Jesus is coming back. He’s going to split open the sky with “a shout, with the archangel’s voice, and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are still alive, who are left, 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” (1 Thessalonians 4:16–17).
Can you imagine? With the thundering announcement by Heavenly heralds and a symphony of trumpets, Jesus will appear in the earth’s atmosphere. Suddenly gravity’s clutches will be released. Tens of thousands of those saved-by-grace will be drawn upward like iron filings to a magnet. We’ll gather in the clouds at the feet of the Radiant One, the Victorious King, the Eternal Three-in-One. I want to be there! I want to be raptured! I want to meet the Lord in the air! “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
When will that happen? Only God knows. “Now concerning that day and hour no one knows—neither the angels of heaven nor the Son—except the Father alone” (Matthew 24:36). It could happen before the sun goes down. It might be years in the future. Until then, we have a job to do.
Paul taught and retaught the truth of Christ’s imminent return and His irrevocable promise to rapture the church from the sin-sick world. As Paul closed his first letter to the Thessalonians, he left his audience with three simple, practical, and important commandments. “Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Until we bid our final farewell, we are called to be joyful, prayerful, and thankful.
Joy isn’t just as emotion. It’s one of the fruits of the Spirit. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control”(Galatians 5:22–23). Joy isn’t dependent upon our circumstances. When Paul had been beaten, shackled, and locked in the inner dungeon, they heard him singing at midnight! (Acts 16:25). Paul called upon Christ-followers to rejoice always! In and through the Holy Spirit, we can. Not some of the time. Not most of the time. Always.
Think about it. We can rejoice because of God's grace, because of Christ's redemptive work at Calvary, because of the indwelling Spirit's power, because of the Word's truth, because of the Church's fellowship, and because the King is coming.
Be prayerful. Always. Ask the Lord to remind you of His Presence with you. Walk with Him. Talk with Him. The acronym P-R-A-Y might be helpful. Praise. Repent. Adore. Yield.
Be joyful. Be prayerful. Be thankful. “Don’t worry about anything, but in everything, through prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:6–7).
“Rejoice always, pray constantly, give thanks in everything” (1 Thessalonians 5:16–18). Be joyful. Be prayerful. Be thankful.
All Scripture quotations, except as otherwise noted, are from
Holman Bible Publishers’ Christian Standard Bible.