If you are a pastor or lay person who wants to use this to preach in church – that is why I posted it. I don’t care about credit, I only care that God’s word is preached and Christ is glorified. I pray He uses this sermon in a mighty way through you. You have my permission to alter it and use it however God leads you. God bless you in your ministry. You can also bookmark this to check out the other free written sermons on my blog.
Every week I try to teach the Bible when I preach, exegetical preaching – breaking down Scripture – But I want to confess at the outset today that this is such a touch scripture to study by breaking down I do not have it in me today. There are some problems with it that I, and very smart theologians can not explain. So instead I am going to talk about it from the perspective of “do we believe even the parts of which we cannot make sense?”
1 Thes 4:16-18 –
For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a loud command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will be the first to rise. 17After that, we who are alive and remain will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will always be with the Lord. 18Therefore encourage one another with these words.…
When I think about Jesus coming in the clouds and people flying up in the air to meet Him, I always think of a preacher – Matt Chandler who I heard once explain a conversation with a non-believer.
The Non-believing friend: So let me get this straight, you believe that God had a son who died on the cross for you – to pay the price for everything you did wrong.
Chandler: He did.
Friend: And he came back from the dead and went back to heaven.
Chandler: Now you’re getting it.
Friend: OK, OK, OK, and one day, He’s gonna come back in the clouds to get you.
Chandler: (Less confident) Uh-huh.
Friend: And finally – let me see if I get this right – you are gonna fly up and go meet Him in the clouds.
Chandler: Yep, partner, that’s what I believe.
As a person who considers myself logical and reasonable and yet still believes and preaches the Bible, I know how ridiculous some things sound to not yet Believers. This is certainly one of them. But when you think about it, this is one of the things that has actually gotten more believable over 2,000 years than less believable. Do you know why I would say that? I already go up in the clouds on occasion! I even go above the clouds! Have you ever been up in the clouds? Just think if one of Jesus’ original disciples from 2,000 years ago knew some of us went up in the clouds on occasion. That would sound just as impossible as Jesus coming back in the clouds, but it is true.
The truth is, everything we believe is unbelievable. I am aware this sounds like the beginning of a talk trying to talk you out of believing. Pastor David Platt tells of the time he was at a youth conference as an apprentice under a great preacher who told the youth at the beginning he was going to try and talk them out of believing and by the end there were a hundred believing youth at the altar. Platt said he tried this “reverse psychology” himself later at a youth conference he was speaking at and it was a huge flop. He said “apparently I did a better job of talking them into ‘not believing’”.
It is unbelievable that there is a God who created the earth, the moon, and the stars. But I find it more unbelievable that everything came from nothing, that it is just here, was always here, and the right asteroids hit in the right places to form life. I’ve heard it said you could put all the pieces to a watch in a bag and shake it up for a million years and it will never come together to form a working watch, any more than a tornado going through a junkyard will leave in it’s wake a fully fueled and armed F-15 fighter jet. Somebody is responsible for that watch and that plane. Something or someone had to have created it all, including me and you. And we are made for something more than what we can see.
I spoke on behalf of the SGVFC at the funeral home Friday night for Brenda Long, and preached her funeral yesterday. I talked a lot about her finding her purpose over the last 5 years of her life as an EMT. Someone came up to talk to me at the dinner after the funeral yesterday. They said she loved being an EMT. She wanted to be a nurse, but that dream was not to be, she found fulfillment doing 911 response on the ambulance. I told them I felt that we were created with this yearning inside of us to be selfless – that we all have a yearning inside of us to give of ourselves.
Raymond Grinstead, a man in his late 80’s when I was in Mason County planted a garden every year and gave vegetables away – I went and did an interview with him one time and recorded it. He said it was just such a good feeling to give people vegetables that he had grown.
I sent a text to the person who cleaned the bathrooms and told them that they honored God with clean bathrooms for Brenda Long’s funeral yesterday.
At the cemetery yesterday I told them that every time I am at a cemetery I think of the line from the Bible in Luke 24 – The women go to anoint the body of Jesus but when they entered, they did not find his body. 4 While they were wondering about this, suddenly two men in clothes that gleamed like lightning stood beside them – the men said to them, “Why do you look for the living among the dead?”
As the great theologians Brooks and Dunn sing, “You can’t tell me it all ends with a slow ride in a hearse”.
I can’t quote the book
The chapter or the verse
You can’t tell me it all ends
In a slow ride in a hearse
You know I’m more and more convinced
The longer that I live
Yeah, this can’t be
No, this can’t be
No, this can’t be all there is
I raise my hands, bow my head
I’m finding more and more truth in the words written in red
They tell me that there’s more to life than just what I can see
Oh I believe
I cannot explain it all, and I do not have to. As a matter of fact, much of my faith comes from the fact that there is no other explanation.
I saw the medical examiner the other day at the Sheetz in Keyser. We are not friends who go out to grab a bite to eat, but we do know each other through the ambulance. He said he had to tell me something that happened just a couple of days earlier. He said he was wheeling a deceased person into the hospital and as he was just going under the overhang when a bird nest drops right on top of the body – He said it was the most remarkable thing. He asked me what the odds were that that bird nest would fall down at that exact moment. I said would it even be one in a billion? He thought it meant something.
I am sure that it does mean something.
Even if we do not understand what it means.
I believe it.