1 Thessalonians 4:13-18
Worldly living forsakes God, which unfortunately most people donít seem to realize, including most Christians, for while they say they believe, they still live in the violent ways of this world that causes millions of humans and billions of animals to suffer and die every year.
One of the reasons that these people forsake God is that they donít truly love the Lord with every aspect of their being, which includes loving and protecting the whole of His creation.
Another reason is that they have made idols of the corrupt ways of this world and have distorted the Bible to try to justify their ungodly lifestyles; this is particularly true when it comes to eating and using products that come from animals, and these peopleís worldly living forsakes God.
If we truly love the Lord our God, we will be filled with His Holy Spirit, and have unconditional love, compassion, and empathy, and feel the pain and suffering of the whole of creation, which in turn causes us to do everything in our power to end this worldly corruption, and follow the heavenly will of God here on earth as it is in heaven; for in heaven there is no pain nor suffering nor death.
With these things in mind, letís take a look at Joshua 24:1-3Ö
1. Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God.
2. And Joshua said to all the people, "Thus says the LORD, the God of Israel, 'From ancient times your fathers lived beyond the River, namely, Terah, the father of Abraham and the father of Nahor, and they served other gods.
Joshua and the Lord are referring to the time when Abraham lived in Or of the Chaldees, where his family and others worshipped idols.
This is also where Abram (Abraham) came to realize that these idols were not God, and that there was a true God.
3. 'Then I took your father Abraham from beyond the River, and led him through all the land of CanaanÖ
This is when the Lord promised to give all this land to the descendants of Abraham, because the people of Canaan lived ungodly lives and did not recognize the Lord their God.
Letís now skip over some verses to Joshua 24:14-28Ö
14. "Now, therefore, fear the LORD and serve Him in sincerity and truth; and put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the LORD.
We also need to remember that other gods are not always objects made of metal, stone, or wood, they can also be additions to substances, and ways of life that are counter to the heavenly will of God.
15. And if it is disagreeable in your sight to serve the LORD, choose for yourselves today whom you will serve: whether the gods which your fathers served which were beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you are living; but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD."
If we donít want to give up any of the ways of the world, it is disagreeable in Godís sight, and this includes not wanting to go against the things that our family and friends are doing that are against the heavenly will of God, for fear of no longer being accepted by them.
Because worldly living forsakes God, and heavenly living brings us closer to the Lord.
16. And the people answered and said, "Far be it from us that we should forsake the LORD to serve other gods;
It is easy to say this, and maybe some people may even want this, or they do not consider that living outside the heavenly will of God is that bad or even that worldly living forsakes God, but it does.
17. for the LORD our God is He who brought us and our fathers up out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage, and who did these great signs in our sight and preserved us through all the way in which we went and among all the peoples through whose midst we passed.
This is all true, but donít forget how many times the people grumbled against the Lord and disobeyed Him, even to this very day.
It seems to be much easier to say these things than it is to live them, that is if we are not truly born again, and feel the presence of the Lord within us.
18. "And the LORD drove out from before us all the peoples, even the Amorites who lived in the land. We also will serve the LORD, for He is our God."
They understood what the Lord did for them, but they very shortly started to revert to the worldly ways around them.
19. Then Joshua said to the people, "You will not be able to serve the LORD, for He is a holy God. He is a jealous God; He will not forgive your transgression or your sins.
But God does have a history of forgiving people who truly repent and begin living in His heavenly will, even if it is relatively short lived, as happened with the Israelites after Joshua died.
20. If you forsake the LORD and serve foreign gods, then He will turn and do you harm and consume you after He has done good to you."
And, this is exactly what happened; in essence, since worldly living forsakes God and destroys life, they destroyed their own lives.
21. And the people said to Joshua, "No, but we will serve the LORD."
Again, this is a lot easier to say than most people seem to be willing to do, which the Bible confirms, and which we see in the world today.
22. And Joshua said to the people, "You are witnesses against yourselves that you have chosen for yourselves the LORD, to serve Him." And they said, "We are witnesses."
At that moment, this is the way they may have truly wanted to live, but it was short lived.
23. "Now therefore, put away the foreign gods which are in your midst, and incline your hearts to the LORD, the God of Israel."
But most of them, and with most of the people of today, they were addicted to the ways of the world, and made them idols before God.
