TEXT: I THESSALONIANS 4:13-18
SUBJECT: Joyful Anticipation of the End Times
Recently, someone told me about a couple of ladies that they were talking with about the Blood Moons. One of the ladies was excited and wanted to hear more. But the other lady had the opposite reaction. She said that this kind of talk made her afraid and fearful. And I believe that those two responses are typical of how many people view the end times. Some are very excited about what is coming, but many are fearful about the future. And of course, there are those who are completely unaware or are oblivious to the times in which we are living—at least for now. I believe that will change as events continue to unfold!
My desire as a pastor, with a prophetic gift, is to move you squarely and confidently into the people-group who are excited about the end times. I want you to have a joyous attitude of expectation and anticipation about what is coming in the future, and not one of fear or dread. And the best way that I can accomplish that is by giving you Biblical knowledge about what God’s Word says will take place in the coming days. When you know the truth about what’s coming in the end times, then you will be free from fear. As the scripture says, “Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” In this case, that will mean being set free from fear. When you begin to really grasp what God has planned for the future, you will be able to move into the coming days in faith and in victory.
In the coming weeks, I am going to preach and teach on four scriptures that reveal God’s end time plan which is centered in the Rapture and Second Return of Jesus Christ. As we lay out these scriptures for you, two things will emerge. First will be the timing of the Rapture and Second Return; secondly, and equally important, will be what the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord will mean for the Church.
As we move forward, allow me to encourage you to pray for a spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of God so that you will be a person who is moving into the end times with joyful anticipation and not in fear. For this is God’s will for you.
I. The first scripture that we will begin with in our study is I Thessalonians 4:13-18:
1 Thess 4:13-18
13 Brothers, we do not want you to be ignorant about those who fall asleep, or to grieve like the rest of men, who have no hope. 14 We believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in him. 15 According to the Lord's own word, we tell you that we who are still alive, who are left till the coming of the Lord, will certainly not precede those who have fallen asleep. 16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever.18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.
(1). The first reason why you can be excited and have a joyous anticipation of the end times is because it will be the happiest family reunion of all times!
a.) The Apostle Paul included this truth in his letter to the Thessalonians because fellow believers had died and those who were still alive were concerned about what had happened to them. Where were they? Did their death mean that they would miss out on what God had planned for the future? Paul took away their fears and concerns by sharing with them the revelation that he had received from the Lord Jesus Himself.
1.) First of all, notice the tender words of the Great Shepherd of the Church as He speaks through the Apostle about those who had died: “Brothers, I do not want you to be ignorant about those who have “fallen asleep.” He referred to those who had died as having simply “fallen asleep.” And we all know what happens when someone is asleep: They will wake up! And when they wake up, then we will be able to once again talk with them, be with them and enjoy being with them. What an amazing thought: One day in the future, according to the revelation of the Word of God, we will once again see and know our loved ones who have awakened from having “falling asleep” in Jesus!
Beloved, does this truth encourage you? Inspire you? Excite you? Cause you joyful anticipation? I can almost feel my Dad’s hand on the back of my neck and hear him saying, “It’s going to be okay bud.” And I can envision me and my Momma dancing around the room like we did so many times before she fell asleep in Jesus. Dear Church, no matter what may come in the future days, you can rest assured that at the end will come the happiest family reunion of all times for all of those who have “fallen asleep” in Jesus!
Illustration: I can remember as a boy how much I enjoyed waking up on a Saturday morning after a good long sleep. There was Dad, Mom, my grandmother (who lived with us), and my brother and sister. That little four room house that we lived in was so full of amazing joy because we all had and loved each other. How much more and greater and happier will be that great family reunion day when all of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus are reunited with those who are alive and remain at the coming of the Lord?
WHAT A DAY THAT WILL BE! IS NOT THE FUTURE LOOKING BETTER AND BRIGHTER ALREADY?
SHOULD WE NOT, AS CHRISTIANS, BE EXCITED ABOUT THE COMING DAYS? NOT FEARFUL, BUT FULL OF FAITH AND JOYFUL ANTICIPATION FOR THAT GREAT AND HAPPIEST OF ALL FAMILY REUNION DAYS!
IF YOU CAN ANSWER YES, WOULD YOU SAY A GOOD AMEN?
