Sermon Options: November 17, 2019

September 25th, 2019

LET'S GET BUSY

2 THESSALONIANS 3:6-13

We often admonish people to slow down and usually it is most appropriate. Some people, however, need to be told to hurry up. Some need to be told to get busy. Paul said this to some Christians who were using their conviction concerning the Second Coming of Jesus as an excuse to drop out of life. Since they believed Jesus would be coming at any time, they decided it did not make sense to do any work. They wanted to just sit and stare at the sky.

Paul was concerned about their behavior since they did not know the day or the hour of the Lord's return. And even if the Lord were to return immediately, surely he would want to find them working. So for those who need a little motivation, consider the three motives Paul offers to be industrious until the Lord comes.

I. The Positive Example of Others (vv. 6-9)
Paul was willing to point to himself as an example. He had not been idle. He had not accepted food without paying for it. He even worked an extra job so that he would not be a burden to the church. Paul was not opposed to accepting a gracious gift, but in this case he was glad he had not so that he could be that positive example. It has been said that the world is run by tired people. Do you know a person of great accomplishment who is not also a great worker?

Jesus himself was a person who knew hard work. He knew how to do the physical labor of the carpenter shop, along with the kind of people work that allowed him to change the world in a three-year ministry.

II. The Negative Consequences of Idleness (vv. 10, 11)
The adage is surely true that says, "Idle hands are the devil's workshop." Paul mentions that among the negative consequences of idleness is the tendency to meddle in others' affairs. Instead of being busy, many in Thessalonica were busybodies.

The women were talking about the advantages and disadvantages of working outside the home. One said, "I work outside the home and I think it is an advantage. I don't have time for soap operas, talk shows, and gossip." That principle is true for all of us. If we are busy doing good, we don't have time to get involved in negative activities.

III. The Practical Benefits of Industry (vv. 12, 13)
The simple truth is that those who are busy will generally have food to put on the table. When people work, families are provided for and there may even be enough extra to bless those who are in genuine need. Work is not a curse; it is a blessing. Ask someone who lost his job or cannot find meaningful work.

An army private was trying to avoid work when discovered by his sergeant. "What are you doing?" barked the sergeant. The private, deciding to take the honest route, replied, "I'm procrastinating, Sergeant." After a pause the sergeant replied, "Okay son, just as long as you're busy." Great problems develop when we are busy procrastinating.

A fine Christian man was asked what he would do differently if he knew that Jesus were coming back today. He paused just for a moment and said, "Nothing." That's a great answer. It's an even greater way to live. (Michael Shannon)

STAND FIRM

LUKE 21:5-19

It has been said, "If you want to draw a crowd, don't preach on prayer, fasting, or spiritual discipline. Preach about the Second Coming." One who would make such an assertion might also add, "Be as dogmatic as you can about all of the apocalyptic symbolism, telling folks exactly what every detail must stand for." Those sayings do suggest that there is great interest in knowing when the end will come. As Christians we live in the tension between Jesus telling his disciples to live in a constant state of preparedness and the realization that nearly two thousand years later we are still awaiting his return. Only the Father in Heaven knows the day and the hour of the consummation of this age—not even the Son himself.

I. Ages Come and Go
As I look at this text, I am struck with the tension between the crumbling of the temple and the city of Jerusalem, and Jesus' exhortation to his disciples to stand firm. For the disciples, the thought that the temple could be destroyed was inconceivable. We are slow on the uptake sometimes, aren't we? After all, Solomon's temple was destroyed. Herod's temple was thought to be merely a refurbishing of Zerubbabel's temple—a temple that was not thought to be nearly as impressive as the original. How is it possible that such an impregnable and impressive structure could be destroyed?

The other temple was destroyed due to the rebellion of the people and their sin. Jesus tells us here that ages come and go. Of course after his crucifixion and resurrection there would be no more need for the temple. As ages come and go, Jesus told his disciples that there would be much turbulence and upheaval regarding the end of this age.

II. Conflict on a Human Level
There will be conflict on a human level prior to the end of this age. False messiahs will deceive many. (We've certainly seen that in our day, haven't we?) There will be wars and conflict. How about two World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Bosnia, Zaire, Somalia, and on, and on, and on?

Restlessness and conflict will not merely be limited to nations. It will also be directed toward those who name the name of Christ. Family members will turn on those who declare their allegiance to him. Jesus tells us not to fear, but to trust that through his Spirit he will give us wisdom that no one will be able to refute.

III. Cosmic and Natural Upheaval
While there is human conflict going on, there will be upheaval in nature and the cosmos. Famines, pestilences, earthquakes, and disruptions in the heavens will cause fear in the hearts of many people. We read these words and again we say, "I've seen that in my day—record-breaking hurricanes, devastating quakes in Northridge, Kobe, or San Francisco, starvation in Somalia and Rwanda. At times it seems as if the world is falling apart."

IV. Stand Firm
It seems a tall order to stand firm when the world, literally and figuratively, is falling apart. It seems too much for a body to do to stand firm. Jesus has even warned that by standing firm, some will lose their life on earth. Doesn't sound very firm, does it?

As "frail creatures of dust" how do we stand firm in the midst of all of the upheaval and chaos around us? Jesus has already hinted at it in his assurance not to worry. We cannot stand firm by ourselves, but we can if he gives us the strength. He said, "I will never leave you, nor forsake you." That is all the strength we ultimately need. (Mark A. Johnson)

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