Despite the unpredictable weather, Texas is probably one of the greatest places to live. It is so huge that it can take hours to get out of, it’s like they say everything is bigger in Texas. Besides the sheer size, it is full of amazing history and crazy stories that make the Lone Star State so interesting. When I began student teaching in College, I had the opportunity to teach a 7th grade Texas History class and at that time of year, the students were beginning to learn about Texas government. During my studying to prepare for these lessons I began to learn about the laws of Texas but after more studying, I found some strange state and local laws that still exist and some that were bills which were brought to the Texas Senate but never passed. Here are some of my favorites and if you don’t believe me check some of these out: In Clarendon, TX it is illegal to spit on public walls, sidewalks, or in certain buildings, and in the same town it is illegal to use a feather duster in a public building. Another favorite has to be the barefoot permit law which states that in some Texas cities you must a have a $5 permit to walk around barefoot; and finally there was a bill that was taken to the Texas Legislature in 1973 by Representative Kaster of El Paso that never became a law. This bill was known as the 24-hour notice in which this bill required criminals to give their victims of theft, murder or what have you, a 24-hour written or verbal notice of when the crime against them will take place. I am sure you can see why this law did not pass because to a criminal it defeats the purpose.
To the victim, that law does not sound too bad. That means we could prepare for the criminal and the fact we live in Texas probably means that some of us would have a firearm at the ready. Wouldn’t that be something to be prepared for what is to come because you were told it was going to happen and to know when it is going to happen. For the church in Thessalonica as we see in Chapter 5 of 1 Thessalonians, they are curious about when the Day of the Lord is to take place and Paul writes to them in verses 1-2 “…You have no need to have anything written to you. For you yourselves are fully aware that the day of the Lord will come like a thief in the night.” In the previous chapter, we see Paul is teaching about what is to occur on the Day of The Lord to bring comfort to those that have most likely lost loved ones due to the persecution of the Church but with that comes the question, "when," because they, like us today, long to see their loved ones that have entered eternity. As Paul stated we do not know when Jesus will come back for His people and we are eagerly awaiting that Blessed Hope of being with Jesus. As mentioned earlier, that day will come like a thief in the night when we are not expecting it. And when a thief comes, some are prepared to defend their property and those that are not prepared are left with loss. Paul then reminds us and the Thessalonians that we are Children of the Light and should not be caught asleep in the night but be prepared. “Let us be sober, having put on the breastplate of faith and love and for a helmet the hope of our salvation.” God does not want us to endure the wrath of what is to come after that day but to be with him.
While we may not know the day or the hour of our Lord's return, Jesus has stated in Matthew chapter 24 that we will be given signs of war, famines, pestilence, and natural disaster that will show His return is near. Like the 24-Hr notice bill, Jesus has given us His written notice that He is coming back for us and we should not be caught unaware or in sin lest we be left here to endure terrible tribulation. So, yes, we wait for that day when He will come like a thief in the night to take us home.
For the church of yesterday and today, this raises another question of what do we do as we wait? Paul mentions in the last half of the chapter, instructions and prayer for the church of Thessalonica that give us a glimpse of the things that we can do as we wait. First, he mentions that we are to build one another up and when I hear this, I cannot help but think of the best way we can lift each other up in our broken world is by sharing the gospel. We as Christians could easily keep the Day of the Lord to ourselves and enter eternity but our main mission and Commission was to go and reach the lost. It reminds me of Matthew chapter 25, after Jesus has given the signs before the Day of the Lord, He enters His parables about the Kingdom of Heaven. One of the most well known is the Parable of the Talents where the master is taking account of what his servants did with his talents or wealth, he entrusted them with. We see that the two good servants made more money but the wicked servant did nothing with it. And that servant was sent into darkness. You see we may make it to heaven but God will ask us how we managed our time and gifts on this earth. God doesn’t want us to simply keep His gift to ourselves but spread it and take those that are lost into eternity with us. Will we be able to hear those words "Well, done good and faithful servant" or will we be left for not following his will? Paul writes in verse 14 of this chapter that we should warn those who are lazy and that is what we must avoid because even as we prepare and wait let’s not forget the mission.
As you go about your day today, rejoice in the coming of our Lord Jesus, let us as Paul says, "Seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies but test everything, hold fast to what is good. Abstain from every form of evil." Heritage Church, hope is coming for those that are living in Christ and sadly for those that do not have him in their hearts, it will be a day of terror. So, in that knowledge let us get our hearts right with Jesus, go about in preparation and on mission to reach those that are lost so on the day of the Blessed Hope we may hear those beautiful words “well done, good and faithful servant” and live with Him forever.