heard within my life and that the invitation to preach always and if necessary use words. Not only this but I have also heard it said that we might be the only Bibles men and women will ever hear or read—a reality that is in direct alignment with what the apostle Paul wrote in the second epistle written unto the Corinthian saints concerning their being living epistles which were not written with the hands of men or with ink but with the Spirit of the living God. There is a great need within our hearts and minds to acknowledge and understand this for we must needs recognize that we have been called to bear witness for and be a testimony of the Lord Jesus Christ in this life. Moreover this might not always mean that we stand behind a pulpit and preach a three point message from the Scripture. There are men and women who might never step foot behind a pulpit in a church building and yet they have been called to be a witness for the kingdom of heaven and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

If there is one thing I can’t help but think about when considering the words which the Lord Jesus spoke just before ascending unto the right hand of the Father is that He didn’t say they would be His witnesses in temples, in synagogues, and in houses of worship. If you read the words which the Lord Jesus spoke you will find him speaking and declaring unto them that they would be His witnesses in Jerusalem, in Judaea, in Samaria and to the uttermost parts of the earth. This is incredibly unique and powerful when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous truth that we as the saints of God have indeed been called to be witnesses. With this being said, however, that does not mean that we will ever step behind a pulpit and preach a sermon from the Scriptures in the presence of congregants and parishioners alike. There are those who think they need to be in a church setting and need to be behind a pulpit to be a witness for the kingdom of heaven and for the Lord Jesus Christ. The truth of the matter, however, is that this simply is not the case and something we must needs recognize and realize. There are far too many men and women who think and feel as though they need to be present within the church building to be a witness for the kingdom of heaven and for the Lord Jesus Christ. I continue to believe with all my heart that one of the greatest lessons my earthly father taught me was how you can be a witness for the kingdom of heaven and of the Lord Jesus Christ without ever taking a microphone in your hand.

 

Walking through and experiencing the death of my father is something I honestly never thought I would experience—this despite the fact that there was a part of me that felt as though his time was drawing near. In fact as recent as a couple weeks prior to his being hospitalized and ultimately passing I was reminded of how I said I felt he would be the next one to pass away. I had absolutely no inclination that I would be right in what I was feeling and that just a few weeks later my father would indeed pass away from COVID pneumonia. Even when my father was in the hospital and I facetimed him and looked at pictures of him he had this anxiousness in his eyes and face that seemed to suggest he knew that his time was drawing to a close. The few times I talked with and saw my father in the hospital there was this sense of sadness and sorrow that was present within his heart and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was scared at the thought of dying knowing he would leave his wife, his two sons, their wives and two grandchildren behind. Even to this day there is a part of me that feels within my heart and spirit that there was this sense within his heart and mind that he would pass from this life to the next. I wish I could describe the look in his eyes and the look on his face in his pictures and even when I was able to facetime him the one or two times I was able to for the look on my father’s face was one that demonstrated he knew something that none of us knew or perhaps even wanted to accept.

 

I sit here today and I am hearing stories of different people dying and passing away from various different means. Even as recently as yesterday I couldn’t help but think about and consider how close death—and not only death but also the return and appearing of the Lord Jesus truly is. Over the past six years there have been four deaths on my wife’s immediate side of the family as her father, her mother, her grandfather and grandmother all passed away. As recent as this year her mother passed away and now here we are in October of 2021 and my own father passed away. I have to admit the incredible sense within my heart that the various deaths which we have personally experienced coupled together with the events that have taken place in the world are proving and demonstrating the tremendous truth that the coming and return of the Lord is nearer than we perhaps thought or even expected. There is this powerful sense within my heart and spirit that the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus is nigh at hand and that we as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ need to prepare and make ourselves ready for it. Even when reading the words which the apostle Paul writes in this first epistle unto the Thessalonian saints we find him writing and speaking unto them concerning the coming of the Lord Jesus as well as those who had already fallen asleep. Of course we know and understand that those whom he referred to as having fallen asleep were those who had already died in the Lord Jesus Christ and whose bodies were buried in the earth while their spirits was present in paradise.