2.) In verse 14, Paul goes on to say, “we believe that Jesus died and rose again and so we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
As proof of life after death, Paul refers to the death and resurrection of Jesus. And what an amazing and comforting truth to those Thessalonians who were wondering about loved ones who had died or had “fallen asleep.” Paul powerfully connects the two together when he says in verse 14, “we believe that Jesus died and rose again, AND SO, (based on His death and resurrection from the dead) we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” Paul is telling the Thessalonians, and subsequently us too, that just as sure as Jesus is alive after death, so too are your loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
Beloved, your hope of being reunited with your loved ones who have fallen asleep in Jesus is not based on anything less than the historical, physical resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead. The hope, our hope of life after death, is not just wishful thinking. A thousand times no! Quite the contrary, it is rooted and grounded in the central truth of scripture: The resurrection of the Son of God from the dead! And I have been to the tomb; it’s still empty!
Up from the grave He arose, with a mighty triumph o’er His foes
He arose a victor from the dark domain
And He lives forever with His saints to reign
He arose, He arose, hallelujah Christ arose!
Fearful of the future? No way! Rather, joyfully anticipating the future!
3.) With the death and resurrection of Jesus from the dead as proof of life for all of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus, Paul adds this thought in verse 14, “. . .we believe that God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.”
In the last part of this verse that we just read, Paul is giving us the first link to the Rapture and Second Return of the Lord which we will look in our next message. He says, “. . . God will bring with Jesus those who have fallen asleep in Him.” Jesus is coming back to this earth again, and He is not coming alone.
You say, I know Pastor; He is coming with the angels. Yes, that’s true. But also coming back with Him, at His Second Return to the earth, will be those who have fallen asleep in Him! He is bringing them “with Him” the scripture says.
Did you get that Beloved? When Jesus comes back to this planet the second time, He is bringing my Dad and Mom with Him; my grandparents and my little brother who fell asleep in Jesus when he was only two weeks old. And He is bringing back your loved ones who are now with Him in Heaven.
It doesn’t get any more real or exciting than that! So how then should we be living as we enter into the last days? Fearful of the end of this age? Afraid of the end times? Anxious about the future?
Are you kidding me? Afraid of seeing the face of the King of Glory? Afraid of being reconciled with loved ones who have been asleep for such a long while? Afraid of the happiest family reunion of all times?
Beloved, it should be just the opposite for those who are in Jesus! We have everything to look forward to. We should be filled with joyful anticipation as we see THE DAY approaching. It is no cliché when we say, “for those who are in Jesus, the best is yet to come!”
Therefore, when we see or hear about the Blood Moons, or the Shemitah, or ISIS or Vladimir Putin, we should be excited and full of joyful anticipation because these are signs that we are getting closer to the Great Day of God and all the amazing promises that will become reality for the Church! And one of those promises is the happiest reunion day of all time!
Consequently, if you are not excited about the end times and the future, it may mean that you need to make sure that you are right with God.
You need to make sure that you are ready for the end times by being born again, by putting your faith in Jesus Christ who died, rose again, and is coming back to this earth.
The end times are not the end for those who are in Jesus as we have seen from I Thessalonians 4. Rather, for those who are in Jesus, the end times literally mean a new beginning! And a major part of that new beginning will be the happiest family reunion of all times! It will be the reuniting with all of those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. So the end times mean, for those who are in Jesus, that the best is truly yet to come!
Beloved, let’s make sure that in these last days that we are living in that we are the kind of witnesses who are filled with such joyful anticipation of what is yet to come, our testimony and our lives will be irresistible in drawing others to Christ!
O LORD, PLEASE LET THE REVELATION OF THE PROMISE OF THE GREAT FAMILY REUNION AT THE RAPTURE AND SECOND COMING OF JESUS BECOME WHO WE ARE IN THESE EXCITING DAYS IN WHICH WE ARE LIVING!
IN JESUS NAME, AMEN!
 Blood Moons have occurred with regard to significant events in the history of Israel. For more information, visit my blog: warriorprophet.blogspot.com and reference the post from October 2, 2013, “A Prophetic Event Is on the Horizon.”
 John 8:32
 I Thessalonians 4:13-18; I Corinthians 15:50-55; Matthew 24:15-31; Revelation 20:1-6
 I Thessalonians 4:15 “According to the Lord’s own Word. . .”
 If you have unsaved family members, God will one day wipe away all your tears. (See Revelation 21:4)
 Please reference: http://www.wnd.com/2014/10/shemitahs-first-2-weeks-bring-ominous-signs/