Apr 5 2020 Palm Sunday/1 Thess 4-5, How we Misread the Times
12th April 2020
Luke 19: 29 When He approached Bethphage and Bethany, near the [n]mount that is called Olivet, He sent two of the disciples, 30 saying, “Go into the village ahead of you; there, as you enter, you will find a colt tied on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 31 If anyone asks you, ‘Why are you untying it?’ you shall say, ‘The Lord has need of it.’” 32 So those who were sent went away and found it just as He had told them. 33 As they were untying the colt, its [o]owners said to them, “Why are you untying the colt?” 34 They said, “The Lord has need of it.” 35 They brought it to Jesus, and they threw their coats on the colt and put Jesus on it. 36 As He was going, they were spreading their coats on the road. 37 As soon as He was approaching, near the descent of the Mount of Olives, the whole crowd of the disciples began to praise God [p]joyfully with a loud voice for all the [q]miracles which they had seen, 38 shouting:
“BLESSED IS THE KING WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD;
Peace in heaven and glory in the highest!”
39 Some of the Pharisees [r]in the crowd said to Him, “Teacher, rebuke Your disciples.” 40 But Jesus answered, “I tell you, if these become silent, the stones will cry out!”
41 When He approached Jerusalem, He saw the city and wept over it, 42 saying, “If you had known in this day, even you, the things which make for peace! But now they have been hidden from your eyes. 43 For the days will come upon you [s]when your enemies will throw up a [t]barricade against you, and surround you and hem you in on every side, 44 and they will level you to the ground and your children within you, and they will not leave in you one stone upon another, because you did not recognize the time of your visitation.”
Lord, as we remember You and prepare for Good Friday – and Easter coming up – help us to see and know what You are doing – Help us to understand Your work in our world at this time. Help us to engage in meeting needs. We ask that You would break through in healing this disease – and that You would show Your mercy and grace to so many at this time. Help us to be Your witnesses and ambassadors to this world.
1 Thess 4:9 Now on the topic of brotherly love you have no need for anyone to write you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. 10 And indeed you are practicing it toward all the brothers and sisters in all of Macedonia. But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,
Paul is not telling them that they are NOT doing it – like, not doing enough – but he wants them to move forward to always be growing and not to become stagnant – Discipleship -learning- witness.
God always has new things He wants to do in and through us.
In every church there are those who are growing – and those who are becoming stagnant – and to be honest, there will be times where we are in either of those camps. Times where we are stagnant – times where we are alert.
But we urge you, brothers and sisters, to do so more and more,( Here is another area to be doing more and more) 11 to aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you.
We think – That is a real shift – from loving one another to Be Quiet! But that is not what he is saying – there are some who are quiet and some who are loud. I grew up where one half was Italian – and they were the typical loud Italian – and my wife was surprised how much so.
But that is not what he is talking about – he is talking about groups who stir up dissension in the church. In Thessalonica – there were some who had stopped working – not from an order from the government – but they were taking advantage of other Christians and it was creating feelings of conflict –
Reasons? Laziness – obviously – but the second reason – some had a biblical, theological misunderstanding – and it related to the second coming and the resurrection.
The gospel was being preached – people were coming to Christ – and they were turning from their idols and gods – to Christ – and there was persecution as a result – and some had died – and Paul was concerned – the behavior of those who weren’t working were damaging the reputation of the church in the public world. They were not working because they believed in the imminent coming of Jesus Christ.
In the 70s I was talking with a friend – who had school loans – Should I pay them off with this extra money I have? “Nah, those
12 In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.
1 Thess. 5:
Now on the topic of times and seasons, brothers and sisters, you have no need for anything to be written to you. 2 For you know quite well that the day of the Lord will come in the same way as a thief in the night.
Paul engages in the End-times discussion – and they were into that! This is a gentle rebuke to the Thessalonians. He wants them to be looking for the second coming of Christ – but it is also like a Thief in the Night – and there are three responses that he sees from people dying and this misunderstanding –
14 And we urge you, brothers and sisters, admonish the undisciplined (Tell them to go back to work! Don’t sit around waiting! Prepare as if it is today, but live your life as if it is a long time away), comfort the discouraged (When there are trials and tribulation – some folks, by nature, get discouraged), help the weak, be patient toward all.
These three different categories – and he will primarily deal with the undisciplined. And to take it to our level and all that is going on – How have we misunderstood our times like the Thessalonians misunderstood their times.
This is not exhaustive – but let me give you my thoughts –
1 – we lose sight of the spiritual forces of darkness. One way this happens – we OVER sensationalize the spiritual battle – I talked about that a couple weeks ago –
Another way we do this – we overemphasize human systems.
Some boast in chariots and some in horses – but we will boast in the name of the Lord our God.
Chariots and horses are the social, governmental forces in the world.
A couple examples – we can over rely on the elections to bring about biblical change.
Elections are important for society and bringing about the common good – how do we push our society towards what is good? BUT – the advancement of the kingdom has never been hindered by an election. God’s kingdom will advance no matter what the outcome of an election is.
Some believe that economic prosperity is the top priority –
We have been through ten years of some of the most economic prosperity in a decade- maybe EVER! But economic prosperity has never defeated the powers of darkness – rather, the powers of darkness often use economic prosperity as their greatest weapon.
We believe our technology will save us.
Yes, this has relieved suffering and illness – but if we look back at our lifetime – with all the advancement – can any of us say that the world is much more like the kingdom of God or that people are more like Jesus because of it?
Second – Misunderstanding our times – we have created our own Christian version of modern culture – rather than becoming a critique of modern culture. As Christians, we are to critique modern culture – but how we do that – we tend to do it in the exact same way as the rest of culture!
We live in a celebrity culture world. What happens when a football player becomes a Christian spokesman – he is on all the shows – becomes a celebrity. Most who become a Christian as celebrities are just trying to bring people to Christ – but we have this culture that turns them into celebrities – and that is not good for anyone.
Stewardship – it is important to use biblical principles in stewardship – but what has happened – we have created a Christian version of consumerism.
Another – Marketing the church – there is a razor thin line between promotion of the gospel and marketing the church. That doesn’t mean that a church can’t advertise or do watch parties on Facebook!
Here is the problem – remember the Pepsi Challenge? Blind taste tests – and they put bad stuff in the coke and Pepsi always won!
Competing churches – there is something wrong with that – it is simply becoming like the world and succumbing to it.
Lastly – relating to the COVID-19 crisis we are experiencing – where WE, as a church – have had some misunderstandings of things. We have been overly dependent on external structures – buildings/parking lots – those all are necessary things – but I think we have depended on them a little too much – those are to be supportive of the mission – not depended on for the mission.
Witness should not be focused on a church building. Witness is people who are distributed and dispersed into the world – in their neighborhoods, jobs, schools – when they are there, it is putting yeast into the dough! And then Paul and Mary – teach how to use the yeast and prove it!
But that is how our witness is to be – going out and filling – not as structures and buildings.
Your family – more than ever – in your neighborhood – is an outpost for the kingdom of God.
At your work – when you can go back – you and the other Christians are outposts of God’s kingdom at that plant, office building, school, or wherever you are.
As we move out of this time – God wants us to be reminded that we are to move into this world – as light – that people would see