 

I have to admit that entering into this year I never thought that shortly before it ended and we would be celebrating both Thanksgiving and Christmas I would experience the death of my earthly father. When I entered into this year I knew that last year was in and of itself an incredibly difficult and challenging year for so many men and women, however, I had absolutely no clue the trials, the troubles, the struggles and conflicts this year would bring with it. I certainly did not see or anticipate my own father dying and especially not being a COVID statistic. With that being said, however, I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw our attention to the tremendous truth that we as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ must needs prepare and make ourselves ready for the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus. Scripture makes it perfectly clear and visible that the Lord Jesus Christ is not only coming again but is also going to come in the same manner in which those who watched Him ascend unto the right hand of the Father saw Him go. There is a great need within our hearts and minds to acknowledge and recognize that the Lord Jesus Christ is indeed coming again and that His appearing is nigh at hand.

 

With all of this being said there is a great need for us to recognize that we as the saints of God and disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ have indeed been called to be those who commit ourselves to works of faith, to labors of love and are patient in hope. Knowing the election we have in the living and eternal God we are to recognize that while we have indeed been called to be ambassadors who teach and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ there must be the demonstration of the Holy Spirit as well as the witness and testimony of a life well lived. In all reality I would dare say that when we pass from this life into the realm of eternity we will not be judged based on how many times we preached nor even how well we preached. When we pass and transition from the realm of time and space into the realm of eternity we can and will be judged based on how we lived our lives and how we conducted ourselves as those who professed to be saints of the most High God and as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ. I am firmly convinced that we as the saints of God must needs be those who recognize the importance of the witness and testimony of our lives—even if we never stand behind a pulpit and preach the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ within and behind the four walls of the church. We have indeed been called to be those who preach the word and gospel of the Lord Jesus, however, that does not mean that we must needs do so in the four walls of the church and behind pulpits holding a microphone and standing atop a platform.

 

I absolutely love the words which the apostle Paul wrote unto the Thessalonian saints in this first epistle for he wrote unto them concerning the manner of men they were among them and how they became followers of them and of the Lord. There is a great need for us to recognize and understand this for what we find here is not only the power of witness and testimony in the earth but what we find is how that witness and testimony does indeed call and draw us into the place where men and women can indeed not only be followers of us but also followers of the Lord. Permit me to ask you who might be reading these words if those whom you interact with on a daily basis would and could become followers of the Lord Jesus because of your witness and testimony. Does your witness and testimony foster and create an environment for others to become followers of the Lord Jesus? What’s more is I would like to ask you if you even have a witness and testimony in the midst of the world in which you live. There is something truly captivating and challenging when I read the words found in this passage of Scripture for within them I am brought face to face with how absolutely necessary this witness of the Lord Jesus is within our hearts and lives. This witness is such which allows us to increase and abound in love one toward another and toward all men and that our hearts are established unblameable in holiness before God, even our Father, at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all His saints. What’s more is that we have. Indeed been called to walk in a manner that pleases and brings glory and honor to the Lord Jesus Christ and that we would abound more and more as we focus on the commandments which were given by the Lord Jesus Christ. It is the divine will of God that we ought to be sanctified and that each of us know how to possess our vessels in sanctification and honor as those who do in fact know the living God.

 

If you begin reading with and from the first verse of the fifth chapter you will find the apostle Paul writing concerning times and seasons and how they did not have any need for him to write unto them for they knew that the day of the Lord would come as a thief in the night. The apostle Paul would go on to write how when others in the earth say and proclaim “Peace and safety” then sudden destruction comes upon them as travail upon a woman with child—such which they shall not escape. The apostle Paul goes on to declare unto them how they were not in darkness that the day of the Lord should overtake them as a thief but were indeed children of light and the children of the day. The apostle Paul emphatically declared unto them that they were not of the night nor of darkness and that they ought not to sleep as do others but rather be watchful and be sober. Those who sleep sleep in the night and those that be drunken are drunken in the night. Those who are of the day, however, ought to be sober putting on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of salvation. The living and eternal God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by the Lord Jesus Christ who died for us that whether we be awake or sleep we should live together with him. Oh that we would recognize the words which are written and presented in this epistle and that we would indeed come face to face with the awesome and incredible truth surrounding the need to be those who watch, who pray and who are ready for the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus. It is with this in mind I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the twenty-fourth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew and the words which our Lord spoke unto His disciples:

 

And Jesus answered and said unto them, Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. All these are the beginning of sorrows” (Matthew 24:4-8).

