In I Thessalonians 4, Paul was talking about the anticipation of Jesus' return to earth and that it would be in a similar fashion to the way He left. We should be looking forward to this time with great anticipation and excitement much like the anticipation for Christmas when we were kids. I felt that I could not wait one more moment and it would be two weeks away.
In the same way, the scriptures inform us it is a time of waiting with eagerness. Paul tells us a great deal about that time of Jesus' return; the conditions and when, the signs of this fantastic event. But how are we to act in the meantime? Paul mentioned those things too.
(1Thess 5:14-15) Now we exhort you, brothers, warn those who are unruly, comfort the faint-hearted, support the weak, be patient toward all. See that none gives evil for evil to anyone, but always pursue the good, both towards one another and towards all.
These are instructions for everyone but are particularly aimed at preachers, pastors and ministers. The leaders of the groups and churches need to be aware of those hurting or in trouble. Everyone needs uplifting from time to time since this is a time of waiting. Leaders can exhort or help us to have peace and joy, support those who need help, being patient. That's sometimes a tough one for many people but pastors have a gift for doing just that.
Pray without ceasing.
In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus
Do not quench the Spirit.
Do not despise prophesying.
Prove all things, hold fast to the good.
Abstain from every appearance of evil.
Paul gives us a list of things to do and not do (vs.16-22) as we await the coming of the Lord. While the previous items (vs. 14-15) also pertained to us, these are specifically for the Christian, not just the leaders. Each item is to help us do that which we have been taught to do or not do according to God's Will.
If we will rejoice always, depression will not be able to overcome us. If we pray without ceasing, our minds will be on the answers..not the problems. If we give thanks in everything, we see the good of God not the bad of the world. Quenching the Spirit means that we shut out the One Who comforts and teaches us. We must learn to obey the Holy Spirit. He can guide us in all things if only we let Him. He is gentle and a gentleman. He does not come in if you do not allow Him.
If we look at the Biblical prophecies, meaning those things foretold and those things told us about how to live our lives as though it wasn't necessary to follow them because we are in a "new world, things have changed" attitude, then we are rebeling against God. He calls it despising prophecies. If you think that you love prophecy but you don't believe that you have to follow what God says, you deceive yourself. In order to live the life God has for you, you need to read your Bible and learn what it says to do.
We must test all things because not all things are good for us. For instance, even though items that we normally serve for breakfast, such as milk and eggs, are in cake...it is not good to eat cake just because it has those ingredients instead of the eggs and milk by themselves for breakfast. Why? (silly question, isn't it.) Because cake has ingredients in it that could be detrimental to us at the beginning of the day when we need our strength and thought processes the most. We need to be certain that the things we do, have and say are good for all parts of us--spirit, soul and body.
And the very obvious thing we turn our backs on the most...abstain from evil. Why? Because even the smallest evil that comes into our lives can do bad things to us--spirit, soul and body. Most of us have evil in our lives without even knowing it or possibly we like it and want it to stay. I am not talking about big, awful things. Just little things that we know we should not do but want to anyway. These we must leave behind.
This is the time for great anticipation. We should be looking forward to Jesus' soon return. Manyu of us are not doing this. Why? Some don't believe, others feel that they aren't ready, still others think that their sins are too great. And others think that they have not done their jobs that God called them to do. All of these things are ways to quench the Spirit, resisting God.
Jesus MUST come back a the appointed time. God is so good that He allows us every opportunity to learn and grow. But, God will bring Jesus back at the right time because that's part of the prophecy too. God is giving us an opportunity to seek His Face right now before it is too late. Will you come?