Most of us have probably heard hunters, fish killers, and meat and dairy eaters talk about not stopping those activities, even though we are supposed to live in the heavenly will of God here on earth, where there is to be no human caused pain, suffering, or death; they seem to be addicted in the same way people are addicted to smoking, consuming alcohol, or using drugs.
24. And the people said to Joshua, "We will serve the LORD our God and we will obey His voice."
Again, words are cheap.
25. So Joshua made a covenant with the people that day, and made for them a statute and an ordinance in Shechem.
This was to be a witness against themselves.
26. And Joshua wrote these words in the book of the law of God; and he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was by the sanctuary of the LORD.
27. And Joshua said to all the people, "Behold, this stone shall be for a witness against us, for it has heard all the words of the LORD which He spoke to us; thus it shall be for a witness against you, lest you deny your God."
Remember that God created everything, and knows what is happening to every aspect of it, including this stone then, and what we are doing to His creation, including the environment, today.
28. Then Joshua dismissed the people, each to his inheritance.
This refers to the land that the Lord gave them, but we believe that it also has a spiritual context too, for some of them will inherit heaven, but most of them, according to Biblical history, seemed to have inherited hell.
Letís think about these things as we look at Matthew 25:1-13Ö
1. "Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps, and went out to meet the bridegroom.
We think about the virgins as being believers or church goers, and the lamps being our spiritual being.
2. "And five of them were foolish, and five were prudent.
To us, the foolish virgins seem to be like people who say they believe, but still live in the corrupt ways of this world.
3. "For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them,
The oil is like the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, who is only there if we are truly born again, which is evident through our living in the heavenly will of God; in other words, the Holy Spirit empowers us to live in the heavenly will of God here on earth as it is in heaven, and we become lights to the world.
4. but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps.
In other words, the prudent have the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and their light shines forth in a world filled with darkness.
5. "Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.
As human beings, we all get physically and spiritually tired.
6. "But at midnight there was a shout, 'Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'
7. "Then all those virgins rose, and trimmed their lamps.
This is like all the people in a church doing what they believe the Lord desires of them, and depending upon the person, it can be real or it can be just putting on a show.
8. "And the foolish said to the prudent, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.'
The lamps are only lit by the power of the Holy Spirit, who shows everyone who He is, but the foolish ones donít have the power of their faith to shine the heavenly will of God to the world around them, for they are not truly born again.
9. "But the prudent answered, saying, 'No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'
We cannot give or sell the Holy Spirit to anyone else; He is a free gift from God to all true born-again believers.
The dealers seem to be like the clergy, who may or may not be truly born again, for Jesus called some of them blind guides, because they lacked true faith, for they could not act upon their belief or head knowledge.
10. "And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.
In other words, they were spiritually ready to enter heaven, without any hesitation, whenever the Lord called to them.
11. "And later the other virgins also came, saying, 'Lord, lord, open up for us.'
12. "But he answered and said, 'Truly I say to you, I do not know you.'
This is because they lacked the faith to have a spiritual connection with the Lord.
13. "Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.
John Wesley, the founder of the Methodist Church, when he began his ministry, realized that he did it without true faith, and he was advised to ďpreach it until you have it,Ē and that is what some of us may need to do, for when the Holy Spirit indwells us, we have a peace and assurance that He is always with us.
Remember that worldly living forsakes God and destroys life, including the spiritual life that we need to enter heaven.
So, we need to let go of all aspects of worldly living and truly seek a personal relationship with the Lord.
Letís close our discussion about how worldly living forsakes God and destroys life by looking at 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18, but in this case it is more about godly living preserves life.
13. But we do not want you to be uninformed, brethren, about those who are
asleep, that you may not grieve, as do the rest who have no hope.
In this passage, we are looking at the situation from the position of a truly born-again believer in relation to other true believers who have died.
14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus.
In other words they will have life everlasting in heaven, because godly living preserves life.
15. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, and remain until the coming of the Lord, shall not precede those who have fallen asleep.
The term ďfallen asleepĒ which Paul is using in this passage means that they have died in this physical world, but that they will live again, because their physical death will only be for a relatively short time.
This is not true with others for their worldly living forsakes God and destroys life, including their own.
16. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trumpet of God; and the dead in Christ shall rise first.
17. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air, and thus we shall always be with the Lord.
This should be the hope of all believers.
18. Therefore comfort one another with these words.
This is exactly what Paul was trying to do, and what we are trying to do, today, for worldly living forsakes God and destroys life, and godly living preserves life, and that life includes our own.
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