 

Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom shall be preached in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end come” (Matthew 24:9-14).

 

When ye therefore shall see the abomination of desolation, spoken of by Daniel the prophet, stand in the holy place, (whoso readeth, let him understand) then let them which be in Judaea flee into the mountains: Let him which is on the housetop not come down to take any thing out of his house: neither let him which is in the field return back to take his clothes. And woe unto them that are with child, and to them that give suck in those days! But pray ye that your flight may be not in the winter, neither on the sabbath day: for then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be. And except those days should be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: but for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened. Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not. For there shall arise false Christsand false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before. Wherefore if they shall say unto you, Behold, he is in the desert; go not forth: behold, he is in the secret chambers; believe it not. For as the lightning cometh out of the east, and shineth even unto the west; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For wheresoever the carcase is, there will the eagles be gathered together” (Matthew 24:15-28).

 

Immediately after the tribulation of those days ahll the sun be darkned, and the moon shall not give her light,a nd the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: and then shall appear the sign of the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory. And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect form the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other. Now learn a parable of the fig tree; When his branch is yet tender, and putteth forth leaves, ye know that summer is nigh: so likewise ye, when ye shall see all these things, know that it is near, even at the doors. Verily I say unto you, This generation shall not pass, till all these things be fulfilled. Heaven and earth shall pass away, but my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:29-35).

 

But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my father only. But as the days of Noe were, so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. For as in the days that were before the flood they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noe entered into the ark, and knew not until the flood came, and took them all away; so shall also the coming of the Son of man be. Then shall two be in the field; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Two women shall be grinding at the mill; the one shall be taken, and the other left. Watch therefore: for ye know not what hour your Lord doth come” (Matthew 24:36-42).

 

But know this, that if the goodman of the house had known in what watch the thief would come, he would have watched, and would not have suffered his house to be broken up. Therefore be ye also ready: for in such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh. Who then is a faithful and wise servant, whom his lord when he cometh shall find so doing. Verily I say unto you, That he shall make him ruler over all his goods. But and if that evil servant shall say in his heart, My lor delayeth his coming; and shall begin to smite his followservants, and to eat and drink with the drunken; the lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, and shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 24:43-51).

 

As I bring this writing to a close I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to how the apostle Paul concludes this epistle for he besought and admonished them and to esteem those who were over them very highly in love for their work’s sake. The apostle Paul also admonished them to be at peace among themselves. This is perhaps one of the most powerful words of instruction in the final verses of this epistle for what we find here is the apostle Paul instructing these dear saints to be at peace among themselves without dispute, without dissent, without quarreling and without schisms or division. This would immediately be followed by the apostle exhorting them to warn those who were unruly and to comfort those who were feebleminded. What’s more is the apostle Paul admonished them to support the weak and to be patient toward all men and that they did not render evil for evil unto any man but follow after that which was good—both among themselves and to all men. All of this would be followed up by the apostle Paul instructing them to rejoice evermore, to pray without ceasing and in every thing give thanks for this was the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning them. Paul would then go on to instruct them to quench not th4e Spirit, to despise not prophesyings and to prove all things while holding fast to that which is good. Moreover the apostle Paul would instruct them to abstain from all appearances of evil and how the God of peace would sanctify them wholly—their spirit, their soul and their body. The apostle Paul desired that their whole spirit, their whole soul and their whole body be preserved blameless unto the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and then declared that faithful was he who called them who would also do it. If there is one thing we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture it’s that we have indeed been called to prepare and make ourselves ready for the coming and appearing of the Lord Jesus and to live our lives in such a way that pleases and honors Him that we might walk in fellowship and communion now and spend eternity in His presence.

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